You Defriend Me.

The song goes, “Friends, how many of us have them? Let’s be Friends.”

And friends we were for 20 years……until I made a critical decision few days ago– to unfriend/defriend her.

Our “friendship” –or so I thought—flourished when I felt completely at home in her quaint and unique shop filled with cute/artsy type of remnants of our beautiful state, such as hilarious signs, handmade soap, Avon products and animal lover’s do dads, shirts.

Ever come across that person who really  gets you? Well, our sisterhood went into high gear as we discovered we both had similar life experiences; we attracted the same type of men; we were going through lives highs and lows and we both thrived on challenges.

So she issued me one: “C’mon, walk the mountain with me,” she says referring to our city’s historical and famous Mountain.  I soon found out why natives and newbie’s called it “Bad A– Mountain.”

“Huh?” I must have responded in my Scooby Doo voice while my eye brows shot up.

“Gal, you can do it!” she said in her Southern twang.

“And you’re sure about this?” I tease. “Me?”

“Heck yeah!” she nodded her head resolutely.

“I got you girl,” I said giving her a high five.

The first time around the mountain: Five miles and two hours of torture.nd

Our later walks unleashed more exciting similarities.

 We were both strong, passionate women.

And we were both activists for causes/situations that personally affected us and our community.

She was a staunch animal rights advocate who turned her focus and passion to rescuing animals and adoption.

“My life has gone to the dogs,” she’d say jokingly and often I laugh at her funny, entertaining Face book.

And I felt her ire for animal cruelty, animal abandonment and especially animal euthanasia.  She landed on the news for her animal causes and I couldn’t be happier for my friend.

Then things took a strange turn. I started seeing her offensive, dogmatic (hah!) rants about President Obama, I won’t repeat.

Ultimately, as the attacks became increasing insulting, I stopped reading most of her posts.

Then there was the last straw.

Last week, two African-American men were unjustly and savagely killed by police officers (my view). Few days later, five Dallas, Texas Police officers were slain and seven others wounded by a lone sniper.

According her posts, Obama was responsible for inciting these “idiots” to protest. In a Wall Street Journal article, Obama responded to the video shooting circulating on social media. The article states that he sought to balance the concerns on both sides, saying police officers play a critical role in communities, while African-Americans have legitimate reasons to distrust the law enforcement. The article clearly states he used the moment to call on Congress to adopt changes to the criminal justice system, citing a series of statistics showing African-American and Latinos are more likely than whites to be questioned by police and incarcerated.

The defining moment came when she posted an offensive cartoon about people disrespecting the law and what happens as if justifying the actions take by police officers.

Bam! I couldn’t look the other way.

Nope.  

Deal breaker.

I’m done.

I’d love to say that the decision to walk was easy. It wasn’t. For days, I vacillated on the longevity of our relationship and I came to this conclusion: Longevity doesn’t always mean healthy. I learned some people are seasonal. They’re not meant to be in our lives forever, for whatever reason. The universe wants us to learn the lesson and move on.

With that in mind, it was click: defriend/unfriend.

Gone, but hardly forgotten. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ready? Still Away With Me.

Child, stay still!” a frustrated parent admonishes their child.

Jesus says in Psalms 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God.”

And my favorite found in Mark 4:39:  “Peace is still.”

Stillness. The word is easy to say, but hard to implement.  Why?  The act of stillness means obviously has different meanings to different people. By definition, still means immobile (adjective) or not making a sound, calmness (noun).  From the various articles I read being still means if the mind is still, the body will follow: the two concepts have to be congruent in order to really work.

But here’s the challenge and I feel like a whiner:  I have to practice being still! For me, I had an experienced that “forced me into stillness.”  By nature, I’m a type a personality, the kind of person who enjoys being/staying busy. Busy in my world equates to productivity.  My mind is always on Go!

