Looks Like I’m Not the Only One Saying “Yes”…

Perfect Year of Yes postcards, courtesy of Birchbox (slash my colleague Kristen).

I hit a mini snag when trying to purchase yearofyes.com. And theyearofyes.com. It turns out I’m not the only one intrigued by the idea of a Year of Yes.

Though the reasons behind starting these projects vary, the underlying sentiment seems to be the same: And so, in honor of my fellow Year-of-Yessers, a roundup of some of their blogs and books.

Happy Yessing!

  • The Year of Yes — When you Google “year of yes”, the first link that pops up is the Amazon page for Maria Dahvana Headley’s memoir. (Meanwhile, I’m just flattered/amazed that one of my blog posts even made it onto the first page of Google search results…) Published by Hyperion in 2006, The Year of Yes chronicles the year that Headley spent saying yes to dates with anyone who asked her out—kind of an interesting experiment. Adding to my Goodreads queue.
  • The Year of Yes (this time on Tumblr) — I like this blogger’s tagline: “Adventures in living affirmatively.” (Could this be my kindred blogging soul sister?!) Though it looks like this Year of Yes Tumblr hasn’t been updated since 2011, the blog post called “What is Yes?” definitely rang true.
  • When I decided to go ahead and buy a domain name, theyearofyes.com wasn’t the only one taken; yearofyes.com was off the market as well. It turns out yearofyes.com is owned by a woman named Kate. She writes, “This is a year of travel for me, that involves saying YES to as many adventures, festivals, treks, parties, crazy food, embarrassing moments, new cultures, and fun as possible! Obviously a few rules are needed to prevent myself from ending up in jail, carrying around a multitude of attractive diseases, fearing for my life, or even marrying an alpaca! But other than a few exceptions, YES will be my new word!” I like to think “yes” is my [not-so] new word, too, but I’m lucky in that I’ve never worried about marrying an alpaca.
  • Grabbing Life by the Blog — As blogger Jarrod explains in this “Year of Yes” post, “I’ve developed a bad habit over the course of my life – I tend to say ‘no’ whenever people ask me to participate in things with them. It’s not necessarily that I don’t have an interest in what they’re doing – I just have a lot going on in my life that occupies nearly all of my free time… I do draw the line at some things (anything that involves bicycles, clowns, or reptiles, for instance) – but I’ve moved the line back significantly. It’s amazing to see how many opportunities there are to spend time with the people that I love, as long as I’m willing to be a little more flexible.”
  • Blogger Erinina has an entire “Year of Yes” category dedicated to the adventures that arose from saying “yes” for one whole year. Sooo basically her premise is a lot like mine, except with photos of kittens. Like, a lot of photos of kittens. I do love this takeaway of hers: “I think my biggest initial success with the ‘yes’ project though, has been in saying ‘yes’ to taking the time to get to know people past my first impressions.”
  • On A Practical Wedding (don’t ask—it came up in my search results), Maddie Eisenhart reflects on the addictive nature of saying “yes”: “It reminds me a bit of hoarding, but with opportunities. I was afraid if I didn’t take everything that came my way, I’d suddenly be without any opportunities.” I’m also digging her post on how her partnership taught her to say “no.” (More on saying no in later posts….)
  • Yet another Year of Yes blog: “2008: The Year of Yes.” (Spoiler alert: in 2009, the blogger moves over to Let’s Yes. Again, I’m on board with the tag line: “Avoiding tomorrow’s regrets by saying ‘yes’ today.”
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Twelfth Night + Twelfth Night = Twenty-fourth Night?

I’m kind of a Shakespeare nerd. Like, a really big Shakespeare nerd. I like to blame it on Mr. Morris, my ninth-grade English teacher. It was because of him that I learned about Shakespeare’s use of allusion (primarily to the Bible and Greek mythology), because of him that I wrote a paper on the meaning of the flowers in Ophelia’s bouquet, because of him that I know that when you re-arrange the letters in Caliban’s name you get the word “Canibal.” (Minus one n. But still, symbolic nonetheless.) My love of Shakespeare was only exacerbated by the fact that I had the chance to play Juliet in a camp production of Romeo & Juliet (I still have no idea how we pulled that one off… Learning all those lines in three weeks? I’m pretty sure I peaked at age 16.) Anyway. You get the point.

A few weekends ago, my friend Carly invited me to see the Pig Iron Theatre Company‘s production of Twelfth Night on the Lower East Side. It was a last-minute decision, one fueled by Year of Yes, and man oh man am I glad she suggested it. The production was quite possibly one of the best pieces of Shakespeare I’ve seen in my life—just contemporary enough that the dialogue made complete sense, and yet not modernized to the point that it seemed forced. It was as if as each scene was played out, new life was breathed into the words.

