Since arriving back in the States, I’ve felt a bit untethered. I already covered the Big Picture malaise, but there’s a totally different struggle in the day-to-day. With my employment situation currently consisting of two freelance assignments, I find myself with a lot of free time and, I think, a self-made barrier to using it well.

In the hopes of combating my own shortcomings, I’ve developed a new strategy. I have begun saying “Yes.” This is obviously not a new or profound tactic (see Jim Carrey’s 2008 movie Yes Man), but it works. Saying yes is, unsurprisingly, empowering.

Yes has led me to places I would not have led myself. I ran my first 5K this weekend, which to many of you will not seem like a big achievement, but I am NOT a runner. But I had fun! And I ran the whole way (again, emphasis on how not into running I’ve ever been)! And I had a great time with my friends and fiancé, and afterward there were mimosas. I could have said, “No, running is icky,” but instead I said yes, and I raced myself to a reward.

I said yes to an invitation from Adam to join him at a talk he was giving at an urban youth arts program, which prompted me to reach out to them separately, which prompted another invitation from the program coordinator for me to join a new committee. “Yes!” Some easy yes-moments allowed me a chance to become involved in a community and a cause I wouldn’t have pushed for on my own.

So now, because of that one word, I can impact the lives of some awesome kids through the power of art. I will enjoy the upcoming fall running nearby trails. I will continue to say yes, though I doubt my answer will result in any zany hijinks worthy of a big-screen rom-com. It will, however, result in me seeing the opportunities that have always been there and will build my days into the big picture life I’ve longed for.