I have a love/hate relationship with Shonda Rhimes, television titan, the genius behind Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, Private Practice and How to Get Away With Murder. I question my loyalty to a woman who would cause me to spill gallons of tears over fictional characters. And yet, when I was deciding what to put on my 2016 reading list I couldn’t resist her book: Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person.
Shonda Rhimes writes this book like she’s having a personal conversation with you. You know just a chat with a good friend – over wine – and I loved it. Year of Yes was an easy and encouraging read. I found myself literally laughing out loud. Shonda Rhimes gets real and talks about her struggles with balancing motherhood, her business and being an introvert in an industry that requires you to be social.
I was hooked from the epigraph page where I found one of my favorite Cristina Yang (Grey’s Anatomy) quotes:
If you want crappy things to stop happening to you, then stop accepting crap and demand more.
Amen, Mama Shonda. Amen.
Shonda Rhimes takes her readers on a journey of how saying yes changed her life. Through the help of her sister, she realizes that she never said yes to anything. Her no’s were holding her back and she was saying no because of fear. It’s through her stories about relationships, weight loss, and her children that she inspires her readers to find the courage to say yes and change their own lives.
One of my favorite parts of the book is her account of the Dartmouth commencement speech she gave in 2014. Within the first few lines she says the word poop. So, yup, I’m listening. Forgive me, I’m a 26 year old child. Without giving too much away – here are some of the lessons she shared with the class of 2014.
- Lesson One: Ditch the dream. Be a doer, not a dreamer.
- Lesson Two: Tomorrow is going to be the worst day ever for you. (But don’t be an asshole)
- Lesson Three: Anyone who tells you that they are doing it all perfectly is a liar.
She concludes the commencement speech with the following words:
Be brave. Be amazing. Be worthy. And every single time you get the chance? Stand up in front of people. Let them see you. Speak. Be heard. Go ahead and have the dry mouth Let your hear beat so, so fast. Watch everything move in slow motion. So what. You what? You pass out, you die, you poop? No. (And this is the really the only lesson you’ll ever need to know.) You take it in. You breathe this rare air. You feel alive. You are yourself You are truly always yourself. Thank you. Good luck!
If you’re looking for an inspirational read, I would definitely recommend this book. With each chapter, I found myself wanting to embark on my own year of yes, be my own person, dance it out and stand in the sun. Not convinced Mama Shonda has some words of wisdom to impart on you. Check out another stand out quote:
Happiness comes from living as you need to, as you want to.
Take the challenge and find the courage to say yes. The opportunities that come from opening yourself up to new experiences could be life-changing. What are some things that you often say no to that you should consider saying yes to? Leave a comment below.