Do One Thing A Day That Scares You

 

August 2012 log

This page will serve as a log for my daily feats during the month of August!

As you may know, this month I’m personally challenging myself and any of you who are interested to take control of our fears, whatever they may be.

I currently have some things in my life that are holding me back and I’ll be working daily this month to challenge fears and negativity and make room for personal growth. To keep myself accountable, I’m logging my daily feats on this page. By the end of the month, I’ll hopefully have a log of large and small fears that I overcame. The end result is intended to build confidence, inspire new personal challenges, and remind ourselves that we are more powerful than we know.

For the full post on this challenge see: The August Challenge post.

Below is a log of how I’m doing each day. I will be blogging about some, but probably not all, of the fears I’m overcoming each day. It just depends on the nature of it and whether I want to disclose it online. Feel free to leave comments on this page and let me know how you are doing! I want to keep this conversation going all month long.

August 1: The fear I overcame today was blogging about the fear challenge, oddly enough. I always feel anxious when putting myself out there and being vulnerable in my writing, but I have to say, I was so happy that I did the post. Everyone’s comments were so supportive and I realized that so many of us struggle with this. I felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. Thank you.

August 2: Earlier this year, I had a falling out with a family member who made some very poor choices without showing much remorse. This is something that has happened many times before and I felt so disappointed, yet again. Our relationship has been strained and disconnected for a while, but especially as of late. Today, I picked up the phone – after a few months of avoidance – and called this family member. I was very anxious about the call, but it ended up going quite well. While this family member’s actions still disappoint me a great deal, I’m hoping to try to stay in touch more even though it’s likely we’ll never have the relationship I’d hoped for. I felt proud of myself for facing my fear and calling, but I also had many mixed emotions too.

August 3: I have water in my right ear! Do you know what that means?? I went swimming – lap swimming, that is! Eric joined me. We’ve been so inspired watching all the great swimmers in the Olympics, we knew it was time to get back into the pool. Some of you might remember when we trained for our first triathlon (part 1 and part 2), it’s hard to believe that was two summers ago! Well, I can’t tell you how anxious I was before the swim tonight. A few hours beforehand, I started to feel butterflies in my stomach and I debated backing out of it. What do I fear about swimming laps? The better question is what don’t I fear. In the anxious mind, all thoughts sound rational – that’s the worst part. An hour beforehand, I almost felt sick to my stomach I was so nervous! Frustrated with myself. Thankfully, I had a commitment to go with Eric and knew I couldn’t back out. When I walked out of the shower into the main pool area I immediately wanted to leave. You know the saying “the hardest part is showing up”? well, it’s always right. The hardest part was getting to the pool and into the pool. Taking those steps toward the pool and then walking over to dip myself into the water. The water was warm and refreshing. This isn’t so bad! I started off with the breaststroke, which I’ve always found an easier stroke. First length, done. I’m alive. I did it. Second. Still alive. Nothing bad is happening. Wasn’t too busy. I eased into freestyle and took a break with the board now and then. Ten minutes passed, then 20, then 30. Still alive. Eric did fine too. After 40 minutes, we were wiped and called it a day. Success! I’m sitting here with water logged in my right ear – that was the worst thing that happened.

August 4: I have struggled with social anxiety as far back as I can remember. I don’t remember a lot from when I was super young, but this one memory sticks out in my mind and I find is so strange that I even remember it. I was just 3 or 4 years old and my family was at church one Sunday. The pastor would always call up the kids to the very front of the church for a mini lesson and all the adults would watch. Well, just before the pastor called all the kids up, what does 3 or 4 year old Angie decide to do? I crouch down on the floor and HIDE behind the pew, so the pastor doesn’t see me and I don’t have to go up on stage! In my young mind, if I was hidden I wouldn’t have to go to the front of the church. I’ve never liked being the centre of attention, even way back then. The pastor must have seen me disappear suddenly (hah) – or maybe he saw me hiding on the floor – and I remember him saying a lighthearted joke in reference to me hiding. Busted. I can’t remember what he said, but I remember feeling scared and nervous about it all. I was too young to know what social anxiety was, but I just knew I didn’t want to go on stage. I know this is a weird example, and I’m sure my mom has many better ones, but it’s one that always sticks out in my mind. My point of all of this is to illustrate that social anxiety is something I’ve dealt with my entire life. It has prevented me from doing countless things in my life and I’ve missed out on many opportunities. It’s prevented me from enjoying otherwise pleasurable situations. I’ve been on anxiety meds in the past (a couple different times during university) and I had really bad side effects on the pills and coming off them. Since then, I’ve tried to manage my anxiety medication-free. It’s very tough at times, especially when I’m not actively working on it. It’s very easy to get complacent and allow anxiety to take control. I’m going to be going back into therapy sometime this month (more on that later) when my insurance plan kicks in. One of my goals this month, is to get back into my anxiety work consistently and see some real progress. That, in conjunction with this challenge, will really pave the way for some amazing changes. All this is to say, the fear I’m overcoming today is going out with friends! I wanted to write this now because by the time I get home it will probably be 1 or 2 am. Even though I have anxiety before I go out with friends, I know I will have fun like I always do! Why can’t my brain figure that part out? Again, I’ve written too much, but it’s therapeutic in a way. I’m reading your comments everyday on this page and I’m so inspired by you all. Thanks for sharing – it really does help to know there are others going through similar things. Oh, another fear faced today – I swam again!! My anxiety was probably 2/3 LESS today than it was yesterday. It’s amazing how just doing something ONE TIME can decrease anxiety so much. Toodles for now.

