Blog | Lindsey Smallwood

There's Only So Much You

Lindsey Smallwood

Vacation is over. And I spent mine saying no. It was great.

I'm over at Middle Places today with more...

I’ve been visiting my family in Alaska for the last five weeks.

It’s been awesome, but not the awesome I expected.

There was a plan, a dream for this trip. I was going to come home and use my extra vacation time to make headway on a book I’m dreaming about writing. In my mind, my kids would go to bed at 7, I would write every night until 11 and maybe sneak in a few extra words at nap time. In five weeks, I would write 40,000 words, maybe 50,000 if I really got to it.

You can probably guess how this story ends - I’m back in my Colorado home sweet home with something like 8,000 words written and most of them aren’t even that great.

Sure, there are reasons – like how I forgot how fun it is to splash in the kiddie pool after dinner because the Alaska sun is still high in the sky. Or how my toddler figured out how to climb out of crib and I spent a lot of nights laying in the dark next to him to help him learn that nighttime is not the right time for block towers. I could tell you about the cheesy Hallmark movies I watched with my mom or sneaking out to the theater after bedtime to see an actual movie on the big screen for the first time in months.

But the real reason is this: I needed to say no.

I love yes. I love saying it, the way I feel generous and needed and important when I can accomplish something useful. I enjoy setting a goal and telling myself to go for it. When someone asks me for something, my instinct is to find a way to say yes everytime. My friend and fellow Middle Sister Stephanie calls it “Oprahing”:

“You get a yes! And you get a yes! You get a yes! Yesses for everyone!”

Yes to date night and part-time jobs and small group leadership and park dates and BBQs and guest blogging and book club and hey, while I’m at it, why not write a book all while raising two busy boys?

I think of myself as a do-er. And it’s true. I’m happiest and most fulfilled when I’m active and participating in meaningful ways in the communities I am apart of. Yet arriving at home 5 weeks ago, I found myself thankful that there was no one to say yes to. No appointments, no activities, no deadlines, even ones I created for myself. It was like my insides exhaled and asked for a fruity vacation drink.

So I lived into my simple season of no. I goofed off and slept late – which worked since my babies stayed up well into the evening hours, enjoying the sunshine with the rest of us. I read novels and binge watched bad TV. I spent a lot of time talking to Jesus and dreaming up new routines and projects for fall  – which is already blowing in (!) – all while enjoying time with my sweet family and taking in some gorgeous Alaskan summer days. I regrouped. And now I find myself (mostly) rested and full of hope for the weeks and months to come.

My “no’s” made me ready for all the “yesses” on the horizon.

The thing is, it always works that way. There’s only so much “you.” Sometimes you have to say no if you want to have some “you” left over to say yes to something else. Maybe other people know this intuitively and don’t plan to write novels in their time off. But I learned my lesson one simple summer night at a time.