Boldly say ‘yes’ to forging ahead in 2012

Andrea Joseph

Does anyone remember the chaos some predicted when the calendar propelled into the year 2000? Now here we are 12 years later, welcoming the New Year.

It makes me wonder what my paternal grandmother would think if she were alive today.

She was alarmed by the impending doom that the switch to 2000 was scheduled to bring. But her worrying was for naught. She died in September 1999 and never saw the 21st century.

Although they’re all gone now, I was fortunate to have all four grandparents in my life for many years. But Grandma always held a slightly larger spot in my heart and I think of her often – and I give her a little extra nod whenever I hang a new calendar on my wall.

Along with bringing up thoughts of the past, the New Year never fails to spark talk about what the future may hold. No doubt many of you, like myself, have been asked about your resolutions for 2012.

I’ve been known to make a few through the years, though mine tend to be experience-based rather than a general “lose weight” or “stop smoking.”

One year I vowed to travel to Germany and ride the gondola to the top of Zugspitze, something my dad had done many years ago when he was in the military. Another year I resolved to fulfill a lifelong dream of climbing the Acropolis in Athens to bask in the glory that is the Parthenon. Both were successfully completed.

And there have been less dramatic goals as well: donate blood every two months, adopt a dog, learn to ride a motorcycle.

But there have been failures along the way, too. A resolution to visit the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C. never came to fruition. After a fallout from an old friend when I was in college, I vowed to reach out and reconnect, only to have her refuse my apology. And every year I attempt to curse less, but fail miserably.

As we jump into a new year, a quote I heard on the radio some time ago resonates in my mind: “Never say no unless there’s a good reason.” My initial reaction was to scoff: What a silly thing to propose!

But the more I thought about it, I realized it was an interesting idea. I wondered what experiences or learning opportunities I missed in the past simply because I didn’t think twice before saying no to an invite from coworkers, to that blind date, to taking on a challenge because I was too scared.

So this year, I’m resolving to say yes – not necessarily all the time, but I vow to make an effort to not say no.

And I’ve already been tested.

One of my best friends – a friend since elementary school – wants to take scuba diving lessons in Monterey sometime this year. Let me just say that I’m not a fan of the ocean. Sure, it’s gorgeous to look at and I enjoy walking up and down the shoreline, tossing a squeaky rubber chicken for my dog to fetch. But that’s the extent of my relationship with the sea. Give me a pool, a river or a lake and I’m there with a raft or jet ski. But the open ocean is different. It’s powerful. And scary.

So when my friend asked me to take scuba lessons, my heart beat a little faster. But “Never say no unless there’s a good reason” played in my head. I stubbornly wracked my brain for a legitimate reason to say no – and failed.

We haven’t made scuba plans yet, as the year is young. But I’ve agreed and when the time comes, I’ll awkwardly squeeze into a wetsuit (that lose weight resolution sounds pretty good right now), trust that the instructors know what they’re doing and open up my heart to a new experience.

So here’s to a 2012 brimming with memorable experiences brought on by the simple act of saying “yes” more often than “no.” Here’s to being more agreeable and less obstinate. To being more open and less apprehensive.

I think Grandma would approve.

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