August 5: Today, the fear I challenged was a work-related one! I think most of us can relate to having those work tasks that we fear for one reason or another. One of mine over the past several months has been getting a system in place to organize my cookbook photos. I’m shooting all the photos for the book which is proving to be much more difficult than I ever anticipated. Since January, I kept saying, “I really need to get my photos organized and create a system” – well, 7 months has gone by without doing this! The more time that goes by, the more fear builds. My mind thinks – well if you are avoiding it, it MUST be bad, right? I recently organized all of my recipes in a spreadsheet (and it felt great), but I need to do this for photos too. Today, I decided to just get it over with and I spent the better part of a few hours going through all my photos since January and marking ones that I will include in the book. The process wasn’t as difficult as I imagined it would be, but I must say, it was painful looking at some of the photos I shot for the book early on. My photography skills are a work in progress and I’m still experimenting with different styles and approaches to find out what I like best.  As I was going through my photos, I was disappointed with photos I took even just 4 months ago.  I will have to reshoot many of them. In addition to going through my photos and organizing them, I also made a plan of attack for my photography. I’m hopefully going to meet with Eric’s friend who is a food photographer for a one-on-one session and I also need to gather a few more photography props and tools for the shoots. Now that I have my goals set, it should be easier to make more progress in this area. Take home message – if there’s something you’ve been putting off it’s so much easier to just tackle it than to procrastinate and worry about it for weeks or months. Often, when you get into it, it’s not as hard as you thought. This was certainly true today!

August 6: Today was one of those days. I put in a 12 hour work day and had little to show for it with many frustrations and issues pop up. PMS may have been a factor. You’ll see another chocolate recipe tomorrow morning, so it wasn’t a total loss. What can you do but roll with the punches on days like this? Unfortunately no fears were faced today (unless you count facing a mountain of dishes that I wanted to run away from!!), but I’m going to get back on the horse tomorrow! Promise. Hope your week is off to a better start.

August 7: The sun will come out tomorrow and so it did today. I made up for yesterday by facing not one but two fears! I went to the dentist for my regular cleaning appointment. I have a lot of anxiety before and during dental appointments, but I feel so good after and I’m always glad I went. My teeth are simply glowing right now. ;) The hygienist gave me a tip today – drink tea with a straw! Sounds strange, I know, but I’m going to give it a shot because green tea stains my teeth a lot. The other fear I faced was speaking with a psychologist on the phone and making my first appointment. It turns out the doctor had a cancellation for tomorrow, so I’ll be going into therapy much quicker than I originally thought. No time to back out now! We spoke briefly about what I was going into therapy for and I also asked her what types of therapies she tends to use in her own practice. I was happy to hear that she uses an eclectic approach, pulling from different techniques and perspectives as shes fit for the person. Her emphasis is on CBT which has been fairly effective for me in the past when I’m actively using the strategies, however I’m open to other approaches too. I’ve been in therapy several times over the past 10 years and the first appointment is always the most difficult. Occasionally, it has been the only appointment. Rarely do we ever get so personal with someone we’ve known for 5 minutes, but in the end, I know it’s worth it. It has taken me many years to learn that vulnerability is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of true strength. Ditto for asking for help. Don’t be afraid to lean on others for support when you are struggling with something. Keep rocking your challenge!

I’ll leave you with a quote I enjoy:

Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

August 8: Today was right up there on the anxiety “Richter” scale – I had my first therapy session with a new-to-me psychologist. I can think of only a handful things more stressful than telling a complete stranger my entire life history. On the first therapy appointment, it all comes out. Thankfully I knew this coming in. I knew not to expect it to be a happy-go-lucky appointment. Deep feelings are stirred up, ones I try not to think about in my day to day life. I’ve sugar coated things before in therapy and this time I decided I would lay it all out on the table. My throat felt dry on the way there (why didn’t I bring water??) and I was so relieved when the psychologist ( I will call her “Jamie” from here forward) offered me a glass of water before we even began. She’s done this before. At first, I took a sip and placed the glass down on the side table, but as I became more nervous I decided I felt more safe clutching it for dear life in my cold hands. I only put the glass down twice that hour to grab a tissue and sign a form. We started with a bit of small talk – our crazy humid summer. Nervous laughter. Apparently, I can talk for minutes straight about the humidity without so much as taking a breath. Who knew. Then, a quick story about us moving to our new town. My current and previous careers. She told me about herself and her approach to therapy. Then we formally delved into some intake questions, which led us so far into left field I thought we might run out of time before we finished the intake. I apologized for talking too long, but she never made me feel like I had to. Jamie frantically wrote down my story on her paper while I spoke, trying to get names, dates, relationships, and places correct. I had a hard time myself with some dates. I talk, and talk, and talk. Then all of a sudden there are no words, only kleenex. It turns out we both discover a theme during all of this today – I carry a ton of guilt, even for other’s actions that I can’t control. While not surprising, I hadn’t thought of it that way before. I used to only associate guilt with my past eating disorder, but I guess it trickles into many areas. “We’re going to work on all that guilt!”, Jamie said with a smile. Jamie is excited to show me a bunch of strategies she can work with me on the anxiety. She is filled with hope and that makes me hopeful too. Today, I felt both drained and relieved after our 68 minutes were up. She asked me how frequently I might want to come into therapy. “weekly” was my answer, at least initially. Soon the real work will begin. I have a handful of psych measures to fill out before the appointment next week. Oddly, I look forward to filling them out. The measures bring me back to grad school when I used to learn the ins and outs of each one. I’ll try not to let this bias my responses.

Thank you once again for reading & sharing.

August 9: Those measures I was looking forward to filling out? 1.5 hours later, I finished. I  never want to fill out another measure again! Just kidding…it wasn’t that bad. I secretly enjoyed it and let me tell you, it sure as hell beats doing data input for them. There were a few questions I couldn’t think of an answer for, so I will have to come back to them in a few days. Today, my fear was yet another doctor appointment. Three doctors in one week…who am I? Thankfully this challenge has given me the push to book things I’ve been putting off. Some of you might remember back in March when I injured my knee while lifting a heavy box (a box of cookbooks, of course…grrrrr) while moving. When I was bending my knees to pick up the box, I felt a sharp pain on the inside of my right knee. Sharp, sudden pains are never good! I ended up taking several weeks off running entirely. When my knee started to feel a bit better, I got into hot yoga again and also did a lot of strength training exercises as recommended by a Physical Therapist. He didn’t know what was wrong with my knee. After a lot of patience and time off running, my knee was feeling good enough to try running again and my PT encouraged me to try it out. It went pretty good for the first while, but the same knee pain came back on and off (some days were good, others not good), especially if I tried to run more than 1-2 miles. I got into spinning here and there for a different form of cardio. Months have passed now and my right knee still feels off and on. After complaining to Eric about it yet again, he finally said to me, “Ange. Book an appointment with a Sports Doctor. You need to find out what’s wrong…this has been going on for too long.” Tough love. And he’s right. I guess I was afraid what I might find out. So, today was the day of my appointment and I was nervous as hell beforehand. After telling him my knee history over the past 4-5 months, he did a series of mobility tests on my knees. “It’s hard to tell for sure until you have an MRI, but I have a feeling you may have injured your meniscus. It’s a form of cartilage in the knee and if there’s a bad tear, it often requires surgery. Sometimes it’s minor and it will heal on its own with time.” My anxiety shot through the roof at the mention of the S word. Breathe. He showed me the knee anatomy and talked more about the different parts. “We won’t jump to conclusions though. I’m sending you for a MRI. It will take 4-6 weeks to get an appointment for the MRI. Then we’ll have some answers and meet again to discuss.” Four to Six weeks, worrying about my knee….great!! I’m trying to think positively and keep the faith that I can get through any challenge that comes my way. This is what life is all about…overcoming challenges and embracing gratitude for what you have. It could always be worse…always. He encouraged me to continue activity (swimming, spinning, hot yoga, walking, strength, are all fine) so I’m just going to keep truckin’ on and waiting for that MRI test. As they say, knowledge is power! PS- I’m reading your comments everyday…thank you a million for making this challenge so meaningful!

