The Art of Saying “No”

 

 

Your friend asks if you would edit her essay. Your kid’s teacher asks if you would run the bake sale. Your boss asks if you would stay late.

What do you do?

When you can’t take on one more thing? When your plate is overflowing? When you simply don’t want to?

Has anyone here mastered the art of saying “No”?

You in the orange shirt.

“Um…open your mouth and say the word ‘no’.”

Hmm. Interesting.

*pushes button*

*person in orange shirt drops through trap door*

Anyone else?

Good. Now that we’re all on the same proverbial page, let’s talk.

 

Some will say it varies. It depends on who is asking and what they’re asking. I’ll allow this line of reasoning. To a point. This is part of the issue.

I mean, really, if your boss asks you nicely (or not-so-nicely) to stay late, most people say, “Sure, you wretched piece of…” or probably just, “Sure.” Some people, like me for instance, say, “Of course! Not a problem!” Then those people, like me for instance, wonder what just happened.

If a friend wants help with a project, most people will probably help but they’ll be honest about what kind of time they have to offer. After all, their friend will understand. Some people, like me for instance, will sigh internally and not speak up about my lack of time and tell them to send it (if they haven’t already sent it because they know I’ll say yes).

It’s easier to say no to the bake sale request. Or so it would seem. But then some people, let’s say…um…me for example, begin thinking about the last time they assisted in any of their son’s school activities. Then, when they can’t remember (because it was like 7 months ago), say, “Absolutely!”

These answers come from negative emotions such as obligation or worry (employer), fear of upsetting someone (friend), and guilt (school).

For one who has not mastered the art of saying no, or even taken classes in it, this can be problematic regardless of the circumstances.

And for one who feels guilty or obligated or in some way responsible for making everyone happy, saying no to demands on your time can be damn near impossible. This is what I lovingly call The Yes Mess.

I want to scream. I want to scream loudly, “Hell, no! Are you kidding?! I couldn’t fit another thing into my schedule if I wanted to! I’m not a robot! Aaaahhhhh!” Or something like that. Instead, I say, “Sure! No problem!”

It is a problem.

I feel like this is linked to self-worth. By neglecting myself for others, I’m basically saying that other people’s projects, assignments, happiness, work, time, etc. are more important than my own. In other words, other people are more important than I am.

They’re not.

I need to remember that.

Instead of immediately saying yes to everything, I am making myself a promise to say, “Probably.” Or “I think so.” I know. It’s ridiculous. It’s not even close to a “no” but it’s as close as I can realistically get at the moment. Baby steps. Plus, this might make it easier to come back and say that I can’t.

If I’ve already agreed to something, that is even more difficult for me. I don’t want to let people down so I run myself into the ground making sure I do it. Or I let it slip through one of the numerous cracks in my life and feel horribly guilty.

So. If I say yes, I am giving myself permission to say, “I thought I could fit this in my schedule but I just can’t right now.”

I am not exaggerating when I say this stuff stresses me out, hurts my health, and keeps me up at night.

My health and well-being (and that of my family) must come before any demands on my time.

That’s really the end of that. Let’s see how this goes.

 

 

Have you mastered the art of saying “no”? If not, why? If so, how do you do it?

 

The “Yes” Mess

 

 

When you say yes to every request, you’re going to have a real problem. Because, sooner or later, you’re going to ask yourself, “How did I get into this mess?”

You, sweet stuff. You are how you got into this mess. No reason to play the blame game. Okay, lets play. Tag. You’re it. You’re to blame. You did this.

You probably didn’t know it would turn out to be so:

  • Time-consuming
  • Annoying
  • Boring
  • Frustrating
  • Difficult
  • Time-consuming

But…would that have stopped you?

If you had known, what would you have done?

When faced with someone asking for your help or a favor (big or small) are you able to say, “no”? If not, that’s something you really ought to think about.

Which I am. Actually, I’ve been thinking about it a lot. As you’ll see in my post tomorrow.

This has been called many things including “the disease to please”. Catchy, huh? Literally and figuratively. FYI: I have this disease so use Purell when you’re done reading, just to be safe.

Until tomorrow, gentle readers.

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

ThoughtBubble

Do you say “yes” to every request? Where does that leave you?

 

 

 

Vernal Equinox: Balance in a Time of Imbalance

 

 

I found a post from exactly one year ago and, unfortunately, I’m in a similar place. I thought this year would be different but, alas, I’m here…in this post about a day not working out the way I wanted it to.

I’m exhausted and overwhelmed. I’ve taken on too much and have fallen way behind online and in real life. Looking back at this post from last year tells me something: I need to change. I accept that.

