Brenda: Learning to Live Outside the Comfort Zone

By Brenda Calloway Do you ever feel like a fish out of water? I know I have. I have been thinking about this a lot as of late, probably ...

By Brenda Calloway

Do you ever feel like a fish out of water? I know I have. I have been thinking about this a lot as of late, probably because I have two daughters who are going off to college this fall. I have been watching them try to deal with the stress and details of moving to a new place, where they won’t know many people or the area they will be living in. I know, at least for a little while, they will feel this "fish out of water" feeling.

I believe a lot of people refer to this same feeling as "moving outside of your box" or comfort zone. However you want to say it, it describes the same thing. You are dealing with a new sensation, activity, lifestyle, issue, etc. in your life and it feels foreign to you. It can be an uncomfortable feeling, and so many people try to avoid this feeling. However, this can be when we experience the most growth.

I have felt this feeling MANY times. As I was growing up, my family and I moved around a lot, and so, just about every year (and sometimes twice in a year) I was the new kid walking to the front of the classroom and being introduced to yet another group of strangers. If I hadn’t been such a shy kid, I might have started to play with this role and maybe make up cool places I had come from, or crazy stories as to why I was there, but I never really did that kind of thing until I was older (don’t worry, when I make stuff up now, I usually let the person know -- eventually).

My husband is a proverbial fish out of water; he is AMAZING at living this phenomenon, which is probably why we work so well together. He is a strong, athletic man, who doesn’t eat meat (ha ha!). He goes to a church that demands a lot of his time, for free. He married his high school sweetheart and was able to get his bachelor’s degree and then got his masters degree while still supporting and taking care of his wife and five children. He has taken in my family members when and if they have needed it and has loved and supported his kids and their spouses as needed.

My husband has always lived his life the way he believes he should, regardless of the feelings it can bring or the teasing he may get. We call him a unicorn, because I have yet to meet anyone like him.

As I grew older, and after getting married, my husband and I had our first four kids fairly quickly. When our fourth child was born, our first child was still 2 years old (only for a couple of months, but still). Needless to say, it was a CRAZY time in our lives and the lives of our family and friends (if we decided to pay them a visit and they actually answered the door). If it hadn’t been for my family’s help, I don’t know if this fish out of water would have survived.

I think that the most I have ever felt this feeling was when I found out that my mom, dad and two youngest brothers had been killed in a tragic car crash. A young kid had been driving while impaired, had crossed over double yellow lines, and killed all four of my family members instantly. I was 26 years old and was almost eight months along with our fifth child. I felt like I had been thrown so far out of water, that I didn’t think I would ever breathe normally again.

After we made the arrangements that were necessary, attended the funerals, memorial services, family gatherings, and legal meetings; after we went through and decided what to do with everything that was in our parent’s home and dealt with our childhood memories, we had a surprise visit from a stranger. This stranger had come by to tell us that this same type of thing had happened to her, and that we would survive. I cannot tell you how thankful I am to this young woman. She helped me to know that I would one day be back, if not in, then at least near the water again, and that I would one day be able to breathe.

The reason that I have told you this is that whenever I feel a tiny bit uncomfortable, if I’m starting a new job, or attempting something I have never done before, it gives me strength to know that others have gone on before me and survived. Some of them have even grown and flourished and can then lend their strength, expertise and know-how to the next group of fish.

If you see someone out there who isn’t maybe acting quite as nice as they should be or seems lost, just remember, they may be going through a big change or something kind of rough. They may have been thrown out of the water for a time, and need some extra love and patience.
And try to remember, if you see me driving down one of these beautiful Murrieta streets, and you can’t tell what I’m mouthing to myself again and again, I am probably saying, "fish out of water, fish out of water" over and over, so that I will remember to have a bit of extra patience with the guy or gal who just cut me off.

Whether you are starting a new job, going away to school, moving to a new place or just don’t really feel like you "fit in" where you are, know that you are not alone and that most of us feel that way at least some of the time. And to help you when you are feeling a bit out of place, and can’t get a hug from a family member or friend, here is my mama’s home-made bread recipe that will warm you up from the inside out!

Mom's Home-made Whole Wheat Bread (makes 4 loaves of bread)

4 1/2 c. hot water (not hotter than hot tap water)
1/2 c. sugar or 1/3 c. honey
4 t. salt
1 cube butter, softened (you can use coconut oil as a healthy alternative)
(You can add 2 c. white flour if your family loves it that way, but don't need to if you want it 100 percent ww)
2 heaping T. yeast
Lots of whole wheat flour

In a large mixing bowl (that has a good, strong dough hook attachment -- or can knead it by hand) put warm/hot water and then add yeast to let it dissolve/activate. Add sugar or honey, salt, butter and white flour if you are using that. Add 4 c. whole wheat flour and turn mixer/dough hook on. Keep adding whole wheat flour 1 cup at a time until the dough doesn't stick to the sides of the bowl anymore. Once the dough is in a soft dough stage (not sticking to the sides, but not overly full of flour), you know you are done adding whole wheat flour. Knead for 10 minutes on low speed with dough hook or by hand. Once the 10 minutes is up, stop the kneading and let rise for about 1/2 an hour, or until doubled in size. While bread is rising, grease 4 bread loaf pans with butter or oil. Take risen dough out of bowl and place onto a greased flat surface. Cut dough with knife, into 4 equal sections. Knead and form each quarter of dough into a loaf shape. Place smooth side down into greased loaf pans and lightly flatten with hand. Flip out the loaf of dough and flip over, putting loaf of dough back into bread pan so that greased smooth side is facing up. Let rise again for another 30 to 45 minutes or until they have risen just over the tops of the bread pans. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. When the bread is done, take out of oven and immediately flip bread out of loaf pans and let cool on rack or clean counter. Immediately butter or oil the tops of the loaves with brush. Sooo yummy while warm or anytime!

Brenda Calloway is a happy wife and a mother of five beautiful daughters. She loves her family, the outdoors, to read, bake and all things medicinal.


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  1. Awesome article! I can totally relate! Thanks for the reminder that we've all been there, and will be there again from time to time.



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