Saying “yes” is easy.
Saying “no” is hard.
Except when you’re 4.
Somehow, when you’re 4, you do not give a shit about what everyone else thinks. And there are no apologies about it.
I realize this. Yet again. As I watch my 4-year old daughter in her Tip Toe Ballet class. Hair, wild and untamed, looking like she just spent the last 2 weeks fending for herself in the great outdoors, surviving only on rain water and small rodents that she caught with her bare hands.
I still remember the exact moment I found out I was having a girl. The ultrasound room was dimly lit. My belly was slathered in jelly. And the technician leaned over with an excited whisper. “Do you want to know what you’re having?”
You could hear my high-pitched squeal from several doors down.
And I kid you not. My first thought? My god! I’ll get to braid her hair!
Fast forward 4 years.
My daughter is crumpled on the floor. Screaming bloody murder. Because I even so much as picked up her hair-brush.
She doesn’t want to look like Elsa. Or Anna. Or Rapunzel. And she has no qualms about saying so. Not even to please me.
And as much as it pisses me off, I also admire her for it.
Because I know that I am a recovering people-pleaser.
And for me, saying “no” has always been extremely uncomfortable.
But we’ll get to that.
As a child, I was all about achieving, and doing whatever my parents….my sisters….and my friends valued.
I went to church. I played trumpet in the school band. I went to university. I married my high-school sweetheart. I drank milk. I had 2.0 kids. I baked cookies on Saturdays.
I adapted my life to the expectations of others.
And not because anyone held a gun to my head.
Not at all.
I was simply worried about what others would think about me if I veered off the path. I was petrified of being rejected. And scared shit-less of failing….then having to swallow the words “I told you so” as a chaser.
My identity in many ways was based on the approval of what everyone else wanted.
And so when I was faced with the question…..”what do YOU want?”….it was a bitter pill to swallow only to realize that what I wanted? Was very different from what WAS.
But guys, the craziest part for me? The realization that my people pleasing addiction was actually harming me…..and others…..more than it was bringing happiness.
In fact, it was downright assholery!
To continually say “yes” to what others want (even when I don’t want that thing)…..is patronizing! Because it assumes that other people can’t handle the truth.
Not only that, it prioritizes my own fear of rejection (gasp….what will they say if I say no), above everything else.
And guys, I know I’m not alone here.
How many of us are spending less time getting a good night’s sleep…..working out…..cooking a deliciously healthy meal……reading a good book before bed….because we are trying to keep up with promises we made to others?
How many of us are over-committed, stressed the fuck out, over stuff that simply keeps the peace, rather than makes us happy.
If you ask me, the number one killer of our own health, happiness and fulfillment….is our desire to make other people happy.
Because sure, people pleasers are some of the nicest, most helpful you will ever meet.
But they can also be the most drained, exhausted, and unhappy people you will ever meet, as well.
By saying “no” to what is NOT important, you will have more time for what IS important. Relationships. Hobbies. Your health.
And the older I get, the more I realize that TIME is our most valuable resource. You can’t get it back. And many of us give it away far too liberally. Without leaving enough for ourselves.
And so, over the last year, I have pissed a lot of people off. I have said no, when I normally would have said yes. And I have even heard the words, “I am so disappointed in you,” on more than one occasion.
I am a single mother.
I am an entrepreneur.
I am a vegetarian.
I am not a milk drinker.
I am someone who will ask her parents to babysit, on the regular, just to workout.
And I guarantee you.....one (or all) of those things piss someone off.
[Insert complaint letter from Dairy Industry]
I’m going off-script. I am ditching the people-pleasing mask (although, not perfectly, I might add).
And I am embracing the wild bush-girl spirit. With everything I have.
Confession time. I've been a naughty girl this year. And Santa knows it.
Yesterday was my third-ever Fit Fest event. An event that involves making our way from gym to gym (much like a pub crawl), discovering new and exciting ways to sweat it up.
The first bit? A rockin' good time.
The last bit? An all-out disaster.
Thanks to the annual Santa Claus parade that was making its way through downtown.
As we were all hopping in our cars to get to our final destination, Santa decided to make an appearance, waving at us all.....with a facetious grin......atop his high and mighty thrown.
With grinch-like loathing, we all gripped our steering wheels, inching our way through grid-lock traffic.
Some of us made it out alive, arriving the gym nearly an hour late. Only to realize that the bad-ass Krissy, who was supposed to kick our asses, was at a completely different location.
I swear to god, one of the iron pumping gym-goers was wearing bell-topped elf shoes, giggling away at our misfortune.
All this to say, mistakes happen.
And as much as we plan. We prepare. We over-think. Things don't always go as expected.
I see this with my son Liam, all the time. He has been gifted/cursed with the perfectionist gene. And in learning how to read, he struggles hard with his missteps and the muddled mistakes.
He cries and cries, trying to sound out the word "here."
And as much as I try to tell him, "it's ok if you make don't get it right, darling." He doesn't believe me.
It's a hard lesson to learn.
Because so often, we become paralyzed with fear over getting it wrong. And we let "I don't know how to do this" stop us in our tracks.
But guys, this is life.
Life doesn't ever go the way we plan.
Life itself is uncertain.
I mean, it's the very reason why blooper reels exist (and why they are so often the best part of any movie)! It is the very reason why America's Funniest Home Videos was such a huge success.
Shit happens. Unexpectedly. And we can sympathize with those who walk into a glass patio door. Because we all do that kind of thing, at one time or another.
And guys, I'm gonna be completely honest. After yesterday's failed event, I could feel the fear bubbling up under the surface. The temptation to walk in my front door, crawl into bed, and bawl my eyes out. I could feel the self-ridicule, and the thoughts of......everyone is going to think I'm such an imposter......a failure of a coach......a loser.
