Thursday, February 7, 2019

Take the Challenge: Get out of your Comfort Zone to Stay Inspired

by Adriana Carr, MPA
Director, Lee Senior Center
Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation
2019 VRPS Senior Resource Group Co-Chair Elect

“When you go out of your comfort zone and it works; there’s nothing more satisfying.” Kristen Wiig

Around the start of a new year, there are always a bunch of challenges promoted by a variety of people. Most are related to fitness but I have been a on quest to jump start my planning and programming.  I decided to challenge myself to learn from other creative fields.  Here is what happened:

I recently took a course from a friend of mine who has an event planning business.  About 40% of my work involves planning small scale events such as talent shows, holiday parties and the other 60% of my time is focused on creating experiences for older adults who come to the community center I work in.   Creating a positive experience is the goal of any event whether it’s a party, conference, show or workshop.  Additionally, my friend is an excellent teacher and is well established in her field.  So, I registered for her online course: Goal setting for the Enlightened Creative.   During the workshop she encourages her students to get out of their comfort zones and find new ways to grow professionally. I decided to give it a try.

I had been thinking about starting a drum circle in the senior center where I am the director.  Initially I felt uncomfortable about organizing this sort of activity.  It was certainly out of my comfort zone.  Here’s why.  When I thought of drum circles I envisioned young (under 30) bohemian types --or hippies-- engaged in rhythmic and frenetic drumming and dancing.  Never mind that the original hippies are rapidly becoming my customers.   Never mind that drum circles exist in a variety of senior programs around the country. Never mind that Cheryl Wheeler (the 2019 SRG chair) suggested it as a workshop for last year’s conference and our Board Liaison Jane Shelhorse knew someone who lead drum circle!  I still wasn’t convinced. 

I wasn’t convinced that a drum circle would garner any interest from the participants that came to the Lee Senior Center.  I didn’t see them as the sort of people who would enjoy being in a drum circle.  But that bias rapidly dispatched at the VRPS 2018 conference in Henrico.  I was sitting in one of the rooms learning about a great neighborhood revitalization project in Danville, VA.  In the room next to us was a session on an improv fest for teens in Loudon County.  They were very noisy and they were having lots of fun!  The adults in the room were having lots of fun.   Making noise is quite fun. The little lights started twinkling in my brain; maybe a drum circle would work.

I approached a gentleman who loves music and had been trying to get his own band going.  However, I wasn’t completely sure, if he would be interested.  Nonetheless I asked him if he would think about starting a drum circle program.  We talked about it and even got a small focus group together to help develop the program.  I am happy to report that it’s working out well.  The participants who attend are having a great time.  The volunteer dance instructors send some their rhythm challenged dancers to the drumming session for extra help and the drum circle leader has even been asked to talk to other groups about the benefits of drumming.  This program hasn’t even been officially promoted and it continues to grow.  It’s exciting!

This small foray out of my comfort zone affirmed several things.  The first is that being part of VRPS and SRG is pivotal to my career and personal development.  The second is nothing is more constricting to your career than self- doubt. For example, after many months of hesitation, I took the CPRP test and passed!  I muscled past the self-doubt.  The third benefit is that looking to other industries sparks innovation on an individual and general level.  Because when your day to day tasks are geared to producing positive experiences for the community, do not put limits on your creativity.

Have a question, comment or want to blog with us?  Contact the Senior Resource Group:

Cheryl Wheeler, CPRP - 2019 chair
LaTanja Jones, 2019 co-chair elect
Adriana Carr, 2019 co-chair elect
Judith Mangilin, Treasurer