Saying the Occasional “No” Without Guilt


Daylight dwindles into darkness, and Wildwood Acres settle for the night.  Birds hush in their hidden sanctuaries and the only sound is a lonely tree frog somewhere in the marsh. Before falling into stillness, the breeze opened up the clouds and left tomorrow’s promise in the sky.

This is usually my time to settle in for a couple hours of writing, but I’m weary… too weary to be creative. It’s not that I did a lot today. It’s more what I didn’t do that weighs on me. There is a troublesome website that needs significant upgrading, a garden that at the rate I’m progressing may take me all summer just to get un-winterized, writing projects that are lagging… and then this evening’s request for sandwiches or cookies to donate to an upcoming church ‘do’. Nothing outrageous.

Sometimes it’s the little things that overwhelm. The bendy ‘last straw’ that winds the mind into tangled chaos, and shuts down ambition.

Writers know all about the Inner Critic who tries to sabotage our best written efforts, but I’m convinced that his twin brother takes up residence somewhere in my calendar. A voice nags that I really ought to do this, I really should do that, I absolutely must, must, must perform to perfection. And if – heaven forbid – there’s a blank space in my daybook, I’m obliged to fill it with some worthy chore.

When I can’t convince myself to move into overdrive and push through the ‘To Do’ list, I’ve found it’s best to just stop. I give myself permission for an hour of daydreaming, or an entire do nothing, guilt free day. Guilt free is the Rx!

Last week on The Pastor’s Wife Speaks blog Jeanette Levellie posted on the topic, “No is not a four letter word.” It reminded me of a day long ago when a concerned friend gave me a recording by David Viscott, MD, entitled, “Learning to Say No Without Feeling Guilty.” A couple years later its message was reinforced by another friend who pointed out that we are creations of God and as such ought to treat ourselves with care and respect.

With that thought in mind I’m closing the laptop and heading off to bed. The website will wait. The writing will, too. This creation of God needs sleep!

How do you handle a schedule or responsibilities that push you to the brink?