Friday, October 11, 2013

Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone

Last night, I talked to members of Norristown's arts community, our PAL director, and a genuine private investigator (always a treat for a mystery writer), all while eating Ethiopian food. Then I went up Dekalb to our Irish church and sang in Spanish. Only in Norristown, right?

If you had told me 4 years ago that I'd be spending time out and around Norristown each week, delighting in our people and our diversity, I would have said you were nuts. I have nothing against diversity; it's the people part I wouldn't have believed.

I'm an introvert (and proud of it). I'm in my element sitting here alone writing. In summer, I work in my garden. In winter, I do jigsaw puzzles and read. Give me a few good TV shows or a movie, and a word puzzle book, and I can spend a happy evening at home. I'm most comfortable around family and close friends. So for me to actually leave my house and go meet strangers in unfamiliar places is a serious departure from my comfort zone.

But a lot of great things are starting to happen in Norristown, and it's especially gratifying to spend time with the folks who are making those things happen. My blog yesterday was about the need for optimism. The people I talked to at the business mixer at Almaz Cafe last night were all optimistic about Norristown, and it invigorated them to be able to hang out with similarly-minded individuals. This sort of business networking is vital to the borough, if only to remind our businesspeople that they're not alone. They need to meet, compare concerns, share ideas (I only wish the music had been quieter last night to make it easier to talk).

The same goes for our residents. It's too easy to stay at home, or only hang out on your block or at your church. Many of us never venture to another end of town, though we're quick to hop in the car and drive to the mall or to a fast food place. But this sort of comfort zone doesn't help our town's economy. Shopping in town, trying out our restaurants, WILL help. Sure, we don't have as many retail stores as we used to, but hopefully that will change. In the meantime, we've got drug stores, barber and beauty shops, auto mechanics--those sorts of services. No need to go outside town for them.

Norristown has events every weekend this month. Tomorrow, downtown, will be a car show on Main St. and a restaurant festival in the public square at Main and Swede. Go taste-test our local restaurants. 10 am to 3:30 pm for both events.

Next week, the Dragon Boat Club is sponsoring a 5k Monster Mash run/walk at 3 pm on the 19th in Norristown Farm Park, with other activities, like pumpkin painting and a pie eating contest. On the 25th, you'll find Ghost Tours at Selma Mansion from 7 pm to midnight. I'll talk more about these 2 events as they get closer. But put them on your calendar NOW.

Plan to leave your comfort zone this month, and get out and around Norristown. If I can do it, anyone can.

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