By Susan "Honey" Good
Quite by accident, I reunited with a college roommate. We have much in common, but we are not two peas in a pod. Our biggest difference is that outside of her family, she typically says ‘no’ to requests. On the other hand, I typically say ‘yes’ to everything.
“Saying ‘no’ can be as detrimental to a woman’s lifestyle as saying, ‘yes,’" she said during one of our many talks. “There has to be a happy medium.”
Meaning, we both have work to do.
A few days ago I wrote about how to stop saying ‘yes’ when you actually want to say ‘no.’ Today, I am going to write about my girlfriend’s situation: Stop saying ‘no’ when there are many wonderful doors to open after fifty, if you dare yourself to dare.
But first, our reunion… A few years ago, I ran out for a quick manicure. I took my pooch, Orchid, who was likely the reason I was noticed amongst the maze of chatty women who were probably pouring out their woes to manicurists who become their weekly shrinks at $15 for 30 minutes. Not a bad deal.
As we were leaving, I heard my name. I looked up and saw a woman in a pedicure chair holding a book. She would never talk to her manicurist. I recognized her immediately.
“OMG,” I said. “Is it really you?” We had not seen one another in 40 years. I was happily shocked, as old college memories flashed through my mind.
Our quick meeting took place at our home away from home in Rancho Mirage, California. She was leaving for her permanent home in Milwaukee, so we said our hellos and our goodbyes.
It was not until this snowbird season that we once again ran into one another and have spent happy months rebuilding our friendship. We spend five days a week taking early morning walks, unless one of us is out of town. Thousands of words and meaningful thoughts pass between us.
The renewal of our relationship has been sweet and interesting. We are different and yet, so alike. I respect her, learn from her and am somewhat in awe of her lifestyle because it is 100% quieter than mine. She is in awe of my lifestyle because it is bubbling over. We are a great blend.
One day, on our walk, I mentioned that I held a monthly women’s forum at my home for women over 50. “There are ten of us in our group,” I said. “Please come.”
I never in a million years thought she would appear, but when she did. I was overjoyed. We gave one another a big smile.
My girlfriend explained that saying’ no’ for women is frequently based on fear of treading into the unknown.
Here I am, a woman who wears a million hats and it never occurred to me that saying ‘no’ could relate to fear. I thought it took strength to say ‘no,’ but now I get it.
When you are fearful of the unknown, you live a sheltered life. If you are happy living a sheltered lifestyle it is all well and good, but what if you are unhappy?
Here are examples:
- A fearful woman who lives her life inside the box will say: I should.
- A woman who lives her life outside the box will say: I will.
- A fearful woman who lives her life inside the box will say: No, this might be a problem.
- A woman who lives her life outside the box will say: Yes, this is an opportunity.
It is hard to change a lifestyle pattern. Something within has to ignite our engine, whether that be boredom, realizing you have tunnel vision or feeling an emptiness that life is passing you by.
If you have any of these feelings, it is time to leap into the unknown and say, ‘yes.’ What could happen? You don’t like what you tried? Next time try something else. Do not give up. Little by little, open up your door and venture out.
The best ways to do this:
- Join a women’s group that interests you.
- Join a forum that discusses women’s issues over 50. You will have the opportunity to listen to different viewpoints and this might open your eyes.
- Pick out a woman who says ‘yes’ and lives outside the box, even if you are afraid to strike up a relationship. A positive outlook from a woman your age will rub off on you. I promise. You just have to say ‘yes.’
I speak from experience. I have learned to say ‘no’ in my life because I observed my girlfriend’s lifestyle. I gained strength listening to her say ‘no.’ On the other hand, I think she learned from me. She likes that I live outside the box and she now wants to dip her toes in the water and say ‘yes.’ I believe that is why my girlfriend came to the forum.
If you choose to surround yourself with women you respect and admire, I guarantee that you will learn from one another and... neither of you will need a $15 an hour shrink, although manicures never get boring, do they?
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If you have something to say about this story… let’s talk! I want so much to hear your opinions + feelings. I also want you to speak up so that women our age remain visible. I think we have a responsibility to share our wisdom, don’t you? Share yours either in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Editor's note: This story originally ran in March of 2016.