It started in the spring of 2015. My daughter casually mentioned a conversation she had recently had with her Dad. She told me that he wanted to take her to Paris on one of their next scheduled trips (spoiler alert-we are divorced-not the most amicable-but have figured out how to do the dance for the sake of the kids).
Then she stunned me with her response to him. She told him thanks but that she wanted "Mommy to be the first person to take her to Paris". She said it matter of factly-no hidden agenda, no animus-just a clear declaration of what she wanted, and then walked out of the room. It stopped me in my tracks. It actually jolted me. It meant that I would have to find a way to say yes; take action; to make it actually happen vs my natural tendency of saying no, seeing obstacles and getting stuck (especially since the divorce 4 plus years earlier). Her sharing her desire to experience something adventurous and different with me triggered a blunt recognition that I had become adept at saying no, putting up roadblocks, thinking about things but not taking action and ceding my power to others.
I had my usual litany of why no was better-how could I afford to take her-and what would that look like. I was paralyzed thinking that she would compare the way she had experienced Europe with him and would experience it with me. Wouldn't she want to stay in the best hotels, eat at the best restaurants, sit in the best sections of shows (you get the idea)? It almost took my breath away.
But something inside of me shifted. Her simple declaration and desire to experience this with me "first" was a catalyst. My desire not to disappoint her and make it happen kicked me in the tail. It provided me with the strength and clarity to shift from no to yes, from inaction to action and take my power back. I promised her we would go the following summer and go we did. And I learned a whole bunch of things in the process.
I learned how to maximize my frequent flier points (special shout out to my dear friend's husband-a frequent flier idiot savant-affectionately known as "mile husband").
I learned that a whole bunch of my friends had kept amazing records and created incredible 20 plus page "how to" documents on their trips in Paris-where to stay, things to see etc. And simply by asking (that curiosity and vulnerability thing), they were more than happy to share.
I learned that when friends invite you to visit over and over again, instead of reflexively saying no (not wanting to be an imposition), they actually mean it (thus our extending our adventure to include an incredible stay with dear friends now living back in their home country of Spain).
I learned that I am far more capable, more flexible, more spontaneous than I ever imagined. And it was only my reflexive "no", my buying into that story of why "I can't" that's been holding me back.
I also learned that saying yes to one thing-letting go of "no"-is contagious. It leads to saying yes and opening up to a whole lot else. And it attracts, energetically, new experiences and opportunities to say yes, expand and grow.
We have recently returned from a magical 2 weeks to Paris and northern Spain. It's hard to put into words just how special it was seeing these amazing places and experiencing them through her eyes. Her energy, exuberance, filter, curiosity and humor helped me to experience these places in such a new and rewarding way. Saying yes to that trip, and actually taking action to make it happen, has been the start to saying yes throughout this summer. I have visited places, experienced and shared things with my other children and friends, and learned things that only saying yes, and moving to action, would allow. The changed energy is palpable-so is the joy, the contentment, the growth, the optimism and the love. And the fall promises to be filled with more of the same- more yes's, more action, more energy.
Thank you my sweet girl. Thanks for being the perfect catalyst to shift me from no to yes. Once again, you are one of my most powerful and essential teachers.