Sunday, September 25, 2011

keeping Yes

So I've spent days recently, thinking I need to say No more.

Or even, like, once.

You see, it kills me to say No to almost anything. If I do, then I totally agonise. I dwell. I pine. And then I often change my mind. Go running after whoever I said No to and say, Wait! Wait! Nix that No! I'm in!

Because I generally see Nos as doors slamming on Possibly The Most, Awesome, Adventures Ever.

I see potential adventures everywhere. They're hiding in every corner, you know. Just like ninja bunnies, waiting to jump out at you yelling, "Surprise! Here's the Most Awesomest Fantastic-est Adventure Ever! Bet you're glad you didn't stay home ironing your socks!"

The only real Nos I've said are the ones where Yes has been out of my control. I remember every one, and they still have the ability to make me sad.

But what with feeling so overwhelmed recently, so over-commited, I thought
perhaps I should say No to even one thing.

We should drop something, I thought. Anything. Just to lighten the load. Others do it—dear friends know how to say No. How hard can it be?

So, I said to my boy. "Howabout we drop some music? Just one class. Howabout Wind Ensemble?"

"Oh, no!" he said, "I get to learn all the percussion instruments then!" (And 'Oh, that would be a shame,' said my husband, 'That's a great class for him.')

Jazz Band? "No! That's the only place I play piano." (Ditto, said my husband)

Concert Band? "Please No!" (aka: That's crazy talk, Mum!)

Jazz Combo? "Double, triple No! That's my all-time favourite."

('Yeah, dude. What he said,' said my husband.)

(To be honest, my husband didn't quite say all that! :) He thinks my son's music schedule is okay, but he listened to how I'd been feeling and said, 'He'll be fine if he drops a class. Whatever you think is best.' He's lovely that way.)

Anyway, we decided for now that all music classes are safe.

That's cool, I thought; I can drop something else.

What about art?

My mind instantly said, No! Way! I love our art classes. I love the kids' teacher. We've been going for five years now and going there feels like Home. And after years spending a quiet hour and a half reading my book, I can now choose to join in, any time I ask. This is commonly known as a Win Win. Or, Joy Joy, in my case.

What about our two homeschool groups?

Oh, but there we see our friends. There I have a chance to catch up with other mums who make me laugh. There we sit in contented togetherness as the kids dash about like fireflies.

What about music lessons?

Well, that wouldn't make any sense. The kids love them. My son even said the other day about one of his teachers, "He doesn't even feel like my teacher, Mum. He feels like my friend."

All right then. Howabout sewing lessons with our neighbour and friend, with her son who is one of the kids' best friends?

Well, that doesn't even feel like a lesson; it feels like we're playing. On Friday after the kids finished sewing their first! ever! shirts! we took a break to all draw each other without looking down at the paper. We were doubled over laughing. How do you say No to that?

Writers Workshop, then; the one I've been running for nearly two years?

But the kids are on the edge of something wonderful—we're about to work on longer projects. They want to write books, these kids. They want to meet every week. They come in and words pour out. They inspire me. Every single time we meet up, I feel bigger, brighter, lighter afterwards.

So where does that leave us? Lego League.

Where every time we go the kids have a blast. Learn so much. Be independent. Invent, explore, brainstorm and play with their friends. Where the leaps in learning are huge, where they get to achieve something kind of beautiful together. Where the tournament day, the one they spend two months preparing for, is unbelievably cool.

You see how hard it is?

The hardest part, well…

it's actually the best part. It is the sweet silver lining.

I see how much joy Yes brings.

Almost every Yes brings us




It brings us concerts, and art, and workshops, and impromptu hikes. It brings us visits with friends, hours at the library, going to plays, doing Something Completely New almost every week.

It takes us on camping trips and to meet new people. It lets us try new things on for size to see how they fit.

It brings us life learning.

And it gives us unexpected moments of total bliss. Like our sewing lesson on Friday. I almost cancelled that; I almost said, We don't have time. I almost missed being doubled over laughing at approximately 11am with dear friends.

But while seeing just how beautiful Yes is, for us,

this week I realised

there is room for No.

No doesn't have to break my heart. Little Nos can happen, and joy can still come.

We can say no, once in a while, to homeschool group. Stay at home or go to the library instead.

We can say to an invitation, "Not today; howabout next week?" when we've got a delicious project on the boil.

My son can miss a music class now and then, or we can do some rearranging so that one particular day isn't filled with 2 and 1/2 hours of lessons and rehearsal.

I can say, See You Later, to my computer, when my girl comes up to me and says, "Can we do something right now? Together?"

I can let things go, in small day-to-day ways,

to fit in the Yeses that mean the most.

So that when my girl asks, "Can we make a cat suit? Can we write together? Can we build a house for my toys out of real wood?" I can say,

Of course!

So in celebration of the joy No 
and Yes 
can bring,

here is a taste of what both 
brought us this week:

art by a boy and by me
(and by a girl, but she said, Don't put it on your blog, Mum!)

me drawing him
him drawing me

finished shirts!

swinging at Lego League

planning with the team at Lego League

presenting a speech at Lego League

a writers workshop party

watching a play (created entirely by kids)

a game of Creationary 

and running around at Relay for Life

while a dad played with the band.

Lovely, no?

I mean, yes!



  1. Gosh, you really do have a fantastic life!

  2. Man, I want some Ninja bunnies!
    You have a full of joy life.
    Yes, you do!
    But remember to say No when your body needs to recoup. Because we all can't adventure on endlessly, Yes?

  3. I feel a bit tired just reading/watching all you've done this week! But it looks like so much fun. I can have weeks like that, but not week in, week out - too much of a homebody :-) But you did have so much fun!

  4. Incredible drawings!

    We've linked to you at

    If you'd like for us to add a description or button/banner, just let us know!

  5. When your yes-es give more than saying 'no' would- well, guess the balance is in favour of yes; yes?
    I'm like Ingi- a homebody and I get worn out quickly with too much to and fro. But then again, my children are happy to be much at home so I guess it's what works for us.
    Isn't it lovely that we are all different? People like you remind me not to get in too much of a rut- there could be an adventure around the corner if I push myself past the 'no' a little more often.

  6. Such a lovely, inspiring post, Helena! You guys make me happy.

  7. What a great life you have. But it is hard isn't it? Always saying "YES". I wish I said yes more, but then I am afraid I would be forever stressed. I like do nothing days. I like letstayathomeandgonowhere days. We have so few it seems. Maybe when it turns cold we can stay hunkered down, with no where to go. Love this post Helena. I love your 'yeses'.

  8. oh, I only just saw this post. It is so hard to say NO isn't it when there are so many wonderful things to be involved in? I'm already feeling over-commited for next term with gymnastics, art class, the big boy starting piano lessons, 2 different homeschool social groups, an athletics carnival and a week long intensive swimming course for first born. Phew! I know by yrs end we'll all be ready to fall in a heap but it'll be a happy heap as I know we'll have all gained so much from all those activites.

    Thanks for painting us a picture of what your Yes-life looks like. It looks wonderful. And as you say, little Nos can make all the difference and be the most empowering of all I reckon.


I love hearing from you! Thank you for your heartfelt, thoughtful responses—they lift me, and give me light.