I Stopped Saying “No” to Saying “Yes”

I say “yes” quite often. But most of the time, it’s not to myself or my immediate family. I say yes when people need help. I say yes when I get asked for a favor. I say yes to taking on more than I should. It’s become very easy to say no to myself and yes to everyone else.

Last May, we were on track to pay off all of our credit card debt by the end of the year. All of our years of sacrificing and extra work was finally going to pay off. We could see financial freedom and less stress on the horizon. We could finally take the trips we wanted to take as a family. We could finally have some breathing room every month. It was so close. And then our walls started leaking.

I’ve got a lot of stubborn Irish in me. I also spent a lot of time watching my family work really hard and try to find solutions for themselves without asking for help. An old family friend told me once, “Never ask for help from family. Banks don’t have feelings, go to them first.” That has stuck with me, and I have really tried to bootstrap my way through some rough spells and we’ve managed to come out ok every time. Just like the times before, I wasn’t going to ask for help. I was going to figure it out all on my own, like I always do, putting the things we wanted aside … again.

We muddled through extensive repairs and a forced remodel with sweat equity and the help of friends and family. Though I was forced to accept help this time, I still shed a lot of tears because all of our hard work essentially got erased and we re-accumulated all of the debt we had paid off … and then some.

Then I said “yes.”

One day in June I woke up and decided that I was done with the cycle. Disasters were going to happen no matter how cautious, stubborn, or prepared I was. I was tired of putting my dreams and fun experiences on the back burner over and over again for some goal that proved for years to be unreachable for one reason or another. It just happened to be the day that Hamilton Chicago tickets went on sale. I threw caution to the wind and was able to get through the Ticketmaster cluster and I got two tickets for January 2017. I didn’t know how I was going to get there or how I was going to pay for it, but it felt so friggin’ good to say yes to something I had been dreaming about. As for Chicago, we found a friend to stay with and a sale on Southwest tickets. The trip ended up being 47 hours in total.

And then an opportunity arose to take the kids to Disney over Mardi Gras break. A free place to stay was granted to us by a friend fairy godmother, and we couldn’t pass it up. I didn’t know how we were going to pull it all off, but I decided that I wasn’t going to put that off any longer, either. It was the perfect time, just before the twins turned three, so we could get them in for free. We scrimped and pulled the trigger on tickets and didn’t look back. The memory of the kids’ pure elation when we told them on Christmas morning will always be one of the best I have. The trip was magical for everyone and I will never, ever be able to pay back our fairy godmother and her husband for giving us that chance.

I said yes to Billy Joel tickets, accepting an extravagant gift I would normally never accept from a family member that doesn’t do gifts but just wanted to do something nice for us. I sang my heart out and crossed that off the bucket list.

I asked my mom to watch the kids the last day of our Disney trip so that my husband and I could make my dream of going to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter come true. The happiness oozed out of my pores, sweet as the butterbeer I was finally able to taste.

I know how lucky I am that I was able to cross four (FOUR!) things off of my bucket list in a six-week time span. None of it would have been possible without our village. NONE of it. It also wouldn’t have ever happened if I hadn’t thrown my hands up in desperation and made the decision to say yes to things I hadn’t allowed myself to say yes to in quite some time.

Sitting in Chicago’s PrivateBank Theatre, I cried when I watched Wayne Brady (!!) sing my favorite Hamilton song, “Wait For It,” because it was so worth waiting for. Yes, we still have debt. Yes, I’m still worried about the next disaster around the corner. No, the repairs from the leaky walls still aren’t complete. But my heart is full, my soul is satisfied, and my kids got the trip of their lifetime. I’m pretty sure I saved my “yeses” for the right time.

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