The Power of Yes (and an Invisible Canoe)

In this day and age, with all the demands on our time, resources and energy, many of us learn to stay afloat and keep our sanity by drawing our boundaries– by “just saying no.”  While boundaries are important and knowing when to say no is an invaluable skill, I would like to extoll the virtues of “yes.”

A recent project took me to Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis to film my friend Barbara McAfee singing her song “Yes.”  I heard her introduce this song in concert once, saying that when she began writing music as a twenty-something, one of her first compositions was entitled, “No!” She said it took her 25 years to write “Yes!” I laughed and thought of the classic behavior of two-year-olds, when they discover the power of the word “no” and can hardly be convinced to answer a question with anything else.

But what about “yes?” In the fast-paced daily grind, do we lose sight of the many things– big and small– that make us make us leap for joy, that comfort us when we need it, that sustain us?  Barbara’s song is a jubilant expression of just these kinds of moments and a beautiful reminder to pause and “just say yes.”

For the video, Barbara’s friend Tom Peter, The Tree Guy, known in the Twin Cities for his artistry with wood, loaned us his Crystal Canoe and joined us to help with filming.  I had no idea what a stir a seemingly invisible canoe could cause.  Everyone who saw us was mesmerized, from toddlers to hipster teens to leather clad motorcycle dudes to gray-haired grandparents.  Each and every passer-by broke into a huge smile and stopped to talk, both to us and to one another.  Many even sang along as we filmed around the lake.

As I witnessed the laughter, the conversation, and the joyful commotion– not to mention the sunlight on the water, the heron taking flight and the lily pads in bloom– I knew I was in the midst of a golden “yes” afternoon.

May we all dwell in the spirit of yes!

Barbara McAfee’s music is available at iTunes.  Her website is at  The Tree Guy can be found at

5 Comments on “The Power of Yes (and an Invisible Canoe)

  1. Wonderful video and I L O V E that canoe! At the end, Barbara raises her paddle straight up; that’s the Kayaker’s signal that “everything is OK” and is used especially in rough waters after a harrowing run. Barbara may not have known that, but it is so appropriate; “Everything’s O.K.”

    • Thank you, Randall! That canoe makes people smile just to look at. It is truly amazing. I adore the detail you added about the paddle signal. I was not aware of its meaning but am all the more glad for choosing that as the closing image now that I know! I had goosebumps that day filming so I was absolutely certain it belonged as the final shot.

    • Hi Randall,
      Barbara here. I had no idea that the raised paddle meant “Everything’s O.K.” I hadn’t planned that gesture during the filming. It was a complete (and somewhat surprising) impulse. “Oh, I’m going to do this now…..OK.” It will be fun to add this detail as the video makes its way around the world. Lucy tells me it’s been viewed in at least 55 countries so far….. Have a lovely day!

    • Thanks so much, Barbara, for re-blogging this post on your site. I highly recommend that anyone who stops by here also visit your blog and immerse in the wisdom you have to share about the voice. By the way, latest numbers show that Yes has now been viewed in 60 countries and continues its way around the globe!

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