We All Need a Foundation to Step Out of Our Comfort Zone

I can't let go of it, even though I know I should.

"What do you mean, you know you should?"

It's a mattress! It's not practical to keep a mattress when I've managed to give away and throw away the majority of my "stuff" so we can travel, untethered.

It's not about the mattress, though. It's about the values you've attached to it, right?

She was talking about the mattress she bought after leaving her abusive husband, sleeping in her car for 6 months, and had finally moved into an apartment by herself. That mattress represented the first real thing she owned, free and clear, since leaving him -- and all of her things -- behind. Now she's in the midst of disrupting her life, again, is remarried to a wonderful, adventurous guy, and is downsizing to live as minimally as possible so they can travel all over the world.

Don't get rid of it. You have a storage area that can hold it for you for a while. Keep it until you don't feel like you need it any more. We all need something to help us feel grounded when we're about to take a leap out of our comfort zone.

Healthy toddlers are known to wander away from their parents, though usually they will turn to see them, to make sure they can still see them, before they get too far. If you read anything by my friend Sara Jacobovici, you'll read that in infant and child development, we need a close bond with someone (or something) in order to become independent. It's a paradox for sure, but not too surprising. Read child development articles and they will describe how thumb-suckers are statistically more likely to be more confident teenagers because they've had the ability to self-sooth. I believe in thumb-sucking - no one can take away the thing that can bring you comfort!

I had a good, solid, healthy childhood for the most part. My parents were loving and we always had a roof over our heads and plenty of food to eat. We have a warm, huggy, sometimes overwhelmingly loving extended family of aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends who became family wherever we lived. And we moved a lot in my youth. I went to four different elementary schools. No wonder I sucked my thumb well into 1st grade. No matter where we lived, or the adventures and trouble I got into in my late teens and early 20's, I always had my family as my foundation.

I got a cat when I was 20 because I felt the impulsive need to spite a landlord. Needless to say, I wasn't thinking long term. He wasn't the sweetest cat, though he was devoted to me. Clawed was huge and created a lot of complications for me. Having a cat limited the apartments I could rent, limited my travel plans & spontaneity, and there were times that he had food and I went without.

When my parents were divorcing and they sold the only house we lived in for more than 4 years, Clawed was my foundation. Wherever I adventured, like moving from Fort Collins, Colorado to Washington DC by myself, he was with me. He was the one consistent thing in my life for more than 9 years, and I was devastated when he died, even though I had a wonderful husband and new baby at that time.

My little gold Super Beetle, handed down to me from my brother, was another foundation piece that broke my heart when I had to get rid of it. Now I have a weird attachment to our 1991 Suburban. There's no way for someone else to truly understand why we have attachments to certain things. Sometimes we don't really know ourselves.

I wrote an article about shoes being my wardrobe foundation; this is the same idea. When I am about to embark on a new adventure, whether that's applying for, or starting a new job, preparing for a speaking engagement, planning a trip, or any other activity that will push me out of my comfort zone, I have certain things I can count on to bring me back to center. Whether its cues like shoes or an outfit that make me feel really good, or a quiet moment with my supportive husband and kids, a glass of wine with a friend, or a good snuggle with my dog, having a foundation (like a mattress, or my thumb) reminds me that whatever I'm about to do, I have a place to go (or people to comfort me) afterward to find my balance again.

What are your foundations? Are you intentional about finding that center before you jump into something out of your comfort zone? Do you recognize which arbitrary objects you're most attached to, and may have foundational values associated with them?

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