What happens if we get vulnerable enough to let life lead?
What is the outcome of surrendering? Well, here’s my experience…
In January 2011 I thought it would be a fun experiment to exercise a “Yes (wo)Man” approach to life. I was inspired by the 2008 Jim Carrey movie which presented a provocative approach to letting the future happen. So, I thought rather than forcing upon my future, some idea of what it “should” be, I decided that ANY opportunity presented would be a new chance for me to say YES! and so, I did.
For one whole year I totally Accepted, I surrendered and I said “YES” to nearly everything.
I decided that I had to do it with a whole heart and with no exceptions to the most minimal of requests unless of course they would do harm to me or someone else. Because, I may be open-minded but, I am no dummy. There were definitely unforeseen obstacles — I found out that it is indeed impossible to be in more than one place at one time– so yes, a few sacrificial no’s were inevitable. However, for the majority of my year I took on saying YES with an open heart.
In many ways I was born to be happy. I am a natural optimist- and when life gets sticky there seems to be a strong grounding force that always pulls me back into– the joy of it all. I accredit this grounding to my parents.
Being loved as a child conditioned me to feel empowered in my self exploration.
Mid 2010 I consciously decided that no amount of financial security gained in any job that wasn’t maximizing my potential was worth it. So, basically I had begun the process of shedding the fear of being poor. By most standards my whole life we were”poor” but, in my heart we have been very rich. I knew that unless my energy was being spent in a way that satisfied, fulfilled my higher calling it wouldn’t serve anyone. So, my 2011 decision to GO YES wasn’t because I was having a dark night of the soul or because I went through some trauma or was super depressed. It was simply a feeling of knowing there was more out there for me… to be. And wanting to follow THAT feeling…
The first six months of my year I was teaching dance and had returned to school full time.
This was no small task. At times I felt I might lose my mind- it was also one of the most gratifying things I’ve ever accomplished. I completed 2 semesters with a 4.0 and said YES to an insurmountably amount of invites— to stuff! Lots of places and people and things to do. I found myself rallying in parades, attending music festivals, house/dog/baby sitting, trips to Hawaii, San Francisco, and Arizona- and and and… saying YES to spending a copious amount of time with my beautiful family. Amidst the chaos of saying YES to everything…
I fell madly in love with bike riding after accepting an invitation to train & ride across my hometown state of Iowa in Ragbrai 2012.
One thing was certain… Money was no longer a determinant . I had started saying YES and there was no turning back. I didn’t have a lot of it, money that is—- but what I did have I was using to take me to some awesome places!
Emotional wounds and spiritual windows were being opened, as stigmas were being busted down, and I was there… for it all… learning the art of habitual acceptance.
I couldn’t remember a time when I was invited to more occasions in my life. It seemed like I was never not doing something. The truth was that I had been given those opportunities before but, normally I’d have declined 75% of those chances to share with others,-out of the joy I find in being alone. But, I was now saying YES and I was finding myself ABLE (and available) to relate to people. I was relearning and actually starting to enjoy the company of others. This was an important step in rebuilding a relationship of trust with the outside world. For many years I have built sturdy walls (of distrust) to protect myself from getting hurt by others. Only now can I see how this has limited me– it’s actually quite rewarding to share, when we get out of our own way. To be quite frank, there came a point mid year, where I wondered if I would be able to handle the realities of saying YES to everything. It was exhausting but, I found myself actually being happy a lot.
In retrospect the “people filled” portion of my early year perfectly coincided with the solitude I would find in the later part of 2011.
It was clear that my willingness to accept things was dramatically influencing the direction of my year— in April, I was given an opportunity to volunteer in Bali by a remarkable professor I met fulfilling a GE requirement during winter session. It was an awesome opportunity to put my YES into action.
My bank account said “Hell No” but, my heart said “Yes”. The story would go… that with the help and generosity of others I departed on July 30th headed to South East Asia headed on a journey that would change my life.
I left thinking I would be gone and return in a month with a fun travel story. This is not what happened. Because, I stayed. I stayed a lot longer. As I boarded the plane I had a distinct premonition that this trip was going to guide me and it absolutely did. And so it went…
I was offered a place to volunteer in Thailand for 3 months in September, traveled up and down that country and returned to Bali after being presented with an extended opportunity to return in late November. Leaving the country was a choice, but staying has been more like a “happening”. I am so grateful to the financial support that was offered to me before I left. Since then, I’ve been eating and living on land that has been offered to me in exchange for volunteering.
What YES taught me:
6 months later I’ve come to terms with what it means to say YES in a very intense way. It is very different than I thought it was when I began this experiment. The change didn’t really happen when I started saying YES. It happened when I stopped saying NO. When we rid ourselves of the NO’S we are left with a bunch of big awesome YES’S!
In this realization, I have accepted an extended offer to stay until March because it just doesn’t feel right to to stop saying YES in the final moments of 2011 So, here is where I shall stay… for now.
I accredit much of this personal growth to the opportunity of absorbing these other amazing cultures. My perspective of poor and rich, hungry and starving— has altered– When I asked a local worker how they maintained such positive attitude and this was the response: “We are all the same”. It was brilliant. These people work very very hard and they are also, generous, kind and loving. Many of them see all people as reflections of themselves- and it shows in how they hold themselves. My eyes have been opened ( and so has my heart).
