Red Leigh Cooper

Red Leigh Cooper

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Just Say "No"

     My evite response was "Maybe..."

     Going back to the NOOMA video I mentioned in my very first blog, Rob Bell says, "How can you say 'No' unless you know what you've said 'Yes' to?"

     Up until now, my whole life has been "maybe."  Maybe I'll try this college major, this direction musically, this occupation, this group of friends; it's been and endless road of maybes never leading to what I really was supposed to be doing with my life. My hands, and my life, are full of "shells..."
     My friend Dixie is pretty fabulous.  She is great to spend time with and a person from whom I have learned much.  So, when I saw her text message that she was going to have a girl's get together this weekend and was sending an evite, I almost felt a kind of defeat.  While I have been trying let go of the "shells" keeping me from living my life and being on the road to my actual purpose in it, this was a week like one I haven't had in a long time.  I knew in my heart eventually that the answer to her evite may have to be "no" but I vowed that I was really going to try to rearrange the "shells."  So for now the answer was "maybe" as perhaps this once I just might win the "shell" war.

     Saying "no" isn't easy nor is it something I have been able to do easily.  Saying no doesn't mean that I don't want to hang out, that I don't care, or that I don't want to be invited to other events down the road.  Wait a minute...where did I get the idea that saying "no" can cause such misunderstandings?  Why do I feel that saying "no" can cause such an irreversible detriment to my social life?  Oh yeah...because, in the past, it has.

     No two things stunted my social life more that being in a band and being a dog trainer.  I used to say, "I can't have a boyfriend unless he's in the band because I wouldn't have time for him..."  Good thing my husband, Eric, is musically inclined!  I may have never gotten married because when you are chasing these kind of dreams, nothing else seems to matter.  I knew what I had currently said "yes" to.  May not have completely been the right "yes" for my life, but it was a "yes" nonetheless so I had no problem saying "no" to other things outside of that parameter. I noticed that there is a serious gap in friendships among my Facebook friends between college and recent years.  I didn't make many lasting friendships during the "musician" years. The ones I did make during that time and still have though are pretty good ones fortunately.  Some friendships however, didn't survive the next phase completely unscathed.

     The dog training years were the worse as far as any social life. I was still holding down an accounting job while catering to client needs which were mostly weeknights and weekends.  It's no wonder I never saw my friends, much less my husband. Once again though, right or wrong, I had said, "yes" and had no time for anything else.  Just planning a trip to see family was hard let alone trying to accept a friend's invitation to a party.  Needless to say, the invitations started being fewer and fewer.   I even started my own dog training business thinking that would make it easier for me to arrange my schedule, but in fact, that came with it's it own set of unimagined demands and worsened an already bad situation.

     Two reasons I am no longer in the band and dog training.  While I once said "yes," both were unsatisfying enough to where I eventually said "no."  Which now leaves me here to figure out what I need to say "yes" to on my way to the eventual "starfish." 

     So what about this particular week?  What was important enough to say "yes" to that I had to say "no" to something else? Well, I guess that would completely end any reason for the existence of my blog if I knew all the of the "yes" items, but I can say I am starting to figure out what is important in my life. That has to be one of the first steps.  Know deep down who you are.

     For me, some of those things have to be important as they put food on the table and some of them have to be important because it's the right thing to do. My manager at work is leaving on a two week vacation.  I need to be available to help tie up loose ends there. A friend of mine was going out of town and needed me to care for her animals. Another friend is starting a non-profit to help families in crisis and charities are an absolute passion for me.  I am helping with the data research and we need to start moving with this.  Yet another friend has a brand new adolescent Labrador Retriever and needs my help to make it stop chasing the cat. I need to make time to exercise because of my double scoliosis for which I'm in treatment.  The stronger my muscles get, the less pain and other resulting issues I have. Eric is leaving on a week long trip soon so I want to spend time with him all I can. We also need to clean the house, grocery shop, work on the lawn; normal weekly domestic activity that can't wait.  I want to go to church and Sunday school.  I need to be spiritually renewed and make that time to worship my Lord. I teach a bible study and I need to go over my lesson plan for the week.  I wanted to write this blog.  It's part of knowing my "starfish."

     I guess deep down I may know who I am.  I am a hard worker. I am charitable. I am a friend who is there when needed. I am an athlete. I am a wife. I am a Christian. I am a leader. I am a writer.  I know what I've currently said yes to and maybe these aren't "shells" to just rearrange or let slip back onto the proverbial beach. I also know that while it may not be this particular week, I will not continually be so busy that there isn't still room in my life for great friendships. I find I am better these days at investing time in my friendships and ultimately better at choosing the people in whom I invest that time. I feel I am at a place in my life where my friendships can endure the occasional...wait...I need to go change something...

     My evite response is "No..."


  1. I have been pondering about a similar situation in my life this past week. I have been going out to the bars/clubs a lot with my friends this summer. One, because I haven't had the kids very much and two, because J has been working nights. So, I sit alone, missing my kids and bf and I turn to the easiest way to cope, avoidance, dancing and alcohol. I know this is a bad choice for the obvious reasons that go along with drinking too much alcohol, but I have also started thinking about how this is a bad choice because it keeps me from finding my starfish. All of the thing in life I am passionate about I am not doing because I am going out and partying the night away. Granted I do have fun, but what kind of life is that? I need to find balance. I guess my problem is that I am bipolar and this line of thinking all makes perfect sense to me now, but I know in the future there will be something that triggers the switch to flip in my brain and it is like I am a completely different person with a completely different mind. So I am trying to figure out how to control that without being heavily medicated and trying to figure out which mind is truly me. I have to figure that out before I can even start on the path to find my starfish. This has been my struggle most of my life. I feel like I am two different people with two totally different personalities. Maybe I should start my own blog. Here I am venting on yours! :)

  2. And by the way, I love your Blog!

  3. Thanks, Lindsey! If you liked this one, you'll probably really like the new one I'm writing! ; ) Look for "To Be or Not To Be..." as soon as I can find a moment to sit down and write it!

    At least you are aware of what's going on in your life and really, that's the first step in grabbing the starfish. Most people just keep going fully unaware that there is something else, something more, and not fully examining why they aren't there. Now you can say, "Well? Where do I got from here?" Maybe you go to the doctor to talk about the medication, maybe you have other things ready to do for those times when you are without the kids, maybe you DO write your own blog! ; ) Either way, you now know what it is holding you back so you can plan the path from here...