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Dare to Dream. Dare to Fail. Dare to Finish.

Updated on April 5, 2010

Dare to Dream

Recently I brought home a book from the library called You Can Do It!  The Merit Badge Handbook for Grown-up Girls, written by Lauren Catuzzi Grandocolas.

I checked it out to see how it was written and put together.  I wanted see if it was a take off of The Daring Book for Girls.  I found it to be neither.  I also found that it inspiring.  I figured I might even learn something new. 

I began with the first step 'Dare to Dream' and followed the prescribed steps.  It didn't take me long to answer all of the questions.  But then, I have made a point to never quit dreaming.  My dad once confided in me that he didn't know what to do with his life because all of his dreams had been accomplished by the time he was 25.  I figured the same could easily happen to me, and have left my imagination to run free.

The sixth step of the 'Dare to Dream' was about getting started on learning something new.  It says, in part, "Not sure where to begin?  Not to worry! You Can Do It! is all about making dreams doable, and building up the experience you need to get you to your goal."  The book is also sub-titled The Merit Badge Handbook for Grown-up Girls.  I took that as my cue, and decided to start with something I know, after all, that is what I would do if I were in Girl Scouts.  I turned to the sewing section, and the beginning project is to make a skirt.  Simple enough, and I could use another skirt.

One of the things with the book is to keep a journal of your day dreaming, desires and learning.  Since I enjoy writing, this was no hardship.

From My Journal

The first project under sewing is a skirt. I have lots of fabric and many patterns. I plan to choose from what I have. I would be fun to make a 'boutique' style skirt. I want something fun to wear.

Fabric Available:

  • Brown Asian
  • Green Sheeting
  • Blue poly
  • Jersey
  • Scraps from another project or two


  • Modest!
  • Goes with me, instead of standing out or weighing me down.
  • Versatile. It has to go with more than one thing I own.


Later the same day:

This morning I got up, excited and feeling sure. I read the chapter on sewing. Made my lists. Made decisions. Got out the fabric and procrastinated!

I looked at other designs online. I played games. I did chores. I did everything in my power NOT to sew.


I also have not pursued a single one of my writing goals this week. Maybe I really don't want to succeed.

Fear of Failure

Being a very analytical type of person, I could not just let it go.  I needed to know why I had refused to take on a project I had been so excited about and was sure I could conquer.

I also needed to be brutally honest with myself.  I could come up with 100 reasons and excuses, but what was at the root of this?  What was I refusing to face?


Failure was the one word that resounded true.  It has always been the thing that has brought me to my knees.  And we are not talking failure by other peoples standards.  We are talking failure by Ivorwen standards. 

Failure, by Ivorwen standards, means that if it is not the best job I have ever done on something of the sort, then it is a failure.  A complete and utter failure.  If it turns out as well as what I have done before, then it is okay.  Only okay.  After all, it shows no improvement.

How long can you top yourself?  What does a person have to do, to always do better?

As I asked myself these questions, I realized that in the back of my mind, I thought the only way I could really succeed in my sewing was to complete something I had never done before.  The only thing that came to mind was to make a wool suit, of which I have no need.  I have made virtually every other type of clothing, and worked with most all types of fabric. 

At this point I called a very talented friend who also suffers a lack of motivation at times, to see if this made any sense.  She told me that failure was the one thing she fought every day.  If supper didn't turn out just as she had imagined, then it was a failure, even if her husband liked it.  And it was the same with everything else in life.

As I thought about this discovery, I realized that my dad 'suffered' the same thing, and it was what really kept him from knowing what to do with his life.

  • When I was 12, my dad built a sawmill, with the intention of selling plans to other do-it-yourselfers.  He gathered all the dead trees from the neighbors and took on jobs clearing lots, so that he could make lumber.  He made many beautiful additions to our home, but the plans were never written.  He said it was because the mill needed a few tweaks, to be just right.  He didn't want to try again.
  • When I was 18, my dad carved a violin.  He greatly enjoyed making it, and it turned out fabulous.  My sisters teachers both valued it at about $10,000.  He has refused to make another, because it might not turn out as well.

I could go on with more of these stories, but the point is, I was doing the same thing.

Dare to Fail.

