We are delighted to welcome our newest contributor, Veeda Bybee! 
In a TED talk given last June, poet, educator and author Kwame Alexander opened his speech referencing a 2013 study by the University of Wisconsin confirming that language has the power to alter our perceptions. Alexander says, “Scientists believe that a single word has the power to change our reality. And that word is, ‘yes.'”
He goes on to explain how when we say yes to ourselves, we alter perceptions. We create our own reality instead of allowing someone else to do it for us.
For 2018, I want it to be a Yes time. I’ve seen people post on social media about their word for the year and this will be mine: Yes
I love it’s optimism, the way the word lingers on the lips. For me, it connotes positivity, like there is something to hope for.
Here are three things I’ve decided to say ‘Yes’ to this year:

1. Yes to being brave.

In small and big things. Example, I am going to find the courage to commit to my alarm clock. For months, I have contemplated a Kate DiCamillo writing schedule. This children’s book author wakes up at 5 a.m., writes a few pages and is done for the day before nine. She starts off her day doing the thing she wants to accomplish the most. 2018 is the year my alarm rings and I wake up not feeling negative, but excited to get to work.

2. Yes to self-care.

For writers, this can often mean saying no. In her book, The Year of Yes, television producer, screenwriter and author  Shonda Rhimes writes of the importance of making this boundary for yourself. Rhimes writes,
“Everyone knows how difficult it is to say no. It’s one of the reasons why people seem to be comfortable asking you for favors they have no business asking you for.”
When you understand that you deserve good things, saying ‘yes’ to using ‘no’ becomes easier. This year, I will make time for myself by saying yes to not doing things that don’t work for me.

3. Yes to service.

On the flip side, I also recognize the importance of helping others. I’m at the point in my life where my youngest child is in preschool and I can finally volunteer at my children’s school more. One of my favorite things to do is reading with the first grade class.
As someone who writes for children, being with this age group is prime research. I see what books they gravitate toward and feel their joy (or frustrations) with reading. It’s also a lot of fun to be with my own kid and this service has made me a better parent and writer. I’m going to continue to say yes in the classroom when the time works for me.
Yes doesn’t have to be your word for 2018. However, what are some things you would say ‘Yes’ too?
For me, I am excited for the possibilities of the next twelve months. Will this be the year where I create my own reality?
The answer: Yes.
veedaVeeda Bybee grew up in a military household, collecting passport stamps and dreaming of castles in far off places. A daughter of Asian immigrants, she has been writing and drawing pictures since she was seven years old. She is currently working on an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. A former journalist, she lives with her family in the Mountain West where she reads, writes and bakes.