Category Archives: fear

Weekend wisdom 5

A weekly review of things that came through my inbox that I found interesting and want to remember.

Nothing on perfectionism came through my inbox this week. I’m kind of relieved. I’ve been thinking about it a lot and think it’s time to stop thinking and start doing stuff.

Imperfectly.

So, I made myself publish a post on my photoblog that I’d been working on for weeks before I was ready to publish it and before I felt totally happy with the photos. But I knew if I kept putting it off and kept tinkering, I’d never publish it. It’s out there now and I can move on to the next thing.

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T&G Building, Hobart

I’m still struggling with making myself go to bed on time. If this doesn’t motivate me to, I don’t know what will.

During deep sleep the spaces between our brain cells expand by as much as 60%, which allows cerebral-spinal fluid to flush through and remove toxins from our brain. One of these toxins is beta-amyloid, a protein that can lead to the build-up and formation of plaques and create memory impairment.

Oh. My. God. That sounds gross! But very good. The last thing I want is memory impairment. Get more sleep!

This statement is from the Smiling Mind website, which is an app I’ve been using to develop a mindfulness practice, mainly at work, where I really need it.

Smiling Mind has just launched a new sleep meditation program, which I signed up for. I like this because it relates to the work I’ve been doing on trying to get more sleep through my wellbeing program. I haven’t started doing it yet because it needs me to have my phone in my bedroom at night, which I don’t like doing. I’m still trying to find a workaround for that so I can have calming music or do a guided meditation at night without my phone. (My CD player has died, so that’s out for now.)

Another segment of the wellbeing program is trying to get more vegetables into my diet. I scanned through this article, 10 Ways to Make Vegetables Taste Good by Steve from Nerd Fitness. I need a lot of help in this area, so I was very interested in what he had to say. In summary, the 10 ways are:

  1. Change their state (cook them in some way: steamed, baked, grilled, sautéed).
  2. Blend them in a smoothie (works well with things like spinach and kale).
  3. Make a combo bite with a food you like (make things like stir fries with lots of veggies and gradually increase the amounts of vegetables and reduce the amounts of the other food).
  4. Cover them in cheese.
  5. Wrap them in bacon (works well with asparagus).
  6. Spice it up (add spice or hot sauce to change the tastes, which reminded me I saw a post on Instagram last week from EatWell Tasmania, which has a similar “veg it up” campaign suggesting ways to get more veg into your diet, which included a suggestion to roast thin slices of carrot with olive oil and cumin, which sounds absolutely delicious and I have to try it).
  7. Pretend they are other foods (zucchini noodles, “cauliflower rice”).
  8. Dunk them (in hummus or guacamole).
  9. Add small amounts of leafy green vegetables to other meals like pasta sauces, chilli beef and curries (I do this a lot).
  10. Cover them in something you do love (which may be an unhealthy thing but the point is to start getting the veggies in and then gradually reducing the amount of sauce. I imagine the same goes for the cheese and the bacon suggestions).

And then, some beautiful words from @tilleysong on Instagram about how our feelings are valid, we don’t have to fix them and we don’t have to make “negative” emotions go away. This was a wonderful post. It came up in a few places for me a couple of weeks ago and it’s something I constantly have to remind myself of.

Finally, some words to inspire me in my photography, from David duChemin,  who says it’s important to get out of your comfort zone, face your fears and keep learning.

I got a similar message on a post in a Facebook group, which was just to get out there and shoot and even if it goes badly, you’ll still have learned something for next time.

So, it’s time to get out there and do something!

Weekend wisdom 4: perfectionism meets comparison

A weekly review of things that came through my inbox that I found interesting and want to remember.

Perfectionism has been the major theme in the things that have caught my eye over the last couple of weeks and I think I’m calling an uneasy truce with it now that I’ve come to understand what it is. After much thinking and writing, I thought I was done with it and that it was time to move on to other things that were grabbing my attention. To put it in the words of a friend who I’d been talking about this with recently, I thought I had kicked that shit to the kerb.

But perfectionism isn’t done with me yet and so the lessons keep coming. It’s probably good that they do, because I don’t think you ever truly “recover” from perfectionism. You have to constantly be on your guard that its voice doesn’t start speaking to you again and that, if it does, you don’t start listening to it. And one way of doing that is to have the message that perfect is the enemy of the good (or done is better than perfect, whichever way you want to look at it) constantly reinforced because reinforcement is how the old pattern of perfectionist thinking got entrenched in the first place.

