The Deep Yes and The Brave No

Posted on May 23, 2014



In March, we bought our first electric car. Not only it is awesome not to have to buy gas every week, but it makes me feel like we’re really being as environmentally responsible as possible.

We dished out big money to have all energy-saver appliances when we bought our home, we’ve signed up with the most expansive recycling company in the Atlanta area, we conserve water, we compost and I cloth diapered my son until he was potty trained.  (We were even thinking about putting solar panels on our roof but for various reasons, this ended up not being a viable option.)

Now we’ve got a little electric car, too. So it’s official: We’re totally green.

With more children on the way, hopefully in the near future, we decided that we needed one big car as well.

This month, we traded in our gas-guzzling Explorer for an electric-gas hybrid SUV. This is definitely better than the environmental monstrosity we had before but is not nearly as cool as the electric car because it still requires an occasional fill-up at the pumps to run.

“Too bad there’s not a completely electric SUV,” I told my husband, which led us to a lengthy discussion about the Tesla Model X which is exactly that but way beyond what we can afford.

You can’t talk about Tesla in our house without discussing its genius founder, Elon Musk. My husband says that Musk is his personal hero and the more I learn about Musk, the more intrigued I am by him. He created Paypal, he’s in the process of developing electric vehicles with the intent of eventually making them affordable for the average consumer, and he’s even created pioneering space exploration equipment in an effort to colonize Mars.

In short, this guy is incredibly smart and gifted. I figured he must work a million hours a week to be able to do all of this and so naturally, I wondered what his personal relationships were like. Was he married? Did he have kids? And if so, how did he balance all of this with his almost freak-like inventiveness?

This is when I found his ex-wife’s blogs.

Justine Musk, who is a successful fantasy author, wrote prolifically about her marriage and divorce to Elon and for several days, I became obsessed with what she had written.

Her first blog chronicles her annoyance as being viewed as no more than a trophy wife when she was married to Elon. She talks about how the other wives only wanted to talk about their socialite parties and recent botox injections. At the same time, you can tell Justine is caught up in how big her lifestyle has become; she has a staff to help her take care of her five children and the mansion they live in, she mentions her designer clothes and handbags and she seems awestruck and fascinated (due to her husband’s connections) with her recently acquired insider knowledge of celebrities.

But over time, Justine begins to realize that she wants herself back. After writing about her frustrations with her messy divorce, she starts a new blog where she discusses her journey back to her authentic self, her values, and the process of learning to stand on her own ground, rather than in Elon’s shadow.

This whole personal transformation, chronicled in her blogs, is fascinating.

Justine Musk gave a Ted Talk last year on what she calls “The Deep Yes,” or, as she states, “What other people may refer to as self-worth.”

She states that in order for a woman to say a “Deep Yes” to anything and any one, she first needs to know what she wants. Only then is she able to muster up enough bravery to learn to say “no” to things that don’t align with her values and who she wants to become. Obviously, this is a woman who walks her talk.

After I saw Justine’s speech on The Deep Yes, I thought about my own life and my own deep yeses.

Take, for example, my commitment to preserving the environment. That’s an easy one for me. I love living on Earth and I want to stay here. As incredible as it may seem in theory, I don’t ever want my children or grandchildren to have to live on Mars if they don’t want to.  So I say a deep yes to as many environmental actions as I can (within reason) that will preserve our planet.

But other choices aren’t so easy.

This year, I’ve been trying to expand my coaching and consulting business into the corporate world and recently, I stumbled upon an incredibly good career opportunity. It was a 90 minute commute one-way.

Then there’s the not-so-great friends I keep in my life out of shared history.

And the  mundane things that seem like small decisions but which actually add up over time. Like, should I spend 20 minutes cleaning the kitchen so that I have a clean space to make dinner or should I spend those 20 minutes enjoying the tiny bit of free time I have to read a good book?

Every yes said to something is a no said to something else. Therefore, an energized and fulfilling life is going to have to be full of both deep yeses and brave nos.

Recently, a friend of mine shared a quote that read: If you don’t make the time to work on creating the life you want, you’re eventually going to be forced to spend a LOT of time dealing with a life you don’t want.

Isn’t that the truth?

With that being said, my month has been full of deep yeses and brave nos.

I’m tired of pretending to be interested in people and events that don’t really matter to me, so I took 400 ‘friends’ off of my Facebook account so that I wouldn’t have to scroll through pages and pages of nonsense to get to the posts I actually care about. I said no to the job with the 3 hour-a-day commute because if I took it, I’d never get to spend time with my family. Some days I spend time cleaning the kitchen, some days I spend time with a good book.  Some days I’m not sure if I’m actually making the best choices.

But after listening to Justine’s talk, I’ve realized that, even if I do make a mistake and choose the wrong thing, it’s okay. Mistakes are the way we learn.  I can always choose again. If I’m choosing, at least that means I’m creating my life than reacting to the lives of others, that I’ve decided to stand on my own ground, rather than in the shadow of someone else’s expectations.

I can tell you, from coaching hundreds of clients, that a life lived by conscious design is much, much better than a life lived by default. When you start saying the brave nos, you’ve decided to actually live your own life, on your own terms.

Who wouldn’t want to say a deep yes to that?