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Having a household that is 75% celiac (requiring a gluten-free diet) I follow the blog of the Gluten-Free Girl. She has two tattoos on her wrists; one that says yes and one that says breathe. (For more on the latter, go here.) When I first read her post about the tattoo that said yes, I thought to myself, “I need to get one that says no.” That way, I rationalized, I can just flash my wrist when I feel the word yes rising from my throat. As in, “Yes, I’ll volunteer to do that,” or “Yes, I think I have enough time to do that work for you,” or “Yes, I’ll do [insert activity here],” and so on. I’m sure you get the picture. I’ve also thought about carrying around a small placard that says no. That way I can just flash the word around—like the auction-goers flash around their numbers on those little paddles—without actually having to say it.

But this year I am going to try to say no a little bit more.

I swear I chose this week’s word before I saw this, but I felt supported (vindicated, perhaps?) by my choice when I found it. My primary goal in this effort to say no more often, is so I can better focus on the many things that I’ve already said yes to. There are are the big things that I’ve said yes to over the past two decades: being married, having children, investing in a house and large garden, starting a business (and a new job), starting a master’s degree, volunteering for local community organizations. All of these things need my attention. And in 2012, they’re going to get it.

I also need to say no more because I said yes to something that is going to change my reality, at least for the short term, in a fairly big way. When my husband asked how I’d feel about him fulfilling a personal dream to work in the north, I said Sure, why not. And by north, I mean north. This change is coming up quickly, so no doubt there will be more about it here, but, for now, we’re making lists and packing and imagining what the spring will bring. (And, no, I’m not going. At least not now.)

No is also a good word for me to focus on, because for this past year (and before, but over the last year it’s been very strong), I’ve been feeling the need to say no to stuff. I’ve been craving clean, open spaces; blank walls; less clutter. Purging, de-cluttering, acquiring less (and this means through thrifting too, one of my diversions) will help. Paul J. says it well so I don’t have to. (Thanks for the inspiration, Paul!)

i don’t feel this is an exercise in depravity … i just want to move past the feeling like i need to keep buying things, owning things, and having things to be fulfilled. the real goal is to reduce worthless items, while increasing things like experiences, self-improvement and happiness.