By Leila Dycus
Madison resident Randy Gregg, author of the book Living Yes in a No World, is much more than just your everyday author. He has started a Facebook community, which chooses to “live yes.”
Gregg started the journey towards writing his fourth book by posting a few simple ideas on Facebook, which would later evolve into much more, including a retreat, webinars and a community of people who come together to share their life stories.
“I had an idea, or dream, to write a book, for some time but a couple of things came together. One of them was Facebook. The person that had helped me develop my website suggested that I become more active on Facebook, and I had started to post up just random thoughts, and one day I put up for whatever reason I like the word ‘Yes,’” said Gregg.
People started commenting on his posts, but their responses were much more than just comments. The comments held stories of people and their life experiences. As Randy posted a new idea, his followers responded generously.
“I had talked to a friend of mine, Carol Mathias, a therapist, and we were talking about book ideas and I had gotten blocked and just couldn’t find any creativity and she asked me, she said, ‘Randy what do you think the question is that life has been asking you all along?’ and I said, ‘Well, how to live yes in a no world.’ And she said, ’Well there is your title,’” said Gregg.
Now that he had a title, Randy was able to go back to social media and start gathering more stories from his friends and family, which would later turn into his book, Living Yes in a No World.
In all there were 45 people that the book mentions as playing a role in contributing; of those, six were from Morgan County. The participants from the area were: Jeff Davis, Jim and Ann Ross, Lindsay Peaster, Laura Hardester and Monica Simrad.
As the posts and stories grew, so did Randy’s perspective on how the book was going to have to be much more than just cut-and-paste. Randy described this realization and how from there he had to do a lot of “soul work.”
Part of this soul work was coming up with a way to organize the book into sections and fitting the stories of those who contributed into the context of the book itself. Living Yes is comprised of six sections, which walk readers through the path of choosing to “live yes.”
“There were sections of the book that were pretty clear to me: beginnings, sources, entrances and exits, wounded spirits, healing souls, and rebirth.”
As the book developed with help from friends, Randy was introduced to a therapist who used art as her medium. Randy met with the therapist and they turned each of the stages of the book into images, which he uses when describing the steps of the book, as well as at his first retreat.
Gregg’s first retreat took place on Saturday, April 13 at the Valley Farm farmhouse here in Madison. The event invited people who were involved in the creation of Living Yes as well as others whose lives were about choosing “yes.” In all there were about 16 people at the event.
Gregg described how the retreat took participants through a brief history of the book; it introduced the word “yes,” and discussed how we use the word “yes” today. He used discussions and activities, such as writing the words “yes” and “no” on a board and asking participants to come up with meanings of the words.
“I was trying to get the group thinking out there what is this word and what does it mean to us,” said Gregg.
One of the concepts that Randy stresses in his book as well as on his Facebook page is the need for community. At the retreat participants were lead in discussions that spurred communication with each other.
“The biggest surprise that I experienced at the retreat was the openness of all in attendance. Because of the security we felt, as Randy lead our discussion, I noticed that others, as myself, were sharing life experiences that were being remembered by relating to the stories that are found in Randy’s book,” said Reverend Mickey Moss, one of the attendees of the Living Yes Retreat.
The book served as a guide for the retreat, however, the main idea of the whole event was encouraging others to live “yes.” Randy discussed how after the retreat was over he went home and rewrote it completely. “There should be more retreats monthly that the community could become apart of! Doctor Randy is a brilliant and purposeful person! He understands people,” said Bob Mackey, another attendee of the event.
Among many other ideas that Gregg has for the future of the book is the hope to host quarterly retreats. He also wants to make the retreats weekend retreats rather than just the one-day versions like the April event. His dream is to take these retreat events and turn them into a week-long conference, incorporating other professionals that “live yes” and allow them to use their talents to encourage and teach others.
Randy does not want to stop at retreats; he also plans to do a series of webinars within the next two to three months. Topics for these webinars will include: “Walking through the valley of ‘no,’ practicing a healthy ‘no,’ and living an intentional you.” In order to tie the concept of the webinars back into community and sharing, Randy hopes to go back to the roots and use Facebook to form private groups to allow for discussion around the topics discussed.
Randy still posts those random thoughts on his Facebook page: How Can I Live YES in a NO World? where he has over 6,500 people who read and comment on his thoughts, and as for his book, it can be found on his website: iliveyes.com
“I began to write the book, but by the end of it, the book was writing me,” said Gregg.
Visit Gregg’s still-active Facebook page: How Can I Live YES in a NO World? More than 6,500 people are part of this community, reading his posts and prompting discussion.