Lifestyle Wellness

Living Intentionally: What’s Your Intention for This Summer?

Photo by Élisabeth Joly

By Renee Trudeau

Last Thursday morning after my nature-based workout, my friend Beverly asked me to join her and her mom to pick blueberries. Thinking of the mountains of emails that awaited me and before, “No, I have to get to my office,” could come out of my mouth, I paused. I’m really intent on embracing a magical, slower, more sensual summer and what better way to do this than to stroll through fragrant, bountiful blueberry bushes picking and snacking on one of summer’s most delicious gifts? The answer was, “Yes!” For me this choice represented the summer my soul desires! What’s your intention for this summer?

Perhaps you’re overextended and craving unscheduled time to do nothing? Or, are you being called to learn a new skill? Or, if you’re exhausted, you may need to pull out your calendar and block out periods for deep relaxation in nature. Yes, we’re living in a time of the unknown and navigating a lot of chaos and uncertainty. But, that doesn’t mean our self-care has to get shelved. Pause for a moment and think about how you want to experience summer 2023.

If you’ve ever had the experience of waking up on Labor Day and realizing your summer was not quite what you had envisioned, you know how key it is to enter this magical time with purpose and vision.

One of the most popular tools from my life balance book, The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life, is the “Nine Ways to Say No” list from my chapter on Managing Your Energy. We have a finite amount of energy. And our energy—our life force—is precious. In addition to often over-committing, most of us waste a lot of energy through endless hours on screens or engaging in activities that don’t truly feed us.

When we say “no” to the “shoulds” and those things that are non-essential, we can say “yes” to what matters most. Learning to say “no” is like weight lifting—the more you practice saying it, the stronger you become. Here’s some helpful language to support you in mastering this essential self-care skill.

Nine Creative Ways to Say No
1. Just No: “Thanks, I’ll have to pass on that.” (Say it, then shut up.)
2. The Gracious No: “I really appreciate you asking me, but my time is already committed.”
3. The “I’m Sorry” No: “I wish I could, but it’s just not going to work right now.”
4. The “It’s Someone Else’s Decision” No: “I promised my coach (therapist, etc.) I wouldn’t take on any more projects right now.”
5. The “My Family is the Reason” No: “Thanks so much for the invite, but that’s the day of my nephew’s birthday party.”
6. The “I Know Someone Else” No: “I just don’t have time right now. May I recommend someone who may be able to help you?”
7. The “I’m Already Booked” No: “I appreciate you thinking of me, but I’m afraid I’m already booked that day.”
8. The “Setting Boundaries” No: “Let me tell you what I can do …” Then limit the commitment to what will be comfortable for you.
9. The “Not No, But Not Yes” No: “Let me think about it, and I’ll get back to you.”

As you look at your summer months and consider a new work, family or volunteer project or commitment, before you commit, check in and ask, “What is my heart’s greatest desire this summer?” Taped to my laptop is my favorite quote from German poet Goethe: “Things which matter most should never be at the mercy of things which matter least.”

Renee Peterson Trudeau is a nationally known author/coach and retreat facilitator. An Austin, TX transplant, she lives full-time in Brevard where she leads weekly Wild Souls Movement and women’s circles/retreats, and helps people find balance through the art/science of self-care. Join her Saturday, June 17, in Brevard for Permission Granted: The Art & Science of Self-Renewal, a women’s retreat. Learn more at

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