In a brilliant way this year long experience/experiment has drawn me closer to my truest self. The self that thought it would be FUN to say YES for an entire year. It has been a series of revelations. It showed me how accepting life as it perfectly reveals itself can be a more effective way to happiness as opposed to trying to force “stuff” to happen. Direction has a new meaning for me. The way I function in the world and how I am getting to wherever I am going has shifted. I turned a year older here but, honestly I feel like I’ve lived 1,000 new ones.
Another monumental shift in adhering to the YES, is that I have become OK with saying NO to “getting old” and tired. I don’t wanna do it. So, I’m gonna say NO to that, emphatically! I’m ok aging- but, i’m not gonna get old and tired. That’s not for me. There is always time to do what we want and need to do. We just have to make room and say YES. I refuse to let a number dictate what I can or will— do or not do.
This time ’round the sun I’m gonna grow younger.
As children we are taught so much that we never actually use in real life. What we don’t get is a thorough example/understanding of LOVE and personal happy. Because of this we are forced to figure it all out as we go. Love and happiness… two things that absolutely must flow in and out of self in order for them to ever be shared, by us, with others.
And until we get a clearer understanding of what it means to love, and be loved in return, we will continue to search. So, how do we get there? Well, for starters let’s stop blaming our parents. If you were not given the love you felt you required as a child, move through it —- then harness that power by expressing more of what you thought you deserved—- to those around you.
Let’s stop expecting others to fill the voids we deny finding ways to fill with purpose for ourselves.
Fill those voids with LOVE. Real love for yourself. And Real Love is unconditional. And unconditional love attracts PURPOSE. They are partners. So when we learn to unconditionally love ourselves, purpose to express that love— and self— will find a way to express itself. It is the most important choice we can make as mature adults, to let love reign!
We all have a Story (actually lots of them):
No matter where we came from or where we though we would be “by now”– one thing is for sure— where ever we are going is determined by what we decide today. So, let’s stop replaying the same tired story in our heads…
Today I affirm the power of developing healthy hearts and minds- to design our lives through the use of our incredible imagination, creativity, independence, strength and perception. Let us drop the need for approval and apologetically go out and grab hold of the life we have always wanted– for ourselves. Every day is a chance to cultivate a healthier version of ourselves and pave a new way of being.
If there’s a problem, Solve it.
If we find ourselves unhappy in any way— let’s just decide to do something about it. Let’s own our unhappiness, give it a proper goodbye and then… Let’s get un-stuck! If there appears to be lack somewhere in our lives, let us remember that there is plenty to go around— so it is in our best interest to start choosing abundance, now! The world needs us to be happy, and the only way to get there is to LET GO of expectations and start a new relationship to define our very own version of happiness. Let’s drop the comparisons and start to see our lives and others with kinder eyes. We must be patient because we can’t fast forward through the growing pains. So, we might as well accept it as a very important part of our conscious evolution.
Projection and Judgement:
The Thai language has no word for “No” instead, they use two words, Mai Chai which mean “Not Yes”. I really love this— because, I have always had a fundamental issue with how we program children to believe their curiosity is a “BAD” thing. We “NO” and “YES” children so early on that they become adults in tiny “RIGHT” and “WRONG” boxes who want to know nothing more. This early conditioning is toxic. The ideas of No, Yes/ Right, Wrong, Black/White— can really hinder the development of healthy self esteem. And actually it creates a really huge blockage in our ability to relate to ourselves and others…
We are all made of the same stuff— it is not us against the world, you against him, me against her. This is all made up. We’ve got to drop this egocentric show of dominance in order to live up to our full potential. We’ve got to drop the judgements and the projections and all the shitty stuff in between— that is getting in the way of us shinning our true light— The way we perceive ourselves is the way people begin to perceive us.
Fall in love with yourself because, once you do then the rest of the world can too!
If we don’t like what is illuminated in the light then we must go into the darkness and come out of the other side having figured out how we want to shine… and then do it!
Releasing the Fear:
Happiness is self prescribed. Be your own fucking doctor, Take a truth pill. It’s gonna be hard to swallow, do it anyways. The most important thing we can do for ourselves is to be honest- FIND YOUR OWN-NESS
Excuse me… can your inner child come out and play?
I dedicate this video to the thousands of children in America I’ve worked with over the last decade. I have been paid to teach you to dance the way other people want you to dance. I set this video free as a show of love and acceptance— and to inspire YOU… to get out into life and DANCE THE WAY YOU WANT! Allow yourself the opportunity to be free, validate yourself and learn to love YOU—- it will be the best choice you ever make. The world needs you to be just the way you are so, dance to your own bliss.
Thank you to my family ( the beginning of my beginning) for giving me the love and courage I needed to say YES to living a life I am proud to call mine. You were with me every step of this incredibly life changing journey. I am indebted to this year for showing me my-self. I am grateful for all that was discovered on the seen and unseen side of it all…. I welcome the next new year with an open heart…
One thought on “My bank account said “Hell No” but, my heart said “Yes”.”
You write beautifully and you have inspired me.