The next day, after identifying that fear of failure was the thing holding me back, I decided to challenge myself.  To dare myself, not to dream, but to fail.

I thought of others who had dared themselves to fail.  For example: the woman I read about who had set herself the goal of collecting 100 rejection letters for her articles. She had more published than she had ever dreamed possible, and still had not reached 100.

I challenged my self to face the worst:  What if the skirt I was planning to make didn't turn out? 

Answer:  I would have wasted a bit of fabric, but most of it would be reusable.

So, I began.  I measured carefully and cut out the skirt.  I sewed up the seams, put in the zipper and completed everything but the hand stitching.  So far, it is beautiful.  At least as good as I had imagined.

Dare to Finish.

If you don't finish the race, are you in last place?  Nope.  If you don't finish, you don't place. 

Sometimes, I would rather be disqualified, or simply step out of the 'race' than to finish without recognition.  I often experiment with a project, until I have enough proof that I could succeed, if I gave it my attention to the end, and quit.  I have many unfinished projects.

I not only need the challenge to see if I can fail, but the challenge to finish. 

It has been three days since I have worked on the skirt.  I am challenging myself to finish it tonight and to have a picture of it to add to this tomorrow.  I am also challenging myself to finish 30 other projects in the month of March 2010.  These projects that I finish don't have to be started yet.  They don't have to be big or fancy. 

My dream is to finish 30 things that are outside of my normal, daily routine, in March.

If I fail at this, I will still have completed something, the skirt first!

Finish the challenge.  This is probably the hardest aspect of what I am daring.  Even if I do not finish in March, I will still have to finish 30 things. 

My Skirt!   3/1/10  Photo Credits:  My Son.
My Skirt! 3/1/10 Photo Credits: My Son.


  • My Skirt!
  • Wrote a short story that has been floating around my head for several days.
  • Made a 'Tomato' pincushion for my two year old, so that he will quit asking for my strawberry. (picture below)
  • Wrote seven articles.
  • Completed three tutorials.
  • Hemmed a pair of slacks that I had made more than a year ago. They are finally wearable!
  • Finished quilting a table runner.
  • Made a wool dress skirt.

List continued below comments.

Tomato Pincushion
Tomato Pincushion
  • Knit six dishcloths.
  • Made a quilt top.

March Total: 23 out of 30


  • Wrote three articles.
  • Made four dishcloths.

And # 31, completing this self imposed challenge!


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    • Ivorwen profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Hither and Yonder

      Jean, your comment brings up a good point about procrastination: It does bring on stress! Lots of it! The job at hand may be stressful, but usually not half as much as procrastinating.

      One thing I have learned in the last year is to change my environment if nothing is moving. Take the project to a new location, for a fresh prospective.

    • profile image

      Jean Bakula 

      7 years ago


      I always used to be a procrastinator too. But somewhere along the way I realized it just put me under stress. I have a back problem and have bad periods where I can't do all the things I want. So I had to learn to motivate myself to do things when I felt well and had the energy. Your skirt looks really nice! I'm happy for you.

    • Ivorwen profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Hither and Yonder

      Thank you swt titli. You are right. Nothing is impossible, with the right attitude. Recently I decided to knit myself a hat. I have made plenty of them before, and they have always turned out well... but this time it took my eight tries to make one I really liked! Still, I got what I was after. :)

    • profile image

      swt titli 

      7 years ago

      congrats for sewing such a beautiful scirt.....& u are looking so beautiful....thanx agn to remind all of us that nothing is impossible if you try to get something with proper confidence & self strngth....

    • Ivorwen profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Hither and Yonder

      It is amazing, to me, how much power fear has. How many unrealistic things our minds can come up with. It is a good thing we are resilient!

      Congratulations on applying for the job. I hope you get it! I love the regular contributions by humor writers in our local papers. Maybe it is the local humor as much as anything, siting local places and crazy things that wouldn't be caught else where.

      I couldn't find the writer I really wanted, but here is another selection from a section I always love:

    • sueroy333 profile image

      Susan Mills 

      8 years ago from Indiana

      "Success is going from failure to failure without a loss of enthusiasm." You've gotta love Winston Churchill!

      This hit close to home. Every article I write I'm sure will be the last one I CAN write. "I'll never think of anything funny again."

