You’re traveling through another dimension — a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That’s a signpost up ahead. Your next stop: The Erma Zone.
On New Year’s Day, son Jimmy threw down this gauntlet:
Mom, what are YOU going to do this year to get out of YOUR comfort zone?
He was just off to graduate school and I had asked him this same question. FYI, you are an official occupant of the middle-aged cheap seats when your children reach the age when they can, with great gusto, give it right back at ya.
As luck, karma, and the universe would have it, the announcement of registration opening for the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop soon showed up in my inbox. It appeared that all were conspiring with my son to push me out beyond my little comfortable perch.
Despite major misgivings and struggling self-esteem, I ventured this past weekend to a land called Dayton and entered The Erma Zone. I discovered a rather magical place filled with girls (and a few fellas) who, just like me, were hoping to connect and find someone, anyone, to reinforce the concept that we can, perchance, write.
Of utmost importance for me was finding the holy grail of the conference – the swearing girls table. I soon persevered and was welcomed to the best swear-like-a-sailor group of gals in the joint. Dropping the F-bomb was mere child’s play here. I’m thinking of starting a group: “Sh*t Erma Would Say Today.”
Throughout the 2 and ½ days packed with workshops, presentations, and desserts, I learned some valuable insights and lessons. Here are a few standouts:
- Write drunk; edit sober. This quote is often attributed to Ernest Hemingway. It sure sounds like him. I think its deeper meaning could be to write with joyful, drunken abandon, then go back and edit after you’ve let it all out. Or, it could just mean that a little bit of whiskey can sometimes help the creative juices flow.
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/keyslibraries/11845074794/”>Florida Keys–Public Libraries</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a>
- I’m not the only one who has a difficult time walking into a room full of strangers and creating small talk out of thin air. I instantly loved the gal who walked up and announced I am such a dork at these kinds of things, can I just stand at your table for a minute? I will do everything in my power to stay in touch with this new bestie for the rest of my days.
- Men tell jokes, women tell stories. Women love the back story: why did a guy walk into a bar? The priest and the rabbi who are with him, are they his spiritual advisors? He walks into a bar, but doesn’t order a drink, what’s up with that?
- Women really, really, like to laugh. The entire weekend was a giant laugh-fest. Almost every conversation had me smiling, giggling or flat out laughing (and I have a mighty horse laugh indeed).
- Phil Donahue and Erma Bombeck were neighbors. I had no idea. Phil Donahue was the keynote speaker the first night and he lovingly described his fond memories of living across the street from the Bombeck house. Snaps to Mr. Donahue for being such an incredible sport – the man can still work a room teeming with estrogen.
- Tell the truth, but tell it slant – Emily Dickinson. I certainly channeled Ms. Dickinson when I was picked to pitch my new book – Magic Fishing Panties – during the “pitchapalooza” conference event. Telling my truth, but with a slanted pitch, in front of a packed room and four judges was a festival of nerves. However, I am so glad I stepped way out into The Erma Zone and gave it my best crazy Southern Irish gal try.
- You can’t edit a blank page – Nora Roberts. You have to write. Sit down, get it out, then go back later and edit. This one sort of goes back to #1 above; I’m still partial to Ernest’s addition of liquor…
- Erma had kidney disease. I discovered that Erma Bombeck suffered from polycystic kidney disease. As some of you might know I’ve recently published an article about one family’s fight against kidney disease. I was surprised that during my research I had never come across this information about Erma.
- Lefties still have to put up with right-handed flip down desks in the college lecture halls.
- Seize the moment – think of all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart – Erma Bombeck. This one needs no explanation.
This next week I’ll be culling through collected business cards, sending out emails, and tweeting and posting to Facebook. I’ll do so not for the purposes of selling my book or pitching my column, but rather to ensure these women know my time spent with them in The Erma Zone touched my soul.
Have you ever stepped out of YOUR comfort zone?
kathykate saysApril 22, 2014 at 7:48 am
Thx for letting me in at the cool kids table. My 8th grade lunchroom nightmares alleviated by some chick that dated a short man once.
Kimba saysApril 23, 2014 at 9:41 am
I'll be your dorky gal pal anytime. Hoping your daughter picks a college in my area so I have an excuse to hang out with you again.
Suzie Cheel saysApril 19, 2014 at 3:32 am
I used to love stepping out of my confort zone and think I am ready to do it again, have never heard of Erma before and love the idea of The Erma Zone
Kimba saysApril 20, 2014 at 10:53 am
Suzie, you would love the Erma Bombeck Writer's Workshop – a room filled with your kind of funny, loving women.
