2022. My Year of Yes

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Those who have stayed with me on my nomadic move from blog to blog over the last 10 or 12 years know that every December I take stock. I work out my theme for the new year and I reflect on the year gone by. 2022 was not perfect but Good God in heaven, it has been epic.

I love to read. What you couldn’t possibly know because of my irregular writing here, is that I have read a mountain of books in the past year. So many, in fact, that I have lost track of how many. In November only, I read 5. It’s crazy and wonderful. Just at the end of 2021, I read Shonda Rhimes’ book, Year of Yes for the first time. It blew my mind. Shonda Rhimes somehow managed to wrap words around things I was feeling but could not yet name. She wrapped words around my desire for more from life. My desire to feel alive not to merely exist. I had merely existed for so long. Living but not ever truly alive to myself. For years I had said “no” to everything that wasn’t hard work or self-sacrifice. Thank you Catholic upbringing. I was a good Catholic girl. It sucked.

The Catholic girl wasn’t happy. She wanted to do more, be more, and feel more. She just had no idea where more was to be found. What could she actually do to feel more alive? Enter Shonda…

“Saying ‘no’ has gotten me here… ‘here’ sucks. Saying ‘yes’ might be my way to someplace better.If not a way to someplace better, at least a way to someplace different.”

Shonda Rhimes, Year of Yes

Until I read the book, I had not realised how “at home” with a “no” I was. No was my default setting. A lot of my friends had given up on inviting me to things. I always declined in favour of work or something. My intimate friend circle had continued to invite me but were never surprised by the no. Should I start saying yes, I thought? *gasp!* *gulp!* *sit down.* *breathe.* *think this through now…* *it’s a wild thought.*

“Say yes? There’s no way to plan. There’s no way to hide. There’s no way to control this. Not if I am saying yes to everything. Yes to everything scary. Yes to everything that takes me out of my comfort zone. Yes to everything that feels like it might be crazy. Yes to everything that feels out of character. Yes to everything that feels goofy. Yes to everything. Everything. Say yes. Yes.”

Shonda Rhimes, Year of Yes

It was wildly scary. But there I was, understanding fully for the first time that I was entirely responsible for myself and I could make myself a promise (any promise) and keep it. Knowing deep in my heart that it would build my character in a way I had never experienced. I didn’t know where I wanted to go or who, in me, I would find along the way. What I did know was that Shonda had presented me with a path to explore myself, my soul, my mind, my heart and life in one fell swoop. For once, “This Yes [would be] about giving [myself] the permission to shift the focus of what is a priority from what’s good for [me] over to what makes [me] feel good.” What a concept! You see, no one does “right, wise and safe” choices better than a Catholic Girl. I had done it all my life. When I closed this book, for the first time in my life, I wanted to shout ‘safety, be damned. I want to pat a tiger with my bare hand goddamnit.’

That crazy desire died real quick. I have children who need me. But my untaming had begun. It wasn’t the wild, touch-death-with-my-bare-hand sort of untaming. It was simply learning, one experience at a time, that feeling alive requires you to say yes to fetching it. It requires you to step into the darkness with lanterns looking for yourself. It requires you to push through the fear of change. Make no mistake… it’s frightening. And the fear only abates as you face and accept more and more yeses. In the end, in order to be truly alive, when life, whether in her most mundane frock, or her finest jewels, knocks on your door and says “shall we dance,” the only answer you can give is yes.

“The point of this whole Year of Yes project is to say yes to things that scare me, that challenge me.

Shonda Rhimes, Year of Yes

I couldn’t agree more with Shonda when she says ““If I don’t poke my head out of my shell and show people who I am, all anyone will ever think I am is my shell.” I would only add that there is something galvanizing about also grasping that if you don’t poke your head out of your shell, all YOU will ever think you are is your shell. You may never ever get to meet your fullest self in all your mess and glory in this one life that we have. Now that would be a tragedy. I am not the same person I was a year ago. The person I was 2 years ago wouldn’t recognise me. In 2022, I said yes to meeting myself, looking at myself naked in the mirror and not looking away.

Let me save telling you about the 50, maybe 100 books I read this year, the bull elephant that kissed me, and the sea turtle that bit my bum for another post or 2 or 30.

For now, say yes. Meet yourself. Hold your own gaze. It will be epic. x.

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