I’m just a girl who can’t say no

Running shoes standing on the road at a yellow line that says Do not cross.

Have you heard of The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a Darn by Sarah Knight? (I have substituted “darn” for the F word, which is on my forbidden-word list.) This book has been on the best-seller list for some time so, however light and trite it might be, people are devouring it. It’s a parody of that famous book on how tidying up your sock drawer will unclutter your mind and your life, which J. will confirm I have not read.

Knight’s book is about setting priorities in a way that allows us to spend time with the people we like and to do the things we want to do. Sounds good in theory, doesn’t it? Give up the stuff that doesn’t bring you joy so you can focus on the things that do. Ditch all you do out of obligation if it doesn’t bring you pleasure.

As a light and trite reader, I like this message. How many times this past week have I found myself doing what I felt I should rather than what I wanted to do? Okay, maybe not all that often; I don’t work after all. I think I’m fairly good–some might say rigid–at setting boundaries in general, except when it comes to my well-being.

Case in point: Did you know that yesterday was National Philanthropy Day? I was too busy volunteering to notice. But I must have known subliminally because I committed to four volunteer assignments this week. What was I thinking?

I am finding that volunteering is much more fun than sitting at home feeling sorry for myself. I cannot get enough of it. At Canadian Blood Services, I dole out soup and cookies liberally to donors and thank them for the good they do. After three hours meeting other people’s needs, I’m spent. As a dear friend reminded me recently, it takes considerably more energy to be on than to sit on my couch all day. As I revel in the novelty of volunteering, I’ve somehow forgotten that I have leukemia.

Not only is this week hairy, I overbooked myself with extra shifts throughout November. Add in that recent mouth infection and my feeling under the weather, and it’s no wonder I’ve hit the wall this week. Note to self: I still have cancer.

Yesterday I told Shelley, the lovely volunteer coordinator at CBS, that I’d recently remembered I’m cancerous and I’d have to bow out of the extra shifts I’d committed to. I assured her I was in it for the long haul but I’ve learned I can only manage one shift per week. I set my illness-induced boundary with myself and then I shared it with her. And she was nothing but supportive and accommodating, as expected.

Work-life balance was never a forté; how is volunteering-life balance any different? I feel less tired already after my chat with Shelley yesterday.

Now that I’ve sorted out CBS, PALS starts up later this week. Jelly and I will love it, I’m sure, yet I expect it too will be exhausting. My compassionate boundary setting may not be done yet. Jelly won’t suffer the same stresses, however. She can be lovable for hours on end if need be.

Annie and Jelly in our first PALS picture


8 thoughts on “I’m just a girl who can’t say no

    • Thanks so much Karen. I may look happy but I’m actually in shock. The picture was taken within minutes of my learning Jelly had passed her behavioural assessment. I’m not sure Jelly looks so happy, though. She was exhausted at that point. XO


  1. I like the idea of only doing those things I want to do. But it would mean that I won’t be able to do what I want to do such as having friends over for a nice dinner. Since, 1. I won’t have the money for groceries, and 2. even if I would have the financial means, I won’t have any groceries in the house. So if I like it or not, I don’t think I can live my life with doing only those things I want to do 😦


    • PMH: I completely agree with you. The whole notion is much better in theory than in practice. I may have been able to focus my work on the kinds of tasks I enjoy, but others may not have the same luxury. I’m hoping she’ll address some of these issues in later chapters–I’m not yet finished reading the book.

      I’d hate to lose out on dinner invitations at your house were you to follow the ideology to the letter, so I say scrap it. But I’d be glad to do your grocery shopping anytime. I LOVE grocery shopping. XO


  2. Absolutely gorgeous photo!!! Made me smile!

    I adopted this “philosophy” a few years ago, makes life so much more enjoyable. I have not read or even heard of this book, so thank you for the recommendation.

    As always, so inspiring.

    Giant hug for sharing the picture. xo


    • Marnie: I’m glad you’ve been able to adopt the philosophy since I’m not sure I could, except in theory. I hope it makes you happy and I’d be impressed if you’d been able to let go of some of the stuff you didn’t enjoy. The book is a quick read if you’re interested, and she does make some good points. Reading it is certainly making me think. I just wish she didn’t use the F word quite so much. XO


    • Janet: Jelly will be even happier once she gets over the idea that she’s there to play with her fellow PALS dogs. Thank you for going to give blood. You never know who might need it! And we Jews need something to keep us busy while so many are around us are frantic getting ready for Christmas. XO


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