Monday, July 4, 2011

But I'm a nice person!

I  adored my grandmother. She was sweet, patient, and suffered in silence as she tended her mother through cancer, put up with a physically abusive husband, and cared for a mentally disabled son. That would seem to be enough on any persons plate, but no. Grandma drove the elderly to the store and doctor appointments. She cheerfully babysat for single mothers. If someone was in need, she served, and somehow found time to sew quilts for charity.

You might think this woman was a miracle. I know, I thought she was. She had many friends and everyone loved her. But when she lay dying in the hospital well past age 80, with tears in her soft blue eyes, she whispered, "I've wasted it. I've wasted my life."

How can that be? Grandma made a difference. And she did! I don't know what would have become of me and my siblings if not for her love and stable influence. Where had she failed?

She'd given her life away to others and never lived one moment for herself.
Not one dream.
How had the years slipped by without creating something for herself?

Grandma had the habit of saying yes when asked.

The woman had regrets.
 Not for what she'd done, but for what she'd left undone.
She'd said yes to everyone, but herself.

This week, we stop the habit of saying yes.
People will still like you. And if they don't, you don't need them in your life.

For one week, when possible, say no to requests.
Sorry, but you still need to feed the two year old when he asks.
For the rest, the answer is no.
Without explanation, excuse or justification.

Service is good, but loosing yourself and being used is not.
Poor planning on some one's part does not constitute an emergency on yours.
Let others take care of their responsibilities or get another yes addict.
You're in recovery.

Just say NO!
 "No, thank you." Also good.
Repeat if needed and don't justify.

If you can't make yourself do that, then answer them with,  "I'll have to think about it."
Giving yourself time, breaks the habit and gives them the chance of finding another sucker.
I have been such a sucker and I'm over it.
Life is better.

This week, stand up for your dreams and your life.
No one else will.
Don't end up at age 80 feeling you've wasted the gift of living YOUR life.

Write down your progress and feelings in your journal.
Who is pushy?
Who makes you angry?
Who is difficult to deny?

"Life is a banquet, and most poor fools are starving to death."


  1. I say no a lot- I work with teenagers- but saying no to friends is different. I'll work on it this week.

  2. I was a yesser (that's not in the dictionary, don't bother looking it up:) but, I changed. I realize it's like any other 12 step program, it takes a while, and you never quite feel at home in the ranks of the nay sayers, but it's best. You do lose a few people in your life...the one's that were in the relationship that was a little warped. I learned to do a lot of self-talk...still do...(self talk) finally become comfortable with all this babbling to yourself (other's might not, but you do;)...and learn to find balance.
    Great blog...and very wise words...I'm sure your grandmother is pleased:)

  3. Great theory. I have been working on it and the only ones I can't seem to say no to, and the ones I need to learn with the most, are my daughters. It just seems to go against everything I am as a mother because they were my life for over twenty years. Maybe I just don't want to because then they won't need me anymore.

  4. Fantastic Blog Sandy, you're just great.

  5. Great post! My husband and I have actually started off the week with a big "No More!" My son and his family have been extended guests in the Adams Motel since February-they checked in, but have yet to check out. So we said no more and gave them an eviction date. It was a little painful, but we know it will be the best thing for them:-)

  6. Oh, wow, do I agree with Calisa! I can't seem to ever say no to my two kids (12 an 17). And maybe it's because I want to be needed by them and I AM right now and know that isn't going to be forever. But no one wants to be in a one-sided relationship where we are always the yessers and yet we never get anything back from the other person. That's too dysfunctional for my liking. Your grandma sounds like a wonderful person. You can honor her by doing for yourself and not forgetting that you deserve it.

  7. Sandy, you sure do know how to point out what so many of us have a definite disability in doing. I am using this week to say 'no.' Thanks for the poking stick.

  8. Great post, Sandy, and many words of wisdom here. I can definitely relate to your Grandma's feelings, feelings of not having done enough for myself along the way.

    I'm going to begin using "Yes" for Me and "No" for others :)


  9. Your post really resonated with me. Your grandmother thought she had to work for approval and love. She served. She denied herselg. But at her death she had family around her. I hope she took some comfort from that. And you too.

    But let's hear resounding 'yes' to following your dreams! I've done that a bit, but still find myself saying 'yes' more than I should to support a good cause. I guess trying to figure when to say 'yes' or 'no' is a lifelong task.

  10. Fantastic comments! It's tough to say no to those we love, but it's all about balance. If you're using service to hide from your dreams, stop. Time is the one thing we can't get back. Giving to those we love is part of your joy in life and that's good.
    Just make sure you live your life while doing it.

  11. Sandy, did your grandmother ever talk about what she would have done if she could? What a whole new dimension her personality would have had if she'd followed even one dream! A good lesson. Reminds me of the Sammy Davis Jr. song - I can't be right for somebody else if I'm not right for me. I hope your grandmother's dreams live on in you. Wonderful post.

  12. Grandma wanted to dance, marry a good man who loved her,(leave her abusive husband) and travel.
    None of which she did.
    I'm honoring her by serving with love and going after my dream of writing.

  13. So, so true and well said. I have always been a volunteer and say yes. I've grown up and can say no or enough, but volunteering for my writing groups is an addiction. I like doing it - been FTH membership chair for six or so years, don't even know how long. It doesn't take long and I adore everyone I sign up. I guess since it makes me happy it is okay. :) I have found that I can step back and let others volunteer before me now. Life is good and I am enjoying it now.

  14. A few years ago a friend burbled, "I just know you will be great addition to our handbell choir." She was absolutely shocked when I said no. So was I -- first time I'd turned anyone down. It felt great. Gets easier with practice.

  15. Finding the balance between serving and taking care of personal needs can be hard. We want to help others, we're taught to help others, yet we also need to refuel ourselves. I think the key is to have your priorities and if something doesn't fit in those, axe it. We can't do everything, so pick the best things and out of those best there will be a balance of serving and living. :)

  16. This post contains great food for thought, Sandy. We know better, but get into the habit of giving in because it can be so much easier.

  17. Great advice. Amazing how quickly people will latch on to you after only a few times of saying yes. Like anything, yes in moderation is fine, but can quickly get out of hand.

  18. Wow, this one spikes so many questions... thinking... It seems that being in the moment when we say "Yes" from the heart with some matching facility to deliver needs to be balanced with "No" when it hurts us, and thus, the receiver of our deed.

  19. Oh, my. Your story of your grandmother made me cry. I lost my grandmother just over a year ago and admire her the way you admire yours. My grandmother was Sicilian. She had a just-right mix of yes and no - and when she said, "no", it was never questioned. :)

    Your point is so valid. We need to take time for ourselves. We're used to being caregivers, doing what others need. I often feel guilty for taking 'me time', but you've reminded me, in a very powerful way, how important that me time is. Thank you for that.