Thursday, March 8, 2012


Posted by: Barbara Longley

By Barbara Longley
How many of you have heard these words come from a parent’s mouth? “What’s the magic word?”  How many of you have said these words to your own children? Please and thank you have always been the “magic words” I’m most familiar with, but there’s another. This magic word that has taken me YEARS and YEARS to learn. Though it has only one syllable, it holds enormous magical properties. It’s easy to pronounce and to spell, yet very difficult to articulate for some. There ought to be support groups for those of us who struggle with this magical word. I’ve had to concentrate and practice, but I am proud to announce that I have finally learned how to use this new magic word. It’s becoming easier and easier. Let me give you an example:
My brother and his girlfriend have three dogs between them. I have one dog and one cat. I happened to be at their house when the girlfriend received a call from her friend inviting them to visit her and her husband in Florida. (We live way north.) My brother and his GF would’ve gotten to stay at her friend’s unoccupied, fully furnished condo for free.

I listened with half an ear while my brother and his GF discussed the logistics. The biggest obstacle to their dream vacation by far was their three (very large, smelly and destructive) dogs. Boarding three dogs is very expensive, and they’d both had bad experiences with boarding dogs in the past. The GF’s family was out. They’d proven themselves to be unreliable when it comes to watching their dogs. (An accident? I think not.) My ears perked up as I heard the GF say, “I know! We can have Barb do it!”
Well, let me tell you, the word NO flew out of my mouth so fast, even I was amazed. NO! NO! NO! Wow, I feel the magic and the power coursing through me even now. The girlfriend tried another tack, adding “We’ll pay you. A lot!” Unless the figure yer offering has 6 zeroes in it, NO!
Now I’m like a toddler with her favorite word. I want to use it all over the place. “No” is magic. It’s empowering. I’m finding the word even creates a surplus of time. WOW.
Here’s how it works:
I’m at work, and my principal approaches me and says, “You’re a writer, how about you take over the school newsletter?”
Me: “NO.”
Principal: “You’re a writer. How about you head up the yearbook committee this year?”
Me: “NO!” 
See how it works? I’m telling you, the word contains powerful Ju-Ju, and I’m finding new ways to use this two-letter, one syllable word every day. 


  1. I love the dog story! Three? Oh, you've got to be kidding me. Taking care of dogs is like taking care of little kids, though not quite as much fun as the latter. We have seven (kids, not dogs) and I'm shocked that any of our friends have offered (offered!) to babysit them. More than once.

    "No" is my favorite word, too. :)

  2. With my dog, it would've been FOUR! And I work a day job, so weekends are for writing. My house is tiny, and can you imagine the backyard clean up?? NO! I'm proud of myself for learning that word!

  3. Thanks, Barb, I needed this. LOL. I still have to count myself among those who have trouble articulating this little bit of magic. I get it once in a while, and when I don't, I regret it :-) Anne Lamott puts it another way: Just remember, 'no' is a complete sentence. Ah, some day! Meanwhile -- good for YOU!

  4. I've had problems with the word for years, Liz. Funny it's taken me all this time to learn how to say it. Thanks for stopping by.

  5. OMG, LOVE this! And I want one of those "Hell No" buttons for work. Great post, Barbara! Thanks!

  6. I want one of those Hell No buttons for my desk too! Thanks for commenting.


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