Book Review: Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

Unless you have been under a rock for the past 11 years, you’ve heard of Shonda Rhimes, a.k.a. the queen of Thursday nights on ABC. In addition to Grey’s Anatomy, Shondaland (Rhimes’s production company) also produces Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder, the trio affectionately known as TGIT – Thank God It’s Thursday. Rhimes was also behind the hit show Private Practice, a spinoff of Grey’s, and The Catch, which debuts in March.

year of yesI have been a Shonda fan since Day One. I love her ability to craft unique, entertaining and thought-provoking stories. It is refreshing to see television shows that portray the world as it is: a melting pot filled with people from different backgrounds, sexual orientations and perspectives on life. So when Shonda posted about her book Year of Yes on social media in the fall, I immediately added it to my must-read list.

Even with the success of three television shows, Rhimes was an introvert that cringed at the thought of speaking engagements and media appearances.  Then on Thanksgiving Day 2013, her sister Dolores muttered six words that changed her life:

“You never say Yes to anything.”

Year of Yes chronicles how Shonda’s life changes after she commits to saying yes for an entire year.

In Year of Yes, Rhimes gives readers an insight to the Yes’s along the way. One of these Yes’s included giving the commencement speech at Dartmouth in front of thousands of students. In her speech, Rhimes offered graduates some of the best advice I’ve ever heard:

“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. Ditch the dream. Be a doer, not a dreamer.”

Another one of Rhimes’s Yes’s was learning how to take compliments. Although it might sound like a simple task, Rhimes, like many women, negated compliments or downplayed her achievements and accolades. Instead of shying away from the praise, Rhimes realized that she had a right to be proud of what she had accomplished, to revel in her badassery. This particular yes is something all women should learn to incorporate in their lives.

Rhimes defines  badassery as “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.

Not all Yes’s are easy. Rhimes recounts how saying Yes also meant taking care of her own happiness, which meant eliminating toxic people in her life. She also realized that taking care of her health was a vital part of living a fulfilling life.

Year of Yes is funny, thought-provoking, and inspiring. Her personal account of her journey shows how changing one behavior can open up other opportunities and experiences. If you’re looking for motivation to help jumpstart your goals for 2016, Year of Yes will inspire you.

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