Every time you say "yes" you create a possibility.
My grandmother is a pretty awesome woman. When she was in her early forties, my grandfather left her and their six children for a fellow anesthesiologist and a new life. She used this as motivation to go back to school to teach blind and deaf children and provide for herself and her family. When some friends moved to Mexico, she followed and lived there for over a decade. When invited to go to Bali for a month on a meditation retreat, eating just a liquid diet, she thought, "why not?"
My grandmother told me, "the best advice I can give you is to 'say yes.' Say yes to invitations, opportunities, and new ideas. You can always evaluate and change your mind later, but saying no closes the door and saying yes leaves you open to new possibilities."
Last week, one of my fellow adventurers called. She asked if I could clear my schedule from March 10-13. It was short notice, she knew. I could have said no. There were lots of reasons to say no. I was scheduled to attend a fundraiser. I had a birthday lunch for a friend. My business accounting was still burning a hole on my desk, and I had just gotten back from vacation, so it felt gluttonous to take more time off. But I did not say no. We visited the townships in South Africa. We had a party with Fidel in Havana. We did so many sake bombs in Santa Barbara, I wasn't sure I would live to see another trip. Some of the greatest memories of my life have been with Michelle. These adventures have fundamentally shifted my perspective on life. When Michelle asked if I could clear my schedule, I couldn't help but hear my grandmother's words saying, "say yes."
And so I did. I am sitting on a plane on my way to Aspen, Colorado. I will be the guest of my friend and Red Bull at their Double Half Pipe event. I get to spend the next three days living it up with the Red Bull peeps, skiing, eating yummy food, and spending time with one of my favorites in the whole world. Yes, I do know how fortunate I am. And I believe by saying yes, the possibilities are limitless. Maybe someone will like my earrings and we will spread Bon Lemon's sparkle a little further. Maybe this blog post will trigger someone else to say yes, inspiring a chain of possibilities. Maybe I will meet someone who will want me to be the next Barbara Walters or Oprah, fulfilling my lifelong dream. All, because I said yes.
Lately, I have become aware of the fact that my life is enviable. People tell me they hate me (in jest), that they are jealous, that they wish they could do x,y, or z, or they just say, "must be nice." I have a loving family, wonderful friends, a growing business, meaningful philanthropic work, a hot boyfriend, and I make time to travel, eat good food, and listen to inspiring music. I have a fabulous life. But my path has been bumpy just like everyone else's. And the only reason I love my life, is because I say yes.
Five years ago I started Bon Lemon because I was unemployed and couldn't get a job. I had been laid off of two jobs, which was devastating in a way I couldn't have imagined. My fiancé had cheated on me, and I was heartbroken. I was living with my parents, I had spent all of my savings, and looking back I was truly depressed. I couldn't seem to dig myself out of the hole. I kept trying, but nothing was working. I couldn't even get hired at the local bakery. I was overqualified or underqualified for everything. I had been given so many opportunities and I couldn't seem to make anything of them. It felt dismal. I thought I was totally worthless.
As is true with most life stories, nothing dramatic happened. Little by little, the landscape began to change. I said yes to a small jewelry business. I said yes to the Big Brothers Big Sisters board of directors. I said yes to daily coffees with friends and plenty of wine nights. I went from being the one my friends and family pitied on holidays, to the one who people think lives a "charmed life."
I believe there are grand things in store for my life. I believe my path will allow me to inspire millions or billions of people. This may be with Bon Lemon, politics, philanthropy, or through a relationship I make at the Red Bull Double Half Pipe. I don't live a good life because I live under the spell of a fairy godmother. I live a good life because I say yes and I kept saying yes when I felt like I was helpless at impacting my own life. If you say yes to one thing and it doesn't work out you can say yes to the next thing. If you say no, you will spend your life wishing your life was different.
My life is no different than anyone else's. We all have challenges and triumphs. Those we love die. We buy uncomfortable shoes. We vote for a guy that turns out to be a snake. We can't change the cards we are dealt. My life could have began in Sudan or South Dakota. The beginning isn't where the story lies. The story lies in what you experienced, what you created, and what you said yes to. Every time you say "yes" you create a possibility. Take a nod from my grandmother and say yes. And then email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me how it made a difference in your life.