Then came the crash! Bam! All my so called plans were null and void. My personal projects and goals were being met. And horribly for me, I don’t have the incentive to write. Call it Writer’s block or temporarily burn out, but I needed to really rest, mentally, emotionally and physically. Inwardly, I wrestled with stillness but as I stated earlier, life circumstances such as death forced me to just, well, become still.

And apparently, I’m not alone in this unfamiliar state of stillness.  Jesus clearly gives us a directive to Be still.  STOP!   Martha Beck, author of the Joy Diet, has dedicated a chapter appropriately entitled NOTHING.. She says: “Doing nothing is the most productive activity you will ever undertake.”

Truth be known, I learned that Stillness requires two things: Lots of Patience and Practice.  Hip-Hop Mogul Russell Simmons, who wrote “Success Through Stillness, Mediation Made Simple” stated on Oprah, “We have to learn in order to quiet the mind, we have to quiet the monkey chatter in our heads.”

So what’s th secret to stillness/mediation success?  Simmons who was featured in Black Doctor. org article  suggests:  Commit and Commit again.  First, he says there’s no “right way” to mediate. Basically, he says find a comfortable time, space to get quite and then set an alarm. “Eventually, your mind will relax, and you’ll gain the ability to let go of unwanted thoughts, worries, or frustrations. If you still find it too challenging, Simmons suggests toughening up: My daughter started at nine, and if she can do the twenty minutes, so can you.”

Yes, I CAN!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you get it, let me know!

When.

She had me at when.

Her long, eloquent, heart-felt text used the word When, to say things she couldn’t/wouldn’t say verbally—at least to me.

Writing camouflage the way we see ourselves and how we live vicariously  through others—sometimes unconsciously.

Warning: If someone uses when at the beginning or the middle of a sentence, pay attention to the emotional red flags.

When I share our exchange below, perhaps you’ll understand my depth of concern, the panic that ensued, and how I vacillated on sharing the truth at the compromise of our 20-plus friendship.

Hey there,

I just wanted to let you know, my daughter has accepted a prestigious summer internship.  When she leaves, that’s when my life will change.

When she gets her license, I’ll feel free! I’ll get a life!

She continues. When she travels to Thailand with her senior class next year, I plan to go as a chaperone.

Me: No response. I continue reading with tears spilling down my cheeks.

When she’s leaves for college, that’s when I’ll get my life back/together.  My time is coming,” she writes and I hear her anticipation mingled with sadness.

I hear her saying “I’ll be happier when……”

My response: Your when is now! Live intentionally!

Truth hurts. I had to say things to my friend which hurt me deeply and truthfully,  I struggled with her consistent use of the word When.

When is one of those tricky words with so many hidden meanings.

I associate when as an action or inaction/stagnation in one’s personal or professional goals or dreams.

When also connotes excuses, missed opportunities, future, near future, magically, never, fantasies, complacency and fear.

When, I asked myself, would our focus shift from her children to her personal accomplishments?

When would I get to witness her transformation into a beautiful butterfly who’s actually flying?

When I think of my friend, I think of would have, should have, could have, but didn’t dare.

A few days later, I thought about our conversation when it hit me: My when and her when is not in sync. My when was always feels/seems urgent as in today.  Her when is delayed gratification; patience and at times I’ve seen her take baby steps, but at least she was moving. Then she’d stop.

I thought I accepted her unconditionally. What changed?

And when was the last time, I took personal inventory of my own When challenges? Have I not asked myself the following when questions?

When will healing begin?

When will my book be published?

When will I be able to enjoy the fruits of my labor—both personal and professional?

Then, I’m reminded that our when (timing) is not congruent with God’s when, plans (timing) for our lives.

This biblical passage found in Habakkuk 2:3  challenges my when (s) and quiets my anxiousness. It states:  For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not delay. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.

My friend had me at when.

I know my friend and I both struggle with our own “When” or “Someday I’ll” in our conversations. I can only hope my friends will help me help when with present tense, positive affirmations and blessings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Crying Out Loud: You’re long overdue

 

He was out with friends and truly enjoying himself when the unexpected happened: out of nowhere, he began to cry.

