Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Do you ever tell yourself yes, but in the right places? I've been looking for yes in all the wrong places.

I've been reading Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach. It has me thinking about yes.

I do this thing, all day, where I make choices, and then I un-choose them. And then I choose them again. And then back. I do this other thing where I look for the worst in everything. And not the worst worst, like "Oh no. Driving home I'm going to get car bombed and then flattened by an eighteen wheeler" sort of worst; more like "Oh. no. Morning. Again. Work. Gah. I don't like this day already. I never get to do what I want." It's the whiny worst that really isn't even true when I look at reality. I give myself permission to have the cranky fear/doubt stuff, but not to deal with it. Yes, I say to myself. Yes. You can not trust yourself or rely on yourself. Sure. Sounds fine. 

How is my brain such a murky mucky place to be when my heart and soul are out gathering daisies?

There's what plays in my head, and then there's my actual real life. They resemble each other, but don't really look alike. They're my own set of personal inner fraternal twins. Hydra Siamese ones. 

I've been looking for yes, but only seeing no. "No" is my default setting. It's a blanket statement that covers all the things from "I can't" to "I shouldn't" to "No way in hell". It's a tiny little word that keeps me safe from harm. It also holds me back, pushes me back to my tiny corner of the world where I'm protected. Where I can predict the future. 

This morning I started in on the same old, same old: "Do I want to get up now? I should. Do I want to? I won't have time to write later if I don't. I don't want to get up." Blahty blahty blah blah. So I did what I do when I can't decide about getting up or not- I picked up my book. Then I read about yes. Yes.

"I felt the inner freedom that comes from agreeing unconditionally to life."

I agreed this morning with myself to stop fighting the life that's mine and to start living it by not resisting every thing that comes along.* And by not resisting every thing I mean having an open spirit about all the things. Things like children who won't get dressed, another red traffic light, spoiled milk. Things like money that's tight and scary health mysteries. Resisting those things doesn't make them not true, it just makes them harder to swallow.

But then I also have to not resist the good things. Things like compliments, green lights, and a back up loaf of bread in the freezer. Things like a lovely place to live, plenty of food, and beloved friends and family all around. I can't resist the gratitude part. 

This yes is different from permission. It's more of an acceptance rather than carte blanche. It sometimes sounds like yes but means no. It means hearing the part of you that's scared, and then putting a blanket and an arm around its' shoulders and inviting it in. It means hearing the part of you that's happy, and then feeling it fully without downplay. It means that I have permission to feel what I'm feeling, and that there's a part of me that knows how to take care of that with either a gesture of reassurance and comfort or a high five and a boost up on the shoulders. It means that inside I am capable of handling whatever comes along.

So much of my struggles come from fear. Fear that I can't get my children to do what I ask. Fear that I am not doing it right- some of it, any of it. Fear that I am not where I should be. Fear that I am too far behind to catch up to whatever it is I'm supposed to be up to. Fear that with all this good trying that I am still badly failing.

Facing life fear is hard. It helps to know that I can say yes- yes I am afraid, yes I am not perfect, yes I am happy. It helps to know that it doesn't have to be all one way or another- I can have both. I can be afraid and OK all at the same time. It helps to be able to say yes to the things that sound like they need no's. It makes the hard parts easier because I know I don't have to resist them, I can reveal them and keep going. 


*This seems kind of big for just a regular Tuesday morning, but you know. That's just how these things happen.


  1. Oh Amy, I do love your wisdom so. I like how you define Yes because it is a concept I struggle with, even though I know acceptance is the answer (always. seriously.). I can accept my ever procrastinating but still precious kids, as well as those precious green lights. Life really is a mix, and no sense in me trying to black-and-white a day and missing out on the green lights and compliments because I'm in a state. Definitely agree it's about fear. It's starting to sink in, slowly. Some days not so much. Today your post really truly helped me. Thank you so much.

