The Challenge to be Creative, and Going to the Dis-Comfort Zones!

Anyone who reads this blog knows that photography is where my creative urges soar. In the past month, I pushed myself to step out of my photography comfort zone and experiment with effects that go beyond my normal boundaries. Stepping into the dis-comfort zone has been fun, surprising and incredibly creative. . . so much so that now I must admit that photographically speaking, my comfort zone has expanded beyond all expectations! I love it.

Another area where I am creatively pushing the boundaries is in my writing. This month I have participated in the “A River of Stones Jan ’12” challenge. A simple challenge on the surface, but one which compels me to write in a different way. The results have tickled me and added a new dimension to my writing. I have to think a little harder, but playing with words has definitely added color to these blogs!

So, the creativity continues. But what about the NoCZ-2012 Challenge? I experience stepping out of my comfort zone every time I try something new artistically, whether it be writing or photography. But in other areas of my life, too, I find myself stepping across that line that says “comfort ends here.”

According to Myers-Briggs, I am an introvert. I don’t challenge that label because it fits and I’m ok with that. I love being around people and activity, however I need to withdraw from the buzz of interaction to regroup, clear my mind, think. Then when I’m ready, I’ll engage the larger world again. One area that is particularly uncomfortable for me is introducing myself to new people in new places or situations. As often as I have moved, I am often in “new” situations. In the past I was content to hold back because I knew that it was only a matter of time and we would move on and leave the present people and places behind.

This move is different, though. When Richard finishes with his present job he will retire. We are looking for a house here because we plan to stay and make this our community. I plan to get my license in this state and create a private practice here. There are no plans to move on. Merely waiting for things to happen or for people to find me does not work. I will have to step out of my comfort zone and be the one to reach out to others. And yesterday I took a small step in that direction. After the morning prayer service at the synagogue there was a large kiddush, or meal. This was our second visit to this particular synagogue so we did not know anyone. I turned to Richard and said “Let’s stay.” As we walked into the large banquet room I was a little overwhelmed with the activity and the number of strangers that milled about. But I forged ahead, got in line to get some food, but then where to sit? We didn’t know anyone to sit with. Once again I looked to Richard and asked if he was game to just introduce ourselves to some folks and sit at their table. He followed me. I found a table with some empty seats and asked if the seats were taken. “No, please sit down.” By now of course, my heart was racing a bit, but before you know it we had all joined in conversation. And it didn’t end there! As we were preparing to leave, I saw a woman standing a little distant from the crowd; I walked up to her, offered a greeting and explained that I was new to the community and wanted to get to know some folks. We had a delightful conversation and then Richard and I left.

Looking back on the day, even as I sit here typing, I amazed myself . . . did I really do that? Did I walk up to strangers and just start talking? It’s one thing to do something like that when you are in a particular roll and you approach someone from a professional stand point, but to approach strangers just to chat was a stretch for me.  Wow. What an expansive challenge!

Well, that was my week. We are still in the first month of challenges so we can look forward to a year of exciting growth if this keeps up! Hope your challenges are helping you to grow and expand your horizons, too. Have a great week. 🙂



Freedom! NoCZ-2012

Freedom is the word that comes to mind when I think of what a week of No Comfort Zone 2012 has felt like. The first week of this challenge I have mainly pushed the limits with photography, experimenting with a photo editing program. Prior to this challenge I was afraid to experiment, but after only one week I’m playing with colors, composition, hues and tints and more. Rather than being concerned with presenting the “perfect” photo, I’ve allowed myself to mix it up, get bizarre, and most importantly, post it for others to see and comment on. I will continue to push myself with photography, to push the experimentation into more edgy areas. I’ve stepped over that boundary line with my photography and I feel good about that.

To some that may seem a trivial thing. But pushing the boundaries with photography is a paradigm for my life, too. For reasons I won’t go into here (I’ll save it for a therapist’s office) I have spent a lifetime working hard to appear “perfect” to the world. It takes an enormous amount of energy to always be “perfect,” and a great deal of angst when I fail to measure up (which invariably happens.) Stepping outside my comfort zone involves letting you see the authentic me, the imperfect, perfectly human me. What I had not expected was how freeing and exciting it is to shed the facade and just be real.

Stretching myself with my photography this week was a lot of fun. Surprisingly my photography got better the more I was willing to experiment and post less than perfect shots. Maybe life is that way too. The more we reveal ourselves, step out of our comfort zone, laugh and get excited about our efforts and foibles, the more real we become. For this coming week I will continue to experiment with photography, but for the challenge I will push another boundary in another area of my life. Check back on Mondays to see how it’s going and what new things I’m discovering through the No Comfort Zone 2012.

Challenges! Challenges! Challenges!

January 1, 2012 and the challenges have begun! So, here is a rundown of my day:

Today was rainy, cold, dark and forbidding. I gazed out the window wondering if the rain would ever stop. Rain saturates the ground here in Cleveland. Native Ohioans cannot remember when it rained this much for this long a period. Since moving here in September, the rain has been constant, the days dreary, the moods sullen. I had hoped to get out and photograph some today, but not in this rain. Around dusk, the rain turned to snow. No comment.

I could not get out to photograph today. Bummer. Good photographers though, photograph in all kinds of weather and see beauty in just about any circumstance. What could I do to create a beautiful image in this situation. Camera in hand, I stood at the window and shot off a few frames. Puddles of water, wind-blown trees, darkened sky. There is a beauty to it all and I wanted to capture it.

I am not savvy re technology. I am also a purist when it comes to photography. I will tamper with the photograph to enhance the picture somewhat, but none of that off-the-wall photoshop stuff. I am a purist.

But, if the truth be known, I am a purist because the many photo programs available for editing photographs intimidate me. I don’t have photoshop, and the real reason I don’t is because it scares me. I do have Aperture however, Apple’s photo editing program. Had it for years. Never used it. Afraid to try. Today, with lousy photos, I decided that it is time to step out of my comfort zone and see what I can do with a photograph. I played with Aperture, changing colors and brightness and moving things around and painting things in. I didn’t get quite as wild as this sounds, but for the first time I did play with the program and I had fun!

The part that really gets scary for me is the second part of pushing that boundary. Gulp. I decided that to show my sincere desire to stretch and grow and all that good stuff, I would publish my experiment. I have waited all day, and fiddled with the photograph a good part of the afternoon. But the time has come. Please be gentle with your criticism. Here is where my experimentation took me today.

Original photograph looking out my window at the courtyard below.
The Apertured photo.

Yes, I mainly played with the color and the exposure, but it is a start. AND, I had fun.

I am excited. Hope your first day of this brand new year was a good one. Thanks for stopping by and please feel free to leave a comment. (Just remember, be kind; I’m still trembling about publishing the photos.)