First book review of the year and it’s actually in January and not three months into the year… Yay! Started 2016 on a good, strong writing note, love it.
Shonda Rhimes’ book ‘Year of Yes’ was actually a very impulse buy. Never thought about buying it, never planned to get it, I just saw it one day and decided, why not? How bad could it be? Turns out, not bad at all. In fact it contradicted all my expectations of a cliche motivational memoir. Then again, it is Shonda Rhimes, writer extraordinaire of not one, not two, but THREE prime time television shows. Of course her book, written by her, inspired by her and narrated by her, would be awesome.
“Dreams are lovely. But they are just dreams. Fleeting, ephemeral. Pretty. But dreams do not come true just because you dream them. It’s hard work that makes things happen. It’s hard work that creates change.”
The Year of Yes was actually inspired by Shonda’s sister, Delorse who one thanksgiving day, really went in about Shonda not saying yes to anything. ‘You never say yes to anything.’ Being a super producer, screen writer and all round super mum and boss at Shondaland meant that Ms Rhimes gets invited to some really swanky events like speaking engagements at graduation ceremonies, at huge board meetings, getting asked to present awards at glitzy award shows, receiving said awards at even more glitzy award shows, being invited to huge talk shows such as Jimmy Kimmel, Ellen and the legend herself Oprah… She always declined. Always.
“Saying what you think and wading into the deep end don’t always have a happy ending. Difficult conversations are something of a gamble and you have to be willing to be okay with the outcome. And you have to know, going in, where you draw the line.”
She did not think she needed to be seen or heard. Just heard of was okay for her until the day her sister said those six magic words. She realized her life was wasting away in front of her. She had all she could ever ask for but she never ever revelled in her success. Instead, she spent her time at home writing, or in her office writing. If she wasn’t writing, she was producing, if she wasn’t producing, she was assisting in the set production and all that stuff that goes on behind the scenes while filming a tv series. She was always working. If she wasn’t working she was always home with her children.
“I only ever write about one thing: being alone. The fear of being alone, the desire to not be alone, the attempts we make to find our person, to keep our person, to convince our person to not leave us alone, the joy of being with our person and thus no longer alone, the devastation of being left alone. The need to hear the words: You are not alone.”
These six words made her really rethink her daily routine. She had lost herself in her work and with that came immense weight gain thanks to writing and eating and writing and more eating. Shonda feared the public eye so much, she got panic attacks anytime a reporter asked her a question instead of asking anyone from her star studded cast.
So she took on her sister’s challenge and decided to commit to a year of saying YES to everything that she feared. Saying YES to anything she was even a tiny bit afraid of. Saying YES to living life to the fullest. The commitment was not as easy as it sounds but it yielded very great results such as her 100lb weight loss, her writing this incredible book, her giving the commencement speech at her alma mater – Dartmouth University, and her saying yes to giving time to her children, her friends, her family and her work – equally and greatly.
“Happiness comes from living as you need to, as you want to. As your inner voice tells you to. Happiness comes from being who you actually are instead of who you think you are supposed to be. Don’t apologize. Don’t explain. Don’t ever feel less than.”
The book is written in Shonda’s voice and it is actually quite hilarious. Think Christina Yang’s wit mixed in with a little of Olivia Pope’s structured monologues and Mellie’s rants. Yeah, quite the book right? It’s a trip down Shonda’s memory lane and readers get to learn a lot about the queen of Thursday night television. We finally learn why she is so against marriage. We learn how her creative genius came about and how she keeps those wheels turning in her mind all the time. We learn about her three children and most of all we learn about her, as a person. Not as the writer of Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy and How To Get Away With Murder, but just Shonda Rhimes.
This book actually motivated me to start my own – year of yes. She would not have done even half of the things she achieved in the last year if she had stuck to her usual say no to everything routine. Sometimes a little risk is a good thing, you never know where it could take you. Let’s see where it gets me and you. Get the book, read it, enjoy it, laugh, ogle at the pictures of her lovely family and her abc family as well – it’s a good read.
N/B: All quotes are from the book.
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