Tag Archives: yearoffear

Challenge 5: Overview

This challenge (30 Days of Fixing What Bugs You) hasn’t really been great in terms of things I’ve actually been able to write about. I haven’t kept much of a record of what I’ve done. I feel like maybe it was a bit abstract to take this on for 30 days, because doing something depended on something happening that I had to react to. So, with some notable exceptions, most things that have annoyed me have been little blips that I struggled to remember at the end of the day.

Having said that, I think “fix what bugs you” is a really great philosophy to subscribe to. It’s certainly better than complaining about something that either I can fix or I can’t do anything about (or I could fix with a bit of effort but can’t be bothered, so I’ll just sit here and whinge about it thank you very much).

I have taken some small proactive steps in one area of my life that I’m pleased with, and some of that has spilled a bit over into Challenge 6 (Clarity), so I might say more about that later on.

30 Days of No Complaining should have ended on about 14 September, so I could start challenge 7 on the 15th, but last week was a big week and I had other things that were more important. Challenge 7 will start tomorrow, and this will be something practical that I can do every day and measure.

Tonight we had our final yoga class for the term, and won’t be restarting until mid-October. Last term I had good intentions to do some yoga over the holidays, but we went away and it didn’t happen. When we went back to class this term, I really felt like I hadn’t done any yoga for three weeks. It wasn’t good. I want to keep it up this time, so I’ve decided to exchange my morning walks for morning yoga (and reduce my daily step goal to 12,000 during this time). This is something I’ll be much more able to keep track of, and it shouldn’t add any extra time requirement into my day, which means (in theory) I should be able to incorporate it into my morning routine fairly easily.

And finally, here’s something I learned last week. Remember when I wore the bright pink lacy leggings to work as “something I wouldn’t normally wear” as past of the #yearoffear challenge and no one noticed?20160912-yellow-leggings-attract-more-comments-ig Change “bright pink” for “yellow” and everyone notices!

Challenge 4: Year of Fear wrapup

The 30 days of doing something that scares me (or makes me uncomfortable) challenge is over.

Activity 28 (Sunday): I bought an adult sized hula hoop because apparently this is a good activity to develop core strength. It’s been on my to-do list for over 12 months, and I finally did it. My next challenge was to find somewhere with enough room to use it. I didn’t want to use the back yard because I don’t think I’d find a big enough space uncontaminated by chook shit. The front yard is too small, so it had to be open space in public (ish) view. I felt very awkward about this because I knew i’d be no good at this (which proved to be correct) so I imagined people driving or walking past laughing at me. To make it easier I took Kramstable with me. I know. Use the kid as an excuse for your kid-like behaviour. He thought it was hilarious. I don’t mind being laughed at by him.

Fearometer: 6/10. I have no idea how to hula hoop. I’m doing this in public. People will see me!
How I felt before doing it: Nervous
How I felt while I was doing it: More concerned with trying to keep the thing moving than with whether people were watching me (they weren’t)
Would I do it again: Once my muscles recover, yes.

Activity 29 (Monday): I did nothing that made me uncomfortable.

Activity 30 (Tuesday): Follow up on Activity 22 (get an outstanding medical check) – so I am still waiting to hear if I have the all clear. It had been a week, so I was starting to worry if I’d been rejected. They are still assessing it and I should know by the end of the week. That’s tomorrow.

And the 30 days is over. I feel like I haven’t done it justice because several of the things I did weren’t super scary. but also they were things that had been on my wanna-do list for ages – sometimes years –  and something was holding me back from doing them. Whether it was out and out fear, or more of a low-level “I’m not sure if this will work out so I’ll leave it for a bit” is an interesting question. I guess in one sense it doesn’t matter, because this challenge kicked me into doing them, where otherwise they might have been on my wanna do list for three or four more years (or forever). So I’m grateful for having started this challenge because even little steps are better than no steps.

I read a blog post during the week from Kylie Dunn, who is the author of one of the books that helped inspire my project (Do Share Inspire), where she talks about the “experimental mindset”. She says experimenting, rather than wanting to make specific changes, was the key to her “Year of TED” project and that “the experimental mindset is an openness to try new things, without a fear of failure”. So with that in mind, even if I didn’t do 30 activities that terrified me, I succeeded in completing the experiment.

Yay me!

In her post, Kylie outlines a five step process for applying an experimental mindset:

  1. Consider the tip, advice, lifehack etc. that you want to apply to your life – what does it look like as a daily or weekly action?
  2. Define what you are going to do to experiment with that idea – including how you are going to evaluate it.
  3. Do that for 30 days – and on days that you forget, gently remind yourself that this is an area of focus for a short period.
  4. Evaluate the contribution of those actions in your life – what will you keep? what will you reject? what might you try again?
  5. Apply the lessons and start your next experiment.

I think this is a good process to follow and one that might give my project a bit more structure.

