To Have New Experiences You Have to Say "Yes"

God I hate saying yes sometimes.

No comes much easier. And it's often the first step to get to a yes.

Sometimes it's: Ok, yes! Well, no actually. Maybe. Okay (groan) ... yes already!

And I'm really a very positive person! Look at the exclamation marks here!

So here's the story in a nutshell and I hope it helps someone because last night was a process of opening up and realizing how a small cascade of Yeses will give me opportunity to start to achieve a 2009 goal: To have new experiences.

The Yeses

For starters I accepted my friend Carrie's inviation to go to Elliot Bay Books to hear author Franz Wisner talk about his book, "How the World Makes Love." There's a subtitle I didn't include but in a nutshell, Wisner has profited by being abandoned at the alter some years ago -- I say "profited" because it led to a couple of successful books that jumped off the experience. Which is great.

This particular book is a memoir based on his travels around the world with his brother, and looking at how different countries love, court and have sex. Cool huh?

Anyway, so there I was, having said one "Yes" to Carrie's invitation when normally I like to stay home at night. I really thought that was my last "yes" of the day, too. I really just wanted to get home and go to bed. I was tired. (Poor me!)

I have to share an ongoing dialogue string that is constantly with me these days as I'm on a swimming rampage. It goes like this: "Will I get to bed early enough to get up in the morning for swimming?"

Yes, it's true. My internal beddie-bye compass is my morning swimming. I don't know why but I am willing to go through my day a bit weary and fuzzy because I get up at 5:30 am to go and kick ass with my posse of fast swimmers because for some reason right now I want to be a fast and graceful and artistic swimmer. I know, my eyes roll a bit too.

Back to the reading. As I sat there this eiphany came to me:

I decided that I am always going to buy a book at any author reading I wind up at -- I want to support writers and the indie bookstores they read at. Now, that's not so big a shift except for, I don't always buy the book. I usually hightail it out of there right after the applause so I can get in bed for .... swimming! And also, I just like to get into bed early. I just like bed.

And, I might add, when I'm salary-challenged as I am now, I can turn into a real cheapskate.

But sitting in that reading and looking at all the books on the walls and watching the reader work so hard to share his story with us and thinking What if someday that could be me I had this shift. I will always, no matter how "broke" buy the book of an author and stand in the line to have have him/her sign it at the end.

So I shelled out $27 for a hardback that I already had at home from the library and here's what happened.

I engaged in a conversation with the writer! It was fun! We laughed! He told me I should be a writer! My friend and I laughed even more! We talked about writing and being vulnerable and letting it all hang out there (which this writer does in his book big-time). My energy rose. I was not thinking about swimming or how tired I had been and getting to bed.

And then I was invited to join author and posse down the street for drinks. I smiled and said Cool, sure, thanks. Then I said, Well, no actually but you can email me for any further virtual socializing.


This is what I'm used to doing. Going home. My body is in the habit of standing up and walking to the car and driving home. And so that's what my body wanted to do. But something else in me was open to .... not going home. My two friends had to get home but they encouraged me to go, and then they said, "You can write about it in your blog." That was a good ploy.

And a little voice said, If you want new experiences, you have to start saying "Yes" to things like this. What's going to be new and different in the stinkin' pool tomorrow? Enough already!

So I went and part of me felt knock-kneed and nerdy and another part said, Hey, we're cool. What's the worst that can happen? Other than missing swimming I couldn't think of anything.

I sat in a corner with some very nice women and in about ten minutes we were talking about literay erotica, porn, "Juggs," the Amsterdam Sex Museum and what the showgirls in Thailand can do with a ping-pong ball. Then the writer Franz came to sit with us and we talked about love, relationships, writing and what Oprah is really like off-camera and then I went home. And I felt energetic and happy and fulfilled.

I have to confess throughout the night there was my gollum voice whispering, "Master Bad, she will not have enough sleeping hours to swim. master bad."
And there was that "Master good" voice saying, Let go of it, swimming is not going anywhere. Have fun being here, somewhere new.

Oof! I broke through a tiny habitual threshold of a certain kind of no, with a series of Yeses. To count 'em up again:

There was 1) Saying Yes to a reading that I knew nothing about (thanks Carrie!). 2) Saying Yes to supporting writers and bookstores and always buying the book and getting it signed even if it's about kitty litter boxes. 3) And then saying Yes to the invitation I like least -- meeting up at a fancy hotel bar where I feel so out of place I thought the maitre d' was going to show me the way out. And having conversations with new people I had never before met.

And you know what? If felt good to show up and support a kind, funny writer who is writing about love in a vulnerable way and promoting Americans to get out and travel the world. It felt good to get out of my own cocoon of Tatyana-ness and swimming. Jeez.

Today I slept in until 8am. I woke up thinking about Yeses. In that spaces of Yeses I was able to show up and provide a fantastic coaching session to an amazing person who is also writer.

And I have something to write about for my blog.

Lesson learned: When you want new experiences, you have to say Yes, even when it feels uncomfortable.

Especially when it feels uncomfortable.

Go ahead, say Yes to somehting new (a safe thing--not the stranger with a pitchfork jumping out of the bushes and asking if the Little Girl likes candy). See what happens.