Learning to just say no (so you can say yes)

Have you ever walked into a room full of people and realized that you just don’t fit in? Like you felt like you did once upon a time, but you have changed to the point to where you aren’t in the same headspace you once were? You’ve either gotten older or wiser, or maybe you’ve just realized that life is too short to spend it trying to impress anyone.

That was me recently when I went to a blog conference.

Don’t get me wrong, the conference itself was amazing. The organizers did a great job, going above and beyond expectations to create an amazing event. But my heart just wasn’t in it. And I’m sure that was pretty much apparent to anyone I spoke to.

Here’s the thing: I’ve been speaking at conferences all over the country for four years. I LOVE connecting with other people who want to grow their blogs or brands. It’s one of my favorite things about what I do. I love sharing what I’ve learned through all of my successes and failures and try to make sense of all these years of chaos to help other people grow their businesses and succeed. It makes my heart burst with joy when someone tells me how their shop has exploded with sales or how their blog is gaining traffic every day from the things they’ve learned from me.

I also love conferences because it gives me the opportunities to have face time with my sponsors that I typically talk to via email or an occasional phone call. I’ve been blessed to create partnerships with brands who believe in me just as much as I believe in them – and I am always grateful for that interaction.

But then there are the others who sometimes leave me feeling a little weird. I almost said outcast – but I truly am comfortable in my own skin. I am the girl rocking blue hair and flip flops in a sea of stilettos. I am who I am – no matter who is around me. I act no different if I am by myself, with my husband or even rubbing elbows with a true celebrity (not the blog kind). Forty years on this earth has taught me that life is too short to worry about how someone else perceives me. As long as I can be proud of who I am in front of my God, then I’m cool. My heart, my laugh and my hair are all incredibly big.

So as I’m wandering around in a sea of folks who are so very different from who I am, I realized that I was in the wrong place. Once again, it’s me – not them. I made the choice to try and fit myself into that world, which honestly I’m just not a good fit for. (See, one of those failures.)

you are what you love not who loves you


I left that conference and then went the very next night to see my favorite band (Fall Out Boy) in concert. After 20 years of playing music together, those four guys were still having a blast on stage. They laughed and danced and had as much fun as the crowd did. It kind of left me wondering why I kept doing conferences if they didn’t make me happy anymore.

My point isn’t about how I feel bad for myself, it’s more about how you – no matter what situation you’re in – can look around and say “This doesn’t work.” That could be a room that’s driving you nuts, a church you don’t feel like you fit in any more, or even a friendship that requires more energy for worry than for fun. It’s ok to walk away. It’s ok to take a long, hard look around you and say you need to step back or change direction.

None of this has to do with my blog – it’s all about the conference circuit and how I want to change my own direction. Ok, I guess it has a little to do with the blog, because honestly instead of traveling all over this beautiful country, I just want to stay still for a while and work. I’m ready to throw myself into one of the biggest projects I’ve ever taken on and enjoy every last second of it. I want to do my own thing, dance to my own beat, and sink my teeth into creating things that I’m smitten with. Because that’s the part that I truly enjoy.

project houseYesterday I started working on the house of one of my best friends. We’ve been friends for 25 years and she has given me the honor of literally letting me have free reign to decorate her entire house. She and her husband have spent the last two years doing all of the major repair work to the house, but haven’t decorated it at all (because they have no idea on how to even start) – so I’m going to jump in with both feet and start turning her entire four level home into something that reflects them and create spaces that will welcome their friends and family to enjoy.

It’s going to be a long process, but I’ll also get to do things that I’ve never had the chance to do before and even have a little fun to go along with her bold personality. I can’t wait to share all of the awesomeness that’s headed your way. I’m thinking epic proportions.

Saying no to traveling lets me say yes to spending time with my family, my friends, and even my work. All of which I love. And that’s better than a swag bag any day of the week.

About Gina Luker

Gina Luker is a writer, photographer and lover of all things quirky. She's usually found with a drill in one hand and a cocktail in the other while blogging along the way. She's addicted to coffee, polka dots, rock stars, Instagram, and everything aqua.


  1. Teresa H. Fields says:

    Appreciate what you had to say. Learning to say n is hard, but brings a bit of freedom and an opportunity for God to bring in new adventures. Have fun

  2. Karin Buenger says:

    Good job!!! You must be kind to yourself. Can’t wait to see what you do with the house!

  3. I love that you are being honest about your feelings here. Obviously a lot of people are reporting back from that conference and it is great to get some different perspectives from it, not just a whole lot of OMG! OMG! (not that there is anything wrong with that!). Can’t wait to follow along and see what you do with your friend’s house!

  4. I think you took something very important away from this, what may be, your last conference: self realization. You said “See, one of those failures.” I think perhaps that was a typo. It should read “See, one of those victories.”

    Blessings to you!

  5. From the perspective of a 60-something person, you’ve GOT IT!! Life IS short. We get to pick the events we
    really want to be a part of! You go girl! I can’t wait to see pictures of your house decorating project. Are you familiar with http://www.graphicsfairy.com? They have wonderful graphics and fonts for you to use for any of your furniture re-dos, etc. And it’s all free! Have fun. Lg.

