Tuesday, January 26, 2016

YOU GO GIRLS! I'm resolving to say YES!

One of my resolutions for 2016 is to say, YES a whole lot more.

YES may be tiny as far as words go, logging in at only three letters, but it packs BIG meaning.
 It says, “I’m ALL IN and open to the possibilities!”
Wherever YES goes action, growth and expansion follow.
 That’s what I’m after.
The power of YES is nothing new.

 In 2013 Eric Schmidt, Google’s Executive Chairman, threw his support behind saying YES, when he delivered the commencement address at the University of California at Berkeley.

“Find a way to say yes to things. Say yes to invitations to a new country. Say yes to meeting new friends. Say yes to learning a new language, picking up a new sport. Yes is how you get your first job, and your next job. Yes is how you find your spouse and even your kids. Even if it’s a bit edgy, a bit out of your comfort zone, saying yes means you will do something new, meet someone new, and make a difference in your life, and likely in other’s lives as well…Yes is a tiny word that can do big things. Say it often.”

Shona Rhimes, the mega-TV producer and writer responsible for Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder also discovered the wonders of YES. After suffering a stinging rebuke from her sister, “you never say yes to anything!” Rhimes, a chronic nay-sayer, was prompted to commit herself to a year of saying yes to whatever came her way. This meant say yes to everything from speaking engagement and social invitations to “wanna play’s?” from her kids. It was a transformative experience that changed Rhimes life from top to bottom. She chronicled her year in a candid memoir called, Year of Yes. More than anything, Rhimes discovered that saying yes meant breaking her lifelong habit of avoiding new possibilities and opportunities.

Bingo. YES opens the door to Life.

Malcolm Gladwell notes in his book BLINK, “most of us in life become skilled at suppressing action”. Interesting. Apparently we find a multitude of reasons why we couldn’t, shouldn’t, wouldn’t or mustn’t act. When I tested Gladwell’s statement I was completely surprised and taken aback. I could see how easily ‘no’ slipped out of my mouth. At times it appeared unconscious it just popped out. No. There it was. It was the equivalent in closing the door in someone’s face. My own! Yikes.

Saying YES is scary, it requires courage. Comfort zones are left behind. The road is unknown, full of twists and turns.  Failure could be lurking around the corner. Those who say it are willing to navigate the course whatever it may bring. They know there will be surprises but the journey will be oh so sweet!

So far my YES experience has yielded a few observations. When I say YES I come alive. It forces me to be present and in-the-moment. I feel strong, capable and open for adventure. When I think of the times I’ve said no, I see that I have chosen safety and smallness over adventure, risk and growth. That’s not how I want Life Part II to be lived. I want life to be expansive, rich and full. I want to become all I was meant to be. I want to surprise myself.

"How can you know what you are capable of if you don't embrace the unknown?" Esmeralda Santiago

Things to say YES to in 2016

I love the dawning of the New Year it’s one of my favorite times. It symbolizes new beginnings, an opportunity to make a clean break with the old and start over. Best of all it feels hopeful and uplifting. If radical change is what you’re after, here’s 5 things to say YES to in 2016.

GET MOVING – Here’s the skinny -- Fifteen minutes of daily exercise adds three years to your life! A 2012 study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that when middle-aged people made a modest improvement in fitness (150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week for six months) by age 50, their chances of developing chronic conditions such as congestive heart failure, colon cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer's decreased by 20 percent. That’s motivation to get moving. Walking is free and accessible to almost anyone. Best part is that it can be done in community providing accountability partners and an opportunity to socialize. Doesn’t get better than that.

GET CONNECTED – Researchers from Brigham Young University calculated that being a loner is an equivalent mortality risk to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Yikes! That’s worse than not being active. Join a service club, book club, garden club, cooking class, knitting group, go back to school or take a class. Three friends and I are meeting weekly for an e-course with author Brene Brown (Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, Rising Strong). This is the second time we’ve done it.  Not only is it fun but we each experience surprising insights and sharing the experience feeds our souls.

 SEEK ADVENTURE – Expanding horizons could help expand the brain: German scientists found that mice who explored NEW environments grew more new neurons in the hippocampus an area of the brain that supports learning and memory, than mice that were passive and adventure-resistant. If jumping head first into being an adventurer is too much try small steps, it accomplishes the same thing.

FIND PURPOSE – We can choose to focus on leading a remarkable life that will be remembered. We can celebrate each day that we’re able to leave a lasting effect. We can strive to leave the world a better because we've lived. A sense that what we do matters may actually protect the brain from the eventual effects of Alzheimer's disease, concluded the authors of a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. Researchers from the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago have been following more than 1,400 people aged 50 + since 1997, and found that those who believe they’re living with a defined purpose showed a 30% lower rate of cognitive decline. If you find you’re at the point where you’re asking, “What is my purpose?” start by thinking about what you love to do. Your purpose likely aligns with that.

BREATHE – I learned to breathe in 2015. I know that sounds crazy since I’ve been doing it my whole life. Turns out I was doing it wrong.  I likely started off right, but over the years I (like a lot of women) evolved into a shallow breathe-er and a breath holder. Sound familiar? I’m pretty sure the development of this correlates to the parenting years. Last year I discovered my breathing was actually creating anxiety, locking me into the fight or flight mode and completely wearing out my adrenal glands. So I learned to breathe. Now I’ve expanded to meditating. I highly recommend both.

“Each day is a gift, don’t send it back unopened.” Unknown

Blog contributor: Cheryl Wilson-Stewart created the Red Shoe Zone to inspire women 50+ to live fearlessly in Lifewww.redshoezone.ca

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