The flood gates just opened and he couldn’t have stopped if he wanted to.

He cried openly and sadly.

But the fact is: he cried.

His crying took everyone by total surprise.  One minute, they were all laughing and joking and the next minute, their friend had “lost it.”

What triggered this flood of emotions? they naturally wondered.

Often times, tears are a way of communicating what we cannot say; didn’t say, won’t say or to embarrassed to say what is really bothering us. When our emotions have been suppressed for a long time, we crash. Then here comes the tears.

But psychologically, shedding tears are part of the internal cleansing/shedding process.  

Tears are highly beneficial according to Laura Bylsma, a PdD student at the University of South Florida in Tampa, who has focused on crying in her research. “Crying may have a biochemical purpose. It’s believed to release stress hormones and toxins from the body.”

Well, if that’s the case, why aren’t we crying more often? If it can relieve stress and make us feel better instantly, we shouldn’t have a problem with crying. Right?

Wrong!

For many people, crying does not come easy; while others reserve their tears for a “legitimate” reason. This is the reason for the “good/happy cry” :

  • New, enjoyable things and surprises such as the birth of a baby, graduations, weddings, a new job, promotions, a dream vacation, engagements, a new house, winning a prize or a problem that is finally resolved amicably or in your favor.

The bad/ugly cry:

  • An unexpected death or even a prolonged illness resulting in death
  • The ending of a relationship whether planned or unplanned
  • Divorce
  • Loss of a job or something else that was meaningful to you (dreams, losing a home, losing your health, etc)

And I’ve cried when certain things/people/situations resonated with me:

  • A dynamic speaker
  • A really great quote
  • A picture
  • A movie
  • My children’s disappointments and milestones
  • Gratitude both given and received
  • Self-discovery, feeling spiritually centered or feeling in a good place emotionally

Years ago, a good male friend taught me the beauty of honoring my feelings. He said whatever you’re feeling, own it. Don’t let others tell you how you’re “supposed” to feel. Those feelings, he said, belong solely to you. And if you need to cry, by all means, do so.

“Your doing yourself a total disservice by pretending your feelings aren’t valid or not worth your own tears,” he said. “It’s your God-given right to cry and then get over yourself.”

Iylana Vansant, a writer, life coach and television personality, wrote this beautiful poem that sums up the beauty of crying. Enjoy!

Yesterday, I cried.
I came home, went straight to my room,
sat on the edge of my bed,
kicked off my shoes, unhooked my bra,
and I had myself a good cry.
I cried until my nose was running all over the silk blouse I got on sale.
I cried until my ears were hot.
I cried until my head was hurting so bad
that I could hardly see the pile of soiled tissues lying on the floor at my feet.
I want you to understand,
I had myself a really good cry yesterday.

Yesterday, I cried
with an agenda. ( Iylana’s Last Verse)

Me: When’s the last time you got your cry on?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mother’s Day: Dual Meaning

 

He would be the first one to tell you—as he probably reminds himself daily—he didn’t sign up for this.

He was never one to shirk his responsibilities, but this situation was wa—ay more than he could imagine or bargained for.

Worse, there was No preparation whatsoever.  Lives hung in the balance and there was no time for rumination.

Given the dire circumstances, he only had one option: He had to Man Up.

He’d have to acclimate himself for dual roles that would challenge his masculinity and some days his very sanity. He knew first hand what it was to grow up without a mother.

Unfortunately, life had a way of repeating itself in his life, but like his father, he took sole custody of his children.

Hats off to men like him who are single fathers and raising their children to the best of their abilities.

More appropriately, Happy Mothers Day to these fathers who are both mother/ fathers to their children because their ex- wives or baby mamas have decided to abdicate their roles as mothers.

Some of these mothers left willingly.

Other mothers lost custody through the courts.

 And others simply abandoned their child (ren).

Sadly, his situation is not uncommon and he’s not alone.

