I Said ‘Yes’ For a Week, and Here’s What Happened: 5 Lessons Learned

I want to talk to you about…my schedule. It’s busy. I work as a freelance writer, am a board member for my nonprofit writers group, helped found and organize a monthly feminist education series, participate in a book club, attend twice a week rehearsals, and work a 40 hour day job.

You know what? I love it.

Say Yes to the Work

Working lunch. Working on writing assignments over dim sum.

Last week was really hectic for me. I had places to be every night of the week. But I think it was one of the best weeks I’ve had in awhile.

Here’s a little rundown…

Monday night started with a board meeting for my writers group. We are going to be hosting the Feminism on Tap gathering in October and since I work closely with both groups, I’m planning it.

Tuesday was a special treat wherein I traveled a couple towns over to meet with New York storyteller and filmographer, Jen Lee. A dozen area “makers” – artists, craftswomen, writers – gathered to learn about her latest collaboration,Β The 10 Letters Project, a correspondence documenting the creative process and how we critique ourselves. I was invited to attend because another writer and I were offered the chance to emulate the project.

I spent six hours on wednesday night at the public library for a back to back film showing of Johnny Guitar, the 1954 film by La Crosse, WI born director, Nicholas Ray. I was representing Feminism on Tap and co-led a discussion after each viewing. (And during the second showing, I ate pizza with some of the library staff and wrote one of my freelance articles standing up in the library kitchen.)

10 Letters Project

Jen’s book with fellow storyteller/writer, Tim Manley. Everyone who attended also wrote their own anonymous letters and got to answer one anonymously too. Very cool experience connecting with other makers.

I hemmed and hawed most of Thursday over whether or not to audition for an improvisation group, but the writer I met on Tuesday and will be working with on the local 10 letters project was in the group and invited me to go. I went, expecting an audition and nothing more. It turned out to be a two hour improv workshop wherein I became a monster, a pterodactyl, an overtired mother judging a fake gymnastics tournament, and I pulled (imaginary) gum out of a guy’s mouth. At the end of the two hours, I signed up for the next rehearsal.

Friday afternoon I left work and headed to a dim sum shop where I finished my freelance assignments (due that day). Then I hit up the library book sale and came home with a bag of books just in time for date night with my husband.

Finally on Saturday, I attended the first rehearsal for the improv group, which started with a photo shoot for a newspaper article and show flyers. When I got home, my friend picked me up and we hit the shops so I could help her back to school shop for a family through the Salvation Army and find a wedding gift for her sister.

Wow. I’m tired writing this.Β 

It sounds exhausting. And it is a little, but in the best possible way. I’m a person that thrives on having lots to do. Too much time will make me bored and I will not leave the house or stop watching movies for days. You guys, I’m really good at watching movies! I can do it all damn day!

But here’s what this week of “YES” taught me.Β 

1. Saying Yes Leads to Amazing Opportunities

I made new friends and connections all last week. From future partners on events to kindred spirits in creativity. I’m looking forward to partnering with a new writer for our project, and through partnering at the library, I got valuable information about hosting film festivals that may lead to a future partnership. Whatever happens, the best part was it was all fun!

My book sale buys.

My book sale buys.

2. Saying Yes Gets You Out of Your Head

I can be a worrier. I overthink things. I love when I find something that takes me out of my head and makes me focus. I use to think only hard exercise could do this, but I was wrong. Improv allowed this. There’s no time to think in improv! I had to close my mind outside thoughts and completely be in the moment. I love making people laugh (that’s why I wrote a humor blog), but what I loved more and why I decided to join the group was because improv allowed me to get out of my anxious brain and just play. That’s a great life lesson.

3. Saying Yes Helps You Process Quickly

With a jam-packed schedule, I learned fast what parts of it I liked and didn’t like. I learned what my strengths and weaknesses are. I played a variety of roles – from the facilitator to the student – throughout the week. It helped me process where I am in my life journey and what I want to spend my time on.

4. Saying Yes Makes You Vulnerable

I was out of my element more than once last week, but I think that’s ok. I thought a lot about something a friend once wrote that moments in our lives where something big is happening cause us to panic about what we’re going to “give” of ourselves. What kind of impression are we going to make? What witty words are we going to say? But sometimes, those moments aren’t about us giving, they’re about receiving. What can we learn from this now? What am I listening to? What resonates? I took a step back a few times and reminded myself that I was in a “receiving” moment, and to enjoy the experience.

5. Saying Yes Makes Each Moment Matter

When time is precious and packed, then the things you’re doing with it have to be just as important. I’m glad I was able to still have a date with my husband and go out with a friend. You learn what things you’re willing to cut out in order to preserve others. Yes, I was busy. But I still spent quality time with the ones I love. In fact, I even called my mother. πŸ˜‰

Tell me about a time you said yes and it led to something great.Β 

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32 responses

  1. Sometimes saying yes gets me into trouble! (Mostly because I over commit and then get frustrated when I don’t have enough time do everything —- NOT because I’m saying yes to anything naughty or illegal.) πŸ™‚ But I do love the positive message of your post!!

    1. Yah, I’m a chronic over-commiter. LOL. But this past week was all good things. I feel energized by these commitments. That’s the tricky part right?

  2. I started reading this and thought, wow, she is pretty busy…AND THEN YOU WROTE: “…and work a 40 hour day job.” *jaw hits floor* WHAT!? What I loved about this (and what I can learn from this) is your week of yes–were things you chose. They weren’t things you were guilted into doing or felt some kind of obligation in doing, they seemed to be you simply deciding to say, :yes!” What a brilliant concept.

