Day 10: Living thanks by saying no

Each of the colorful cups was overflowing, the canvas–a white piece of cheap computer paper–was drenched.

“I painting Mama!” my two-year-old squealed with her chubby fingers clenched around her yellow brush.

Yes, she was, and with gusto. Her little torso danced with excitement while she sat on her red plastic chair. “It’s beautiful,” I said, referring more to her joy than anything.   She was painting with all her might, including every color and every drop of water possible.  But, as I peeled her dripping-wet masterpiece from the sopping table, I couldn’t help thinking that in trying to paint everything, she’d painted nothing.

Well, not nothing, but the dreary cloud I hung on the fridge reminded me of depression, not Charli’s joyful efforts.  Don’t get me wrong, toddler art is not up for critique, but it makes me wonder.  How many of us are, like Charli, doing our best to live this life with gusto, splashing water into every color pot possible as we race from obligation to obligation with no wiggle room to stop and give thanks?

“Yes, I’d love to help with that.”
“Sure, I can find the time.”
“Of course, I’d be glad to serve in this way.”

How can we better steward our no to embrace our yes?  True, some of us just can’t say no on certain things in this season of life (hello diapers), and sometimes, yes, enthusiastic YES, this thing being asked of me is a great way to help.  But other times. . . when it’s not (and I know it’s not even as I nod my head), how can I find the courage to say no?  Seriously, what am I so scared of?

Someone recently gave me the gift of her words for these places.  She simply says, “Thanks for thinking of me. I will check my calendar and let you know.”

It really is that simple, and no, the earth doesn’t fall off it’s axis. This delayed no is a grace space, and with practice saying no has been feeling more natural.  Saying “no” kindly so that we can say “yes” enthusiastically allows us to honor our deepest heart-song priorities.  By trying to please everyone, I wonder at what I’ve missed.  I wonder at the messy painting that sometimes leaves me wiped at the end of the day.  Today I’m thankful (#181) for the no’s that preceded my yes to writing #gratitudeparty–a painting that enlivens me even as it depletes, a picture more colorful than I could have planned myself, and in some ways a painting that I sense is painting me. 

Day 10 Challenge:

  • Say no to something to create a space for gratitude.  Trim the fat. . . You know that thing. . . pull off the band aid!  Fresh air is needed for healing.  Or set a new intention, write down a priority filter for when you’re asked to help. 

*This post is part of a 30-day gratitude challenge.  Subscribe via e-mail (on the left) or post a gratitude to WIN A PIE HERE.

    1 thought on “Day 10: Living thanks by saying no”

    1. I love the thought of giving ourselves some grace space. It seems to be harder to say no than to say yes, but sometimes we need to summon our strength to say no, for our own self-health. Thanks for the reminder.


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