Learning to Say ‘No’ is Lesson in Itself

I opened my Writing Prompts book and read this:

“Write about a time you said ‘No.'”

I almost looked for another prompt, probably because the subject sounded boring, but the real reason is, I am afraid of it. I’m not good at saying no, but I can honestly say I am aware of my problem. As the saying goes, you have to pick your battles.

I, like everyone else, am a work in progress. No one is perfect, but we learn from our mistakes to become better versions of ourselves.

With that being said, I can tell you, I don’t say no very often. It’s not that I can’t, I just really want to help people when I can. And when I can’t, I find a way to gently tell them no.

There was a time when I couldn’t say no because I felt powerless; I was afraid of making people mad, afraid they wouldn’t accept me as I was, afraid they would reject me. I wanted to be liked so much, I became a doormat, and did things I didn’t want to do just to please that person.

I became a people-pleaser. Like the term co-dependent, I hate the term people-pleaser, because it’s a label, and doesn’t do much to help the person in these situations. All it does is undermine your self-respect, self-esteem, and confidence. I should know. People have been labeling me my whole life.

“You’re a pest, you’re accident prone, you break everything you touch…”

I am a nice person. I am generous. I love to help people. This is the way God made me.

I have a hard time saying no because I want to change the world, but it doesn’t mean I don’t say no. Which bring us to my prompt for today:

As a parent, we tell our kids ‘no’ all the time. As an employee, we try not to say no too much or the boss will think we’re a slacker. So when was a time I said no, because I didn’t want to do something I didn’t want to do?

My daughter recently asked me to drive my grandson back to Des Moines and I didn’t want to.

I know I shouldn’t need an excuse, but I really didn’t have the time.

Does that count?

She might have been disappointed, but she didn’t say or show it. However, I told her I could help out when I had more time, a promise she took me up on.

Maybe the reason I don’t like to say no is because I hate to disappoint people I care about. I know how it feels. And disappointment sucks.

I know I’m not responsible for people’s feelings; it’s another mindset I am in the process of changing. But if I have the chance to bring a little sunshine to someone’s gloomy day, I’m going to try hard as hell to make it happen.

It’s a fine-line: I want to help people, but I don’t want to feel like a doormat ever again. Some people take advantage of kindness, and others see it as a weakness.

I’m not going to stop being kind. But I am learning to say no those who don’t appreciate it.


Passion Outweighs Moderation

Today’s writing prompt:

What area of your life do you tend to enjoy in excess instead of moderation?

Obsession and passion are the same thing, just different perspectives. So I suppose I could say the things I enjoy in excess are simply passions in disguise.

I write. A lot.

I get up in the morning and work on my website, tributecr.com, and create the day’s inspiring message and update the upcoming events and news. Then, it’s off to my day job as a Benefits Specialist for a local car dealership.

I might work out at the gym during my lunch hour, where I take notes about the things I want to write about when I get home, or I might interview someone for a news story. Sometimes I even take my laptop to work and use my hour to write.

Finally, it’s 5 o’clock, and I hurry home to get back on my computer, and either blog, work on my stories, or write news articles.

In a few short hours, its time for bed, and I set the clock for 5:30 am, so I can do it all again.

At first glance, one might think my excess lies in writing, but who can put a limit on creativity? Besides, who would want to?

However, I think we are being asked to focus more on the things we enjoy in excess that aren’t particularly good for us, like sweets or potato chips. I also drink too much coffee and pop. And though I love to bake, it means I have to eat it too, so I suppose the answer to the above question is: I enjoy eating, though excessively is a bit strong.

But who am I  kidding … I’ve never been able to do anything in moderation.

Happiness or Success?

My writing prompt for today poses the question,“What do you want more out of life? Happiness or Success?”

Success means something different to everyone. But then again, being happy does, too.

Some people believe being successful means having a lot of money, fame, or power. But to me, a successful person is someone who has a pretty good handle on life. And if you have a good attitude and the determination to keep moving forward, being a success can take on a whole new meaning.

I have goals I would like to achieve, such as writing a best-seller, or doing something to change the world. And, by some miracle, if I do achieve these goals, I might be considered a success by some, but what really matters most is how I perceive it.

And honestly, even if I don’t write a best-seller or change the world, I will still see myself as a success.

I am a success because I am happy.


Modern Technology

The writing prompt for today is: “What piece of modern technology can you not live without?”

The word that popped out to me is “Modern.” What exactly is considered Modern? It’s a relative term that is different for everyone. what might be modern to a 10-year-old, would most certainly be different to someone who is 87.

So to me, living my 55th year, “modern technology” could mean anything from computers to FitBits.

Let’s go with that.

Computers are a given; they have invaded our society so much that most people would have a difficult time adjusting to life without them. Computers have changed the way we shop, the way we are entertained, the way we live.

Personally, I would have a hard time living without a cellphone. It’s true; I lived a long time without one, but now that I have one, it’d be tough to give it up.

I feel more secure because I know I can rely on my cell phone if my car breaks down (if I remember to charge it), or if I’m going to be late getting home (try and find a pay phone these days), and I can contact my kids if I need them (yeah … right).

I know I could do without it if I had to. But I don’t want to.

I  broke down and bought a cell phone when my kids started buying them. My first was a simple Nokia. That was before texting or computer access, so it really was just a phone. But now I can fill the memory with apps that allow me to watch videos or play games if I get really bored (and now I have a tablet to do that, too!)

I bought an Echo Dot for Jeff for his birthday and soon found myself telling my mini blue tooth speaker to “Turn it up!”