Enoch, another single father, began raising his daughter when she was a year old.  He resided in Atlanta while his daughter’s mother, whom he didn’t marry, lived in another state. Their first agreement stipulated he would see the daughter on holidays, some weekends and summers. In the beginning, she seemed like the perfect mother. She was well-educated; a private practice as a therapist and hired nanny and others to help with the care of her daughter. But there was a problem: she simply quit being a mother

He went to court and got sole custody of his daughter.

To say that Enoch is a great “mother/father” is an understatement.  In these complex dual roles, he had to make some hard choices: giving up his single life, changing careers in order to be available for his daughter and other sacrifices.

His daughter is now 17. He says being the dual roles does have its limitations and “setbacks.”

“I learned the value of getting help from trusted female friends and relatives for my daughter’s growth and development.”

These days, Enoch counsels other men in similar situations and says he gives fathers one piece of advice: “In this role, there’s a lot of trial and error. Being Mom/Dad is not easy, don’t beat yourself up.”

Kudos to these dedicated, determined and dependable men/fathers/mothers. Ya’ll rock!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MIA: Where’s Octavius?

 

His rhythmic gait tells a story of a misfit. His unmistakable side-by-side quasi wallow/swagger personifies and defines who he is and what’s he about: a harmless guy trying to get along in a world that may not have been so accommodating to him.

I’d know him anywhere because once you know him, well, he kinds of grows on you—and I’m okay with this sentiment towards him. In his own way, he’s become a welcomed and expected fixture and the neighborhood. And I guess, I wouldn’t have it any other way. His presence tells me in an odd way, that if he’s around, everything alright.

And how could you miss him? On any given day, he’s wearing his blinding white tee-shirt; his two sizes, too big jeans and worn sneakers that no longer has any emblem. Yet, his whole countenance is one of peace and contentment shown in his goofy like smile and his expressive beady eyes. While he hides behind lots of emotions, it’s quite clear that he’s purposeful and intentional.

First impressions could be misleading.

At first, I chalked up his daily walks to be a nervous condition.

“That boy know he could walk,” I heard a few neighbors remark.

“You could set your clock around him. Mark my word.”

“You think those walks amount to anything? I’ve seen him all around town just a walking and he’s happy as a lark.”

And it was true. He could be anywhere, anytime in any type of weather. Yet, what few people knew about him is that on most days, his walks consisted of getting to the bus. Why? Because, he had a bona fide job. No need to do a double take. He’s wearing a bright, bright neon yellow  jacket, the kind you see the county workers wearing when they’re working on roads.  He’s all smiles, but he’s serious about his mission: He’s going to work and proud of it too!

“Hey Octavius,” I’d say and wave enthusiastically.

“Hey, ah, Mz. Lad-ee,” he’d say with a smile spreading across his face.

“Need a ride?” I offer even though I was knew he was just going up the hill. I figure it would be one less day he’d have to walk.

“Sho, thanks, Mz. Lad-ee,” he’d respond gratefully and joyfully.

He’d thank me profusely and then he would be on his way/mission.

As much as I enjoyed him, I couldn’t help but to worry about his welfare. Octavius-bless his soul–would walk for hours alone. One thing I certain about my friend, he loved walking to the 24-hour Chevron for his Mountain Dew, be it blistering conditions or blistering hot. Yet, I always worried.

Finally, I had to say something to him.

“Be careful out there Octavius,” I’d say hoping he’d pick up on the concern I felt for him. While I thought our neighborhood was fairly safe, walking late at night, well, I couldn’t be sure what kind of chaos he might run into.

Would he become easy prey to those who would take advantage of him? Could he discern harm and/or be able to sidestep it and come out unscathed?

“What about his family?” I thought to myself many  times.

Could this be a clue they had complete confidence in Octavius despite his  “challenges?” Or was I limiting him with my own perceptions?

 

Last summer, Octavius simply disappeared.

“Hey, have you seen Octavius I remember asking my family members.

