A New Mantra?

There was a time when I believed I did my best work under pressure – I realize now that was just a rationalization for all the procrastination that came before the impending deadline.

I am so deeply buried in projects presently that need to have been done yesterday that the phrase, “working under pressure” seems completely inadequate. The end is near I am sure – either mine or at least a couple of the projects. I actually plan on finishing one today (“plan” being an operative term). Please light candles for me at your church.

My friend Sara Lepp (you remember Sara – future mayor of Fargo) is counseling me in time management and has provided me with a new mantra to replace my current mantra. My current mantra is, “I love that idea and that is such an important project – count me in!”  I typically say it at least a few times a week. And I must add, I am ever so happy to say it.

I love all the fabulous projects I get the opportunity to work with. I get the opportunity on a regular basis to “be the change” I want to see in the world (not that I will ever be Gandhi-like and go on a hunger strike – there are limits).  When given the opportunity to create, support or ponder a solution for issues facing emergency management the answer is always a resounding “YES.”

Alas, one is never done at “YES.” “YES” is merely the gateway to other commitments that are tad more time consuming and things like morning meetings.   And seeing as this is not my first rodeo I know these things going in, but it is like the memory of labor after childbirth – you forget the intensity of the pain when you hold the baby.  All my “projects” are in fact like births – fabulous fun in conception, much to be concerned with throughout the growth process, pain in preparing for the final push and then the glorious birth (and might I add, no epidural is administered during this process – but alcohol may come after).

At any rate, Sara has a new mantra for me. Here it is as she related it to me in both the long and short versions:


Thank you for asking but I am too busy right now and will unfortunately have to pass on this wonderful project. Please keep me in mind for another time.

Or you could just say: NO!

I think this is a big step for me, so I thought I should practice with baby steps. I have been trying to practice it a few times a day with my husband. I am purposeful in alternating between the long and short version to ensure that I become well-versed in both.

I must say, so far it has been very effective. I have used it for a variety of activity requests (using that terminology as loosely as possible) and each time it has worked like a charm. Of course the things he is asking of me do not change the world – at least beyond his world. But, it is easy to use the mantra for the things my husband asks – husbands expect to hear “NO” from wives.  But, to be fair, they aren’t as used to hearing – “Thank you for asking but I am too busy right now and will unfortunately have to pass on this wonderful project. Please keep me in mind for another time.” There is a special puzzled look that is received when using this mantra at opportune times.

We will see how the mantra fares in the big world. I am just an average person. I am not superwoman (as if I would ever put on tights and walk outside exposed like that –  seriously – only if my power was sucking the fat out of body parts). Being the average person I am I simply must recognize that there are limits on what I can do and on the hours in a day. I am but one woman (let’s not discuss multiple personalities at this juncture – focus on the point).  I am not a superhuman – I am not Oprah (although I do pray every night on it).

Well, for now I am back to the pressure and being a basket case.  I will try and perfect my status as a basketcase as the poster above elaborates…if I must be a basketcase I at least want to do it to the height of my capability.

Day twenty-six of the new forty – obla di obla da