My mom, bless her heart, had to keep five children in line, mostly by herself. She did this by keeping everyone in his or her place, as in, “No, you can’t do that!”
I just found out that my younger sister also wanted to play clarinet in the band, like I did. But I was told no, that the piano was enough for me.
The problem was the band didn’t have a piano.
I missed my calling as a fine woodwind musician, and I never did learn how to carry around a piano. My best friend joined the band, and I could not be with her.
My sister didn’t get to join the band, either.
I grew up hearing no, no, no from my parents, partly because they had no money, partly because they were tired, partly because they couldn’t think outside the box. I have done amazing things outside the box because once I got out of my childhood home, there was no one to tell me no.
Actually, that’s not true. Many people have told me no along the way. I have learned to ignore them, divorce them, break up with them, or find a new circle that won’t quash my dreams. It can be a lonely road, thinking outside the box, and people have judged me when I don’t live my life as they do.
As I was transitioning to adulthood and planned to student teach in Venezuela, I told my mom my plans.
“Oh you are, are you?” she said.
I took it as a dare.
Mom also said these lines. “If you say so.” “Is that so?” “I’ve got news for you, Missy.”
I went to Venezuela and also studied in Spain.
Two years later I delivered mail when no woman had ever held that job in Omaha.
Ten years after that I wrote books using my second language and heard from many folks that I would never sell them since I am not a native speaker (disclaimer – I have made 2 errors in 28 books).
I owned and ran a business for 6.5 years in my downtown, five more years online.
I landscaped three yards with no training and lots of trial and error.
I ended up with a beach house.
I adopted two dogs that have turned out to be pretty good investments (last Christmas my children told me no to dog # 2).
Yes, I have failed at things, but you can’t succeed if you don’t try, and not everything is going to work out.
I am writing a book with two women friends. One of them complains about working so hard and that she’s done and it’s time to get it sold. Guess what? If it was that easy to get published, EVERYONE would be published.
I have learned to say yes to things, only to realize that maybe it was not what I really wanted, like this picture book contest I am judging right now. 288 books have arrived at my front door. I have so much bubble wrap, packing paper, padded envelopes, and cardboard that I feel like an Amazon warehouse.
I’ve read all 288 titles, and I’ve chosen my favorite 22. The other two judges want me to rank all 288 of them on a 1-10 scale by the 19th (that’s in 2 weeks). That is not going to happen.
“Then how will we ever agree?” one of them asked.
“You pick your favorite 22 books or so, and then we compare the three lists and see if there is any overlap. If there is, we have found our winners.”
I guess no does come in handy now and then.
Just don’t say it to yourself. Tell yourself yes! YOLO! Be your own cheerleader.
And get a dog for a pet.
Dogs never say no.