August 10: Some techy talk today. I’m notorious for putting off tasks if they involve learning a new tech gadget or computer program. Somehow, I managed to resist the whole smart phone craze until mid-2012 when I acquired a used Samsung Galaxy II. The rest was history. I recently purchased a 15-foot cable for tethered shooting and it has been sitting in the corner of the office for ages. Of course, I assumed it would be complicated to set up so I continued to shoot in “comfortable” mode while it sat ignored in the box. Finally, on Friday I decided to give it a shot (pun intended) and it was so easy to hook up. Ridiculously easy. I did a quick Google search to figure out where I could find the tethered setting in Lightroom and boom, I was now shooting tethered. Something I had been putting off for ages was now done in less than 10 minutes. Remind me to read this entry frequently…

August 11: Yesterday I had the pleasure of celebrating Eric’s big 3-0 with him and about 50 of our family and friends. It was a magical, beautiful day – and of course, all about the birthday boy. We’ve been through so much over the past 12 years and I’m so incredibly proud of the person he is today and always was.

August 12: Today I called an old friend who I haven’t talked to in a couple years. As I get older it’s easier to fall out of touch with people and the more time that passes, the more anxious I feel about reaching out. Plus, the phone has always made me anxious for some weird reason. As it turned out, she was home and quite happy to hear from me (although I bet surprised too!). I had it in my mind that she was going to be mad at me since we haven’t spoken in so long, but it turned out she felt just as bad about it as I did. We had a lovely catch up and now have plans to get together for lunch sometime this fall. I hate to think that I could have lost this friendship because I was afraid to make that call and I’m so glad I did. I have a few other friends and family I want to reach out to and hope to do so over the next month.

August 13: Today, a couple “smaller” fears were tackled, but tackled nonetheless. First off, as you may have read in today’s post, I tackled my long-time fear of making a balsamic reduction. I felt like a culinary goddess. ‘Nough said. Secondly, I faced a fear while on a walk last night. Eric and I were walking on a very dark trail in the woods when all of a sudden a few animals ran out just a few feet ahead of us. I literally couldn’t see anything – it was pitch black. Normally, I would’ve wanted to turn around in the opposite direction, but I continued on even though I was scared of not seeing where the animals were. As it turned out on our way back, the scary “predators” were 3 of the cutest bunny rabbits you’ve ever seen. bahaha. My bravery clearly has no bounds.

August 14: Lunch dates with new friends – you can bet I’m anxious beforehand, but I always seem to have a wonderful time. Today, I met up with a colleague in the publishing industry I’ve gotten to know over the past several months. As always, I was super nervous beforehand, but the meeting went very well. We chatted away the better part of 2.5 hours and I just completely lost myself in the conversation. It felt so good to really enjoy myself without worrying or feeling nervous and it renewed my hope that I can accomplish all my goals even in spite of feeling anxious. As many of you have mentioned in the comments, it’s OK to allow oneself to feel the fear and do it anyways. Instead of trying to resist my fear like I’ve done for so long, I’m trying my best to recognize it for what it is and then do it anyways. Actually, on the drive there I said to myself, “I feel nervous and that’s ok..I’m going anyways!” quite liberating to say. I also drove through downtown Toronto in rush hour traffic – another thing I fear, but I survived. ;)

Drop me a line and let me know how you’re doing!

August 15: Today I said yes to a social/business opportunity that I normally would have declined due to anxiety of meeting a whole group of new people.  When I thought about it more, I realized wanting to decline was even more reason to say YES. This month, I’m monitoring the things I’m resisting and then trying to do them anyways. So far, nothing bad has happened! This opportunity is exactly something that I need to do. Even though the thought of it really scares me, I have to believe that it will go well and I will probably be so glad that I went. Plus, it’s only for a few hours. I can get through anything that is only a few hours. Next time you find yourself resisting something you fear, ask yourself why you are resisting it. Once I confronted my anxious thoughts, I was able to realize that even despite them, I could still do it. Feel the fear and do it anyways – it’s becoming a new motto this month, thanks to your comments!

