Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.
— Neale Donald Walsch
Isn’t that quote brilliant? I saw it printed on a canvas this summer and had to buy it. It succinctly sums up what I’ve learned over the last five years or so: You don’t grow until you step outside of your comfort zone. That’s when life, with all of its thrilling ups and downs, begins.
Last week, getting ready for Philomath Open Studios, I discovered myself outside of my comfort zone. It snuck up on me. I wasn’t sleeping well, my mind was racing through this and that, I was on edge. I was as prepared as I could be for the event so it didn’t make any sense, until I realized — oh yeah, this is something new.
This is not just sharing my art with the public. I’m used to that. This is sharing my private space of studio and home with the public. This is the space I dream and create in. The space I live in. There is something a little more personal, a little uncomfortable with that. It’s one more layer removed between me and you. It’s one layer closer to the heart.
It’s one more step into life. One more step beyond that comfort zone. It’s funny, sometimes I can’t tell where the line of comfort is, until I move past it. Then I can only tell by my reactions, like last week’s sleep issues. Other times, I’m pushing so far beyond the edge, it’s obvious by the voice of fear in my head. It’s important to know the signals you personally get. Once I realized the reason for my discomfort, I could deal with it. At least journal about it, talk about it, stare it in the face and understand it.
It’s strange to think that just three short years ago — three years to the month, in November — I participated in my first exhibition, ever. My first two photographs hung on display. And here I am now, inviting people into my studio, calling myself an artist. How did I get here? It was one little step at a time. Each one taking me beyond the edge of the comfort zone, dragging that edge along behind me.
Don’t ever think this kind of growth is easy. It’s not. Each step brings up fear and doubt. Each step brings new challenges and frustrations, along with the triumphs.
Each step brings life. It’s worth really living, don’t you think?
There is one more weekend in the Philomath Open Studios tour! You can visit my studio in Corvallis, Oregon on November 1 & 2 from Noon to 5pm.