Saying Yes to the Next Right Thing
“When we aren’t sure what to do, saying ‘yes’ to the next right thing will lead to the next right thing after that.” This is the nugget of wisdom I shared when the topic of change came up in a recent conversation.
Several days ago, I had the good fortune to spend time with some very interesting people. As we chatted, we learned that the majority of us were in a period of change… major change… as in “New Chapter in Life” change.
An artist friend of mine shared that nugget of wisdom with me (and reminded me in the same moment of all the times in my life when this had worked) when I told her that I felt restless, like change was just over the horizon. I couldn’t yet clearly identify it but I could sense it coming closer. I enjoy my job; I have meaningful relationships; my art is better than it’s ever been before; I love my cozy little house and yard; I’m healthy. In fact, things are going really well. I have an opportunity for professional growth. There is a viable way for me to supplement my income by updating my skills at a nearby college. There may be a new avenue for showcasing my artwork. Each taking time, money, and commitment. When I can’t possibly do it all, what should I do next?
That’s when she told me to “Say yes”. Say ‘yes’ to what intuitively feels right. Say ‘yes’ to what makes my heart sing. Say ‘yes’ to what makes me feel more alive inside. It’s this ‘yes’ that will inform the next ‘yes’ and the one after that. It is the best advice I’ve ever had for finding one’s purpose and enjoying life along the way.
A True Story Where Saying Yes Made All the Difference
Close to 15 years ago, I had a similar restless feeling. I lived in Virginia, taught school, had meaningful relationships, satisfying hobbies, and a charming circa-1918 home to call my own. There were nature trails and the river nearby, perfect for dog walks. I could sit on the dock and watch the moon’s reflection shimmering on the water. One evening, I sighed deeply, recognizing a restlessness. What did I want? I wasn’t sure. I just knew that I didn’t want “this” anymore. I missed Pennsylvania and felt it calling me home. Things were changing at work, relationships were not as satisfying in lots of ways, and Hurricane Isabel all but wiped out the forest where I loved to walk. Doors were obviously closing. But where was the next open door? Hell, I’d take an open window!
Intuitively, I knew to say “yes” to what intrigued me and pulled at my heart. I got certified to teach in Pennsylvania and put out over 40 applications to various school districts across the state. A district made me a very generous offer, which I accepted (the next “yes”). I put my house on the market and it sold within one hour! Something larger than myself was at work here. I knew I was on the right track. Although, to be honest, the thought terrified me. I was getting what I wished for! The power of that is a might bit scary. Things were falling into place so quickly. I know from experience, that’s what happens when one starts to say “yes”. The Universe responds.
Saying Yes Again
Once in Pennsylvania, I hired a realtor to find me a new home. She began as the cold voice of reason but soon became the dark cloud of pessimism. I’d have to settle for a house with old wiring or no air conditioning or no space for my dogs. “You can’t afford the house you want”, she declared. If she didn’t have faith or hope, she certainly couldn’t be of any help. My instincts told me that I needed someone who believed in possibilities. I said “yes” to the desire to hire a new realtor.
We met in her office where she showed me a website I could use to begin house-hunting. When I found some I liked, she explained, I could contact her and she’d set up viewings. Cross my heart, the first house she pulled up on the website made me gasp. “That’s it. I want to see that one!”, I declared. She made the appointment and within a couple of hours I made an offer on the house I’m still living in- a cute rancher with modern wiring, air conditioning, a fenced yard for the dogs… and more than I ever imagined! I didn’t know it would work out like that but that’s what happens when I say “yes”.
When I’m Not Sure
Sometimes saying yes rises confidently from me without involving heart or head. It just is a clear and resounding “YES!!”. At other times, it’s not so easy to hear. I’m not so sure. Some things I do to help when that happens…
- Listen. When I meditate or just sit in silence, I can more clearly hear that small soft voice inside. “Yes” may be a loud exclamation of delight or a gentle coaxing whisper.
- Be Still. Stillness opens the space for possibilities.
- Be present. Set aside fear, doubt, and anticipated outcomes. Stay in the moment.
- Do what is possible then surrender the rest. I could send out resumes. I could get another realtor. But then, I had to surrender and allow.
Julia Cameron, in her National Bestseller Walking in This World, writes “…restlessness is a good omen. … Being alert to the possibility of change opens our ears and eyes to receive psychic signals more often and more quickly. Irritated, restless, ready for change, we snap, ‘Goddammit! What is it?’ when destiny knocks. But destiny does knock, and it can be colorful and expansive if we will allow it to be. When we are restless and our lives feel colorless, it is a clue and a cue that they are about to become colorful- if we cooperate.”
I’m going to go out on a limb here so I hope I don’t lose you, kind readers… Julia goes on to say, “… it is my experience that when we are willing to be irrational and intuitive- even when we despise those words- we are rewarded by promptings, callings, that come to us from some mysterious and deft sources that guide and encourage us toward what might be called destiny.”
Did I lose you with talk of destiny? I sincerely hope not!
Bottom line is that I know from experience that this is true and I must now take my own advice. This website is a “yes” for me. I hope that if you have stayed with me through this rather long blog post that you will continue to accompany me on this mysterious journey through my writing, my art, and/or upcoming workshops. I look forward to traveling with you! And I look forward to reading about your experience in the comments. Namaste!