I got glasses in third grade; they were called Cotton Candy, and looked like an impressionist painting in pastels on my face. A few years later, I got a perm that fried my hair and made it so poofy that my glasses seemed subtle. My safari shirt was my favorite thing to wear throughout grade school, along with nine rings, gargantuan earrings, and a matching necklace (or three). You get the picture: I scored high on the dorky spectrum.
At home, I was loud and funny and weird. In public (and especially at school) I was quiet, shy, and in the back of the line. I didn’t hang out with the popular kids. Boys didn’t like me. And I was far too scared to ever talk to them.
As an adult, I’m not quiet or reserved. But I’m definitely not a big risk taker. At 24, when I married the man I’d been dating since 18, I married for love but found security. It was safe. Happy. And risk free.
When we got divorced last year (and when he moved out many months before) my foundation shifted to quick sand. This thing that I had created and based my life upon was gone. I quickly figured out — after crying on the floor one too many times — that I needed to rethink this so called life. It was my opportunity to be the person I always wanted to be, but was waiting for him to be with me.
So I started saying yes to things I would have normally never even considered. Now, I’m not talking about illegal activities (I’m still far too much of a goody goody for that). I’m talking about stuff that carried me light years out of my comfort zone: new places, going to parties alone, eating bone marrow, joining a new church solo, starting new projects, hosting events, and yes — dating.
The latter is really a byproduct of a new mindset. Saying yes to life is undoubably the best way to live, but it’s also the scariest. It involves a whole lot of rejection, unknowns, failures, and rebirths, and something all in the same day.
But I feel like I could still be doing more. Now, the second I start getting comfortable I reaccess. Am I living the life I want? Am I doing enough to change the world? Am I being the best mother I can be? The best daughter? The best friend? What if I died tomorrow?
A student at TCU died last weekend. She had been battling cancer for many years. Her friends say she weighed less than 90 pounds before she passed away. I think she was probably in a lot of pain. But this woman chose joy everyday. It was the legacy she left. She said yes.
Saying yes to life means you’re welcoming the good and the bad. You’re inviting the whole realm of human emotions to hit you like a Texas tornado — carrying you up into the air and spitting you out into the clouds without a parachute or any assurance of safe landing.
These next two weeks, I’m going to push the envelope, saying yes to the hard things that matter most and racing into this brief and beautiful life we have here on Earth.
Join me, will you?
As always, please write to me with your questions on love, relationships, and life at: firstname.lastname@example.org.