Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Motivational Speaker

Firsts Expand Our Comfort Zones So Dreams Are Reachable

Filed under: Living with a disability, Motivation — by Glenda at 7:32 pm on Sunday, May 6, 2007

Skydiving - expanding your comfort zone
(Photo credit: Jeff Hallam)

Growing up labeled as “functionally non-verbal”, I only spoke to those close to me; those who were patient with Glenda-ish. It wasn’t that I didn’t have anything to say to other people (oftentimes, quite the opposite!); it was simply easier to remain non-verbal. Although it was frustrating many times, it was comfortable. I wasn’t expected to give a class presentation or an oral report; a written assignment was an acceptable substitute.

Every so often in life, if you are lucky, situations or opportunities come along that stretch your comfort zone beyond recognition and leaves you with abilities or talents that you didn’t know were within you. Such an opportunity presented itself to me in April, 2005, when I was asked to speak at the Social Planning and Research Council of British Columbia’s (SPARC BC), “Beyond the Obvious: Exploring the Accessible Community Dialogue”. As I shared in my autobiography I’ll Do It Myself:

My initial thought was But I don’t give speeches. I can’t. Since I was raised without the word “can’t “in my vocabulary, that was a fleeing thought. I quickly turned my thought to How can I do this?

I had been using the free computer software ReadPlease for a couple of years to proofread my writing. ReadPlease reads aloud text that is copied into the program. I thought, Maybe I could put ReadPlease onto my laptop and have it read aloud my speech for me. I hesitantly agreed to speak. Unsure if the technology would work, I took a printed copy of the speech with me, in case I needed someone else to read it on my behalf.

Finally, it was my turn to take the stage. Being on stage alone for the first time in my life, with two hundred eyes staring at me, I wanted to run. But, I didn’t. I gave my speech. When I was done, I left the stage, trembling. I had given my first ever speech! And the technology worked!

Afterwards something amazing happened. For the rest of the day people actually came up to me and spoke with me. I was heard for the first time. I was no longer invisible, no longer silent. It was an amazing, unexplainable feeling that I would like to experience again. I would like to give more speeches. I would like to be heard again.

This first speech pushed me beyond my comfort zone. The days and moments leading up to my speech were terrifying. I knew my athetoid cerebral palsy would kick into high gear and my head control would vanish, leaving me bobbing for invisible apples. But, because I took the risk, I experienced a moment that I would not have had otherwise. And, I realized something about myself: that I could present a speech AND survive. Perhaps the apple bobbing wasn’t quite as bad as I feared.

At the end of June, I am offering a web accessibility training session for the Information Technology (IT) staff for a local city – another first for me. I am scared; this is so far out of my comfort zone. But, I know I will survive and that it will be an amazing feeling when I come out on the other side. And, it could quite possibly open doors that I do not know even exist yet.

Taking the risk to try something pushes us out of our known comfort zone and forces us to grow and to realize awesome things about ourselves. Stretching beyond our comfort zone is when dreams are reached.

What first can you take to expand your comfort zone to reach your dream?

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a chai tea latte. Thanks kindly.

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10 Comments »

Comment by Debbie Havusha

May 7, 2007 @ 12:24 pm

Dear Glenda,
I am develping a roster of speakers for a travelling educational workshop. Would you and Darell be interested?
Good luck with your June presentation.
I had a chuckle at your reference about your bobbing for apples. I just love your sense of humour!!
Cheers,
Debbie

Comment by Karla Meachem

May 10, 2007 @ 8:27 pm

WoooHooo Glenda!
How empowering!

I stepped out of my comfort zone a few weeks ago and started writing with a group of women.

I know this opportunity will help me to learn more about myself; as well as open doors that may have never been opened otherwise.

I pray that you will have many more opportunities to be “heard”.

Comment by Glenda

May 10, 2007 @ 8:47 pm

Congratulations Karla on stepping out of your comfort zone! Way to go. Enjoy the journey as you learn more about yourself and discover open doors. And, when your expanded comfort zone feels comfortable again, take another step.

Comment by Jacqui Dalling

May 11, 2007 @ 1:50 am

Public speaking scares me. Congrats for not only getting out of your comfort zone, but having the guts to go back and do it again.

Comment by imfunny2

May 13, 2007 @ 8:21 am

Glenda…

Thanks for stepping up, tackling something that was challenging and sharing that with the blogosphere…

Comment by Amanda

August 25, 2007 @ 11:26 am

Wow Glenda good for you!! I’m so glad I found your blog today, thanks for sharing!

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