I’ve had my share of success and failures.  I’ve met some great friends and even dropped a few off along the way. I have made appointments while having to reschedule or cancel others. There were even events I attended, when I knew I’d rather be somewhere else.  Life is just busy and as a woman that wears many hats, it can get overwhelming at times. I realize that as long as I give, people will get and as long as I say yes, people will receive.

One evening I returned home from a long day, and as I sat on the edge of the bed, my body felt unusually heavy. It seemed as if it took me forever just to remove my shoes. I slowly leaned back and slid my body to the center of the bed.  Before I knew it, warm tears were streaming down both sides of my face. My previous week’s schedule went through my mind…more tears…then my current week’s scheduled followed…more tears.  As my face, cheeks, and neck were all competing for dry space, I softly said out loud, “I’m tired!”  I repeated the two words a few more times. I started to have a conversation in my head and was quickly reminded of an impactful illustration I saw at a conference. The presenter held up a cup and saucer, “This cup is you and right now it’s empty. There is nothing in the cup so whoever might reach for it and want anything from it, will come up short. You are this empty cup. Why are you empty? Because you gave everything you had to everyone else. Now you have nothing left for yourself.” He went on to talk about the importance of saying, “No” which sets a clear boundary. “No is a complete sentence and does not deserve further explanation,” he stated. I remember sitting in that auditorium with my mouth wide enough for a swarm of flies to occupy! How often have I said, “Yes!” when I really wanted to say, “No!?” How many times have I extended a hand, when I should have held my tongue?!  Lying across my bed and recalling the feeling of being in the audience, the tears started to stop.

I went back to that auditorium to the speaker as he reached for a vessel of water. He poured the water slowly and softly started speaking again, “Now when we begin to set clear boundaries, we begin to fill ourselves up with what we need to operate at our highest potential. This does not include things everyone else is wanting or needing, but those things WE need!” The water filled the cup and begin to overflow. “When we fill our cups with things we need like meditation time, walks in the park, relaxing while reading our favorite book, and other things WE enjoy, we are not full. We can now give from our overflow and not our cup.”

I had to learn how to say, “No” the hard way which resulted in my body almost shutting down on me. Once I learned its’ power, I can truly say that I have never been in that place described again. When I do anything or get involved in any projects, I give 110%, because I strive to operate in excellence. Therefore, when I decide to put ME on my calendar, just like a business meeting, I do not feel guilty and have a premediated response, “Unfortunately I’m unavailable at that time!” I learned that self-care is not selfish, but absolutely necessary. I learned to give from my overflow and not my cup.