Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes
I am a big fan of Shondaland. I love me some Grey's (although Meredith is literally the worst), I love me some Scandal (although I am SO over Olivia & Fitz), I love me some How To Get Away With Murder (hello... PARIS GELLER!)... I even love me some Private Practice (severely underrated show. I would marry Cooper if Jay would approve. And now that Liza Weil has divorced him...).
However, I wasn't so sure about this book. Why? Because of something Shonda said in the TED talk she gave on the topic of spending a year saying "yes" to everything that came her way. And mostly my misgivings blossomed the moment she talked about always saying "yes" to her children when they ask her to play. A noble goal, of course. But unlike Shonda, I don't have nannies, chefs, managers at my disposal. So yes, while I'd love to spend the afternoons after work playing with Lorelai... ain't no one going to clean my house if I'm playing "let's make a winter pepperoni cake" (still not quite sure what that is).
So, I will admit that I went into my reading of this book with a bit of a "I don't have Shonda money" chip on my shoulder. Easy for her to say... she can BUY all the support she needs.
And... that chip was quickly removed (well, besides the fact that I'd really like to have Shonda money).
At it's core, this book is not really about some fluffy idea of embracing all experiences, even the ones that scare you because they're valuable and blah blah blah. I really saw Rhimes' point having to do more with not being AFRAID to say "yes" to certain things. It was interesting to discover that the woman who "owns" television on Thursday nights doesn't feel worthy enough to say "yes" to certain things... especially things that show that she knows she has succeeded. And with her humor and self-deprecation, this book was infinitely relatable to me regardless of the fact that I don't run an entire -land. But my favorite part was that Shonda didn't hide her bad-assery. She loves herself and while she's struggled (as we all do), she knows she's FIERCE. She was unapologetic in that and I think that's something so many women have had bred out of them. And we need that back.
In this poignant, hilarious, and deeply intimate call to arms, Hollywood's most powerful woman, the mega-talented creator of "Grey's Anatomy" and "Scandal" and executive producer of "How to Get Away with Murder" reveals how saying YES changed her life and how it can change yours too.
She's the creator and producer of some of the most groundbreaking and audacious shows on television today: "Grey's Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder." Her iconic characters Meredith Grey, Cristina Yang, Olivia Pope, Annalise Keating live boldly and speak their minds. So who would suspect that Shonda Rhimes, the mega talent who owns Thursday night television (#TGIT), is an introvert? That she hired a publicist so she could "avoid" public appearances? That she hugged walls at splashy parties and suffered panic attacks before media interviews so severe she remembered nothing afterward? Before her Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes was an expert at declining invitations others would leap to accept. With three children at home and three hit television shows on TV, it was easy to say that she was simply too busy. But in truth, she was also afraid. Afraid of cocktail party faux pas like chucking a chicken bone across a room; petrified of live television appearances where Shonda Rhimes could trip and fall and bleed out right there in front of a live studio audience; terrified of the difficult conversations that came so easily to her characters on-screen. In the "before," Shonda's introvert life revolved around burying herself in work, snuggling her children, and comforting herself with food.
And then, on Thanksgiving 2013, Shonda's sister muttered something that was both a wake up and a call to arms: "You never say yes to anything." The comment sat like a grenade, until it detonated. Then Shonda, the youngest of six children from a supremely competitive family, knew she had to embrace the challenge: for one year, she would say YES to everything that scared her.
This poignant, intimate, and hilarious memoir explores Shonda's life "before" her Year of Yes from her nerdy, book-loving childhood creating imaginary friends to her devotion to creating television characters who reflected the world she saw around her (like Cristina Yang, whose ultimate goal wasn t marriage, and Cyrus Beene, who is a Republican "and "gay). And it chronicles her life "after "her Year of Yes had begun when Shonda forced herself out of the house and onto the stage, appearing on "Jimmy Kimmel Live," and giving the Dartmouth Commencement speech; when she learned to say yes to her health, yes to play and she stepped out of the shadows and into the sun; when she learned to explore, empower, applaud, and love her truest self. Yes.
This wildly candid and compulsively readable book reveals how the mega talented Shonda Rhimes, an unexpected introvert, achieved badassery worthy of a Shondaland character. And how you can, too.