On Saying No

Slide2Saying No is allowed:

Saying no to requests,

Saying no to demands,

Saying no to emotional bullies,

Saying no to drama,

Saying no to blame,

Saying no to angry rants,

Saying no to you’re not enough and I need more and give me and you’re disappointing.

Saying no is allowed:

Saying no to other people’s goals for you,

Saying no to other people’s plans for you,

Saying no to other people’s wants for you,

Saying no to other people’s opinions of you,

Saying no to other people’s versions of you,

Saying no to but you should and it would be wiser to and if I were you.

Saying no is allowed:

Saying no to hating your body,

Saying no to using food as a crutch,

Saying no to making excuses,

Saying no to blaming your history,

Saying no to your role,

Saying no to your script,

Saying no to your old self,

Saying no to if I just nip and tuck myself here and there they will all still love me.

Slide1Saying no is allowed.

Saying no is a gift.

Saying no means figuring our what your heart wants.

Saying no means figuring out what yes is, where you should give it, and how glorious it feels to mean it.

Saying no means honest interactions and grown up friends.

Saying no means you get to actually be who you are, that unique incidence of genes and stardust and human connection.

Saying no is allowed.

I promise.


Getting Your Actual Work Done

Slide1She said: “I never get to do the work that is my actual job.” I nodded because having worked out of my house for the last several years with kids around, I very much know that feeling. I can’t count the number of times I thought: “I’m working ALL the time, but how much of that work has been the work that I believe I am supposed to be doing, that I want to do, that I believe I most need to do?” Those are some tricky questions.

Because I’ve faced this in my self-employed phase, I believed this was just a problem for the self-employed, particularly those of us who work out of our homes: the tendency for so many problems, needs and concerns to sneak onto our radars and block out everything else, the insistence of the phone call we’ve been waiting for or the last-minute opportunity that we really shouldn’t miss, the call from the nurse’s office, the dog who needs to go to the vet, the colleague who wants to meet and can only do it today, the deadline someone else has that suddenly impacts YOUR schedule, the mixup at the bank, the broken AC, the laptop crash that interferes with progress, the impromptu staff meeting, the crisis that must be addressed pronto. For many of us, there is no real inviolable time. Continue reading

Take Back Your Yes!

So I have this friend, yeah, let’s say she’s a friend. She used to be torn in a million directions because 1) she’s in a career that requires both serious intellectual and creative time alone AND extensive interaction with folks known and unknown, 2) she has hobbies that require both extensive time practicing and interacting with folks known and lesser known, 3) she tends toward the slightly introverted and sensitive side and can be overwhelmed by a jam packed schedule and a lack of quiet down time, 4) she has young children that require her time and attention, AND 5) she has not always been good at saying no. I’m confident some wording changes in the previous items would make them apply to LOTS of people. I get the feeling many of you are feeling stretched thin like my friend used to be.

slide1She sprinkled her yeses across her universe. Yes, work. Yes, singing. Yes, kids. Yes, favor. Yes, coffee. Yes, dog. Yes, choir. Yes, lunch. Yes, phone call. Yes, homemade valentines. Yes, training class. Yes, laundry. Yes, exercise. Yes, neighbor chat. Yes, grocery store. Yes, veterinarian. Yes, laundry. Yes, family gathering. Yes, editing help. Yes, friend in crisis. Yes, blog post. Yes, other friend in crisis. Yes, women’s networking lunch. Yes, family obligation. Yes, laundry (where does all the daggone laundry come from?). Yes, volunteering at school. Yes, web design overhaul. Yes, library run for family. Yes, dry cleaning run. Yes, moderator phone call for disputing loved ones. Yes, video class. Yes, food delivery for sick parishioner. Yes, proofread for friend. Yes, new website. Yes, family menu. Yes, errands for ALL of the THINGS. Yes, plan a trip. Yes, read the homework. Yes, find the glasses. Yes, sign the forms. Yes, clean the retainer. Yes, fix the toilet. Yes, change the vent filters. Yes, plant a garden. Yes, cut the lawn. Yes, trim the hedges. Yes, committee. Yes, benefit concert. Yes, give me lots of plants from your garden. Yes, I will plant the plants. Yes, what can I bring? Yes, yes, yes, freaking yes. Continue reading

Out With It Already!

How often do you say NO?

I ask because I find that I say it a little more frequently than a lot of folks I know and I still don’t say but half the time I think it. And when I do say it, it’s usually work. Like I have to put that NO through a series of tests to be sure that what I want to say is, in fact, NO… Let me give an example.

slide1I play music with some friends and we had an acquaintance come to a rehearsal to feel out the possibilities of playing together. He’s a very good musician. As we played, I liked what I heard him adding to the songs we’ve been playing and I could imagine a richer more full sound developing as we grew to know each other better. Towards the end of our available time, however, we decided to stop playing and talk about what moving forward would look like. As he talked, I felt myself closing up like fan. I sensed a mismatch on so many levels that I found it hard to even engage in the conversation. I felt the shift from listening to waiting for it to be over. So did I wait for a pause and say I wasn’t really interested; thanks, but it doesn’t really feel like a fit to me? No, I did not. Continue reading

What Are You Saying No To?

My daughter started gymnastics today. I sat in the observation area to ease her nervousness about being in a new place with new people. As I was sitting there, I thought about my upcoming obligations and commitments. I thought about a specific commitment that I’ve made that well, every time I think about it, I feel a little sick to my stomach, and not in a roller coaster, I’m so excited kind of way. This has been going on for the last several days.

I’ve not been ignoring that feeling, but instead of acting on it, I’ve been wondering why I feel so uncomfortable about having said yes to this particular (ongoing, fairly long-term) commitment. While I am pretty loaded up with things to take care of right now, I could not think of a specific logical reason why THIS particular YES was causing me so much discomfort. At any rate, I was mulling this a bit and then decided to set it aside and read while my daughter worked on the low bar.

slide1As I’m reading this book on coaching for work situations (yes, this is what I do in the not very pleasant smelling gymnastics club), I get to a section on managing your workload. And this question hits me right between the eyes: “If you’re saying yes to this, what are you saying no to?” One interpretation of this question would be “If you’ll even do this awful thing, you must not say no to anything,” but this is not what the author, Michael Bungay Stanier, is getting at. In this case, the question is meant to reveal the full impact of your yes. If you say yes to this, what are you going to have to give up in order to fulfill the commitment that you’re making. How will you make space for that new commitment? Continue reading

“No” and “Help”

I’ve been having some really vivid dreams lately. Last night’s was particularly so, and is still fresh on my mind. I was being attacked. The details were unclear, but the threat was not. I have had similar dreams off and on throughout the years. But last night’s was decidedly different.

In the past when I had this kind of dream, I would try to yell at my attacker , but the words came out slow and garbled, as though I had taken a triple dose of Benadryl, completely unintelligible. Another version of the dream featured me having no ability to make sound at all. I could open my mouth and try as hard as I liked, but no sound came out. Really horrifying. My dear husband usually woke me up from these as, unlike the dream, I was making quite a lot of very horrible and scary noises.

Slide2In last night’s dream, for the first time in my adult life, when faced with the threat of attack, I yelled at my attacker with a clear assertive “No!” And I didn’t stop there. I added a sentence or two clearly defining my space and the need for him to stay out of it. And then, in further unprecedented steps, as I moved away from the attacker, who was seemingly stunned by my verbal superpowers, I called out clearly and loudly for help. I had never even tried to call for help in the old version of this dream. Continue reading