Henry Street Settlement – Abrons Arts Center

Listening to Shakespearean English is almost like watching a movie with subtitles: at first you think it’s going to be annoying and difficult to understand, but when done well, you forget you’re even reading—or in this case, watching. I completely forgot they weren’t speaking in modern English.

Seeing the Philadelphia-based Pig Iron Theatre Company put on a New York production was the perfect blend of college and post-college life, and this particular interpretation reminded me what about Shakespeare’s work I was drawn to in the first place: the fact that he’s a master of holding up a mirror to human nature in a bitingly smart and beautiful way.

Just a few weeks later, I found myself at another production of Twelfth Night, once again with Carly, but this time in Brooklyn. (Proof of just how much I love Shakespeare: I’m willing to travel to a different borough to see it.) Having just seen such a fantastic rendition of the play, I was a little skeptical about the Old Hat Theatre Company production. I know, I know—that’s a snobby and obnoxious (snobnoxious?) thing to say, especially as a former actor and someone who loves small, independent productions. But on the heels of the Pig Iron performance, I wanted to keep my expectations in check. After all, one of the biggest lessons I learned during Year of Yes is that expectation is the root of all heartache. (Fitting, considering that advice is often falsely attributed to Shakespeare himself.)

Shakespeare or not, the saying holds true. With expectation comes the potential for disappointment—forever two sides of the same coin. To an extent (particularly when it comes to how we treat others and expect to be treated in return), I think establishing expectations is healthy. I’m learning that it’s okay to have standards and hold others to them. But over the course of the past two years or so, I’ve also tried to be better about seeing things as they are, not as I would like them to be; I’m trying to dissolve as many expectations as possible to avoid disappointment. In doing so, I’m finding that I’m often blown away, as was the case with the Old Hat Theatre Company’s production of Twelfth Night.

Like the Pig Iron production, the Old Hat version was slightly modernized, albeit not quite as drastically. (One of my favorite parts? The actor playing Feste, the fool. He composed original songs—folksy, acoustic, and gorgeous—that gave the play a contemporary feel. Seriously, I want a recording of his voice ASAP. “If music be the food of love, play on.”) The acting was fantastic overall (standouts were the actors playing Sir Toby Belch, Andrew Aguecheek, and Malvolio), the blocking creative, and the use of light and music beautiful. It blows my mind that you can see two productions of the exact same show only weeks apart and yet have them be so different.

Lesson officially learned: expectation is, indeed, the root of all heartache. The other lesson? There’s no such thing as too much Shakespeare.

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Heart & Soul (Cycle): A Friend’s Blog Post

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to preview a post that my friend wrote for the SoulCycle blog. As a total word nerd and aspiring editor, I was flattered that she let me have a sneak peek; I’m thrilled to report that the piece just went live today! You can check it out here.

Before you write this off as a non-Year of Yes, post, though, let me clarify. I am SO proud of the friend who wrote this piece. A bad break-up was just the push she needed to try her first SoulCycle class, and her story is inspiring. Seeing my friends’ Year of Yes moments is even better than recounting my own. That said, asking to see her piece and offering to provide feedback was a baby step in and of itself. If I ever want to be an editor (perhaps by starting to do freelance work on the side), I’ve got to start somewhere, right? 

Who knows? Maybe a SoulCycle class will even find its way onto my Year of Yes bucket list….

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In My Pocket: February 28

My view while running in Central Park last weekend = stunning.

My view while running in Central Park last weekend = stunning.

Oh hey, March. Where’d you come from? Looks like you snuck up on me while I was busy doing other things… like not posting to Year of Yes. (Oops.) But a new month means a new start, and with it comes a Year of Yes moment worth blogging about: my first legit girls’ trip. (One that involves a flight, I mean. I’m not counting weekend trips while studying abroad or class trips in high school.) Sure, I’ve done weekends away with my girlfriends where we’ve gone down the Shore or—prior to moving there—to New York City. But until now, I’ve never actually planned a trip with a friend—at least not one that involved booking flights.

Thanks to Year of Yes, though (or maybe thanks to my friend Alex’s amazing planning skills), we’re currently en route to Colorado for a long weekend to visit our friend Becca, who moved to Denver last summer. Some may argue that going home isn’t technically a trip, but I beg to differ. Anyway, there’ll be more on that in a later post. In the meantime, it’s Friday, which means I’m doing a roundup of the articles in my Pocket. Have a great weekend!