“Nope,” they said. “How long has he been gone?”

“Almost the whole summer,” I said sadly.

Inwardly, I couldn’t help but to look for my friend. Suddenly, I found myself missing and wishing for his daily/nightly walks. But more so, I wanted to know he was okay. Then one day as I was exiting my car, I heard his voice.

“Hey ah, Mz. Lad-ee.”

“Where have you been?” I asked excitedly.

“California,” he said proudly.

“What you know about California?” I teased him about my old stomping grounds.

“Got to know Callie real goud,” he said nodding his head. “I was training to drive big trucks all up and down Callie. I’m gonna get licensed.”

I couldn’t contain my array of emotions. “Well, I’m happy for you.”

Our lives turned back to normalcy. For a long while, Octavius returned to walking. And I returned to feeling that sense of security knowing he was still walking.

Maybe it was just as well to leave well enough alone.

Then it happened again. Octavius disappeared. This time, I had to know the reason. By now, he had become like a family member to me. The other day, I spotted a member of his family. Forget feeling bashful, this time I was on a mission.

“Excuse me, where’s Octavius?” I blurted out and waited anxiously for an answer.

“He moved to Florida.”

At that moment, I felt an array of emotions. That night, I remembered something profound Octavius said and I just cried. It was one of those times when my fears/concerns had gotten the best of me.

“Aren’t you scared? I asked trying to control my once again emotions.

“Scared? Nope. He’s been too good to me,” he said pointing towards the sky. “And I know, He’s got me.”

Not a day goes by when I don’t miss my friend. Yet, I hear his unmistakable voice and I hear that he’s unshakeable, confident and wise.

Yes, I know God’s got him and knowing that, I know my special friend is in good hands.

 

 

 

Stuff it: Get over yourself!

 

Maybe there is some truth in the old adage “Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing Baby,” at least when it comes to stuff.

Stuff as in our own personal belongings. Don’t believe me?

Try in our personal or professional lives to get by one day without a computer, cell phone, or let’s say a car.

Truthfully and yes sadly, these days we are so accustomed to having our stuff, that we “think” we don’t know what do if, we for instance do not have our stuff.

As a writer, I cannot imagine being without my computer. But stuff happens.

I get up each morning with the expectation that my trusty computer is going to work.  And I have major ATTITUDE when it doesn’t.

“It’s only a few years old,” I hearing myself whining to the computer technician.

He will patiently explain the causes which is like speaking Chinese. In my mind and my world, I don’t care about explanations.

Ultimately, my main concern is “You can get it fixed when?”

One thing I don’t like is when my “stuff” breaks down, well, I’m not into sharing—I kind of learned that about myself about my stuff and other things—but that’s a whole different blog.

HATE It!

I so dislike being one someone else’s time clock when you have their stuff.

Then, I detest the thought, should something happens to their stuff, I’m responsible.

Bummer!

Yet, when our stuff breaks down, we all have to make some concessions.

Right now, I am at a work center, typing my head off.

I can stay as long as I want, yet, I feel a bit “under the gun” to get my writing blog done—for my own purposes—since I haven’t posted in a while.

Why?

Two reasons:  My personal life always take top priority and then as I said at the beginning of the blog: stuff happens.

But where there’s a will; there’s a way. I guess I am using the “way” now and for that I am grateful.

In these trials when our “comfort or comfortable life” gets temporarily interrupted, it forces us to become resourceful—at least that happens to me.

When my cell phone not working, it’ll force me to have real conversations—even with my family in the house.

Oftentimes, what occurs in my house is that we’re all texting one another to the point of exhaustion, instead of just stopping to talk.

Text: Mom, can I see you for a minute.

Response: Can it wait? I’m busy now!

Text: Not really. I have to talk to you about school information.

Response: What specifically?

Text: I received this e-mail from the school and it says……

Rewind: This is a conversation that requires real conversation. Most times, after so many texts—which may be a ploy in the first place—I will stop and address my family member in person.

