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One Evening, Two Important Lessons

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one evening two important lessons

I, like most people, have a personal comfort bubble. I like to stay inside my little bubble and rarely venture out. I notice that the older I get and more I stay in my bubble the more I WANT to stay in my bubble…catch 22 right?

So, last week I went out of town for a quick trip to meet my husband on a business trip in Chicago. (There was a Saved by the Bell themed restaurant that is closing in May that I HAD to go to…but that’s neither here nor there). Since his travel plans were already in place I had the ‘opportunity’ to travel how and when I wanted –I arrived in Chicago several hours before the hubby.

Already frazzled (and soaking wet) from getting lost on the way to the hotel my personal bubble was closing in around me. But, I was starving…it would have been very easy for me to get room service or grab some chain restaurant take out and eat in my hotel room (or just skip dinner altogether and not have to see anyone).

I thought to myself ‘No, I’m in Chicago to experience Chicago. I have to at least leave the hotel.’ So, I googled Chicago style pizza and confirmed the spot to go with the hotel front desk and was on my way.

Getting there the host asked if I wanted to sit at the bar or table. The easy answer would have been the corner booth, away from everyone, where I could just scroll through the internet on my phone, eat quickly and get back to the safety of my hotel room without too much human interaction. “I’ll sit at the bar.”

Getting situated at the bar I realized I was the only one under 50 there (I was also the only lady and only one not glued to my cell phone). NOPE, NOT GONNA DO IT! I ordered (the signature pie that takes at least 45 minutes to bake) and left my phone in my purse – instead opting to watch bad high school sports on TV and making small talk with the bartender.

About 15 minutes into the lifetime it was going to take to get my pizza, a regular walked in and sat down next to me. Pleasantries were exchanged and it was back to radio silence…

Somehow, we started chatting, maybe it was our mutual hatred of what was on TV, maybe because I asked him if he ‘came here often’ (either way my cause was helped by the heavy-handed vodka diet the bartender served)…

Come to find out this gentleman is the most interesting stranger I’ve ever met. My new friend, Rick (he never disclosed his last name), is an openly gay, 59-and-a-half-year-old (his birthday is May 11th), devote Catholic, Republican, Harvard and MIT educated (with multiple degrees) biomedical patent attorney turned flight attendant.  Now whether he was telling the complete truth or full of sh*t it doesn’t really matter; my night (and life for that matter) was completely changed. I went from ‘How do I hide from this scary, unknown world?’ to ‘People are so cool – I don’t wanna go home.’

We talked about everything: the intricacies of Flip or Flop, to how to catch a plane on fire (accidentally of course), to free range chickens and all the way back round.

I re-learned two very important lessons that night:

The first being never judge a book by its cover (unless it’s an actually book – then it’s OK). If I had, I never would have gotten to know Rick.

And the second being baby steps add up to big things. I went from ‘I don’t even want to leave the hotel’ to ‘Why do I have to go home now?’ just by putting one foot in front of the other and taking tiny steps to push my comfort bubble a little bigger. The thing about taking baby steps is that by taking one it makes you wanna take another one – and soon those baby steps snowball into a great evening (or life, or project, or relationship…)

Next time you’re uncomfortable or are overwhelmed by what you need to accomplish don’t look at the big picture. Look for a baby step. What’s the small thing you need to do what will lead you to the next baby step?

Maybe it’s getting out of bed today. Maybe it’s choosing to leave the house. Maybe it’s getting on the treadmill. Maybe it’s turning off the TV…You got this. Take a baby step and see where it leads.


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