A year of saying yes starts today.

It was 25 years ago today that my life changed forever (happy birthday today to my oldest!) and it’s as good a day as any for me to start another step on my path. Seems kind of fitting somehow actually.

A concept that was introduced to me by my partner and something that has taken hold in my musings.

To say yes instead of no or maybe. Not something as sweeping as saying yes to everything that comes my way; I’m wanting a shake up in how I live but I’m not completely off my rocker, thank you very much.

Essentially how I see it is simple. To make a conscious decision to not stay stuck in patterns of behaviour that have become unhealthy and limiting to myself. The only way to change is to change. It really is that simple.

It’s not saying yes to every option I am presented with or with every opportunity that comes my way. What my year of yes will be is taking the chances that I would normally knee jerk into a “no”. It’s not letting my fears or reservations make my decisions for me like I have been. It’s being conscious of choosing to nudge myself outside of the comfortable areas that I have come to hibernate so well within these past few years. It’s not automatically shutting down an opportunity that excites me because I’m nervous or uncertain. It’s feeling all that and deciding to do it anyways. It’s trying something when I’m not sure if I’ll succeed or not. It’s seeing risks and taking them.

It’s more than saying yes to invitations, it’s also saying yes to what I ask of myself. It’s not limiting myself and my growth anymore due to fears or insecurities. It’s believing in myself again and my potential and letting myself rise to the bar that has no set height except for where I set it…. and I’m tired of keeping it set as low as I have. It’s telling myself to shut up when I say I can’t or shouldn’t. It’s saying yes, you can and you should, and you will.
Is it scary? Yes. Look, I said it… that wasn’t too bad 🙂

I’m tired of living limited and inhibited. Sick of letting fear control me and stop me from doing what I want. Fed up with not making the choices that I want to make.

 

I have let fear dictate my life is how it feels. From those first moments of feeling like I was somehow broken and wrong because of what made me feel, what made me yearn and hunger for touch. Wrong. Scared and sure that I couldn’t have the life I wanted if I choose what I really wanted in a partner. So I made the choice to go the path of “normal”, resting assured that I would stop having those feelings, stop wanting what wouldn’t get me the family and children that I knew I wanted. Women who loved women didn’t have that. Not in my world. So I married men. I tried not to let on that I was drawn to, thirsted for, desired, the wives of my husband’s friends. Years down the road and a couple of divorces and some life lessons and that choice is now comfortably made – the way it should have been 30 years ago. A lesson hard learned.

 

Fears holding me back all of my life. Fear of failure, fear of what if I make the wrong decisions. Voices in my mind from so many years warning me that I’m not smart enough, strong enough or knowledgeable about myself enough to ever make the right choice. All at the same time wearing a mask that I was all those things. Inside though, not at all. The truth is though that I am those things. I’ve found that truth about 10 years ago. Briefly. I started to not doubt that I DO know myself, that I do know what I want, what will be the right choice. A sideways bump the last few years as I’ve fought back through grief and learned to live with that has started to come around again.

 

Starting to fight out of the fog that grief brought down. The fog that made me second guess myself.

 

Seeing now the far reaching impact that loss and grief can wreak. Seeing that some parts of my life need a shake up. I miss my confidence – even in my disastrous attempts at something new – there were times of laughter and “oh well, that was a fun try!” and I didn’t have the grounded sense of fear that permeates me now. I feel it and it makes me angry and sad and frustrated.

 

Now with a partner that I have none of the old fears with. I know, without a doubt, that she loves me – not a version of me. I know that I have a relationship with her that supports me, the same way I support her. The freedom that comes with that is something I had no idea existed to be honest. Feels good, and right, and the way it should be.

 

The rest of the work is for me to stop listening to the voices in my head that tell me the fears. The ones that tell me to not dance like I want, swear like I do (ladies don’t use language like THAT), to not wear that piece of clothing that makes me feel awesome. to not do those things that I want to, but am scared to do. Time for me to silence that. Time for me to stop being the harshest judge and critic and censor on myself.

 

It’s about fucking time.

 

A name is something that we give a thing or a person or a place to identify it, to help us put it in a box or to label it so that we can say “we know how that fits in how I see things” essentially.

We know things and people in our lives by what we call them. A name can convey so much before a person even has a chance to form their own perception. Warships were named for fierceness and to intimidate. Pilots in the air force were given nicknames that captured their prowess and their personality in battle. Racehorses are named to induce any number of stirrings. A place is named after it’s features or landmarks that are recognizable; Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is a real place in Alberta – it automatically brings to mind what must have happened in that place. It’s descriptive and identifying. That’s what a name is supposed to do, isn’t it?

A person’s name is no different. Most cultures and societies – in recent history anyways – tend to lean towards naming a child at birth, or before birth. Great care is given to choose a name for the baby that is being brought into the family and the community. Sometimes, a name is chosen to represent a family line. A family name,  traditionally passed to the first born, named after a parent to continue a lineage. Heritage and bloodlines carried on in birth names. Surnames are passed down and a way of marking who you are based on where you sprang forth from is born. An easy way to label and identify and box “who” you are before anyone even knows you personally.