So, the first thing on Monday morning I saw was this article by Lisa Byrne on perfectionism, in which she says that she sees perfection as being the opposite of excellence. This rang a bell with me because I see my pursuit of perfection as a misguided pursuit of excellence. That is, where I thought I was seeking perfection I was really seeking excellence. I’m still processing my thoughts on this so that might not make too much sense, but I was interested to see what Lisa had to say.

Lisa says that perfectionism leads us to compare ourselves with somebody else (real or imagined) and that when we do this we’ll always come up short because we are not them. (There’s a theme emerging in these posts, isn’t there?)

In her post, Lisa writes of an interview she did with the shame researcher Brené Brown. Brené observed that we are all unique. We’re made up of different parts and we’re all many different things: mother, father, sister, brother, partner, worker, volunteer, writer, gardener, cook, artist, singer, teacher . . . whatever we are. There is no exact replica of us in the world and, therefore, no one to directly compare ourselves to. So instead, Brené says, she (we) (I) compares one part of herself to the “perfect” version of that part. So she might compare her writing to the World’s Best Writer’s work, her volunteer work to Mother Teresa’s work, her research to the World’s Best Researcher’s work, and her photography to the work of the Artistic Genius I referred to last week (no, she doesn’t, that’s what I do . . .).

And guess what? She concludes that she’s falling short in every area of her life because she compares each individual part of her life with the “top” parts of several different people’s lives.

The “comparee” might be a full-time artist who has spent their whole life learning their craft, and has been doing it 12 hours a day, seven days a week, for the last 25 years. They might have devoted their entire life to the service of others. They might be at home full-time with their kids . .  . and so it goes . . .

And hopefully you begin to see that you can’t be the Artistic Genius AND the World’s Best Researcher AND Mother Teresa AND the Gardening Guru AND be home looking after the kids all day because you don’t have 48 hours in a day or 14 days in a week to put in as much effort to each one of those things that you’d need to put in to reach the standard of one of those people in one of those areas. Even if you never slept, you wouldn’t be able to achieve at the level of all of those people in all of those things.

This reminded me of a time I was reading blogs about whole foods and trying to eliminate as much processed junk as I could. I thought I was doing pretty well until I read an article from a homemaker blogger, who said she milled her own flour because flour starts to go bad as soon as it’s milled and the fresher it is, the better.

My first thought was: Are you fucking kidding me? I make my own chicken stock, I am learning to bake bread, I buy hyper-expensive organic yogurt, I don’t buy packet sauces or tinned baked beans or frozen meals anymore, and I have my own chickens and now you’re telling me I have to Mill. My. Own. Flour.

At the time, I felt hopelessly inadequate beside this “homesteader”, who did absolutely everything from scratch, and wondered why I was bothering even trying because I could never achieve this level of food nirvana.

This week, as I reflected on how that had played out, I thought, hang on, if Brené Brown, world-renowned researcher and author, is comparing herself to others and finding herself falling short, then what hope is there for me in getting off the comparison hamster wheel?

And it hit me that maybe there isn’t. No matter how skilled I get at something, there will always be someone who is “better” than me, who knows more than me and who has been doing it longer. If I reach a level that I consider equal to theirs, then they will have moved forward too and I’ll still feel inadequate in comparison.

Comparison is a game we can’t win because the goalposts are always moving. Therefore, it’s a game that isn’t worth playing.

It’s a trap.

We compare ourselves unfavourably to other people because we’re comparing one part of ourselves to the only part of them that we see. When Brené Brown compares herself to the World’s Best Researcher or Barb compares herself to the Artistic Genius or the Homesteader Blogger, Brené and Barb are always going to feel inferior because they’re comparing a small part of their identities to what they perceive as being the whole of that person’s identity—that is, the part of that person’s identity that they show in public. (That was the only time I’m ever going to be mentioned in the same sentence as Brené Brown, so let’s just take that in for a moment . . . )

And you know what, if Brené thinks she comes up short against World’s Greatest Researcher, then I bet that the people I look up to have moments where they feel inadequate compared to someone else too. After all, they are human too. Homemaker Blogger might look at Artistic Genius the same way I do and feel like giving up her art because it’s not as good as theirs. World’s Best Researcher might look at Homemaker Blogger and feel terrible about their own food endeavours. Hell, Artistic Genius might sometimes feel totally incompetent in their own field because they aren’t Van Gogh or Ansel Adams. But they’re still in the same comparison trap that I’m in. They’re comparing their whole self with only a part of the other person’s identity.

