Archive for Saying NO! Posts

published in Inspiration, Saying NO!, Travel by Maryanne | May 4, 2018 | 10 Comments

Non Madame – Parisians Know How to Say No


MA in raspberry beret (found in a second hand store), waiting for the Metro

“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.”

– Henry David Thoreau

Bonjour Mesdames et Messieurs!

Parisians know how to say no. I lost count of the times Heather and I were given a polite but firm no over the past ten days.

Me (in a restaurant): “Can we sit here?”

Waiter: “Non Madame.”

Heather (en francais, in grocery store): “Can I pay for my groceries in this line?

Cashier: “Non Madame.”

Random tourist in front of Sainte Chapelle: “Can I go in the church?”

Security guard: “Non Madame.” (fair enough – it was closing for a concert)

Sometimes the reason for the no is clear; other times not so much. But it doesn’t matter. No is no. I love it. As a woman who has struggled with the art of saying no for (gulp) half a century, I loved the ease with which the Parisians could do so – politely, firmly and with no obligation to provide an excuse or reason.

So when the cashier at the boulangerie around the corner from our sweet little VRBO (Mon Petit Maison) tried to give me a tattered and torn 5 euro bill in change, I shook my head, smiled and said, “Non Madame.”

She was NOT pleased. But you know what? That’s just too damn bad. If you can give a no, you can take one, too.

And that, mes amis, is a little lesson on boundaries for today 🙂

Here are some more photos from the ever so lovely (except when the streets are on fire during protests, as they were the night before we left) Paris:

Grande Roue de Paris at Place de la Concorde

Strolling the Jardin des Tuileries


Behind the iconic clock at Musée d’Orsay


Gorgeous courtyard near Place des Vosges


Unbelievably beautiful Hall of Mirrors at Palais Garnier (Opera House)


Love this shot of Heathe outside the Palace of Versailles – rather Alice in Wonderland!


Gold as far as the eye can see at the Palace of Versailles

MA & Heathe in the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles

The back of the Palace of Versailles…here comes the rain!

A few more Paris photos to come in next week’s blog…


Related blogs by Maryanne

Salut Mes Amis!

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her regular weekly blog, please sign up here. As a thank you, you’ll receive a short but saucy e-book entitled, Dive into this Chicago Deep Dish – Ten Bite-Sized Steps for a Yummier Slice of Life

published in Anger, Book Reviews, Boundaries, Depression, Health, Saying NO! by Maryanne | June 6, 2017 | 4 Comments

In Sickness & in Health – When The Body Says No


“When we have been prevented from learning how to say no, our bodies may end up saying it for us.”

– Gabor Maté

If you haven’t read Gabor Maté’s book, When the Body Says No; The Cost of Hidden Stress, I highly recommend it. I borrowed a copy from a friend a year ago and read it in small chunks, here and there, as there was an awful lot of content – and supporting case studies – to consider, in terms of the role we play in our own health. It is not a particularly comfortable read but it is extremely enlightening.

“It is a sensitive matter to raise the possibility that the way people have been conditioned to live their lives may contribute to their illness.” 

– Gabor Maté, When the Body Says No

Drawing on scientific research and the author’s decades of experience as a practicing physician, When the Body Says No examines the effect of the mind-body connection on illness and health and the role that stress and one’s individual emotional makeup play in conditions and diseases such as arthritis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome and multiple sclerosis.

Here are a just a few highlights from the book:

“People have always understood intuitively that mind and body are not separable. Modernity has brought with it an unfortunate dissociation, a split between what we know with our whole being and what our thinking mind accepts as truth.”

“Our immune system does not exist in isolation from daily experience.”

“Many of us live, if not alone, then in emotionally inadequate relationships that do not recognize or honour our deepest needs.”

“When emotions are repressed, this inhibition disarms the body’s defences against illness.”

“Repression – dissociating emotions from awareness and relegating them to the unconscious realm – disorganizes and confuses our physiological defences so that in some people these defences go awry, becoming the destroyers of health rather than its protectors.”

“The blurring of psychological boundaries during childhood becomes a significant source of future physiological stress in the adult. There are ongoing negative effects on the body’s hormonal and immune systems, since people with indistinct personal boundaries live with stress; it is a permanent part of their daily experience to be encroached on by others. However, that is a reality they have learned to exclude from their direct awareness.”

“The research literature has identified three factors that universally lead to stress: uncertainty, the lack of information and the loss of control. All three are present in the lives of individuals with chronic illness.”

“Repression of anger increases the risk for cancer for the very practical reason that it magnifies exposure to physiological stress. If people are not able to recognize intrusion, or are unable to assert themselves, even when they do see a violation, they are likely to experience repeatedly the damage brought on by stress.”

“Physiological stress is the link between personality traits and disease. Certain traits – otherwise known as coping styles – magnify the risk for illness by increasing the likelihood of chronic stress. Common to them all is a diminished capacity for emotional communication.”

“The gut, or intestinal tract, is much more than an organ of digestion. It is a sensory apparatus with a nervous system of its own, intimately connected to the brain’s emotional centres.”

“Gut feelings, pleasant or unpleasant, are part of the body’s normal response to the world – they help us interpret what is happening around us and inform us whether we are safe or in danger.”  

“The repression of negative emotion is a chronic and significant source of damaging stress.”

“Characteristics of many persons with rheumatoid diseases is a stoicism carried to an extreme degree, a deeply ingrained reticence about seeking help.”

“Repressed anger will lead to disordered immunity. The inability to process and express feelings effectively, and the tendency to serve the needs of others before even considering one’s own, are common patterns in people who develop chronic illness.”

“The less powerful partner in any relationship will absorb a disproportionate amount of the shared anxiety – which is the reason that so many more women than men are treated for, say, anxiety or depression. (The issue here is not strength but power: that is, who is serving whose needs?)

“Healthy anger leaves the individual, not the unbridled emotion, in charge.”

“Health rests on three pillars: the body, the psyche and the spiritual connection. To ignore any one of them is to invite imbalance and dis-ease.”

For further information about the book and author, here is the link.

Related blogs by Maryanne:

Anger in the Garden – Pruning Back for Future Growth

When Our Body Says No, We’d Be Wise to Listen

Back Off Baby – You Just Crossed My Boundary

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her regular weekly blog, please sign up here.

published in Boundaries, Change, Confrontation, Relationships, Saying NO! by Maryanne | November 4, 2014 | 2 Comments

Back Off Baby – You Just Crossed My Boundary


In early October, I took a rather enlightening course at Royal Roads University entitled, Boundaries – Learn to Say No to Others and Yes to Yourself.

When the two instructors teaching the course, Shannon Beauchamp and Valerie Watt, asked the class what people actually thought boundaries were, the answer “a line in sand” came up several times. But a line in the sand, the instructors reminded us, is easily erased – our boundaries shouldn’t be.

line in the sand

Yes, our boundaries will shift and change over time but if they are washed away with every tide – e.g. each time we get asked to do something and want to say no but hear ourselves saying yes – then they aren’t going to be of much use.

On the other hand, if our boundaries are carved in stone – if we automatically say no to everything that might infringe on our pre-set boundaries – then we may miss out on some fabulous opportunities.

The instructors then asked the class what makes it so difficult to set boundaries in the first place? Here were some of the answers:

  • Guilt
  • Fear of not being liked
  • Sense of obligation
  • Low self worth
  • Fear of being wrong
  • Wanting to please others
  • Fear of conflict
  • Fear of being judged


Check, check, check…and check.

The instructors then addressed the importance of looking at our underlying core beliefs because those are where we’ll begin to discover what drives our decisions to set – or not set – boundaries.

In other words, learning about boundaries isn’t just about learning to say no. If you don’t look at the reasons behind saying no, the same scenarios will keep coming up again and again until you figure it out…rather like the film, Groundhog Day 🙁

It took me awhile to wrap my head around this concept – but I think I have, if for no other than reason than I’d have to be a complete idiot not to have noticed that the same damn situation keeps re-appearing in my life. Different people, different location, different circumstances – but the exact same personality-type!

And that personality type is this: people who want more from me than I have – or want – to give. And the lesson for me, in the Boundaries Curriculum, is this: it’s up to me to let them know what my boundaries are.

And trust me, I’ve been on the other side of this boundary business more often than I care to admit: me wanting more from others than they have to give. As such, I have learned a great deal about boundaries when people have politely but firmly (usually through silence) showed me theirs.

What about when it comes to setting boundaries for ourselves?

About halfway through the class, one gal stuck her hand up and confessed she had no trouble setting boundaries between herself and other people. But when it came to setting boundaries for herself to adhere to, that’s where she ran into trouble.

My ears perked up. As a writer with the propensity to overwork, I know all about the danger of not setting boundaries for myself. It was actually my dog, Soda, who taught me how to set working-from-home boundaries – and stick to them. At 5pm every day, she would come to wherever I was working and start barking for her dinner.

But it wasn’t just a cute little bark. It was a shrill this-is-your-quitting-time-bell-and-time-to-feed-me-NOW bark. And she would not stop barking until I got up, turned off the computer and went into the kitchen.


Soda Pope

Even though Soda is gone now, it is a very rare day indeed that I would ever consider working past 5pm. And if do, I can hear her barking in my head!

Then another woman in the class had a confession to make. I will share it because I don’t think she’s alone on this one. She said she was hesitant to put a boundary in place because that might lead to conflict, which terrified her.

“Fair enough,” said one of the instructors. “But conflict can be rather helpful, as it teaches you whether a relationship is worth it or not.”

Uncomfortable as it is, conflict does have much to teach us…as I would soon learn.

Here’s another gem of wisdom from the Boundary Ladies: if you’re saying yes when you would prefer to be saying no, you need to look at how you are spending the bulk of your time – for how you spend your time reflects what you truly value.

Time is a non-renewable resource – once a day is gone, you never get it back again.

Another hand shot up. “But if I say no, that could potentially mean the end of a relationship…and what if I end up regretting that ending?”

“Flip the fear,” replied one instructor. “Maybe if a relationship ends, it’s not the worst thing that ever happens?”

And this nugget was the very last thing I took from the course: Responsibility is response-ability: you get to choose how you respond to something.

Then, armed with all this newfound knowledge about boundaries, I headed back into the big bad world/classroom of life. And wouldn’t you know it but a week after the course, I found myself completely overstepping someone else’s boundaries. I just barged right on through that good ‘ol boundary and spoke my truth – which, in hindsight, wasn’t necessarily THE truth but rather the truth as I knew it, based on my experience.

I won’t get into specifics but let’s just say my candour went over like a lead balloon.

I felt absolutely dreadful for saying something that ended up being so hurtful to a close friend. But here’s the thing: instead of apologizing for my behaviour, I defended it! Because upon closer reflection, I realized that, right or wrong, my reaction was telling me how I genuinely felt about the subject matter, which happened to be about how, as pet owners, our powerful emotions – such as grief, anger, sorrow, fear and anxiety – can impact our pets.

In fact, I felt so strongly about this, that when I was working on the book manuscript about my dogs, Sable and Soda, that week (go figure), I realized I had inadvertently, through conflict, stumbled upon the very theme of the book.

So there you have it, boundaries do need to be in place for good reason. But if we find ourselves in the difficult position of overstepping someone else’s boundaries,  we can’t expect it will always be warmly received – even if it is coming from a place of love. But as one who has been on the receiving end of an awful lot of tough love over the years, I wonder if perhaps some boundaries are meant to be crossed…just not many and not often.

Maryanne Pope is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. She is the author of A Widow’s Awakening and the upcoming book, Barrier Removed; A Tough Love Guide to Achieving Your Dreams. If you would like to receive her weekly blog, please sign up here.