Friday, August 30, 2013

What I Learned in August

#1 A New Word
Remember in "A Charlie Brown Christmas," when Lucy analyzes Charlie Brown with a variety of phobias? This month I learned of a new phobia, kakorraphiaphobia. The irrational fear of failure. The fear of defeat, or the fear of "looking bad." For much of my life, I have had kakorraphiaphobia, and didn't even know it. Well, I knew it mattered - deeply - what others thought of me. Looking ridiculous is painful for me. I have been accused of fishing for compliments. By putting myself down, it seems I am looking to be complimented. Not humility, but a grasp for approval. And, I seem to surround myself with those who do not dish out compliments generously. Which, in the long run, is a good thing. I learn to dig deep, to search within myself, to look for the confidence I want in the Lord and in myself. I had to laugh when I found this phobia. Like Lucy, I almost fell over backward with, "That's it!" It makes me realize how grateful I am to writers like Seth Godin who repeatedly encourage us to keep working, keep creating, keep putting the words out there without expecting perfection or needing accolades. The energy from a fear of failure, of looking ridiculous, can be turned to energy to keep working, keep practicing, keep up the effort without a focus on tangible results. And, writers like Brene Brown, who value vulnerability and courage. Which leads to the next thing I learned this month.

#2 A New Stance
In Daring Greatly, Brene Brown writes of shame resilience, vulnerability and the value of courage. I love it when what I read and what I learn from a wide variety of sources all ties together. Like it was designed specifically for me. The lesson: mistakes and failure are not an end-all disaster. They are part of the learning process, part of being in the arena. Her title is based on a quote from Theodore Roosevelt:
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. 
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, 
because there is no effort without error and short-coming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; 
who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly..."
She writes in her Final Thoughts, "Daring greatly is not about winning or losing. It's about courage. In a world where scarcity and shame dominate and feeling afraid has become second nature, vulnerability is subversive. Uncomfortable. It's even a little dangerous at times. And, without question, putting ourselves out there means there's a far greater risk of feeling hurt. But as I look back on my own life and what Daring Greatly has meant to me, I can honestly say that nothing is as uncomfortable, dangerous and hurtful as believing that I'm standing on the outside of my life looking in and wondering what it would be like if I had the courage to show up and let myself be seen." Vulnerability is not weakness. Scarcity is not the opposite of abundance, but the same side of the coin. The opposite side is enough. Be comfortable with being enough. I still have much to learn. The book, checked out multiple times from the library, went on my Amazon wish list because I knew it was a book I would reference again and again, and my husband (love that guy!) bought it for me. Which is the next thing I learned this month.

#3 A Love
I love flowers. You know that about me. My husband is not a buy his girl flowers kind of guy. But he does buy me books, and I love that. I can grow flowers in the yard, in pots, in the garden. A dozen roses are fragrant and pretty, a bunch of sunflowers are bright and sunny, but when he buys books for me, I feel loved and encouraged. Touched by the beauty of the gems hidden within those pages, the words, the characters, the knowledge, waiting to be revealed like a bud, unfurled. I have a new appreciation for him, for understanding me enough to know what I appreciate the most.

#4 An Old Skill
I discovered I can still ride a bike! Don't remember the last time I rode - ages ago. Our son and daughter-in-law gave me a mountain bike. My favorite ride so far? A sunset cruise with our son. It had been a long, hot day. We both needed some space. We rode two and a half miles around the neighborhood, some dirt paths, back roads, not in any hurry, the sun drifting slowly down behind the mountains, the clouds back-lit by red and orange and yellow stage lights. By the time we arrived home, we were both filled to the brim with calm. Should do that more often.

#5 New Recipes
Last month, I mentioned a request for cream cheese recipes. We - almost - finished that mountain of cream cheese. We made cream cheese brownies (a daughter's favorite specialty), Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast, a chili cream cheese dip (recommended by a reader - a big can of chili with cream cheese melted in), a yummy crock pot recipe recommended by another reader (frozen boneless chicken breasts, corn, black beans, salsa, cooked on high five hours, with cream cheese added in the last hour), and of course, cream cheese on bagels and celery.  I wonder if next year we will remember August as the Cream Cheese month?

I love these last of the month posts sponsored by Emily Freeman, linked with her post at Chatting At the Sky. I browse through my journal, I look at the calendar events for the month, I remember. It is a way to close the door to this month, to pause a moment in the doorway, gaze back over my shoulder as the dusky sunbeams reveal the dust and the light filters in on the closing scene. Click the latch, quietly, grateful. With a light heart, turn toward next month's learning adventures.

illustration by Mary Engelbreit


  1. What an awesome post, Maureen. Gosh, where do I start?! I think I have some of your new word in me too :) Your words give me hope to keep on keepin on. And I'm encouraged to jump back into Daring Greatly. Wondered what you thought of it, so thank you for sharing. And a husband who gives books...well, he's a keeper! It was fun reading your cream cheese adventures. Lots of good ideas to try. All in all, your post just made me happy. Thank you :)

  2. I enjoyed reading the things you learned this month. Stopping by from the linky on what we learned.

  3. I have often wondered if I can still ride a bike! I'm also hearing a lot of good things about Daring Greatly. Thanks for sharing your list!