The Word “No” (A Reader’s Response)

My faithful friend Barb gave me permission to share her experience saying “No.”

“One time I listened to a CD on how to order your home. I listened to it with two friends. At one point they told us to stop the CD and practice saying No and we did. They suggested saying, ‘No, my plate is full.’

“Now I ask my husband to tell me ‘No’ so I can say ‘My husband said no.’ That has helped. But in 2021, I drove my dad and his wife up north from Florida. That caused me to be a horrible driver. I told my husband to remind me the following spring to say No and not offer to drive my dad back up north. My husband replied, ‘I told you not to do it this year.’  I just need to listen to my husband and do what he says.”


The Word “No”

Multiple times, I have been told, “The word ‘No’ is a complete sentence.”

If so, why can’t I stop after I say “No?” Why do I talk myself into a “Yes” or follow my “No” with enough loopholes to allow others to turn my “No” into a “Yes?”

A walking buddy once said, “It’s in the 20s.” I offered to walk when the temperature rose. Another time Mary said, “I can’t walk the two-mile loop today.” I suggested our one-mile route. Weeks later, she said, “You never let me be lazy and accept my ‘No’ to walking.” As a literalist, I didn’t realize she was saying “No” to walking.

What am I learning? If I can’t stop at “No,” I should add, “No, that time is scheduled.” Or “No, I am not available.” That is true even if I plan to read or take a nap. A relative said his go-to is “That doesn’t work for me.”

Why is such a little word so hard to say? Guilt? “No” is not a bad word. Our “No” may give another person the opportunity to say “Yes.”

Are you able to say “No” by just using a “N” and an “O?”

Basics, Friendship

Being Yourself

Be Yourself because everyone else is taken. Oscar Wilde

One of my favorite women traveled over 600 miles to my house—in her pajamas. I know because when she arrived exhausted, and I offered her a nap before dinner, she said, “I shouldn’t have changed out of my pajamas to go inside McDonald’s at the last exit. My daughter insisted.”

A friend, who had recently moved, asked if she could crash at my home overnight. Her son had a morning orthodontic appointment. “We won’t be any trouble,” she said. “Fix us peanut butter and jelly.” I did. She couldn’t believe that I believed her. Why not? She’s authentic.

These dear women—both named Sandi—are themselves, which frees me to be myself, which hopefully makes it even easier for them to be themselves. It is a cycle that ministers.

Who is the Sandi in your life?


World Art Day

Why do you try to understand art? Do you try to understand the song of a bird?

Pablo Picasso

Along the way, I learned that I am an amazing art teacher—by my standards.

Multiple students and parents of students have told me for almost three decades how much their children enjoy art and look at the world in a different way because of my classes. And that is my standard.

Perhaps, my students will remember some artists or art terminology or acquire a favorite or think about creating art. I hope they do. But the goal is for my students to enjoy art—and for that enjoyment to be as accessible as their favorite books and games.

So, let’s cerebrate World Art Day on April 15th this year by enjoying some art, even if it is only a clever graphic design on your cereal box.

For fun, find and read If Picasso Painted a Snowman by Amy Newbold.

Family, Friendship, Memories

Processing Pain

Take in moments and don’t move on. Take it in so you can be wiser from your moments.

Denna Kastor 2004 Olympics Bronze Medalist

I am quoting Kastor’s words for the third time in two years because her words resonate with me. I regularly need to take in my moments and am more joyful when I do.

However, how do I process painful moments? I stuff. Down deep. Until a situation or a photograph or a spoken word evokes the pain. Or it pops to the surface for no apparent reason. (Like the night I wrote this blog.) Sometimes I have forgotten the pain for a long time.

I am learning to sit a few moments in both past and present pain and experience the emotions of loss or grief or disappointment or disregard or betrayal. To probe the extent of what happened and how it affected me. My forgiveness is superficial when I deny the cost.

To paraphrase Kastor:

Take in Pain and don’t move on. Take Pain in so you can be wiser from your Pain.

Surely he has born our griefs and carried our sorrows, yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. Isaiah 53:4