July 10, 2017

The life-changing magic of saying YES

After my trip to Paris, I came home last week at 3:30 in the morning on Tuesday, almost delirious with jet lag and exhaustion. I fell into bed and slept like the dead. Still, I woke up at 8 am, so happy to be back home and eager to greet my animals, whom I miss terribly whenever I'm away for more than a day. 

I skipped outside into the brilliant sunshine, ready for some serious dog-hugging and horse-petting, when ...

... there was a new horse on the pasture. What the hell? Where did - I did a quick check - she come from? "Richard again," I muttered under my breath, used to spontaneous animal purchases by my animal-loving husband. 
I greeted the new horse and the other horses, my 5 dogs following me around like my personal entourage. When I reached the goat pen, the next surprise awaited me: 2 new goats. Again, we hadn't planned on getting more, but I guess a couple more goats didn't make a big difference. "Crazy man," I couldn't help but tell the goats, who were unimpressed.

When I walked back down the hill towards the house, I heard an unusual sound. What was it? It almost sounded like a dog whining, but all my dogs were following me, content and silent. I looked around, trying to figure out where the sound had come from. As I was approaching the house, it was getting louder. The carpenters were working on our barn, and I asked if they knew what it was.

"There's a new dog in the horse trailer," they told me matter-of-factly. What?!? 
Sure enough, as I peered inside, a beautiful, black face looked up at me hopefully. The dog was huge, as big as our Great Pyrenees Bear, and just as fluffy. 

I ran into the house and straight into the bedroom, waking Richard up. 
"Why is there a dog in our trailer?" I demanded. "And why do we have a new horse and more goats??"
Richard sat up sleepily, yawning and rubbing his eyes, before proceeding to explain that the dog was only here temporary and supposed to go to someone else, as were the goats. The horse, however, was a deal he couldn't pass up: He traded her for 42 rabbits. 

Now, before I continue, I have to explain that I grew up in a 'No'-household. "That's not necessary," was my mom's favourite saying, used frequently whenever I wanted to go somewhere, do something just for fun, or get something new. I still remember how I begged to get a mountain bike, having had to ride an old folding bike for years, and my mom saying that "all bicycles are the same".  It's like saying a tractor and a Ferrari are the same. I was aghast at her cluelessness.
This is not the same as a mountain bike

Anyway, I grew up hearing over and over that doing things just for fun wasn't necessary. And while I resented that attitude, I subconsciously adopted it to a certain degree.   

Fast forward to life with Richard. My husband is the complete opposite to my parents; he is the embodiment of loving life and having fun. He says yes to house guests, parties, dinner invitations, vacations with friends, spontaneous get-togethers, looking at someone's new house/pet/plant, to new food and new experiences.

When his then 8-year old daughter wanted miniature goats, he didn't say "you don't need a goat" - he bought her a pregnant goat and ended up raising goats for many years.
When 6 of his childhood friends wanted to visit him 20 years ago, he said "sure!", took time off work and showed them around.
When the same friends invited him to go on a week-long trip to Majorca this year, he enthusiastically agreed.
When a guy he met and liked wanted to immigrate to Canada, Richard not only helped him with work, he also offered him a place in our home, and the guy ended up living with us for almost a year.
My first impulse is often to say "no", while his is almost always to say "yes". 

As you can imagine, that created some problems in the beginning of our relationship. 
The thing is, lots of things in life aren't necessary. Going out, going on vacation, buying yet another dog, inviting people over for dinner - none of these are 'necessary'. Most of them involve spending money and/or work, like having to clean the house and cooking when you're inviting guests.
I often thought we should say no more often to save money and be more responsible. I had this vague motion that being an adult meant work, paying bills, and going to bed early. 

Not for Richard. He truly lives every day as if it's his last. That doesn't mean that he is irresponsible, extravagant or not concerned with the future; but it means that he doesn't wait to fulfill his dreams at some distant point in the future. 

"If I don't do it now, I never will,"
he often says. Not only do we not know how much time we have, we also don't know how fit and healthy we will be in a few years. 

A frequent guest in our house repeatedly pointed out that we don't need horses. "You barely ride, they cost money, and Richard isn't getting any younger. What do you need horses for?" Hitting a weak spot, I would start to question our choice, and wondering if he was right and we were wrong. 
Richard's reply was simple: "I like them, so I keep them." 
Do we need them? No. 
Do they make us happy? Hell, yes. 

That's the thing about saying yes to life's little frivolities - they are fun and make us happy. That they are not 'necessary' is not an obstacle for people like my husband - it's an incentive. 

Due to his tendency to say yes we think nothing of driving 5 hours just to meet friends for dinner; we have driven 2500 km to pick up a puppy; we went on a vacation to Peru with 3 other couples, never having met one of the couples; we have been given 3 dogs; we have visited a dance temple and danced with topless women; we sat around the campfire with a man who was wrongfully convicted for murder

Saying yes to new experiences has enriched my life beyond my wildest expectations. It doesn't come naturally to me, but thanks to my husband, I have learnt to be more open to life's surprises. 

And the dog?
We decided to keep him, and named him Barney. All 3 of us are convinced that it is meant to be ;-)

xoxo Miriam


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