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  • Writer's pictureJessica McQuistin

Darker Fall Reflections: Follow Your "Noes"

In this post, we'll explore three different types of "noes", but first, to set the scene...

This time of year (November in Ontario, especially after the time change) I can't help but notice the dark. It's there all year long, every single night, but there's just something about the darkness of fall evenings that I find captivating. Perhaps it's the way the darkness gradually creeps in earlier and earlier each night and lingers longer in the morning. Perhaps it's the sharp contrast to summer's heat and brightness, still fresh in our memories. Even winter nights, though long and cold, don't seem as dark when the ground is covered in glistening white snow.

I also notice decay. The trees let go of their leaves, which perfume the air with sweet rotting smells as they gather and decompose. The flowers turn their heads down, fade from vibrant hues to black, and slowly crumple into skeletal versions of themselves. Nightly frost forces gardeners to call it quits for the season, as the vegetables can no longer thrive beyond this point (except for maybe kale...What a crazy plant! But I digress...)

Naturally, I'm quite a positive person most of the time. A yes person. Not that I compulsively say yes to everything without maintaining healthy boundaries, but I do love feeling into my yesses. Like what I'm grateful for in this moment. Or what I want more of in my life (e.g., more exercise, more meditating, more vegetables, more reading, more fun, more time spent with friends, etc.). Even in difficult situations, I tend to focus on the positive, or what I can learn from the experience.

But what about the other side of the coin? The negative. The darkness. The decay. What about things I want less of? Things that have served their purpose and now need to go? What about things that are inevitably ending, with or without my consent?

In other words, what about feeling into my noes? (Not to be confused with "nose", even though "noes" looks like a typo!)

As I'm noticing the darkness and decay around me, I'm inviting my inner noes into my awareness.

One thing I've noticed so far is that there are different types of noes. Today I'm going to focus on three main noes that take on completely different meanings, depending on where the emphasis is placed in this powerful two-letter word:

1. Nnnnnnno!

If you've ever tried to take Halloween candy away from a little kid, you've likely heard this one. It's that face-scrunching, fist-clenching, arm-crossing, face-turned-to-the-side-because-you-can't-take-it-from-me-if-I-don't-look-at-you! kind of no.

2. Nooooooo!

Picture someone spilling all of their Halloween candy right into a cold, dirty puddle. It's that instinctive slow-mo arm reach to prevent it from happening, even though you're fully aware there's nothing you can do to stop it.

3. No.

The calm, collected, definitive answer a parent would give if their child asked if they could eat all of their Halloween candy at once. This is the firm, no-negotiating, clear boundary type of no.

Here's a little story that illustrates some small-scale noes I've felt over the past few days:

My son has a cold - nothing major, but enough that he's had to stay home from school. On Monday, I was happy to have him home with me. I put my plans aside, indulged in some cuddles and many episodes of Curious George, and felt grateful to be able to care for him. The following morning, when I realized that he still wasn't quite ready to return to school, my acceptance meter slid much closer to the "Nooooooo!" zone. My mental grip on my own plans and ambitions (that I'd already put off for a day) tightened with an inner "Nnnnnnno!" Yet, I knew the answer to whether or not he was well enough for school was a clear "No." The third "no" was unchangeable so if I wanted to experience any semblance of inner peace (rather than my jaw-clenching resistance) I knew I had to work on the other two noes or find some compromise. For example, I decided that although I might not accomplish much this week, I still wanted to get this blog post out. So I let my son know that mommy would need some blogging time in the morning, and then we could spend time together after that. (Apparently, this was boring enough that after a bit of crafting yesterday morning, he decided to lie on the couch and fell asleep, probably getting the rest he needed after a few rough nights.) As I finish up this post, he's still home with me for a third day. *sigh*

Now I'll share an example of some larger-scale longer-term noes.

Back in the spring, I started selling homemade granola bars and muffins to local friends, family, and acquaintances. I've always enjoyed baking, and expanding this hobby to bake for others felt great! (Yes!) But after a few months, very slowly, I felt the tide turning within me. (Hmmm...No?) I was looking forward to baking less and less, and finding it more and more of a chore. (Nooooooo!) The novelty was wearing off and with it, my enjoyment. Once the kids went back to school in September and I was less tied to the house, it slowly became clear to me that I wanted to focus my time and energy on other things. In other words, if I'd asked myself, "Do you want to continue doing all this baking?" My answer would've been, "No." (At this point, after a long break, I'm getting the itch to bake again - woohoo! - but I'll try not to overdo it this time!)

What are you a "Nnnnnnno!" to? How about "Nooooooo!" or "No."? I invite you to feel into your noes this fall and see where they lead you.


For a different flavour of fall reflections, check out this post: Fall Poetry, Ponderings & Perhapses

How do I come up with this stuff? I have no idea! (See what I did there?) If these ideas spark inspiration or reflection for you, great! But if they don't, that's ok too. I'm just thinking out loud here, and I'm super grateful that you're along for the ride.

Though I often can't pinpoint where my ideas come from, I will say that some sources of inspiration that have been on my mind lately include yoga classes at The Branches and the Mind Body Musings podcast (particularly episodes from 1-2 years ago). And of course, nature is a constant source of inspiration and wisdom for me.

Where are you finding inspiration lately?

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