One of my favourite expressions about this is that you can’t compare your cutting room floor footage with someone else’s highlight reel (thanks, Kendra). We don’t see the crap that the “comparees” made first, the struggle they’ve gone through to produce what they show us, the things that went wrong. We only see the finished product. We also don’t see the World’s Best Researcher pop in to Macca’s for drive-through on the way home every second night because they don’t have time to make dinner. We don’t see Homemaker Blogger’s pile of unfinished art and we don’t see Artistic Genius’s overgrown garden.

And that’s the way I have to deal with these comparisons whenever I hear that nagging little voice in my head tell me that what I’m doing isn’t as good as what . . . is doing.

So, after the initial guilt for using potentially tainted flour had worn off, I told myself that Homemaker Blogger devotes her entire life to raising her family, making a home and preparing the absolute best food she can. I am not this person, I am nothing like this person and my life is nothing like hers. For a start, I work outside the house. I have to, to pay for it. Therefore, doing home stuff is a much smaller part of my life than it is of hers. Just like I have less time to spend on my art than the Artistic Genius has and Brené has less time to volunteer than Mother Teresa did.

So rather than looking at World’s Greatest Researcher or Artistic Genius and thinking I’m useless in comparison and feeling deflated and defeated, I need to learn to acknowledge that someone else’s personal best is their personal best, not mine and that I should be striving for my personal best from the place I’m at, not that person’s personal best.

Rather than allowing it to make me feel inadequate, I can then use comparison as a motivation to do my own work and to get better. To shine my own light, not someone else’s. I can look at what it is I like about what they do and see if there’s something there that I can learn from. Perhaps I can buy better quality flour in smaller quantities and store it differently. If like the way the light falls in this artwork, maybe I can look for opportunities to incorporate that into my work. When I noticed that a writer has used words that flow with a certain rhythm, I can experiment with doing this and see if it works for me.

Comparison is a two-edged sword. When it inspires you and moves you forward, it’s a useful tool. When it deflates and demotivates you, it’s time to stop. Get off social media, stop reading blogs, take a break and focus on your own work. Forget about what everyone else is doing and go out and do what makes you happy.

And stop I will because that’s long enough to spend on one article from my inbox (which, incidentally, is still not at zero).

I had a couple of other strong messages grab my attention too this week. First, was an article from James Clear called Stop Thinking and Start Doing: The Power of Practicing More, which is a great reminder that you don’t get better at something by reading about it and thinking about it; you get better at it by doing it. The second theme that I saw in a couple of places was the importance of learning, which at first seems to contradict the message in James’ article, but this wasn’t as much about learning new skills as it was about broadening your world view through reading, exploring new ideas and getting out of your comfort zone. Here’s one of them by photographer David DuChemin, The Greatest Misconceptions in Photography.

Point to Pinnacle: D-day

322 days ago, on 31 December 2017,  I posted a photo of kunanyi from near the bottom of the university with the caption, “One day, Mountain, I will walk to your summit”.IMG_8514

Today, I did it.

I didn’t specifically have the Point to Pinnacle in mind when I posted that photo and I didn’t have a time frame for doing it. It was just in the back of my mind as a “someday” thing.

When I signed up for the Point to Pinnacle in August I had every intention of following a training plan leading up to the event, doing lots of hill walks and feeling completely prepared to do the walk. I didn’t stick to the plan, I didn’t do lots of hill walks and, in the past month, have done very few morning walks at all. For someone who normally walks every day, I’ve found my lack of motivation very unusual and out of character, especially leading up to a 21.1 km walk up a 1270 metre high mountain.

So I didn’t feel prepared and was not-so-secretly worried that I wasn’t going to make it. There’s a time limit of 4 hours 40 minutes for the walk and I wasn’t at all confident about my hill-readiness. However, I’d signed up, I’d told people I was doing it and I’d found someone I knew a couple of days ago who said she’d walk with me. I was going ahead with it.

When I got to the casino, I could see the top of kunanyi was shrouded in mist and it seemed so far away. How was I going to do this? I’ve wondered this every time I’ve walked along Sandy Bay Road and looked up there. How is this possible?

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I’m walking up there???

The reported temperature on the summit was “feels like minus three”. I packed a jacket and gloves in my gear bag, which the bus takes to the top so the participants don’t have to carry stuff they don’t need on the walk (or run).

