Outside the Box

“I was just amazed you said Yes!” my friend Pat responded when I thanked her for inviting me along on her annual Ladies Only outing to the Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario

Inwardly, I was taken aback just a bit by this remark.  Have I become so reclusive that my friends are surprised when I agree to go places with them? Admittedly, I do tend to stick to myself,  often choose being at home with my dogs and a book over going to movies or parties.  Once again, I go back to my roots as an only child as the reason for this.  I’ve always been perfectly happy with just me, myself, and I for company, and tire easily when I’m “in society” too much.

But I didn’t realize my habit of hunkering down alone had become so noticeable .

Of course, one of the things at which my friend Pat is particularly skilled is getting people to step outside their box.  She taught high school music and drama for two decades, and that definitely requires major expansion of one’s comfort zone.   Although I was an adult when I met her, no one had ever done much in the way of encouraging me to push the boundaries of my safe little box.   Working with her for 15 years provided me lots of opportunities to stretch those walls I’d always lived so comfortably within.  Performing dozens of times every year and in all kinds of places; being ready to cope with less than stellar conditions or changes in program at a moment’s notice; forming relationships with students and their parents ~ these are the kinds of things that built my confidence and gave me the courage to leap outside the parameters of my small, insular life.

Even though Pat and I maintain a lasting friendship, we haven’t worked together on a regular basis for the past several years.  Those years have been a bit traumatic for me – I’ve been through some major losses in terms of people I love, and some rather stern lifestyle changes as well.  If I’m honest, I can feel myself retreating back into that safety zone I once knew so well, that tiny safe place called home where I can huddle into a metaphorical corner.  I need someone – or something – to encourage me to step outside of the box again.

Because the two days I spent in Stratford this week  with Pat and several other friends were just amazing.  We saw some breathtaking theater productions, but we also had great conversations and shared some really relaxing moments.  I’m surprised by just how much events like this mean to me.   They are rare, so they take on a quality of preciousness in my mind, like some small, perfect jewel of experience in my memory.

It was good to have some quality time outside the box this week.

How about you?  What (or whom) can get you to step outside the boxes you’ve built  around  your life?


12 thoughts on “Outside the Box

  1. Personally, I’m screaming to get outside my box. I didn’t exactly build it, I got shoved into it when it became clear that mom is going to live until who knows when, she doesn’t need to be in an “establishment” and I’m the designated care-giver.

    I mostly don’t mind, but sometimes, if I let myself ponder the fact that she may live to be 100, I realize that means I’ll still be caring for my mother WHEN I’M OVER 70 YEARS OLD!!!

    Sometimes I feel like my life is slipping away, and I’m not going to ever get to do anything again. Now, granted, there are people who can come in, respite programs and such, but those cost money. Big money. More money than I have laying around. And I can’t justify dipping into her savings to fund her care only because I want to travel – especially in this economy and with the mostly unknown changes coming to health care in the future.

    It’s a hard situation, but believe me – if I thought for one minute I could step outside my box for more than an afternoon or evening, I’d be gone so fast you wouldn’t even see the flash!

    • I totally understand those feelings. I know there are lots of things I can’t even think about doing because my mom needs me here. That box remains in place for the unforseeable future.

  2. Pingback: Going Against The Grain

  3. The three of us have similar situations. With people living longer, many of our generation find themselves caring for aging parents longer than those of previous generations. It does create additional challenges for caregivers.

    Change is on the wind around here. Dad will probably come to live with us before too long.

    I identify with your reclusive nature, Becca. Like you, I have a friend who encourages me to move outside my box. She signed us up for yoga classes. I have no (NO) experience with yoga. This should be interesting.

    • I’ve done yoga (but only in my family room in front of tv and a DVD 🙂 I actually like doing yoga, but I’m not sure how I’d feel about being in a class. Let me know how that works for you.

  4. I’m so glad you said yes. Having a friend encourage you is huge!

    I sometimes challenge myself to replace the word “no” with “yes” no matter the invitation. It does take a lot of effort on my part to step out of my own box. But in the end, it’s so worth it.

    Happy Tuesday, Becca!! xo

  5. I’ve been working out with a personal trainer and he continues to push me past my self imposed limitations. At the same time… I have to remind myself that I do have limits. (I’ve been thinking about blogging about this… finding that balance between stretching and stopping) I think the comfort zone serves a valuable purpose, as does thinking and living outside of the box. I’m sure you had reasons for saying “yes” to this invitation… I believe our intuition lets us know when it’s time to stretch. What do you think?

    • One thing I’m not very good at doing is listening to my intuition. I think women your age are generally more self-aware than women in my generation – at least among the ones I know personally.

      But I did jump on the chance to take this trip, and after I said “yes” so precipitously I realized that it was just what I’d been needing. Why? Because for the past year I’ve not done anything other than the “same old same old.” And because for the past year since my husband starting working at home, we are together nearly constantly. It’s not that I don’t adore him and enjoy his company, but hey-sometimes you just need to get away with the girls. So my intuition was speaking to me, and for once, I heard it!

  6. My best friend never fails to help me out with this. when I am with her I forget all the little boxes and confines of life and I just remember to enjoy it. Great post.


    Hannah Katy

  7. I’m wondering what you saw — I’m hoping to go in September or October to stay with a friend. We wanted to see the Tempest, but it closes before we could get our act together (and few tkts left if we tried earlier.)

    I have certain friends (fortunately a number of them) who are very good at getting me to try something new or operate spur of the moment. Pat sounds like that kind for you. Lucky you. Heck, lucky me, too! Friends like that are really a gift!

    • We saw The Tempest which was absolutely fabulous. Christopher Plummer was breathaking, as was the character of Ariel. I’m sad you can’t see that one. Also saw Kiss Me Kate, which was ok. Not my favorite musical anyway. And I saw The Pleasure of Seeing You Again, a two person play about a young man’s relationship with his mother. Tremendous!

      Friends saw Peter Pan and Jaques Brel is Alive and Well…and gave both rave reviews!

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