Reaching Beyond Comfort

There have been two hot topics in our town recently. One is just annoying, and the other raises moral and ethical issues and also gives all of us the opportunity to push ourselves beyond our comfort zone.

One is the new quadrant left traffic pattern which someone in Raleigh claims will alleviate congestion. That remains to be seen, amid a sea of solid red brake lights. I can’t speak directly to this as I have managed to completely avoid this area of town for 9 solid days and will continue my boycott as long as possible (on the advice of all those who have attempted to navigate said quadrant).

The other hot topic is the Town Board’s decision to deny a rezoning request that would have allowed a mental health facility offering both inpatient and outpatient care. The Town Planning Board recommended the rezoning 8-1 yet the Town Board voted down the request 4-2. I didn’t attend the meetings, but I did keep up with the information that was published and I was bothered by what I read.

The rezoning became a debate because the 17 acres in question is adjacent to a neighborhood. Here it comes, Not In My Back Yard.  Oh yes, loud and clear, that’s what the neighbors said over and over and over again. Some said they weren’t against the need for the facility, again, just not right in their backyard. I cringed as I read comments from opponents who said they were afraid of patients who might do something stupid. Stupid? Oooo, I didn’t like hearing this word used when discussing this issue. I get it. The problem is fear. We fear what we don’t understand. We steer clear of what we don’t understand. It makes us uncomfortable, so we dodge it.

Here is what I do understand. People with mental illness are still people, living breathing people. They have families who love them and are searching for qualified professionals to help them get better. They need proper facilities to help them, whether we are comfortable or not. The whole thing really struck a chord with me. Why is it ok to turn our heads or close our eyes and not look at the need, whatever it may be? 

I was disappointed that I didn’t hear anyone offering solutions or compromises that would have swayed the Town Board’s decision, or perhaps educated both sides of the issue. I was frustrated that 60 much-needed inpatient beds as well as outpatient facilities in Mecklenburg County will not be ready in 2013 which puts even more people out of help. I was frustrated that our town had a chance to employ over 150 people and missed out on it, not to mention the construction that it would have brought (as well as broken equipment, cha-ching CAT). My Grandfather spent many summers volunteering his time at Broughton Hospital to relieve the overworked Chaplain. My Grandmother and I talked about it last week. She cried as she recalled the desperation she saw in families who needed professional care for their loved ones. She shook her head and said it was a shame Huntersville had missed out on the chance to really make a difference for a lot of people in need. When you have seen it first hand it always brings a different perspective. She has seen the other side and it made her weep.

As I thought about this over the last week, I had to take a long hard look at myself. OK, Miss Priss, just what are you doing to make a difference for someone else?  Was I guilty of turning my own head too?

BOOYAH! OUCH!

Guess who else has a comfort zone? Uh huh! I can give you a list a mile long of reasons why I have a comfort zone and they all make sense, medically, emotionally and Gatewoodally. But seriously, I had to look at myself and wonder if I was going to ask others to step out, then I had to be willing to do the same myself.

Do I have any extra time to do anything else? Well, what exactly do I do with my time? I go to the gym 3 times a week and aside from the really old lady keeper and the obvious endless chores and tasks of a car-pooling and sometimes seizing stay at home mom of 2 boys who sits at home and eats ice cream all day, I guess nothing much. Oh yea, and I run. OH YEA, I RUN! That’s what I need to do! It hit me like a sign blown over by the wind! There is a 5K/10K at our local high school this Saturday to benefit the Exceptional Children’s programs in our local schools. I’m running a half marathon the following weekend so the 10K would even be the right mileage for my schedule. Perfect, except that I didn’t know anyone else running the 10K. That threw a mild kink in my plan, but Johnny and the boys planned to go with me so I wouldn’t be there by myself. Great, I can use my running to help a wonderful cause! Fantastic! So I signed up for the Run TOO Overcome, this Saturday, March 17th at 8 am.

Together Overcoming Obstacles!

The mission of the Run TOO Overcome is to provide awareness and support for the children, families, and teachers whom meet the daily challenges, and celebrate the joys, of supporting our special needs community. The Run Too Overcome unites our community each year to raise funds to provide our special needs teachers with the equipment and supplies needed to provide differentiated instruction to enrich and engage students of all ability levels.

I finished my registration and picked up Justin from baseball practice and he told me when his next practice would be – yep, Saturday morning, 9am. AH, HELLO? Guess what that means? No Johnny and no kids with me at the race on Saturday. God really does have a sense of humor folks because I’m going WAY outside of my comfort zone for this one. It’s all solo on this one. OK, so I had to get over myself and move on. The Run TOO Overcome isn’t about my comfort zone anyway, it’s about celebrating the awareness and support of the special needs community and raising funds for our local schools. If reaching beyond my comfort zone celebrates others who have overcome adversity, Amen to that!

(Don’t worry Mom, I’ll carry my phone with me during the race just in case, though seriously, I’m with Michael Scott, In Case of Emergency, just call 911).

Copyright © Gatewood Campbell, March 2012