Full Plate

By Kara Richardson Whitely

A dear friend sent me a note saying she signed me up for an activity that I didn’t volunteer for.

My face reddened. My pulse quickened. I was so mad. I was stretched far too thin. And the first thing I would drop was anything to do for myself. In fact, I had only been to work out once that week.

It will be nothing, she told me. But I knew from the emails that chipped away from my time to the responsibility to show up, this would be another assignment that I just didn’t have time for.

It was hard to be mad at someone for her generosity and kindness. Especially because she is so thoughtful and it would have been really fun to take this on. But “no” was the only answer that worked for me.

I know she had volunteered me with the best of intentions but the truth was I couldn’t handle another obligation . I had to tell this friend, whom I adored, “No.”

I didn’t want to say no. I spend a lot of my time pleasing people. I like to help out, for people to think that I’m capable and good. Since my parents weren’t as involved in my activities, I try to show up when I can for my kids. There are so many things tugging at us — from responsibilities to requests. Please be at this performance. Please pick this up for a party.

I sent my friend an email, explaining that my priority this year is to finish some writing projects and to really, really focus on my health. That meant that I couldn’t sign up for something that would give me an excuse to be busier than I could handle.

But here’s the thing, saying no to her, was saying yes to myself. I was saying, Yes, I have time to go to spinning class. Yes, I will feel OK slipping out of the kids’ bedtime routine for Masala Bhangra class. Yes, I will finish my work projects and have plenty of money for healthy food.

“No” was the answer to get what I really wanted and needed for myself in the New Year. I plan on using it a lot more in 2017.

Read more Happy Trails