KymberlyFunFit saysApril 18, 2014 at 11:01 pm
You almost slipped those bunny slippers right past us! Love your advice and comments! Way to step out of your zone.
Kimba saysApril 20, 2014 at 10:54 am
Phil Donahue was such a good sport and a great keynote speaker (no surprise there). What was a surprise to me was his great friendship with Erma Bombeck – rally lovely.
Marquita Herald saysApril 18, 2014 at 7:16 pm
Wow I love so many things about this post Kimba! First of all, I have been a fan of Erma's for years – have her books and greedily collected her quotations. Then there's your experience at the conference, oh I would have loved to have been at your table!!! Sounds like you had a great time and made some wonderful new friends – thanks for sharing. 🙂
Kimba saysApril 20, 2014 at 10:55 am
Marty you should definitely think about attending in 2016 – would you make the trek from Hawaii to Dayton? Hope so!
Amy Sherman saysApril 18, 2014 at 6:19 pm
Cudos for stepping out of your comfort zone, Kimberly! I am personally glad you did. It was a delight meeting you and only wish there had been more time. Hopefully you put yours to good use. I'm still in recovery. Love "Erma Zone" and you.
Kimba saysApril 20, 2014 at 10:57 am
Thanks for welcoming me with open arms to the swearing girls table. You are the one who was an awesome standout doing stand-up! XO
Jane saysApril 18, 2014 at 12:47 pm
Is it any wonder I LOVE everything you write?!? Fav forever!!!
Kimba saysApril 18, 2014 at 4:28 pm
Janie I wish you had been there – imagine the annual Lynn B girls fest at the lake…. with 300+ women!
Ann Dorrian-Guaglione saysApril 18, 2014 at 12:12 pm
Kim, Kate introduced us and you had me screaming with your book title and your stories!
Great piece! Great meeting you! Looking forward to your next book!
Kimba saysApril 18, 2014 at 4:25 pm
I loved meeting you Ann, wish I could have spent even more time with you then our quick little laugh-fest in the hallway (but at least we were near the bar table!)
Joan Harrington saysApril 18, 2014 at 11:52 am
Fantastic read, Kim! Thanks for sharing 🙂
Kimba saysApril 18, 2014 at 4:26 pm
Thx Joan – it was truly a lot of fun.
Stacey Gustafson saysApril 18, 2014 at 11:25 am
You did a great job at Pitchapalloza. It's hard getting up on stage, bright lights, strangers judging us. I did the stand-up and glad I tried. Three cheers for getting out of the comfort zone.
Kimba saysApril 18, 2014 at 4:26 pm
YOU ARE SO BRAVE! I can't even imagine how difficult the stand-up was – you were awesome!
Kathi saysApril 18, 2014 at 10:15 am
Sounds like the event was a great success Kimba – both in meeting your New Years goals AND in enjoying, learning and swearing about writing! Wish I was there. And yes, I have stepped out of my comfort zone a few times in the last 10 years. The good news is that the more you do so, the easier it becomes to take that first step out. It's never an easy task, however, that first step can be daunting and that's what becomes easier.
Best of Health,
Kimba saysApril 18, 2014 at 10:38 am
Kathi you would have been right at home in Dayton with us last weekend. You would have had everyone in yoga poses and drinking Harney and Son tea!
Susan Williams saysApril 18, 2014 at 9:54 am
I think you came home with awesome takeaway, and I wish I could have been there to have joined you. Good for you! Maybe in two years, we'll both step into…The Erma Zone.
Kimba saysApril 18, 2014 at 10:39 am
Highly recommend the event for you Susan; 2016 is just around the corner.
Helene Cohen Bludman saysApril 18, 2014 at 8:12 am
Yes to all the above. It was wonderful, wasn't it? I was disappointed we never ran into each other!
Kimba saysApril 18, 2014 at 9:05 am
I know Helene – how is that even possible? We must do better next time!
Jenn saysApril 18, 2014 at 12:18 am
Love these! I'm right there with you, particularly in being a wreck at networking. Or mingling. But I missed out on the swearing girls table, darn it.
Kimba saysApril 18, 2014 at 9:06 am
I am sure I swore enough for the both of us, but next time we'll fly a flag so all the swearing gals know where to meet up.
Anne @MidlifeBlvd saysApril 17, 2014 at 11:22 pm
These things always make me so nervous. Here's to us, stepping out of our comfort zones and into…The Erma Zone.
Kimba saysApril 18, 2014 at 9:11 am
Anne, I thought your were the queen of the ball; thanks for helping all us midlifers feel a little less lost.