Pocketed This Week (Spoiler alert: I’m pretty sure the theme of the week is books…):

  • BuzzFeed quizzes may be annoying , but their recent roundup of 22 books you should read now, based on your childhood favorites, was actually pretty great. Also great: this chart mapping out YA (young adult) adaptations of classic novels. (h/t Nadia Almahdi.)
  • I finally had a chance to read “A Sentimental Education,” which ran in the New York Times a few weeks ago, and am smitten, to say the least. What a beautiful, beautiful compilation. Writers of various genres talked about the books that taught them about love and highlight some of their key lessons. From U.S. poet laureate Natasha Trethewey to Scholastic’s own David Levithan, the writers’ different takes on love are fascinating. I’d call this one a must-read.
  • Another great read: this Salon piece on why libraries deserve to be hip. As the writer so eloquently puts it, “I love knowing the book I have for a little while is on a journey through many different hands. I love finding the receipts and the postcards inside them, and imagining who they belonged to. I like the connection. Reading is solitary but libraries are shared.”
  • Maybe some of the coolest news I’ve heard in a while: Amtrak might be offering residencies to writers. BRB—adding to my Year of Yes bucketlist immediately. (h/t Kristen Joerger.)
  • My friend Lauren started a fantastic series on Mashable called “The First 100,” which tracks down the first 100 employees at 100 startups and small businesses to ask them what it was like to get in on the ground floor. Among the companies in the spotlight this week: HowAboutWe, Reddit, BarkBox, Quirky, and Groupon.
  • I was shocked to see the results from the latest Women in Media report. When I mentioned it to my roommate, she suggested I read a Medium piece called “The Year I Didn’t Retweet Men.” Fascinating concept… I can’t say I’ll stick to it, but it’s definitely food for thought.
  • 15 Questions to Ask Yourself Every Friday (h/t Allison Stadd. Because obviously.) I love this idea of a weekly check-in—it might just be worth implementing.
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In My Pocket: February 7

A snow-encrusted tree on the UWS

Yikes. No new posts since last Friday? Not my best Year of Yes move. Regardless, I’m back with week 2 of “In My Pocket,” the Friday roundup of links that I read this week and loved or that I’m looking forward to reading over the weekend. Any suggestions to add? I’d love to hear ’em! Happy weekend, all!

Already Pocketed:

  • This might be one of my favorite things I read all week: “Aziz Ansari Wrote the Perfect Friday Night Lights Super Bowl.” Need I say more?
  • The Daily Muse published a great list of “27 Productive Things You Can Do in 5 Minutes.” (If you regained just five minutes of productive time per workday, that would amount to 21 hours a year.) Note to self: take the work tips to heart.
  • When it came to generating ideas for my #NaNoWriMo novel, I found myself struggling with writer’s block. If only I’d had this Fast Company list of 8 Ways to Unlock Your Inner Creativity — it seems pretty helpful!
  • This is what the Internet would look like as a world map. Cool, right? (Again, h/t Allison Stadd. May I recommend following her on Twitter immediately?)
  • In this week’s viral news: Two little girls came up with a list of 30 Rules for Boyfriends, and it’s spot-on. (e.g. #5. Good manners, or #29. Likes YOUR job.)
  • And, last but not least, Slate‘s Willa Paskin wrote a great piece about the weird sex issues on The Bachelor. As she so eloquently put it, “If Clare had bided her time and waited however many episodes until Juan Pablo invited her into his fantasy suite, she would have been celebrated as a woman willing to make herself vulnerable for love. Instead, she got the easy-woman edit and a scolding about sexual propriety from a guy proudly wearing multiple women’s spit.”

In My Pocket for This Weekend:

  • Working in the publishing industry, I’ve heard lots about a start-up called Oyster (rumored to be like Netflix for books). I’m fascinated to see how it evolves; luckily, Peter Osnos covered that very topic in  The Atlantic earlier this week. Can’t wait to read it.
  • Who doesn’t love an infographic? I’m hoping this HubSpot piece (5 infographics that teach you how to easily create infographics) will help me learn to make my own.
  • One of my favorite tech writers, Josh Constine, published a piece on Monday about Facebook’s news app, Paper, and whether it could be a Facebook replacement. I’ve been skimming articles about Paper all week, but am looking forward to reading his analysis.
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In My Pocket: January 31

My friend was featured on Humans of New York and somehow I didn't find out until this week. Best thing in my News Feed, no question!

One of my best friends was featured on Humans of New York and somehow forgot to tell me. I only found out this week. Best thing in my News Feed, no question!

