Friday, February 19, 2010

The straw that broke the camel's back

I was with my boys at the zoo the other day. It was such a beautiful day in Denver that doing something outside seemed totally appropriate. My kids are into reading about the animals that they are seeing now. I read something to them about camels that I have been thinking about since. We all know that camels are used to transport items on their back. What I found interesting was that a camel will refuse to move if overloaded even by only a few pounds. Once the excess weight is removed it will walk for days without needing water.

I have thought about the phrase "the straw that broke the camel's back" ever since. It's not really that the camel's back breaks but that it basically says no to the load it's carrying. I’m starting to really understand what Wayne Dyer said about animals not interfering with their dharma. It’s simple with a camel, its dharma is to carry a huge load and walk across the desert however if you interfere with that by loading it too much then it will refuse to walk.

Of course this made me think about my load and how I'm handling it. Am I saying no when I get overloaded or do I just keep plugging along? Can I afford to get sick one day? I remembered back to the days I was on bed rest where I could do nothing at all yet remarkably the sun still rose every morning and the Earth continued to spin on its axis.

I can truly say that I have gotten better with identifying what is too much for me to handle whether that is physically, emotionally or mentally. One of my friends was talking about sending her kids away to camp this summer and wanted to see if I was going to do the same with my 7 year old. I would have normally said that I would consider something like that but I’ve realized that I don’t do well when my kids are that far away from me so I immediately said “no, doing something like that would stress me out”. She commented on the fact that she’s never seen me stressed and I appear calm all the time. Of course that made me laugh because trust me I have my fair share of not so serene days but I did say that I am getting better at identifying things that stress me out and not even exposing myself to them anymore.

At my book club the other night we were talking about what seems to be the theme of the lessons we are dealing with in this lifetime. I said that mine were boundaries and joy. Boundaries are something that come up for me a lot and saying no to the overload is yet another opportunity to set them. Anything can seem like too much of a load if you take it on grudgingly.

Take an inventory of what you’ve got piled up on your plate and evaluate it. Is it too much for you to handle? Would you rather be doing something else? Keep in mind that everything will continue to be just fine regardless of high you pile things on your plate and whether you get to them all or not.

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Saying YES to a weekend of tennis with a fantastic group of ladies!



  1. Good for you for recognizing this and taking steps to honor yourself!

  2. Sounds like something we all can learn from!!
    We often feel guilty when we say no, but it's actually healthier in the long run!
    I liked that info on the camel! Smart camel !!!
    Suzane Bader

  3. Suzanne - I totally agree that it is healthier for us in the long run to say no to what's not in our highest interest. I have to agree that camels and every other animal are totally smart!