The Season of No

At the end of last year I had several friends who decided that rather than make a resolution or declare a theme to follow for their year, they’d make 2016 the Year of Yes. It meant something a little different to everyone, but they all had a reason for saying, “Yes!” every chance they got.

One friend is a small business owner and decided that he wanted to embrace what was normally outside his comfort zone. When asked to give a 15-minute presentation on his business with about five minutes notice, he smiled and said, “Yes,” and made some quick notes. He successfully tackled public speaking, being unprepared, and saying yes to something he’d normally say no to.

Another friend felt like she was saying no all day, every day to her children. She’s a stay-at-home, homeschooling mama and tries to balance housework, school work, naps, showers, all of that. You can imagine how it is. She decided that every time she was tempted to automatically say no to a child’s request, she’d say yes instead, if possible. If the answer truly couldn’t be yes, she’d still work to find an answer other than an automatic no, something like, “Maybe” or “After nap time.” When I asked how it was going a few months into her year, she said, “Surprisingly well. I like my kids more and I think they like me more too.” Well, that’s a success.

A third friend really wanted to get involved and meet people in a new area, so she, too, decided that a year of yes would meet her needs. She joined social groups, met people for coffee and play dates, and truly went outside her norm. She’s feeling good about meeting people and supporting her kids by supporting their interests too.

For these friends, and maybe for you, a Year of Yes, was a great idea. For me, though, just the thought exhausted me. Possibly because I’m already spread thin. I often find myself at the end of the day, and always at the end of the week, thinking, “Why am I so beat? We didn’t do anything.” But the truth is, we didn’t do anything extra but our normal schedule is not full of blank spaces.

I’m a mother and wife, with laundry, meals, and house cleaning. I’m a homeschooler with three students. I’m a blogger, biography writer, and secretary for a Navy family support group. I am part of other social groups. I have friends. My children have friends. We have hours spent at the YMCA swimming, running, dancing, and playing. I spend about ten hours a week driving to and fro, hither and thither. I guess it doesn’t matter how cutesy I get when I say it – I’m on the road more than folks with full-time, paying jobs. And I’m tired.

A Year of Yes? No.

In fact, a whole lot of no. No we can’t do 4H. No I won’t join another group. No I can’t do yoga on Wednesday too. No.

Not because I’m mean. Not because I’m lazy. Not even because I’m an introvert. Only because we do enough.

That’s right. Enough. It’s a word that sometimes people struggle with. We wonder, “Am I enough? Am I doing enough for my kids? Is this life enough for them to know their loved or learn what they need to learn or be all they can be?”

I’ve come to conclude that if you care so much as to ask these questions, then the answer is likely yes. And when you are doing enough, you don’t need to do more. We’re doing enough.

So, my version of the Year of Yes is declaring a Season of No. As commitments are winding down, I’m politely declining getting involved in the next project. I don’t know how long we’ll continue to say No to new groups and clubs, but for now, a little free space to simply be in seems like a really good thing. The kids are re-learning to go outside and play. I’m reading books – for enjoyment. We’re going for walks and playing on the playground. These are things that don’t need to be scheduled in. But they’re wonderful ways for the mind, body, and spirit to reset.

Maybe you’re up for going outside your box, saying yes to challenges, and growing in that way. But saying yes isn’t the only answer that can change your world. Saying no can help create more quiet places, more inspirational spaces, and maybe even a chance to slow down. Add a few deep breaths and you’ll be on your way to a season that helps you deepen your roots and maybe let a few blossoms sprout. Maybe spring is the perfect season for, “No.”

Will you be declaring a season of “No” this spring? 

The Season of No first appeared on Joelle Charming.

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