The walk started at 7am, after a warm-up and briefing. I have no idea how many walkers there were but there were a lot and I was in the middle of a huge pack of people trying to make their way as quickly and efficiently as is possible for a huge pack of people to get through a not-very-wide timing arch. It was happening. I was doing it.

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Getting ready to go

I caught up with my friend along Sandy Bay Road and we kept up a steady pace as we made our way to Davey Street. I felt a bit (not) sorry for the cars who hadn’t gotten to the Southern Outlet before it closed and were banking up along the road. I have no idea what happens in these situations; whether they let people through when there are gaps in the packs or if the cars just have to stay there until the roads reopen.

The walk was just as I remembered it from two months ago but without the cars and the fear that I could be run off the road at any time by a driver who wasn’t paying attention. This was definitely the way to do it! Allowing for the congestion at the start, which slows things down a bit, my revised goal was to get to the turnoff to kunanyi in one hour 45. We did the 9.7 km in one hour 48, leaving two hours 52 to do the final 11.4 km. We were both confident of making it, but the hill was the unknown. I knew I could easily walk 11 km in three hours. On the flat. But the lack of hill training was scaring me.

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On the run photo of reaching the turn-off

There was only one way to find out!

Not far up the road, we were informed we’d passed the half-way point, and soon came to a 10km sign. I initially thought it meant we’d walked 10 km, which made no sense if we’d already passed half-way, but my friend pointed out that this was actually 10 km to go. Ohhhhh. I’m not at my brightest in the morning. We were walking through the mist we could see from the bottom and it kept it very cool and was nice conditions for walking in.

I was grateful for the bathrooms at the Springs because I needed a break and told my friend to keep going rather than wait and I’d catch her up because her pace was a bit slower than mine. I power marched up the hill to catch her. She’d said a couple of times that if I wanted to go on ahead to go because she was slower. I felt bad leaving but she said she didn’t mind and I hadn’t actually factored doing this with anyone else when I was planning, so I said if that was okay I’d see her at the top. And continued my power march.

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Brief photo stop

Six km to go and it was nearly 10.00. Three hours in, one hour 40 to go. At my normal pace, I would easily do six km in an hour. On the flat. For some reason, my lack-of-sleep addled brain thought that this meant I should be able to cover a kilometre in six minutes and I was expecting the five km sign in six minutes. I was very put out when it took just over ten. I finally clicked to the actual rate I was walking and set myself a goal of the final five km 50 minutes.  Every time I saw one of the red signs I was a little bit more relieved. The mist had gone in one spot and we were walking in bright sunshine for a brief period, but that was short-lived and the rest of the ascent was in mist. Much better for walking.

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The mist and the not-mist

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A brief sunny spell before the mist again

I was a bit horrified at thinking I was nearly there, and then seeing the last big turn in the road to the pinnacle and OMG people walking up there!

Finally, there was one km to go and the end was in sight. I got a bit muddled as to where the finish line was and I was trying to take photos as well as look glamorous for the race photographer and I’m sure the photo of me crossing the line will be me trying to work out why my video wasn’t working. Ha!

It was great crossing the finish line with all the people standing there cheering and, because the race bibs have your name on them, they’re calling out encouragement especially for you! What a way to end. I had the biggest smile on my face and was so happy to have made it to the top. I didn’t feel like I was going to collapse in a heap like I’d expected! I felt like it had been a nice, somewhat more strenuous but not impossibly so, walk than some of my usual Sunday walks. It certainly hadn’t justified the fear I’d felt before the event. My final time was four hours, two minutes, which, if you subtract the toilet break, would have been under than four hours.

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Thank you, unknown person, for taking my photo

I never thought I would do it in that time and I have a niggling thought that maybe, just maybe, I might want to go back and do it again next year so I can break the four hours.

I have 12 months to talk myself out of it!

On the way back down on the bus with my friend, who also made it in the time limit, yay!, we commented on how it seemed so unreal that we had walked up there. Back at the casino, looking up where we had been, it was like it had never happened.

I suspect my legs will tell a different story tomorrow.

Challenge 4: Activities 21-27

I think I missed a few days after Day 18 (Thursday) when I did three activities (18-20) and learned about the Edamame Threat.

Day 19: I was home with a sick boy, so the thing I had booked to do that day didn’t happen. I had to reschedule.

Day 20: That was Saturday. I can’t remember what I did on Saturday.

Activity 21: Approach someone I met once a few years ago and reintroduce myself.

