18 February 2008


Learning to say no

OK, NO, NO at Flickr.comSometimes I forget how sick I am. Not often, but on a day like today when the sun is shining and I have a week off from chemotherapy, when I can take the car in for service, then buy some groceries and take the bus home, make dinner, clean up, help get the kids to bed, and record a podcast, there are times when I forget the cancer.

At times like this, I have to remember what I've learned in the past year, which is to say no.

When I was healthier, I'd often get roped into (or rope myself into) projects that might be fun, or might benefit me or other people, or might even make me some money—but that turned out to be way more work than I expected. Or I'd end up saying yes to many little things that, individually, wouldn't take much effort, but collectively sucked up way too much of my time.

I can't do that now, and it has been a good lesson. During the rollercoaster of surgeries and radiation and chemo and weight loss and weight regain and wild swings in blood glucose and mood and physical ability since the beginning of 2007, I've simply dropped quite a number of things, sometimes with no warning. The world kept spinning, and the people who had to pick up the pieces did a good job, or made do without my contributions.

Seeing that, I've made myself a rule. When I get offered some freelance work or come across a volunteer project or a hobby activity that I might want to do—the kind of thing I'd have reflexively said yes to previously—I ask myself a question: if I'm well enough to do this kind of work, shouldn't I be ready to go back to my day job? If not (and so far, my answer has always been no, I'm nowhere near healthy enough), then I shouldn't take on anything big and new either. I shouldn't, and can't, juggle what I used to.

It's refreshing. I do smaller things here and there, and have managed to keep doing some activities I really enjoy, such as podcasting, playing with my band on occasion, and writing this blog. I do some chores around the house, hack around with computers, watch a bit of Discovery Channel, hang out with my kids and make sure they get to school in the morning, and spend time with my wife so I can look into her amazing blue eyes.

For now, in between all my medical appointments and such, that's plenty. And that's what I say yes to.

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I know, it is hard it is too say no. Great picture though and take care of yourself.
It is so difficult finding the balance...I think I've gone too far to the yes side and am trying to figure out where to swing the pendulum back to find that happy medium. I have been pretty sick all weekend, but pushed myself through most of it (except leaving early Friday), and am still feeling horrible despite a good nap this afternoon. Food just won't stay in, vertigo is in full force...

(I have to admit, I feel a little guilty complaining here given what you're dealing with, but I don't think it would be right to censor because of that...hmmm.)

Now looking at another overpacked week, and then DrupalCon in Boston and wondering what I've gotten myself into.

So, my question to you is this: How have you gotten over the feeling that you're missing out on stuff? It is something I haven't been able to figure out how to get over in order to put my health as a first priority.

Was great to see you again!
How have I gotten over the feeling that you're missing out on stuff?

I haven't. I miss out on stuff. And so I do.
huh, well that is nothing if not the honest answer...i should've known that's what you'd say...