Easier said than done, as they say. I’ve got to agree. They are right.

I’ve never liked the term “balance” because, as I’ve stated numerous times, it’s unattainable. But today is the first day of spring. The Vernal Equinox.

This is a time of balance.

On the equinox, day and night are of equal length as the sun crosses the equator. Today, we experience the same amount of darkness and light—outside and within ourselves. Take a moment to meditate, to reset. Adjust any imbalances you feel.

I wrote that just two years ago. I’m going with it. Though it seems contrary to what I’m saying here, it’s not. Adjusting imbalances is not quite the same as trying to achieve balance.

While I won’t be chasing my tail in a futile attempt to attain complete balance in my life, I will be sitting. Just that. Sitting. Breathing. That’s nice, too. And paying attention. To the things I’m neglecting that need more attention and the things I’m spending too much energy on that are draining me. I will try harder to listen to my inner self.

I found this, too:

This is a time of beginnings.

We are being offered a fresh start. Spring cleaning removes dust, dirt, and clutter from our homes. The debris that has accumulated over the cold months can be swept away, leaving an inviting space. Our external environment affects our internal one. In this way, we are helping clear our minds as well.

I needed to see that. To reread those words. To remind myself what I believe to be true. And to do something about it.

 

The Vernal Equinox is a time of balance and beginnings. It’s a perfect time to take stock of your life and press the reset button. It’s also a great time to start new projects or dust off an old project and breathe life back into it. Mother Nature is backing you up right now. What will you do with this gift?

 

Happy Spring! 🌼 (And, to my friends in Australia, Happy Autumn!)

 

Share the Love of Reading #BookGivingDay

 

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Oh my love is like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June;
Oh my love is like a brand new book
That’s in a waiting room

What? (I know. Hold on. I have a good reason for that atrocity.)

I’ve written about my love of books before.

I also have a few essays out there complaining about Valentine’s Day.

Red roses, puffy pink teddy bears, gaudy glitter-covered greeting cards, caramel chocolates, and the fact that this stupid day clearly brings out alliteration in full force. Along with the need to butcher perfectly beautiful poetry.

So February 14th is a wonderful holiday. Yes, I’ll say it again. Wonderful.

It’s International Book Giving Day.

It’s true! A glorious day dedicated to the love of reading and, in particular, sharing the love of reading by giving books away.

Know about this? Awesome. Get out there and spread the love.

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Never heard of it? Check it out.

Here are a few ways to get involved, from a toppling pile of books donated to your local school or library to dropping a single book off at a hospital or waiting room. You can even give books from the comfort of your own home to the organizations listed here.

My family? Well…

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My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

ThoughtBubble

What will you do for International Book Giving Day? Let me know—I’d love to hear some good book-giving stories.

If you share it on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or other social media, tag it: #bookgivingday

 

 

I posted this last year on February 14th which didn’t give people who hadn’t heard of this holiday time to plan so I’m re-posting this year to give you a little nudge, heads-up, or reminder that you’ve got a few days to give books. And here’s a PDF to download printable bookmarks to place inside those books you give. Seriously, give a bunch of books or leave just one in a waiting room somewhere. It’s all good.

 

The birds and books blog badge by Marianne Dubuc

The cute foxes bookplate by Karl Newson

The space cat & moon mouse blog badge by Ben Newman

 

Poetry Foundation {Robert Burns}  The poem I ruthlessly butchered in the beginning of this post.

Without Apologies

 

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If you miss one or two of my blog posts, I will not accept your apology.

People comment, email, and DM to apologize for not visiting my blog or doing so a week or more after I’ve posted.

For the love of all that is covered in chocolate, please stop.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s very sweet (the chocolate and your apology). And I’ll admit I’ve done this myself to fellow bloggers.

Of course I like seeing you here but, if you can’t make it, it’s all good.

If I don’t see you for a long while, I might inquire. But, if I do, it’s out of curiosity or concern not anger or upset.

Every once in a while (or more often), we get overwhelmed in the blogging world. We can’t keep up. Either with writing our own posts, reading others’ posts, commenting, or replying to comments.

It’s. All. Good.

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

I don’t know how many times I’ve blogged about this but I don’t care. I’ll blog it again. I’m a broken record. Whatever.

I do not believe blogging should be a source of stress in people’s lives. And, yes, we are people. With lives. Outside the bloody internet.

Sometimes, we can’t catch up and need to rid ourselves of guilt and empty our inbox. I think we’ve all been there. Or most of us, anyway.

I will not tell you that you’re doing something wrong or not doing enough.

I won’t.

