Thursday, November 29, 2012

Banana Peelin' with Amy Dixon


I just love today's banana peelin' author. I have had the privilege to meet her in person not once, but TWICE! Each time I was just blown away by how absolutely genuine and kind she was.  I feel fortunate to be included in the blog tour for the release of her first picture book, Marathon Mouse. Today Amy shares her less than glamorous experiences in writing for children and I am sure that any of you who don't yet know her will just fall in love with her through the complete awesomeness that is Amy. Please welcome children's author, Amy Dixon!

 
When I sat down to write this post, I was planning to tell you a funny anecdote. You know, the kind of banana peel slip that sends you down on your tush with a comic book THUNK splashed across the page. A bruised tailbone at best, a bruised ego at worst… that was the kind of story I was going to tell. But as my fingers moved across the keyboard, something else came out. Because the truth is that while I do have laugh-out-loud stories to tell about awkward book events or mortifying editor interactions, the story that my heart wants to tell is a different one.  Because not all banana peels are of the comic book variety. Some banana peels knock you down and break bones. And I was recently laid up in traction for a while.

You see, I am the most calm, centered person that most people know. Rock-solid. Unflappable. Rob and I have been married 15 years and he can count on his own two hands the number of times he has seen me really, truly cryI am an extremely high “T” on the Myers-BriggsEvery problem has a solution. I don’talways think this is always a good thing. But it is who I am.

It was about 2 weeks before my book was scheduled to release. Being the wee babe I am in the realm of published authorhood, I felt that I needed to say yes to everything. Website, yes! Blogging and guest-blogging, yes! Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google +, GoodreadsShelfari, yes! Designing and producing bookmarks, stickers, promotional materials in preparation for 3 upcoming events, yes! So many yeses, and all for good, productive things. The problem was that in the midst of all those yeses, the reality of my life as a mom of four kids didn’t stop. I certainly wasn’t going to say no to my four-year-old’s birthday that week. Or no to the 2 extra days in the school library that I volunteered for so our librarian could attend her son’s wedding. Or no to the 10 mile run I had to accomplish that week so I would be ready for the half-marathon I had been training for. Perhaps I could have said no to the soccer practices, had my husband and I not been the coaches.  And maybe I should have said no to the cross-country meet, the school play try-out, or driving five 8-year-olds to a sleepover. But I didn’t.
 
For some reason that week, all of these things and more swirled together in a perfect storm of madness. So Thursday night, afterrunning the sports/homework/bathing gauntlet, the kids were finally in bed and I set about mopping the floors. Because what does a person who feels totally out of control of their world do?Yup, clean the house, thinking maybe if I can just get this one thing checked off of the list, then I can feel better about my life. But in the middle of mopping, something happened. I had what I can recognize now as a full-blown panic attack. Sweating, shaking, nausea, heart-palpitations. Sobbing. I was pretty sure I was going to be one of those stories of fit women in their 30s that out of nowhere have a heart attack and die. My husband was completely mystified. Who was this woman?
I didn’t recognize her either. Where was the calm? Where was the center? Whose life was this?

It was too much. I said yes to all of these things…all of them great things…but it was too much. The unflappable had been majorly flapped. So what did I do? I started to say no. And most of the things I had to say no to were writing things. Two weeks before my book release, my blog went dark. The box of promotional postcards sat unsent. My Goodreads account collected dust. Was this the way I wanted to lead up to my debut? Absolutely not. But I found by letting those things go, I could breathe. Literally.
An hour or so after the panic attack, I was in the shower, still shaken up from the whole thing. Being of the praying persuasion, I began to pray and ask God why I was such a mess(and please don’t let me die). What came to mind was a passage from Anne Lamott’s profound book, TRAVELING MERCIES:

“I don’t know why life isn’t constructed to be seamless and safe, why we make such glaring mistakes, things fall so short of our expectations, and our hearts get broken and our kids do scary things and our parents get old and don’t always remember to put pants on before they go out for a stroll. I don’t know why it’s not more like it is in the movies, why things don’t come out neatly and lessons can’t be learned when you’re in the mood for learning them, why love and grace often come in such motley packaging.”
 
