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November 25, 2009

This Wonderful Life: I can say No, but I prefer Yes

If popular culture is any indication, it seems women suffer from an epidemic inability to refuse additional responsibilities. Magazines, self-help books and therapists nationwide offer heaps of advice on how to assert oneself, draw boundaries and generally say No when asked to sign on for those things for which we have little time and less interest.

We’re urged to stop putting our own needs last and remember that taking time for ourselves is a necessity, not an act of selfishness. Me? I’ve never had that problem. When asked to take on something that sounds like a time-consuming bore (cooking daily meals, for example), I have no problem begging off. Just ask my husband — the one with the culinary talent and the weekly meal plans to prove it.

So you’d think I would have a lot of Me Time — hours and hours to kick back, read gossip magazines and figure out exactly how to apply Oprah’s vast and infallible wisdom to my daily existence.

You’d be wrong. Although I have no trouble saying No to other people, I have yet to be able to be so assertive with myself, which means that I perpetually (joyfully, excitedly) invite far more activity into my days than there are hours to accommodate it. Do I want to meet with friends every week for knitting and conversation? Yes.

Do I want to volunteer for one thing or another at my daughters’ schools? Absolutely. Can I help a friend of a friend’s daughter who wants to learn more about creative writing? You betcha.

You need help putting out a monthly newsletter to help your organization stay in touch with donors? Oooooh - me, me, me - I know how to do that.

A puppy who needs to be house-trained and taught to behave? I love puppies; I’m sure I’ll find the time somewhere.

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