YES.

2009 was The Year of Doing Things That Scare Me, and I certainly did plenty of scary things. I spent the year running through an evolving and unordered list of challenges that helped me confront and conquer a lot of fear that I've held on to for much too long.

I started a daily photo project. I didn't finish it, but that's ok because I got what I needed out of the exercise.

I took bellydancing lessons, which helped me love my curves.

I also started exploring some other aspects of my personality:

different sides of myself

I became a platinum blonde:

 

changed my hair color

I read at Mortified:

read in front of a crowd

I traveled. San Diego in January. North Adams in May with my Mom. Then San Francisco in August, where I ran semi-topless through a vineyard in Napa:

running topless through wine country

I also skinny-dipped in Walden Pond at midnight. But pictures of this exist solely in my memory.

I saw a lot of live music, not the least of which was Amanda Palmer in Northampton. I offered a ride to two perfect strangers and drove out there for an amazing show (and now I have two new friends). Ms. Palmer's fearlessness and energy continues to inspire and move me.

Creatively, I tried new photo techniques, like TTV:

Salvation Mountain. Photo hobby

...and digital pinhole; Lensbaby; Diana F+ with Instamax:

 

As they say in yoga, find your edge and go deeper. I took portraits.

I gave myself "field assignments" and dammit I completed them even though I was nervous or lazy.

taking photos for fun creative photography for fun

 

I truly found my art again and realized how vital it is to my existence. I accepted that my work is dark and imperfect and not to everyone's taste. But it doesn't matter. I do it for me.

While I accomplished many wonderfully gratifying things, I had to face something that wasn't on the list. Something I couldn't plan for, the scariest thing of all: separating from my partner of 10 years.

going into the unknown. conquering fears overcoming the unknown. sleeping alone

 

I moved. I bought a new car. I spent many warm nights driving around with my windows down and music turned up really loud. Just thinking. Breathing. I dated (and yes, it was too soon but I met some really lovely people and learned a lot about myself).

rebuilding your life liberation from fear. taking the scenic route

 

I also found a hunger for meeting people, going places and seeing things. I gave up trying so hard to be perfect. I confronted assumptions and let go of worrying about what other people thought of me. I became determined to break out of the bubble I've kept myself in all my life and I opened up my mind, my heart to new experiences. I took some chances — gestures that would seem small and insignificant to some but were huge steps forward for me. Sometimes it worked out, sometimes it didn't. But I came out stronger and wiser.

The list of challenges will continue to evolve and grow. So, in January, I declared 2010 to be The Year of Saying Yes. Because all my life I've said 'no' too many times for the wrong reasons.

I have said yes to more life and more love. More art and more music. More laughter and more heartache. More edges and more depth.

Yes.

Yes.

Yes.

Read more at yearofyes.tumblr.com