And somehow, in that moment, I was able to see this giant banana peel as love and grace…certainly in motley packaging…but love and grace nonetheless. Slowing down and saying no were necessary, and my logical-brain-thinking with a capital T-ways would never have allowed me to do it. So my body rebelled. LOVE. And my brain shut down. GRACE. It wasn’t neat and I wasn’t in the mood, but it made me stop and feel what I needed to feel to be able to move forward with more balance. More calm. More center. And as I toddle my way through this writing and publishing business, I’ll take all the grace and love I can get…even if it means a few broken bones along the way.


To win a copy of Amy's book, Marathon Mouse, please leave a comment answering one of the two questions below:

Saying no is a hard thing to do. Unless you are my son. He's two.  What was the last thing you said "no" to and felt really great about? Or if you never say no, what is an example of a time when you KNEW you should have said no, but didn't AND disaster resulted? 

83 comments:

  1. Oh my, Amy, yep many of us suffer the Wonder Women delusion: we think we can do it all because we DO do it all.
    The last thing I said no to was keeping extra tutoring students. My brain said you need the money; my body said, slow down before I show you who's boss. My heart still misses those kids, but I do feel better, stronger now. Thanks, ladies for this thought provoking piece.

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    1. Yes, the Wonder Woman delusion is a great description! Maybe we could actually do it if we had that golden lasso to help us out!

      I feel it is most difficult when we have to say no to things that help other people, so I am sure that saying no to tutoring was hard. But good for you for knowing it was the right thing.

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  2. Hi Amy, I think we women can all relate. I've had meltdowns at Disney (there's no crying in the happiest place on Earth!) because of over planning, anxiety attacks from saying yes to too many school volunteer opportunities (but, it's for the kids!) and twisted ankles or scraped knees from trying to do too many things at once and literally falling down (that's when my body said STOP). I finally said no to being our elementary school's PTA president. It took everything I had to be firm and stand my ground after many sob stories about no one stepping up to fill the position. Know what? It wasn't the end of the world. The school didn't shut down. Someone else finally agreed to take on the position at the beginning of the school year. And I am at peace :)

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    1. I'm finding that there seems to always be a good reason to say "yes," which makes it all the more difficult to discern which things to say "no" to. Definitely a learning process! And I think it is good for us to see that even without us, things will go on :-)

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  3. This post brought tears to my eyes. It's a vital lesson to learn, but I'm sorry you had to learn it in such a dramatic way, Amy.

    I have tried for years to live by the motto "Do what you can and let go of the rest." As a person with low energy, it has been my lifesaver. One major thing I said no to in my life happened when both my parents went into nursing homes precipitously within days of each other (separate nursing homes). I soon realized that I couldn't do all that I needed to do for them and work full time as well. I took a year's leave of absence, then quit my job two years before I could have officially taken early retirement. I said "no" to the financial security staying until official retirement would have given me -- but I was there for them in their last years. By the time I reached the age I could have retired, they had both died. I will be forever grateful that I did what I did.

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    1. P.S. Thank you so much for being willing to share on such a personal level, Amy. And good for you for knowing that you had to say No, even though it was difficult.

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    2. Thank you, Beth, for your wonderful comment.

      I am so sorry to hear about your parents, but what a blessing that you were able to care for them and spend so much time with them in their last years. I am sure that your parents were so grateful for the way that you loved them in action near the end. Making choices that say "no" to financial security are especially difficult, but how lovely that you can look back on that decision and know without a doubt that it was the right one.

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  4. Thanks for sharing this Amy! I keep a blurb on the fridge, to remind myself (even when I grab ingredients for the next Teacher Appreciation Lunch!): 'Slow down and enjoy life. It's not only the scenery you miss by going too fast- you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.' -Eddie Cantor. After the last conference, I follow some web-presence advice: I decided two, and only two on-line vehicles were necessary. Would love to here the follow-up on how you have honored your 'love + grace' attack!