So for the purpose of wrapping up 30 days of fear, I think that it’s been a great way to get me doing things that I’ve been avoiding for a long time, no matter what the reason. I don’t think that “doing something that scares me” has to be a big scary thing every day. It can be as simple as calling someone who I could have emailed, asking someone in a shop to explain something to me (that’s their job!), or going into a shop I’ve never been to before. I believe that if I start to get used to feeling uncomfortable in these type of situations, it will make it easier when I want to do things that are a bit more scary, because I’ll recognise the feeling and I’ll know that I’m not going to die when I feel like that.

I think I can continue to learn from this challenge by looking for things that I’m putting off because I’m scared or nervous, acknowledging the fear, and doing them anyway. And every so often picking something off the “wild and crazy” list to shake things up a bit, because I’ve really enjoyed this challenge and I don’t want to let being scared stop me from doing things that sound like they’d be fun or interesting.

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.

BW1 huge_retouched



Challenge 4: Facing Fear Days 15-22

In this challenge I’ve gradually been pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone, so most of my activities have been pretty low on the fear-ometer.  A couple of times I’ve tried to do something a bit more scary and haven’t taken the opportunity presented quite as far as I would have liked to. I’m trying not to beat myself up over this. A small step is better than no step right?

So last week (week 3) I did a couple of little-bit scary things. I yelled out to someone I don’t know, other than their name because the bus driver says their name when they get on the bus, down the street that their bag had come open, risking the eyes of everyone around me staring to see why I was yelling. And wondering if this person would think I was some crazy stalker who knew her name when she didn’t know mine.

I finally made “the” phone call and spoke to the person I needed to speak to (and by the way, did you know that the little oar-shaped things on roadworks plans aren’t actually things to be constructed, they are indicators that there is a slope …).

I attended an appointment I’d been putting off for weeks.

I got the feedback I’d asked for on something I’d done at work. (It was scary to go in there, but I’m glad I did it.)

I gave a small presentation to a group of people, most of whom I know only casually.

I went into a bar by myself and had a drink. Maybe two. This was after the Book Week shopping incident. It was necessary therapy.

And this is where the story actually starts.

I was going to go to a pub, but the one I had in mind scared me a lot because (warning: judgmental) it had a lot of tradie blokes in it. So I picked a hotel bar instead.

I’m noticing that I’m feeling pretty comfortable with going into places that aren’t too far out of my norm – places where I’m confident I won’t stand out, even if it’s my first time there. I’ve been to restaurants and bars by myself when they’re places like ones that I’d normally go to with other people. It feels a bit weird at first, but I get over that pretty quickly and can settle in quite comfortably.

What I haven’t done is go to places where not-me hangs out. For example, I’m not a gamer so I’d feel very awkward going into a game shop. I’m not a tradie so I’d feel nervous going into a pub frequented mainly by tradies. I dress pretty casually, so I’d feel really uncomfortable going into an expensive jewellery store, or clothes shop or restaurant.

I’m sure I have to learn the lesson that the people in these places are people, just like me, and they aren’t going to care or judge me for going into their establishment (although Prue and Trude from Kath & Kim keep popping into my head). But let’s add pub and posh restaurant to the list of year of fear challenges to-do.

I think I have a completely unjustified fear of gamers/tradies/posh people/scientists/IT people/pagans/photographers/artists/anyone who is an expert in a field I know nothing about, because I feel like to go into their world, I need to be like them and know all about what they do, rather than being a newby. Of course this is stupid, because everyone is a newby at first, so as Kendra from Year of Fear puts it, they aren’t better than me, they are just further along than me in whatever it is they do.

As I was writing this it occurred to me that I’m a victim of the “reinforcing vs demystifying” phenomenon that Brené Brown describes in her book, I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t), which she refers to as the “Edamame Threat”. She describes how at a party she was offered a bowl of silver beans that she thought needed to be shucked for dinner, and offered to help. The hosts were highly amused by the fact that Dr Brown had never seen edamame before, and announced this hilarious (to them) fact to all the other guests at the party. Dr Brown says she was filled with shame and wanted to leave immediately. (I also have no idea what edamame are or how to eat them, in case you were wondering.)

Having developed a liking for edamame, a couple of weeks later, she says, she was in her office eating them and a student (who particularly irritated her) came to see her and asked what the beans were. Dr Brown says that to her great horror, that instead of explaining what they were to the student, she said “I can’t believe you haven’t tried them. They’re the superfood. They are fabulous!”

This is what she calls reinforcing – keeping answers a secret so that we can feel superior and secure. She suggests that we are most likely to do this when we feel shame around an issue – in this case she felt shame around “class” and elitism, noting that the people from the party were “food elitists”, which made her feel shame that she isn’t from the same background.

The opposite of reinforcing is demystifying – which is when, later still, she explained to a friend what the beans were and how to eat them.

Dr Brown says that seeking to demystify issues both for herself and helping other people to do it is a key to building critical awareness. She believes that if we know how something works, and others don’t, we’re obliged to share what we know. “Knowledge is power, and power is never diminished by sharing it,” she writes.

Putting all this together, I started thinking about how nervous I get when approaching people who know something I don’t because they’re an expert and I feel less-than when approaching them. Hence my reluctance to ask questions, go into particular shops or even make relatively simple phone calls.

