no choice but to say “no”

Today was a hard day.

I went to bed excited, knowing that work had already been called off due to the impending ice storm. Monday – a day typically associated with early mornings and busy agendas – was going to be a day of rest. Of sitting inside and keeping warm and doing the things that light me up. Things like reading, writing, perhaps painting the twisted shapes of the frost-laden tree branches surrounding our house. There would be nowhere to go, nothing pressing to do. The day would be mine.

But I woke up knowing that there was work to be done. Some freelance social media work I’d put off the week before, wedding invitations to be designed and ordered, website management, emails, newsletters. So I set to it. Before I could rest, before I could read, I knew that I had to achieve.

And I did. But 2 hours of work quickly became 5, and by that point my brain was muddled and frustrated and tired from staring at the blue light of my screen. Nothing was going right and I was spending more time fighting with technology than actually getting things done.

So, I took a break and picked up a book to read, but it only made my head hurt.

I opened up a Word doc and began to write, but realized that nothing was there.

I went outside and realized the goat water had frozen for the second time today and needed to be refilled, but the pump was frozen, and so I made five trips back and forth between the house and the pasture, carrying water in the largest cooking pot we had. I stepped over the ice so thick I could barely leave a footprint in it. I lost a little feeling in my fingers. I patted each goat on the head and refreshed their hay supply and took a few pictures, watching as their little poop pebbles plopped out on the snow and rolled down the hill (a rather beguiling sight, if I do say so). And then I came back inside, still a little lost. Still unsure of where my purpose lay for the day.

So I returned to my computer and fell back into the usual thing I do when I don’t know what to do. The search. The game. The shopping. (It’s days like these when I just wish I had the perfect loungewear set, wouldn’t you agree? Something wintery white, something soft, something chic and sustainable and ethically made? Something expensive? And with it being a holiday, the sales ought to be good, right?)

I perused site after site, unfulfilled. I wanted a reward for the day I’d had. I wanted something special to come out of these last several hours. But why? Why were my accomplishments not good enough? Why wasn’t the promise of sitting alone in the quiet a just ending to the afternoon?

Why do we think we need something new to fix us? Why do we think that buying that pair of luxe cotton joggers will make us feel any different than the last three pairs that are still in the drawers of the dresser?

No! I said to myself. No. That is the only right choice to make. That is the only good option.

On those sites, I saw nothing that lit me up. I saw skinny models looking effortless and beautiful in various shades of nude, but I didn’t see anything new. And I certainly didn’t see the answer to my problems. So No, I said again. There is nothing here for you.

What is for me, it seems, is the view outside my window. The hissing crackle of the fire. The noise of the birds fighting on top of the roof. The curious look in the eyes of my cat, trying to figure out where they are. What is for me is the goats, the sparkle of the ice lining the ledge, the warmth of a thick blanket over my lap, and most importantly, the sensation of my fingertips moving quickly over the keys, desperately trying to capture the magic of the moment and share it with someone who wants to listen.

This is why I’m saying no – why I must say no time and time again throughout this year. To find these moments of appreciation sooner rather than later. To be in the moment and not in the “What If.

BTW, here’s the goats, along with some frozen treasures, because there’s no saying no to them: