"My heart is afraid that it will have to suffer," the boy told the alchemist as they looked up at the moonless sky.  "Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself."(1)  Approximately three and a half years ago there was a shift, an uncomfortable shift, that was the beginning phases of transition and upheaval of a life I had become complacent with.  Reflecting on it now, the picture is more broad and I can make sense of what was happening, but during that time it was only a "gut' feeling that indicated a change was occurring.  It was the routine, the monotony, doing the same things expecting different results, settling into a life that I knew was at best mediocre; that indicated I had arrived at THE COMFORT ZONE.  It was comfortable, but not satisfying to continue cruising through the zone; it was like driving on a straight road where the scenery never changes.  You may hit an occasional bump in the road, but can see it coming so you can brace for it, go around or slow down to avoid any damage.  I have always been very ambitious, I took risks, but somewhere along the way I let the fear of the unknown creep in and steer me in a "safer" direction.  I had somehow surrounded myself with people that were also "stuck" in the endless cycle of the comfort zone and were paralyzed by its overwhelming power.  I continued gravitating to and building unhealthy relationships with people who had similar characteristics as people from my past that resulted in failed partnerships, but blindly expecting the outcome to be different.  I allowed the fear of rejection and failure, the judgement and opinions of others and my own insecurities, keep me caged like a bird who no longer had the desire to sing.  So when an opportunity presented itself to meet for music business in Seattle, I decided instead of flying I would drive from Chicago to Seattle; my entire being was craving and in desperate need of an escape route and this would be it.  It was taking the road trip to Seattle that I knew in my heart I was ready to be freed and little did I know, the process had begun.  In the beginning there were times I craved going back to my comfort zone and would make that u-turn to head back to "safety".  But it wouldn't be long before I would stop, re-calculate and continue forward.  This new path wasn't easy; taking risks, doing the opposite of the habits formed, following this new direction and keeping faith in hopes of reaching the destination I had charted out.  I was unprepared for many of the detours I encountered along the way, but with each, I gained more knowledge, power and strength.  And although the final destination was still in the distance, I could see more clearly why taking this way, was the best way.  I started to understand that in order to live an extraordinary life it would be impossible to take the easy way, I had to be better prepared and that meant facing obstacles that I would have to overcome and learn from.  When I first started on that road trip to Seattle at the end of February 2015, I had originally planned for a 10 day trip, not realizing that is was the beginning of a life long and changing journey. 

I am still on that journey and every now again may have to stop and re-calculate, but during these past few years I have seen and can feel the benefit of leaving the comfort zone.  I am deliberate about what it is I want out of this life and determined to fulfill my purpose.  But more importantly I have recognized that I am not the one in control, that when I thought I was in control things just never seemed to feel right or work out the way I had planned.  My purpose was in place long before I was and the most valuable lesson I have learned is that when I submit to the guidance of that higher power, it leads me to where I am supposed to be.  It reveals the people who are to take the journey with me, confirms them with an undeniable feeling of comfort and makes me aware of those that may be a distraction and detriment to my progress.  It gives insight into making the right decisions for business, music and every aspect of my life.  It makes me feel confident and reassured that no matter what challenges I face, as long as it remains to be my source, I will never fail.  So, three and a half years ago when I was afraid of the suffering I would endure if I ventured outside of my false sense of security, the suffering experienced while I was there was far worse than anything I have experienced beyond the boundaries of the comfort zone.  In fact, it was beyond those borders, my cage was unlocked, I have been freed and can sing again.

(1) Exceprt from "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coehlo