Tuesday, September 21, 2010

creative diary, day two (leaving my comfort zone)

Do you have a comfort zone?  How often do you step out of what is easy, or normal?

I can think of a few times I have made some leaps.  Taking ballet class in college (no pun intended...) was one.  I had always wanted to learn ballet, I could just visualize myself in the etheral costumes, gracefully floating across a stage.

I lasted a couple of classes before the instructor politely suggested I might want to find another class.

Pride wounded, I shelved the tutu dreams and took a class in clay.

Back in 1987, I was happily working away at the NDSU bookstore.  I had a tiny little apartment, a wonderful group of close friends and my soon-to-be husband lived in the same town.  Granted, he traveled and was only home on the weekends, but it was a good, comfortable, simple life.  One day I saw an ad in the classified section, looking for management trainees for Northwest Fabrics.  The ad stuck in my head, and before I knew it I had updated my resume.  And the next thing I knew I was being interviewed.  And quite quickly after that, I was offered a position.

This one took a big leap.  I was sent to live in Sioux City, Iowa, for four months to train in a store there.  I did not know a single soul, and I was a full day's drive from family and friends.  And when I finished with my training, there were no guarantees where I would be offered a store to manage.

I talked to Mike, I talked to my family.  My parents thought I was crazy, Mike told me to go for it.  I believe his words were "You'll never know if you don't try, and you'll always wonder what could have been."

So I did it.  I packed my essential belongings in my Ford Escort, drove to Sioux City, Iowa, and bought a newspaper to search for a furnished place to live.  It was Memorial Day weekend of 1987, and Mike drove down with me to help me look (nice future husband that he was).

There was not a lot to choose from-and I couldn't afford to stay in a motel.  At the end of the weekend, I ended up living in the basement of a house out in the middle of a cornfield.  I had one window, which was also my door (the house being built into a hill), and I shared my two rooms with a very large family of mice.

I learned, and made new friends.  I returned each night to my desolate, lonely little place and mailed out wedding invitations, and sewed bridesmaid dresses for my friends.  Long distance calls were expensive, so I rarely talked to Mike or my family.  I couldn't have been further from my comfort zone.  But it was the right thing to do, and I was next moved to Bloomington, where Mike and I settled after our wedding.  Then I was given a store to manage in Brooklyn Park, and my experiences there led me to my career with Target.  So you just never know what living in a cornfield can lead to.

I haven't been out of my comfort zone for a while, I would say moving our store to the Mall of America nearly six years ago was the last time I felt lost, and wondered what in the world I had gotten myself into.

So last Thursday I took a painting class at the Creative Connection.  (It took me a long time to connect up this story, didn't it?  Sorry....)  The class offerings were varied and wonderful, I could have made a necklace with Kaari Meng, or made a cupcake pincushion with Betz White.  I own their books that show how to make those things, the classes would have been a breeze.  I could have embellished knitwear, made a photo garland with Jenni Bowlin (whose scrapping supplies I adore and collect).  I could have made a necklace of family heirlooms (I saw a completed one, they were GORGEOUS), or created a dazzling crown.

But I jumped way out of my comfort one and took a Folk Art Painting class from Laurie Meseroll.  Her work is adorable.  You can see it here: http://www.pinkyandlilly.etsy.com/

While the rest of the class, including my very talented friend Tracy, painted away, and made delighful works of art that echoed our teacher's pieces,  I struggled, and did not come even close to completing the desired end product.   Out of my comfort zone, indeed.

(Picture taken by Tracy, see how wonderful her work in progress is?)  And here is her completed work,  someone at the Handmade Market asked her which booth she got it from!  Clearly a hidden talent that needs room to shine.

I am waiting to see what I learned from that experience, so far all I have is some wounded pride, and a resolve to only work on things I know I can do.  For now. It's a lot harder to get out of your comfort zone at 48 than it was at 25....


  1. Loved reading the back story as it was all new to me. Good job for taking that risk. As for your painting... I'd say you are Overly gifted in the talent dept. Who needs painting when you can do so many other things? Plus, I have a hard time believing you can't paint. Must have been an off day. YOU can do ANYthing. I'm convinced.

  2. First, I never knew a thing about the ballet classes. Interesting... Second, I think I speak for all of us when I say we would really like to see a picture of your own painting. You know it's much better than you think.

  3. Okay, I think where you went "wrong" is you took your own way in the class - because you ARE creative and let your spirit guide you if you will. I however - just sat and did nothing until the teacher told me to. I am one of those - draw a line from point A to point B. Make circle in the center. Take black paint and make a mark. Nothing I did was creative - what you DID WAS. I LOVED that it didn't look like the teachers. Hope you kept it.

  4. You know, I always tell the daycare parents when their children create it's all about the process, not the final end project. I think it's great you took a risk and hopefully learned along the way. Fantastic.


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