The Lemonade Project, "The Year of Yes"

The Lemonade Project, “The Year of Yes”

"The Year of Yes” began as a simple phrase association exercise between Tina and I. Building from a previous Lemonade conversation, we wanted this particular session to highlight the times that we have designed ourselves for others. When the user (the one who you are designing for) ceases to be you, and instead, becomes your job, co-workers, family, or friends, you can lose sight of yourself. In promoting yes, we are promoting self actualization."  -Blair Banks

Below, The Lemonade Project participant, Rivka Genesen, describes her experience at "The Year of Yes" session:

For years the first thing I did every morning was fail. I was desperate to become an early morning person who went to the gym before the sun came up so I set an alarm for 5:30 a.m. with the intention of getting to a spin class before the day began. Every day for years I aspired to be a different, fantastical version of myself and every day the first thing I did was reset my alarm clock when it rang out, resigned and defeated. Resolutions became premeditated self-loathing, so I adopted a policy of “no expectations.”

In the fourth session of The Lemonade Project, “The Year of Yes,” we set the foundation for the conversation with introductions (our names, which sometimes meant what the people who really know us call us, and an interesting fact). The intention was set at the start of the evening and truly adhered to- The Lemonade Project is meant to be a space for honest dialogue about race, gender, and class. Before we could talk about our resolutions after all, we needed an accurate appraisal of who we actually are and who we pretend to be. Do we trade in energy the time we spend at trying to remove our otherness and make ourselves “acceptable”?

We checked our bags, literally, for evidence, for relics of the past or for how we want to be seen by other. What do we carry with us, who do we carry with us? I’ve carried physical totems- a gym bag, phone numbers not dialed in years (or ever), and endless CVS receipts lining the bottom of my overlarge purse. What would it mean to cast off the weight of the books hauled from place to place but never read, to delete the numbers we choose not to call, let go of the friendships that grow increasingly toxic?

If I am ok with an evolving me, then I don’t need a new year as an excuse to morph into someone better and I can let go of that old January  “new year, new me” mentality. Instead I can make like Shonda Rhimes and set an intention to have a “year of yes.” Is “yes” an agreement to letting go of what no longer works? Maybe “yes” sounds like a no to other people. Maybe “yes” comes with judgment.

What is your “yes”?