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Finding Our Yes

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As I was printing and cutting these little cards for the loveliest group of women, it made me catch my breath to see the so many bold Yes’s surrounding each other.

It can be terrifying to say no.

When we say no, we are admitting our limitations. We open ourselves up for judgement. We let other people see who we are not and what we cannot do anymore.

When we learn that our time, energy and resources are finite, we become aware that they are limited and we only have so much to give.

Finding our YES is a uncertain and vulnerable process. We take the risk that our YES might not be impressive, might not be good enough, might not accomplish anything at all.

The women’s group I met with last night reminded me that even though I only have one YES at a time, so does everyone else. The no that was so hard for me to let go, the no that I had to say to something so important was someone else’s YES.

It just wasn’t mine.

In a different season of my life, I might have been jealous. I might have felt like I was missing out, missing the boat. But in this season, I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Relieved that it’s not all on me. The world isn’t going to fall apart when I say no and neither am I. Most comforting of all is remembeing that if I do fall apart for a time, we are all in the same boat and someone else’s YES might be right there next to me.

Here’s a little taste of the conversation that we had last night:

1. Make a list of what you want to say Yes to this year.

2. Make a list of what you want to say No to this year.

3. If you could only choose one Yes what would it be:

For this moment?

For this day?

For this season?

For your life?

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nothing but dirt

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Early this summer, I went on a little road trip all by myself. This is new for me, to plan something and follow through with it when no one else’s needs or wants are my motivation.

It was strictly about my needs and wants, which for the first time in my life have had enough space to let themselves be known. When my desires speak up, I can no longer deny them. They are not a threat anymore to who I think everyone else wants me to be. They help reveal my path and guide my next steps.

Someone who was an important part of my daily life for a decade suddenly passed away in April. We have a Facebook message where she needed to cancel our lunch date because she wasn’t feeling well. The last of our thread reads, “When can we reschedule?”

While it was impossible for me to to physically reconnect with her on this earth, that pain and loss reminded me of another friend with whom I had lost touch.

I needed to be in her space and out of mine. I needed to share with her what had become of me these past few years. I needed to be with someone who knew me before I belonged to so many others. Her friendship was a shelter for me when I was the age my kids are now.

I became desperate for the comfort of that shelter.

Our time together was sweet, it was real, and it was beautiful to see and connect from our new places in the world and old places deep inside. I was gone for around 24 hours and in those hours I journeyed to parts of myself that I had forgotten. The gift of connecting with my lost friend was weaved together so beautifully with connecting to lost parts of myself, I don’t know which happened when.

I expected to come home refreshed by this time. In many ways, I was, but there was also a deep sadness that surprised me. My friend was able to sit and listen to me process through this past year and as she did I was able to witness for myself the magnitude of both the internal and external shifts that have happened, the life and death that have taken place in and around me.

When I returned home to our apartment, I was shocked to see that my little plant (which had just been showing buds of new life) lay completely limp. Not like dried up and died, but like someone held it at gunpoint and shot it dead while it was still full of potential. I actually gasped when I saw it and babied it for several days, sure that there was some mistake and if I fed it the right plant food it would open its eyes and tell me it was just teasing me.

Eventually the plant dried up and I put the whole pot, dirt and all in the trash. We are moving again, this time to a tiny cottage that I want to live in for the rest of my life. I am in my Marie Kondo phase again, a little addicted to that feeling I have when I am getting rid of everything that I do not need and does not give me joy.

Here’s the crazy thing about that dirt: I think I need it. Even though it does cause me a wave of grief that this flowering plant did not survive our transitional season, there is also something sacred about the dirt that held its roots together, that nourished my beloved plant and seemed to be unchanged by the life happening in and through it.

Today, the pot is sitting on the counter of our almost bare apartment, waiting patiently to join the rest of our stuff at our new address. I am not sure what I am going to do with it. I might add it to the dirt in our backyard.

What I am saying good-bye to is the container. As Marie says, “The process of assessing how you feel about the things you own, identifying those that have fulfilled their purpose, expressing your gratitude, and bidding them farewell, is really about examining your inner self, a rite of passage to a new life.”

I will tell the pot thank you for holding what it held for me this year, in a time and season where I felt so bare and so afraid that my life would not have any beauty in it if I really let go.

I didn’t know my friend would only be around for 51 years.

I didn’t know we would only live in the apartment for one year.

I didn’t know the plant was only in my life for a season.

What I have in my life today, I might only have in my life today. That brings along with it deep sadness.

What I have in my life today, I have in my life today. That brings along with it a sharp joy.

The joy and the sadness are woven so perfectly together,  I can hardly tell anymore where one ends and the other begins.