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    1. Hi Julie - I love that blurb, and I do think it is important to know where you are going and why. Shortly after my love + grace attack (love that, by the way, and totally stealing it!) my daughter got sick and ended up needing her appendix out. Spending two days in the children's hospital with her really cemented what I was learning...my family has to come first, book or no book. My husband, kids, our health, relationships, community...these are the priority. Don't get me wrong, I want to have a successful career as a children's writer. But not at the expense of these other things. And web-presence was the first to go. Facebook is my main connection, and I get on blogs and twitter as I am able. But I have let go of the thought that somehow I am failing if I am not everywhere, all the time. :-)

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    2. I certainly hope your daughter is fully recovered - but if the 'universe' had it in for you, well, you sure got knocked down flat! So glad you were able to find all the good stuff packed in the punch! Thanks for filling me in!

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    3. Julie, I love that diagnosis of "Grace + Love Attack." Thanks for sharing that Eddie Cantor quote. I think we all should have that posted somewhere in our home. I think I'll put it on my bathroom mirror. I need that daily reminder first thing in the morning.

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  5. I'm so glad you shared this story, Amy, because you are so right - while we all have banana peel moments of the humorous kind, these darker moments happen to all of us too, and somehow they are harder to share, and certainly harder to bear. We're the moms (or dads). We're supposed to be able to handle everything. While we feel it's okay for others to whine or complain or feel overwhelmed, we are never comfortable with being that way ourselves - we are the people others come to for help and comfort - we're supposed to be strong. And sometimes it really is too much. But it's one of the things I love about this writing community of ours. Here, people understand. They understand the ups and downs, the joys and frustrations or being a writer. They understand how hard it is to be a writer and also a mom, with possibly even another job, and soccer coach and chauffeur, and etc. etc. etc. They understand that even while you're over the moon about having a book published it's not all sunshine and light - there's a lot of hard work promoting, a lot of anxiety about reviews, a lot of self doubt about whether you'll ever be able to do it again. So bravo to you for recognizing your limits and for doing what you can, which is all any of us can do. And hurray for this wonderful community where, at the very least we all know we are never alone :)

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    1. Oh, thank you, Susanna! You had a front-row seat at my break-down, and were so great and helpful along the way. It is so true that we don't feel like we are "allowed" to lose it. And being a part of this wonderful community is the best. When I was writing this, I felt extremely vulnerable putting it out there - everyone will see that I am not perfect! :-) But I did it because I do know that this community understands. I feel safe here.

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    2. I just need to say 'Hear! Hear!' to Susanna!

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    3. "And hurray for this wonderful community where, at the very least we all know we are never alone" :)
      Had to repeat this! Thanks Susanna!

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  6. Thanks for being so beautifully open with us, Amy. I know I can relate to that meltdown, and it isn't always about everything going wrong, as you say, it is often more about the moment around success, when we have simply taken on too much. I am afraid I score very low on the T and very high on the F, so I probably have more meltdowns than most!! You know what? I said no to a crit group that just wasn't working out, and it was a good call.

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    1. That really is a great way to put it, Joanna: "it isn't always about everything going wrong...it is often more about the moment around success, when we have simply taken on too much" And that is the thing that gets so confusing! It's like, wait a second, isn't this what I wanted, what I have been working for? It shouldn't be this hard!

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  7. Thank you Amy for sharing your heartfelt story. I think we all can relate in some manner. I listened to some doctors on a program discussing how unhealthy multi-tasking can be. Your meltdown was a wake-up call. After an serious injury, I was forced to say no to a lot of things in my life. Now, I'm beginning to say yes again, but I am ever conscious of what I do. Saying no helps you find you claim your power. Again, thank you for writing from your heart. Congratulations on your book release!

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    1. Thank you, Pat! I do think it was a wake-up call. Love and grace to me in an unexpected way!