This was an opportunity activity, because I hadn’t planned to do it, but the chance came up so I went with it. I was at an event and saw someone who I follow on Twitter and who I’d met several years ago, but I wasn’t totally sure it was her. I kept staring at her to try and figure it out, and felt really awkward. Finally she and I were in each other’s vicinity so I took a deep breath and said hi. Turns out it was her and we have a brief chat.

Fearometer: 5/10. I was pretty nervous.
How I felt before doing it: Nervous and that only built up the more I thought about doing it.
How I felt while I was doing it: Awkward at first, but we had common interests so it was fine.
Would I do it again: I have introduced myself to random Twitter people in the street if I’ve interacted with them a bit, so probably. Depends on the person.

Activity 22: Get an outstanding medical check
Won’t go into details here, but in 2013 I was asked to get medical clearance so that I could do something I’d wanted to do. It has taken me this long to make the appointment.

Fearometer: 2/10 I was only slightly worried that maybe there would be some issue that had cropped up that I wasn’t aware of
How I felt before doing it: Just wanted it to be over. Doctor was running late. I had 30 minutes to get through. (Lesson for #fixwhatbugsyou – the doctor will always be late, even if you call to ask whether they are on time and are told they are. Take a book. Write a blog post. Don’t waste time with the trashy waiting room magazines. They will rot your brain.)
How I felt while I was doing it: Fine once it became apparent there wasn’t anything to worry about.

Would I do it again: Yes

Activity 23: Have a Tarot reading
This has been something on my wanna do list for ages, but I never knew how to go about organising this or what to expect. I know a little bit about the Tarot but felt very awkward about having a reading because I’m not an expert and had no idea what I might find out.

On Twitter earlier in the week one of my friends said she had had a reading and that the person doing the readings, Jodi, was giving away 20 free readings (she still is – click the link to get in touch!) to help her make sure what she was doing all worked before she went into business. I felt a bit awkward asking someone I’d never interacted with before if I could be one of her guinea pigs, but she was happy to sign me up and, striking while the iron was hot- before I could chicken out –  I set it up for the next day and we connected over Skype.

It was amazing, and I’ll write a fuller post on this a bit later because it’s inspired an upcoming challenge. The thing that grabbed me was the insight into my situation that Jodi and I read into the cards – she calls it a ‘collaborative reading’ –  and it left me feeling like I was completely on the right track with what I was doing. There are so many things that are coming together about this situation right now, I feel like a little step I took about a month ago has started to build momentum. Ad it also manifested in an unexpected way a couple of days ago, which assures me I am doing the right things and is pushing me to keep going.

Fearometer: 6/10
How I felt before doing it: Nervous about what might come out of the reading. Scared about connecting to someone online I’d never interacted with before.
How I felt while I was doing it: More and more relaxed as time passed. Jodi was very easy to talk to and I was really grateful to have had this opportunity.
Would I do it again: Absolutely

Activity 24: Go to the accountant and get my tax done
Oh the dreaded tax time. I’m not sure what I was worried about. I keep good records and most of the information gets downloaded into the ATO site anyway, so it’s really no big deal. I mainly needed to go to the accountant to get some advice on the disposal of some assets. That sounds serious. It’s not. It ended up being under $50 on a section of the tax form I never knew existed. It’s all done now and I’m expecting my snappy $80 refund any day now.

I’m almost embarrassed to put this in as a year of fear activity.

Activity 25: Ask someone for something they have no obligation to give me or expectation that I might ask for

Fearometer: 4/10. I always get a bit nervous asking this person for something
How I felt before doing it: Nervous

How I felt while I was doing it: A bit more anxious as at first they didn’t know exactly what I was asking so I had to explain myself again
Would I do it again: Probably if my desire for a thing outweighs my nerves

Activity 26: Ask to exchange a product I bought that’s the wrong one
This is a silly thing to be anxious about doing, but I always dread having to go back to a shop and ask to exchange something. It’s not as bad if the product if faulty but if I’ve stuffed up and bought the wrong thing because I didn’t check what I needed first, I feel like a bit of an idiot.
Fearometer: 2/10
How I felt before doing it: Nervous that they would say no, you got it wrong, suck it up buttercup
How I felt while I was doing it: Fine once they said yes
Would I do it again: I guess so.

Activity 27: Secret squirrel!
Activity completed. I am annoyed to have been put into the situation that made this activity happen, but it’s done now.

Photo of the week. Me 10 years ago. Who needs a professional when you have a self-timer and a black velvet sheet to throw over the book case right? Seriously I wish I had had some lovely pregnancy shots done, but it didn’t occur to me at the time, and less than three weeks after this picture, boom, all over.