      This week I sucked it up and applied for a job as a humor writer in our local paper. The fear of not coming up with something every week has held me back. Hub pages have proven to me that I could come up with more than one article a week, so it's been an awesome help.

      I'm not sure if I'll get the job or not, but you are so right in that you have to take that step and be willing to fail. GULP!

      I love your articles, and your skirt, but most especially I love your tomato pin cushion! I'll bet your daughter did too!

      Thanks for the great article reminding all who read it that fear is the scariest thing in our lives.

    • E.Welch profile image


      8 years ago

      I loved this..very thought provoking read but imagine my shock when I see your picture.. ( great skirt by the way)

      my eldest cousin who's like a sister to me, you could be her twin! amazing...

    • Ivorwen profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Hither and Yonder

      Thank you Equealla.

    • equealla profile image


      8 years ago from Pretoria, South Africa

      You can be proud of yourself for doing all of these things, and that you achieved this by a new mindset. You are a example to many.

    • Ivorwen profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Hither and Yonder

      Hi Timorous, What you say about wondering if what you are contemplating is something you really want is so familiar to me. Sometimes it is so much easier to identify what I don't want, but then, that is focusing on the negative.

      I spent 2 hrs on the phone today with my dad, trying to help him know what it is he wants with a project he is contemplating. About every half hour he would say, "I don't know. Maybe I should just forget it."

      Thanks for the reminder that failure is all in the perspective. I know this is true, but so often forget when I start moving towards a goal.

    • timorous profile image

      Tim Nichol 

      8 years ago from Me to You

      Hey Ivorwen. I've been reading some more of your hubs. This one really struck a chord with me. Oh yeah...perfection and procrastination have haunted me for years. I sometimes wonder if I really and truly want to do whatever it is I'm contemplating. Sometimes an absolute deadline helps.

      It's not so much a fear of failure (which is relative anyway), but weirdly, it's also the uncertainty of what others may think..if it's something totally different than anything I've ever done before. But then failure is nothing more than the wrong result at that point. You just have to try a different approach, assuming you know what the correct outcome is supposed to be.

      Some people are also afraid of success, as though they wouldn't know how to deal with that if it came to pass.

      Nice, thought-provoking hub. Thanks.

    • Ivorwen profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Hither and Yonder

      Daisy, I am so glad to be an inspiration to others. Keep chasing your dreams. Like FaybeBay said, "You are the star of your life." (not an exact quote, that was the idea)

    • daisyf1305 profile image

      Daisy Fabelo 

      8 years ago from miami beach

      Hello again Ivorwen I have been here before and enjoy reading your hubs you inspire me. Thanks

    • Ivorwen profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Hither and Yonder

      Thanks Moon Daisy. I am actually challenging myself to complete 20 projects again this month. I need the challenge to keep moving.

    • Moon Daisy profile image

      Moon Daisy 

      8 years ago from London

      Love it! I will try to follow in your footsteps! I'm a big procrastinator and you have given me food for thought. Thumbs-up :)

    • Ivorwen profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Hither and Yonder

      Thank you Antoine.

    • AntoineAllen profile image


      8 years ago from New York City


    • Ivorwen profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Hither and Yonder

      Thank you Daisy. As to sewing not being something you are good at, I am sure you have other talents, at which you excel. You obviously love to write.

    • daisyf1305 profile image

      Daisy Fabelo 

      8 years ago from miami beach

      I must say I love your skirt it fits you perfect and you did this all by yourself pillows is as good as it gets for me though I love sewing it's not something I can do.

    • Ivorwen profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Hither and Yonder

      LiftedUp, I don't know when the heavy gardening season begins for you, but it sounds like a good deadline for most indoor things. I'm wishing you the best, and I'll keep updating the list, until I get my 30!

    • LiftedUp profile image


      8 years ago from Plains of Colorado

      I hate having so many projects backed up that I feel as though I am never going to get out from under the pile! It is daunting to dream because of that ever-looming fear of failure, but I too think that he who dares wins! And I think that challenging ourselves--stretching for the goal--is a part of that process. I have a list on my fridge that I am working through. Didn't put a date on it, but the thought in the back of my mind was to accomplish all before the heavy gardening season begins. Sometimes I need that push, to feel that things are urgent, and then the oomph to accomplish them comes.

