We do things for the benefit of our families.
We do things for our followers and those who support us.
We do things for the benefit of our friends and loved ones.
We do LOTS of things for the benefit of our children, godchildren, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren.
We do things for our neighbors and community.
We do things for our pets and plants.

And sometimes we just don’t want to “do” another thing!

Here’s why that… isn’t always a bad thing…

You can’t give what you don’t have and when you’re running on fumes, overdrawn, tired, and anxious, guess what you’re giving? You can have it all… just not all at the same time!

I read and listen to a lot of well-meaning people talking about the nobility of sacrifice, as though not being the one who always sacrifices is a bad thing to be avoided.

Likewise, I read and listen to others who encourage us to give (to every organization, person, and thing) that needs our help, money, time… as though not giving to everything/everyone means you are selfish (see above).

Where do these well-meaning folks get their concepts from and why are they trying to impose them on me?

Hear me out. After that, it’s your turn (laughing)!

If I was a car, how long could I drive before I ran out of gasoline, burned up my engine for lack of oil, could not clean my windshield because I had no fluid…? Does anyone call their car selfish or a slacker? Not that I’ve ever heard.

If I was a checking account, how long could I remain open before running up debits if no one ever made deposits of new cash into me… or how long would I stay out of jail for writing bad checks? Does anyone think of their checking account as selfish or slacking?

How pretty would the trees and flowers be if they never shed their old leaves and hibernated to grow new ones?

And last, why does no one ever call Christ a slacker or selfish for all of those times he, “Would often slip away to the wilderness and pray”?

My point?

Sometimes, you just need to say, “I don’t want to,” to all of the demands, needs, wants, projects, events, opportunities, and pleas of others and refill your tank, make a deposit, hibernate and rejuvenate, and if it’s your thing-pray. You’ll be better off for it and so will everyone else in your life. So, pace yourself and take a page from the car, checking account, nature, and Christ. Be just as good to yourself as you are to others, otherwise you won’t have anything for them, much less for yourself.

It will be difficult at first, especially if you’re used to always saying, “Yes, of course!”

Some people will get angry with you… okay.

Some people will ask, “But why?” And the answer is, “Because I just don’t want to.”

The first time you say, “No” or “because I don’t want to...” you may feel that hot, flushed feeling (okay, the first 20 times)… guess what? You’ll get over it.

What’s more, the more you do, the easier it will become.

How do you know if it’s a need versus you being selfish?

First, is it something you passionately want to do because it brings fulfillment while doing good?

Second, does it align with your purpose, goals, dreams and plans?

Third, will it require you to take something away from someone or something else (including yourself)?

Yes, Yes, No… consider.
No, No, Yes… decline.

Notice I didn’t say, “accept” because you still need to factor in how much “gas, cash, hibernation, and prayer” you’ve had before making a final decision.

The people who know me well know that I will reflect and consider all requests. Some I can almost immediately grant, others take me a while, and still more I decline. I know my limits better than anyone else does. I know exactly what I want and don’t want, like and don’t like, need and don’t need… even if I don’t let anyone else know. Those same people in my life have learned that if I say “No” that I have reflected and considered their request and that my answer is not frivolous or flippant. Those who don’t know me well try to guilt or talk me into it. That’s always humorous for those who do know me to watch (at least that’s what they tell me).

I don’t argue or fight (ask my husband). I don’t make excuses or make up fictitious reasons why I can’t. I just say, “No, I’m not going to be able do that,” or something along those lines. When they ask again I just say, “No, I’m not going to be able do that,” and that’s about all I say. I know my limits and I love me enough to not knowingly exceed them.

Are there exceptions? Of course! 3:00am screaming baby and I’m the only one who can feed him… 1:00am phone rings to tell me that a family member has had an unexpected event… you get the picture. But those aren’t the “norm.” They are exceptions. After which, I take extra time to hibernate, refill the tank, pray, and make deposits. I also do something small just for me, every day… have done so since I was a girl (thanks, Mommy).

