As I write this, I’m bundled up in many layers, thick socks on my usually bare feet, a space heater set to high and situated less than one foot away from me. This humble space heater has become my BFF since my arrival a week ago.
When I glance up from my laptop, I gaze out onto a landscape covered with snow. I watch the clear sky transform from dark cobalt to varying shades of pink and orange before settling on robin’s egg blue. This panoramic show courtesy of the sun as it slowly hauls itself up and over the craggy peaks of the north Cascades, unimpeded by clouds. Today will be a bluebird day in the Pacific Northwest, a rarity in the usually dreary, overcast winter months.
This is not my regular morning ritual. Obviously.
Most mornings find me barefoot, sipping coffee on my terrace, steady trade winds ruffling my hair, balmy temps caressing my skin. No space heater required. But when that is your normal, changing things up once in a while is good for your soul (even if your fingertips and toes plead otherwise). At the very least, it lets you see your world from a different perspective. And that’s always healthy.
Due to some unexpected winter weather upon my arrival that kept me housebound for a few days, I’ve had a lot of time to be introspective. Well, at least in between binge-watching Game of Thrones (yes, I am the only person in the civilized world who didn’t watch it when it first came out).
And what I’ve been thinking about – what I always think about when I’m here – is the aftermath of making big life decisions. You know, the decisions that literally change the course of your existence. Whether it is to move, get married, get divorced, change careers, have kids, not have kids, whatever. The kind of decisions that tend to impact all aspects of your life.
My mantra in regards to these kinds of decisions is to just go for it. Say yes to the possibilities and see where things take you. I did it all those years ago and never looked back. Zero regrets. These days, I’m your biggest cheerleader when it comes to encouraging you to make a big change and live a life you love.
What I’ve realized, though, is that decisions don’t have to be huge to have a significant ripple effect in your life. Even the smallest changes can create the momentum to propel you in a totally new direction. You just never know. Of course, understanding this also forces you to admit one can be just as afraid of the little decisions as the big ones. And that fear can be absolutely limiting, too.
I think about the little things I’ve said yes to over the years. The things that seemed inconsequential at the time, but proved to have a significant impact on my life down the road. Things that would have been easy to say no to when the opportunity arose, simply because no was the easier and far less risky option.
One example is learning to kitesurf. It wasn’t like I even knew anything about the sport until one day fate had me drive past the kite beach during a surface interval on a dive trip to Bonaire. I was totally captivated by the whole scene. The beach vibes, the colorful kites, the seeming extreme nature of the sport itself. I immediately pulled over and watched from the obscurity of my rental truck.
There were so many reasons for me to say no to actually trying it myself. I was too old (44, ha!), too paranoid to wear a swimsuit on a beach (I’ve gotten over that), too nervous because the local kite scene seemed so clique-y (it is not). And what if I just couldn’t figure it out? What if I sucked at kitesurfing?
All these fears turned out to be totally unfounded, and I’ve been kiteboarding now for seven years, getting progressively better with each passing session. It is my favorite thing to do, actually. And it is more than just the physical workout. On the water is where I do some of my best thinking and problem solving, too. It is like free therapy from Mother Nature.
But beyond the physical and mental health benefits, the sport introduced me to Island Boy, who I eventually married. I also met my best girlfriend through kiting, and a host of other great people, too. I’ve taken my most memorable vacations with my kiter friends. Made some of my most treasured life memories at my local kite beach, too. All of which would not have been possible if I had said no to trying all those years ago.
But it isn’t just kiteboarding. My decision to start this blog eventually led me to a tribe of women who I truly value. I’ve had life-changing experiences through my association with these fierce, fearless females. Had I said no to putting myself out there (which is most definitely what you do when you put your thoughts, hopes, and dreams out on the interwebs for anyone to read), I never would have met any of these ladies, some of whom I now include in my inner circle of close friends.
I can go on with other examples, but I think you get the point.
Saying yes to even the tiniest decision can have a life-changing impact in your near or far future. Saying no, while likely easier, just gives you more of the status quo.
So when the universe sends you a choice (as it always does), before you brush it off with a quick no, why not consider saying yes? You never know where it will lead you, but you’ll never find out unless you answer in the affirmative.
Yes is the best word in the world.
Got questions? Want to know more about island life? Thinking about making a big life change (whether that includes an island or not)? I’d love to hear from you. Check out this post or send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s connect.