Routine, schedule, predictability,stability and familiarity ? These are the first adjectives that come to my mind when I pose this query to myself. Familiar people, places and things make me feel a certain amount of comfort. A routine that I can predict is also vastly comforting . A place to call, my home, to me creates a feeling of comfort beyond description! I do love my Home! So with this very clear , specific list in mind, I wonder, why would I abandon all these very comforting aspects of life as I know it ? Hmmmmm? That’s a very good question?……. Let’s see if I can articulate that as I write this post…….
There’s a particular type of comfort that comes, for me anyways, from overcoming challenges . A sense of personal strength or power from successfully conquering a challenge that comes my way . Not that I typically make it a habit to ‘choose’ to put myself in challenging positions . But I must admit to consciously pushing myself to going outside my comfort zone at times. I find strength and learn a tremendous amount about myself and the people around me when I’m open to experiences that are a bit uncomfortable. In the past, when I was a single gal, if I was invited to an event, a dinner party or gathering of some sort where I didn’t really know many people , my knee-jerk reaction was to decline . To make some excuse or other just to avoid this kind of uncomfortable event. I mean, really? Does anyone actually ‘enjoy’ going alone to a party where they don’t know anyone? I don’t ! But whenever I would just make myself go, dive in,( paint a smile on my face & force myself to be social when I didn’t actually feel social) by the end of the evening I was never dissapointed . I must admit ,this was something that took a lot of inner strength and a commitment to a desire to expand my comfort zone and my self imposed limitations .
Why is this a subject that I’m writing about on my blog? Well, in case you didn’t notice, Im kinda in the process of leaving my comfort zone . Leaving all those adjectives I mentioned above, all those things that define, for me anyways, comfort. I mostly enjoy my life here in Los Altos, (aside from the usual complaints, taxes & cost of living! Hence, working wayyy too much! Insert eye roll here !). I have a beautiful home in a very nice neighborhood, a successful business , I’m near my daughter (who has very recently turned into a surprisingly enjoyable adult! ) , and I am very fortunate to have developed many great friendships ( to name but a few things that make my current life comfortable). Some people just leave the state they were born and raised in, but noooooo, not me! I have to leave my entire Country! It’s a comfort to me knowing that I will be joining a very adventurous group of other like-minded people ( other expats) who must also find comfort in the idea of redefining or expanding their comfort zone.
Aside from all the obvious comforts like people, places and things, I find myself pondering the creature comforts of my life and asking myself,”What ‘really’ defines comfort to me?”. Is comfort the day to day things that make life, as I know it , comfortable? Seemingly simple things like hot showers, flushing toilets , certain foods and products that are readily available.? Or Is it the knowledge that there are people, nearby , in my life that care about me that provides comfort? That I can pick up a phone and call a friend to go grab a drink or a cup of coffee with me anytime, yes, there is a particular comfort in that fact. Also, if my car breaks down or I find myself in any sort sort of crisis, there are numerous people who would happily come to my rescue, this is very comforting indeed! And there is the natural born consumer that we have all grown into as modern Americans. There is comfort in knowing that if I decide my shoes are old or not in season ( heaven forbid😱!) , I can just go to Nordstrom or Target or anyplace and simply buy a new pair (or two or three pairs!👠👢👡👟) any time I wish. Who among us has occasionally felt the need for a little ,”Retail Therapy!”. Yes, this form of therapy has been my friend many, many times! And may I add, it’s very effective in curing many ailments of the heart & soul ! Going to the mall and buying a new outfit or many new outfits with that glorious little plastic card is like a magical potion for the relief of a bad mood or a bad day. I have been known to decide ,on a whim, that a mani/pedi is the cure for what ails me! Nothin’ like a foot massage and freshly painted bright red, orange or sometimes blue toenails! Yep, these things are very much comfort inducing aspects of my life. Although , truth be told, the comfort derived from most of these things tends to be rather short-lived. The shoes I buy just wear out or hurt my feet, the pedicure is over way too quickly, and clothes get old and faded ( my clothes tend to get stained with hair color!). So these are indeed very superficial comforts that are fleeting at best.
