Big girl panties

Whenever she is faced with a daunting task, my friend Patty says, “I’m going to pull up my big girl panties and….”

That expression resonates with me as I can feel like a scared, little girl when I have something to do that seems beyond my ability—or at least beyond my comfort zone.

Two years ago, I moved to Michigan where we are surrounded by lakes and have plenty of rain and snow. Water conservation is frequently in the local news, though; caring for our lakes, rivers and streams matters here.

Wanting to be a responsible citizen, I bought a rain barrel. The purpose of a rain barrel is to collect rain water from a downspout rather than letting it run off directly into the ground. I planned to use the collected rain water for my potted flowers.

My barrel came with instructions, but those instructions did not provide much detail. For example, step one was “decide where you will place your rain barrel,” and then suggested placing it on top of a pile of bricks or a tree stump. There are no tree stumps in my yard, so I was left to wonder how high the pile of bricks should be and how near or far from the downspout.

Another step was to drill a one-inch hole for the overflow valve. One inch? I own a drill, but my largest bit is nowhere near one inch. I felt defeated before I even started. And so my rain barrel sat in the garage, collecting dust instead of water.

Every time I saw that barrel sitting in my garage, it was a reminder that I was afraid—afraid to try something I had never done before, afraid to fail.

After a fair amount of hand-wringing, I finally asked my brother if he had a one-inch drill bit I could borrow. He did, and he gladly loaned it to me, along with the hacksaw I needed to cut through the downspout.

But even though I now had the proper equipment, I was still intimidated.

So I googled the company that made my barrel and emailed the president. I explained to him that his installation instructions assumed too much to be useful to me, and then I presented him with my list of questions

He responded quickly and provided more detailed information on the installation process.

With his instructions and my brother’s tools, I decided it was time to “pull up my big girl panties” and install my rain barrel. I hit a glitch when my brother’s drill bit would not penetrate the thick plastic, but I turned to a neighbor who has a rain barrel, and he loaned me a different style of one-inch drill bit. It worked, and my rain barrel is now collecting rain water.

Fear conquered.

Now, onto installing an outdoor clothesline—which requires digging a deep hole and pouring cement!


7 thoughts on “Big girl panties

  1. Patty

    Love it! Thx for the reference to me! Now I’m going to pull up my big girl panties and enjoy my upcoming vacation even though I feel intimidated. Thanks for the good advice!

  2. annemarielom

    How very incarnational to reveal a fear and how you managed it. Thank you for giving me courage to tackle some projects I’ve put on hold out of fear!

  3. Madeline Bialecki

    It can be so easy for me to deny my fears and rationalize why I am not tacking some project. With all the rain we have had recently, my barrel is full, and that makes me happy–like I am doing some small part for the environment.

  4. Karen

    Madeline, this was great! I find myself always saying this (well in my own words, of course). Owning my own home has been a great experience in learning to do things which I never – in my wildest dreams – thought I would ever be able to do. I simply put my mind to it and say to myself – “I can do this!” and most of the time I can and I do! 🙂 As for the water barrel, do you need to add anything to the water so it doesn’t get stagnant and draw mosquitoes?

  5. Madeline Bialecki Post author

    Thanks Karen. There are organic mosquito tablets that can be put in the barrel. I think the idea, though, is that the water gets moved every day when water is removed through the spigot. But, I may get the mosquito things because we have had so much rain that my barrel is full and my plants don’t need more water. It is a worry!


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