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    2. Your book finally arrived today! Can't wait to give it to my granddaughter. She's going to love it! - Pat

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  8. I just love you and your openness, Amy. Glad you shared. I'm learning the same lessons right now, in a slightly less exciting manner (no publishing involved.) Glad to know I'm not alone...

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    1. So happy to see you here, Teri! I know most moms will relate to this. And with homeschooling, I can imagine there's a whole other set of issues!

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  9. Wow, thanks for putting into print what so many of us feel. Saying no is just something that I've always had a hard time with, kids, parents, schools, church, husband,friends and running my own business. When I started this writing adventure I closed my day care. It was one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make and I still miss the children. So many people were asking me to reopen I almost gave in but a good writer friend of mine asked me to come on a writer's retreat where I made the commitment to follow my desire to be a author/illustrator in front of the group. It was so freeing as I am one who makes every effort to meet my commitments. Do I still miss the faces and hugs of the little ones...yes. Then I think about the all the little faces as they read or are read my as yet unpuslished books and I smile.
    Linda Whalen

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    1. Oh that does sound hard, Linda! Best wishes to you as you continue on the adventure!

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  10. Wow! This post really hit home. Thanks for sharing what was really on your heart and yep, we usually step on banana peels at the most inopportune times. I, too struggle with saying no and and can see what a big problem that can be, especially when launching a book. My recent strategy has been to say "no" to anything that would result in double-booking. In other words, do less, but enjoy each task/ challenge/ opportunity more fully and give it my all.

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    1. That is a great strategy, Laura. So smart, because it really isn't that productive to do lots of things if you can't do them well.

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  11. Wonderful post. It seems the only person I've learned to say no to is myself. I'm working on that.

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    1. Thanks so much for stopping by, Rosi! I agree it is more difficult to say no to other people, especially when they need help.

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  12. Wow. I can so relate. Thank you, Amy, for such an honest, heartfelt post. I have learned over the past few years that saying no is hard, but sometimes, much needed. You have to take care of yourself, especially when you have so many that depend on you. I love the quote you posted by Anne Lamott.

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    1. Anne Lamott is one of my favorites. I re-read Traveling Mercies on a regular basis, and Bird by Bird of course is essential for writers! So true that we need to take care of ourselves, but sometimes it is hard to make it a priority! Thanks so much for your comment, Loni :-)

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  13. Amy, this was a fantastic reminder for me. I'm actually in a season of saying no and have been practicing it since Kenny started classes at UCLA. I really had no idea how counter culture saying no to things is. No we aren't playing a sport. No we aren't going to sign up for that event. No we aren't taking a lesson to learn something new even when all of our friends are participating. Even no to teaching at church and no to Wednesday night activities. Last year I said no to almost everything. And, peace reigned in our house. Simplicity took hold and the schedule was amazing. Rest in the midst of the day to day. Now that I know we can survive with Kenny in school we have said yes to a few things. Yes to a tennis lesson that has no game on the weekends. Yes to Wednesday nights so Kenny can work late and I have an hour and a half to myself. Saying yes brings so much more joy now that I know how to say no.

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    1. I can totally relate Katie, since Rob is getting his Master's, too. It is hard with the kids because they want to try so many things, and at their age I would love to be able to say yes to it all. But I can't tell you how relieved I am that we are in between sports seasons right now and have our evenings back. Love the peace!

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  14. Oh, Amy, this is just perfect and I think everyone needs to read your post. It is hard to say no and easy to trick yourself into thinking you can do it all even though there are only so many hours in the day. I'm sorry that you had to experience a panic attack, but how beautiful that you opened up to the realization that "no" is not a dirty word.

    The biggest thing my husband and I have said no to recently are large family gatherings in small spaces (like Thanksgiving and Christmas when it's too cold to get outside and take a break). Our sons all have varying sensitivities to crowds and noise, even if it's people they love, and we just got tired of dealing with burnt out kids whose holidays were no fun. I'm not sure my whole family understands this coming from a culture of big old southern hospitality, but my job is to support my own little clan regardless of what anyone else thinks.

