Just Say, "NO".

"Say no to many things, so that you have room and the opportunity to say yes to great things." - Sean McCabe

Perhaps you can relate when I say it's difficult to say no to people. It's especially challenging to say no to the ones you love, family, friends, or significant others. 

I have a lofty goal of getting out of debt. 

Most of my debt is from student loans. There are so many things I wish I knew ahead of time and there are so many things I wish I did differently, but rather than continuing to reminisce  over past times I am making the changes now.

I can’t keep telling myself that I am going to get out of debt,
yet all my actions point to me carelessly spending the money I do have.
— Keshna Donia

I need to commit to getting out of debt by being wiser in my spending habits - and to do that I have to say no to the little things that add up.

I am learning how to invest, save, pay down my debt and have the courage to say no to the things I simply cannot afford. 

In the past two months, I was approached by a few people to design a logo. There are several reasons I turned down the requests that came my way. 

The Reasons of Why I recently Said No

  1. I am still in the early stages of hand lettering. I have yet to explore varying styles and I am in the process of building my work and my portfolio, I want to be sure that I am the right person for my future clients. 
  2. I am building credibility. By writing and documenting my process, my future clients and collaboration partners will know what to expect from me. 
  3. Saying no allows for the time I need to keep practicing. When I say yes to something I want to commit to it whole-heartedly. I want my yes to hold weight and meaning. 
  4. I want to be sure that I am saying yes to the right client.

Consider this:

No is a complete sentence. You don't owe anyone an explanation. Know your values, and be sure they are uncompromising. When saying no, the other person may not feel your reasons are justified - especially when you offer up an explanation. 

Work on consciously saying NO

Never say maybe when you want to say no. You'll mislead others and give them a false sense of hope. Learn to say no when you mean no and say yes when you mean yes. 

Remember your goals!

I can't stress this enough. I entered youngyetwise roth ira challenge for 2016. I also have my goals for my design studio, and simply being debt free. When I was working for a bank, I shared my goal of wanting to be debt free. Out of a branch of about 13 women (myself included) there were only about 3 people that believed me when I said I wanted and will be debt free. They believed that debt is inevitable, unavoidable, and a part of life. I believe that debt happens because we aren't educated on finances and the way money works. I made a mindset change a long time ago. Now I am taking the steps necessary to reach that goal.

Why We Say Yes

We say yes because have a sense of obligation, we owe someone. Sometimes we feel indebted to someone because of what they've done for us. Saying no comes off as being mean and you don't want to disappoint people. 

Ask Yourself This Question:

Do you want to disappoint other people or do you want to disappoint the future version of yourself? Either way you’ll disappoint someone.
— Sean McCabe

Say no to the wrong clients.

Say no to the wrong ideas.

Say no to the wrong opportunities.

Say no to the wrong circumstances - even if they are willing to pay you money. By saying yes you give up that time.

By saying no to these things you'll make room to say yes to the right things like trips, conferences, spending time with your loved ones and saying yes to the right clients.

Analyze By Asking These Questions:

Is this working?

Is the way the relationship set up and

is the amount I'm getting paid worth it?

Is the process the way I want it to work? If not, is there room to make that relationship an ideal?


Ask yourself:

  • Am I spending enough time to be healthy as a person (physically, mentally, spiritually)?
  • Am I giving myself enough margin?
  • Am I spending enough time with my family, spouse, kids?

Other people won't be aware of where you want to go and what your goals are. You have to know when to say, "No Thank you".

Why You Say No: 

It's your tool for creating time. 

It gives you credits for being able to say yes. 

We say no to make room to say yes to the things that are important. 

What To Say Yes To 

The takeaway from this is not just why to say no or how to say no, it’s about setting up your ability to say yes. Start with the important things first and then work backwards:

  • What do you want to say yes to?
  • What are the things you can’t say yes to right now that you want to say yes to?
  • What do you need to say no to first in order to enable to your yes?
  • How much do you care about the quality of your yes?

I suggest taking the time out and answering these questions honestly for yourself. Choose one thing to focus on, learn to say no to the things that are eating up your time. Get rid of the time wasters so you can say yes to the important things.


What are you saying, "NO" to this week? 

Make it Count: My Systematic Focus for Practicing Handlettering


Finding time when there seems to be none. This can be very difficult. I can honestly say the only way I've found more "time in a day", is to get up earlier and start my day earlier. When people ask me what time I get up, as they hear my response they pause and look at me as though I am crazy,  "4:45 am!? That's too early”, "I could never get up that early! What time do you go to bed?" My ideal bed time is 10 pm. If I am to awake at 4:45 am I have to end my day earlier. Its rewarding to myself to see that I am able to get up and get things done. I'll be honest though it doesn't always work out that way. I still live at home with my mother and siblings, and I don’t have my own room. Here’s a perfect example, last night I was in bed at 10 pm. However, My mom was still cooking in the kitchen (my sleep area is right in the dining room that is serving as my sleep area) and the aromas from the food and pots clanking every now and again prevented me from falling asleep. I also had my Facebook notifications on until I silenced it at about 10:30pm. As for awaking at 4:45 this morning - that didn’t happen. I still made it to the gym, and this was after work but sometimes you just have to adjust and cross things out slowly.