August 16: It’s getting pretty annoying to scroll down this list, sorry about that guys. Next time, I’ll know to set this up better! Who knew I was going to write a book on this challenge. hah. Anyway! Today. I saw the psychologist again for appointment no 2. Naturally, I was anxious beforehand and a bit during. She asked me how things are going and what my biggest struggle is lately. That was easy – aside from the anxiety stuff – I’ve really been struggling with balancing my work/personal life. The cookbook has basically consumed my life this spring/summer and I’m not close to where I wanted to be at this point in the year. We came up with a few strategies to help – one of which is setting more frequent deadlines. I love this idea and hadn’t done that yet. It’s much easier to break things into small chunks than have one huge looming deadline, right? As soon as I got home, I got to work on a plan. I pinned down a handful of summer recipes to finish by the end of August. It’s a bit of a lofty goal, but a goal nevertheless. After that, we went over some of the measures I filled out and talked about my anxiety more. She described anxiety as being “wave-like”, which I found very helpful to visualize. Picture anxiety as a huge wave – as anxiety builds in your body/mind, the wave grows and grows until the anxiety is very intense and nearing the peak. This is when I – and many of you who suffer from anxiety – BAIL, run, freak out, cancel, feel nauseous….throw in whatever word you want for avoiding the situation! However, if you can learn to just push through the build up of of anxiety (or in a sense, “ride the wave!”) eventually the wave will peak and your wave and anxiety will be on its way down. The body can only stay in that state of “flight or fight” for so long physically until it has to return to a calmer state. It’s similar to when someone is super angry and then cries to release all the emotion and calm down. The goal is to push through that wave of anxiety – ride the wave – and know that the anxiety will reduce on the other side. I find this to be so true with my own experiences. Before a social situation I often have this intense build up of anxiety that can start a week or longer in advance and gets worse as it gets closer. If I do manage to push through and go anyway, I often find my anxiety lessens as I’m exposed to the anxiety-provoking situation. Of course, there might be blips on the graph here and there (such as an awkward convo with someone that makes you anxious!), but for the most part getting over that initial hurdle is often the hardest part. As they say, (sometimes) the hardest part is showing up. All in all, a good appointment. I’m also working on breathing from my stomach area instead of my chest. It’s hard to relearn…I’m such a “crappy” breather. I think yoga is calling my name, wondering where I’ve been…

August 17: Did some yoga before bed last night. Felt sooo good, but man have I lost flexibility. My muscles have been super tight lately, which I wouldn’t expect since I haven’t had much time to workout lately. Along with breathing better, I’m going to try to do a bit of yoga daily – even just 10 minutes will help a lot. Back to Friday though! What a whirlwind yesterday was. As I mentioned, I finally made a plan of attack for the last two weeks of August. It consists of about 15 cookbook recipes in addition to blog recipes and photography, so needless to say, I’m going to be working my tail off 7 days a week to try and get my summer recipes complete. Once the summer produce is out of season, it’s out of season. Yesterday I started in the kitchen around 6:30am and I worked straight until about 9pm when I cleaned the last dish.  If you saw my crazy kitchen picture on instagram yesterday, you feel my pain. It felt so good to sit down last night. The upside is that I got 3 cookbook recipes plus the photography done and the first trail for a 4th recipe. I’m getting sooooo excited to share the recipes with you. After yesterday’s successes, I am already feeling much better about things. Six recipes are planned for this weekend and I’m hoping those go well too. Organization is not my strong suit, but I’m hoping to keep working on it. While organizing often makes me feel more anxious initially to see everything that needs to be done, it does help reduce anxiety overall. There’s something to be said for having a PLAN with many small goals to keep ya going!

August 18: It appears that I fell off the face of the earth for a few days! This weekend was so busy I didn’t have a chance to update this page. On Saturday, I invited new friends over. We met briefly last month at a party and said that we should get together sometime. Well, all too often that never happens! I called them up earlier this week and invited them over on the weekend. We had a great time and now have plans to get together in September. If my anxiety had its way, I probably wouldn’t have taken the leap and called them, but I’m really glad I did. Plus, they got to taste test a bunch of cookbook appetizers!

August 19: On Sunday morning Eric and I went to a huge antique market in Guelph. I’m usually always anxious when it comes to negotiating a deal, but today I decided the fear I would overcome would be just this. I bought a handful of things for my blog photography and I negotiated the price with each vendor. It wasn’t that hard and sometimes it was actually fun (if the vendor was playful about it). I ended up saving over $25 dollars overall….so all in all, a success! PS- Can I just tell you about this amazing vintage Le Creuset pot I scored? It’s white with a pouring spout & has a lovely wooden handle with Le Creuset inscribed on it. major swoon. Hopefully you’ll see it in a soup post this fall!

August 20: Today I was asked to host an event in September at a festival. I’ll admit this sends my anxiety through the roof (!) but instead of flat out rejecting the idea, I thought about all the positives that could come out of it. I asked for more info and if it’s a good fit, I’m hoping to move forward with it!

August 21: Hot yoga was accomplished tonight. I haven’t been great for keeping up with yoga lately, so today my goal was to take a hot yoga class. It always helps with anxiety. I’ve been avoiding one of the studios near me because the rooms are really small and you are literally on top of the people around you.  The first time I tried this studio it was during a 30 day challenge, so the studio was literally PACKED with people. If I stuck out my arm or leg too far I would nearly hit someone if I wasn’t careful. Needless to say, it was difficult to “zone out” in this class with someone’s head up your rear. hah. I didn’t try many classes at the studio after that. My goal for today was to go back to that same studio that made me uncomfortable and do it anyways. As it turned out, the studio wasn’t busy at all this time. I guess with it being summer and not having a challenge going on, things calm down a lot. I had a great class and will certainly be back!

August 22: Today I had my 3rd therapy appointment. The session went so, so well. I feel like I hit my groove and lightbulb moments were happening left and right. Natural conversation flowed, we laughed, and I had so many insights throughout the hour. The first two appointments were a bit heavy, but this session was so uplifting and encouraging. My therapist wants me to set an alarm on my phone to go off every half hour or hour to remind me to stop work and do some deep breathing. I really like this idea because so far I’m not remembering to breathe properly on my own and I rarely take breaks throughout the work day. I also downloaded a free breathing app called “Breathe2Relax” that guides you through breathing exercises. This brings my lifetime app count to 3? I’m on a roll. Breathe2Relax is a pretty basic concept, but hopefully I will get some use out of it. If any of you reading have any fun apps to share, pass them along! (edited to add a week later: I can’t seem to remember to use this breathing app!)

PS- How is it August 22nd already??

August 23: In every relationship, there’s usually a messy person and a tidy person. Am I right? Eric has always been the tidy one in the relationship (bless his soul…) and for some reason he puts up with me ploughing through rooms like a tornado. In the spirit of this, today’s fear was tackling my closet! Well, we share the closet and Eric’s side is always so tidy and organized while mine has clothes strung about, on the floor, stuff thrown on the top shelf. From time to time, he’ll look over at my side and shake his head saying, “Maybe you’d be able to find something to wear if you didn’t throw your clothes on the floor…” He does have a point! Tonight, I got to business and spent a couple hours getting things organized again. It now looks better than Eric’s side – score! How long will this last? We shall see. Tomorrow, I’m targeting my dish cabinet. And soon, the kitchen cupboards. It’s bad. Real bad.

