By Marcia Thornton Jones

Nice people do things for others. They help. They shop, chop, and cook. They entertain in sparkling clean houses. They smile and nod and agree. They are responsible, generous, and selfless.

I want to be nice. I do. But…

There have been times, especially in recent years, when I was caught in a never-ending whirlpool of doing for others to the point that all my me-energy was pretty much drained. Which meant I didn’t accomplish my goals. Which made me feel like a failure. Which sucked me deeper under water.

This June topic of ‘permissions’ is the perfect opportunity to gently but firmly remind myself (and others) that my me-purpose is a serious endeavor and that it’s okay to say “No” without being consumed by guilt. I don’t have to always drop what I’m doing to accommodate others and I don’t have to keep putting my me-stuff on the back burner.

Of course, that can be easier said than done. It’s one thing to say I’m going to stick to my guns while staring at the bedroom ceiling at three in the morning. Quite another when face-to-face with someone asking me to drop everything and do something out of obligation—or even for fun.

Once I asked writer Joel Strangis how he was able to so confidently extract himself from the demands of a busy home life and high-level business career in order to accomplish his writing goals. He said it was simple. Instead of saying, “I’m going to write,” he said, “I’m going to go to work.”

A similarly elegant piece of advice comes from yoga teacher Irene Perry. “Don’t make it a big deal to say no to outside demands. Think of it like saying, ‘No thank you, I don’t care for any,’ when someone offers you a cup of coffee.”

So, at the risk of sounding selfish, the permission I’m focusing on this month is the…


  1. Love the "no" calendar! This has been a struggle for me too. It DOES get easier... thanks for this post.

  2. SO TRUE! You gotta say "No" every once in a while...

  3. Love your illustrations! I hope the "no" calendar inspires you to keep it up. We need more MTJ books.


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