I have boundaries on the mind today.
I feel bombarded from every angle, from ads on the internet to ads on television, to junk email and junk mail. I feel like I have to protect myself these days from intruders, so I have erected boundaries. For the next few months, at least, I have set parameters.
These boundaries are to protect my resources for the things that I hold dear and deem most important. They protect my time, my health, my money, my family and my friends, all of which are, at this moment, at a premium. Perhaps they have always been, but I have not always been as protective as I am now. Partly because I see a finite number of Christmases with my mother left. Partly because I see a finite number of Christmases left, period. Partly because I’m working and going to school and the holidays are upon us, and I’m feeling a little more pressure than is comfortable for me. Partly because my daughter and her sons have just moved back to town and now my mother and both of my kids and their kids live within minutes and I want to erect my boundaries to include them and exclude things that are harmful to them.
Many years ago, I learned the feeling of freedom in the word “No.” I don’t even have to explain myself. A simple “no” is polite and sufficient. These days, I’m really exercising that word.
This is the season of people wanting money. There is no question that most charitable organizations are reputable, and that there are needy people everywhere, but Al and I have charities that we feel passionate about, and those are the charities to which we contribute. Our funds are limited, as are everyone’s, and we choose our charities carefully. So I am saying no to everyone else who calls or solicits or stands on the street corner or knocks on my door during dinner.
This is the season of parties, and gifts, and fattening food. Again, most parties are fun, most gifts are delightful, and you know we’d love to indulge in all that food. But we won’t go to most parties we’re invited to, because that’s just more stress (clearly Al and I are both introverts), I hate having to reciprocate on gifts given by acquaintances, and all that fattening food has to be disposed of, and not into our mouths. So I am saying no to most Christmas parties, reciprocal gifts and tins of cookies and fudge.
I learned the other day that when I say yes to something, I am saying no to ten other things I could be doing instead. Even if one of those things is taking a nap, or reading for pleasure, or designing a new knitting project. Napping, reading and knitting are all requirements for my mental health. So is gardening. So is sitting and staring out the window. If I busy out my calendar until there is no time left for taking my dog for a romp at the dog park, I am saying no to myself.
I want to say yes to myself. I am enjoying life more now than ever. I have time to read, to write, to study, to spend with my husband, to travel.
And because of this, I will not feel bad about saying no to anything, ever again. As someone recently pointed out, two-year-olds have no problem saying no, why is it so hard for us?