Sandra Bartlett said “No” a total of thirty-five times this week. Sometimes it literally was just the word no, but she also mixed it up a bit from time to time. In a few instances she remembered to add a polite “Thank you” at the end. On other occasions she opted to say “I can’t” or “Not this week”. Those who caught her at a really bad moment received a blunt “I’d rather not.”

Sandra found herself saying ‘no’ to people a lot these days. She hardly ever used to; at least not in her younger days. Back then, it was important to her to please people, to make them think that she was the “go to gal” in any situation, and that the only thing she lived for was helping others out. But now she couldn’t care less what people thought.

Her change in attitude came around a month ago. She was at her doctor’s office for her yearly physical when he started to chastise her about her weight.

“You really do need to drop some pounds Sandra,” Dr. Morrison said. “Extra weight can lead to diabetes, cancer, heart disease…all sorts of health issues; especially for people your age.”

“What do you mean, ‘For people my age’?” she asked, rather offended.

“You know; someone who is middle-aged, over the hill, or ‘pre-home’ as my sarcastic teenagers like to say. Things get harder the older we get.”

Dr. Morrison was right on that last point. Sandra was having a harder time with things these days – a harder time pretending that she liked nothing more than babysitting for people at the last minute, or going to wedding showers for women who will never invite her over to their homes, or getting up at six in the morning to haul someone else’s stuff outside so that they can make a few hundred dollars at a garage sale. The more things she did for other people, the more resentment, anger and bitterness she felt towards those who never offered their help in return.

“I have more years behind me than I do ahead of me,” she said to herself on her way out of the doctor’s office. “Maybe it’s time I started saying ‘yes’ to the things I want to do and ‘no’ to the things that don’t make me happy.”

If you’re looking for Sandra in the  near future, you’ll probably find her at a pilates class, at an Italian language course, or sitting in front of her fireplace with a nice glass of wine. Those are the things she enjoys doing. That thing for which you need help? Well, let’s just say it’s best to have a backup plan in your pocket.


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