August 24: Tonight we were on our way to a friend’s house and we drove by our old house for the first time since we moved in March. Even though we both think the move was great for us and love our new area, there are many things we miss about our old place of course. I avoided driving by because I didn’t want to feel sad when I saw someone else living there. I imagined it would feel a bit like seeing an ex boyfriend with a new girlfriend – you kinda want to see them together, but then again you don’t. Anyway, Eric suggested that we drive by and I reluctantly agreed. I’m not sure what we were expecting, but what we saw was nothing like we hoped. The house looked run down really showing its age and the lawn was unkempt with huge weeds everywhere. My heart sank. That wasn’t the same house that we left. Well, it was, but now it was theirs to take care of. Maybe it’s easier to let go of this way. I’ll have to drive by again at the peak of fall. There’s no way that house can look anything but magical during that time of the year.

August 25: I’m not sure if I did anything that scared me today (or maybe my anxiety is decreasing?), but it was a fun day. I went to the St Jacob’s farmer’s market for the first time in YEARS (since I was probably 12!) and it was a lot of fun. I bought zucchini and a huge bag of beets. I also went out with Ange to celebrate her birthday at a nice restaurant nearby. It was so nice to catch up and visit with a dear friend. Edited to add: I just remembered I organized my dish cabinet today!

August 26: We got some sad news last week – a close family member’s cancer has come back and will have to undergo chemo for 3 months starting in early September. :( It’s hard to believe as we get older how many of our loved ones have been impacted by this horrible disease. I know he will get through it though. He is an amazing person and has such a positive outlook on things. Today we went to visit them at their new house in Toronto. It was so good to see him in great spirits despite everything going on. Eric is going to go over to help with the renos they’ve been working on, so hopefully that will help alleviate some stress.

August 27: I contacted a non-profit food organization that I’ve been hoping to get involved with, but have put it off because I was nervous about the social aspect of it all. The organizer was so helpful and welcoming and I was instantly at ease as I found out how it all worked. Unfortunately, they are all booked up in 2012, but I hope to organize an event in 2013. I’ll be sure to post info on the blog if any of you are interested in finding out more or attending! It will probably be in Burlington.

August 28: My goal today was to dine solo. Anxiety is a funny thing – I get nervous in social situations, but I also get nervous when I’m all alone and have no one to lean on for support. Go figure. I think I’ve been out to eat by myself only a couple times in my entire life, so today I set a goal to go out for a meal by myself. No friend, no Eric, no phone, no work to distract me. Just me enjoying a meal and my own company. At first I felt really strange sitting at the table alone – almost as if I was being stood up. I was the only person in the restaurant solo. After 15 minutes, I felt more comfortable and really just focused on enjoying my meal and taking time to take in my surroundings. I ended up having a great time…it was empowering in a weird way!

August 29: Today I had my annual OB/GYN appointment. I always manage to work myself up and feel majorly anxious beforehand, but it’s always a breeze! Why can’t I remember this? It takes all of 2 mins and then it’s over. Another appointment to check off the list. It’s amazing how much better I feel when I tackle something that’s been on my mind for a while.

August 30: My goal today was to introduce myself to one of our neighbours. We have only said a quick hello in passing, so I figured a good challenge was to head over and strike up a convo complete with some desserts in tote! It wasn’t as scary as I imagined and they were so so nice and welcoming. We spoke for about 10 minutes and I was on my way! Easy as pie.

August 31: The last day of the challenge! I can’t believe how fast this month went. Looking back on each day feels good and I have definitely noticed an improvement in my anxiety. I am doing so many things that I normally would avoid out of fear. It’s amazing how things get easier even after just doing it once or twice. I hope to continue this challenge into the fall. While I might not do something every single day, I think 1-2 weekly goals might be a good way to go about it. Anyway, today was our 4th year anniversary and Eric surprised me with a trip to BC mid-Sept! I haven’t been before and we’ve been talking about going all summer long, but just didn’t have time to go. I had completely forgotten about it and was so shocked when he surprised me. The catch was that I had to agree to going ZIPLINING in Whistler AND walk a crazy high suspension bridge! He’s cruel!!! After some hesitation, I figured it would be a great way to end the Aug challenge. So you’ll have to wait and see if I do it, but I will report back 3rd week of Sept…

Omg, I just Googled it and I may hurl. Times two. Edit: Now he tells me he wants to do a cliff walk too!!!

I may come back a new woman.

Thank you to all of you for your amazing comments & support over the month of August. You never cease to amaze me and be a constant inspiration in my life. Congrats for all the fears you challenged! Whether it was 1 or 31, every fear overcome is a huge step in the right direction.

One of my biggest lessons this month:

I don’t have to resist fear or push it away. It’s ok to FEEL the fear for what it is, but do it anyways! Sometimes addressing the fear rather than trying to ignore it is more beneficial in the long run.

What did you learn?

{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

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Lynne August 15, 2012 at 12:13 pm

I realised today that something that used to give me anxiety no longer does, just because I’ve forced myself to do it every day. I used to get anxious about eating with people I don’t know well. In my new job, everyone takes their breaks together in the staff canteen (there is nowhere else to go!). Because of this, I’ve got used to sharing my breaks with a variety of different people and you know what? I’m actually starting to enjoy it! :)

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Lynn August 15, 2012 at 12:54 pm

I LOVE this challenge! Today I’m going to a counselling session (like, immediately after I write this comment!) which is much needed! I also said yes to a lunch out with my colleagues which I never voluntarily do because I tend to stress out about food and eating out. However, I plan on enjoying my meal and eating some ice cream that I’ve been craving for dessert. This is scary to me, as I tend to obsess about unhealthy ingredients, calories, etc. but it’s necessary for my own healing. My goal is to not binge (which, I seem to have been doing a lot of lately, that terrible restrict, binge, restrict, binge cycle). However, I will bring up the binges to my counsellor which is something I’ve never done before due to fear and shame. Okay, off I go!

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Jodie August 15, 2012 at 4:52 pm

I finally scheduled and actually went to an appointment I’d been putting off, and have done a few more little things I’d been worried about, thanks to this challenge and thanks to you, Angela. :-)
Loving everyone’s comments too!