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Challenge 4: Facing Fear – Days 8-14

I’m not going to write about everything I do this month, but I have done something outside my comfort zone every day this week. Some weren’t very far out, baby steps, so I think maybe i need to start ramping it up a bit in the second half of the challenge.

Activity 8: Introduce myself and talk to someone new at school

Following on from saying hello to new people at school last week, on Monday I had an opportunity to introduce myself to one of Kramstable’s classmate’s grandmother. We were waiting in the classroom to go with the class on a walk to an off-site program, so I went over to her and said hi, introduced myself, found out who she was and told her who I was before the teacher introduced us.

After my experiences of the last few days I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll always feel uncomfortable doing this, but that it’s a lot more uncomfortable to be in the same place as someone and not know who they are, than it is taking this step.

So far it’s been ok because it’s been one-on-one interactions. I’m not so sure about doing this in a more populated environment, such as a party, meeting, “networking” event or conference. I remember attending a work conference with a colleague some years ago and was amazed at how she simply walked over to people, held out her hand and introduced herself. I was tagging along like a terrified shadow, too scared to say anything.

I mentioned this to her at the time, and told her how impressed I was that she was doing this and how easily she was doing it. She told me that she was terrified, but had made a decision to meet people because that was the point of being at the conference in the first place, so she basically took a deep breath and just did it. I did not.

Perhaps I need a conference to go to so I can ramp this challenge up a bit.
Nooooo!

Fear-ometer rating pre-challenge: 2/10

How I felt doing it: Nervous and a bit awkward.
How I felt after doing it: Glad I’d taken the initiative before the teacher introduced us.

Would I do this again: Yes.

Activity 9: Call someone about something I would normally email them about

We got a letter from the council a few days ago about some work they are planning in our street. It’s not exactly clear (at least to me, non-town planner with plan-reading skills of approximately zero) exactly what’s proposed and why it’s changed from what we understood the original plan to be. There was a contact name in the letter if we needed further information, who we could call or email. I was going to email, since that’s normally my easy way out of dealing with an issue, but decided to actually speak to the person instead just to challenge myself a bit.

Fear-ometer rating pre-challenge: 4/10
How I felt doing it: Nervous, but I was asking for information, not asking for anything to happen or be changed, so I talked myself out of the nerves. Sort of.
How I felt after doing it: Annoyed because the contact person wasn’t the person that could answer my questions so I had to call the “expert” the next day.
Would I do this again: Well I have to don’t I?!

Activity 10: Request at work

Fear-ometer rating pre-challenge: 7/10
How I felt doing it: Nervous because I couldn’t slot the point I really wanted to make into the conversation.
How I felt after doing it: Annoyed because I didn’t say what I wanted to say. So I didn’t complete the challenge.
Would I do this again: I will try again.

Activity 11 Make an appointment I’ve wanted to make for ages

Fear-ometer rating pre-challenge: 2/10
How I felt doing it: A bit nervous about making the call, but the lady I spoke to was very nice.
How I felt after doing it: Relieved at having made the phone call but still anxious about the actual appointment.
Would I do this again: Yes.

Activity 12: Go on a school excursion with 100+ kids

I’ve been on heaps of school excursions and they’re always fun, but I always get a little bit terrified of going because I become responsible for other people’s children, who I don’t often know very well. It’s scary trying to keep a group of 25-30 kids together while you’re walking to the venue and crossing busy roads and, while the teacher is ultimately in charge, you’re there to help them and make sure nothing goes horribly wrong.

This time was particularly scary as it was a reasonably long walk to the venue and it was a huge day with hundreds of kids from schools all over the place there. It gets easier to manage days out as the kids get older, but this was the biggest thing I’d ever been involved with.
I really needn’t have worried so much. I had a group of eight kids to watch over, I had another parent with me and the teacher floating between groups. So it was pretty chill in the end. All I had to do was gently guide the kids back on track if they looked like they were drifting away and make sure they didn’t wander off. It all went smoothly and I’m not sure what I was worried about.

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Maybe it’s just a little stage fright that comes with being made Responsible (and charged with reporting back to the teacher if any kids misbehave). Maybe it’s the same excitement/nerves I get before I do anything a bit unusual and isn’t really fear at all.

Fear-ometer rating pre-challenge: 3/10
How I felt doing it: I had a great time. I didn’t lose any kids. I learned stuff.
How I felt after doing it: Glad I did it.
Would I do this again: Yes.

