Wigglebutt Wednesday: Yes = No

Have I mentioned lately that canine camaraderie and knitting are mutually exclusive?

Especially at our house. With our Labs.

Last week I posted that I’m trying to complete a 10-for-10 knitting plan: 10 knitting projects in 10 months. That’s all well and good. But here’s what happened when I sat down to try to knit today:

Needless to say, it wasn’t going to happen. Certainly not with Chessie wanting lovin’s, and Tuc competing to show me his bestest bone ever (doncha know every bone is Tuc’s bestest bone ever), and Chessie jumping back into the fray with her own bestest bones, and Pinot jealously vying for her piece of the lovin’s pie. And then there was Merlin, our non-Lab, who needed to know he’s loved, too, noodging his way into the mix to remind me he’s lovable, and, well, that doesn’t leave enough lap room for a knitting project in progress, not to mention that all those canine nudgings and pawings would create a nightmare of tangled yarn.

I gave up. I said “no” to knitting this afternoon.

I had to say “no” to knitting so I could say “yes” to the canine critters (how could I resist those wide, expressive, pleading eyes?).  They weren’t going to let me ignore them.

That’s the way of it, though, isn’t it?

In order to say “yes” to one thing, we necessarily must say “no” to something else. For me to say “yes” to the canine kidlets today meant I had to say “no” to knitting.

This yes = no equation is something we live with all the time, in big things and small. We are finite beings living within the constraints of linear time.

  • “yes” to staying up late = “no” going to bed early
  • “yes” to sleeping in = “no” to seeing the sunrise
  • “yes” to writing a blog post this afternoon = “no” to a taking a nap or running the vaccuum or going for a walk.

If you think about it, all of our lives are made up of continuous mini decisions marked by this yes = no equation.  “Yes” to using my time one way means “no” to using that particular segment of time for something else.

But it isn’t just linear time that resides in this equation; the consquences of our time-related choices live in the equation, too. And, to complicate matters, the sides of the equation can be reversed.  “No” = “yes” as often as “yes” = “no”:

  • “no” to the alarm = “yes” to a rushed morning or being late for work
  • “no” to eating healthy = “yes” to less-than-optimum health
  • “no” to bathing = “yes” to becoming oderiferous (as we call it here) 😛

And the kicker is, unlike the examples above, our decisions aren’t usually between good things and bad things; they’re more often between equally good, perfectly viable options.

  • Take this job or that job?
  • Volunteer with this organization or spend more time with my family?
  • Pursue this hobby or take that class?

What’s a person to do?  Choosing how we spend our minutes on this earth (and it does boil down to minutes and moments, doesn’t it?) makes the difference between a life well-lived and a life not-so-well-lived or even a life wasted. How can I choose when most of my options are between viable, good things?

(Good versus bad choices are easy, so we won’t bother with those here.)

Thirty years ago, when I was an overchieving perfectionist trying to be everything to everybody, a dear older-wiser friend took me aside and said to me in her ever-so-gentle, mild-mannered way, “Joan, sometimes you have to say “no” to very good things in order to say “yes” to the best.”

Sometimes you have to say “no” to very good things in order to say “yes” to the best.

Wow. Recognizing that most of my choices were between good and good, not good and bad, somehow took the pressure off.  First, I didn’t have to do everything; just because something was good didn’t mean I had to do it. I could say “no” to good in order to say “yes” to something better.  Second, whatever I chose, it was going to be okay.  Either way, all would be well, yet I had the freedom to choose the best instead of trying to do it all or just settling for good

But what is the best? The “best” will, of course, change from day to day, hour to hour, moment to moment. Among other things, it depends on circumstances, timing, needs of the moment, values, priorities, and our season of life. What may have been “best” in my twenties may not be “best” now in my late fifties.

But the yes = no equation (and its reverse, no = yes) remains.

This afternoon I said “no” to a very good thing (working on my grandson’s stocking) in order to say “yes” to the best choice for today’s moment (paying attention to and lovin’ on the canine kids). They needed that from me, and truth be told, I needed that time with them, too. Knitting could wait.

Had it been the month before Christmas when the pressure was on to have that Christmas stocking finished, my “yes” would most certainly have been to my knitting project instead of to the doggies (different timing, circumstances, and priorities).

No, Yes, Good, Best. My friend’s kind words echo in my head still, even now, three decades later. Considering what’s best vs. what’s good usually clarifies decisions for me. And when the choice isn’t clear, particularly about a big decision, I seek advice from those who know me best. Yet, the guiding principle remains:

Sometimes you have to say “no” to very good things in order to say “yes” to the best.

That’s counsel I can live with. And I do. And it’s a principle the wigglebutt crew reminded me of earlier as they wiggled their way into my priorities for the day. They’re better for that choice, and I am, as well.

(Besides, I still have nine months to finish that Christmas stocking. 🙂 😛 )

Speaking of better and best, it’s time for me to say “no” to writing anymore this evening (though writing is a good thing) in order to say “yes” to going to bed and getting some rest (the best thing for me tonight).

So, goodnight all. Happy Wigglebutt Wednesday. Tomorrow’s a new day filled with yesses and nos and opportunities to choose the best. May we choose well.

’til next time,









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I'm a middle-aged woman, a love-my-seeester twin, a happy 37-year wife to my BFF, mother of four terrific thirty-something kids, MeeMaw to three precious grands, Momma to three Labrador retrievers (Pinot, Tuc, and Chessie) and silly mutt named Merlin, and all around kid-at-heart who loves the outdoors, finds giggle-factor in the ordinary, and is relishing this Autumn phase of her life. It may be Autumn, but there's so much more to learn and explore! Won't you join me?

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