A high school teacher often said to my class, “There’s nothing so powerful as an idea whose time has come.” We were studying European History. I think we teens were looking for magic answers for greatness. We wanted to point to a certain person in history, analyze his life (it was usually a man), and learn prescriptive lessons for ourselves. Coach Ewart diminished the importance of any single person or event. He focused on ideas, as if no matter who or what had happened, those ideas were ready to bloom, so they did.
It’s true on a smaller scale. It doesn’t matter that I turned 39 a year ago. I doesn’t matter what was going on in my marriage, with my kids, in my career, where I lived, or anything else. It was time. I decided to say “yes.” So at dinner on my 39th birthday I declared, “I’m saying ‘yes’ this year. I’m saying ‘yes’ right now. I’m so glad you came out to celebrate with me. This is me, saying ‘yes.’ It feels good.”
There are many ways I said “yes” all year. I don’t have one particular teacher, friend, or event to thank. I’m grateful for all of them. Many moments were important for which there is no photograph, no date on the calendar: a visit with a friend, a letter in the mail, a good book, a yoga session, a satisfying talk. Nevertheless, like a scholar reviewing history, I want to review a few “yes” moments. I remind myself in new and evolving ways to keep saying “yes.”
Yes to surf lessons. Oliver loved them. Audrey hated them. I found that I really love to swim, just swim and explore, in the waves. I bought a wetsuit. I allowed myself many euphoric swims in the ocean. It wasn’t that expensive. It does take courage every time, though. The water is cold. The current is strong. I always love it, every time.
Yes to yoga. First, once a week, then a couple times a week–as often as I could and still honor other important elements in my life. It’s yes to breath, to a quiet moment, to reverence, to flexibility, to the self, to loving and honoring my body, my spirit, and the whole wide world.
Yes to motherhood–and Audrey. The sweet Honey I call daughter wants most the love, acceptance, and attention of her parents, preferably one-on-one. She and I enjoyed several stellar dates: getting mani-pedis, going out for desert, an evening walk, and even running errands together. She is my light, my sweet friend, and her company resounds.
I struggle with how much time to spend with my kids, and how much to focus on wage-earning or creative, personal work. There were so many moments where I found saying yes to Audrey was really saying yes to the fact that the Universe provides the moments we need, and the materials we need. We honor and savor each day.
Yes to family swim lessons. I got tired of carting kids individually to varied activities, while I sat, sat, sat, and waited, feeling edgy and fat. So I decided we would do private lessons and swim clinic together, the three of us. Our coach was enthusiastic, positive, and inspiring. It was an expensive way to go, but it worked for us for a while. It was affirming, challenging, and healthy. I’m glad we did it. Together.
There are so many, many ways I said yes. Yes to summer camp, to a personal trainer, to a couple of massages. Yes to visiting my Grandpa–worked out the child care and the business time.
Yes to writing.
Yes to photographing.
Yes to volunteering, in the ways that felt right at the time.
Yes to trusting my community, my self, and the Universe.
Yes to following my heart.
Finally, I planned Five Days of Joy to celebrate turning 40. I had wisdom, and knew exactly what I needed: love. I took courage. I planned. I invited. Others didn’t all know what was up, but they showed up: to dinner, to brunch, to the beach, to paddle boarding. Each time the expereince at hand and the warm connection with a friend made me feel alive.
Perhaps the most important lesson of the year came in a conversation with my friend, Mikelle. She said, “You belong. You belong here,” pointing to my whole self.
I said, yes. I do. Thank you.
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