The art of saying no

I have a friend – she knows who she is, who is rubbish at saying no. No matter how many times she tells the rest of us she is not going to take things on any more, no matter how many times she practises infront of the mirror looking regretful yet resigned to being unable to help she simply can’t pull it off and prevent herself from putting herself forward and offering ‘I can do that’.

I am not like that. I am very clear about what my priorities are – first and foremost comes my own happiness, health and wellbeing. That sounds rather selfish given I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, yet I can qualify it. The people I love and care about are very important to me and therefore I am only really happy when they are happy and so helping them to be happy keeps me happy and it’s not quite so selfish after all. My next priority is my family – my children and my husband. We have risked plenty, given long hard thought and careful consideration to what we do and don’t have time for in our lives. What enriches our beings, feeds our souls and is important to us, what we are prepared to sacrifice and what we are not. Our choices, although  not necessarily obvious to the casual observer are the results of long hard thinking, careful prioritising and constant re-evaluation as to what is and isn’t worth our time, energy, enthusiasm. We all four get very resentful of things that take us away from the areas we have decided are important to us and while we have plenty of extra time on our hands these days that is careful carved out and at a cost of various other things that we no longer have.

This week I have scaled back a few things – things that on reflection I could see were not important enough to us to be getting involved with, ideas that on further consideration I could see were not the right path for us. I may not have been as diplomatic and articulate with my refusal to take things on as I usually pride myself on being but it felt good to say no, to mean no and to walk away knowing that instead of denying someone something I have infact gifted myself and my family something instead – more of my time, focus and attention. And it feels good :).

Today has been precisely the sort of day we had in mind when we moved here. This morning everyone got up in their own time, sorted their own breakfast and pottered about doing their thing. Ady fed the animals and collected not just the chickens eggs but the second of our finally-started-laying ducks eggs :). I checked some emails and did some paperwork. Then we all donned wellies and went out onto the croft. There has been rather a lot of faffing with regard to the actual east side boundary of the croft which I am still not convinced is over yet. It has been frustrating, wasted our time and prevented us from getting on with things not to mention meaning that our own time and that of some helpers getting the community polytunnel up and running has been wasted. It is issues like this which frustrate and irritate me, I lack patience, tolerance and the ability to hide that very well. There are other political nonsenses here just now which also serve to get my hackles up and show my less than lovely side. Ah, people…

Anyway, armed with notepad and pen we ventured out and ignoring the whole area which may or may not yet end up being part of our croft we sectioned the land into nine plots and started working on designating what might go where; house plot, camping, livestock, polytunnel, growing areas, orchard, facilities, social areas etc. All very exciting :). We spent some time down beside the river taking in the gorgeous views and reminding ourselves why we are here – because it is beautiful, magical, destination of our dreams.

Back to the croft for cups of tea / coffee / hot chocolate before packing up lunch and heading down to the village (via the castle to put a load of laundry on) to meet the Sheerwater boat cruise. We were joined by several other Rumics and chatted to another couple on the pier – one of the things I do love about being here; friends and neighbours always on hand. The boat trip was uneventful in terms of wildlife spotting but enjoyable just the same, not least because I spent a fair chunk of the time chatting to Dragon and Star which remains a favourite pasttime of mine.

Back at the croft, via laundry collection and hanging it out to dry we embarked on moving Tom and Barbara Pig. They had reached ‘potentially losing your welly’ status in their patch which is the official sign that it’s time to move them so much electric fence wrangling and strimming a perimeter to put it up into ensued. We were rained off twice and ended up completing the task in very very midgey conditions – trying to unravel a knotted section of electric fence wire while being midged and conscious of hungry pigs not being penned in makes for a slightly less than relaxing 15 minutes or so… 😉

All that done and pigs very happily installed into their new area we called Beer O’clock and headed down to the shop for a drink before dinner. A selection of our favourite people were there too so we had a very lovely hour or so with them before walking back up the hill home again, Bonnie at our heels, for dinner, watching a deer drinking at the river for a while on the way.

These are the precious experiences that I have said no to other things for. The list of no can go for some time and started about 10 years ago. These days I don’t have to say no too often, the things I don’t want to do don’t factor that heavily as options of things to do anyway.

Here in the static we have a ‘what’s happening this week on the croft’ white board which we fill in each weekend for the coming week. I try to refrain from turning it into a job list but inevitably it has shades of that as I write down what we have planned to achieve this week. It is in saying No that we are able to keep that board looking so healthy by allowing us to focus on all the yes things we have decided are part of our lives this week.

Try it, say No. You may find it far more liberating that limiting. And if you don’t, well you can always go back and say yes again next week!

4 thoughts on “The art of saying no”

  1. In short, there isn’t one! Our croft and the one next door are currently one large field with a perimeter fence but no dividing one. We have maps showing the shape and coordinates of the boundary at the top and bottom but in attempting to actually physically determine those points we are now on the third attempt.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *