Posted by: Patti Dickinson | 05/14/2010

Saying “yes” is saying “no” to something else…..

Time is a funny thing.

It’s something most of us think little about until a series of circumstances allows us a glimpse of our own morality. For me, it was the loss of a dear friend as I watched her gritty battle with lung cancer.  Cancer won.  Janice lost.  She left behind a husband and two adopted sons.  I watched the grim fight.  One day at a time, sapping the life out of her.  I still wake up in the middle of the night wondering how a woman can go to the doctor for what she thought was heartburn, only to be given the horrific diagnosis of stage IV   cancer.  The day before, she probably went to the grocery store. That morning, she made a pot of coffee.  She made the bed.  Read the newspaper. She did such regular stuff — and then she heard the doctor speak the unspeakable. That day — that day altered not only her life, but the life of her husband, children, sisters, friends.  One day.  One two minute conversation with the doctor.  And everything from then forward would be thought of as before — and after the diagnosis.

So I changed some things in my own life.  Threw myself into some volunteer work that “fills me up”.  Work that makes a difference.  Work that has me walking out the door at the end of the day with a little bounce in my step.  I work at a Free Clinic.  I am needed, appreciated and I have met some interesting folks that I now address by name, without looking at their chart for a cue.  I know who’s lost a daughter, who went fishing with their grandson, who’s been to prison, who uses crack and meth and who has AIDS.

And so this morning, when I was called from my daughter’s high school to chair a choice of committees for next year, I politely declined.  I hesitated to do that, I struggled with it as I stuttered my way through a polite no. I did the whole mental it’s-only-a-once-a-month-commitment-and-I-know-lots-of-people-I-can-talk-into-helping-me and held strong.  No.  I have done all those jobs.  I have Chaired carnivals, Pancake Breakfasts, Book Fairs, Picture Day.  Room parented my way through two decades of kids.

Nope.  Time is the most valuable commodity I have.  And I realized that saying “yes” is always saying “no” to something else.

Yup, a personal victory.


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