By Martha Eleftheriou
It was a Saturday morning and my husband was unexpectedly working on this day which meant I had both my girls (ages 8 and 18 months) at home with me. It was a beautiful summer morning and I planned to take them to the local playground for a walk and playtime. As we were wrapping up breakfast, my sister called and asked me if I wanted to join her and another family at an art gallery in a nearby town. It was the gallery’s 50th anniversary and they would be having an open house all weekend with free admission and various art themed activities for both children and adults. I really love this gallery but my first inclination was to say no.
I stopped for a moment and questioned myself. Why was I saying no? Why was I choosing not to go when this is a place we all enjoy going to? My answer was simply convenience. I was feeling like it would be so much easier to walk to the local park, than to pack up two kids, a diaper bag, snacks, juice, milk, jackets and the all the other things you need when you venture out with young children. When I realized my saying no was just because it would take more effort for me to actually go, than not to go, I changed my mind and I said yes! I decided I wanted to have this experience at the art gallery with my family. So I called my sister back and said YES!
I packed up my girls and headed to the gallery. This gallery is extremely special because it’s located in the center of a beautiful natural reservation surrounded by forest, rolling hills and nature trails. We arrived earlier than my sister’s family so we walked around the grounds and noticed there were many artists set up painting the natural landscape on their easels. I took in the sights, sounds and smells of nature along with the local artists’ paintings, and I felt so good with my decision to have said yes.
Within a few minutes, a local youth volunteer approached us and asked me if my 8 -year -old daughter was interested in participating in an art battle for kids. I asked my daughter and she immediately said yes. My daughter chose her easel, put on her smock and waited nervously to begin her painting. This was a timed competition with only 20 minutes to complete a natural landscape painting. My sister, her family, and her friend’s family had arrived by this point and were excited to see my daughter ready to paint with a paintbrush in hand. The timer had begun and my daughter began her painting.
She carefully mixed the colours she wanted to use and painted with a fierce focus and determination. After twenty minutes, the buzzer rang and the children were told to stop painting. The judges walked around to assess all the paintings, and to my absolute surprise, they chose my daughter’s painting as the winner! My daughter was over- the- moon thrilled with the fact that she had just won the competition. For the rest of the day she couldn’t stop talking about how much fun she had at the gallery, and when we got home, she couldn’t wait to show her painting and tell her story to my husband.
That night, after I put my daughters to sleep I sat and stared at my daughter’s painting. I couldn’t help but feel tears well up in my eyes, not because she had won, but because she had received a beautiful gift in the form of a life experience she otherwise would not have received had I said no. I made a vow to myself to be a “yes” person more often. When we say yes to life, life responds to our yes and returns to us beautiful and magical gifts in the most unexpected ways. Today, say yes when life asks you to stretch yourself, or get a little bit uncomfortable.
You never know what resides on the other side of your yes!
Martha Eleftheriou is married and a mother to two beautiful daughters ages 8 and 1 years old. She is a transformational and spiritual Life Coach, a certified elementary school teacher (OCT), Reiki Master and Yoga Teacher (RYT). Aside from passionately working with people in helping them to uncover their dreams and purpose, she loves reading, writing fiction and non-fiction, as well as taking regular nature walks. On the inside, she is an eternal soul seeker. She loves to question, ask, learn, un-learn, re-learn and live her life as true to her core values of love, compassion, honesty, and service as best as she possibly can. She lives with her family in King City, Ontario, Canada.