I like to watch.

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How many of you remember the movie Being There with Peter Sellers? For some reason the scene where Shirley MacLaine attempts to seduce him popped into my brain recently. She desperately wants to connect with him. And I think you know what I mean when I say CONNECT!

When her kisses and caresses elicit no response from Chance (Sellers) she asks him what he “likes.” His reply is, “I like to watch.” After a short moment of delightful coyness, Shirley goes into quite an interesting display for his watching pleasure. Unfortunately, Chance is completely engrossed in the TV, which as it turns out is what he likes to watch.

There is one poignant shot when Shirley begins to howl with pleasure and Chance looks over as if suddenly remembering that she is in the room. When he sees that she is alright, albeit a bit tangled up in a blanket, he returns his attention to the television.

It seems to me that we have become a culture of voyeurs. We all like to “watch.” Life, in all its howling juicyness, surrounds every one of us all the time, and yet we do our best to push it aside. Watching feels much safer. But it sure is less fun.

I catch myself doing it all the time: being a spectator as my life goes by.

What areas of your life are you watching instead of participating? When do you feel safer staying in the stands rather than out on the field?

Pay attention. You might be surprised what you find.

Stepping out of the comfort zone – literally

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My daughter took her first, unassisted steps last week. At 2 ½ years, this was an extra special moment for us. Ella has a slight delay in her left side, so she’s a bit “behind the curve” in some of her development. We like to say that she’s on “Ella Time.” Of course, Ella Time doesn’t always align perfectly with Mommy and Daddy time. So when she decided it was time to walk, the sweetness of the moment – watching her take those first tentative steps across the room – was incredible. My proud daddy heart nearly burst open.

But I’m not here to bore you with my proud daddy moments. Nope. I’m here to offer you thoughts and observations that might come in handy on your evolutionary journey. And I’m sure you’re wondering how Ella’s first steps might do that? Well, it’s not actually the steps that I want to focus on; rather, it’s what has happened since those first steps.

Clearly, Ella can walk. She knows that she can get from one place to another in an upright position, without holding on to anything or anyone. But since those first steps, she has been extremely reticent to do so. She still loves to “wah,” but she still wants something to hold onto. She’ll walk around and around the dining room table holding on to the edge. She’ll walk from chair to chair. She’ll walk pushing her cart. She’ll walk from one object to another. But when she comes to a space where there’s nothing to hold onto, she’ll drop down and crawl or skootch her way to her destination.

Ella is at the edge of her comfort zone. And every time she takes a step on her own, she is, literally, stepping out of that comfort zone.

The other day, my wife and I were playing with Ella, encouraging her to walk back and forth between the two of us. As she took off from Melissa, Ella would take a few steps towards me, eyes open, confident, and then the fear would come. She’d close her eyes and stumble forward blindly into my outstretched arms and we’d both roll back onto the floor in a pile of giggles. The laughter and fun encouraged her to continue, to push through her fear, but it was clear that she was stepping into territory that was uncomfortable for her. She was stepping into an unknown and unsafe place.

Her hesitance to do this thing that she clearly can do and clearly wants to do has given me the opportunity to explore the places in my own life where I am “working the edges” of my comfort zone, the places where I have been unwilling to step out of my comfort zone and into a new experience or awareness.

We all have our comfort zones, and, at any given time, we tend to have specific areas where we are actively “working the edges.”

One of the edges that I am working is my relationship with money. Until recently, my comfort zone with money could best be described as “just enough.” I’ve managed to get by financially, but never a whole lot more than that. Just enough is comfortable for me. (I’m not going to get into the whys and wherefores in this article, perhaps in a future edition).

Moving out of my financial comfort zone is taking a step from surviving to thriving, from just enough to abundance. Sounds simple and attractive enough, but just as I see the fear in Ella’s eyes when she comes to a gap between two chairs, that step for me into financial abundance feels like a giant leap over a gaping chasm with a roaring river crashing three hundred feet below. (Ok, maybe that’s a bit melodramatic, but you get the idea!)

As an outside observer, I can watch Ella and think, “She wants to walk. She knows how to walk. Why doesn’t she just walk?” But for her, the internal process is quite a bit more complicated than that.

And so it is for each of us as well.

Fortunately, there are effective tools to help us move out of our comfort zone. And one of the most effective tools is the simplest: awareness.

Most people work the edges in a state of unawareness. The edges show up in our lives in unexpected and usually unpleasant ways. But by discovering the edges that you are working, and focusing your attention upon those edges, you take back a measure of control over the pace and the manner at which you can work the edge.

What edges are you working? Where are you feeling the resistance of your comfort zone? What changes do you say want in your life but are having trouble creating?

See if you can clearly define one or more of the edges you are working. The more clear you are the easier it will be for you to take steps out of that comfort zone and into a new, more expansive expression of who you are!

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