  6. Good for you to do what is best for you. Sometimes we have to step back and re-evaluate how we are spending our time. Can’t wait to see the house you are going to work on.

    • Gina Luker says:

      Yes! Guarding my time is becoming more and more prevalent these days. Stay tuned for the house makeover – I can’t wait to share it ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Debra Schramm says:

    Good for you! Looking forward to seeing how you decorate your friend’s house.

  8. This is profound, and something I needed to see. Good for you for realizing these things early in life. Look forward to the decorating progress. You always provide loads of inspiration!

  9. Gina, although I am not a DIY-er, I become one vicariously through your blog. I love your decorating style, your “middle-class” (stated as a compliment!) fiscal responsibility, and the frequency of your posts. I have also always admired your honesty: what works/doesn’t work; setbacks in decorating and in life; reasons for your choices; etc. I think your today’s post rings true for every person at some time in her/his life. Thanks for sharing this personal experience, thus giving others permission and courage to act upon the age-old adage of “know thyself.” Personal freedom and joy are direct results of that empowerment.

  10. As always your honesty and truth about your inner self are so inspirational. I’m pretty sure that we have all felt this way at times-well, I know I have. It’s so refreshing to have someone talk openly about it.

    Life is too short to waste feeling bad or not doing what you know you will love-using your amazing talents. Have fun with the house.



  11. This really resonated with me. I have skipped a couple conferences recently, even though I had the opportunity to go. I thought I’d spend the weekend scrolling my Instagram feed green with envy and filled with regret… but that wasn’t the case. There was much for me to do here, and home was where I needed to be.
    That doesn’t mean I’m giving up conferences… just that I’m being more selective. I can’t clone myself; I have to decide where I really belong.

  12. Thank you for posting this article. I have finally, after 43 years, becoming my own person. I too am so tired of trying to please EVERYONE! It feels great to think about me first. You go girl! Love your reading your blog and can not wait to see what you will be doing to your friends house. Take care, Tracy

  13. Camille W says:

    Gina, I’ve been following you for a little over a year now. You grabbed me with so many ‘small’ projects that as a beginner I felt confident to do and grow with that. I have also seen you change into the things that you WANTED to do – not just hangin’ doing the same thing because that’s where you started. I think it’s refreshing! No one stays the same – we all change as our interests and life needs change. I too am in the 60+ set and have learned to say no when needed. It’s hard when you’ve led a life of ‘oh sure, I can do that’. It IS liberating, though!!! I think it’s great you see where you need to be and not need to be. Iit’s awesome your friend has given you free reign!!! I have a sister that I’m passing the decorating along to. I’m a good ‘copy cat’, but not original! lol I can do the idea, just not so much on the creation part (well, sometimes).

    You’re doing what’s good for Gina, which in turn is good for your family. You Go, Girl!

  14. This is why I LOVE you! I loved that when I met you, I walked into the bar and there you were, blue hair, sweatshirt on, sipping on a cocktail by yourself and totally comfortable about it all!! And as a fellow non-heel wearer, I TOTALLY get it all ; ) You are awesome!

  15. This post really struck a chord with me – I had a similar feeling a year ago when I decided to “retire” and spend my time doing what I wanted to do, NOW, rather than working for another 10-15 years in order to be able to “afford” to retire and spend my time doing what people said one should do when they retire (move to a place in the sun, vacation in Europe, yadda, yadda). It was one of the best decisions I ever made; Could Not Be Happier! Just wished I’d had this “a-ha” moment at 40 like you have had. Can’t wait to see what fun, creative style you bring to a whole-house project. As has been said and said again “You GO girl!”

  16. I love your blog and your website and your comments rang a bell with me. I recently moved across the country to be with my true love, I moved from a pensionable job and from every single family member (I miss them) but I had to follow my heart. I am blessed to have found a job in my field but I don’t fit in and in my previous life that would have bothered me today it doesn’t. I am not a glamour girl, I am who I am, take me or leave me. I am very comfortable in my own skin and walk to the beat of my own drum. I’ve learned only to say yes to the things that make my heart sing because life is way too short. Keep up the great blogging – I just bought my first house in my new province and it is a real fixer upper but I know I’m up for the challenge and I can’t wait to see what ideas I can recreate from your site and your projects.
    You are an inspiration and I thank you. God Bless!

  17. I’m a “newbie” blogger, so finding you was so lucky for me!! Love your truth and honesty! I’m a follower now!

  18. to find yourself and know yourself at such a young age is Impowering and the knowledge you now have will make your life less stressful and so much happier.
    I eel a sense of happy inside myself just reading your words.
    thank you~!

  19. When I cornered you at the conference and talked your head off, I told you then that your posts resonate with me. (At least I think I said that. I was babbling so much it’s hard to say.) Your blog inspires me to try new things (love that Silhouette pillow project!) and to not be so afraid to put myself out there. I know that whatever you end up doing with your friend’s house, it’s going to be amazing!

  20. I think you have been I empowered. Just go with it. It is another phase of life. Learning how far afield.you can go comfortably. You’ve learned a lot.