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Robin August 15, 2012 at 6:21 pm

So I had to get over my fear of supposed confrontatio by following up with a pbone call to my new gardener. I shirk from confrontation but called because my pomegranate tree was really wacked down a lot and certain areas of the yard were semi-cleared. The work complete was great because of the backlog but I have a hard time asserting my position. Kudos to me for working through this fear AND taking action. It was a productive call. Happy.:)

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Teen Health Nut August 15, 2012 at 9:26 pm

I conquered my greatest fear: driving! I incorporated yoga breathing when I did it to calm myself down, and now I actually kind of like it!

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Anna August 16, 2012 at 12:31 am

I have tried to get past my fears but I’ve become stuck. Maybe I can move on by conquering another fear (posting here and rambling about something personal) and letting it all out.

I have so many fears about getting a new glasses prescription but I decided to suck it up and made an appointment. The short version of what happened is, I failed the pressure test (which is typical), so I required additional testing involving numbing eye drops and a device that touches my eye. I’ve had it done before but I’m squeamish and skittish so I still became nervous, but I was overcoming my fears and I was proud of remaining calm.

Well, even though I gave no indication I was nervous, the eye doctor thought it would be a good idea to suddenly grab my hair and hold me down for the eye drops, which sent me into hysterics. I was proud of myself for pushing through the eye-touching test, but then he forced me down for another set of eye drops. He then brought out a pointed pen-shaped device I’d never seen before, said nothing about it or what he was going to do, and held me down and came at my eye with it. I’m embarrassed to admit it but I screamed and ended up leaving shortly after, traumatized and with no new glasses.

I’m trying hard to convince myself that I tried, I took the initiative, I got through it, it’s over, and I technically conquered my fear. Only now I have worse fears and I begin shaking whenever I think of the experience. It seems everyone is having positive results with this challenge and it’s wonderful, but what about when it doesn’t work out so well? I feel so lost right now… I feel as if I’m the only one who’s having trouble and I feel awful for bringing negativity here but I really want to get back to being positive and I’m not sure what to do.

I still love the challenge, Angela, and I love reading everyone’s comments. It gives me hope that I can keep going. :)

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Stacey August 20, 2012 at 8:17 pm

Oh Anna! That sounds awful! I could totally feel your trauma as you described what happened. It sounds to me like you should get a different doctor. Maybe my story will help…

I had never been afraid of the dentist. Did I look forward to it? No, but I was never AFRAID. Well, I’d always gone to the same dentist as a child and had never really had any dental issues to speak of besides pulling wisdom teeth, so when I chose a new dentist when I moved away from home, I didn’t know how to go about choosing a good one. I picked one who seemed nice and knowledgeable, but then I needed some crown work done. I won’t go into detail, but it was AWFUL. He didn’t do it right the first time, so then I finally worked up the courage and went in AGAIN to have him try to repair it. He seemed like he knew what he was doing, so I just thought it was going to be like that with ANY dentist. (Turns out, he was just a bad dentist! I just didn’t have any frame of reference.)

Like you, I was traumatized – only I didn’t realize it. I never went back and avoided the dentist for YEARS afterwards (even though I couldn’t chew on the left side of my mouth). I just told myself I was procrastinating about going in. Well, I finally had to face the truth when I couldn’t ignore my crown issues anymore and I had to get emergency help. I’m usually a pretty strong person and can face most things if I put my mind to it, but I soon realized I was petrified. I was in tears about even making the phone call. Since this was really unlike me, my husband took pity on me and took charge of the situation – setting up an appointment with a NEW dentist that we had a friend refer us to (the friend also has dentist-anxiety). My husband came with and literally held my hand as I waited in the chair.

As soon as I saw the hygienist, I burst into tears and was shaking so badly the whole chair was vibrating. I felt so silly, but I couldn’t stop the tears from streaming down my face and my whole body was shaking. The dentist and hygienist were SO kind. They kept handing me kleenex and patiently listened as I explained my whole past traumatic experience. (He tried to tell me I didn’t need to explain, but I KNEW I had to tell him just to get it out of my system.) This was the first time I had truly experienced the effects of a past trauma – it was something that was beyond my control. But once I told him, dried the tears and then experienced what it is like to have a competent (and very understanding!) doctor work on me, I didn’t mind going back in nearly as much. I had 3 appointments for that particular issue and it got easier every time. (and it didn’t even hurt! My jaw actually dropped when I realized he’d already put my crown in. I didn’t even feel it!) It’s now 6 months later and now my crown is just another tooth – I have a cleaning scheduled for this Friday, and I’m not scared at all!

So basically, my point is, you’re not alone. I (and I’m sure others) know what it’s like to suffer the trauma of a bad experience at the doctor. I would strongly suggest asking around your friends for a understanding doctor, and relaying your anxiety about the visit to the doctor before she/he begins. It made ALL the difference in the world for me. :)

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Tammy August 18, 2012 at 2:31 pm

This is the first time I have EVER posted on anything (other than a status update on Facebook once every couple of months), but I absolutely felt the need to. I think it is extremely brave and admirable to discuss your challenges and fears, especially with anxiety. I have always been an outgoing person- cheerleader in HS, fitness instructor and trainer, had alot of friends, but deep down I have always been an anxious person. My anxiety became pretty bad once in my 20’s and it’s been pretty interesting to say the least especially when panic attacks started. Every now and then I tried counseling but would feel weak and ashamed and not go back. On the outside, I look like I have it all together because I have a good job and take care of myself but it is constantly a work in progress to get past the social anxiety I get just going out with my friends. Obviously there are so many people on this blog that have posted and you all know what I am talking about…it just makes me feel exponentially better when I know I am not the only one. It takes a lot of courage to be open and I am so grateful I have been able to read your story. I found this blog after recently following a vegan diet and am so happy I stumbled upon this- awesome recipes and a realistic take on life. Thank you for sharing.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) August 19, 2012 at 8:29 am

Hi Tammy, Thank you so much for your comment! I am so happy that you decided to leave a note here & share your story. I’m so glad that you are finding this helpful and I wish you all the best with overcoming your own challenges with anxiety. Keep me posted!

