Aging Well, Trying New Things

Finding the Art of Saying ‘Yes’

In a previous post, I referenced a fellow blogger who described her travel in retirement not as ‘vacation’ but as ‘an opportunity to say yes’. This way of thinking struck a deep chord with me. Isn’t that what retirement is all about– a chance to say ‘yes’ to invitations that had previously been overlooked, or never actually received, or for which there was never enough time?

In my current travel, this attitude has led me on long rides to attend short events simply because a friend or family member wished me to be there. It included our road trip from Vancouver Island to Nevada, Arizona, and California this past February. It also includes a brand new road trip from Parksville, B.C. to Winnipeg, Manitoba (2,446 kilometers) at the end of this month, as well as a hike along the Camino Trail planned for this coming summer (stay tuned for those posts).

In events unrelated to travel, this Nike-mindset has led me to frequent yoga,  a twice-weekly walking group, monthly potluck dinners and an upcoming painting class (which the teacher and I are both very likely to regret). It has also prompted me to try out curling, bird watching, and more rigorous hikes than I would normally choose. With this determination, I  accepted a social media position with our local Newcomer’s Club, and took part in home renovations that rivalled anything currently seen on reality tv.  This way of thinking is the reason that I recently knocked on the doors of over 35 nearby residents to discuss a neighbourhood get-together (which, thanks to all, was a big success).  It has led me to some volunteer work that has downright shoved me out of my comfort zone and caused me to ask for donations from local businesses (if you know me at all, this “cold calling” is a big leap for me…huge actually)! This approach has also prompted me to start this blog.

Today I embraced another ‘out-of-my-comfort-zone’ experience. I attended a seven a.m. ‘throwback fitness class’. Okay, so it wasn’t bungee jumping, but for me, it may as well have been. First of all, I needed to be up, dressed, and out of the house shortly after 6:30 a.m. (although this was my daily routine in my work life, the current me is stumped on how that was ever possible). This fitness class also contained more cardio…and sweating than I usually care for and involved (gasp here): running, jumping, grapevines, stride kicks and shaking parts of my body that I didn’t realize could still shake…all to thunderous (non-yoga-like) music.

If my husband hadn’t woke me up at 6:25 (I got dressed fast) I would have missed this opportunity. And if I hadn’t previously said aloud that I was attending, and had a partner ensure that I followed through with my intention, I would have easily talked myself out of it (or rather, slept through the whole thing).

The final result? I am glad that I attended, will definitely be attending again…and I have once again promised myself to give a nod to as many opportunities that I can. This doesn’t mean death-defying adventures, long-term commitments that I cannot keep or obligations that would restrict me from doing other things that I love (or negate the reasons that I retired in the first place). Simply it means embracing things that are otherwise easy to talk myself out of (and easy to shove into the ‘I’ll think about it later’ basket). And sometimes this means mindful choice and negotiation to select the best fit for me.

What about you? What out-of-comfort-zone opportunities have you tried recently, or are planning to attempt? By stating them publicly, you are one step closer to doing them!


Bottom Photos: Liz’s 7a.m Throwback Fitness Class in action.


12 thoughts on “Finding the Art of Saying ‘Yes’”

  1. I think I can honestly say that I am exactly the opposite. Lol! Retirement has been the opportunity to say no, especially to things I do not want to do. Many years ago (decades ago!), I gave up cheese. I didn’t like cheese much, I thought it was over-rated and a bit overdone. I ate it out of politeness. So I decided I would give it up henceforth. But – I liked fresh mozzarella (not the grated kind that comes in a packet), but fresh from the bufala, dripping mozzarella that oozes buttermilk. And ricotta, fresh from the goat. And a crumbly goat’s cheese from Yorkshire that Creighton might have encountered. So gradually, I took back the cheeses I liked. I ended up eating much more cheese, but in a far more discriminating manner.
    I feel the same now. I don’t “have” to go to yoga, although I may. I don’t have to walk 10,000 steps a day, but I might. I don’t have to learn Japanese, but I’m starting an intensive course on Monday (after months of “not” learning Japanese!). I’m finally starting to write, rather tentatively.
    Perhaps there is just a season – a season to go out and do everything and throw yourself into life and activity, and another season to hibernate and heal under the duvet. The delight of retirement is being able to choose.


    1. Thanks, Helen – I love learning more about your present life through your comments. I think we might be saying the same thing – from different angles. Mindful choice has you saying yes I’ll have the fresh ricotta (but not the other cheeses on the plate, thank you). It also has you saying yes to Japanese lessons (and intensive ones at that) but on your own time frame. I totally agree with you (and with Amelie’s comments below) that having the freedom to choose what, when and how is an incredible luxury for which I am immensely grateful.


  2. I am not retired but I pretend I am while I enjoy my 1 or 2 year off. I enjoyed reading your post and I could fully connect with the points you made.

    For me, this is a time for the Yes, the No and the Maybe but more importantly, this is a time for “me”. Doing what I want, when I want and not having to justify my choices. I can refuse to commit whenever I want to and this includes refusing to wake up with an alarm clock and being more selective with the social events I attend. I say yes to make the time to get involved in great projects such as volunteering with my partner’s track and field club to organize a regional competition or cook for an event to welcome newcomers in the area.

    When working, small things tend to pile on quickly to everything else and what could have been positive turns into something stressful. Having the time to breathe and think allows for them to be what they are: small and positive things worth exploring. This year, I have trained and completed a 6 days cross-country event. I am learning about designing websites and spending countless hours exploring vegetarian recipes. I even have the time to review my career and reassess my priorities. Changing careers can be an enormous source of stress but in this context, it is simply something positive that needs to be addressed.

    As you said it so well in your post, it’s all about being able to choose.


    1. Hi, Amelie – It is so great to hear from you! Thanks for reading and commenting. Sounds like you are doing very interesting things. Enjoy your time off and please keep me posted.


  3. Wow, Donna, you really did learn how to say YES!! I am so excited for you to take us along on the Camino Trail! I’ve never been but I’ve heard that it can be life-changing. I’m not sure I would have said “Yes” to getting up and out at 6:30, but it sounds like you had a great time. Thanks for the link-back!


    1. Thanks, Janis. I am excited about walking the Camino again. A few years ago, my husband and I walked just over 100 km from Tui, Portugal to Camino de Santiago. It was a stunningly beautiful section of the Camino as we traveled through woods, farmland, hamlets, as well as historic towns and cities. My husband and I are currently negotiating which section(s) of the Camino we will walk this July — the planning is also a big part of the fun!


  4. Well, Donna…Now you’ve gone and done it. Guess I’m gonna say yes to some yoga tomorrow morning (It’s at 9:00 – not 6:30!) And perhaps read a book in the sunshine this afternoon…and go for a walk later on…You’ve inspired me. Again. Thanks for that! ~ Lynn


    1. Hi, Lynne – It is very cool how we all inspire each other. I have also learned much from your blog. I look forward to your next post.


  5. That’s one of the things about my new friendship with you that I love,…………you’re up for everything, and you bring your joie de vivre, enthusiasm and appreciation with you! Last night was a perfect example, and wasn’t it fun and affirming? 🎨 And your immediate positive reaction when I asked if you would like me to pick up tickets for our next group activity, as you’ll be in Winnipeg, is another perfect example. What’s the worst thing that could happen? If we’re not loving it, we cut out early and go for lunch! But even though it’s a ‘new’ friendship, I know you’ll love it and it will be another fun, group activity. 🌺


  6. Thanks, Dawne! I appreciate your kind comments…and your continued reading of my blog. I look forward to the Home and Garden tour!


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