And then I think to myself: Wow! How did we even survive before without cell phones? Or multiple cars? Or the convenience computers?

All these things makes me and those around me feel crippled if we don’t have access.

Recently, I read an article online where parents actually banned the use of technology devices and no television including games and Netflix for two whole weeks—that included the parents also participating in this “experiment.”

For the first few days, there was a lot of tension in the house. Naturally, the two children ages 11 and 15 were grumbling and feeling like their parents were being “unreasonable.”

However, the parents never wavered. They showed their children the meaning of other forms of entertainment such as reading, playing board games, walking the family dog, sitting down and having “uninterrupted” family conversations and engaging in family projects.

The mother said “It gave me an opportunity to really connect with my children on so-many levels instead of my children using their cellphones to avoid conversation or hiding behind the computer.”

And it made the family realize how they could function—and function—quite well without their stuff.

I sometimes feel out of sorts when my car is being repaired and then I think: “Okay, this is an opportunity for me to stay put and get some things done around the house or the fact, that I can still function because I can—and do-walk to the store.”

So, I asked friends to “check me” the next time I get to complaining about my stuff and really think about my blessings: I truly CAN function–with or without– my “perceived” stuff.

What was I thinking?

 

 

Eye Spy: Internet Neighbors on the Rise

 

Riding through affluent neighborhoods, I couldn’t stifle my surprise.

“Look, did you see that?” I remember nudging him in the ribs.

“See what?” he asks perplexed.

“That,” I whisper from the backseat. Hundreds of neighborhoods later, I learned to acclimate myself to neighbors hand gestures and other forms of acknowledgement, which was customary for them, but oddly foreign to me. Oftentimes, their greeting consisted of:

  • A friendly wave
  • Eye contact
  • A warm nod
  • A smile
  • Acknowledgment in some form

Nothing could prepare me for Southern hospitality in the highest order. House hunting has always felt stressful for me because while I wanted a home, I also was in the market of neighbors.

Good neighbors.

Family atmosphere.

Neighborhood Watch.

Cordiality.

Being from the East Coast, our mixed raced neighborhood consisted of neighbors who had your back. Neighbors who didn’t mind being your eyes and ears. And nothing could replace—even today—neighbors who congregated on porches, on stoops, in backyards, or local meeting holes, bars, eateries, or riding in cars going places just because.

Everyone spoke to one another. We just didn’t speak to strangers. In fact, it took a lot of “eyeballing” before strangers were even accepted into our neighborhood. It was our way of protecting one another—especially children—that there was potentially stranger danger. So basically, while we were friendly to one another, the dynamics changed once a stranger entered our “loving family bond.” All of a sudden, we became territorial.

The benefits of living in a close-knit community made me appreciate living in various states where neighbors really made the neighborhood.  I feel there’s credence in the saying that you want to live “where people know your name” even today.

Twenty years ago, I was enamored by the notion of “Good ole’ Southern traditions/hospitality.” In the South, people were “open, friendly, neighborly. In my experience, neighbors are standoffish, meaning they’ll speak, but there’s no interaction, communication or galvanization to deter crime or exchange important information.

Two years ago, there was a high incident of crime; yet, we didn’t know about these incidents until it made the news! When some of us tried to start a Neighborhood Watch Program, there was no interest.  Crimes still seem to plague our neighborhood, but they continue to happen because we as neighbors won’t take action, talk about it or even call the police.

I’ll never forget what this police officer said in a meeting about the advantages of being neighborly. “Neighbors are the eyes and ears of the community. Don’t worry about being nosy or not wanting to get involved. Being neighborly can be the difference between life and death–it’s too crucial not to communicate.”

 

A few days ago, I officially joined a website that allows me to “connect” with neighbors via Internet. The website is supposed to give you updates about even neighboring subdivisions crime activity; new neighbors; home sales; neighbors recommendations for professional services such as recommending a handy man/mechanic, garage sales, invitations to neighborhood evens and even a chat room.

