Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Saying No, Saying Yes

First, I'd just like to acknowledge September 11th, 2001. It was a tragic day in American history. I wish all of you peace, and I hope that peace can spread through every nation in our beautiful world.

September 11th makes me think about our connections in this world. I had a recent revelation about connections that I'd like to share.

I was a 'Yes'-er for many years. I 'yes'-ed everyone who asked me to do something. I 'yes'-ed the PTO. I 'yes'-ed class mothering, I 'yes'-ed soccer team mom-ing, and I 'yes'-ed when we were asked to greet at church. I had time to give and good reasons to give it.

I gave my time to everyone and anyone. I asked a question in an online gaming forum and ended up as an assistant administrator there. (Hello to all my SimPilot flight simulator friends!) I made friends all over the world through that forum, and I gave countless hours of my time. Once, Trev Morson, Rudy Stubbs and I did a marathon anniversary 'celebration' and stayed in an online chat room for twenty-four hours consecutively. Wow! I don't think I could even stay in a chat room for twenty-four minutes consecutively at this point in my life.

Slowly but surely, I burnt out. I realized that my time wasn't my own. I no longer enjoyed reading flight simulator messages. I didn't even fly a simulated plane.

PTO became my priority. I ended up as Vice Pres for years. (I even had a brief stint as president, but it was thankfully a short-lived stint. VP-ing was good enough for me.) My PTO friends and I met twice monthly, or more if we felt like being creative and painting. We put together gala auctions and raised, over the span of five years, hundred of thousands of dollars. (We were good!) It was a lot of work, a lot of time, and a lot of fun.

Eventually, the time and work amounts grew to the point that none of us were having fun any more. Small town politics killed our spirits. We fizzled out, one by one.

I still 'yes'-ed every other cause, though. I filled old PTO time with soccer ref assigning. Creative writing grew to a more serious hobby. A fourth child took a big chunk out of any time that I called "free".

But I still 'yes'-ed. I 'yes'-ed and 'yes'-ed and 'yes'-ed my time away until I was in such a funk that I had NO time for me. Soccer time morphed into Stage Mom time for my kids' school productions. And it kept going on. A major depression made me learn the meaning of the word "NO."

For the past two years, I've been a 'NO'-er. I've 'no'-ed soccer ref assigning, soccer mom-ing, class mom-ing, and community play production volunteering. We haven't greeted anyone at church in ages. We haven't BEEN to church in ages. No time. No energy. I have school to focus on, taxiing kids to their activities, and my house to clean. (Ok, well, no time for that either. The house stays messy.) I've become 'NO Woman.' No, no, no.

It hit me the other day that I really have become NO Woman. NObody asks me to help out with fund raisers any more. NObody asks me to contribute for team dinners, NObody calls to see if we will be greeters. NObody calls to get together for painting, for meetings, or for many other reasons any more. I've No-ed my way out of so many things that I'm NO longer connected where I used to be. NObody at the elementary school even recognizes me any more! (Ok, a few people did, but still...) NO is as depressing as YES was.

I miss those connections. I miss my old friends. My PTO friends have moved on to become dance moms or choir members or yacht-club board members. My flight sim friends are still flight simming, but we only connect to send holiday greetings and an occasional 'hello.' I've 'no'-ed myself out of many things that were important... all for the sake of some free time.

I know I can't keep every connection that I've ever made in my life. My free time is now sucked up by school work, and my school friends, spread all over the country, are awesome. I wouldn't give them up for anything! ANYTHING! (You know it, Deb!) But I can't have them over for an evening of hanging out. I can't swing by their house to drop something off and to get a quick hug. I have to wait until we're together again in The Wine Pit in Vermont for those hugs and the hanging out. It's great, but it's just not long enough. There's never enough time!

That's the bottom line: There's never enough time. I can't do it all.

So I am coming around to this life lesson: I can't do it all, so I better choose carefully. Saying NO doesn't have to mean saying NO to everything. Saying YES doesn't have to mean saying YES to everything. I just have to choose carefully.

I'm not going back to PTO meetings or the flight-sim forum. I still have school to contend with until next July. But last night at Back-to-School Night, when the sign-up sheet circulated for class moms to assist with some fun, I connected with another mom and said YES.

And I felt how nice it was to say YES again.


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