I must say , as I contemplate the subject of what defines comfort for me, my home jumps to the top of my list. I’m a bit of a “homebody” at heart. My home and my surroundings are a place where I can express who I am. The physical ‘place’ where I call home , is what I would consider my center of comfort . It’s the place where I feel the most comfort on a daily basis. When I Invite someone into my home , it’s an invitation to know me better . And it’s a place where I enjoy creating and being artistic. My home is a place I can create comfort for not only myself, but for people in my life. I really love it when people come to my home,( or my salon), and feel comfortable, and welcome. This is a theme in my life. And I’m so fortunate to have a life partner who also values creating a place where people want to gather to relax, socialize and just enjoy life together. This is ‘COMFORT’, at its core, for me! I think my home is kind of symbolic of ‘Me’. It seems as though making people happy and comfortable is something I am consistently striving for in more than just my home!
I’ve discovered a sense of comfort or power in overcoming or just facing my fears or my weaknesses. In choosing to face uncomfortable situations I’ve learned so much about myself . When I first became a single mom, ( I was about 28 years old then) , I realized It was vastly important, for me and for Mariah , that I find my power. I knew that if I was going to be a strong mother for my daughter then It would be essential for me to connect with my own inner strength for myself as well. With this in mind I planned my first solo trip out of the country, a very uncomfortable, even scary prospect for me at that time. Knowing Mariah was in good hands with her father and our former nanny( my former nanny, his new wife!😝 an Oprah episode , for sure! Lol), off I went on my three week trek, backpacking through New Zealand ! Before leaving on this adventure I was terrified! I had never done anything like this all by myself before and it took a lot of courage to get on that airplane and face three weeks , not only traveling through such a far away place, but doing it completely alone. This was one of the times when I was choosing to face an uncomfortable situation in order to learn and to grow, and hopefully become a better, stronger person as a result. If we can’t be alone with ourselves and enjoy our own company , how can we expect anyone else to do the same? On that solo journey I learned many things about myself, one of the many things was that I alone have the power over my destiny, my comfort or discomfort is all mine to choose. I was far away from everything I was familiar with yet I was able to find comfort solely within myself. Aha!
My current personal comfort is made up of the sum of many different things. I have to believe that I’m in control of either sticking to a rigid sense of what makes me comfortable , or being open to discovering and redefining what it means for ‘me’ to be comfortable in my life. Granted, I’m certain there are some very basic aspects of life that are nonnegotiable, for me anyways . Flushing toilets, hot showers, no bugs! ( ok, at least very few, & none in my bed! Please! ), Wifi , (of course), gotta have my trusty iPad ! And…… Let’s see…. Safety is a must! I , of course , need to know I’m safe where I live. (we’ve covered this before, no barbed wire or glass shards protecting my house! nonnegotiable !) these are some of the things that make me comfortable in my life. And I’m certain I will find these comforts living in Panama. Believe it or not, Panama is a very civilized place!😊
In leaving my comfort zone,( my house, business, friends and family), I’m choosing to seek out and redefine what makes me comfortable. There are many things I’m prepared to live without. I’m pretty sure there is no Valley Fair or Santana Rowe in Boquete . I’m fairly certain that all those ‘things’ which I have previously spoken of are not the sum of my ability to feel comfort in my life. The external comforts like material things, shopping malls where I can buy anything under the sun, mani/pedis, or countless forms of entertainment like movies, amusement parks, museums, etc. all these aspects of my current existence . I’m banking on discovering that Scott and I will find comfort in various ‘different’ aspects of our new and perhaps more simple choice of lifestyle . We may not find access to all the over abundance of commercial products that surround us here. But I’m pretty sure they have houses in Panama and people to build relationships with and even places to buy things you need,( maybe not always everything you want, but everything you need is readily available). And I suspect all those things we think we need , we will discover, in time, life will continue on comfortably without it and our ‘needs’ could quite possibly adapt and adjust into something entirely different.
I look forward to looking back at the first 46 years of my life here and at what gave me comfort. I’ll likely reminisce about how hard it was when we first began living in Central America. Then, I hope I’ll feel like I accomplished something great by facing my fear and diving into an uncomfortable situation , adapting to change and discovering an entirely new and yet satisfying comfort that I never could have imagined before I explored and took a chance. Whoever said that an Adventure would always be ‘Comfortable’? And, did anyone ever say that how we define creature comforts, can’t change? I have to believe, that while there are some lifestyle comforts of our current life that we hope to find in our new home, we will discover many new and different aspects of comfort that make us very happy! I look forward to seeing how my list of what gives me comfort changes. I don’t expect the transition to always be easy but I do expect the end result to be rewarding ! Life experiences that provide change and growth , are often forged by challenge . And a conscience choice to find the beauty , strength, and hopefully humor in the journey! After all, it’s not the destination that is most important …… It’s all about the JOURNEY !