Just Say No

It’s time for a confession.  After growing up being indoctrinated with the “Just say no” slogan, I have finally taken the message to heart.  I only hope it’s not too late for me.

My turning point happened yesterday at the library, the absolute zero of my addiction.  Yes, the library.  I admit it.  I’m addicted to books.  I buy them, I borrow them, and I trade them.  I have them piled on my desk and nightstand right now.  In fact, I probably have enough unread books to last me well into 2012. 

So it was a pivotal event yesterday when I went to the library to return some books for my daughter (she has a similar addiction.)  I glanced at the parenting book section and picked up several that looked interesting.  What happened next is unusual for me and, I think, a sign of real progress.

I put the books back on the shelf!  I left the library without a single book for myself.  Let me explain why this is significant.  Typically, I go through ambitious periods when I buy or checkout a stack of books that pique my interest.  Sometime after I dive into one of the selections, my energy starts to wane usually from the typical busyness of life.  Suddenly, my book consumption level drops dramatically and all I’m left with is a stack of books that I want to read staring me in the face; a daily reminder of my ambition outweighing my reality.

So yesterday, when I picked up that parenting book and flipped through it, a little voice in my head that sounded remarkably like my own said, “Put it down, Laura.  Don’t get ahead of yourself.  Read the books you already have first.”  And I did!  I put the book down and took a deep breath and said, “One thing at a time.”

Now, I’m not trying to make light of people who struggle with serious addiction. I have known and been related to people who struggle with drug and alcohol dependence. But for me, it was significant that I backed away from the books and contented myself with what I already have.  It was an exercise in self-discipline and self-realization.  I said “No” to myself (which is good to do once in a while) and I also accepted the fact that I can’t read every book I want to right now.

After all, it’s really not about the books, is it?  It’s more about taking one day at a time and not getting ahead of ourselves.  It reminds me of my mother’s response when people asked her in amazement how on earth did she and my Dad raise ten children.  She answered quite simply, “One day at a time.”  Wise words indeed!

So, in honor of my Mom, I want to wish you all a blessed day.  But, just one at a time!


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