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Carey August 18, 2012 at 6:12 pm

Hi Angela,

I’m thinking about going into therapy for anxiety, as well, but I have no idea where to start! There are so many different titles and they all seem similar. Are you seeing a psychologist? How is that different from a therapist? I’ve found someone called a “registered professional psychotherapist.” Would she be able to help? If you could tell me a bit about your search, I’d really appreciate it!

Carey

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Angela (Oh She Glows) August 19, 2012 at 8:26 am

Hey Carey, I’m seeing a psychologist because that’s what my insurance covers (it doesn’t cover a social worker or counsellor). Social workers and counsellors tend to have 1-2 years training post undergrad, but this can vary from what I understand. Psychologists have their phd in clinical psychology. I would suggest looking online in your own area, and narrowing it down from there. They often have websites with info on their training and approach. Then you can call a few and get an idea for their rates, how long they’ve been in practice, and whether you might click in person. Goodluck!

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Laura August 19, 2012 at 8:10 am

The wave concept is so true with anxiety! I always feel nervous before new social situations and it just builds. Lately, I have been reminding myself that this feeling will not last. Plus, I know that once I actually get there and start talking most of my anxiety fades away. I try to channel that feeling before hand now.

Keep going Angela!

Although, I am finding it a bit difficult to think of a challenge a day. Do you plan a challenge to tackle or just go along with your day and naturally confront challenges?

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Angela (Oh She Glows) August 19, 2012 at 8:17 am

Hey Laura, I usually try to think of something the night before, but not always. Sometimes it’s hard! I find it I can plan something when I don’t have anything in mind it helps push me a bit. Goodluck!

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Lucy August 19, 2012 at 10:55 am

Well done for the cookbook progress – I can’t wait for it to be finished! Also, thanks for the “riding the wave” analogy. As I suffer badly from anxiety, I’m sure that it will come in useful. In my own August challenge, I’ve faced my social anxiety alongside fears of crowds and rats; I’m very glad I’m joining you in this.

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meghan August 19, 2012 at 12:09 pm

I’m so thankful that you write about anxiety because it makes me feel less alone in mine. I have ALWAYS had anxiety but it just seems to change form throughout my life. Right now I’m having health anxiety where I worry that every little symptom I experience means I have cancer. The ridiculous part is I work as a therapist. CBT thought challenging techniques don’t seem to work for me personally so I need to tackle it from another direction. I get so frustrated that it is a problem that keeps rearing its head in my life. The cycle of worrying exhausts me. Good luck with your new psychologist!

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Stacey August 20, 2012 at 8:52 pm

I just came across your blog a few weeks ago and love it! I found a past posting you wrote about anxiety and it really helped to know there was someone else struggling with similar issues (and writing about her experiences)! Thank you for sharing. :)

My fear I’m currently facing is going back to school. I went back to school part time to pursue a degree in electrical engineering a few years ago. It’s going really well, but I always get a big knot in my stomach before school starts. I realized today that it’s because I like to “fly under the radar” until I really get my bearings on something, but that’s not really possible in my last few classes because I’m usually the only female. I kind of stick out – you know? Plus, I usually just fumble along while I’m learning something new, until one day something just clicks in my brain and then I take off flying. It’s the fumbling part that gets me – I’m already the only female. I don’t want to live down to people’s stereotypes and be thought of as the “dumb blonde” in class. I know I shouldn’t let it worry me. Sigh – I figured admitting my fears by writing this post might be a good step in getting over it already! It helps to feel like I’m part of a group. :)

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Ariel August 27, 2012 at 3:21 pm

I work almost exclusively with engineers (aeronautics). You guessed — the only woman in the room most of the time. And the youngest. It IS challenging. I have asked some stupid questions, and kind of agonized over it after technical interchange meetings. I tend to learn the same way (takes some time to get my bearings). . . the benefit is to keep in mind that most men (and other women) won’t stereotype you. Some will, but most won’t. And the ones that do — [email protected]#!_ them!

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Lynne August 21, 2012 at 12:57 pm

I plan to tackle my fear of running tomorrow! I am scared of falling over (I am so clumsy) and also scared that I won’t be able to do it! I really want to get into running though, so am going to give the Couch to 5k programme a go. :)

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Danica August 21, 2012 at 6:05 pm

Ummmm were you at Aberfoyle Antique Market on Sunday??? We went there for the first time. I actually blogged about my purchases :) Who knows we may have crossed paths!!

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Foodforthoughtlinds August 23, 2012 at 10:36 pm

Yesterday, I left my 10 month old daughter for her first full day in daycare. This shouldn’t be scary for me, as she’s not my first baby. Yet, I somehow still found it incredibly difficult to leave her. When my appointment ended earlier than anticipated, I immediately thought that I should go pick her up. But I also needed some time to myself. Some downtime before I start work in a month. Some time to get organized. And some time to just rest and recharge. Putting myself first has been something I have always struggled with. But you know what?? My daughter did just fine on her first full day and I survived it too ;) Nothing is ever as scary as what you make it out to be in your own head!

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Leah August 24, 2012 at 3:21 am

I remember my daughters first full day at nursery. She was 6 months old and I was terrified. I called twice just to make sure she was ok and the staff were more than happy to talk to me about how she was. We both survived! She is now just over two and still attends the same nursery two days per week. We both love it. I am on summer holidays right now (teacher) and some weeks I really struggle to take her to nursery because I am not working. I usually take her at least one day a week though because I know it is good for her AND me. She loves the social time with her friends and it gives me a chance to get things done, recharge and a little time apart is not a bad thing. I think it is hard as moms to remember that we need time too. We don’t have to be “supermom” all the time. The more we work on us and find that balance, the better we are for our kids!

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Sarah August 26, 2012 at 6:11 pm

I decided I couldn’t do a thing a day, but I’ve kept it on my mind. This month I’ve started a new job and tried very hard to make friends and be outgoing there (I’m ridiculously shy), with the job I’ve had to face a lot of fears about being the “best” mom and just letting some stuff go, I’ve actually told my boyfriend how I was feeling about some things in my life instead of my usual “everything is fine” mantra, and after literally years of not spending money on myself because I was afraid I’d need every cent for an emergency I bought myself some new clothes. Actually now that I think about it there’s more – including sharing all this on a post! Thanks for the kick in the butt Angela! I always love this blog and it’s really the only one I read.

