In Others’ Words: Can You or Can’t You?

can and can't quote Lucille Ball 2014 I cannot sew.

It’s not for lack of trying. I took my first sewing class when I was in high school. After sewing the zipper into a pair of pants backwards not once but twice, I left it that way. Yeah, getting into those “I made them myself” pants was quite an undertaking.

I took two more classes before I abandoned my sewing aspirations. I took the last class with my mother-in-law. Why, I don’t know. I do remember that I drove to class one night and ran a red light — but that’s another story.

I gave away my Singer sewing machine when I was thirty. You know what? I never regretted that decision. I had tried — and failed multiple times — to learn to sew. I knew that I couldn’t sew, would never learn to sew, and most important of all, didn’t want to learn to sew.

The best thing(s) about giving my sewing machine away? My friend who could sew and who needed a sewing machine got one for free. And me? I no longer felt guilty every time I saw that blasted thing gathering dust in the corner of my bedroom.

But even more than that, I was free to spend time doing the things I could do — and learning to do things I really, really wanted to do. Because honestly, I didn’t want to learn to sew. I just thought I should learn to sew. I’d save money making my own clothes and curtains and Christmas gifts, right? Guilt is a powerful motivator — and we waste an awful lot of time doing things we think we should do — and some things we can’t do — because we’re giving into guilt.

In Your Words: What can’t you do? Let’s go ahead and own up to it today — and be okay with it. How have you embraced what you cannot do and the freedom to do what you can? 

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How Saying “I Cannot” Makes You Free Click to Tweet



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  1. Susan Tuttle
    April 30, 2014, 6:31 am   /  Reply

    I cannot run. I pushed through for years b/c it just seemed like something I should do. It’s great exercise. Hubby runs. Runners look so cool. But no. This body was not made for it. I walk. Happily. Uphill. In my cute running shorts. LOL

    • April 30, 2014, 11:23 am   /  Reply

      I understand. I do. I do. Runners have great bods. I managed to become a runner (or sorts) for a very short season of my life. But you know what? I never enjoyed it. So enough of that. Why not exercise in a way I enjoy?

  2. April 30, 2014, 6:32 am   /  Reply

    Can’t? Ha!

    I can beat any man in any land at any game that he can name for any amount that he can count.

    I believe that. If I didn’t, I’d be dead now.

    • April 30, 2014, 11:24 am   /  Reply

      I kinda knew you were an “I can even if I can’t” kind of guy, Andrew.

      • April 30, 2014, 2:40 pm   /  Reply

        Transparent, that’s me, eh?

        I kind of like a scene from Avatar in which Sigourney Weaver asks the wheelchair-bound Marine, “So you came out here with no preparation, to the most hostile environment know to man, to just see how it went?”

        To which she received the reply, “I got tired of doctors telling me what I couldn’t do.”

  3. April 30, 2014, 7:12 am   /  Reply

    Loved this, Beth. Yes, I’ve been motivated by guilt too many times. I love your mindset, Beth. Let’s see, two things come to mind immediately are: quilting and running.

    I always thought it would be cool to quilt. A friend even gave me a box full of square shaped fabric. Which sat in my project room taking up space for, um. . . years. I finally gave it away to someone who would actually use the fabric.

    I can walk, swim, hike, climb, but I cannot run. My body doesn’t do well when I do. I end up sore and feeling like my limbs weigh about a ton. A few years back, I accepted I would never be a runner, and I’m content to walk for exercise. It works for me. 🙂

    • April 30, 2014, 11:25 am   /  Reply

      Oh, let’s talk about quilting.
      Quilting is sewing with math thrown in to torture me.
      I took a quilting class too once. And the master quilter wouldn’t let me try a small project to start. Oh, no, no, no. And yes, I failed. Finally handed that project off to a friend who quilts for fun. Yeah, I don’t get that. And I’m okay with that too.

      • April 30, 2014, 2:18 pm   /  Reply

        Beth, you made me laugh out loud with quilting + math = torture. 🙂 Thanks for the grin.

  4. April 30, 2014, 7:33 am   /  Reply

    Haha, I can’t sew either. I affectionately blame my mom…who pretty much considers sewing a bad word. (My grandma, however, definitely can sew and she is amazing.) Like you, I completely failed at sewing projects in school. We had to make this laundry bag in one home ec class. Yeah…I sewed mine shut.

    There IS so much freedom, though, in admitting what we can’t do. It frees us up to pursue the things we CAN do, the things we’re passionate about…the things we’re made for…rather than the things we just stubbornly think we need to be able to do because So-and-So can. 🙂

    • April 30, 2014, 11:27 am   /  Reply

      You and me — one day we should visit a sewing shop together. We’d probably get kicked out, but oh, it’d be fun!!

  5. April 30, 2014, 8:14 am   /  Reply

    I can’t sing. Ask anybody who stands near me in church. (Think Barney Fife) I cling to that verse about making a joyful noise.

    • April 30, 2014, 11:27 am   /  Reply

      But you can “shout to the Lord,” Pat!

  6. April 30, 2014, 10:35 am   /  Reply

    Beth, I can’t stay up late. As much as I’d like to at times … I start falling asleep or feeling sick at my tummy. I just can’t do it. But that probably kept me out of some trouble at slumber parties as a kid.

    • April 30, 2014, 11:28 am   /  Reply

      Some people aren’t night owls. That’s okay. I was a late night person until I had kids — yeah, they beat that right out of me! 🙂

  7. April 30, 2014, 11:24 am   /  Reply

    The first thing that popped into my mind is running. I always wanted to be a runner–even used to dream about running. But I’m really not good at it. So I walk. A lot. 🙂

  8. April 30, 2014, 2:45 pm   /  Reply

    I thought I couldn’t run when I was a kid, until I had a PE teacher who chased me with a cricket bat.

    Then I found out I could run pretty well indeed.

    Ah, the joys of a school run on the English pattern. Cold showers and cricket bats.

    But at least there was RUGBY!

  9. May 1, 2014, 11:09 am   /  Reply

    This post landed in front of me today when I needed it. Not yesterday…TODAY. Because your beautiful words I needed TODAY. And, may I just say, I LOVE the new look of your website/blog? It’s truly exceptional, my Friend!

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