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    1. oh, holidays and family...that deserves a whole blog post of its own!!! Good for you for making the decision and sticking to it. I agree, you have to make choices that are best for your family, in spite of what others may think. Thanks so much for the comment, Heather!

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  15. I have two examples.

    One from two years ago. I was offered two jobs at the same time. I turned down the teaching job because it was only 20 hours and less pay and only to last for about 6 months. Said yes to the NON-TEACHING job b/c 40 hrs, more pay, and the chance to last longer. Two years later, I'm still at that job. Yay! (But sad about not teaching any more).

    Second one more recent and not quite so drastic. I said yes to selling cookie dough for my kids' school fundraiser. (Only sold 6 per child). Then I had to leave work 20 minutes early to go pick it all up. And a friend told me I might not see the money from someone who ordered from me who she's related to. Yikes! I knew I should have said NO. Especially if I end up going in the hole for it.

    I know it isn't writing related, but that's all I got. Amy, did you end up going to the NYC Marathon, even though it was cancelled?

    Elizabeth, you check out this banana peel pic, on CreaturesandCharacters.com. http://www.creaturesandcharacters.com/Sculpture.html (Too funny!)

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    1. That must have been hard to leave teaching, but glad the other job worked out for you, Christie!

      Yes, we went to NYC! We were disappointed of course that it was cancelled, but felt it was the right decision. We were blessed because my family we stayed with in New Jersey had power and 3 cars full of gas, so we actually had a nice visit and even made it into the city on the last few days of the trip.

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  16. Thanks so much for this post. There is so much I want to do with and for my family and friends, with my illustration work, writing, and artifact restoration. The fact that I'm chronically ill doesn't help, but I keep trying. The last sad time I said no was when an out of town friend assumed she could use my home as a base for an athletic event. I told her I was sorry, but that was the time I had given myself to work on the MG novel I'm writing. She said something to the effect that I shouldn't worry. She'd be as quiet as a mouse. I explained that I really needed that unpeopled space and time to devote to my craft. She didn't understand because I'd never said "no." I stuck with the "no" and am getting better at saying "yes" to my own needs.

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    1. Oh, that sounds hard, Pat. I hope your friend will eventually understand why you said no. Best of luck to you with all of your writing and illustrating projects!

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  17. Hmm..I feel like I say NO all the time. No, you can't have ice cream for breakfast. No, you can't give the guinea pig a 'ride' in the dryer. No, you can't unbuckle your seatbelt at red lights.

    When grownups question me, I'm re-training myself to reply "Are you serious?" instead of YES!

    Amy, you are a brave, kind and intelligent woman. Thank you for sharing your story so honestly.

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    1. You are so sweet, Cathy! :-) And you had me lol-ing with your examples of saying NO. I see a future picture book featuring a dare-devil guinea pig!

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  18. I have said "no" to two work related tasks most recently. We had our Family Literacy Night in early November. I made take home packets for the 3rd graders, but said no to actually going to the event in the evening. I also turned down the after school tutoring job for 3rd graders that I have been doing the last few years. I really wanted to be a part of the Literacy Night and tutoring, but I was weary. Juggling my two sons and their activities, home duties, teaching, Zumba, and taking a writing course was plenty. I enjoyed Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird and look forward to reading Traveling Mecies. Can't wait to read Marathon Mouse! Thanks for a great post!

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    1. Thank you, Kathy, for taking the time to comment! The number of opportunities to be involved at school are certainly never-ending, aren't they?

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  19. I feel like this has been my theme for this season of life. I'm learning to say no to good things so I can say yes to the things God has for me. Sad to say that a lot of times that means my writing aspirations need to sit on the back burner while my family and my work with our non-profit in Haiti come first. This year we said no to soccer, AWANA club, leadership team for my MOPS group, writing conferences, creating my author web site, even to expanding our writing critique group... all good things but I needed to say no for my family and my sanity so we could say yes to some other very central and important things. Amy, I appreciate your honesty. I admire you so much! (And for the record, all mamas need to allow themselves a meltdown once in a while followed by a good belly-splitting laugh with her kiddos.)

