The Value of Saying No

As spring begins to peek its head above the snowbanks, they begin to arrive. Squelching through the mud. Swarming, seemingly out of nowhere, falling like snowflakes, or maybe apple blossoms. Moving in and making themselves at home. What are they?

Ladybugs? Migrating birds? Nope.


In just the past two weeks, I’ve received invitations via Facebook to belly-dancing classes, a Spring Equinox celebration, a late-night dance party, a spring cleanse workshop, several festivals, performances, and concerts, not to mention birthday parties and fundraisers. Some of them fall on dates when I already have plans, or might be too far away to travel to, but that only accounts for a small portion of these invitations. Yet I’ve said “no thanks” to all of these, even though they sound like fun. I said “maybe” to an intriguing spiritual tea in early April and a housewarming party two hours away in late May.

The only Facebook invitations I’ve answered “yes” to lately are a surprise milestone birthday party, trampoline-jumping with homeschoolers (my daughter’s friends are going), and a couple of recurring events I enjoy attending and helping with each year. Invitations from my family and close community often come by phone or e-mail, and I try to say “yes” to as many of those as possible without eating up all my writing time in any given week.

And those are just the in-person events. It doesn’t count the scads of online courses I see each week, many of which cost little or nothing and look really interesting, fun, and useful. I truly don’t have time for all of them, or even a fraction. But they can help me master social media marketing as an introvert! Build my brand as a soulful hippie chick with wisdom to share! Expand my business while helping people grow spiritually! Sigh…

I’ve written before about how saying no to events can mean saying yes to your priorities. That doesn’t mean it’s easy.

One of the pitfalls of being easygoing and interested in a wide variety of subjects is that, well, everything looks like fun. It’s the “ooh, shiny…” syndrome. The problem is, if I tried to do all the things that catch my eye, not only would I be a stressed-out mess from having no down time, I also wouldn’t get any writing done.

And writing, let me remind you (by that I mean, remind me, too) is my passion. So is reading. Meditation. Yoga. All those things that are for the most part, solitary pursuits. When I’m doing them, they transport me. I am so in love with novel writing lately! I daydream about my characters, and already have ideas for making the story better, even before the first draft is complete. It’s a blast.

When I sit there in the morning with my chai tea, opening my e-mails and looking through Facebook notifications, I need to remember the value of “no.” I love exploring the world, and I do take time to travel and socialize. But I really need to balance it with plenty of creative time. It’s my soul work, after all. Writing, creativity, spirituality, these are a huge YES to me, and I need to protect them from all the shiny distractions.

So if I decline your event, it’s nothing personal. I’m just in love with the writer’s life.

Tell me what you think!

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