Say No

This month has been a test of balance. How fortunate that’s our theme.

I’ll be the first to admit that I probably try to do too much. I know I do, but I hate being bored, and the hatred gets stronger the older I get. I feel like time is running out. I feel like there are people and causes I should be helping. I feel like I deserve to do some fun things as a reward for working two jobs. But this month, I realized I couldn’t keep track of my schedule in my head anymore. It wasn’t from my memory starting to fail (at least I hope not).

There’s just maybe—gasp!—too much.

So this month I’ve learned to do as my title suggests. I’m going to say no. And I’m not going to beat myself up about it or let others make me feel bad about saying it.

I have a group of friends who like to go for Sunday brunch—we don’t even go every month—but this month it was set for the weekend I was volunteering to help at a musical festival. The festival was an all-weekend sort of thing.

So I said no to brunch.

Now, I’d had to say no the last one because sometimes the extra cash to blow on a special meal just isn’t there. I didn’t want to say no. I haven’t seen some of the members of the group in months. I miss them. But I said no.

And I’m okay with that.

The balance in my life has to be a give-and-take. Some weeks my students need extra from me. Sometimes my husband does, or my parents, or my friends. Balance is tough. I’m an only child. I don’t like to disappoint others. But I’m learning there really are only so many hours in the day. (Sometimes you need to sleep, too).

I want to encourage you to find the strength to say no. Do it for your family. Do it for your friends. But most importantly, do it for yourself.
I feel like balance gets a bad reputation, but don’t let it. At first glance, it seems like it needs to be some permanent, confining construct. You have to choose among several things that you might want. I’m not sure that’s the best outlook. Balance should be that give-and-take. It should be flexible. What’s right for balancing myself now doesn’t mean that’s how it has to be for the next time I need to decide on what things I need to do. Better things might show up. Other things that are important now might disappear, or their value might shift. Balance is an ongoing challenge to re-evaluate and re-focus on as needed. And you’re the only one who can decide what makes the cut.
Make them good things.

Marcie Herman Riebe

Marcie is a bilingual caseworker by day, a university adjunct by night, and an aspiring writer at times in between. An import to NEPA, she has been active in the arts for many years from theatre to forensics to music. Her interest in the arts continues as founder of Ink, an area writer's group, a founding member of Voce Angeli (NEPA's only all-female chamber choir), and as a columnist for Thirty-Third Wheel. She loves all things Pittsburgh, particularly the University of Pittsburgh where she earned her Master of Arts in Linguistics. She lives in Scranton with her handsome husband, Pete, and their horde of cats: Napoleon, King Ajax, Sam, and Dean.

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