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« Sarah's Favorite Things | Main | Say “No” to Others So You can Say “Yes” to Yourself »

No in November

This is a small selection of the invites we've received in the last six months. An endless sea of high school graduations, baby showers, bridal showers, weddings, and birthday parties. It doesn't even include charity events or work obligations. We were honored to receive every one and attended (almost) all of them.

You know what else this is?


Of course, this in part is a monster of my own making. I've written before about my almost pathological need to say yes to things. I want to feel included. I want to be a person people know they can depend on. In particular, I take celebrations seriously. If you have invited me to witness and participate in one of the most important days of you life (or even year), I want to be there. Plus, for so long, it was "just us" in the big city and I love being a part of a community now where I'm constantly included in people's lives.

However, it goes beyond that. I say yes because I want to be there, but I also say yes because I don't want to miss out. Ever. On anything.

I've talked missing out before, particularly in regards to how I spend money. What I didn't realized until recently is that there is something else that I spend everyday that reflects not only my priorities but how I view myself.


Because here's the thing about being that busy. It's like living on minimum wage. It almost works as long as nothing ever goes wrong but... something inevitably does. In my case, someone I cared about got sick and I didn't take the time necessary to really feel the enormity of that. I just continued moving forward full tilt until I arrived stressed and overextended at my best friend's doorstep for a weekend away.

It took her about two minutes to ask me what was wrong and about two seconds for tears to start pouring down my face.

"You have to say no to things," she said sympathetically.

I protested. I did say no! Sometimes. If I really didn't want to do something, I said no...sometimes.

Of course, due to my aforementioned desire to never miss out, there aren't many things I really don't want to do. What happens most often is it's just too much. I'm too busy and there will be too much shifting and rushing and hustling to attend this event or that party but I say yes anyway. I say yes. I say yes. I say yes.

I say yes until I'm saying no to other things I want to do. Things that can't be scheduled. I say no to playing Candyland. I say no to watching a movie on the couch. I say no to the people in my life that mean the most to me. I say no to myself. I say no to knitting or cooking or organizing or reading or a million other quiet activities that feed my soul.

"You'll have to say no to things you want to do and it might mean hurt feelings or missing out on something fun," she reminded me.

So, I'm saying no. I'm saying No in November. October has been crazy and Christmas can be even crazier. I want to take some time to be still and slow down. The idea of living a slow life is part of the reason I moved back to Kentucky in the first place. But as they say, where ever you go - there you are and my fear of missing out followed me home. I'm just going to have to tackle it head on.

I've made a couple attempts. We backed out of wedding we were supposed to attend a few weeks ago after we couldn't find a babysitter and the stress of one more weekend of travel seemed too much to bear. It pained me but I was happy we did it in the end. I'm also trying to look to others for help and advice.

I've followed Simple Mom and Frugal Mama for a while and have always loved their calm and conscientious approach to parenting and life in general. I've also been reading Fed Up With Frenzy by Suz Lipman, a leader in the slow family movement, and have joined the Fed Up With Frenzy book tour. Over the next month, I'll be sharing some of her suggestions (and how they worked for me) for how to slow down and reconnect with what is really important.

If you are as stressed out, overextended, and plain ole tired as I am, then join me in saying No in November ... unless you WANT to say no, then that is ok, too.

~ Sarah Stewart Holland

Reader Comments (6)

I love reading your deep-and-wide insight after you've had a chance to process. Good stuff here.

November 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnnie

I'm impressed you know so many people who actually still send "old-fashioned" snail mail paper invites.

November 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle W.

I've found if you want people to come around here you gotta send the real thing...otherwise what will people put on their fridge? ;)

November 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Stewart Holland

I love this post! I too fall victim of always saying "yes," and I've been working on saying no more. It's a really refreshing feeling when you realize that the person who always ends up caring the most is yourself.

November 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

Thanks Ashley! I agree an its definitely something we can all work on together! :)

November 1, 2012 | Registered CommenterSalt & Nectar

I painstakingly said no to social invites for this weekend, but b/c I did, I'm now laying on a bed in a Chicago hotel room throwing a football with Ryan and browsing the internet while Craig attends a work conference. And, I'm on a first name basis with the barista in the lobby coffee shop. It's Heaven.

In regards to the upcoming holiday frenzy, I have a method I live by in order to avoid just what you described in your post-- being too many places and thus maybe not actually enjoying myself as much because of it. On the 25th of every month starting in August, I plan for Christmas. It spreads out the responsibilities (and also the expense) and since I started doing this a few years ago, I can honestly say that I truly enjoy December and all it has to offer. I'm not stressed and anxious over too much to do in too little time. By the time the second week of December starts, I'm in relax and enjoy mode. It's fabulous.

Saying no is difficult, especially when it's in your nature. But you'll enjoy life more and that, too, is in your nature :)

November 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

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