... the tales of two sisters

Dana lives in Seattle, and Tracie lives in Germany. We are businesswomen, writers and humorists. We write about life, dating, and today's modern women.

Getting to Know NO! Boundaries

This is a topic I have been eager to write about. I work with a life coach, and this is a topic I struggle with daily. I have tried to dissect why I allow boundaries to be crossed where I am left feeling annoyed, put upon, drained, and frankly often used.

I am a people person and I love connecting others. As a Menopausebarbee, I have lived enough decades to have a plethora of friends and associates from all walks of life. I am a youth advocate and am on the Advisory Board of Treehouse for Foster Kids, Odesssa Brown Children’s Hospital Guild, and an active board member of MoPop. I support numerous other local charities. I truly believe the quote, “You have never really live until you have done something for someone who cannot repay you.” BUT… There are limits and today, I want to address them.

For starters, I was raised by a man who did not respect boundaries. Loved my father madly. He remains the most interesting character I have ever encountered. Handsome, funny, brilliant, wildly successful and unpredictable however, his crossing boundaries in our lives was a lifetime struggle. I remember one birthday card Daddy gave me and the sentiment read, “Today is Your Day… Enjoy it!” A photo of a horse beaming in the sunshine illuminated the cover. The inside read, “Because Tomorrow it’s Back to Mine.” The horse was sullen and under clouds. Daddy thought this card was hysterical as it was how he viewed our lives.

Those that remember my father will recall our home was a revolving open house 24-7. If you had a problem, over a whisky cola, Daddy would council. He loved to join battles. I believe he genuinely enjoyed the chaos, and therefore, my siblings and I were forced to picket establishments, even when we didn’t particularly support a cause. There were often acts of human kindness, but again, boundaries were crossed. I recall many Thanksgiving dinners when our mom would have the table immaculately set to rival a Martha Stewart setting and Daddy would roll in with homeless transients to join us.

Growing up, I saw these acts as teaching us compassion and as Daddy would express exposing us and keeping it “real.” Many days our family road trips would detour from Disneyland to The Projects. Imagine me at 8 with my Micky Mouse Ears walking through the Mar Vista Gardens.

As an adult, Daddy never differentiated that I might have other interest, plans or desires. He showed up at my house daily, refusing to call ahead and hours upon hours he would pontificate or bring whatever crisis which needed solving and people in need. As a young adult, I didn’t have the voice to express my rage for the intrusion of my privacy. I felt guilty if I put my foot down.

I admit, based on years of allowing boundaries to be defined by others, I am a work in progress. I have come to learn that saying NO is not a bad thing. In this day and age with cell phones and social media, people can track your every move. I have come to learn that people have a source of entitlement to your time, resources, social and financial capital and bounty. I am coming to use my voice and just say NO.

I often joke that my knees get tired from begging for whatever charitable cause I have at hand. But the best gift I have received from my years in philanthropy has been watching other highly successful individuals navigate the NO. These individuals are so grounded because they are under siege daily. No can be gracious and eloquent. I have great respect for these individuals who have mastered this. It’s not a maybe… it’s not a we’ll see, it’s not a I’ll think about it, or I’ll get back to you- it’s just Sorry, NO.

These are lessons I am teaching my daughter as she has embarked on her first year of college. She is confined in a small cubicle with two other roommates, where boundaries are bound to be crossed. Simple requests as please don’t sit on my bed, and no I don’t loan my clothes, or please respect my need for quiet study time are boundaries she is learning which will last her a lifetime. I just wished I had learned this earlier in life.

Get to Know NO!