How do you stretch your comfort zones to take on new and,
maybe, scary challenges?
NOTE TO MY FOLLOWERS AND READERS. First, thank you for reading about my journey. For those you have been reading from the first post, you know that this blog is not so much about me as about the lessons I have learned along the way. Starting with today’s post, I will be digging deeper into lessons I have learned and, believe it or not, lessons I have passed along to others. Enjoy, learn, and share. Now, for this week’s post….
I settled into my new home with Hoppi and Steve.
I had two crates, one upstairs and one down in the bedroom. I heard Steve call them “puppy condos.” I also had a fluff pillow besides Steve’s desk in his office. I’ve heard over the years that some dogs don’t take to crates well. They bark, claw, howl, and some even bloody themselves to get out.
I don’t get that.
I gladly went in and out of my crates on my own during the day. At night, when Steve would close the gate, I curled up and slept. I think, maybe, it was because Steve always spoke so highly of me as I entered either area. For instance, if I had peed in the house or dropped some pooh in front of the sink, Steve never said, “Bad dog! Go to your crate now. Bad dog!”
And after the first few days, there was no need for Steve to place a bowl of food or water in the crate to lure me in. I walked in gladly. The crate was always associated with my toys and “Good, Roxie” or “Good night, Roxie. Good dog” or “Here’s a biscuit!”
By the way, I quickly learned about “biscuit.” I still will do most anything to get a little biscuit. Steve calls me a “biscuit tart.” I think that is a good thing.
In any event, me and my crates were as one. As I became more accustomed to my new home, I retreated often to my puppy condos and fluff pillows. For me, they offered, security, peace, and solace. They became my comfort zones.
Within these zones, I could catch my breath and rest. Then, rested and calm, I’d venture out to explore another area or to check on the whereabouts of Steve. Each outing helped me gain more confidence. I could feel a bounce in my paws as I scouted the area.
I kind of remember back in the puppy room that some puppies curled up, as if to hide, in the back of their crates. Cowering. Others would stand at the crate door and whimper to be released. Me, I took the time to think about where I’d been on my latest excursion. It might have been a walk around the park across from our home or exploring the backyard fence line. No matter where I’d been, crate time could be my nap time.
When I had rested enough, I always looked forward to walking out of the crate. With each exploration, I became more confident about my safety. I grew with each opportunity; I stretched my legs and stretched my comfort zone with each new encounter.
At times I was scared. Like those stairs that never seemed to end. But if I did not learn to walk up and down those little wooden platforms, I would have missed all the yard had to offer.
Steve was patient, though I could tell he got a bit irritated at times with my slow and methodical way of navigating the steps. He would help by carrying be down a step, place me on it, walk ahead of me, and then encourage me to follow. At first, he’d place a biscuit on the next few steps in front of me. He was smart! A strategically placed biscuit always motivated me forward.
Comfort zones, like my crates, provide shelter and reflection opportunities. A place to retreat from the stresses of the world. Comfort zones can become a crutch, though. I would have missed so much if I had not learned to risk and be vulnerable.
I heard Steve say to Hoppi, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
Yes. It. Does.
But one day, my comfort zone expanded far beyond my puppy condos.
Beyond the Biscuit
Where are your comfort zones? How and when do you use them? How do you stretch you comfort zones to take on new and, maybe, scary challenges? How do these challenges help you grow?
Come back next week when I share a specific example of how Steve helped me expand my comfort zone when he started introducing me to more and more canine companions. I was anxious–and I grew so much! As always, I appreciate you reading my thoughts. I appreciate you. WOOF! ~ ROXIE