Conscious Incompetence…and Purim Sameach!

Once the kids are sleeping I am filled with an urge to remake my whole world somehow. The possibilities seem endless. Tonight I thought, kale chips, hamentaschen, maybe I’ll roast the chicken for Shabbat! Yep, remaking my world usually occurs in the kitchen. I should probably pick up the toys on the floor, wash the dishes, and hang out with my husband for a little while before we both go to bed at a reasonable hour. Most likely I will do none of the above, except maybe the kale chips and the dishes, and ask Mo to pick up the toys. Thanks honey.

I have been having a hard time lately, working through a lot of anxiety. When I was in college I struggled with mild panic attacks. I would drive to school, park the car, and I just couldn’t get out. I couldn’t deal with sitting in class and feeling “out in the world.” I realize now that I felt very vulnerable and exposed and sometimes I just didn’t have the energy to deal with it. Now that I am voluntarily working towards being more vulnerable (yikes!) some of the same difficult feelings are coming up. I am allowing my emotions their true place in my life, and even though it is sometimes painful and challenging, I already see positive changes that tell me my efforts are worthwhile. I see my relationship with Mo deepening. I feel real joy in moments I might have otherwise overlooked. I am allowing myself to sink into the joy instead of unintentionally playing a worst case scenario in my mind (Take a moment to consider whether you do this at moments when you feel the most vulnerable. I really had to be honest with myself to realize that I do it.) When I feel stuck or really anxious I’m trying to reach out for help, even if it is in subtle ways. I have been making a point to drive Mo and Ben to school so I can take the car and visit with moms who I can connect with in a real way. I have been trying to enjoy some time outside every day. I have been choosing not to judge myself even when I do things that I would rather not do. I try to acknowledge the thought or behavior and move on. I was talking with my friend about what I’m working through right now and she referred to a learning paradigm her father the professor had told her about years ago.

First comes unconscious incompetence, when we don’t realize that we don’t know something. Next comes conscious incompetence, when we realize what we don’t know. Then the skill is acquired (after who knows how long) and we enter conscious competence, where we have the ability but it is still sometimes challenging. Finally after a while we enter unconscious competence, when we are able to do whatever we are doing without thinking about it. When I apply this paradigm to many things I have learned to do it makes a lot of sense. I can relate this sequence to the experience of learning to drive, reading Hebrew, baking bread…almost anything that hasn’t come easily to me. What is not included in these stages are the feelings that come along with them, like the ever present terrible fear of failure, anxiety of being incompetent, futility of trying, and other wonderful things I have experienced along with each learning process. Sometimes these feelings are clear to me, sometimes they are subconscious, but I think they are pretty much always there.

What is happening for me right now is the stage of conscious incompetence, if you will, with many things in my life. I see areas where I would like to grow, and I’m trying to learn a whole new way of relating to the world. This doesn’t happen overnight, so the “in between” stage of realizing some painful truths about myself without being able to change them is really really hard and anxiety provoking for me. I can be a patient person, but rarely with myself. Add that to the list of what I’m working on!

For now, I will focus on something I have entered into the stage of mostly unconscious competence: cooking! Here, at long last, is the recipe for Pecan Pie Hamentaschen! These would be just as good as pecan pie cookies, or the filling can be doubled and put in a pie crust, or the cookies would be delicious plain. I might try this cookie dough with some fresh squeezed lemon juice instead of the almond milk for some tasty drop cookies. (Drop cookie just means that you drop them by the spoonful on the baking sheet aka the easiest kind of cookie.)

Pecan Pie Hamentaschen (adapted from this filling and this dough)

Dough (make 1 – 24 hours ahead to give time to chill)

1/2 cup canola or coconut oil (or butter if you like!)

1 egg

3/4 cup light brown sugar

1 tablespoon almond milk (or regular milk)

1 tsp vanilla (I didn’t have any and they were fine without)

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)

1/4 cup coconut flour (The original recipe just said to use extra regular flour until the dough was thick enough. I like the coconut flour because it adds a nice texture and flavor)

1/4 tsp lemon zest (Don’t leave it out! It is amazing with the filling.)

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

Mix wet ingredients (I just mix with a fork because I don’t like to wash a lot of dishes if I can help it) then pile dry ingredients on top and mix them in. Put in an oiled bowl in the freezer and let rest about an hour or until you are ready to bake.


1/4 cup coconut sugar

1/4 cup brown rice syrup

1 tablespoon coconut oil (or butter)

1 egg

1/8 tsp salt

1 cup pecans

Mix filling ingredients together. Oil a muffin tin with coconut oil or cooking spray. Spread cookie dough in the bottom of each cup so that it extends up the sides. Put 1 tablespoon of filling in each cup. Gently fold down the edges of the dough to make a triangle-ish shape, or just to make it look sort of like a pie. Bake at 350 until slightly browned around the edges. Cool for about 15 minutes or until they are cool enough to touch but still warm. Gently run a knife around the edges and pop the cookies out of the pan. (If you are nervous about this step you can use muffin papers to line the pan.)

In their cozy homes
In their cozy homes
This one looked the most hamentaschen-y.
This one looked the most hamentaschen-y.
Ooey, gooey, perfectly delicious!
Ooey, gooey, perfectly delicious!

Happy Purim if you’re celebrating!




2 thoughts on “Conscious Incompetence…and Purim Sameach!

  1. Okay, these are not just pecan pie hamentashen but DEEP DISH hamentashen. My mind might be officially blown.
    And once again, I love your introspection, and that you made me think about something it never would’ve occurred to me to think about, if that makes sense!

    1. Thanks Nancy! The cookies were out of control delicious and not hard to make. I’m always going for recipes that are the most impressive and yummy with the least work! I believe the stage of conscious incompetence is also known as fake it til you make it…lol

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