One of the benefits of stewarding the Franklin Street Little Free Library is that I also get to enjoy books donated by the community before returning them for borrowing. This week, a copy of Year of Yes arrived and I took the opportunity to read it first. It is a bit worse for wear – the cover is missing and it has what I hope are coffee stains towards the back but I have enjoyed this light and humorous read.
Shonda Rhimes is the creator, producer and head writer for the wildly successful Thursday night shows, Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice. Because of her experience with her company Shondaland, the text is ripe with references to both programs and a couple others that she was working on. It is interesting to read bits about characters Cristina Yang and Meredith Grey while learning more about the experience of the author as she experimented with a Year of Yes.
As a single mother of 3 girls, Rhimes was exhausted and working through life from script to script. She admits that she was not happy and struggling to balance her work and life. Her big sister noticed and challenged her by saying “you never say yes to anything”. After ruminating on those 6 little words, Rhimes decided that she did need to make a change. She was missing opportunities and wanted to be happy. She committed to saying yes for an entire year, beginning with accepting the offer to speak at a convocation. As she said yes to more speeches, awards dinners and even a cameo acting role she realized that saying yes was changing her life. She became healthier by deciding to lose weight and spent more time with her girls by saying “yes” when asked to play.
“Volunteer some hours. Focus on something outside yourself. Devote a slice of your energies toward making the world suck less every week”
Learning to say yes also meant accepting that it was appropriate to say no. Being successful led to “friends” trying to take advantage of her. She gained freedom by discovering the strength to decline and by losing “friends” who were not looking out for her best interests. She ends the book with a list of positive results from her year of yes including being 127 pounds lighter, several toxic people higher, a better mother and friend, a happier boss, stronger leader, more creative and more honest with herself and others.
If you are looking for a quick read that is positive and shares some of the inside knowledge of Private Practice this is a book for you. Shonda Rhimes writes in an open, honest and often self-deprecating way that keeps you chuckling as you learn about her struggles and past experiences. She inspires readers to be open to situations and to reflect on their own propensities to miss opportunities. She is a strong woman who is sharing her experience to help others.
“Each time I said yes, I gained new friends and new experiences and found myself getting involved with projects that I never would have dreamed I could be part of. I laughed more. I was bolder. I was brazen. I spoke my mind and spoke it loud. And as busy as I was, I felt like I had more free time than ever; I realized I’d been wasting a huge amount of time and energy on complaining and feeling sorry for myself, being dark and twisty me.”