More often though, parents choose a named based on qualities or traits that they want their child to have. They choose names that they associate with those characteristics. A son is given a name that infers strength or resilience, a baby girl is named for beauty or charm. Religious names to instill the desire to be pious or faithful. Children named after royalty to emulate that standing in life. So many reasons. Yet it all comes down to a person being given a name. What happens though when that name just doesn’t “fit” that child? Or what if that child grows and finds their own name that fits who they are better than the one they were given?

Many cultures in the world have a tradition of naming ceremonies to embody this. Rituals that involve a person being given a new name upon entering adulthood or them taking a name, chosen by them, to mark who they are… not who they were perceived as going to be when they were infants or not yet born even. Our culture isn’t one of those though.

So we have nicknames that people take on or derivatives of their “legal” names. Or they go by a middle name or even their last name as a daily moniker.

Having used a nickname myself as my day to day name for many years now, it’s come to a point that I have a hard time answering to my legal name anymore. It just doesn’t fit right. Starting the process to legally change my name feels like not only the right thing, but at the right time. Recently having a discussion with my children about it and the comments from them made it all so clear and easy – as they so often make things. One of them pointed out that he identifies with his name and would never change it – it’s “him” to himself. One of the other says he can’t stand his name and would love to change it – it doesn’t feel like him. I pointed out that that is it in a nutshell.

A name is for the person who it belongs to. It’s time to make the one I’ve chosen, legally mine. To some. it may seem like a trivial or pointless step to take, everyone who I care for and love in my life knows, and calls me by, my preferred name already, what does it matter what my government issued i.d says? The truth is though that to me, being legally and officially identified by my chosen name, is integral to me and my journey.

L.O.L.A  – Live Openly Live Abundantly. Born out of a tag line in my emails that I used to use and caught on as a nickname. Adopted years ago and now, simply fits and is me. A name that embodies how I want to live my life and how I strive to. Chosen by me for me.

Simply,

Lola

 

Taking one of those silly internet quizzes today and the questions came up “My friends would describe me as…” with a list of the usual options.

Now this is a bit of a trick question because it rides the edge of us picking what we think our friends think of us *or* we pick how we see ourselves under the guise of what we would want our friends to say.

This used to be a pretty simple thing for me to pick. I knew who and how and what I was and I was pretty much “what you see is what you get” and transparent to everyone so I knew what my friends would say *and* that matched how I saw myself. A no brainer really. Not now.

Now, I saw that question today in a silly online quiz and I got stuck. Stuck because of a couple of things. First and foremost came the voice in my head that stated that I have no friends that pop to mind that know me well enough to be able to answer that question. Not to mention the larger issue that I don’t even know the answer to it anymore. What qualities would my friends say most accurately describe me? What or who am I? I read over the list… loyal? great sense of humour? adventurous? caring and loving? daredevil? generous? What would “they” pick, what would I pick to describe myself?

All of the above, none of the above, things not mentioned? What’s more upsetting to me… that I don’t know me anymore or that I have so isolated and withdrawn myself that I don’t think anyone else does either? That’s the hardest question that came up from that silly little internet time waster.

And by the way, I’m most like a Pit Bull, just in case you were wondering… not too far off the mark probably.

We all have choices. That’s the simplicity of it. The ease and the difficulty. In a lot of ways, it would be easier if we didn’t have choices; if it wasn’t actually up to us. We wouldn’t have to take responsibility for our actions in our lives. We could always fall back on the surety that someone or something was the one to blame for where we were in life, for what happened to us or for how we felt. For a lot of people, they live like that; like they don’t have a choice… like some external force beyond their control is running the show for them.

 

It’s easier to be the victim of someone or something else. Some elusive “other” who has just decried what and how your life will be. Yet the irony is that it’s a choice to believe that. To make the choice to embrace that declaration of helplessness and lack of control.It creates a situation that places a person at the point of being able to blame someone, anyone, other than themselves , for their life… For their happiness or lack of it… For their pain and hurt… For them being unable to change. Because if it’s not up to them, then they just simply can’t help but be how they are. It’s easier to remain somewhere you don’t want to be than it is to change. So we create stories and reasons for the “why”… I would do this or that but… I was raised this way so I can’t be different. I was told this so I can’t believe otherwise. I’ll fail, so I won’t try.

 

The sadness is that the people who appear to refuse to make their own choices, have in fact, made the most profound choice. The choice to relinquish independent control. The choice to place their path in the hands of everything but themselves. Because to accept that it’s in their control, they then have to accept that they are responsible for their unhappiness. And for so many, it’s easier to blame and just keep going. At least then, it’s not their fault. At least then, there’s always a reason – outside of their own personal responsibility – for where and how they are in their life.

 

We can, truly, choose to be happy or unhappy. To create and bring to fruition what we want, or not. To change, or not. It has been said a million times and it’s one of the most basic truths… the only thing stopping you, is you.