on busyness and the ability to say no

You probably thought I forgot about my commitment to produce a piece of art every week, but I didn’t. In fact, this past week I produced two pieces! I can’t show you both of them because it’s a project for a CD cover and I can’t put that out there, but I can show you one of them and parts of the other one.

The first piece I did last week was actually a failed concept for the CD cover. I had an idea and it just didn’t work out the way I wanted. It’s fairly important to notice when something isn’t working and set it aside so that something else can emerge. I’m actually kind of embarrassed but in the interest of full disclosure and the ability to share honestly, here it is:


I know some of you will rush to say how much you like this, but I truly hate it. Well, that’s a bit harsh. I hate the bottom of it. I’ll put it away and wait for the animosity to subside and I’m sure I’ll find a way to redeem it.

Now, the second attempt was much better. Again, I can’t show you the whole thing right now, but here’s a couple corners of it:

IMG_6147 IMG_6148

Ahhhhhhh. Much better.

I’ve been feeling pretty busy and I’m trying to figure out what to do about that. My life is fairly unstructured and I’m realizing that if I don’t manage it differently a million little things will come in and demand my attention and suck me dry. And none of those million little things seems like much all by itself. So it feels really hard to say no. But I’ve got to start saying no.

I’ll give you an example.

There’s been this little challenge floating around the one of the artist Facebook pages that I frequent. It’s lovely. You post three pieces of your art for five days and also challenge two other artists to do the same each of those days. Let me clearly say that I see nothing wrong with this. It’s wonderful and I’ve enjoyed seeing some of my favorite artists share their work as a result of this challenge.

So the other day, I was tagged in this challenge, and normally I would be really excited to join in the fun, but instead I noticed that I was feeling a lot of dread. So I sat and tried to figure out what was going on that was creating that feeling for me.

I realized that I haven’t really been following too closely who has already been tagged and it would take some time and effort to pick ten artists who hadn’t already been tagged. But even more than this, there was something about the particular timeframe I find myself in right now. I’m busy with several projects and I’m just coming off of three weeks of hosting guests in my house and I just needed to have some control over what was getting my attention.

And even more than either of those two things, I needed to say no.

I’m not good at saying no. I never have been. And I suspect that it’s becoming more and more important for me to learn this skill.

So I said no.

And it felt great.

I’m going to be spending some time thinking through my big “yeses” so that I will be better able to say no with confidence and grace.

What are the things you’re saying “yes” and “no” to these days?

Tagged with: , , ,
Posted in one piece of art per week for a year
4 comments on “on busyness and the ability to say no
  1. I really, really love that bird.

  2. I love it too!

    I heard a saying ‘a definite no is better than a half-hearted yes’ & i decided to try it out for size. I found that it fitted me! I stopped writing pros & cons lists, saying yes when i really wanted to say no, flapping around in geometrical circles – and it felt good. It took a bit of practice but seems to easier with practice – depending on who i have to say no to! Sometimes i slip up, but im learning. Good luck with the no thing! And your beautiful artwork. We need it!

    • Thanks so much Jaybird! I just had the opportunity to exercise that “no muscle” in a big way and it felt really good to feel a little more in control. Thanks so much for stopping by and for your thoughtful comment. 🙂

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