Leaving Comfort Zone City

Wasn’t it Eleanor Roosevelt who said “Do something everyday that scares you”?

That’s just crazy talk. I can just picture her sitting next to her presidential husband in some cushy highly secure setting, adding “What have you got to loose?”

For someone who likes her routine, knowing where she’s going, what she had to do and when she has to do it, this advice seems nothing short of ludicrous. As much as I admire the former first lady, I never saw the sense in doing something scary on purpose.

Until this week, when I had the chance to do it twice.

Clue #2 – Find the Chicago Theater – Seriously??

First, along with a co-worker (because I would be way too chicken to try this on my own), I attended an after-work scavenger hunt in downtown Chicago. Billed as a networking event, the best part about it, I figured, was the reception afterwards. It was being held at the Exchequer Restaurant and Pub, my favorite pizza place in the Loop (sorry Lou Malnati’s, but until you open a Loop location, my tomato sauce-covered hands are tied).

As hunt participants gathered, we were each assigned to a team and handed a list of clues, ten of which we had to identify – within the hour! Bummed that my pal and I landed on separate teams, I have to admit that tearing through the Loop on foot – during rush hour – was a most effective networking experience.

And let’s be honest. Nothing bonds better than the promise of good pizza!

As we scrambled down Dearborn, my team rushed to form into a cohesive unit. One of my teammates called out the clues, one researched said clues on her cell phone, two forged ahead looking for site after site, spearheading the thick crowds of home-bound commuters, one agreed to be our designated photographer, taking requisite shots of us in front of each destination, and one of us kept count of clues uncovered. Roles changed throughout, but we managed to rally each other along.

Despite being a model of efficiency (cough, cough), we were not the first team to arrive at Exchequer and we did not correctly identify ten clues (“downtown social club” was referring to the Union League of Chicago and not the Chicago Athletic Club – who knew?). Still, we all had a great time and we all now have some new friends.

My other foray out of Comfort Zone City was a little more protracted. It started a few months back when I enlisted the dynamic duo at PixelTwister Studios to create an animated trailer for Help Wanted, book #2 of my Assignment: Romance series.

While this same dynamic duo had created the a-m-a-z-i-n-g trailer for False Start (book #1), things went a little differently this time.

I remembered my first go-around with Ellen and Jeremy (aka, the dynamic duo) being much more collaborative. After Ellen read the book, we communicated often about every fine detail – hair color, character motivation, music selections. By the time I saw the final product, I had already seen most of it, but was still thrilled beyond measure with the end result.

This time, though, there was far less back and forth; just sporadic creative shots fired over the bow. Like when Ellen floated the idea of having the last frame of the trailer mimic the movie poster of the Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie flick, Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

Distracted with whatever menial task I was working on at the time, her idea made me chuckle. “You go, Ellen,” I thought to myself, trying to even remember that movie, let alone the poster for it.

I never did look it up.

In the meantime, I just assumed things were humming along on the video trailer production front while I went about my usual comfortable routine.

That is, until this week. I got an email from Jeremy with the final cut (Final cut, really? I haven’t even seen a draft yet!). Despite the fact that I loved what they had done with my first book, and that they enlisted Wendy Stetson (the same phenomenal voice actress who narrated my books) to do the voiceover, panic coursed through my veins.

I couldn’t click the link to the video for the longest time.

What if I didn’t like it? Was I really up for pushing back and demanding that they refund my deposit?

But then I played it.

I couldn’t take my eyes off of the screen, marveling at how they managed – again – to nail not only the essence of the story, but throw in details from the book that even I had forgotten about…and all within a two-minute long animated short!

Turns out, Ellen, a serial creative risk-taker, was right. Her idea for the last frame of the trailer? Genius.

And props to Mrs. Roosevelt. In both forays out of my comfort zone this week, I had little to loose, but much to gain (excuse me while I add “scare self” to my to-do list).

So, how about you? Have you done anything scary lately? I’d love to hear all about it!

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