If you’re no good to you, you’re no good to anybody else. That’s when, sometimes, the answer has to be, “…because, I just don’t want to.”

“Nine o’clock the next day and I’m ready to go. I’ve got 600 miles to ride to do one more show.”

Those lyrics from Lynyrd Skynyrd’s What’s Your Name paint a picture of a raucous band going from city to city performing by night and traveling by day, sometimes on 600-mile journeys to the next evening’s show.

Such has been my adult business life. No, not the raucous, band playing part; but since 1979, starting as a management recruiter for South Central Bell/AT&T/ Bellsouth, I’ve been on the road from one gig to another, making my living as an actor, consultant, writer, or speaker, and then moving on to the next episode.

It started with recruiting new management hires for South Central Bell. It was technically a 9 to 5, however some weeks I left home on Monday and returned on Friday after visiting at least three college campuses. I could offer jobs to deserving young people and that was satisfying.

Later, I added acting in film and television to the consulting work I did in my firm after leaving BellSouth. For six years it was back and forth from my hometown of Birmingham to Conyers, Georgia to work on the television show In the Heat Of The Night. What started as community theatre and consultation has become a 30-year career in film and television and consultation. In the Southeast, I’ve traveled highways between Birmingham, Northwest Florida, Atlanta, Nashville, Jackson, Wilmington, Charleston, and Savannah, for gigs on movies, speeches and corporate communications.

I’ve flown into airports in most major cities. I flew into Memphis from Los Angeles to catch a connecting flight home only to turn around and get back on the plane to LA, because duty called.

The longest commute began in 1997, Birmingham to Los Angeles working as an actor out of the Los Angeles market. Then came Florida to LA, back and forth and back and forth until we got a place in Santa Monica and used it as our work home. I still enjoy spending time in Santa Monica with friends, Irish Joe, Michael O, and Sterfon.

Into this second decade of the 21st century it’s been, Charleston, Atlanta, Charlotte, Auburn, Birmingham, Nashville, Washington DC, Dallas, New York. I identify cities by the gig I worked there, Atlanta: Containment, Nashville: Sing Me the Blues Lena, Wilmington: Miracle In The Woods, Jackson: The Chamber, Los Angeles: Fight Club, NYPD Blue, etc etc.

The latest gig was in Charleston, South Carolina. I’ve worked Charleston now a half dozen times. I could know more about it. I could have seen more, even visited the few people I know who live there, but that’s the road life. Go in do your gig, enjoy the crew and fellow cast members, another temporary family, and head for home awaiting the next episode of life to call. Home for me is the cherry on top of my life’s bowl of ice cream. Home is where I live my life.

How many final checks have I done? You know where you walk through the room and make sure you haven’t left anything, only in the back of your mind you feel you’re leaving something. It’s a road ritual; like zipping up the final item in your suitcase only to then remember something you specifically and meticulously planned not to forget only to have to unzip, reposition and remember what you promised to remember to pack, in the first place.

Leaving Charleston, I fired up some Allman Brothers and headed to Savannah. In Savannah, I stayed in a hotel I’d stayed in before. For every night I have paid for a hotel room, I could own an entire hotel by now. Sometimes I get to mix business and pleasure. In Savannah, I got to visit with Dixson (our son) and his family.

I am working out of Atlanta again. Looking back there is a sense of pride in having made it work. In having honored my commitments, both business and personal.

When will I stop? I don’t know. What I’ve done for money over the years, I’ve also done for free. It’s what I enjoy. I love the actual performing, consulting, and writing.

There is little more satisfying to me than siting in my office in the early hours of morning writing a piece and watching the sun come up over the Bay.

Then the phone rings, an e-mail hits, a text gets my attention.

“Nine O’clock, the next day and I’m ready to go!”

(Photo from Vladimir Pcholkin via Getty Images)
(Photo from Vladimir Pcholkin via Getty Images)