Thursday, October 18, 2018

How Saying Yes to Your Biggest Fears will Improve Your Life

by Dr Kyra Mesich,

Are you familiar with the book, Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes? The author was a successful tv producer and writer, yet she struggled with social anxiety. She was a powerhouse at work, but fell short in matters of her own health and wellness. Long story short, she decided to spend a year saying “yes,” to every opportunity that she would have normally declined – to everything that scared her – to everything she told herself she did not have time for (such as playing with her kids) – and to the things she needed to do for her own health.

Spoiler alert: The experiment turned out well! Shonda’s anxieties lessened when she simply said “yes” and did things that had previously scared her. She lost weight, strengthened her relationship with her kids, and renewed her interest in work and life…all by saying yes.

Now, some of you may be familiar with my previous blog posts about saying “No.” There is a time and place for no and a time and place for yes.
“No” is for the things that drag you down, that deplete you, that you do on autopilot because it’s always the way you’ve done it.
“Yes” is for the experiences that feel expansive, are energy-giving, and support your health and wellness.

It’s my 49th birthday today. I decided that 49 will be my Year of Yes, and I’ve already started! An opportunity presented itself recently to do something that sounded exciting but intimidating. It fit right in with my goals and desires, but held the possibility of abject failure and embarrassment. And it is…drum roll please…being a vocalist in a band!

As a youth and throughout many years of my adult life, it was clear that I was pretty tone deaf and couldn’t sing all that well…not horrible, but by no means great. (This was verified by others.)
In college, I had a couple experiences of finding myself involved in musical groups that were out of my league. I had to bow out. I could play the piano okay, but again, by no means all that well. I didn’t seem to have that natural, musical gift.

In recent years though, I noticed my voice changed. When I sang along to songs in the car, I was hitting notes I never could before. My voice just sounded…better. I have no explanation as to why. It just happened, and it led me to start exploring my voice in new ways. I felt a very strong desire to sing and started going out frequently to sing at karaoke. And you know what? I could sing! And doing it felt like a definite “Yes,” an activity that gave me energy, felt expansive, and overall just made me feel better to do it.

Then came the time for more. I needed to find the next step to further explore my voice and my relationship to music. Shortly thereafter, I received an email from one of my favorite non-profit organizations, She Rock She Rock. My daughter has participated in three Girls' Rock n Roll Retreat summer camps with She Rock She Rock. I was always so impressed with the tone She Rock sets for anyone to explore and experience music – completely nonjudgmental, completely supportive, and completely just jump in and do it no matter what! So unique in this criticism-filled world.

I had mildly considered registering for one of She Rock’s Women’s Rock n Roll retreats – similar to the ones for youth, but for adults - but wasn’t quite ready. Then the email arrived. Create a band and perform to fundraise for She Rock She Rock! So I pulled the trigger. I signed up as a vocalist as the first leap into my Year of Yes.

And what a thing to choose to get started, as there was so much more than just the singing to fear:

1. Joining together with complete strangers to form a short-term band. What about personality conflicts? What about scheduling? What about musical taste disagreements?

2. Holding my own as the vocalist on 3 songs with stage presence. A bit different from standing in front of a karaoke screen and making it through a song (And believe me, I’ve experienced disasters on karaoke songs. I know how it can go badly sometimes.)

3. Songwriting. She Rock’s programs include song writing as well as performing. My band will do one cover song and write two original songs. Something else I have never, ever done before.

4. Fundraising. Asking people for money for a fantastic nonprofit shouldn’t feel so hard, but it sure does.

Am I glad I took the leap? Yes!
Am I still in the middle of scariness? Yes!

Here are the stages I’ve been through so far…

Day 1: What have I gotten myself into? Why did I think this was a good idea? I should have started my Year of Yes a little later.

Day 2: She Rock She Rock assigns me to a band with three other women. I know none of them.

Day 2 Later: The first signs of potential personality conflict – someone else had signed up for vocalist in our band but was assigned to guitar instead. She wasn’t pleased. I took a breath, and decided to go into this with clear intentions for peace and fun. Despite some disagreements at our initial meeting, all went well!

Day 3: I have to play tambourine on our cover song. Why not throw in another thing I’ve never done while we’re at it? (PS. I’m figuring it out!)

Day 4: My reaction to impending songwriting: Oh no. I have no idea how to do this. How will I contribute? Did I get in over my head again?

Day 5: A bandmate supplies a guitar rhythm. The band says as the vocalist, I’m tasked with coming up with a melody. I pretend I’m okay with that.

Day 6: I listen to the guitar rhythm repeatedly. No melodies come to me. I listen to music in styles that I like, and listen to songs I’ve never heard before so I can more easily pick out the melody vs. the instruments. I think I can do this.

Day 6 Later: A melody for the chorus occurs to me while I’m cleaning after lunch. Yay!

And that’s where I am at this point…so glad I said “Yes!” I hope I’ve inspired you to say yes to something you want to do as well.

My band, "Unattached" 

Our show with the other fundraising bands will be Nov 11th at 7th St Entry in Minneapolis. Exciting and scary!

She Rock She Rock is an amazing nonprofit organization that gives female and female-identifying youth and adults an opportunity to experience music in an empowering way I’ve never seen anywhere else. Participants are encouraged to never apologize for making a mistake when practicing or performing, but instead to say, “I rock!”

I witnessed this happen on stage during one of the youth summer camps, and it was powerful! The girl transformed from “OMG, I goofed in front of an audience. I should be mortified” to remembering, “No wait, I rock for doing this at all!” Her energy completely changed and her performance was killer.

Your donation to She Rock She Rock will go directly to making scholarships available so there are no barriers due to income for participants, plus help She Rock purchase musical equipment and cover operating costs.

Even $10 will help me reach my goal of fundraising $300 for She Rock She Rock! So please consider giving to this uniquely cool organization. They need to be able to continue their work which provides a positive, empowering musical experience for hundreds of girls and women throughout the Twin Cities. (If you’ve ever dreamed of playing an instrument or singing in a band, I encourage you to try out a Women’s Rock n Roll Retreat. Learn more at

 Please donate now at my fundraising page.

Thank you!

Dr Kyra Mesich is author of The Strength of Sensitivity. She empowers sensitive souls to create lives of balance, peace of mind & lighthearted fun. Learn more at

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