Comfort Zones and Growth Zones


I love my comfort zone. I really love my comfort zone. Cozy; predictable; dependable; homey. I’m a homebody. I love very few things more than a cloudy afternoon creating something on my laptop with a fuzzy warm dingo curled up at my side and the sound of a purring cat (I’m one of the weirdos who wishes for days and days of rain while living in the sunniest desert). I have worked at home in one way or another since 2002. I’ve got a groove and my groove gets me. On the days I work from home, it’s pajamas and nostalgic music and stretches of time that fly by. It’s planning some days for lots of email communication and meetings, and other days for concentrated design work. It’s also lunch breaks walking in Snow Canyon if time permits, doing laundry while I putter away at work, and spontaneous trips to the grocery store.

On the days that I work outside of the home, I spend my hours solo in a sunny art gallery; strangely I have very little of my own work at the gallery, I’m working to change this... My comfort zone at work consists of quiet routines, sharing inspiration with other artists, gazing out of the windows at nature, interesting conversations with adventurers, ample time to study whatever I want - and selling art of course. Then there are the running around days. Those are very much not my comfort zone; I often get about halfway through the to-do list before I start losing focus and drive myself home in a daze. I usually arrive at home with a coffee and sushi so it’s not all bad.

And then there are my growth zones. For me, growth zones are fairly specifically situations that seem to shine a spotlight on my social anxiety or awkwardness. Within that category, a major growth zone is signing up to vend at events. These are times when I have chosen to show up at a place, promote a thing and be willing to be seen. This week happens to be one of those times. I’ve been bustling along all week preparing for a benefit event where I will sell some of the desert art prints I’ve recently illustrated. In the name of meeting some new people and supporting DOVE Center, which provides resources for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, I am leaving behind my cozy comfort cocoon and emerging in the name of something really important. So I’ve been trying to prepare both business wise and mental health wise...

Getting event-ready in my forties looks a lot different than how it looked in my twenties. I’ve learned a lot more about self-care and priorities... In my early days of proving my marketing prowess, I would have the branded table, curated displays, fun give-aways, and engaging collateral. But these days? At this exact point in my journey I’m not springing to print a whole batch of apparel and totes - but I’m totally willing to draw a few of my favorite desert flowers from the heart and make some prints. I have no interest in printing out a huge banner - but I’m looking forward to spending some time lovingly chalking up my new chalkboard with some gloriously lettered prices. I have no fancy give-aways - but my fingers are crossed I will get it together enough to design and print out a little batch of stickers in time - oh and I suppose I should also print some business cards... We’ll see. See my level of anxiety right there? Not as high as it once was.

Truthfully, one of the hardest parts of showing up in public is seeing people and feeling seen. Part of my own growth is knowing that in order to really care for myself while I prepare, I will be letting a few details fall away and still showing up with what feels like a less-than-perfect set up. 

Maybe I’ve brought a little more comfort zone into my growth zone. Maybe I just give a few less shits. Maybe I’m tired. Maybe my hard work is paying off. Maybe I’m feeling comforted in knowing the event is hosted by my daughter’s employers so she will be there and that will feel a little more like a social event and a little less nerve-wracking. Certainly seeing some safe and familiar faces tonight will soften my fears and feed my soul… And knowing that this whole group of women is getting together to support each other and bring awareness to DOVE Center nourishes a part of me that moves me forward and reminds me of the strength within community.

When it’s over and I’m packing up, I can already anticipate feeling grateful I went, joyful at seeing some of my people and meeting new friends, and inspired to continue doing purposeful work. I also anticipate feeling the relief of a no-bra, after-event, Netflix with wine and the hubs kind of wind-down. For everyone out there braving things like “being seen” and “dipping your toes into the growth zone” I feel you. Cheers. 

If you're interested in seeing some of my recent drawing, I'll drop a little image of these prints right here...

Desert Flower Illustrations by Alesha Sevy Kelley

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