I've realized its all about making systems that work. You have to have one main focus and a system that will work with your focus. Here's an example. My primary focus at the moment is to build my blog while expanding my knowledge on hand lettering. I wake up early to get some writing done. I go to the gym to keep my health in order. I get to work before time to practice a few pieces and post to instagram for public accountability. I practice even more at night when other activities do not take precedence. I prep my food for a day or two in advance. I have an accountability partner for going to the gym, and we have a white board weigh in competition at work, where I am responsible for tracking everyone's weight progress and collecting money.

While I would love to be able to work on my own mini DIY projects all day, I've got a day job to help cover my bills. There is so much to learn while trying to build a platform and at times I feel that I've taken on too much. When I do begin to feel this way, I take a step back and review what is necessary versus what isn’t. I ask myself what I can eliminate and what I need to cut back on.

In order to keep my focus I have to deliberately shut my phone off, choose to not be on Facebook with the never ending scroll, and remove all other distractions. I must admit that it is difficult, but when my mindset is in the right place I am able to get a significant amount of things done within a four hour window. Let’s take today as an example: Though I was slightly tired upon arriving home and had to sit in traffic for more than an hour, I made use of my lunch time and went to the gym. I did an intense cardio workout and ate my actual lunch at my desk. No one can predict traffic - which I ended up in for about and hour. Luckily, I had a left over dish and decided to take that with me and ate that in the midst of traffic. By the time I got home I changed into some casual lounge clothes and opened up my moleskine dotted sketchbook to get straight to work with my lettering. At times It feels as though it is a robotic thing to do. I have alarms set to know what I should be doing at specific times. In all honesty its the only way I can get things done. I write out my to do list and cross them off as I complete them - sometimes I use an app, but physically writing them down, it does something for me.

It’s my way of being organized and seeing that I am getting things done. I’ve been writing things down in a to-do list fashion since high school. When they first gave the students planners. It made me feel like a business woman. I can’t believe I am saying this but at the time we didn’t have cell phones - this was in 2003.

I have to admit, I do slip off my regimented schedule sometimes. I also believe its important to allow buffer time between events and activities because you never know what can come up. When I fall off my schedule I no longer beat myself up, or overly criticize myself. Better for me to fall off and enjoy the moment than to end up feeling burnt out. Though my schedule changes from time to time I am sure to make the time in what I am actually doing count. If I am lettering, and I only have a few minutes, I will letter the best one or two letters of a quote. If I am working out and I am restricted on time, I am going to give that work out the best thirty minuets that I have.

Creating systems has allowed me to stay dedicated to my goals. it prevents me from finding reasons to have an excuse as to why I shouldn’t do something. besides,  "Excuses are tools of incompetence that build monuments of nothingness and those who specialize in them seldom do anything else". (Thomas J. Smith)

The Take Away + Actionable Task:  I write all this to say what ever you do, what ever time you have, Make it count.

Create systems where you take small actionable steps to reach your goals. Have an accountability partner to help you start implementing them.  Listen to seanwes podcast episode 119: How to Get an Extra Day a Week, and read, "How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big," by Scott Adams.

What is Hand Lettering?

Last week we learned very few terminologies used in hand lettering. This we will learn a bit more about the history, definitions and differences of lettering vs typography. Hand-Lettering can be simply defined as “the art of drawing letters”.  Whereas typography is a craft that has been practiced since the Gutenberg’s invention of the movable type. Typography is the skill of setting type. According to the latest Encyclopedia Britannica core definition of typography is that ‘typography is concerned with the determination of the appearance of the printed page’.

When Johannes Gutenberg built his printing press around 1439, the concept of typography, which had been developing slowly, was revolutionized. The moveable type system, metal alloy and casting methods gave the world a practical solution to printing. This gave rise to the discipline of typography as we know it, with kerning, leading and the terms we still use today. Each letter had its own type block on which it sat, and typesetters would arrange the type character by character.

Lettering is often hand drawn, but now with the modern age we use CAD programs such as Adobe Illustrator to convert these drawings into digital pieces.

