If Not Now, When? Getting Outside of Your Comfort Zone
“If I am not for myself, who is for me? And being for my own self, what am ‘I’? And if not now, when?” – Hillel
How much courage does it take to step out of your comfort zones? Chances are, like most people, you have a routine to begin the day. Mine starts with a morning prayer, expressing gratitude for waking up. In the Judaism of my upbringing, it is called Modeh Ani. “Modeh anee lefanecha melech chai vekayam, she-he-chezarta bee nishmatee b’chemla, raba emunatecha. “I offer thanks to You, living and eternal King, for You have mercifully restored my soul.” It is followed by the intention to “have extraordinary experiences and connect with amazing people”. What occurs throughout the next 12 hours is bookended with what I think of as the signature prayer in the tradition, called the Shema. “Shema Yisrael, Adonai, Elohenu, Adonai Echad,” being chanted by rote, and the translation I followed it with then, “Hear, Oh Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.”
Much later in life, when attending synagogue services at Beth Or, in South Florida, the rabbi, Rami Shapiro, introduced me to words that resonated more fully with my searching soul, “That which we call God is Oneness itself.” It was such a vital custom in my childhood, that even when my parents went out for the evening, babysitters would listen to our recitation.
Although I don’t tell anyone what to believe spiritually, I find that these ritual bolsters me when, as a former client said, “life gets lifey.”
Depending on time and schedule, fingers tap keyboard as The Muse speaks, and I take dictation to meet writing deadlines. Other days, the gym is my immediate destination, so that I am able to maintain physical and emotional wellbeing. Coming up on five years post heart attack, daily fitness is a necessity. From there I may see clients until the evening. In between, there could be interactions with family and friends.
My life seems pretty predictable, even as open as I am to new adventures. Still, much of what I do is outside the box for many who observe it. My interests are fringe-y for some… dancing, drumming, chanting, yoga, doing healing for horses, teaching classes that have to do with touch and consent and offering FREE HUGS to strangers. As much of a social butterfly as I am, lately I have been sticking pretty close to home, with a need to decompress and push the reset button. It took a lot of gumption last May to get myself on a plane and wing my way across the pond to live a long-time dream of visiting Ireland.
In 2014, that aforementioned life altering experience occurred that had me questioning what I had done up until that point. Had I been wasting time in frivolous or meaningless pursuits or investing it in worthwhile experiences that would reap greater reward? I did what — in 12-step parlance — is referred to as “taking my own inventory.” Were my relationships in integrity? Did I follow through with what I said I would do? Did I treat others as I wanted to be treated? I found that they were solid. The one relationship that was sadly lacking was the one with myself.
My bestie (since we were 14) reminded me that “You think of yourself as a woman of integrity, but you have been lying to yourself all along. When you tell yourself that you are going to slow down and rest and take better care of yourself and you don’t, your body stops believing you.” She then promptly invited me to join her and her husband on a week-long vacation to their time share in the Outer Banks. Fear clutched me, as it often does when I contemplate veering from my home-based routine, which is odd, because, once I am in travel mode, I am at ease. Fortunately, at the time, I was working full time as a journalist and could write from anywhere. I toted my laptop with me and set up shop in the comfy condo as I could feel the beckoning of the waves and wind. I wrote several articles, inspired by the refreshment and restoration that was swirling around me. By the end of the trip, I felt filled up.