In the fourth grade, I remember my friendships vividly being centered around making pacts. A normal week consisted of pinky swearing you'd save a seat at lunch or promising you'd meet up for a bike ride after your homework was done. Life was pretty simple back then and it was always propelled forward by fun.
Yet, somewhere along the way things got complicated, responsibilities piled up and schedules among my friends became difficult to sync up for so many reasons.
So, blame it on a quarter-life crisis or just being fed up by having to "adult" - but I found myself making a pact with the same friends that have stuck by me throughout the years. The pact to have more fun and say 'yes' to doing things out of the norm of a usual routine.
The idea of the pact came up when me and, my friend, Jared (we've been best friends since elementary school) were having our regular check-in calls early in the New Year. We got to talking about this very topic and decided that, like Shonda Rhimes' book Year of Yes. How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person, this was going to be our "Year of Yes." For example, we would go to see a concert on a 'school night', take a spontaneous weekend getaway, and schedule monthly dinner dates with friends. Whatever we felt like we had been putting off - that was fun and do-able in our daily lives - we were going to go for it.
Little did I know then, that this overall concept would become a lifeline and a new mantra.
Not too long after our pact was made and a few fun plans had been set, it seemed like bad news had its way of finding me week after week. The biggest being, my Nonno (grandpa) needing to be on Hospice care, followed shortly thereafter by my Grandma being rushed to the ICU for a head trauma. My free moments were devoted to my family. Thankfully, I had my friends to drag me to a dinner or a random coffee date to try to keep me sane, but that was all I could mentally and physically manage.
When my Nonno passed away in early June a spark within me became a burning flame. It all sunk in how short life really is and that things can change so incredibly quick.
As the summer months marched on, I decided that I wasn't going to grieve the loss of my grandfather, but I was going to celebrate life the way he would want me to. I became obsessed with the "yes" pact and pursuing fun.
Shortly after his funeral and with my grandma on the mend, the answer "yes" had me running at full speed: I went to my best friend's wedding on Long Island, I visited the September 11 Museum in New York City, I flew straight from there to San Diego for a week-long trip with a gal pal of mine, I went to a Britney Spears and Taylor Swift concert two nights in a row when I returned to the East Coast, I saw Mamma Mia 2 in VIP seating with my mom and her friends, I road-tripped to Penn State to see my brother and attend a Kevin Hart show, followed by a Sunday night Christina Aguilera concert at MGM National Harbor - not to mention the last minute breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee, movie, pool day and girl's day/night plans that I said yes to ... over and over and over again.
And I have no intention of looking back.
As an adult with a full-time job and responsibilities, I was living for my weekends ( I used to joke that was my motto). That's two days out of the week. That's 8 days out of the month. What was I doing with the rest of the time I've been given?
The pact became a liberating and rewarding way to live my life. Pursing fun quickly became second nature once I allowed myself to do it. Now, instead of pinning "10 Fun Road Trip Ideas" or "100 Things To Do Before You Die" to my Pinterest board ... I pick the ones I most want to do, work it into my schedule, see if a few friends want to come along - and if not, run after it on my own.
The pact has also helped me to build stronger friendships, create new ones and collect so many countless memories in such a short period. Can you imagine a lifetime of living that way? I can.
The most exciting part is that the year and the pact isn't over. I think we all owe it to our fourth-grade selves. And for those of you that haven't been living this way - get started right now.