Then it occurred to me that I’m guilty of perpetuating the Edamame Threat too. I’ve noticed that sometimes I get irritated when people ask me something they couldn’t possibly be expected to know, and I don’t want to tell them, or I grudgingly tell them or I don’t tell them everything. Classic reinforcing: keeping answers a secret so that I can feel superior and secure.

The Edamame Threat is a double edged sword! I expect myself to know everything and won’t ask for help if I don’t know something, but I apply the same standard of expecting other people to know everything that I apply to myself, and if they don’t I almost punish them for not knowing.

This a huge realisation, all because I was too scared to go into a pub. It’s clearly unfair and irrational and it has to stop!

So I went to a board game shop and asked for something. And you know what? The guy wasn’t in the slightest bit scary. He was a person, just like me. He didn’t have what I was looking for but gave me a couple of ideas of where to try. He didn’t laugh at me for thinking his shop would stock something that it doesn’t. And if he went over to his colleague and laughed at me after I’d gone because I thought games shops stocked [item x], well what he thinks about me is none of my business. Right? Right.

Who would have thought that facing a fear, or more accurately avoiding facing a fear, would have led to this? I think I need to take the rest of the day off.

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.

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.

20160812 FOBI 22

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


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.

#steppingonthecracks challenge 4: Year of fear

For my second “intense” 30-day challenge I’ve decided to jump on board with Kendra Wright and do a 30-day “Facing Fear” challenge.

Kendra is a pretty cool lady who has done some amazing things, and overcome pretty big obstacles to get to where she is now. A few years ago she figured out that fear was the thing that was stopping her reaching her full potential, so she decided to stop running away from things that scared her and instead to “punch fear in the face”. She created the Year of Fear project, where she decided to do something new, something different to what she normally did or something outside her comfort zone every single day for an entire year.

You can read about her project here:  (If you don’t want to read it, she has posted a TLDR at the bottom: Your comfort zone is the place your dreams and aspirations go to die. If you want to live a BIG, interesting, and successful life know that fear will always be in the passenger seat. Get comfortable being uncomfortable.)

I’m pretty relaxed and comfortable in my comfort zone, but I’m also sure there’s more to life than being comfortable all the time. And some of my best memories have been of things where I wasn’t altogether comfortable. I know that fear is my excuse for not doing a lot of things that I say I’d like to do, so it’s time to shake that up a bit and see what I can do.

So challenge number 4 is 30 days of doing something different every day, something that scares me or makes me feel uncomfortable in some way. I think the idea is that if you start to feel a bit more comfortable with being uncomfortable, even if it’s just in small ways, then when it comes to uncomfortable and scary things that really matter, you might feel a little less scared about doing them, and actually go ahead and do them.

I’m going to start small. Really small, because some of the big things I want to do just aren’t even close to my radar right now. I hope that pushing my boundaries just a little bit to start with will help me realise that some things aren’t as scary as they seem, and encourage me to push further.

I’ve come up with a list of about 45 things that I either want to do and have been putting off because I’m scared or nervous about doing them, or are quirky little things to do that I normally wouldn’t because I feel uncomfortable about them. Some of them aren’t going to make the cut this month, but I guess most of them will have to! And I’ll be looking for new ideas along the way too.

I’ve developed a fear-ometer, where I’ll rank the thing on a scale of 1-10 as to how scared I am before I do them. 1 means I’m vaguely uncomfortable, maybe something like wearing crazy earrings to work. 10 means shitscared, like walking a tightrope blindfolded between two 30-storey buildings above shark-invested waters in a thunderstorm. While being swooped by bats. And eating live crickets. In high heels.

I’m thinking that 6 and above will be the things where other people will be involved (like making requests that are above and beyond what I normally would ask for, approaching people I don’t know), or something that involves physical risk. 5 and below are more likely to be things that I can do without necessarily involving other people, but which I might be a bit concerned about other people’s reactions.

Then I’ll have some sort of reaction-ometer where I’ll rate how I felt after doing the activity – and how likely I’d be to do it again.

30 days seems like a good period to experiment with for this challenge. In a way this is an extension of the growth mindset challenge, because I’m opening myself up to new experiences and doing things I haven’t done before. I think it’s a good fit for my year of stepping on the cracks. I might even open up some new ones!

I won’t post about every single thing I do, but I suppose part of getting uncomfortable is also putting stuff out there that makes me slightly uncomfortable to share, or worried about what other people think. One of the things I’m trying to do is give less of a fuck about what other people think. I think Elizabeth Gilbert put it a bit like this in Big Magic: What other people think of you is none of your business.

You don’t like my outfit? Why would I care what you think of it? I like it, I’m happy. What you think of it is no concern of mine. In fact why would you even think about it? I’m not thinking about your outfit – you want to go out in your PJs? That has zero effect on me, so knock yourself out. I’ve got my own stuff to think about, why would I think about what you’re wearing?

(This might be a precursor to my Day 1 activity.)

So that’s it. #Yearoffear here we come!

Here’s a picture of Zoe not caring what anyone thinks of her at work.

201606 Zoe