There are certain weekly roundups (and daily ones, as in the case of Dave Pell’s NextDraft) that I consistently look forward to. Immaculate Infatuation’s Friday Fives? Love. Mashable’s “Must-Reads,” curated by the fabulous Megan Hess? Great. At Scholastic, our team pulls together some of our favorite links of the week in a roundup we call “In Our Feeds.” But no matter how much article-reading I try to do during the week, I constantly feel behind, like I’ll never have the chance to read All The Things. That’s where Pocket comes in handy.

Like Instapaper and Readability, Pocket is a “read it later” app designed to bookmark and organize the links you want to save for future reference. It syncs across devices, so all you have to do is install a “+Pocket” bookmarklet on your browser’s toolbar and with a simple click, an article or website is saved to your queue. From there, you can go all OCD and search/tag/archive. (They’re not paying me to write this, I swear. I’m just a big fan.) Anyway.

I’ll probably never get to Pocket Inbox Zero due to the fact that I save an embarrassing number of articles each week (sometimes I’ll Pocket a piece I’ve already read just so I can go back and do a deeper read later; other times I’ll Pocket a link via Twitter without even clicking), but weekends are the perfect time to play catch up.

That leads me to this post. From here on out, I’m going to try a Friday “In My Pocket” series, touching on some of the cool links I stumbled upon throughout the week. Some were recommended by colleagues, others I came across by accident, and more often than not, they’re things that friends or acquaintances shared on their feeds. Many I’ve read (or watched); some are on my list for this weekend. Either way, I found them worth sharing.

So, without further ado, here’s the first batch, coupled with a photo I came across this week. Have a great weekend!

  • My friend Callie sent me a wonderful interview from The Hairpin earlier this week. In it, Jen Doll interviews writer Sara Eckel about her new book, It’s Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons You’re Single. My takeaway: “Instead of trying to figure out what’s “wrong” with you, why not think about what’s right with you?”
  • Did you know that Google has an awesome interactive music timeline that you can explore by genre?! I sure didn’t. Warning: it’s kind of addictive… (h/t Allison Stadd).
  • I totally loved last weekend’s New York Times Op-Ed piece by Charles M. Blow on why reading books is fundamental. As he so beautifully put it, “There is no intellectual equivalent to allowing oneself the time and space to get lost in another person’s mind, because in so doing we find ourselves.”
  • This Lifehacker piece totally struck a chord. It’s not new — in fact, it came out in 2012 — but never before have I read something about a compulsive love of organizing that hit so close to home. The crux: “I think lifehacking is so seductive because it’s simply easier than asking some bigger, harder, more important questions about where your time and attention go.”
  • I’m always on the lookout for my next great read. (Just finished The Goldfinch this morning and am already going through withdrawal!) Luckily, Judy Blume and Lena Dunham have curated a reading list, which should tide me over for a while.
  • And, last but not least, I came across this perfect short from Disney–a romantic animated piece about finding love. Looks like I know what I’ll be watching this weekend….
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In Defense of Plaid: A Colorado Girl Goes Country in NYC

I know, I know. I’m from Colorado. I should be well-versed in all things country-western: music, line-dancing, cowboy boots. Though I have the music part down and can line-dance with the best of ’em (it was our PE unit in third grade, after all; we even line-danced at prom!), I’m embarrassed to admit I had never been to a country concert. That is, until last night. Apparently you have to get the Colorado girl to the east coast for her to embrace her western roots…. Self-consciousness aside, the Keith Urban concert at Madison Square Garden last night was nothing short of spectacular. My sister and I — longtime Keith Urban fans who would blast “Days Go By” driving to and from school — decided it’d be the start of a new trend: a monthly sister date during which we do something special together. (As if we don’t hang out enough… But still. It’s fun to have something to look forward to.) I can safely say I’ve never seen someone work an audience like Keith Urban did.

First of all,  the opening acts — Dustin Lynch and Little Big Town — were awesome. Then, right when we thought things couldn’t get better, a staffer approached us and asked if we wanted to switch seats and move way closer to the stage. (Section 104 instead of 227? Yes, please.) I’m pretty sure I have that staffer to thank, at least in part, for making the concert such a classic Year of Yes experience. In addition to being phenomenally talented (seriously — I was utterly blown away), Keith Urban has a captivating stage presence, a ridiculously good band, and, of course, an Australian accent. At one point, he even brought a girl who’d been holding a sign that said, “A Stupid Boy Broke My Heart” onto the stage, sat her in an easy chair, and proceeded to serenade her. I’m pretty sure my jaw hit the floor. Just to top it all off, he made his way into the crowd and performed at a few songs there, and then did the same again later on, but that time also signed his guitar and gifted it to a girl in the audience. (Ok, fine, sort of extravagant.) But getting to see one of my favorite country artists with my sister and do our little “Days Go By” dance live? That was best night I could’ve hoped for.