Due to the increase of digital age, there has been an increasing amount of confusion between lettering and typography, especially since the are often created using the same programs. No longer are we using a brush or letterpress machine or a drafting table and linotype metrics. Lettering and typography are two very different skills and it is important that we as designers know the difference between the two. Understanding the complexities, similarities and differences is what will help us to continue to be great designers in a rapidly changing world.

shifting the focus back to learning lettering and chronicling my journey while providing value


Many of my previous posts revolved around me, and I've recently come to the conclusion, "what am I offering you? What are you able to take away from what I have shared with you in my previous posts?" I decided to go back to the very beginning by practicing a new style of font. I must admit, that I am well aware that I am not known as a hand lettering artist, and I realize that people may feel that I don’t have enough credibility. Even though I am working to build that; often times I do wonder what to share, what it is you want to know, and if what I am sharing is helpful. So, why should people listen to me if I'm just a beginner? Well I believe that going back to the beginning puts me in a prime position where I can ask some of the same questions that you may be having as you start out practicing hand-lettering. It has helped me to go back and put myself in the right mindset asking myself the right questions. What kind of questions am I asking as I start to learn hand lettering?…... -What type face should I study? -After choosing a type face, how do I know where the thick and thin lines will fall in a particular letter? -Should I practice my letters in any particular order?

Sharing our journeys, our stories from the very beginning, as students allow for honesty, growth in education and also allows us to record our growth. I’m learning that even as a beginner there are problems I CAN solve, like helping someone who is also getting started. Everyone doesn't have the funds to start with higher priced courses, and all free resources don't offer the minor details that may be missed. Everyone doesn't learn the same way, people speak different languages and consume information differently.

I am compelled to say however, that although there is a lot you CAN do even as a beginner to help others, you don’t want to act like an expert when you are not. This is where your honesty comes in. Before jumping ahead and attempting to do client work you want to know the basics and be sure that you are approaching your work with professionalism. I will be sure to elaborate on the case of professionalism in more detail in a later blog post.

Today, here's what you need to know. Terminologies.

  • Kerning - the adjusted space between two letter pairs.
  • Cap Height - the height of a letter from the base line.
  • X-Height - sometimes referred as median line, the line lower case letters are based upon the height of lower case "x".
  • Baseline - the (invisible) line your letters rest upon.
  • Negative Space - the space that is not your subject. (the space surrounding your letters).
  • Contrast - light and dark, or thick and thin in reference to letters.

As I continue to chronicle my journey, you will gain knowledge on how to become a better hand-lettering artist and designer. But before I leave, I encourage you to start your journey to hand-lettering also, and if you have any questions be sure to ask!

As you start your hand-lettering journey, what are you struggling with as as a beginner?What specific things would you like to learn?

Building Your Own Cheer-Leading Squad

You know for some time now, as I'm learning what it takes to build a brand, I've also been on a journey to drop a few pounds (since February 2011). When I first started my weight loss journey I was about 165-170. I wanted to get back between 155-165. I was loosing weight by going to the gym, having a personal trainer, and doing P90x with my roommates back in college. The heaviest I've been was 190lbs... Can I get off trail for a little bit here?-

I realize that I get very easily distracted.. For example, at this very moment as I'm typing this, my mind shifted from blogging to bead making. Prior to even writing on the subject I want to address here, I was actually going to type away about, "systems vs goals in order to get things done." It's here, in the midst of my shifting thoughts, that I realized that having a way to stay on track on the journey to your goal(s) is an absolute necessity. I've learned that one of the most effective & important ways to keeping yourself from getting distracted is to have a cheer leading team to keep your momentum going in the direction your want to head in.

How do you that? One simple way is to tell people what your goals are. You do need to set a goal, but you also need to have a support system that will help you work to maintain that goal. For my weight loss goals, I have people checking in on me to see how my progress is going. I have a personal goal to strive to log my food in, "My Fitness Pal," daily for a year. Joining a gym where you get free guest passes, also helps. I can bring someone along every time I go to the gym, and it can be the same person each time. It's a great motivator having someone willing to meet you at the gym. Multiple accountability partners helps in the long run. I'm also in a challenge with my co-workers (Summer bodies bro) to see who can loose the most body percentage weight. I am excited for the scale to go under 180.

As for lettering, I've used instagram as my cheer leading squad. As I see my numbers increase in followers, likes, and comments; I like to see it as people on the sidelines cheering me on. However if I don't get a like, its OK I'm not doing it for them. At the end of the day I do it for me, my future and the overall bigger picture that I can't even see right now.

Being connected with other people who are both aware of, and encouraging you in what you want to accomplish is a great way in helping you focus and keep from being distracted. Unfortunately we will occasionally have our moments when we wander off....but it doesn't have to be the end. You have a set back? Don't worry, Pick up where you left off. And think about the reasons and causes you fell off. The more honest you are with yourself, the better you'll feel, the better you'll do when get back to it, and the easier it'll be to be even more dedicated.

Actually I lied,... it doesn't get easier. It gets harder to be more dedicated. But when it begins to feel more like a chore, always remember the 'WHY,' behind the things you do. It helps to alleviate the doubts that circle around us. I want to leave you with this question:

What good is your wealth if you don't have your health?