    1. I'm so good at yes for the wrong things: yes, another cookie. Yes, another twenty minutes of self flagellation for eating cookies. Yes, I shouldn't have, but I did anyway. Giving thanks and saying yes to the green lights and plain thank yous to the compliments instead of explaining them away. Saying yes in my head when the kids are arguing to remind myself it will work out. It's so frustrating sometimes that acceptance really is the answer. Dammit. The fear that things won't work out makes yes so hard. But you know, we can do hard stuff- and mostly with grace too. Thanks for commenting and for being awesome. :)

  2. You're right that it's big for a regular Tuesday morning, bigger than I could've taken this morning.
    But it sure is lovely to read. thank you!

  3. yes yes yes yes yes go you amy… wow you are really diving in.. this is wonderful… the real work… thank goodness you got sober.. fan-bloody-tastic (even though it's rough and uncomfortable I know..) Sending BIG LOVE from New Zealand xxx

    1. BIG LOVE back! Thank goodness for Tara Brach. She has almost reached Anne Lamott status with me. xoxo

  4. Well..

    you KNOW I am going to love this one.
    That book has rocked my world completely lately, and I posted about some of the YES I was learning too!
    And that quote.."I felt the inner freedom that comes from agreeing unconditionally to life"...
    unconditionally is a huge word...no conditions, acceptance f exactly what is and.on to of that, AGREEING to it!
    that is radical.
    I noticed in your previous post you read Patti Smith's Just Kids (i loved that too)... more radical there. Seems like something is brewing up here in Soberbia, love it and identify like crazy!

    1. And I didn't even get to the pauses part! All day now I stop and have these nice little pauses. And yes's. It helps- immensely. Agreeing to what the universe throws out instead of ranting against it helps immensely too. There's lots brewing in Soberbia! :) And I know you get it. xoxoxo

  5. Amy have you heard of Dr. Amen he's a neurologist who writes about our automatic negative thought.He calls the ants.He stares some of us have more than others to stomp on them.Google him he's books are pretty helpful.

    1. My son's therapist recommended Dr. Amen to me. I've read his website. Will check out some more stuff- thanks! :)

  6. Haven't jumped on the Tara Brach train yet, but y'all talk about her a lot. I will get to her, methinks. But the yes thing I get. Everything for me was an automatic NO, regardless of who was asking or even what they were asking. it was an outright "forget about it" even when I didn't even hear the whole question. I feared the yes, the immediate acceptance and the unknown of the YES. Still frightens me at times, but what's the downside? I don't know, I am still afraid to try new things or get out of my comfort zone, but then again I did that my whole life and it was a shit biscuit at best (I just made that term up - I am feeling a bit "cursey" tonight...lol)

    Great post - miss your fine, wise words. This ought to keep me going for a while.


  7. Great post. I too had the automatic "no" reaction for so long. And I find it's still my go-to. I recently read something about making commitments to life, being bold. I thought, *that's* how to live. So that's what I've been trying. The book sounds good though. Especially what you wrote in the comments too, about the pauses. I could use more of those in life. Thanks for sharing!

  8. I loved this post. I've just read it through twice. I'm reading this book at the moment too, and have found it revelatory, though also quite difficult in some ways. I have found that I have been watching my own emotions and reactions with far more awareness than I have in the past, which has sometimes lead to me finding them harder to handle, or more intense in some ways. This business of saying "yes" to experience I am finding particularly difficult, as I seem to have a heart that is of the "no" variety, all curled up tight in a ball like a sulky child refusing to come out and play or even to be mollified. The more I try to soften it, to open it up and say yes, the more resistance I can feel inside. I struggle with holding my own heart, my feelings, fears and failures with compassion. I'm finding this hard to articulate - sorry if it doesn't make much sense! I think it's a book that I will need to read more than once to take it in… I feel like I need some hand holding through it. These are changes that I cannot easily make. Thanks for the post and your thoughts on this book. Lovely to hear your positivity :) xxx