All this, of course, happened on the heels of my first-ever rodeo (or, as they call it, Professional Bull Riding). It turns out January 2014 was quite the month for country experiences at MSG…. Saying yes to the rodeo/PBR event was a no-brainer; as I mentioned back in November, I love any excuse to dress up — which, in this case, meant plaid — and was excited to try something so un-New York-like. Though it was my first rodeo (which, by the way, everyone loved pointing out I’d no longer be able to say), the whole experience made me feel closer to home. Getting to blend the vibes of my current home and my childhood home? Giddy-up.

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Do What You Love

Special thanks to my sister (who’s part of the WeWork team) for this awesome reminder.

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New Year’s Resolution Chili

New Year’s resolution #1: Eat more healthily. New Year’s resolution #2: Bring my lunch more often.

Last night’s veggie chili just so happened to kill two birds resolutions with one stone. Inspired by a friend of mine at work who always brings amazing-looking/smelling lunch from home, I decided to Google a few recipes and blend them together to create my own. The result? Essentially a New Year’s resolution in a bowl. I highly recommend it! (Plus, it’s super cheap and easy. What’s not to like?!)


Serves 46.

  • Olive oil
  • 1 15-oz. can of crushed tomatoes
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1 can garbanzo beans (chick peas), drained
  • Scallions (optional for garnish)
  • Cheddar cheese (optional for garnish)
  • Sea salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • Chili powder (to taste)

DIRECTIONS: (brace yourself–this is really complicated!)

  1. Wash and dice/chop/cut up all your veggies.
  2. Heat some olive oil in a pot. Add the onions, carrot, garlic, jalapenos, red pepper, tomato, and any other veggies you happen to find in your kitchen. Let them soften.
  3. Rinse all three kinds of beans in a colander. Add them to the pot as soon as the vegetables are tender. Stir in the crushed tomatoes. Add salt, pepper, and chili powder to taste.
  4. Garnish with scallions and cheese and serve! Voila!

I paired this with roasted Brussels sprouts, mini-corn muffins, and red wine. Just a suggestion… Enjoy!

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2014: Another Year of Yes

Background image via Robbie Biller on Flickr

Year of Yes is back after a way-longer-than-planned hiatus and man, does it feel good!

First and foremost, Happy New Year! May your 2014 be healthy, happy, and full of exciting opportunities that beg you to say YES. As I’m learning, Year of Yes is much more than a 12-month span; it’s a commitment to a new outlook, and I’m so grateful to those of you who’ve helped me get there. (My friends and family joke that it’s more like “Life of Yes” than “Year of Yes” these days, but I’m keeping the blog name. What can I say? I’m a sucker for alliteration.) From inspiring this project in the first place to encouraging me to write; from sharing my posts on social media to subscribing to the blog; and from leaving thoughtful comments to texting me when you spot a typo, I couldn’t be more thankful for the outpouring of love and support that Year of Yes has generated.

I like to think of Year of Yes as paying it forward somehow: I’m so thankful for the friend who inspired me to start Year of Yessing and can only hope the enthusiasm continues to be contagious. Nothing makes me happier than when a friend or a colleague or even an acquaintance says, “I wasn’t going to do XYZ, but then I thought of your blog and ‘Year of Yes’ and decided to just do it.” For example — determined to say yes to new experiences — one of my best friends jumped back into the dating pool and worked up the courage to ask out a guy she met on an airplane (spoiler: he said yes, too!). Another one of my friends, while debating about taking on a fantastic-sounding freelance project, told me she couldn’t stop thinking about Year of Yes and how she should just say yes to the opportunity, even if it meant a lot of hard work. Though I can’t take full credit, I have to say–I’m really proud of all those who’ve embraced the “Year of Yes” mindset.

There’s so much to catch up on since I last posted: NaNoWriMo; Thanksgiving (I was so determined to write a post about what I’m thankful for!); the holidays; an impromptu trip to Mexico; my first-ever rodeo (stay tuned–there’s video!); New Year’s resolutions; end-of-year wrap-ups; and — the biggest one for me — the loss of a loved one. (My wonderful grandfather passed away on Thanksgiving Day at the age of 91. More on that to come.)

I hope you’ll bear with me as I re-group and get back on the blogging bandwagon. In the meantime, happy, healthy 2014! I’m wishing us all a wonderful year ahead.

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