discover your created self

Crazy Idea No. 20: It’s Okay to Be Afraid


I’m afraid of sharp tools. It’s not that crazy to be afraid of things that can cut you or injure you or cause you pain. For most of my grown life I avoided xacto knives, carving tools and power tools, especially the circular saw.

Fear of pain, along with the fear of failure used to be barriers to my creative pursuits. I can now say that I have used a circular saw with confidence. My mom and sister and I have been known to make home improvements on the weekend. Their courage and know-how provided me a safe place to overcome my fear, and learn a new skill.

On Fridays, I offer art classes in my home. My fellow art enthusiasts trust me to lead them on a creative journey each time we gather. I am honored by their trust.

Each class though, I’m accompanied by fear. Fear of failure, like what if I can’t explain or demonstrate the concept right. Fear of pain, what if someone cuts themselves with an xacto knife. Fear of disappointment, what if one of us doesn’t like the end product. Pretty much all of those fears do show up. Sometimes, I acknowledge my fear out loud, and that seems to put us all at ease.

Today, we carved stamps. I admitted my fears. I gave them a writing prompt to explore their own fears. Next, I explained the process to them, while demonstrating the techniques. We practiced our carving skills on a small eraser first, to show the fears that we weren’t easily intimidated.

Soon after practicing, everyone was grabbing their carving tools, deciding and drawing their designs, and gently and happily carving away . . . and thankfully no one cut themselves!

It is okay to be afraid. It is okay to take risks, too.

Did you ever notice that facing our fears can build confidence?


You came near when I called on you; you said, ‘Do not fear!’ (Lamentations 3:57)

4 responses to “Crazy Idea No. 20: It’s Okay to Be Afraid”

  1. These are beautiful! They bring back to memory my long-ago experience of carving out a linoleum block with a small image of a gnarly tree. I still have it, in fact! I remember how seriously I took those instructions to be careful, always cut away from myself, jeeo my other hand out of the way, and make sure no one else was in front of me! Need for caution and healthy fear notwithstanding, this post makes me want to carve some more of my own stamps again!

    1. That’s “keep my other hand…” (sorry for the slip of hand).

      1. Sylvia- What a wonderful memory. Would love to see a picture of your linoleum block…they make this easy carve block now that the carving tools just glides over! so much fun and satisfying too! I figured “jeeo” was a typo 🙂

        1. What are they called? Is there a brand you recommend?

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About Me

Hi! My name is Kel Rohlf. I am an intuitive mixed-media artist, creative writer and performer. Life is a performance. I often attend.


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