Activity 13: Write a post about a difficult subject on my blogT

his was one of my standard posts about a book I’d read as part of my 24 books in a year goal. It was Arianna Huffington’s book Thrive, and I focused on the subject of death and how she wrote about how no one speaks about it.I wondered if I should post it because it’s not a comfortable subject. But it’s my blog and it’s about what I’m learning – so if what I write doesn’t connect with anyone, that’s fine.

Fear-ometer rating pre-challenge: 4/10
How I felt doing it: Worried I might be writing about a touchy subject that might be upsetting.
How I felt after doing it: Wondering if anyone had actually read it.
Would I do this again: Yes.

 

Activity 14

Completed

Facing Fear (Challenge 4) – Days 3-7

This has been the first week of the #yearoffear challenge, in which I do one thing a day that scares me or makes me feel uncomfortable. So far I’ve been playing in the shallow end of the pool, so next week it might be time to grab my kick board and move into deeper waters.

I had an activity in mind that was a bit higher up on the fear-ometer than the first two had been. I’d say about 5. And I had psyched myself up to do it on Wednesday and rehearsed in my head what I was going to say. I was ready, but slightly jittery, and then when it came to do it, the person wasn’t available. What a let-down!

So that’s now an activity for a future day, and probably one I will have to do on the run when the person and I are in the same place and the same time. Perhaps that will reduce the fear a bit, as I won’t have had time to build it up as a scary thing in my head. On the other hand it might get scarier, because I’ll be thinking about it more until the opportunity presents itself.

Activity 3 (Wednesday): Introduce myself to someone at work

Speaking of doing activities on the run, I had the idea that I should introduce myself to a new person at work, who had obviously been there for a while but for some reason I hadn’t met. I’m really bad at this. If someone is in the kitchen and I don’t know who they are I’ll talk to them. But I feel really embarrassed about acknowledging that I don’t know who they are, especially if they’ve been there for more than a couple of days, and I feel awkward about introducing myself, so I generally don’t take that step.

I’d rank it a 2 on the fear-ometer. I know the person isn’t going to bite my head off, and they’re probably going to be relieved that I took the first step so that they won’t have to. But it’s still uncomfortable.

There’s a new person in my office, who has been here a few weeks. I often walk past their desk and wonder who they are. But there is no way in hell I’m going to talk to them at their desk when I don’t know them. That would probably be getting up to a 4 on the fear-ometer. However, on Wednesday we were both in the kitchen at the same time, so rather than just saying hi on my way out, I spoke to them, introduced myself and we established why we didn’t know who each other was (I’d been on leave when they’d done their introduction round of the floor. And now the awkwardness is out of the way. Hooray! I no longer feel awkward and wonder who this person is and if I should say something when I walk past their desk.

  • Fear-ometer rating pre-challenge: 2/10
  • How I felt doing it: Nervous and a bit awkward because I didn’t know what to talk about and I always start to blabber on about nothing in particular when I feel like this.
  • How I felt after doing it: Glad I’d broken the ice.
  • Would I do this again: Yes.

Activity 4 (Thursday): Ask a shop assistant about a product I don’t know anything about in their shop

  • Fear-ometer rating pre-challenge: 3/10
  • How I felt doing it: Nervous, but more relaxed as the conversation continued. Remembering that I’m not supposed to know everything – they are the expert, not me – that’s why I’m asking.
  • How I felt after doing it: Glad I’ve broken the ice.
  • Would I do this again: Yes.

Activity 5 (Friday): Say hello to 5 people I’ve never spoken to at school

This is only a little bit scary, because all it involved was catching the eye of five people I didn’t know who walked past me while I was waiting for Kramstable at school pickup, smiling at them and saying hi.

I usually feel a little bit awkward talking to someone I don’t know. Sometimes I walk past other parents I don’t know and I wonder if I should acknowledge them or not, and if they don’t say anything to me then by the time I’ve decided to say hi, we’ve passed each other. I always feel awkward saying something when I don’t know them, but realistically no one at a primary school is going to get weird on me for saying hello, so it’s not a huge risk.

  • Fear-ometer rating pre-challenge: 1/10
  • How I felt doing it: A bit awkward. Also I only found three people to say hi to. The others who I walked past either I knew already, or they weren’t looking in my direction.
  • How I felt after doing it: Warm and fuzzy.
  • Would I do this again: Yes. I’m going to make a bit more of an effort to simply say hi, because I don’t know a lot of the other parents at the school. Maybe even speak to one of them if we’re both waiting in the same spot.

