Saturday, January 23, 2016

Book Review - Year of Yes

Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person

From Goodreads: 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.

My Review: So first let me just get this out of the way: I am not a frequent resident of Shondaland and I'm not a frequent watcher of TGIThursday. I've seen Greys and did watch the first season or two but otherwise I don't really watch it. I also never watched Private Practice and I've never seen Scandal or How To Get Away with Murder. I may flip past Greys if I know something is going to happen (Oh, McDreamy....) but that's about it. So basically my Shonda watching stopped with Denny's heart (it's not a spoiler if it was like 8 years ago, right?).

So, why did I not only want to read this but want to so much I asked for it for Christmas? Because I think Shonda is impressive and I loved the concept.  I've spent the last few years trying to amp up my game, which is why last year's word was Conquer and this year's word is Do. I'm trying to take on life, carpe the heck out of the diem, not let life pass me by. So basically this book spoke to me, just by the description.

And it did not let me down. 

I saw so much of myself in Shonda it was kind of weird. I had no idea she was a nerdy kid who preferred reading to going out and doing. That was me as a kid. I had no idea she was so introverted as an adult and that she used her characters to express herself. That's me too. I love what she did on her year of yes. I hope that's what I'm doing now.

While I may not be saying yes to award shows, commencement addresses, or photo shoots the things I'm saying yes to (or should be saying yes to) are just as important to me and my life as those things are to Shonda. 

If someone like Shonda, who has so much attention on her and so much to lose by shaking up her life, can do this - say yes to the things in life that come her way - then so can I. This books reminds me of this.

I completely recommend this book, even if your word for the year isn't Do and your goal isn't to shake up your life. I think everyone can find something in this book that speaks to them, that makes them get up and go do something, or even that just makes them nod their head or laugh out loud (which I did a few times). This book definitely goes on the shelf with the other books that inspire me and that I reach for as inspiration again and again.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Welcome to 2016

A few years ago my friend Jennie introduced me to the idea of picking a word for the upcoming year - something to focus on and think about  as you travel through the next 12 months. I adore this concept and have done it the past few years.

In 2015 my word was Conquer and I feel like I did a pretty good job with that. I conquered some financial goals, I conquered some things I wanted to do around our house, I conquered a few small health related goals, and I really conquered some things with work. So having that word to focus on really worked for me.

It actually didn't take me too long to come up with my word for 2016 - Do. I'm very much a creature of habit, an introvert, and someone who doesn't like to step out of my routine. Ok and I can be a bit lazy at times too. So my goal for 2016 is to always keep the idea of Do in mind.

Do good.
Do well.
Do something fun.
Do something new.
Do something that scares you.
Do go on an adventure.
Do something with the ones who are important.
Do something that is important to you.
Do or do not, there is no try.
Do epic shit.
Do what needs to be done.
Do what you want to Do.
Just Do something!


So welcome to 2016, my year of the Do.


Does anyone else pick a word to describe their upcoming year? If so, what did you pick?


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