My Year of Yes

//My Year of Yes

What is the Year of Yes? CityMom Cynthia says: “I decided if an opportunity presented itself to me, no matter how afraid I was or if I didn’t think I could accomplish it, I would try anyway. This blog post is about my adventures during 2016 – my Year of Yes.” Take it away Cynthia…


I was a working mom when I had my first child.

I had always thought that I would stay in the workforce even when I had children. However, life had other plans for me. I had 3 girls in quick succession and it proved to be cost prohibitive to keep them all in daycare so I began my journey as a stay-at-home mom.

After I began to sleep through the night again after my third child was over a year old, I felt like I didn’t know who I was anymore. Even though my kids were still little, the mom brain fog that I had living in was starting to lift and I was interested to see what I could do and who I could be.

Year of Yes - theCityMoms

I had heard about a book called Year of Yes by Shonda Rimes.

I had not read this book but I understood the summary of it to be that for an entire year, Ms. Rimes said yes to things that she was scared to do, things she normally thought she couldn’t do. She was conquering her fears and learning about herself. This sounded like something that I wanted to do. I had not done anything outside keeping my head above water by caring for my kids in a long time and I wanted to re-invent myself. I wanted to see who I was now as a mother of three kids and what I was capable of accomplishing.

So I decided that 2016 would be my Year of Yes.

When the New Year 2016 rang in, I began putting my plans into action. I discussed my Year of Yes with my husband and although he smirked at not knowing what this would entail, he agreed to be supportive. My first project was going to do a water drive for the people of Flint Michigan. The Flint water crisis had been declared in January 2016 (Not familiar with the Flint water crisis? See here.) and as a former environmental regulator and a mom, I felt like this would be a perfect project for me to start with.

Year of yes - theCityMoms

There were various places throughout Indianapolis that were collecting bottled water and taking it to Flint, so I thought this was something I could organize. I brought this up to the service project manager of the MOPS {Mothers of Preschoolers} group that I belonged to. She thought the turn around time was too quick to get MOPS leadership on board but she told me that I was welcome to organize it on my own.

I was scared, I had never done anything like this before and this was only my second semester as part of this group. I didn’t know the majority of the ladies in it. Yet, I felt compelled to go forward.  I stood up in front of these women I barely knew and I described the effects of lead on children and pregnant women. I told them how water could represent to the people of Flint that someone cared. Then I asked them to help strangers by bringing in whatever water they could. Then I held my breath and waited to see what would happen.

The response was incredible.

In less than two weeks, MOPS and the church community donated 77 cases, 32 gallons and nine liters of water, all to help the people of Flint. My garage was full of water. My husband couldn’t believe it and was wondering when he would get his workbench back. My five year old started telling people my job was to provide water for people who didn’t have it. I was amazed at the overwhelming response. I didn’t know what to do next for my year of yes. But the opportunity presented itself.


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One of my friends knew of my gathering water project and it gave her an idea. She asked me to join a church committee she belonged to. This committee is called the Day of Caring {DOC} committee. The DOC is where church members and members of the public go out into the community and serve instead of going to church on one particular day of the year. In 2016, the DOC committee decided to do one DOC project per month leading up to the month of September. They needed more ideas for DOC projects and people to run them. I joined the committee in the spring of 2016 and by July we had built a shed for a woman who had lost her husband to cancer, and we redone the garage for a family grieving the loss of their 5 year old son. My Year of Yes was gaining momentum, so I continued saying yes. Pretty soon, my daughter was on a competitive dance team, I was attending a 10 week citizen’s academy course, and instead of just being a member of MOPS I was asked to be the co-coordinator for the next two years. I was also the Girl Scout troop leader and I had completed my training to be a Wish Granter at Make-A-Wish. In addition, on the final DOC in September, my team organized a toy storage facility and donated toys to a local non profit that provides toys to sick children and their siblings. Whew!

The most amazing thing that I learned through my year of yes was how fast kindness spread.

It reminded me of the stories you read about people paying for other people’s coffee in line at Starbucks and how the people behind them continue to pay it forward. I didn’t have to persuade people to help others. If I provided people an opportunity to help, they would rise to occasion. And it was infectious. It was amazing how people would hear about this service project or that and it would inspire them to reach out and serve in their own way, or to start their own project. Kindness breeds kindness. I met many interesting people through these projects and made many wonderful connections. I demonstrated to my kids what it was like to give back to the community which is an example I wanted to set but I also showed myself what I could be capable of. After I became a mom it changed me so much that I wondered who I was and where I belonged. Completing my year of yes helped me to find myself and also showed me the impact one person can have.

Though my year of yes has ended and I have scaled back these projects, there is still a little spark in me that can’t help but say yes when I am presented with a challenge. Helping people who lost someone reminded me that life can be short. I choose yes today because kindness cannot wait.        

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Cynthia Holladay - theCityMomsCynthia Holladay is a former state air quality inspector turned Stay-at-Home mom to 3 precious girls. ​She was named Mom of the Year in 2017 by Fishers Magazine.

When she is not busy explaining to strangers in public that yep, her hands are full, Cynthia is obsessing over true crime stories, playing trivia, or drinking chardonnay and eating tiramisu.

2018-11-05T22:21:08+00:00November 5th, 2018|
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