Activity 6 (Saturday): Completed

I’m not going to report on every activity.

Activity 7 (Sunday): Do my speech

This activity comes from the book Resonate by Louise Mahler,  which I read earlier in the year. The challenge was to do a short presentation in front of a trusted friend or family member to get some feedback on how I speak and how I present myself. It’s been daunting enough to make me have delayed starting by several months. I was going to do it in, um, March.

Part of the challenge has been remembering to fix up a time with aforementioned trusted friend or family member. I did that yesterday, so once I had a commitment from them, there were simply no more excuses.

  • Fear-ometer rating pre-challenge: 5/10. I know this isn’t public speaking, but it’s still performing so I felt pretty anxious. Plus I knew someone would be “judging me”, which made it all the harder. I recorded my performance as well, so I can assess it myself. Listening to myself speak is something I have avoided doing during my radio career, even though “they” say it’s a good thing to do to assess how you’re doing and make improvements. I’m not looking forward to doing this, but it’s given me another idea for my #steppingonthecracks project.
  • How I felt doing it: Awkward, presenting in front of people I normally just talk to. It went pretty quickly though.
  • How I felt after doing it: Glad it was over.
  • Would I do this again: If I had to.

 

Facing Fear: day 2/30

Soooo, yesterday was Day 1 of the Facing Fear 30-day challenge. I decided to start off with something that wasn’t too threatening and decided this would be to wear something I wouldn’t normally wear to work.

I normally wear short skirts with bright prints. I buy them from Spiceworld (cough) in Hobart and I have heaps of them. Enough for one for every day of the week, summer and winter, and them some. Admittedly I normally team them with a dull black cardigan, but also often with bright matching leggings, to break up the black. I’m not afraid of colour.

So where to go with this one? Well I also own some funky lacy leggings in bright pink. I think I’ve only worn them once. It’s winter so wearing them by themselves isn’t an option (I don’t like the cold), but I can layer them over a plain colour and they look pretty sweet. By themselves though, not anything I’d feel too uncomfortable wearing. Team it with a very short velveteen (possibly, I am no fabric expert) skirt that I bought when I was a lot less baby-belly-endowed and presto! Something I feel very awkward going out in. I felt like it barely covered my bum. It wasn’t much longer than my short jacket. Someone would probably take a photo of me and post it in one of those horribly judge “30 things a woman over 30/35/40 should never wear” articles on the internet. (By the way, if you ever read one of those articles, you need to counterbalance it with The Truth, which can be found in this colourful post from Warning Curves Ahead.)

When I planned this activity, I expected it to be a 1 on the fear-ometer. A little uncomfortable but nothing to send me into a panic. (Anything that ranks 0 gets struck off the list. There has to be a little discomfort involved.) Once I saw how freaking short this skirt was, I started to get a bit anxious and wondered if this was a good idea. That bumped it up to 2. I don’t know how I expected people to react. I’ve never had anyone tell me to my face they don’t like what I’m wearing, so thinking about this logically, they weren’t going to start today just because I was wearing a skirt that was a bit shorter and a bit tighter than I usually wear.

20160801 Facing Fear 1 - Clothes 2

It’s shorter than I thought!

And so it came to pass. I got a “look” from a passing motorist when Kramstable and I were walking to the bus, and the only other reaction was from someone at work, who said they liked my leggings.

20160801 Facing Fear 1 - Clothes 3

What’s not to like?

In hindsight, a day that is below zero might not have been the best day to wear lacy leggings, but it was too late once I went out into the icy blast and I had to live with it.

Activity 1: Wear something you wouldn’t normally wear
Fear-ometer rating pre-challenge: 2/10
How I felt doing it: A bit self-conscious.
How I felt after doing it: Chillaxed. No one cared.
Would I do this again: Yes. Not on days where the temperature is less than zero.

Activity 2: Make an appointment to get my tax done

The scary part is probably going to be to actually attend this appointment, but I’ve never been to an accountant before so I was a bit nervous going in to make the appointment.

Fear-ometer rating pre-challenge: 1/10
How I felt doing it: A bit nervous about going into somewhere I’d never been before, but it’s not like anything was going to actually happen today, so I went through with it.
How I felt after doing it: Fine now. Finding all the paperwork might be a bit of a challenge.
Would I do this again: Yes. Ask me again after I’ve actually had the work done.