You’re good. Just like that.

But I also will not tell you you’re wrong for wanting to be everywhere and do everything. Sometimes, we do this to ourselves.

So, if you really feel the need, you could pop over here and leave a smiley face and I’ll know you were drowning in notifications. Then I could save you, you know? It’d be a secret code or something.

I’ll drop by your blog and leave you a life vest.

 

 

I’m not even going to ask.

If you’re overwhelmed, stressed, falling behind in the blogging world…take a breath, empty your inbox, and throw away the guilt. If people get upset about you missing a couple of their posts or not replying to their comment…well… *shrugs*

You’re all good here. Cheers, gentle readers.

 

Time, Time…Ticking Away

 

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Some people are always whining about not having enough time.

I am one of those people.

Inevitably, I’m subjected to someone telling me, “We all have the same number of hours in a day.” They then tell me I’m choosing to spend these hours not writing or reading or blogging and that, they claim, is my problem.

Uh huh.

Well, I’ve got to say, that really used to tick me off. (Get it? Tick me off? Tick. Tock. That was fun.)

But I guess, if you think about it, they’re right. I am choosing.

What they don’t realize is that the choices some of us make are significant: Write or eat? Read or sleep? Blog or bathe? Respond to post comments or spend time with our children?

While most avid readers would lose a bit of sleep to finish a good book, please… Be kind when someone says they are short on time. Because there are people who actually do have extremely limited free time due to circumstances beyond their control. And their choices aren’t always easy.

There are writers who are choosing between finishing their physical therapy exercises and finishing writing their next chapter. There are unwashed mums (and dads) who are missing out on a game of Monopoly with their kids to read blog posts and respond to comments.

There are meetings and appointments, science fairs and soccer games. There are art shows, recitals, school functions, and award ceremonies. This is in addition to yardwork, cooking, cleaning, laundry…

Sometimes, the choice isn’t between writing and watching TV, it’s between writing and attending their child’s play.

To me, that is not a choice. And for those who don’t understand that, there’s really nothing I can say. (Though I’ll probably still complain about lack of time.) #sorrynotsorry

Usually, I choose my health and my family over reading, writing, blogging, and social media. But not always. I’m ashamed to admit it, but there it is. And I know I’m going to regret it.

Yes. We do all have the same number of hours in a day but not always the same amount of time. In regards to how we spend that time, yes, we have choices. But some choices are easier than others.

 

Do you feel like you don’t have enough time to get things done (reading, writing, social media, blogging, commenting…)? Do you find it easy to make choices about how you spend your time? Are you one of those “we all have the same amount of hours in a day” people? Be honest. We’ll still love you.

 

My One Word for 2017 #OneWord2017

 

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Choosing ONE word for the entire year? Not easy. I finally narrowed it down to three:

Present

Engage

Accept

I want to be more present in my life and I realized that, if I fully engage, I can be. And to engage, I need to accept some things. (This is how I worked it out, anyway.)

Therefore, my one word this year is:

Accept

I hear you sneering (or perhaps it’s me), “Accept?! You’re just going to accept whatever happens? That’s so…so…”

Crap, huh?

To accept something seems passive.

However, I am choosing this word as my focus for the entire year above all the other glorious words in the English language. I’ve thought a lot about this.

I lost count of how many times I’ve caught myself saying, “I can’t believe this happened.” Or “I can’t believe she did that.”

“I can’t believe…” Well, gentle readers, it’s about time I start believing some things, you know?

Accept.

The Webster’s New Explorer College Dictionary definition:

 

ac·cept

verb: to receive as true

 

Ah. Truth. Now we’re getting somewhere.

I do not mean “get over it”, “that’s the way it is”, or “give up”.

I’ve heard “accept” used in these ways my whole life so it has always had a negative connotation for me.

Now I’m going to flip this word on its ass and my attitude is going with it.

I will not accept that the roof is leaking in the sense that I’ll shrug and live with a leaky roof. I’ll accept that the roof is leaking in the sense that once I accept it, I will do something about it.

Accepting my life the way it is doesn’t mean I won’t keep fighting. It means I will receive it as true instead of raging about how it shouldn’t be this way. It is, dude. It really is that way.

I need to act.

But acceptance isn’t the act, it’s what precipitates the act.

Accepting something isn’t the end, it’s the beginning. “I accept this…now what am I going to do about it?”

This is not going to be easy for me. Eh. I accept that.

 

Have you ever taken part in the One Word Challenge?

If you haven’t, why not try it? Or think on it a moment and leave one in the comments. What could your focus be this year? I’d love to hear what your One Word is for 2017.

