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The Beautifully Awkward Project started when I was sitting in a pew at the Unitarian Church a few Sunday’s ago. Reverend Tom Goldsmith was talking about Mel Brooks and ideas about faith and God. In particular, he was talking about Mel Brooks’s movie the 2000 Year Old Man wherein God is described as a guy in the village that everyone adored named Phil. Sometime down the road, a thunderstorm crashed through the village and a lightening bolt hit Phil. Everyone gathered around stunned. Then they had a sudden realization: My God, there’s something more than Phil!

Reverend Goldsmith used this example to discuss our ideas about God. I used his example to think about my own identity. I realized that the outer perceived God (Phil) could be similar to my inner workings (small Phil). Small Phil gets stuck in a feedback loop where I look to the world for what I see and know and everything else is basically chucked out of my consciousness. For example: I am a blond, white woman. I like children and nice clothes and people whom I imagine will be kind to me. In sitting in that pew, I realized that I was looking around for people who A) had children over whom I could fawn; B) had clothes I could admire; or C) looked like they would be kind to me. The blond and white part is mixed with the fact that I kind of hate the cliché of being blond and white so I also look for anyone who’s mildly exotic.

I sat there and realized that the small Phil part of me just looked for what made me comfortable. In doing so, my life was safe and secure and always bracketed. I was a horse with my own blinders on. I would likely always find nicely dressed people and children to fawn over and people would, for the most part, be kind. At least I hoped so.

But here’s the thing: I don’t want to live a bracketed life. I decided then and there that I wanted to make a practice of occasionally putting myself in situations that would take me out of my small Phil comfort zone. It would be a Big Phil practice. And not just that, I’d go in to these situations with one question: What can I offer?

Now this last question is easy if you’re in an offering zone. Homeless shelters and places for hurt kittens are clear offering zones. But they also make the offering easy. Not that offering zones are off the list, but I decided I wouldn’t look there first. I’m going to take myself out of my comfort zone in places where the offerings aren’t so obvious.

So, here we go: Karoke.

Yup. I’m going to sing. In a bar.

And here’s another thing: I’ve corralled a fellow blogger, the very cool Eli Pacheco (coachdaddyblog.wordpress.com) into joining me in the Beautifully Awkward Project. We’re both going to put ourselves in awkward situations and stay with the question: What can I offer?

We’re going to do this for the next three weeks. One Beautifully Awkward a week and we’ll report in on Monday.

So, tune in. My heart has already run up a tree. And I go tomorrow. To sing. In front of strangers. And hopefully, I can open up enough to see where someone may need a hand or a heart or a napkin.