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The Importance of Yes. And No.

Updated: Apr 3, 2022

I find that I do not have boundless endless energy. Which comes as a bit of a shock. I have lived my life as if this were a bottomless resource. Certainly at the minimum, a renewable one, and it is, to an extent. But there is less of it.

Pictured: My Yes/No Chip

I went to a Boundaries retreat on Whidbey Island with my sister, a lovely weekend where we did some exercises around discovering where we need boundaries, and then setting up and maintaining them for our own mental health. That was early in 2020, just before Covid shut down, well, everything. And the same weekend I was laid off from my job.

A lot has changed since then, for me as for virtually everyone, in one way or another. I have a new position, a new church, and new challenges ~ my mom passed away, and I have never dealt with this unique loss, of course, nor the duties of settling an estate before. As things open up, I find myself pulled in many directions, including those in which I want to go... but again, energy is a finite commodity. There are musts, and wants, and norms, and unusual, and, and, and...

Solocamping is both an activity that takes planning, taking its place among the duties; and a centering renewal of my peace. It is a place where I reflect on all those other pulls for my time and attention, and sort and prioritize and yes, come to some realizations of capacity. It's a place where the intersection of Yes and Can and Want To presents itself. And, conversely, the Noes and the Can'ts and the Don't Really Want Tos emerge from the things clamoring for my time and attention.

With the passing of my mom, and this being my 60th year on the planet, I have a heightened sense of the shortness of time. I have this one precious life. How I spend what is allowed me is the most valuable commodity I have. So solo camping is extremely important, as my divining rod, as well as one of my resounding Yesses.

In the Boundaries Retreat, we were given a wooden chip, a Yes/No chip. It comes with me on every trip, and resides on my home desk in a dish where I can see it when it is not in my pocket. It reminds me that how we spend our lives does indeed have many many many Yes/No crossroads, choices, decisions, intentions big (Do I go for a Master's degree? Do I change jobs, houses, cities?) and small (what shall I do today~ chores whose accomplishment will make me feel more relaxed, or do I need a stroll in the sun and a ferry ride and a crepe or an ice cream cone and some sea glass searching?)

It reminds me that the priorities of others are only mine if I take them on. And that that is a decision. Which is mine to make. Yes/No.

I love the renewal of my soul that the planned activities (and often challenges) of solo camping gifts to me. I love how the Yesses and the Noes present themselves gently around the campfire, along the trail, by the lake, in the tent with the patter of rain overhead.

"You are always one choice away from changing your life." ~ Mac Anderson

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