      Keep us updated on your 30 things!

    • Ivorwen profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Hither and Yonder

      Thank you so much, Lovelypaper.

    • lovelypaper profile image

      Renee S 

      8 years ago from Virginia

      Fantastic hub. Many of us don't follow through with our dreams because we are afraid to fail. Good for you for completing your skirt. May all your dreams come true.

    • Ivorwen profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Hither and Yonder

      I think you are right, TattoGuy!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      He who dares, Wins !

    • Ivorwen profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Hither and Yonder

      Your welcome, Rose West, and thank you too! Every bit of encouragement is appreciated.

    • Rose West profile image

      Rose West 

      8 years ago from Michigan

      This is such a inspiring hub! I am the master at procrastinating... so thanks for the encouragement to dare to fail!

    • Ivorwen profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Hither and Yonder

      Thank you 2patricias!

      I saw this quote this morning, and thought it appropriate: "Success is going from failure to failure without a loss of enthusiasm." ~Winston Churchill

    • 2patricias profile image


      8 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

      An inspirational Hub, honestly! I would like that book, but I think that we could just think of things to try.

      Failing is how one learns to succeed.

      Looking forward to reading about your next project.

      And the skirt looks good on you.

    • Ivorwen profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Hither and Yonder

      Thank you Justine! I am really looking forward to a liberating March. :)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Your skirt came out fantatic, and you look so pretty in the sun. (I really like your shoes too)... I can't tell you how well I identify with this. SOO many things I end up not doing, because Im afraid I won't do them as well as I think I should. Awesome job Ivorwen. Here's to a liberating March!!

    • Ivorwen profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Hither and Yonder

      Madison, I am so glad you found this inspiring!

    • Ivorwen profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Hither and Yonder

      Drbj: First of all, thank you. Part of my reason for sharing this was knowing that I was not alone. I believe the perfectionist tendency is one of those things that holds so many back, and it shows itself in so many different ways. Being able to move on, it is such a relief.

    • Madison22 profile image


      8 years ago from NYC

      Ivorwen, thank you so much:) I hope you know how truly inspiring this hub is, a wonderful motivator in so many areas. Often times we forget that taking on a task we were afraid to, is an accomplishment in itself whether we succeed or not. Fantastic hub!!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      8 years ago from south Florida

      Congrats, Ivorwen, on finishing your project and sewing such a beautiful garment - you look lovely in it.

      Procrastination is a tendency I am often asked to coach someone about and sometimes it is a result of a perfectionistic tendency.

      In other words, if I'm afraid it won't be perfect then I'll tend to procrastinate and put it off.

      Once people realize that something only needs to be excellent, not perfect - they can move on.

    • Ivorwen profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Hither and Yonder

      Thank you Dolores. Your right, procrastination comes for many reasons.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 

      8 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Procrastination can be crippling. And it's not always tne fear of failure, you can be distracted, or just plain lazy. Anyway, this was a good read, and a helpful boost. I hope I remember to come back and check out the new picture of your skirt.

    • Ivorwen profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Hither and Yonder

      Thank you ButterflyWings! I am working on my craft room right now, restoring some form of order, again. This time though, I know it won't be perfect, because I have too much stuff! And that is okay. To improve it is better than to do nothing.

    • ButterflyWings profile image


      8 years ago

      This is one of the best hubs I've read in months.

      I know I am my own worst enemy, when it comes to improving or doing anything! It's just like you said - if what I accomplish isn't a notch better than the last, similar thing, I've "failed", and there's no use in going on to try again with any other project in the same category until I have perfected the "failure". I've therefore lost count of my unfinished projects.

      In thinking through this, I see my next step is to define more clearly what something must look like or be like before it's done. Relatively easy in baking and sewing...much harder in writing and personal growth.

    • Ivorwen profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Hither and Yonder

      Thank you Green Lotus. It has only bee in the last week that I have dared myself to fail, so I am new at this. I am glad to hear daring to fail motivates others too!

    • Green Lotus profile image


      8 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      From one girl to another I applaud you ivorwren. Daring to fail is what gets me motivated too. Thanks for an inspiring hub and a wonderful story. (Kudos to your Dad too. He made a violin !?!)


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