Last week I went out to dinner with some friends to celebrate the beginning of summer. What should have been an enjoyable evening wasn’t. I spent too much money on too much food that I didn’t want and didn’t need. The worst was that I didn’t enjoy any of it very much. It made me sick, literally.
Wallowing in misery led me to thinking about why I do what I do, not just with my time and who I spend it with, but with money and food. Why do I find saying no to myself so difficult? I have a camping closet filled with stuff I use regularly and stuff that is just stuff and don’t even get me started on shoes. I danced around with why unsuccessfully and finally decided that I didn’t really care why. I just wanted to create a different experience for myself. Now, there’s a powerful motive for you.
The next morning I felt better. After a healthy breakfast I got dressed then went out to the mess I call a backyard and pulled up ivy, hauled dead wood, and cleared out brush. It’s become a ridiculously therapeutic project that I look forward to several times a week. After getting hot and satisfyingly dirty for several hours I had a cup of tea and took a shower. While I was in the shower it hit me, saying no is an act of love. That no is a yes in disguise. It’s a yes to something better.
I was instantly aware of how many times I surrendered to a desire that stemmed from fear that I’m not enough as I am, with what I have. You know what I’m talking about. I pay for fly fishing gear to declare that I am adventuresome. I pay for a new pair of high heels that I wear once or twice to prove that I’m still youthful and stylish. I pick up the tab for dinner to show off my generosity. That’s just nuts. I am enough as I am and so are you. We don’t need to prove it anymore.
People talk about loving yourself all the time. Apparently I’m a late bloomer because I’m just beginning to understand what that means. It does not mean buying another pair of stilettos that you can’t really afford and don’t need or ‘treating’ yourself to a date with Ben and Jerry. Loving yourself means saying no sometimes. No is a compete sentence. I got that much. A loving no is empowering. It stops you from bouncing back and forth from one desire to the next like an out of whack pinball machine. And that’s important because it really is either fear or love, baby. What are you saying yes to?