Finding Peace in Saying No


saying noIt’s hard to say no.

You are taught your whole life that quitters never win. So, we’re programmed to think we must go, go, go until we make it.

I want to talk about finding some peace and joy in saying no. In slowing down. Being content.

I wanted to write about this topic long before our pandemic hit. Of course, now it has taken on a new meaning. We were forced to say no and some of us were a bit lost.

Is that because we are too busy? Are we taking on too much?

I mentor some students at Drake University and teach first-year students. There is an epidemic of young people struggling with depression and anxiety. The only way I know to connect with them about this is to share my personal experiences. Many people struggle with mental illnesses. I do and I treat them, and since then my life has changed.

I see parallels in those students and in us as mothers. We are navigating a new part of our lives. Both are thrust into a new life, with a new sense of independence and we are expected to excel. We want to do well so we keep piling it on. Breastfeeding, birthday parties, PTO, church, exercise, arts and crafts, sports, dance, happy hours. All. The. Things.

It’s time to say no. Take a break, and relish in just being together.

Find joy in the simple things. I think this pandemic has pushed us to try life this way.

But I also want to talk about saying no to big things. Specifically, my husband and I have wondered if we would have a third child. There is no timeline or playbook for a decision like that, but it’s something we both wanted… But. We’ve both been feeling the pull to stop at two kids.

I tell you, I am going through a strange sort of grief. It’s likely similar to the grief you are experiencing by missing out on life in this pandemic. I haven’t lost anything… I’ve just let go of a dream. And that’s something foreign to navigate. I am having to find joy and peace with saying no.

But, we’re doing well. We love this family. We are happy. Adding a child wouldn’t hurt that, but we are taking this time to soak up what we have.

We are both fortunate to have kept our jobs through this pandemic. We have a healthy family, a shelter, and food to feed the constant snacking. And right now – that is the dream.

What are you saying no to? 


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Niki Smith
Niki grew up in Earlham, Iowa and now lives with her husband Ryan, daughter Riley, and son Merritt in Johnston. Riley has an observant stare that inspired the Facebook page Riley Is Not Impressed. Niki is an assistant director of public relations, social media at Drake University where she runs the university’s main social media accounts. She is also the director of the world-famous Beautiful Bulldog Contest. She has an Olde English Bulldog named Dexter, but he is ineligible to compete because she already knows he’s the most beautiful bulldog. She serves as President on the Board of Directors for Animal Lifeline of Iowa, which is a special needs, no-kill animal shelter. Niki is a two-time graduate of Drake University with a bachelor’s in journalism (2008) and a Master’s in Communication Leadership (2015).


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