There have three distinct times when I have used the word No incessantly when I didn’t want to do something.
As a toddler, it was useful when I did not want to eat spinach, take a nap or go potty. It was the favorite word to use to aggravate my parents and attempt to control the outcome of what they wanted me to do versus what I wanted to do.
In my early 30’s, I rediscovered the word No…as in: “I’m 32 years old! I don’t have to do this!” Being a “yes person”, I had found myself doing things that I really didn’t want to do, going places I didn’t want to go because I didn’t want to be “left out”. Or I worried about what people would say if I stopped going, as in “what…is she avoiding us?” or “does she think she’s above us?” This was causing me a great deal of anxiety.
I had stumbled across the book, “The Road Less Traveled” (maybe stumbling is not the right word; maybe its just the universe giving me what I needed when I needed it – providence!) I picked it up and read it right through to the end in one setting, highlighting every other sentence. It taught me that is okay to say no, firmly and warmly. It taught me that saying no is powerful in keeping me mentally and emotionally sane. Perfect! So, I began to use the concept. It wasn’t so easy at first, but eventually, it served me well in response to bullying bosses and/or co-workers, toxic friendships and romances and when my mother said: “when are you going to get married?”
Now, as I am inching towards retirement and exploring how to simplify our lives, it has been re-purposed into: NO! I’m retired! I don’t have to wear high heels or business clothes. I don’t need the latest gadgets and electronics. I don’t care about the inane TV shows or award ceremonies. I don’t have to be present in other people’s activities every day – I can chose when to get involved and when to just stay home.
My social media is meeting a friend for coffee or lunch or a walk or a day at the beach, park, library. The entire universe does not need to know what I do with my time, what my dinner looks like or see the sunset from my window. Happy to report that, although, I am “friends” with many people, I don’t “follow” but a few. I hesitate to “like” something because I don’t want to get their postings every minute of the day. Selfish? Perhaps a tad – but I look at it as maintaining piece and quiet in my brain and soul. The value of saying no is first step, being okay with saying no is the second one.
I use personal social media for close family and friends only. And I will use it for the blog, of course – because the people who connect with me there are just like me – preparing to retire, retired, traveling, cooking, gardening, bowling, dancing, etc. We are the retire-agers!
A long time ago, when I was in my 20’s, I saw a famous actress on a nightly talk show; she was in her late 80’s and was a spitfire. I clearly remember her saying that she says what she wants to say and does what she wants to do because ” whose gonna argue with an old lady?” I have also experienced, first hand, men and women in their advance years who do the very same thing. They are outspoken, spunky and fearless. And when I grow up, I want to be just like them!
I don’t want to be bogged down with “should’s – There is nothing I should be doing when I retire, other than being retired. I did my thing, put in my time, paid my dues so now, I want to take advantage of the freedom that comes with retirement. Each day will open to a world of exploration: what is going on down at the library? Should we go to the Farmer’s Market and get fresh blueberries? The senior center is having Taco Tuesday! Let’s cut down some lemons from our tree and make lemonade!
I don’t need anything more because the real blessing in using the word NO, is that I have learned that I have enough.
We are on it!
Picture of our lemon tree from The Personal Collection of Helene and Zaf
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