Out of My Comfort Zone
Author: Rachael Hill
For spring break, I decided to take my boys on a ten day trip to California. What started out as a simple visit, quickly became a whirlwind trip up and down the coast with a lot of time for personal reflection. We left on a red eye flight and arrived at Los Angeles at 11:30 in the morning. We got our rental car and proceeded to drive to our hotel near San Diego. Immediately after leaving the airport, I found myself on the 405 in what seemed to be no fewer than ten lanes of bumper-to-bumper traffic. It only took a moment for me to realize what I had gotten myself into, and upon that realization I giggled to myself, "Wow, I'm definitely out of my comfort zone here!" At home, we have only one highway that connects Anchorage to the rest of Alaska, and even in the heaviest of traffic, it is nothing like the 405 or California traffic as a whole. However I continued and we made it to our destination with a profound excitement of what this trip would entail.
A friend of mine drove with her two kids to spend a few days with us, and we had a blast visiting Sea World, the San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, and LEGOLAND. The kids were all getting along and we were just enjoying being together. At one point I turned to my friend and said, "Thanks for doing this with me. I don't know very many women that would voluntarily take their kids on a trip like this alone." Here I found myself once again, out of my comfort zone, but pressing on.
After San Diego we drove eight hours to Monterey where my friend is currently stationed, with a stop in downtown Los Angeles to meet another friend I had not seen in at least sixteen years. I led the caravan, and let me tell you, driving in LA is an experience of its own and is definitely not for the timid! You have to be aggressive and can't be afraid to put your nose in where it probably doesn't belong in order to get yourself where you need to be, which is something I am not used to. It was yet another example of me finding myself out of my comfort zone. However, we made it, bought the t-shirt to prove it, and had a great time.
The next day the boys and I went north to San Francisco for more sightseeing. Visiting the Alcatraz Prison was always at the top of the bucket list for Jeff and me, and I was bound and determined to see it. It wasn't an easy task doing it without my husband and knowing how much he would have loved to have been there with us, but we pressed on and were fascinated by what we saw. While in San Francisco, I also got an amazing opportunity to go to the top of the Golden Gate Bridge. I have never been a fan of heights, but this was an opportunity that I just couldn't pass up. This is not a tour that is open to the public, so when I was asked if I wanted to go, there was no way I was going to say no. Again, it was out of my comfort zone, but I pushed through it for the opportunity of a lifetime.
The moment we reached the top of the bridge, I felt amazement and wonder. It literally took my breath away. It was such a beautiful sight and I immediately saw the world in a new light. The fear of heights I had leading up to this experience vanished, and I was in awe of everything in front of me. I couldn't help but think of Jeff and wonder if this is what heaven is like. Beautiful, majestic, peaceful, and calm. I had a sense of calm that I have never felt before. It was like flying above the city, watching everyone continue in the day-to-day bustle below, yet feeling like I was worlds away. It was incredible.
So here I sit now on a plane back to Alaska. . . a suitcase full of souvenirs, two exhausted little boys, and a feeling of overwhelming accomplishment in my heart. I took myself out of my comfort zone in so many ways and I succeeded! Not only by driving through California traffic (truly an accomplishment in itself and something I know Jeff would have hated), but also by pushing myself to do something new and out of the norm. Of course we got lost a few times, but we always made it to our destination. And isn't that what life is about? We take wrong turns here and there, but it's the accomplishment at the end that makes it worth it.
I haven't made all the right turns in my widow journey, but I have learned some great lessons along the way. Lessons about life, love, and myself. Life is a gift and I am here for a reason. Jeff was here for a reason; we all are. We don't know how much time we have left, so we have to take life by the reigns and live the best we can. . . right now. . . in this moment. My husband taught me that even before he died. I have also learned that I am strong, even in my weakest moments, and I can do things I never thought imaginable. It's also not always about the big things in life but celebrating even the smallest of victories. My boys and I accomplished a lot in this ten day vacation, but for me, the biggest accomplishment was not only finding my strength, but also realizing my strength. I know it has always been there and was even there before Jeff died. I just couldn't see it until I had to and was ready to.