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The Power of Saying No

I don’t make New Years resolutions, or anything like that, but I do like to set goals for myself that I do my best to follow.

This year, my focus was on learning to say “no” to things.

There is so much in my life I can’t control right now.

I can’t control that my husband is gone so much, that he is almost missed one-third of our son’s life.

I can’t control that I am stuck acting as the mother, father, butcher, baker, and candle stick maker.  Inside and outside of the house has to be entirely in my control.  I work 45 hours a week, commute almost 90 minutes a day, come home, make dinner, clean everything up, and then my ass has to still mow the lawn, weed, etc.

I can’t control that I have no control over Troy’s dream career being as elusive to obtain as “Unicorn Rancher”.

I can’t control I’m stuck in my house seven nights a week.  That I can’t join any church groups, book clubs, or anything.  I can’t control that despite having fantastic friends around the country, in my heart of hearts, I’m incredibly lonely for actual human interaction that doesn’t take place via the internet, email, or texting.

And so?

So, I’ve spent 2013 focusing on what I can control.

My church started a community garden, and wanted volunteers to help staff it.  I said no.

For a new pastor “meet and greet”, they asked me to make a platter of sandwiches.  I said no.  In all honesty, I probably would have said yes, had Jack not been recovering from his tonsil surgery.

I had the opportunity to take a fantastic environmental class this quarter at a community college.  I would have LOVED to take this class, and the tuition would have been mostly covered by my employer.  I know I would have done well and learned so much.  I said no.

My sewing machine has mostly sat idle since Christmas except for a quilt I’m making for a friend, a door stop, and a Jedi robe.

My seedlings for this summer’s garden are a hot mess.  Nothing is in the ground that I didn’t plant last year, or was a volunteer (who knew peas would reproduce if accidentally not torn out in fall!).

I’m not sure if it was the Roku we got for Christmas, or my determination to say no this year, but my couch and my ass have had a long lost rekindled romance in the last few months.

The inner Sarah calls myself a lazy bitch, but the “just say no” Sarah checks “ignore mean Sarah” off the to-do list, and goes back to watching The Americans on Hulu.  Shame on you if you aren’t watching this show.

Am I accomplishing less?  Yup.  Am I compromising how I care for my family?  Nope, not really.  Our food is still almost entirely homemade, because I still enjoy cooking, and I can only watch The Americans via my laptop (seriously, this show needs to be in your life), so that keeps me in the kitchen.  My house may not be dusted regularly, and I may not have vacuumed for three weeks knowing I would have to deep clean for Jack’s birthday party.  I have had to get past that.

Mental clarity, sleep, and emotional health have now taken priority over clean windows, and an organized freezer.

I can’t do it all.  I don’t have to.  I don’t need to.

I am doing my best to treat myself with the respect that I finally have to acknowledge that I deserve.

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31 comments on “The Power of Saying No”

  1. I have learnt so much from reading your blog, the best of which was your comment about being a semi trailer and not wasting a trip to any room… until now. I needed to hear your say NO! today, so this is now my favourite post ever! Look after you and enjoy this time!

    Cheering you on from Australia!

  2. I have just come across your blog whilst looking for articles on the OCM and I have to say, it is one of the best blogs I have seen! You are an inspiration and I’ve signed up to receiving your blog in my inbox. I hope you’ll follow me to:
    Way to go on saying no, you deserve to be looked after too.
    Power to you Mama

  3. In my eyes you are Super Woman! I can’t believe you will be taking on chickens next! I work (3) 12 hour shifts a week and I am exhausted those 3 days and mostly the 4th day to recover. You accomplish more than I ever could in a week. Maybe I should start saying “NO” more often. I don’t watch much TV because my schedule changes so frequently I don’t have time to get into a series. If and when I do, the shows sit in the DVR for months waiting to be watched. So sad. I barely know what’s going on in the real world. LOL!

  4. <3 strength to you.

  5. Be proud of all you do! I’m sure there are plenty of days you’d much rather be doing something else, but here you are for us. THANK YOU and God bless you! You’re an inspiration and never forget it.

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  7. Can I get an AMEN?!?! (Oh, I think there has been a couple in the comments!) Wise words. You can’t look after them if you don’t look after YOU!

  8. good for you! Saying no has been my priority for the last year and a half. I am the first to admit that my hubs nailed it on the head when he once referred to me as a “Volunteer Slut”…and also as the Ado Annie of Volunteers (I’m just a girl that can’t say no) It has been difficult and I have waffled a few times but in the end I won by saying no.

  9. Sometimes saying “no” is the hardest word in the english launguage to say. But it’s nice to say every once in a while to gain some control over your life. You go girl!!!!!!!

