Book Review: Year of Yes


You know I believe in saying "yes."You may know I work in television. You certainly know I enjoy reading. You should also know I'm a big fan of a jump shot.

Those facts make me predisposed to liking the book, Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes.

Even though I'm very different from Shonda - most notably along the extroverted-introverted continuum - I related to so much of this book, I was completely engrossed.

“I am never more sure of myself about a topic than when I have absolutely no experience with it.”

In case you don't know, Shonda is an EXTREMELY successful writer/producer with Grey's Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away With Murder under her belt.  She's a single mom and isn't merely whip smart, she is hilarious. And she is not afraid to disagree with the standard narrative.

“They tell you: Follow your dreams. Listen to your spirit. Change the world. Make your mark. Find your inner voice and make it sing. Embrace failure. Dream. Dream and dream big. As a matter of fact, dream and don’t stop dreaming until your dream comes true. I think that’s crap.I think a lot of people dream. And while they are busy dreaming, the really happy people, the really successful people, the really interesting, powerful, engaged people? Are busy doing.”

Her language is sometimes salty, but her points hit exactly the right note with me.

“Lucky implies I didn’t do anything. Lucky implies something was given to me. Lucky implies that I was handed something I did not earn, that I did not work hard for. Gentle reader, may you never be lucky. I am not lucky. You know what I am? I am smart, I am talented, I take advantage of the opportunities that come my way, and I work really, really hard. Don’t call me lucky. Call me a badass.”

She continues on this point for pages and ultimately makes up a new word. Spell check asks her if she would like to add it to her dictionary. YES! Of course she does (it's her year of yes remember), and she shares the word with us.

“Badassery: 1. (noun) the practice of knowing one’s own accomplishments and gifts, accepting one’s own accomplishments and gifts and celebrating one’s own accomplishments and gifts; 2. (noun) the practice of living life with swagger : SWAGGER (noun or verb) a state of being that involves loving oneself, waking up “like this” and not giving a crap what anyone else thinks about you. Term first coined by William Shakespeare.”

She tells stories. Lots and lots of stories. Some are funny, some ridiculously so. All of them are entertaining and many are poignant.

“Once I stopped expecting to like it, once I stopped demanding that losing weight be easy or pleasant, once I stopped waiting for the band to start playing, paying attention to what went into my mouth became tolerable. Because I wasn’t waiting for it to get better. It’s NEVER going to get better. It just . . . sucks.”

She is wise and has nuggets any of us can learn from (including extroverts).

“You know what happens when all of your dreams come true? Nothing. 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.”

Remember how I JUST wrote about not being able to take a compliment?? (here) Shonda has an entire CHAPTER on the topic!

“I decide that if it is so hard to own up to my own accomplishments, to take a compliment, to not duck my head and choose Door Number Two, then I’m going to say YES to accepting any and all acknowledgments of personal fabulous awesomeness with a clear, calm “Thank you” and a confident smile and nothing more.”


Go Girl!!!

Some of my favorite people in the world say yes routinely and specialize in badassery. So you see, I'm biased.

I think others will enjoy the book, but you may not be calling friends to read sections out loud. You may not feel the need to text pictures of pages to your spouse.  You may not dog-ear every other page.

Or you may.

I hope you do.