No and Yes Live Together in The House You Build for Yourself.

No, and Yes Live Together in The House You Build for Yourself.

When I was younger I could say no without guilt, worry, or fear.
In fact, at least once I not only said “no”, I also made a deal out of that ‘no.’

It was during my short stint on the track team where I ran the mile run, now called the 1500 meter run (which is not the same but that is a different battle).

I lost every single race I competed in.
Every. Single. Race.
I didn’t know how to train, nor was I genetically gifted and while I liked being on the track team the mile was not the race for me.
In my senior year, the track coach said to me,
“Please don’t run this season.”
This was before Title IV and before anyone cared about a kid’s self-esteem. The coach’s name was Roland Antilla, and he went on to say, “It’s painful to watch you and what’s the point anyway?” (*side note 1: I LOVED him. He was brash and taught history and I actually miss him to this day…you know but still Roland, give a girl a break).
I’m sure I was embarrassed, but I knew I was slow. (*side note 2: I can run forever but I just can’t do it fast.)

“I’ll make you a deal. I won’t run if I get to be on the track team, ride the bus, and hang out with my friends.”
“Deal,” he said.
Let’s be honest, I didn’t want to be a miler, I didn’t even want to run, but there were cute boys on that track bus, and I was all about the boys.

He told me, ‘no,’ but in effect, I said ‘no’ right back.

I was my own champion. As I aged, things changed. No, stopped being a simple utterance and became a very complicated life question.  Now, ‘no,’ is about prioritization. Because for every ‘no’ I say I am making way for a ‘yes.’

Sometimes the easy no’s are the ones we say to simplify our lives. No, I’m not baking cookies for a second-grade soccer team who doesn’t need bakery after a game. No, I’m not going to fill a volunteer spot that already has too many volunteers scheduled.

To decide when a ‘no’ or ‘yes’ is right for us we have to examine your values and put them into play. Oh, and also we have to do something about that guilt that rules our lives. That’s just gotta’ go. I wrote about that here too.

I find the harder ‘no’s,’ or for that matter, the ‘yesses’ are the ones where someone says ‘no’ to you first; where someone or something has stopped you from your intended progression and stymied your plans. The real-life questions, the real struggle are choices about perseverance and/or rest read: giving up.

Should I accept this roadblock? Should I endure or accept?

In graduate school, when a professor told me I wasn’t cut out for an advanced degree, I changed schools, mentors and finished my Ph.D.
When my body said,
“Good grief that pregnancy was hard maybe two kids is enough for you.”
I said, “Yep. Bring on the birth control.”

Sometimes when a no is flung at you, you should say ‘no’ right back and stick with your dream. But, there are times that no means no, and it’s time to accept and carve out a different path. The thing to remember is that while there is no medal for giving up, acceptance can be just as rewarding as going for the gold-and the whole process is entirely up to you. Less Hustle More Joy….maybe.

How did I come to think and then write about this?

My mom and I were world class shopping partners, and often I’d ask her if I should say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to a sweater or a chair, and she’d say, “It’s up to you. It’s not my house it’s going into.”

As usual, she was right.No and yes live together in the house you build for yourself you just have to figure out what you want in that house, and it takes a whole life to figure that out.

[Tweet “No and yes live together in the house you build for yourself “]

xo Ann


  1. Kathleen Bylsma on April 18, 2017 at 10:14 pm

    Well said. Thanks.

  2. Cathy on April 18, 2017 at 10:21 pm

    I have most recently learned No can be a complete sentence. I was terrible with No most of my life. I even had a friend that made up 25 reasons to say No! And gave it to me before she moved. Like my kids are sick, I will be out of town, I’m too busy. Things I would never say no matter what. At 57 I say No. And it doesn’t make me a bad person because for every No there were probably 100 yes… what can I help you with!

  3. Leanne on April 18, 2017 at 10:57 pm

    No is a beautiful word. It doesn’t require anything else. It’s complete and thorough all by itself.

  4. Jane Ellen Smith on April 18, 2017 at 11:40 pm

    I have learned to say no to my mother. No, I don’t want the coffee table just because you don’t want it anymore. No, I’m not going to use the chairlift just because you had it put in after I fell down the stairs. No, I most definitely not need a man to take care of me. No. No, I won’t go to the fish camp. No, I won’t eat fried fish. Good grief. It’s taken me 56 years to work up my courage to do this. And it hurts her feelings, but that’s all right. She can get over it. Must be something about passing 55 that makes us finally feel like we can take control of our lives.

  5. Jean Israel on April 18, 2017 at 11:55 pm

    I love this! I have a horrible time saying *no* to my adult children…I know that there are times when I need to say no and I know that I’ve got to learn to say no at times…and I REALLY need to get it through my head that my kids are not going to “not love” me anymore if I tell them no.

  6. Jill Hannah Anderson on April 20, 2017 at 12:11 am

    I’m getting better about saying “no” as I get older. And saying it with less guilt. The guilt monkey was instilled by my volunteer parents and catholic upbringing. And boy, I could relate to many of your examples (especially the volunteer one where there is too many volunteers standing around already!) I say yes plenty, but I make it count, following my heart.

  7. Jeffrey on April 20, 2017 at 4:07 am

    Refreshing thoughts…thank you.

    • Ann Garvin on April 20, 2017 at 2:38 pm

      You’re welcome Mr. Hobbit

  8. […] obviously think about this a lot. I went on about it here and here […]

  9. […] You might also like this No And Yes Live Together In The House You Built For Yourself […]

Leave a Comment