But if there's one thing I've learned, it is this: Mistakes are not a reflection of your worth.
Let me say that again.
Mistakes are not a reflection of your worth.
And so......what if we shifted our perspective on the whole "making mistakes" thing? After all.....our experience changes entirely, based on what we focus on.
What if instead of fearing uncertainty, we leaned into our mistakes, learned from them, and became stronger on the other side?
What if instead of letting "I don't know how do this" imprison us.....we let it free us?
What if we deliberately dove into experiences that we would likely fail at? What if we chose to embrace a flawed existence?
Something to work on, for sure.
Something to practice.
And something to bring awareness to.
In the meantime, I'm going to get my kids to write their letters to Santa this afternoon. I have a feeling they have a few things they'd like to say to the jolly old soul. As do I.
I close the front-door with a heavy thud. I feel the cold air hit my lungs. I shiver. Hard.
It is pitch black.
And as I turn the key to start the car, the engine whines. The wipers loudly scrape the front windshield, covered in frost.
I put the car into drive, with a sigh. My heart, heavy.
I'm so tired. I just want to crawl into bed.
And no matter how many times I drive this drive, I feel the sharp pang of sadness as I pull away. Every single time.
I'm leaving my kiddos for the night.
I have a 30-minute drive ahead of me.
And I'm headed to my parents' place. A make-shift home that has so graciously been offered to me, in the midst of my divorce.
I've made this same drive every day, for a year. Kids at home with daddy. Me, all too familiar with the words that come out of my own mouth: "see you in the morning, my darlings."
The pain of this drive cuts deep. And with the reappearance of winter, like an evil-twin back from the dead (fist bumps to you, Days of Our Lives!), I cringe at it all.
But guys, this pain? It is the very reason I am digging so deep right now. I am working my ass off, building my own business, pouring everything I have into bringing value to those I serve, in new and exciting ways.
Because I am SO SICK of the 30-minute highway trek that leaves me chilled to the bone. And I am SO SICK of being a 36 year old woman, a mom, who is struggling to find her footing.
And when you think about it, some of the most successful people in the world have risen to the top, from a place of pain. Oprah Winfrey. JK Rowling. Ralph Lauren.
These all-stars are like emotional Judo Masters.....swinging their own pain of poverty and desolation, right over their shoulders with pure momentum.
And so while I am am incredibly positive and happy person.....I also know the value of harnessing my own negative emotions, and using them to my advantage.
And so I ask you. Where are you numbing your pain with the social painkillers of our time?: TV. Drugs. Alcohol. The weekend. A vacation.
In what area of your life are you looking the other way, and pretending your pain doesn't exist?
One of the most common culprits? Our health.
Are you frustrated with your health? How winded you get after climbing a flight of stairs?
Good (well....not good....but stay with me here). Feel that pain. And use the frustration to propel you into action.
Are you envious of Patty in accounting who rocks a sleeveless dress (or Kelly Ripa's sexy-as-fuck pipes, while we're on the subject)?
Good. Reverse engineer that shit. Ask Patty what she did to get to where she is. And DO THAT.
Are you feeling desperation over your low self-esteem, poor body-image, and mediocre sex life?
Good. Because you can propel that kind of raging-bull pain, right over you.
If you're willing to grab a hold of it.
Fall in love with frustration. Befriend your negative emotions. And make the pain of staying the same, worse than the pain of changing, through the simple act of staring it right in the face. Head on.
Falling short of your goals? Extrapolate your life into the far future.
If you keep living the same way, what will your life look like 5.....10......20 years down the road? Does what you see scare you?
Good, get to work.
Justin Timberlake should not be as successful as he is. The world tells us that we need years of deliberate practice to get good at one thing. And yet JT went from child actor to boyband singer......solo artist to actor.....show host to comedian.....R&B singer to Soul artist.
So how did he do it?
I would argue that this chameleon has one key trait that we can all learn from: he isn't afraid to get it wrong.
Because let's face it. He isn't always right.
The movie, Friends with Benefits.
His 2018 album, Man of the Woods.
The $16 million-dollar golf course he bought, and allegedly sold seven years later for $500 000.
Dude does not stay in his lane. And yet he is one of the most successful entertainers on the planet.
I see the same fearlessness in my kiddos, who try on different hats, all the time.
One day, Clara will be obsessed with yoga.....tree posing at the grocery store, in the bathtub, under a blanket ......and the next day, she'll be a make-up artist who spends hours in front of the mirror, playing around with lipstick shades and the perfect smoky eye (which....in all honesty ends up looking more like Chucky than Cover Girl).
Children aren't burdened with the fear of getting it wrong, because they aren't familiar the idea of "this is how we do things around here."
As adults, we see a "right way" and a "wrong way," and our ego is simply begging us to avoid situations that put us in danger of doing it wrong.
But if we ever want to achieve more, level up, and reach our greatest potential, we need to be willing to feel the discomfort of failure.
How tall will a tree grow? As tall is it possibly can.
Humans, on the other hand? We have a choice. We can stretch up to the full measure of our potential. Or we can hold back and choose to stay in the underbrush.
We have to be willing to reach for more.
And that's the hard part.
I think sometimes we are told to "love ourselves just the way we are." And although there is merit in feeling gratitude for where we're at right this moment, there is a difference between gratitude and contentment.
Gratitude is being thankful for what you have.
Whereas contentment is being satisfied with what you have.
And it is those who continually challenge their satisfaction, abandon the comfort of a "sure win," and put themselves out there, that reach the greatest heights.
Go ahead, girl. Rock your body. Bring sexy back. And get it wrong....over and over again....with the off-chance that you get it so so right, every now and then.