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  • Writer's pictureEsther Brownwood

Oh No...November

no noun


: an act or instance of refusing or denying by the use of the word no : denial

received a firm no in reply



: a negative vote or decision


noes or nos plural : persons voting in the negative Dear Friend,

I’ve been contemplating what to write about this month, seeing as it’s been a difficult time. I try to come here with inspiring words and a positive message. That seems a bit out of reach with the state of the world and my mind right now, but let’s give it a shot anyway.

You see, November is often a month in which I don’t feel like doing anything. I feel worn-out, drained, and generally unmotivated. This leads me not wanting to go places, express myself, or hang out with the people I love.

This lack of motivation baffles me. It creates a vicious cycle of attempting to push through the pain, failing, being overwhelmed by the guilt of not being able to do it, rinse and repeat.

As you can imagine, it hasn’t been working very well for me.

So, I question why that could be. Could it have to do with November having the word “No” in its name?

For the sake of this thought-experiment, let's say yes!

I’d like to say that I know I’m not the first person to discover the connection between no and November. The No Shave/Drink/Nut November challenges (to name a few) have been going on for years, with millions of people participating every year.

This proves to me that I’m not the only one longing for withdrawal around this time. Whether that’s from vices, habits, or in my case, personal and societal expectations.

It’s not only my mind that seems to be resistant. My body has also been sending me signals that now is not the time for grandiosity, for extravagance, production or extroversion. I am physically exhausted. My throat has been sore, causing difficulty in singing and creating music in the way I would like. My head has been hurting, contributing to my lack of motivation and exhaustion. All in all, my whole being seems to be screaming: NO!

Why is it so hard to listen? And why is it so hard to respect even once you’ve heard?

Traditionally, this is when life slows down. The harvest season ends, the birds leave for winter, and the plants take their much needed rest by recalling their energy into their root systems.

Like the trees shedding their leaves at this time, I feel myself shedding old versions of me. It’s not fun. It’s not pretty. It’s hard work and a lot of pain. So it makes sense that I don’t want to be seen right now.

My energy has also retreated back into my roots, in the hopes of a new me blossoming when spring comes.

What I need to remember is: A tree doesn’t beat itself up about not blooming at this time. So why should I?

If this month really hides its secrets in its name, I’ll be damned if I allow my boundaries to be disrespected. Especially by myself!

I will say no when I don’t want to go out. I will say no when I don’t want to talk. I will embrace the permission this month gives me to say no just because I feel like it. And though many parts of me tell me I should be ashamed, I say no to that too.

I am a person. I am experiencing our painful, broken world like everyone else. I will not feel bad for listening to and giving myself the things I need. Especially when so many others don’t have the luxury of being able to do that right now.

So this month, I hope you give yourself the permission to say no. I hope you listen to yourself, and don’t force yourself to do things based on external or internal expectations. I hope you recognize that spring will return in due time, even if for now, there is nothing but darkness.

I’ve decided that my challenge for this month is: No Betraying Myself November.

What are you saying no to?

Never forget, I love you.

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