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Ariel August 27, 2012 at 3:14 pm

It has been amazing how many things I have tackled in the month of August. I got back into flight lessons; had very difficult negotiations over my work scope with my boss (including taking over 2 other colleagues work efforts, and supervising additional contractors), finally decided to step down from a board position (though I have to wait until after Sept 6 to inform the the Chair); started back up with running; decided to stop writing my on-again-off-again blog; took on the task of painting all of the laundry and kitchen (including wood cabinets, hardware, counter, and appliances!); and on and on. The very hardest thing was deciding to formally say “no” to both aspects of work and the board position (because I hate admitting I can’t do it all, and I am horribly afraid of being judged for prioritizing family time over work). But it is very relieving to know that is off my plate. I should have kept a log, but here is a little record! A challenging and GOOD month. Even if I still don’t have the stove out of my living room yet.

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Aubrey August 28, 2012 at 12:43 am

Thank you for starting this challenge! It got me thinking, often, about whether fear was holding me back from an opportunity and pushed me to feel it, face it, and do it anyway! The highlights of my fearless August were: registering for my first 10K race (I’ve been running recently for the fun and fitness of it, but have NEVER been a runner until now, so it’s scary as well as amazing and new), and starting a blog of my own (sharing my writing with “the public” just makes me feel so vulnerable, which I think is ironically a byproduct of being a graduate student and staring down the barrel of a written dissertation). Gonna push myself to keep it going and have a fearless September! xo

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Sarah L. September 4, 2012 at 10:26 am

You are so wonderful, thank you for sharing your fears with us during the August challenge. As for your BC trip – you are going to have a BLAST! I lived in Vancouver for two years. I took a look at the picture of the Capilano bridge and it looks TERRIFYING in that picture! I promise, I’ve been on it and I’m afraid of heights, and it isn’t so bad. The worst part is waiting behind people taking pictures (wait, that may be you! ;)) I’ve been ziplining in Mexico, and the first one is REALLY scary, then you get good at it and it’s a lot of fun. You should definitely make Eric do the Grouse Grind for making you do all that scary stuff. :)

I’m sitting here nervously waiting to speak to my committee member regarding my new PhD project…reading about you tackling your fears is helping me to remember to BREATHE!!

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Steph at Im Still Learning September 4, 2012 at 10:45 am

Go you! I have suffered from anxiety and panic attacks my whole life. Next week, I’m getting a tooth pulled and I”m already freaking out about it. I try to keep positive thoughts, but it’s very hard to manage anxiety. But I believe it can be done. I am proud of you (and I don’t even know you). It’s such a hard thing to do… to face one’s own demons.

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@yogimommi September 4, 2012 at 11:33 am

I’m a little late tuning in for this but I just read through the whole month through and have to extend a wholehearted thank you so much for sharing! I can relate (as I’m sure so many can) to SO MUCH of the same. You’ve really inspired me to tackle my “list” that I’ve been feeling super overwhelmed by. I’m suddenly feeling tremendously motivated to get tons of stuff done, including some “techy” stuff that will no doubt take me 5 minutes, as well as a lot of reaching out I’ve been “meaning to do”.. INCLUDING actually making comments on blog entries I really love :) As I write this I’m like, “Seriously, what’s up with that anyways..??? This is so easy!” haha, check that one off the list! I also should let you know that I mention you quite a bit in my own blog at yogimommi.com. You’ve been such an inspiration on my very gradual move towards a vegan diet and I can’t tell you how many people I have got onto your veggie burger recipe alone. A gigantic thank you for that from all of us!

p.s. Oh and the breathing and 10 minutes of yoga a day thing… LOVE IT! Works like a charm… if we do it of course ;)

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Angela (Oh She Glows) September 4, 2012 at 6:01 pm

Thank you so much for your comment! It means a lot to me. :)
Goodluck with your own goals!

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Lynne September 4, 2012 at 12:47 pm

Thanks for this Angela. I agree with the sentiment to feel the fear and do it anyway! It is always the anticipation that is far worse than the actual thing I’m dreading. You are so right about things getting so much easier to deal with even after the first attempt. This has been a great challenge. I’m sure you’ll go from strength to strength. :)

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Ali September 4, 2012 at 12:55 pm

I am seriously seriously seriously afraid of heights, and its something I’m working on overcoming. Last year, I went to the Capilano Bridge AND did the Whistler ziplining for a bachelorette party. I didn’t want to do either, but decided to suck it up and do it. It was AMAZING. The bridge is pretty cool (honestly, I just walked across it quickly). The zip-lining was so much fun and incredibly empowering. I had no idea that I would enjoy it that much, given how terrified I am of heights. You’ll have a blast I promise!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) September 4, 2012 at 5:59 pm

yay!! Congrats. Thanks for the reassurance. I’ve committed myself so I have a couple weeks to pump myself up! hah

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Julie Boyer September 4, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Congratulations to you Angela! You have opened yourself up to your blog world – some friends, some strangers. That’s never easy. I am so impressed with your commitment to feel the fear and face it anyhow!!

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Jaime September 4, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Congrats! I just got back from a trip out to BC. It was the best trip ever! Enjoy yourselves :)

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Martine September 7, 2012 at 3:43 pm

Great work Angela! It’s interesting that in tackling your fears you did a lot of things that you’ve been putting off. I’m the same way – deep down I avoid things because there’s a fear (I won’t know how to do it right), even though I justify it with other reasons (not enough time). It almost reminds me of a month-long challenge I did last year which was “tackle a to do”. At the beginning of the month I made a list of things that needed to be done, many that I’d put off for a long time (or even years). Every day, I scratched one off the list. It was energizing and inspiring to see how much I could get done in one month! I just finished a month-long challenge to do yoga every day, and I made a “bucket list” of challenges I’d like to do one day – you should check it out and see if you get inspiration for October’s challenge! I love the idea of having a community do it together.

(http://nourishandpreserve.wordpress.com/2012/09/06/end-of-yogust-revelations-and-a-30-day-challenge-bucket-list/)

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Lucía January 9, 2014 at 1:15 pm

You are an awesome, brave person. Thank you for sharing this. It is really inspiring to me! :)

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