The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

September 25, 2013

Saying ‘No’: A hard lesson to learn

By Peggy Goodrich, columnist
Enid News and Eagle

— Are you overdoing? Think about it.

Is your plate too full? Can you not see the forest for the trees? Do you hardly have time to think? Do you feel like you need to come up for air?  Do any of these apply to you? If they do, then this article is for you/us.

For people who like to keep busy, it is very, very hard to say no. We just automatically raise our hand when someone needs a volunteer. In fact, we have heard it said, “If you want something done, ask a busy person.” Too often this is true. Busy people just keep “filling their plates” until finally a plate breaks and we have to back off from some of our activities.

Busy people do all those things because they want to do them. We like being busy. We thrive on committees and decorating and sorting and calling people. We get a “high” from all the activities and running around. We like to delve into ideas and execute them. We pride ourselves on being part of some project.

But there comes a time when our bodies and our minds rebel, and we have to start saying “no” to some of the creative things we once did. We have to decide which is more important — our good works or our good health. I have come to that time in my life. I am having to put projects on hold until Jim is feeling better and not requiring so much care. And I am needing longer to take care of me, also. I have actually declined jobs I would have loved to do.  

In my mind, for a brief moment, I thought when I retired I would have a lot of time on my hands. I thought the days would drag on and be empty. Boy, was I wrong! I have never been so busy, nor so occupied, nor so “in demand.” I seem to have little time for anything and just do very basic cleaning and cooking.  However, as I said before, I have had to back off and regroup and put my priorities in order.

In the past few years, I have been privileged to be a caregiver for my husband of 44 years, Jim, who does need help with many things because of numerous medical problems. He is so appreciative and kind and courteous that it is pure joy to take care of him. He is not demanding and so patient with me as I learn to help him.

Still, it is difficult to tell people we are unable to do something or to attend a ceremony. Just this past week, we had to decline an appearance at Vance Air Force Base to honor MIA/POW’s.

Jim has seen what they have endured and always feels he wants to pay them a special tribute, but this year we had to decline. Dr. Whitson, Jim’s wonderful doctor and traveling companion, told us, “It is OK to say ‘No,’” but it is a hard lesson to learn.  

It just goes against my grain to have to turn down requests for assistance or invitations. But the time has come. I just never imagined that I would be in a position to have to decline fun projects that I love to do, like the St. Gregory’s Bazaar that is held this November. It was such a joy to work side by side with these wonderful ladies who work so hard and are dedicated to others and have so much fun doing it. For those who are still able to give lots of time to organizations and worthwhile activities, then count your blessings and go for it — and enjoy them while you can.

When we have reached the stage where there is s-o-o-o-o-o-o-o much to do and not enough time to accomplish those tasks, then it is time to back off and prioritize and decide what is most important — our health and sanity, or  menial jobs around the house. It is surprising how needless it is to wash kitchen cabinets and walls every week, or to iron shirts that don’t need ironing, or cook meals that nobody wants or needs to eat. There are more important things in life to do than to use our energies with pointless jobs.  

When I was attending “Red Hatters,” the thing I liked most was we were not over-organized. Whoever wished to be a hostess for next time, simply volunteered and found a convenient place to meet to eat, and called the members and let them know. We had no programs, we had no officers. We just had fun and visited and ate at different places each month.  We did not worry about committees and rules. We celebrated life and living and just had fun. We wore red hats and purple dresses to show that we had “arrived,” to the point of expressing independent thinking.  

I have the utmost respect for those who still carry on the work of committees and projects. I spent many years doing just that and I loved every moment of it. But it is time to hang up my hat and pass the work on to someone with more energy and less family responsibilities.

I will change my direction and stay busy, but in another way. It is OK to say no.

For those days when you are stressed  with too many things to do (we all have  those days from time to time), put this stew in the crock pot in the morning and come home to supper ready. Or enjoy the aroma of it cooking as you go about your house chores.

Stress-Free Stew

2 pounds stew meat

6-8 carrots

3-4 potatoes

2 onions

1 can tomato soup

1 package onion soup  mix

1 can green beans

1 can whole kernel corn

Cut meat and vegetables into large pieces. Combine ingredients, except beans and corn. Cook in crock pot on low for 8-10 hours. A half hour before serving, add drained beans and drained corn. Season to taste. Great with corn- bread, crusty bread or crackers. Open a can of peaches for dessert and your stress-free supper is ready. Enjoy a calm evening with little cleanup.  

When you have too much to do, back off and get another view.

Send your comments to: Peggy Goodrich, Food For Thought, P.O. Box 1192, Enid, OK 73702.