Early in 2019 I read a book that discussed the power of willing something into the universe and to do so, you needed to be open and looking for opportunity. I’m a little skeptical of ‘willing’ something without ‘doing’ something, honestly. But I did sit with this thought and figured out that, to me, this really means being like a sponge and allowing yourself to soak up all the things around you. It means that you are open to ideas that normally you’d say no to. And that spoke (loudly) to me-how many opportunities have I inadvertently said no to because of some form of fear? Fear seems to play a huge part in why I may shut myself in my proverbial shell before I even begin to explore (think of a Cortney turtle, or a Cortney armadillo! What? New [scary]thing? Nope. Zoopt. Cortney armadillo!)
I recognize there are people out there that have minimal to no fear factor and just fly blindly into new adventures but alas, I am not (yet) one of them. That’s not to say I don’t push my comfort zones from time to time but when I read How to Be a Badass last year I was in a place mentally that I could recognize just how easy it is to make excuses to stay nice and cozy in my comfort—and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I don’t want to let opportunities pass me by that ultimately, could be something magical. Or at least worthwhile.
So, I spent 2019 saying yes to anything that I did not have a valid reason to say no to. If my ‘no’ was because I was afraid, it was not a suitable rationale for me-only logical ‘no’s’ allowed.
I had to first recognize just how often I ‘nope-d’ an idea before it even had roots. It took a lot of work to recognize those nopes! Once I could catch myself I could ask myself why. Why do I automatically want to say no to this? That was an eye-opening experience in itself that challenged me to have several heart-to-hearts with my own insecurities. “Well inner me, I don’t want to be embarrassed!” “And I don’t want to let people down!” Yeah, and recognizing where those fears generate from? Let’s just say this ‘not saying no’ thing was a rabbit hole of self-discovery.
Okay. So that’s all dandy but…how did I keep this up for an entire year? This sounds hard (IT IS) and like many Big Deals…something that could easily just be passed along after the book was finished.
I’m a visual person so I knew I needed a reminder to keep me open to opportunities and searching for things to ‘soak up’ whatever 2019 had to offer me. I needed some sort of talisman to remind me to not automatically say no to those hard feelings- and enter…Spongy.
Spongy is a centimeter cube piece of (unused) kitchen sponge that I have carried with me every day. It’s green and is always in my purse or pocket. Spongy is responsible for several major things I did in 2019 including:
- Applying and accepting an adjunct instructor position (I also had Spongy in my pocket my first day instructing)
- Taking up tap dancing (Spongy was in my bag, silently cheering me on during my recital)
- Making and fostering several new friendships
- Several random adventures (like going to Chicago on the hottest day of the year to stand in line for cookies… I could have used Spongy for a different purpose that day but it remained in my bag)
- Blogging more with the high hopes that what I share can help others
- Reaching out to have a few hard conversations with others that I had put off because, well, they were hard.
Some of the things Spongy brought into my life seem nuanced now. There are things that were ‘minor’ in the grand scheme of a year but being able to say yes more than saying no really created a year that I’m proud of. Spongy has helped keep me honest in my intention to grow and curate a life worthy of living. Sometimes it means mentally (okay, sometimes physically) running with reckless abandon into The Scary/Tough/Unknown thing but sometimes it actually means sitting back with my thoughts and working through them rather than pushing them aside and saying “no, I don’t want to think about that”. There have been tears. I think there may have been some cursing a kitchen sponge involved too-but ultimately Spongy has been the mascot I didn’t know I needed in life. Spongy and I will be working on balancing out some of the new from 2019 as we move into 2020 but I have no doubt we’ll continue to see new adventures together.
Have courage to suck at new things, friends. We’re all in this together-and I’m happy to provide you with a Spongy of your own if you need it. <3