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The power of NO

It’s okay to say no. . . know your limitations

Why are you sitting on the couch? Why are you in the rocking chair? You don’t ever sit and just watch the movies? Why is she resting on the bed at 2 o’clock in the afternoon? My daughters were baffled that I was not moving. After the 12 Days of Iler Woods, grand finale of teaching, creating gifts for the neighbors, my back decided to give out and I was forced to rest.

The good old sciatic nerve had decided to remind me that it is important to rest. Not being able to bend down to pick up laundry, clean, make meals, or the 100 other tasks that the moms of the world do each day, I was given the task to be kind of lazy.

Take time for yourself this holiday season.

I felt guilty to be honest. Everyone else in the family rests. Scott gets his naps in, the girls lazily watch movies, but I use that time to whirl around the house to get everything done. I guess I should practice more what I preach.

I come from a long line of perfectionists. Academic goals, work goals, individual goals. My grandparents thought idle time was wasteful time. So, I think somehow it has been ingrained in me to always be productive. I value hard work, always putting forth your best effort, making goals, and accomplishing large tasks. However, I also value the ability to say no when external responsibilities are taking precedence over internal values.

The time I usually get to rest is on our teacher breaks. But what I have found is that by the time the break comes, my body is so exhausted, I often can't get to all of the fun activities that I was hoping to do with my own family.

Let’s face it, we live in a fast paced world. Although this pandemic has allowed many of us to work from home, the reality is that we still have to work. Not having physical separation from our workplace and refuge of home has been challenging.

On Friday, the last day of school, I looked around the house and it looked like a tornado had hit the home. The Greek mythology final that my daughter had to finish was now remnants of clay on the kitchen table, The snowflake art project that my other daughter needed to finish on zoom was sprinkled on the living room floor, Scott’s teaching materials were everywhere, and I had transformed the attic into a virtual field trip to “The French Alps.” It was organized chaos (aka) the house was far from presentable.

We live in a society where we oftentimes are told that our worth is measured by how much we do for others, the accomplishments we have made among others at work, and the competitions we have won.

However, at the end of the day, we are all faced with one person to compete with. That person is yourself. As I sat on the couch with a heating pad on my back, I realized, once again, that we are only as good as ourselves. This “required rest” that my chiropractor prescribed to me was a wake up call to take some “me time.”

As my daughters did the laundry, helped clean the house, they jokingly said, “We really should help out mom more. This mom stuff is hard.”

Family expectations, work expectations, parent expectations, and the list goes on. We are all human and we all need to give ourselves permission to set limits. The perfect holiday meal, the wrapped gifts, the cookie decorating, the festive holiday cards, the continual giving of yourself. . . can take a toll on your own physical well being.

This season, I am proud to say no. When my back decided to give out, it was the universe showing me to not stress about every detail. The holiday gifts are not all wrapped, and I am ok with that. The cookies are not done being baked, but it's okay. The decorations might be a bit crooked, and I am okay with that as well. We are home this year, so we have all the time in the world to do these fun traditions.

Our health. .. mental, physical, and emotional is more important than any tasks that are placed on us from others. Personally, I need to take more time to exercise, less time on zoom, and enjoy my surroundings more. The herb garden that I keep wanting to transform out my back door needs to be planted and the “patio” I keep dreaming about is another me project I plan to work on during the break. In order to get these projects done, I just might have to use that bad word, “No,” and say “I am unable to do that task.” Take time to be a little selfish after all of the festivities are done.

I came across a quote by L. R. Knost that said, “Taking care of yourself doesn't mean me first, it means me too.” I wonder if we all embodied that quote for a day or two, we would realize how much our own well being has suffered over this past year. To be strong for others, we need to be strong for ourselves. My daughters are always doing 10 minute challenges, 24 hour challenges, with something unusual or silly.

Maybe we can all give ourselves a 24 hour challenge to focus on ourselves. You might be surprised what your body is needing. With my coffee in hand and heating pad on my back, I am going to sit in my old rocking chair and enjoy the sunrise.

Iler Woods is embracing slow mornings and sunrises this season.

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