  10. Good for you. Sometimes you just have to say no and just do what is best for you. Kick back with a margarita and some tv and let your brain tune out. I’ve gotten to the point where I know that I can’t do it all anymore, and I just don’t kill myself trying. Too much stuff going on that I don’t want to miss!

  11. good lord, I NEEDED this post. My husband and I had our first baby on March 10th. I’d gotten a Roku from my in-laws as a birthday present the week before he was born and 90% of our nursing time has been TV time, too. If I was trying to do more during the days than meals and laundry, I wouldn’t make it through the nights. Here’s to couch time!

    • I’m pretty sure Roku was created by angels. Just a theory of mine.

      The most comfy place in our apartment for nursing was in Jack’s room. There was no TV, so I was reading like a book a day in those first few months. I feel like all I did was nurse that kid!! Having a Roku would have been amazeballs.

  12. Congrats!! It is something that I try to do but I always loose the willpower. I have recently had a mental pitty party for myself feeling like I am living in Little House on the Prarie where I need to get up and dawn and make everything for the family and spend the day cleaning but who cares if the cabinets aren’t cleaned out, I am sitting down to read a book. I am sure it makes us better mothers and able to deal with our kids issues better because we are more relaxed from a night of watching TV. Good luck 🙂

  13. Thank you for posting this Sarah! Recently divorced, I find myself making choices (like no handmade Christmas cards last year – actually NO Christmas cards! GASP!) even though people perceive that I have “free time” without my kids. That time is spent resetting myself for the next stretch of single parenting and trying to figure out my new “single” life thousands of miles from any family. So HERE HERE! Just say NO!

  14. Right on. As long as you remember how to say “yes” when your circumstances change.

  15. Good for you! I think it makes you a better mother, father, butcher, baker, and candle stick maker because you are taking the time to reconnect with your couch! WE all need to be able to step back, say no, and reevaluate!

  16. Good for you! I am in a similar situation, although my husband isn’t gone quite as much as yours, it’s still a LOT. I nearly started crying when I was out to dinner with friends last weekend and they were talking about the awesome international mission trip my husband went on earlier this year (he’s a college pastor) and they asked if I was interested in ever doing something like that. I was like – HELL YES, I’D LOVE TO GO TO HONDURAS! But now is not the right time of life for me to do it – it’s not part of my job, and someone’s got to stay home with the kiddo and keep the household running. I applaud you for being good to yourself and saying no because it’s the right thing to do for your family and your sanity. It’s not easy and very much an “unsung hero” kind of thing to do.

  17. I like this. My weekends seem to be calming down, maybe we will make a trek out to see you again and the kids can play and we can commiserate over mimosas and fancy cheese.

  18. I’ve gotten a lot better at saying NO these years, and even though I don’t always notice it, I know I am. It’s nice to have some power over things, and not feel like guilt will eat you over if you don’t comply.

  19. Great post! It seems like it should be simple, but it’s not, especially because most of us are taught from birth that “nice” people (women in particular) don’t say no. I’m glad you’re able to work on this, and keep telling mean Sarah where she can stick it!

  20. Amen sister!! It is so easy to be pulled in a million different directions, try to be everything to everyone, and end up feeling terrible. Good for you for focusing on what needs to be done to change that, giving yourself a little down time, and taking care of yourself!! I haven’t watched The Americans though, I’ll have to check it out!!

  21. Thank you for this perspective. I was beginning to feel guilty for saying No more times then I probably should because now I know that I don’t get the invites that used to get which was bothering me not to be included. I realize now that I need to look at what I have gained in my life (more family time, more me time, etc…) vs. what I am missing to be included. I will also say that your line about having wonderful friends, but being lonely for human interaction hit me right in the heart…that is so my heart right now. I think with the daily grind we get so caught up in our textie world that we have lost something precious. I wish for you a fab day and btw, I am hooked on The Americans too! Awesome show!

  22. ::applause:: Good job girl!!! I’m proud of you! And, you know you can call me anytime you need someone to chat with. xoxo.

  23. I know where you are at right now. This is what will make you survive, your ability to say no. Saying no is one of the hardest things to do. I recently had to walk away from my dreams of Nursing school because I just couldn’t keep up not with the school work, but the bureaucracy and bull shit that takes away from my family, my kids. I can’t jump through the hoops the 18 year olds can because the departments are all over loaded. But there is a strength in saying no and going YOUR way, doing what you need to, despite the challenges. Good for you. 🙂

    • I know many people in nursing school, and none of them ever regretted going, even if it was later than they had planned. Some times life isn’t so much about the destination, as the journey. I hope that you dream comes true when it is right for everyone involved.