The decision not to go.

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I need almost no reason to get on an airplane.

When a woman I met through an author asked me if I wanted to volunteer at her women's kilim weaving co-op in Turkey, I said yes.

When an online pal I'd never met, or even spoken to, posted a message saying, "We're looking for a place to stay in North America and we have a place in Buenos Aires," I emailed her immediately, organized an apartment swap and got on a plane a few weeks later so I could learn how to tango, in the world capital of tango.

And when a friend emailed and said, "Hey, we're taking our kids on a 3-month trip around the world, do you want to come and housesit our place in Switzerland," I said yes.

(I also once got on a plane and flew to Winnipeg to tell a guy I worked with on a daily basis in Toronto that I was crazy about him. And now we're married.)

(Okay, not really. That trip actually ended in a hangover.)

So, at the beginning of this year, when I was getting a lot of friendly pressure from friends and colleagues to come to London, Geneva and Lisbon, my first reaction was to start looking at my calendar and flights to see how soon I could be anywhere other than Montreal in the dead of winter.

I didn't need a reason.

I barely needed an invitation.

But for the first time in my life, I felt a bit jangly and torn about dashing off on a whim.

Because earlier this year, someone said these words to me: "We need to root to rise.".

This was in the context of a conversation about writing that led to a discussion about chakras.

Yep, chakras.

No one was more surprised than I was—or am—that I was having a serious and engaged conversation about chakras.

About the root chakra in particular.

And how if I wanted to reach and rise up to the level of my aspirations, I had to have really solid roots, that my basic needs had to be well taken care of.

I live a very privileged life by any standard and want for very little but as I learned more about the root chakra, I realized that I'd gotten pretty loose and lazy on a number of fronts. I had a solid track record of ALWAYS choosing adventure, exploration and escape over connection, abundance and security. Those things don't need to be mutually exclusive, but in my case they were starting to get that way.

So, for many reasons, root chakra-related and otherwise, I made the decision—the choice—to impose a travel ban on myself for 2019.

Now this doesn't mean ZERO travel outside the city of Montreal.

If there is a good paid gig somewhere, I will, of course, get on a train, plane or automobile.

But I will not be doing any personal traveling outside a 400 mile radius of Montreal until January 1, 2020.

Which means I can go to Toronto, but not London.

New York, but not Lisbon.

Quebec City, but not Paris.

The Interminable Escape Artist has been grounded.

And for two weeks after making this choice, I felt amazing.

I was going to throw myself into expanding my personal and professional community in Montreal. I was going to spend five weeks in Trois Pistoles, QC improving my French. I was going to spend hours and days and weeks in my studio painting and writing and going deep into creative projects.

And then a friend went to Paris.

And started posting pictures of croissants and cafes and the Eiffel Tower.

And I wanted to throat punch him.

(I am not proud of this response.)

Constraints can, indeed, spur creativity and incite action.

They can be the source of tremendous innovation and invention.

IF we have the courage and confidence to embrace them.

Which doesn't mean it's easy or comfortable.

And sometimes it means you want to throat punch your friends.

But if you can settle into constraints—if you can choose to embrace them, even if you didn't choose them—they can also start to feel liberating.

I no longer have to hold an angsty open tab in my head called "when am I going to Europe?".

I'm not going.

The decision has been made.

The answer is no.

What constraints exist in your world?

How might they be reconsidered as inspiration instead of impediment?

What are all the ways a "no" could become a new way forward?

And in case all of this talk about constraints and saying no is bumming you out, I'm going to leave you with my two little nieces, some of my very best teachers. They are living proof that there can be TREMENDOUS joy in saying no…

Karen Ward