When is it time to walk away?

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I used to do daily early morning posts of positive quotes — “Cheese-It Breaks” — to a, on the grand scale of things, tiny wave of enjoyment and appreciation, if one measures enjoyment and appreciation by likes, shares, and re-tweets. Who knows if they impacted anyone in a meaningful way. It was a fun couple of years endeavor that aligned with my life and interests. Share a bit of light (and occasional snark’ism) and hopefully invoke an occasional smile or head nod or pick me up.

One month, simply due to busy’ness, I didn’t do my regular scheduling of Cheese-It Breaks and said I’d get back on the horse “Next month.” Next month was about nine months ago.

And nothing’s happened.

No one’s asked me what happened to them. No one’s said they miss them. It’s as if they never existed. What’s that tree and the forest saying… That.

Which is ok. Cheese-It Breaks were a blip in “what I do.” I wasn’t doing them for fanfare.

BUT.

The ease with which they stopped and how I’ve never really had a desire to re-start them has me reflecting on other things that fill my time and on the To Do List that seemingly never shortens no matter how much I cross off.

Part of living a Life of Yes℠ for me means a To Do List that topples heavily with awesomeness and has the rare no-fun task sprinkled in. A perk of being your own boss and running your own business is that you do what you want to do, you work with people you want to work with, you wear pants when you want to wear pants. Autonomy, freedom — that is my siren call.

I am a hardcore subscriber to the thought that we control our own happiness. If something or someone has caused me stress in the past, that thing or one is removed. There’s very little in my life that I don’t want in my life.

Cheese-It Breaks being a distant if even that memory makes me wonder, as I get itches to do others things, as I tire of XYZ, what would happen if I removed ______.

A few years ago I made the difficult decision to walk away from three successful endeavors because while they filled my bank account, they no longer filled my soul —

  • I stepped down from running the Chicago Chapter of CRAVE, a female-entrepreneur group
  • I told my video production clients that I was hanging up my videographer and editor hats
  • I stopped teaching digital media to students in under-resourced South and West Side schools
    • being Ms. Saya was the hardest role to walk away from
    • teaching 3rd graders what “Inbox Zero” means and how not to abuse to Reply All is probably one of my top five happy-moments in life, not to mention the loveliness of their incessant inquiries and observations about my mom, my love life, and my height (“You Puerto Rican or something?” “You gonna have children, Ms. Saya?” “Dang, you taller than my daddy!”)

CRAVE, video, and teaching were all going swimmingly. But.

There were tiny monsters jumping around in my being, yelling in their tiny monster voices:

“You’re not as happy as you were.”

“You groan when projects (read: money) falls in your lap.”

“You’re starting to dread running events, opening Final Cut Pro, driving to 55th and Ashland.”

“Maybe it’s time to walk away…”

“You don’t want to get to that point of misery or burning bridges or doing a shoddy job or hating children.”

“Give something new a chance.”

“Walk away. Now.”

Though difficult in the moment, saying goodbye felt right and though I told myself, “You can always go back if things don’t work out,” I have never ever ever wanted to go back. Ever.

Other forms of goodness waterfalled into my life. Opportunities that I would’ve never dreamt up. Speaking in NYC and the Ozarks. Giving a TEDx talk. Leading webinars. Becoming a camp counselor. Becoming a storyteller. Increasing collaboration with Best Friend. Inching closer to becoming a NYT best-selling author. Travel to Norway, Sweden, Hawaii, Toronto, Vancouver, Cancun, New Orleans, Nashville, Denver, Maine… I’m missing some. That’s a frickin’ high-class problem if I’ve ever had a high-class problem.

So. What would happen if I did a repeat? Of walking away at the top? To pursue other goodness?

What would happen if…

Smatterings, my twice-monthly collection of random links, stopped appearing in people’s inboxes?

the Mingler this Saturday, the event that started it all eleven years ago and brought me Best Friend and brought other people spouses and friends and jobs, was the last Mingler not just of 2015 as I thought it would be but of ever?

Fear Experiment℠, the largest time-suck of “what I do”, stopped in March at FE10?

I walked away from some of it? From all of it?

I dunno.

Nothing? Something? Does it matter?

What matters is that my Life of Yes℠ doesn’t detour into a Life of Quasi-Yes or Sometimes-Yes.

“What I do” still makes me happy. But those tiny monster voices — I hear a couple of them in my left intestine.

6 Comments

  1. Lid
    Lid at

    Bravo! Well-formed & articulated. We forget that “yes” is often made sweeter by the amount of “no” we sprinkle on top.

    Something to think on. Maybe? Yes? No?

  2. Annie
    Annie at

    Reminds me of the book “The Essentialist.” You emulate the principles in that book better than anyone I know, Saya! I hope to live that way more in 2016.

  3. James M
    James M at

    Great read. I’m always keeping up, even when I don’t comment. Happy Holidays Miss Saya!

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