 

Why Quitting Writing Is the Best Thing I’ve Ever Done

 

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It’s been one year since I quit writing.

When I posted about this, it was heart-breaking.

I cried.

I regretted sharing my decision.

Then I realized how much I needed to post it. To feel it. To publicly admit it.

Here’s the thing. The biggie. I’ve “quit” writing before but I’ve never really quit.

I’ve had a meltdown over a story or a freak-out about my computer crashing (save your work!) or stopped writing out of frustration because I’d been interrupted for the fifteenth time. I’ve had writer’s block, run short on time, gotten sick, had self-doubt… You name it.

I’ve thrown my hands up and shouted, “I quit!”

Those are probably relatable to most writers. There is always something trying to block your way, drain your energy, waste your time, or stifle your creativity.

But when I wrote that post, I well and truly quit.

When I published that post, something inside me shifted.

This wasn’t a writer’s temper tantrum. This was me letting go of my dream. I waited two whole agonizing months to return.

Though, in the grand scheme of things, this wasn’t a long time, it felt like forever.

I thought about losing the creative outlet I’d been using since I was nine years old. I thought about flash and writing prompts and how much I’d miss those. But, honestly, what I thought about most was the fact that the characters in my novels would never finish telling me their stories. I thought about the fact that I would never write another word about these people.

I cried. Again.

 

Truth is, I was in a bad spot and thought quitting writing would take some pressure off. I thought it would give me more time and energy to deal with the crap. What I found was, by taking writing away, I was less able to deal with things.

You know what? I am overwhelmed. I do have a lot going on. There are shitty things happening.

There were a year ago and there still are today.

I did need a break, but not from writing.

I thought my life demanded I let go of my dream. I thought I had to kill a piece of myself, to make room for a new piece—one that could deal with all of the drama, chaos, and responsibilities. But it broke my spirit when I quit.

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved putting pencil to paper and creating stories. I’ve always known writing is part of me. It’s not that I discovered this last year, it’s that I got a reality slap. A reminder that I need writing. Not just that I love it—I need it.

I had to feel this, really feel this loss, to fully appreciate how much I needed it.

I am a writer. It’s what I do. It’s who I am.

 

 

The fact that I quit writing played a big part in the publishing of Hinting at Shadows. One year ago I stopped writing and, almost exactly one year later, I am a newly published author. Of a book that I love. One that I’m proud of. One that shows we never know what the future holds. One that proves we cannot bury our dreams.

 

Have you ever given up, quit, or let go of something you loved? Did this hurt or help you? Or both? Did you ever return to what you left?

 

The Scrooge of New Year’s Day

 

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I don’t do New Year’s resolutions.

For January 1st, I’ve never quit smoking, gone on a diet, bought a gym membership, or sworn to save money.

When this holiday rolls around, I don’t sit and reflect. I barely give a thought to the past year except to say, “Huh. That sucked. Hope next year is better.”

And it isn’t.

It carries over our current problems because they can’t be magically fixed overnight. It also delivers a whole host of new and different problems. So that’s exciting.

But that’s life, isn’t it?

We have our ups and downs. All of us. And some things are out of our control.

I will not set myself up to “fix” something I can’t fix or to “start” something I can’t start. If I make a resolution to lose weight or exercise when my health prohibits it at the moment, I’m setting myself up for failure and inevitable misery. Wonderful way to start the year.

The thing is, as I said in 2014, I feel pressured to look back over my year and write something meaningful. I simply don’t want to.

So I will do what I always do. Which is to say that I will be aware. Of my life, my actions, my reactions…everything. I will learn new things, set goals, better myself, and change what’s not working. I will try to make my life more positive. And I will do this throughout the year, not just the first few weeks in January.

I will ring in the New Year on December 31st but I will check in with myself all year.

 

Happy New Year, gentle readers.

 

My Sunday thoughts in (a wee bit over) 200 words.

ThoughtBubble

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Do you stick to them? (Let’s be honest…are they even realistic?)

 

Something new I’m doing this year is choosing a word: One Word. Something to focus on for the upcoming year. Look for my choice in next week’s post. It’s a fantastic alternative to resolutions.

 

This post from last year (The Scrooge of New Year’s Eve) really sums up how I feel about this holiday. I planned to repost it verbatim but wound up editing it quite a bit. Perhaps a fun challenge could be to see how accurate this post is each year. ?

 

Happy Holidays!

 

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Snow and Sun settle

Upon the slumbering pines

Yuletide gleaming bright

A winter haiku for you, gentle readers. May your days be merry & bright.
Wishing you all a Happy Holiday season! ❄️