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    1. Hi, friend! It is so hard to balance it all, isn't it? You are doing such great things with your work for Haiti, don't ever doubt that you are making great choices. Your kids are learning buckets of amazing things from you and Ericlee following your passions...with or without soccer and AWANA. love you!

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  22. Excellent, Amy! Saying "no" is so hard. Saying "no" without guilt is even harder. I had to learn this the hard way, too. The stress of it all can really get to a person and effect physical health. Thank you for sharing. This is a meaningful post that will be helpful to many people...including me!

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  23. Great post, Amy. I can soooo relate. As wives and mothers, we women are used to doing things for others and we often forget that it's okay sometimes that we can't do it all. I just started a part-time job which is great for my family financially, but not so good for my writing, so what I'm having to say no to these days is SLEEP! I used to get up between 5 and 5:30 am. so I can write before my kids wake up. Since I have to spend a bulk of that time getting ready for work now, I set my alarm for 4:30 to squeeze just a little bit more writing time in. That usually catches up with me when I put the kids to bed and I either crash in one of their beds or on the couch at 8:30 pm.

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    1. Oh, I fall asleep in my kids' beds more often than I like to admit :-) Thanks for taking the time to comment, Natasha...now go get some sleep!!!

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  25. Excellent post,Amy. This was an eye opener for me because you sound a lot like me. My husband tells me I don't know how to rest. Every minute of my life is spent doing something productive. The only time I said no is when I have two events happening at the same time (when I need two of me). For the most part, I always try to multi task. Next year, I may have to say no to some of the writing challenges to really focus on polishing up my mss. Thanks for the wake up call, Amy, and for sharing an intimate moment and being vulnerable for us.

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    1. Yes, and between the running, writing, and parenting, we are juggling similar things, Romelle! Although I think you have another job too, which I can't even begin to fathom. I'm glad you connected to the post, though I hope that you won't have to experience something similar. Don't forget to breathe! :-)

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  26. Wonderful post. Thanks for being so open. I'm definitely a Thinker too. That's the thing about over-booking yourself. If you're too tired, you can't think straight. That's when your feelings ambush you! In my personal life I'm pretty good at saying "no" when I need to. However, I sometimes feel guilty afterwards.

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    1. Yes, Diana! That's what it was! A feelings ambush!

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  27. Thanks for your honesty with this banana peel, Amy! I understand your overload, and I'm glad you received love and grace from God! A few months ago my father-in-law wanted to have lunch here, and I had to say NO. I felt so guilty, like a rotten daughter-in-law. But I homeschool my 2 kids all morning and then have writing assignments usually in the afternoon. How could I make a homemade meal? And Korean food takes an hour or more to prepare! But like you said, sometime we just have to say no in order to breathe! Congrats, again, on your book!

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    1. Hi Tina, you homeschooling mamas blow me away. I don't know how you do it, and I am sure it brings with it a whole different set of challenges (and blessings, too). Saying no to family is usually the hardest of all, isn't it?

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  28. Oh Amy, thank you for your honest and eloquent post that so many of us can relate to. What is it about us women who do way too much, who can't say no? Hard as it was to have a panic attack (and I suffered from them for a couple of years, so I know), at least it alerted you that you have reached your limit. Four kids, marathon training, work, writing, social media, book promo...so many demands.No wonder you were overwhelmed. I am glad you have learned to say "no," and may you have a little more room to breathe. I wish you great success with your new book and I can't wait to read it!

    I am slowly learning to say "no" myself, but I never feel great about it. I recently said "no" to an annual cookie exchange I get invited to each year. A good friend hosts it, so it was especially hard to decline, but with an illustration deadline and everything else on my long list, I have to choose priorities.

