I think one of the most important tricks in life is to figure out what to say yes to and what to say no to. This one still knocks me on my arse… I actually think that those two little words are the building blocks of your life. Your yeses and nos basically dictate how you spend your time.

People tell you that I’m the queen of no. My husband-who says yes to way too much-made up the name. My friend, Miriam, however, says I need to say no much more because she thinks I say yes way too often.

The truth lies somewhere in between. I say no to others and I say yes to myself to excess. And I’m not talking about the “Yes, I can have the extra piece of cake or third glass of wine.” (Though I do that a lot too!) I’m talking about the, “Yes, I can go to school and work three jobs and train for a half marathon and write books.

Then I’m all shocked and butt hurt when I crash and burn.

I think part of the problem is that I really don’t know what I want and the options are dizzy-making. I’m afraid that I’ll say no and lose out on something good. For instance, last spring, I quit my day job. Then in the summer, I took it back (with a lot less responsibility.) I was ready to give up my college degree dream as a something impossible because it really doesn’t make financial sense. Then I registered for fall term because in spite of it being impractical, I want that degree. I just do.

I waffle. I waver. I says yes and then no and then yes again so many times it gives me vertigo. People tell me to slow down and enjoy life. What they don’t understand is that excepting a few moments of freak out, I enjoy being busy. I like feeling accomplished. I also pencil in time for friends & family, time alone, time to get out in nature, etc, so it’s not all work. Sometimes I burn out. Sometimes I screw up. Sometimes I’m exhausted. But I try to remind myself that those times of exhaustion and burn out means I’m out there swinging, out there trying, out there living, and THAT makes me very happy. As anyone who has overcome cancer will tell you, living so you have time to love and learn and experience is the only thing that counts.

So for me, saying no opens up time to say yes and vice versa. It’s everyone’s job to find a yes/no ratio that works for them. I know a fellow author, (and fellow cancer survivor), who decided after a successful career writing romances that she didn’t want to write them anymore—her taste and priorities had changed. She said no to one thing so she could say yes to another. So mind your yeses and your nos. Because that, my friends, is how you make a life.