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Lara Neves

August 22, 2012

I am not very good at saying no.  Need me to babysit?   Sure!  Want me to serve on the board of the organization in which my children are involved?  No problem!  Do you want to take voice lessons from me even though my studio is bursting at the seams?  I can fit you in somehow.  Will I organize a benefit concert for your charitable organization?  Absolutely!  Yes, yes, yes.

It’s really too bad I’ve never been in the musical Oklahoma!, because I Cain’t Say No is pretty much my theme song.  (Want me to star in your production of Oklahoma!?  I am so there.)

A couple of weeks ago I had so many plates spinning that I finally had to let go of some of them and I really let a few people down.  I’m generally pretty good at pretending to be in total control even while I am barely keeping it together, but this time I totally dropped the ball (or plates, as it were), and it really upset me.

As I contemplated how I could fix the mess in which I found myself, I realized that I’m actually very good at saying no to some people.  Unfortunately, those people are the ones who matter the very most: my husband and my children. 

While I am busy attending board meetings so that my daughters will have more quality preschool or violin instruction, I am away from them.  When I take on a new student that I really don’t have time for, that is time I am taking from helping my own children in their musical endeavors.  Whenever I say yes to something, no matter how good a cause it is, I have to say no to something else.  And, all too often, the something else is my family.  Or the laundry.  Which basically leaves me with a bunch of neglected people who are also wearing dirty underwear.

One of my favorite hymns is Have I Done Any Good? (Hymns, 223)

“Doing good is a pleasure,
A joy beyond measure,
A blessing of duty and love.”
Those words are why I don’t say no.  Unfortunately, the stress I bring upon myself by saying yes to ALL the good things means that there is no longer any pleasure or joy or love in it. 

But these last couple weeks I have tried to be more aware of the sacrifices that come with each yes I say.  To remember the “Good, Better, Best” principles that Elder Dallin H. Oaks talked about in General Conference a few years ago.  To make sure that the things I agree to do are in line with my priorities.  To finally learn to say no, and not feel bad about it.

I came across a quote shortly after Stephen R. Covey passed away, and it stated beautifully all of the things the Spirit had been whispering to me.  I made a sign which I will place in a spot where I can see it often and be reminded that it is okay to say no.

So go ahead and ask me to babysit for you.  The answer will be no.  Except for when it is yes.  Because it is all about finding balance.  Saying no sometimes doesn’t mean that I must abandon all hope of ever doing good in the world.  It just means that I will make sure that my family is getting all of the burning yeses before other things get a yes of any kind.

Because I kind of like my family.  I want to say yes to them for eternity, and eternity begins now.

Lara is the mother to three amazing daughters and wife to a musical genius. When she is not working on her mother-of-the-year status, you can find her singing professionally, teaching other people how to sing, taking hundreds of photographs, reading a good book, finding a great deal on groceries, or maybe even scrapbooking (that is, if she's not blogging). 

You can read all about her adventures at