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We aren’t very impressed with the music of today so the radio isn’t on a lot, and I don’t play music on my phone. Our preferences run to albums written and sung by good friends we’ve met at Cowboy Poetry Gatherings. One of Andy Wilkinson’s songs is about late October days when the cattle work is winding down and there’s time to mosey along and soak up the warmth of a fall day before winter sets in. “These days are all our own.”

Too often our days belong to others. There are schedules for school, church, and community events, and all those unplanned things that just seem to pop up. Before we know it we’ve said too many yesses.

Last week’s column has generated more feedback than any other in memory, and I’ve been doing this a long time. Apparently, just saying no is a problem for most of us. Taking time for ourselves is often considered selfish. We go along with schedules other people set for us and don’t even think whether the event is something we would enjoy. I asked my junior high granddaughter if she was ready to go back to school and she said a huge no. “This vacation has done me well.” Never mind parents, the kids are tired out too from all the scheduled activities, and don’t even realize it.

A neighbor’s century old barn has been the scene of many dances and gatherings. This family, like so many of us, found 2019 to be a particularly trying year, and decided to send it off with a barn Christmas party. The loft was decorated with trees, festive tables and lights. We ate wonderful food as holiday music played in the background and people visited around the fire pit or took advantage of old fashioned buggy rides. Many conversations mentioned that we all needed cheering up, and to remember that we’re the kind of people who keep keeping on.

My church hosted a gathering to welcome 2020. A wonderful dinner was followed by games and visiting. A number of the guests aren’t even members of that church, so you know they were there because they wanted to be, not from expectations of other folks.

Last week, a party for another neighbor’s 80th birthday brought together people who are often too busy to just gather and catch up. This is a lot of parties for an introvert like me, but I believe the reason they were so enjoyable was because we all needed to celebrate and honor our connections as communities, mourn the loss of loved ones who are no longer with us, and gather courage for whatever lies ahead. No agendas, no pressure to cheer for the home team, or office politics, just ordinary folks trying to do their best one day at a time.

Days of our own can be social, but more often they are simply the ones when we choose to do nothing, tinker in the shop, putter in the garden, work on a long delayed project, take a walk in the sun, or have lunch with that friend we haven’t seen in a while. So, continuing last week’s theme, I wish you many days of your own in 2020. Only you can make that happen. And yes, it will probably mean saying no to something else. Do it anyway.

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