Since I’m new to this, I cannot say whether I like it or it works. But I can say, nothing beats that good old network of caring neighbors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

, I immediately noticed residents would immediately smile and throw their hands up to wave as to say “Welcome.” It was startling and yet, at the same time refreshing.

So, I thought there is some credence to what I always heard “Nothing beats Good ole’ Southern hospitality.”

Being from the East Coast, Connecticut and New Jersey respectively, neighbors always congregated and socialized on porches, in front of stoops, a central meeting place where bonds formed and everyone naturally watched “everyone’s backs.” There was never a time when I didn’t remember neighbors didn’t stop and talked with one another or volunteer to look after neighbor’s houses.

Of course, there was the other extreme where if a stranger entered our neighborhood, everyone knew it. There was no such thing as “Stranger danger” because neighbors made sure that children were always protected.

 

 

There’s Freedom in Saying No

I was proud of my record—more often than not, I’d say “Yes to Requests” when I really meant no.

No to volunteering

No to writing documents for free

No to free babysitting

No to having guests

No to working overtime

No to bad relationships

And a resounding No to any kind of personal and professional time constraints and infringements that cause me to regret saying Yes.

The word No was not in my vocabulary. Oftentimes, we’re conditioned to say Yes because it’s easier than declining a so-called “favor.” Many times I heard myself agreeing to situations where it starts to wear on my nerves.  Here’s a case and point:

An acquaintance asked me if I could house sit for a week while they were out of town.

“Sure,” I said without thinking it through thoroughly.

A few day before the trip, the lady calls with a list of demands.

“When you come by, will you bring the mail in?” she asks.

“Okay, no problem.”

The next day, it was more requests.

“Can you water the plants and turn off the lights?”

Silence. I was thinking in both cases, she could take care of those things herself.

“Yes.”

When I got to her house, I discovered she left a “To Do List.”

At this point, I was miffed—more at myself because I could have easily said No, in the first place.

Instead, I agreed against my better judgement.

So, I checked on the house as we agreed, and told her No, to anything extra.

I learned the art of saying No by watching and listening to a friend of mine. Betty, is a mother of four, a highly successful supervisor, a caretaker and she’s in a relationship. As one can imagine, she’s pulled in many directions at any given time.  She shared with me that at one time, her stress level was really high because she didn’t know how to say no to family/job/relationship commitments.  In the end, her health started declining.

“First, I had to realize there’s no harm in saying No and every request doesn’t automatically mean Yes,” Betty said. “These days, I often tell others, I’ll think about it and get back to them. That way, it alleviates stress on me and I weigh the importance of the requests.”

These day, Betty says by saying No, she has made herself a “high priority.” By not committing or “overly committing” she avoids a lot of undue stress, stain and spreading herself thin.

In Shonda Rhimes book “The Year of Saying Yes,” the main theme of her book was unlearning how to stop saying No, to new experiences and No opportunities and No to things that scared her. Most people would think of Rhimes, the creator of such shows as “Greys Anatomy,”  “Scandal” and “How to get away with Murder” wouldn’t have any problems with healthy balance of saying No, to things that were not good for her, like toxic relationships.

Rhimes advises: “Difficult conversations are sometimes necessary for personal growth and for the health of your relationships and the people who love you will want to grow along with you. Learn to say ‘no’ to things and people who are sucking the life out of you. When you understand that you deserve good things, saying ‘no’ to the bad things becomes so much easier.’’

Whether it’s a relationships or not being able to say “No” to commitments, there are ways to learn to say “No” without feeling guilty, feeling guilty or making up “white lies.” Here’s some tips from Life hack that gives us permission and power to say “No.”

  • When you say yes to something you don’t enjoy, you say no to things that you love
  • When you say yes to a job you don’t love, you say no to your dreams
  • When you say yes to someone you don’t like, you say no to a fulfilling relationship
  • When you say yes to working overtime, you say no to your social life.

Saying No sometimes can be a good thing–for yourself and others. Try it!