    I also loved you owning up to the fact that you are really good at staying home and watching movies. I’m a firm believer in occasional binges watching beloved movies or shows. I have to remind myself of the operative word, “occasional.”

    I’m trying to say yes to things that take me out of my comfort zone–which usually involves being in front of people and saying things that they want to listen to. Thanks for reminding me of this!

    1. Yah, I can totally fall prey to marathons of movies or shows. I think I’m a better multi-tasker than I really am. I’ll bring my laptop and think I’m gonna write a post while watching the movie and two hours later, I’ll have like 3 sentences written. Hahahaha.

      I think if I had been obligated to attend all these things, they wouldn’t have been as fun and I wouldn’t have learned as much. It was more that they were all new and I decided to try them out.

      I’m glad I could help you out. I love your “one good cup” philosophy. I’m bad it during workdays, but I try to apply it to my weekends.

  3. Mathair and I feel your pain, Jess. It seems like writers of today are multitasking aces with a different hat for every day of the week. lol I am also the type of person that stays in my head way too much and it can become quite self destructive if I stay in there for too long so I love staying busy as well. I think staying stagnant in any venue of your life is counterproductive and detrimental to the creative process. Although, I definitely think we’re all overdue for a girl’s night with some fruity cocktails and lots of fun chat. I’ll bring the drinks. πŸ˜‰ lol

    1. Oooh, I’m in! Cheers!

      Ah yes, overthinking, overcritical workerbees. If you need a pep talk, you know where to find me. πŸ˜‰ I’ll do the same!

  4. Busy is right! I said “yes” on a whim earlier this year when a friend threw a summer solstice party. She’s done this every year and I’d always found a reason not to go. This year, I didn’t want to talk myself out of it, which I knew would happen if procrastination entered the picture, so I accepted the invitation immediately. And I was glad I did – we had a blast.

    I love that you’re participating in improv. I wouldn’t mind trying it myself one of these days!

    1. Awesome, and do it! I went to my first solstice party this year and it was fun. And you SHOULD try improv. I think you’d love it. You’re so punny. Funny, too. πŸ™‚

  5. Good for you, Jess. Saying yes to life is the best way to live it!

    1. Now if only more of my yes’s led to breathtaking views in France…

  6. Couldn’t agree more. Great post and oh so true!

    1. Thanks Madge! Nice to see you again! How’s life?

  7. Jim Carrey and Terrence Stamp would be so proud! πŸ™‚

    1. Phenomenal movie. One of my fave comedies.

  8. Ooh so can I give you my To Do list? I thought I saw a gap in your schedule.

    You’re so right, though (on all counts) – keeping busy and staying connected to people is food for the soul. I am trying to bust out of my ‘movie marathon’ (and by that I mean something far worse – reality TV) phase!!

    1. That gap is me falling asleep trying to read! LOL

      Yah, I was in that zone for awhile. Like…2 months. Glad to be energized about opportunities again.

  9. Good god. You are superwoman. But, you are so right about saying yes! It most definitely gets you out of your comfort zone and leads you to live life in ways you’d never imagined. And, that pretty much always applies to anything I have done that is “crazy”. So, yes! Embrace the yes! And don’t forget to say yes to some slow, deep breathing, meditating kind of down time for your soul too – I had to. You know how I roll. πŸ˜‰ xoxo

    1. Yah I haven’t been as good about taking time for me and my writing. That’s the plan this weekend.

  10. You are an amazing overachiever. I need a nap just reading about your schedule. But I’m so glad Susie sent me here, because I love your blog! Thanks so much for sharing.

    1. Welcome! Thanks for stopping over! I’m not an overachiever, I just tend to say yes and figure out what to do afterwards. LOL. I’m a total pantser!

  11. A girl I used to work with (a girl I liked) asked me if I wanted to go to some performing arts festival she was involved in to see her do something called an “interpretive dance.” Blinded by my crush on her I said, without hesitation…”Yes.” (Sometimes “No” works out just fine too.)

    1. Hahahaha. Well, whenever the words “interpretive dance” are thrown around, caution should be liberally applied.

  12. What a busy week! I love how many great things you could take from it though, and have it help to build yourself. Following your blog now; I found it from Susie Lindau’s Drop and Hop! πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you! It was a busy week, but I had a blast. Improv especially has been really fun.

      1. I was never into speech and improv classes when I was in high school (I was very much introverted), but my boyfriend and I try improv together at home and it is definitely a blast! I may have to look into finding classes/groups near us. πŸ™‚ I’m glad it was a good week for you!

  13. Duuuuuuude! This SO awesomely amazing! What a great life lesson, reminded me of that Jim Carey movie Yes, Man. Saying yes is a good experience and definitely gives you some perspective on how life should be when you’re off track sometimes. I love the fact that it got you something unexpectedly great by participating in that meeting that turned into a 2-hour workshop. Glad I ran into you at Susie’s party!!

    1. Thanks for hopping over! And I love that Jim Carrey movie!

  14. Okay, I’m exhausted reading all of the above. Wow, do you ever have a schedule girl. Yet, I’ve always been able to get more done the more I had on my plate. It forced me to be organized. That said, now that I’m older, I don’t have the energy I used to have to push it to the limit. Thus, I have to work not to say yes. But I miss saying yes. I really do. πŸ™‚

    1. This week’s downtime has helped get some stuff ready for family events, which are very equally if not more so important. Maybe you could pick one thing a month to say yes to just to start!

  15. […] jobs to work your way up a ladder you’re not sure you want to climb, but that’s ok. Say YES! It helps you figure out what it is you DOΒ want to do. My 20’s is when I figured out I did […]

  16. […] things at the day job, and in my attempt to focus my energy on the things that I love, I’ve said yes to a multitude of projects and […]

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