  21. Lisa Marie says:

    Loved your comment..I have been following your blog for awhile and it is interesting that this has been the theme of my life this last 6 months..I have been reading Brene Brown’s,” Gifts of Imperfection”, which totally freed me up to make a change professionally and look at my life and just accept where I fit in and where I don’t and be okay with being me.
    It’s time to stop the mantra, we are not..and begin to believe, we are enough just who we are….
    Rock those flip flops, high heels hurt too much anyways…:)

  22. Gina, I love this post. It is so honest and real, kind of how I felt at Haven last year, but as a young and new blogger. Always stay true to you. That is what makes you special.

  23. You already know how much I get this. Love you and every second we got to spend together this last weekend, girl. Cannot WAIT to see this home makeover. xoxo

  24. I am so glad to hear you say that! I have thought about going to conferences, but have decided not to. I too do not think I would fit in. I am just not a very fancy person and to be honest standing around at a conference just would not be my thing. However, I have heard others say that they have gone and it was kind of like being back in high school. So, for me, I think I too will just stay home.

  25. When I started reading that you were going to step back and change direction I was afraid that you were talking about ending your blog. I’m so glad that no going to happen. I love your sense of style. It’s beautiful as well as practical. Looking forward to seeing how you decorate this house.

  26. Gina, thank you so much for writing this. I truly get where you are coming from, and had the same feelings about not fitting in. Last weekend I felt a little bit like I was back in middle school, wasn’t a “cool girl” then either. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I learned so much and have so much room to grow that I’ll have to continue pushing myself to attend conferences, until I have your confidence! ๐Ÿ™‚
    Tearing up a little here, so appreciate your words! <3

  27. Hi Gina..

    One of the reasons I started working online (2005) was so I could do exactly what you’re talking about.. follow my own path regardless of how others wanted to follow theirs.

    Now, everyone talks about getting out there.. networking.. yada ya.. and I’m like you. That’s not really my personality. It’s not what I enjoy. I positively LOVE sitting at my computer with free hours ahead of me and blogging work to do!

    Good for you for listening to that voice inside that’s true to your heart.

    Fun, fun with your new project ~ darlene ๐Ÿ™‚

  28. Gina. Always admired a person who marches to the beat of their own drum. Don’t apologize for being smart enough to know what’s best for you. Love your blog and looking forward to your project.

  29. Catherine says:

    Ha! God is working on making some changes in my direction right now and I can’t quit see it yet. I went from the nester talking about seasons for no and seasons for yes, now here. Thanks for the perspective, I’m feeling the same way! Off to start a new adventure!

  30. Good for you for being genuine. I found that I got sick and tired of trying to please everyone. When I no longer could put on my happy face, I felt liberated, so free! I wish I were there with you. We would have talked and laughed.

  31. Hi Gina,
    I’ve followed your blog for several years and enjoy both your honesty and your projects. I’m glad that you have learned how to say ‘no’ to things that are not working for you anymore. I didn’t learn that until I was much older than you, and it was a very hard lesson for me. I’m so glad that God has given you this wisdom early, so that you have more time to enjoy it. Sometimes, it is more fun to be at home than anywhere else in the whole wide world.

  32. Penny Neeld says:

    One of the great gifts that a little age brings…..be who you are….what’s that quote, “those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” I love your blog, I love your style and I love your ability to be you.

  33. Thanks for expressing yourself on this Gina. I feel your words describe how I feel too but I couldn’t quite figure it out. Perhaps I’m growing into a more wiser, mature version of myself and I just can’t fake it anymore, and the best part is I don’t want to anymore. I always knew I was different and had difficulty meshing, but I suppose my insecurities tried to fit in anyway even when I felt such a struggle within. I’m becoming more comfortable & purposeful with saying “no” and making time for the people, functions and activities that I truly want to be a part of. Thanks again for this message you shared! Allison

  34. “Like”.

    (a lot)

  35. Gina,

    I have to say thank you! You see this is something I’ve been dealing with off and on for the past… oh I don’t year, maybe longer if I was truly honesty with myself. I am NOT a blogger… there I said it! I have a blog and I blog once in a blue moon but honestly my heart is not in it, not like it once was. Do I enjoy the interaction? Yes, most definitely! Do I love creating, crafting, sharing ideas? Yes! But at 49 I finally realized it is the relationships I cherish. some folks i’ve met via blogs i’ve clicked with immediately but have neglected them in the past three years. For this i’m deeply sorry. others are acquaintances who one day i would like to develop closer friendships with but one or two have become close friends.. a sister… and now i am doing what i have come to realize is the one things i have loved all along. being an encourager AND decorating! on a budget no less!! our home is starting to reflect us, truly reflect us. i’m able to help friends out who had no idea where to start or how they are even going to be able to afford. we are decorating on a shoestring and LOVING it!! So thank you! Thank you for being an inspiration!!


  1. […] to make a color block plant stand makeover! In case you wondered, this is the first sneak peek of my friend’s home makeover – we’re starting with the dining room (which is now complete – YAY!) Stay tuned […]

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