It didn’t of course. It was then that I realized maybe I was becoming too dependent on my electronics. What happened to me? have I become one of those people who texts as they cross a busy street, or looks at their phone more than the person sitting across from them?

No way! But I’m not perfect …

What will happen to us if we wake up someday and find the world has run out of electricity to run all of our fun gadgets? (I think a TV show was created from that concept.)

Maybe we have to treat our electronics like we do any other potential addiction–use in moderation; be aware we have a problem; and learn to manage it responsibly.





People in Glass Houses

My writing prompt for today is, “Make up a new ending for the saying, “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t …”

I use the traditional ending–Throw Stones–to describe people who are being too judgmental. But what popped into my head next was:

“Walk around the house naked.”

What a coincidence: I just watched a video on Facebook that showed “bubble” cabins in Europe, where you can experience nature, and sleep under the stars in the comfort of your 360-degree panoramic room.

My first thought was, “But everyone could see what you are doing,” and I don’t think I’d like that.

I am not the most private person. I can tell people I just met stories of my childhood, but I do believe what happens behind closed doors should remain private, if you get my drift. I don’t even like opening the curtain in my bathroom, that’s how concerned I am about keeping my private things private.

Some people might like the bubble-shaped cabins. It is pretty cool sleeping out under the stars; but frankly, I like to be able to walk from the bathroom to my bedroom without having to put a robe on.

But that’s just me. And I would hate to live in a glass house.


A Writer’s Gift

Every year my kids ask me what I want for Christmas, and every year my answer is the same: “Save your money to buy gifts for your kids.”

But they never listen to me. Most years, I receive a bottle of perfume, gloves, or a candle. And though I appreciate all of them, I secretly wish they wouldn’t have spent any money on me.

I understand how they feel, though. I did the same thing to my mom. (And I still do!)

But this year, I was presented with a big box from my granddaughter, Lily. The first thing I noticed was a DVD if my favorite movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

The second thing I noticed was a book. I pulled it out and read the title: “300 Writing Prompts.” I opened the book and realized it was a journal. A writing journal, the best kind!

This was the perfect gift for a writer! It’s not always easy to come up with a subject for a blog. Some days the words just won’t come, but this was the answer to my writer’s block.

I still wish my kids wouldn’t spend their money on me; but then again, sometimes it’s pretty cool.

Some of the prompts include:

What is your favorite breakfast to get you up and out the door? Write about the middle of something, anything! What do you want your retirement to be like? How do you act when you’re afraid? Is there a mistake you keep making in your life? Explain.

I think I’ll start using the prompts as a blog writing exercise. Not only will it help my creative writing skills, but most likely I will learn something new about myself.


In Search of …. the Perfect Sugar Cookie

I was 6 or 7 when I tasted the perfect cookie. And I have been trying to replicate it since. They were bought at the SunMart store on Mt. Vernon Road in Cedar Rapids, where DrugTown stood for years when SunMart closed, and where Goodwill is now located.

Business started declining at SunMart after Hy-Vee moved in up the street, and I was sorry to see it go. I got my first lesson in “rights” and “wrongs” when I was caught shoplifting, before I knew the consequences for breaking the law.

I have many fond memories of the store; my first Hostess pies and Snowballs; the flavored tabs that fizzed when you put them in water to make a concoction similar to Kool-Aid; the fresh-baked donuts that melted in your mouth; and SunMart’s amazing sugar cookies.

Fifty years later, and I still haven’t found a cookie, nor a recipe, that comes close to it. Funny how our taste buds hold a memory; as if I will know it’s the one when I finally taste it again.

I’m going to do my best to find the perfect sugar cookie this holiday baking season. And even if I can’t find the perfect sugar cookie, I hope I come close.


NaNoWriMo-The Last Word


It was 10:15 last night when I put the last word on the last page, ending what I considered to be one of the most important months in my career as an author. It was important, because I learned more in November about creative writing than I could ever have imagined.

I put my life on hold for practically the entire month. I worked on my novel every day, but I didn’t always reach my goal of 1,700 words. It was tough; work, family, Thanksgiving, migraines, and lack of motivation kept me from completing the overall goal of 50,000 words in 30 days (I wrote 40,294 words, but I finished my story). However, I don’t see it as a failure.

I knew a week ago I wasn’t going to make my goal, and confided to my fiancé that I knew I would finish my story by then. But there was no way I would get to 50,000.

“But you worked so hard on it, and you’ll feel really bad it you don’t ….”

Honestly, I don’t feel bad at all about it. I didn’t do it to prove to anyone I could do it. I did it so I could learn from it. I did it for the experience. And now, I know the price I have to pay if I ever needed to write a 50,000-word novel in a month. I would basically have to put everything else on hold and put all my efforts into that novel. I would have to ignore my duties as a mother, a grandmother, a daughter, and a friend just so I could complete the task.

I truly enjoyed writing the novel, but it’s not done. The editing alone will take a few months, at the very least. Which is fine with me. I’m ready to take a few days off to work on all my other projects that have been waiting patiently for me.

My advice for people wanting to do the challenge next November:

  • This will take most of your spare time. Let your friends and family know you won’t be available for the month.
  • Stick to you goal of 1,700 words a day. Once you get behind, it’s extremely difficult to catch up.
  • Don’t give up. (If you started the challenge with a purpose, chances are you won’t have to worry too much about this one.)
  • Gather a support team. Whether it’s your boyfriend, girlfriend, mother, father, brother, sister, kids, whoever; you will need them to help you brainstorm and keep you on track. They will also become your cheerleaders.

Next year I will be better prepared. And I will also have an advantage; it will no longer be my first.