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    1. Hi Iza! Some "no"s really are harder than others, and learning to deal with the feelings of guilt is something for a whole other blog post :-)

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  29. Amy, thank you for sharing so openly with us. Your Banana Peel post is empowering. Your body knew what you needed. You weren't gonna stop for it, so it kindly stopped for you. With that, you shared your experience and what a great early Christmas gift for me. I'm taking five online courses and planned to take five the next term. It's been hard, hair falling out, rashes, poor eating habits, you name it. I wanted to hurry and get my degree. Well, I'm slowing down next term. I want to enjoy my learning experience and I will. Thanks for this post, Amy!

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    1. Love this: "You weren't gonna stop for it, so it kindly stopped for you."

      Word.

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  30. I came to this blog by way of a FB post (Thank you, Una Lucey-Lee) and I am going to have my daughter read it. She is 18 and a recent home-school grad who is discovering all of the great things that are out there. She is also a newly published writer and I have always told her that we walk a path so we may learn and others may benefit also...Thank you for your honesty and transparency, Amy Dixon! I am going to pray for you today!

    Suzanne Knutson

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    1. Oh, thank you so much for the prayers, Suzanne! I will take all I can get :-) Big congrats to your daughter on her publication...so young and so accomplished! That is amazing.

      I think I recognize your name as a Cal Poly grad, yes?

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  31. Thanks for sharing Amy! I think I spent way too much time in my 20s saying yes.. that by the time I hit my 30s with husband and kids, NO was the first thing that would come out of my mouth. Now just a day after my 40th birthday I think it's time to find a balance somewhere in between - of saying YES with my whole heart to the things that are priorities in life (the real priorities of love, living, etc) and saying NO to all those 'unspoken expectations' of that image of a perfect woman. I love that part of getting older, the part that says "I don't care as much what people think of these expectations". But I do care of about being kind, respectful, and loving to myself, my family, my community, others outside the community and even the environment. For when I say a real YES, then I say YES to who I am created to be! (now I just have to actually live this :))

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    1. Wow, Beth. Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I love this: "For when I say a real YES, then I say YES to who I am created to be!" I am learning this, too. That I want to be able to do the things I commit to well, and with my whole heart. I suppose that is the next step!

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  32. Amy, I love that you shared this. It comes straight from your heart, and speaks to the reality for many of us who struggle to say no.

    As an ENFJ, people-pleasing machine, I usually want to say yes to everything. And often, I feel very capable at doing everything. But since becoming a parent, my limits are way more evident. I'm more tired, have less emotional energy, have less time - so I've been saying more no's. Usually I say no to activities or people that don't quite fit into my "Really Important" category of life. Like that social event that sounds fun in theory, but would make our weekend way to hectic and overwhelming. I'm trying to shape my life around saying yes to the people and things that really matter to me. Currently, that includes God, my family, a handful of friends, exercise, and creative space.

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    1. Being highly capable is a blessing and a curse, isn't it? And when the kids are little like yours, it is extremely physically taxing. I think that may have been part of the problem for me...I am finally coming out of that stage of having babies and being physically drained all the time (after a 10 year hiatus, sleep has returned to the Dixon household!) so I sort of felt like now I really could do it all. Uh, not so much :-)

      love that creative space is on your list, Larissa! It's usually the first thing to go :-(

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  33. I forgot to mention, this made me think of a picture book by Laura Numeroff called "Sherman Crunchley". It's a really funny story about a character who has trouble saying "no" to people.

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    1. oooh, never heard of it Diana! But I do love Laura Numeroff and how can you resist a name like "Sherman Crunchley?" Thanks for the recommendation!

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  34. Thanks for sharing this, Amy. I am also a yes-er, so it is hard to say no to things. I recently was asked to volunteer for a senatorial campaign, and actually got up the gumption to say 'no.' It was a very busy time -- Halloween (for which I was unprepared), my birthday, and a time when I had some writing and school commitments. And I'm not that politically active and really hadn't followed the campaign much. But still, saying 'no' to that haunted me What would the other volunteers think of me? Was I being small minded thinking that only my home and school life mattered? If the candidate lost, wouldn't it be ALL MY FAULT??? Literally, on election day I was sweating bullets thinking that I had personally ruined the candidate's chances of winning by saying 'no.' But I'm so glad I did because if I hadn't, I wouldn't have been able to enjoy the other things going on in my life, and probably wouldn't have finished my October manuscript -- failing my own personal commitment. Oh, and the candidate won. (phew!)

