Let’s start the week with something we haven’t done in a while.
On January 2, I finished reading Shonda Rhimes’ ‘Year of Yes’.
Shonda Rhimes is a person I admire so much, for her excellence and badassery in the world of TV. How do you spend your Friday nights? I don’t really go out. If I get home early enough, the typical Friday night for MeeMee and I is a synchronized visit to Shondaland. We watch ‘Scandal’ and ‘How To Get Away With Murder’ together (in this order) while running commentary and being dramatic on Whatsapp. Thank you, Technology. Then, we analyse it for maybe the rest of the weekend, and I usually still bring up points in the following week.
This is not a post about why I love Shonda Rhimes- let’s save this for another day. Ms Rhimes wrote a book, Year of Yes, released in November 2015. As the great fan I am, I had to get it.
Now, what is it about?
As awesome and successful as she is, Shonda did not really know it. Like us, she has her insecurities, but until recently, they weighed really really heavy on her. I thought she would be living this glamorous Hollywood life, but she wasn’t, not really. Asides creating content for TV, and being a mother to her 3 girls, she wasn’t doing much else. She avoided public events to the best of her ability, never really went anywhere or did anything. Until one day, her older sister Delorse, under her breath, accused her of never saying yes to anything. These words stuck with her, and months later, after a series of events, she realised her sister’s statement was still bothering her. So, she decided that 2014 would be her year of Yes. The rest, as they say, is history.
At first, when I started, I found it hard to believe this person that Shonda was saying she was. The ‘Shonda Mama’ I “knew” was badass, and did not hold back. The punches she throws on her shows often have me snapping and clapping co-signing as hard as I can. So, I must admit that I was impatient at the beginning of the book. I found Shonda pre- Year of Yes a little exhausting. Probably because it was hard to come to terms with the fact that despite everything, my superwoman could be so afraid. It’s interesting, that.
I got over myself though, and settled in to listen to her. It took me two weeks to read, though I could have easily finished it in one day. I enjoyed having her “speak to me”, and in some places, speaking up for me. As she does in her shows, in Year of Yes, I found her articulating some things I could never quite express- some fears, some viewpoints.
For instance, I am not a mother but Chapter Six on the Mommy Wars was one of my favourites. My mother has always been a working mom. On several occasions, I have had cause to feel like I had to defend that choice. And I have even been conflicted about what kind of mom I’d like to be- a stay home one, or a career one. Or a career one who takes the time off in her children’s early years. In utopia maybe but really?
Anyway. I love this book. Last year, I did not read anything spectacular, so I’m happy that my 2016 is off to a great start. I’d rate it 5/5- though, you could call me a little biased. Still, I’d love for you to read it, and know what you think.
Positive Affirmations (They’re Important):
“I am different. I am an original. And like everyone else, I am here to take up space in the universe. I do so with pride.”
“Freedom lies across the field of the difficult conversation. And the more difficult the conversation, the greater the freedom.”
On Personal Growth:
“You know what happens when all of your dreams come true?
I realized a very simple truth: that success, fame, having all my dreams come true would not fix or improve me, it wasn’t an instant potion for personal growth. Having all my dreams come true only seemed to magnify whatever qualities I already possessed.”
“I’m great at taking care of other people..So why am I so bad at taking care of myself? Why am I so unwilling to show myself the same kindness and consideration, to cut myself the same slack, to give myself the same protection and care that I would give anyone else?”
“Don’t let what he wants eclipse what you need. He is very dreamy but he is not the sun. You are.”
“I’ve started to think that we are like mirrors. What you are gets reflected back to you. What you see in yourself, you may see in others, and what others see in you, they may see in themselves.”
On Owning Your Greatness:
“I try hard to think I’m special, to be in love with myself, to be into myself. I strive for badassery. Men do it all the time. Take the compliment and run. They don’t make themselves smaller. They don’t apologise for being powerful. They don’t downplay their accomplishments.”
On the (feminist) struggle over her weight:
“And yet. I was ambivalent about so much of it. The feminist in me didn’t want to have the conversation with myself. I resented the need to talk about my weight. It felt as though I was judging myself on how I looked. It felt shallow. It felt misogynistic. It felt…traitorous to care. My body is just the container I carry my brain around in.”
Mmmhmm. Hands up if you can relate!
Why Say Yes to ‘Year of Yes’?
Deciding to say “Yes” to life may seem basic, redundant advice, like duh. I personally started moves in this direction last year, way before I heard about this book. If you were a Gossip Girl aficionado, you’d remember that at the beginning of Season 4, Chuck Bass went through this phase of Yes. Yes to everything, after nearly being murdered in Prague at the end of Season 3- except Chuck’s Yes’s weren’t exactly as productive lol. Point is, it’s not a novel idea. And nowhere in the book does she say that it is.
As someone who has been over motivational books since I was like 16 year old, ‘Year of Yes’ is not like that. She went on this experience, she is still on this journey, and I relate to it so much. I still feel encouraged by her little Yes’s, by her process, not because she’s Shonda Rhimes the super star, but, more because she’s Shonda, this girl, this woman, who is more like me than I would have thought.
I think it’s very good reading, and this is a book I’ll definitely come back to over and over. Her writing is pretty easy to read, and it’s funny too. You’d love it or at least like it, even if you aren’t already a fan. Plus, fans of Shondaland, there’s a little insight about Grey’s Anatomy and the other shows in there.
If you’ve read it, let me know what you think in the comments. 🙂