Do the opposite

I am afraid. I am not sure exactly what I fear, but I know I am afraid.

I know it by my hesitancy to get involved, to start projects, to commit. And once I do start something, to stick with it until it is finished. I fear messing up, disappointing, being inadequate, not up to the task.

Things I used to do with confidence now give me pause. Sewing, cooking, knitting—all things I once did with certainty and ease—now I hesitate or, even worse, I don’t even try. A pile of fabric sits untouched by the sewing machine; recipes untried and yarn unknitted.

Not my usual way of moving through life, but pretty much the way I have been for the past few years. And I don’t like it. I want to be myself, more daring, more willing to try new things and more willing to take risks. What happened to that person? Where has she gone?

I wish I knew, and I wish I knew how to bring her back.

Fear has been holding me back, and I am tired of it. I want to break free.

My spiritual director recently suggested I push back against myself.  “Do the opposite of what you are comfortable doing,” she said.fear-vulnerability-riskMaybe it is all the loss I’ve experienced these past few years, all the grief and sadness. Maybe my equilibrium is just off. Maybe…do the reasons really matter? I think not.

Rather, I think I need to stop thinking, stop trying to figure it out—and just act.fear-vulnerability-riskBefore my niece’s wedding last week I went for a manicure. “Choose your color,” the manicurist instructed me. Standing in front of rows of nail polish in every shade imaginable, I was paralyzed by too many choices. I picked up bottle after bottle of different shades of pink, but could not make a decision.  fear-vulnerability-riskMy niece’s favorite color is blue, and I suddenly found myself drawn to the blues. “I have never worn blue nail polish in my life,” I said to no one in particular. Another customer said, “It is only nail polish.” Right. Only nail polish. Why such angst over something so temporary?

I chose a lovely shade of periwinkle, and then decided to get shellac so it would last at least two weeks. Two weeks of blue nails! Be bold, I told myself.

Two weeks earlier, I got my hair cut very short. Jim used to call it my “chemo haircut;” I call it my “girl’s summer haircut.” I had not had the courage to wear my hair this short for a long time, but I work at a cancer support center where people have very short hair (or none at all), so it is not an uncommon hairstyle.

It took some courage to tell my stylist to cut it short, but I am happy with the result. Plus, I know it will grow back if I tire of it. Short hair and blue nails—it’s a start.fear-vulnerability-risk


22 thoughts on “Do the opposite

  1. Deb

    Wow, I love it. It is all temporary my hair will grow back, my nail color will change. I love having choices and knowing its temporary. But so look forward to spending eternity with our heavenly Father.

  2. Joni

    I don’t have adequate words to describe how I felt reading your post. The best that I can say is, my God; I get it. I have been there. Lots of days, I’m still there. This hit me on so many levels. I will honestly think about it and come back it read it again later. Thank you for being so bold to share your heart. Helped me to feel like I’m not alone today.
    And p.s. My nails are also blue for the first time 😉

  3. Tatiana

    See… I am afraid of making mistakes in my comment, that’s why I erased it twice already, closed your post, but opened it up again two minutes later. I have to start doing it, but I am so afraid. I don’t want to look illiterate.
    Madeline, good for you! It is a little step, but there are going to be more and more. I know how strong you are!

  4. Maria Strauman

    Madeline, I have been there. I AM there. Not sure if it’s age, or loss, or whatever. More power to you, to all of us. Thanks for your openness and courage.

  5. Peter Matthews

    Madeline- What to say? Maybe the old Madeline just needs a breather. But the color looks great!

  6. Jane Banik

    Dear Madeline, This blog intrigued me. I always think of you as fearless Madeline. I wanted to approach life the way you do. I will always think of you that way! Look at what you’ve accomplished in your life, lady. Deciding on a nail polish color is a challenge for all of us who don’t look at this task as the most important thing in their life.

    My life is changing dramatically. I seem to say yes, then figure out how I’m going to do what I agreed to do. There seems not to be an empty day. The days ahead are quite a challenge in travel to St. Augustine, Fla. for grandson, Timothy’s birthday; then on to Atlanta for a surprise 60th birthday party for Mike’s wife.

    Then I have to move on August 18th since my landlady needs to sell my unit. I found a unit on the 9th floor – same building. Still cooking at Gift of Mary. Colleen and Monty bought the Russell house in Rose valley on the 26th of this month. Good news—my children just take over for me. Doing a quit sketch these days requires more of my skills to make it happen. Do you think age has anything to do with our approach to life.

    Our new deacon, John, in a recent homily said he likes to think of Jesus sitting down beside him in a pew. I like that thought. I try to envision that happening to me. I wonder if I would recognize Him. It certainly would eliminate my fears, maybe yours too.

    God Bless, Luv Jane

    Sent from my iPad


    1. Madeline Bialecki Post author

      Jane, thanks for the update. I am glad Colleen and Monty will be so nearby. I was thinking similar to Deacon John’s the other day when I was remembering how i used to imagine Jesus walking beside me. This was new in my adult Christian life, and I was trying to get used to His closeness. I was wondering if I need to re-establish that close physical relationship with Him. Enjoy the travels, and remember that “no” is an acceptable answer to a request when something is too much or you just don’t want to do it. Love and miss you.

  7. Nona

    Just One
    (By: Author Unknown)

    One song can spark a moment,
    One flower can wake the dream
    One tree can start a forest,
    One bird can herald spring.
    One smile begins a friendship,
    One handclasp lifts a soul.
    One star can guide a ship at sea,
    One word can frame the goal.
    One vote can change a nation,
    One sunbeam lights a room
    One candle wipes out darkness,
    One laugh will conquer gloom.
    One step must start each journey.
    One word must start each prayer.
    One hope will raise our spirits,
    One touch can show you care.
    One voice can speak with wisdom,
    One heart can know what’s true,
    One life can make a difference,
    You see, it’s up to you!

  8. Ann

    Very inspiring! I needed that this week after sending out many resumes for work I finally had an interview and I left my fear at the door.


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