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There are Comfortable Places Outside of Our Comfort Zones
One of my favorite fictional families is the O’Leary family in Anne Tyler’s book, The Accidental Tourist. Most of the members are incapable of change. They call it the “O’Leary groove.” The offspring, now grown, still live in their childhood home. They find comfort in long-standing surroundings. They have to do everything the same way it has always been done, such as placing canned goods in alphabetical order on pantry shelves. Periodically, one or another tries to break free – only to return later.
When we become independent adults, many of us are busy establishing our own comfort zones. Our traditions of choice may or may not be the same as those of our childhood families. When we marry, our traditions adjust so that both spouses feel comfortable within the new family.
From early in our marriage, my husband and I cooked traditional holiday dinners that were a blend of what we had grown up with: butternut squash for him, and corn pudding for me – although we had no trouble agreeing on the turkey, dressing, gravy, and mashed potatoes. We found our meals to be delicious. They brought back many wonderful memories and created new ones!
When our children were small, and we lived far away from family, Jim and I worked as a team to cook our traditional holiday dinners. That continued for years, even though our children never truly embraced the menu.
Eventually, both of our children became vegetarians. We are not sure how that happened, but it put a damper on our enthusiasm for cooking a big turkey dinner.
Two years ago, our college-age children offered to cook the Christmas Eve meal. I was thrilled!
“Just so it is not vegan,” my husband insisted. We had eaten at a vegan restaurant the previous year, and he had hated his meal.
So, the kids spent hours poring through veggie cookbooks. They planned. They went to the grocery store. They spent the day cooking together. And, their efforts paid off in a big way. Our meal was not our traditional one, but the flavors blended together to more than satisfy our taste buds! As their dad rose to fill his plate with seconds, the kids confessed that the meal was completely vegan. That was not their intention, but the way it had evolved.
We all had a good laugh, and my husband and I put the desire for our traditional menu in the past. We were together. We were happy. We had shared a great meal. And, Jim and I had not needed to cook!
What groove do you need to re-think? What can you do differently to change your life and brighten your day? What do the people around you really want from you?
Until we meet again,
The Entrepreneur’s Friend