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    1. lol, Carrie! Love how we can make ourselves believe that the success or failure of EVERYTHING rests on our shoulders!

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  35. Well, I've been trying to say "no" to the times when I procrastinate by going online--but THAT clearly isn't working!

    Thanks, Amy, for a thoughtful, beautiful post--well worth the procrastination :0)

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    1. Oh, I'm glad you procrastinated today and took the time to comment. Thanks, Leslie!

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  36. I say yes a lot. Hey! Wait a minute! That's not as naughty as it sounds. But just the other day, an old friend asked for a ride to the airport. It would've been so simple to say yes, but there's SO much else I'd rather do on a Monday afternoon. So I said, "I don't do the airport. You'll have to figure out a Plan B for that one..." I don't do the airport! I don't even know what that means, but it worked. It felt good.

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    1. haha! Love it, Genevieve! Using "I don't do fill-in-the-blank" next time!

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  38. Ack, I made my post disappear. Here it is again.
    My kids will tell you I say NO to everything, when in fact...they are ...um...probably right. As the mom of four and one who's been at this Mom thing for a LOOOOONNNG time, I'm trying to train my friend, a young(er) mother to say NO to all the stupid stuff she says YES to. She thinks I'm hilarious because I can find an easy and truthful way to say NO a lot. I am definitely not Wonder Woman; I don't want to be W.W., and most of the people who are like that bug me anyway. I've learned the hard way that saying YES to everything wears you thin, and I ditch out my YES answers sparingly, and keep them for when they come from the heart. Compromise works many times, and my favorite compromise is YES, but I'll do it later.
    Wait, what was the question? Oh, the last time I felt good about a NO. If I had to pick one, it would be the time I was "told" to bake 4 dozen cookies for a cookie exchange. Sure, I can bake. Sure, I don't WANT to bake. I have no time. And btw, YES, I'd love to come to your cookie party, but NO, I'm not gonna bake my way into your party. I showed up with store bought cookies, was the brunt of many silly neighborhood jokes, and still got to share wine and good times with friends. :)

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    1. Hi Nancy! I am definitely learning the art of discerning which things to say yes to, and more creative ways to say no. :-)

      And those cookie parties can be brutal! I was once invited to one where they even specified that bar cookies and candy were not valid contributions. Apparently it was considered disrespectful to the other cookie-bakers to make something that took less time and effort. Seriously?

      Oops, I deleted my comment, too. Solidarity!

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  40. Great post. I'm sorry it took a literal breakdown to figure things out. It's so hard for "Yes" people to back off and slow down. It's just who you are. The N word is hard to even say, let alone do. But you gotta do what you gotta do, at least once in awhile.
    "I don't do airport" Now that's a funny!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Mona! I'm sorry it took that much to figure out too, but still thankful for the lesson.

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  41. Amy,

    I am teary as I read this because I so recognize myself in this post! I've felt the same way as I prepare to close out one year of 12 x 12 and launch another, get ready to launch my app, AND get through not only the holidays but prepare for both of my kids to have birthdays in January - same month as my app releases.

    Thank you for reminding me that it's okay if everything doesn't get done. Nobody can do everything, be perfect and surpass every expectation that's available to be surpassed. If we're like Preston and just keep moving in the right direction, eventually we'll get there. :-)

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    1. Putting this post out there has been so eye-opening...realizing that there are so many of us that feel this way. Not that I want anyone else to have this difficult experience, but it is nice to know that I am not alone. I love this community so much and it makes me happy to think that this post has helped even a tiny bit to push us all toward more balance in life.

      Thanks so much for the comment, Julie!

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