Book Review: Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes.

Guys! I found my gem! If I were to write a book, this would be it. And since I aspire to write a book someday, you already have an idea of which direction and style I’ll take. I just know that I need to get out of my comfortable space, live and experience some more before I can translate all my feelings and experiences into words enough to fill a book.

I got to know about this book through a person that posted about it on a group I am in on Facebook called ‘Club Kitabu’. She said it was so hilarious and she had laughed hysterically through it. I was feeling a bit low because, receivership! And I really needed a pick me up – in the form of a good read. And so I asked one of my friends who had said she had the e-book version of it to share it with me. Meaning, if you want to read it too, well, sharing is caring. No shame. Can’t wait to set my eyes on the hard cover.

Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes

But let’s start with the fact that this is Shonda Rhimes! As in the legendary Shonda Rhimes people! The last time I was this star struck while reading a book is when I was reading, Richard Branson; The Virgin Way. That’s my boss crush. When I first heard of Shonda Rhimes and of course I know of her works, I thought of her being like a Harper Lee. You know, a classic writer! Of course white and old(er) – it’s the name I suppose. And then I google her! I was busy picking my jaw from the floor, because weh! She’s a hottie, and a young babe too, but like she always says, ‘she’s got good genes’ and the fact that black don’t crack.

Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes

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And she’s finally written a book based on her life (not fictional, just real and raw) called ‘Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person’ that’s supposedly humorous. My excitement was over the roof, I can’t even begin to describe it. Before that, I could only relate with Shonda Rhimes from her TV Shows; Greys Anatomy, Scandal and How To Get Away With Murder, all of which I have graciously watched and totally enjoyed. I was awed by how someone can put such creative thoughts together and produce them into shows that have you glued to the TV episode after episode; the thrill, the suspense. And that makes you develop an emotional attachment to the casts, that you even refer some of your friends to some of the cast members because they exude a similar character. Hello Olivia Pope! It requires your mind to be on an overdrive. It requires you be a speedy track layer for an oncoming speeding train. And it requires you to be a FOD (First Only Different) and represent each tribe relentlessly.

To be honest, her achievements are very intimidating to say the least. When you think of all the things she has been able to achieve so far (the Tv Shows, the Awards and so on) and then you think about your life, you want to first take a seat and just chill and let it marinate. So for her to write a book that touches on one of the things she was struggling with and how she overcome it, is just reassuring. She shows you that at the end of the day we’re human and we have shortcomings. And as much as it’s okay to have them, we shouldn’t let them define who we are. We should work towards neutralizing them the best way we can. If it means making that tough decision that makes you go against every fiber in your body to do so. She had to push herself to say ‘yes’ when she could have very easily said ‘no’ in situations she didn’t feel comfortable in. But she realized that ‘no’ was a hindrance to her doing the things that brought some much needed light to her life.

Some of my best lines from her book. For some reason I started marking them from chapter 5, during her first commencement speech. That’s where she must’ve hit a spot.

Chapter 5. Yes to Speaking the Whole Truth

Shonda, how do you do it all?  The answer is this: I don’t.
Whenever you see me somewhere succeeding in one area of my life that almost certainly means that I am failing in another area of my life.

Who you are today . . . that’s who you are. Be brave. Be amazing. Be worthy. And every single time you get the chance? Stand up in front of people. Let them see you. Speak. Be heard. Go ahead and have the dry mouth. Let your heart beat so, so fast. Watch everything move in slow motion. So what. You what? You pass out, you die, you poop?

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.

Chapter 6. Yes to Surrendering the Mommy War (Or, Jenny McCarthy Is My Everything)

Leave no mom behind, soldiers. And even with help . . . I’m still in the trenches. Nobody has this thing figured out. Except doesn’t it feel like everyone else has figured it out? I don’t know about you, but it’s the idea that I’m not measuring up that gets me. I’m constantly worrying and wondering and feeling like I am failing because everywhere I look, everyone else seems to be thriving.

So it’s not about working moms vs. nonworking moms. It’s about people who love hot-gluing beads on capes vs. people who do not know what a hot-glue gun is.

Chapter 8. Yes to My Body

Failure meant two generations of actresses might have to wait for another chance to be seen as more than a sidekick.

“You have to be twice as good to get half as much . . .”

Losing yourself does not happen all at once. Losing yourself happens one no at a time.

Chapter 9. Yes to Joining the Club

I have learned from all of Chris’s Sisyphean pushing and all of this saying Yes it’s that if I don’t poke my head out of my shell and show people who I am, all anyone will ever think I am is my shell.

Chapter 10. Yes to More Year of Yes

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.

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.

Then I put on my blue Frozen superhero cape and I do some spinning. Well, I do the adult version of that. Which means that I open a great bottle of wine and pour myself a glass.

Did you notice not a single woman in this room can handle being told she is awesome?

But in order to really mine it, you have to own it. You have to grab hold of it. You have to believe it.

My father used to tell us, “The only obstacle to your success is your own imagination.”

I’ve started to think we are like mirrors. What you are gets reflected back to you. What you see in yourself, you may see in others, and what others see in you, they may see in themselves.

This is for a t-shirt she received from Ellen DeGeneres, after she hosted President Bill Clinton on the show and he said something extremely nice about loving everything Shonda did in terms of her TV work. —> I put it on and wore it out and about for a full day. And when anyone made a comment about it, nice, snarky or otherwise, I had only one response: “Thank you.” Smile. Shut up.

A Note About Time: Yes to More Year of Yes

What began as a small challenge from my sister over chopped onions on Thanksgiving morning has become a life-or-death endeavor. I am now almost afraid to say the word no.

The years and years of saying no were, for me, a quiet way to let go. A silent means of giving up. An easy withdrawal from the world, from light, from life.

Saying no was a way to disappear.

Chapter 11. Yes to No, Yes to Difficult Conversations

What’s your goal? I want to take over the world through television.

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. Having all my dreams come true only seemed to magnify whatever qualities I already possessed.”

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

I realized a very simple truth: the success, fame, having all my dreams come true would not fix or improve me, it wasn’t an instant potion for personal growth. Having all my dreams come true only seemed to magnify whatever qualities I already possessed.

In those early days, I was scared to have an opinion because I was afraid of having a different opinion than everyone else.

I’ve become kind of obsessed with dealing with difficult conversations. Mostly because of how calm life is when you’re willing to have them. Also because of how much easier it is not to eat the cake when I’m not stressed out or hold grudge or full of hurt feelings. I stuck a post-it on my bathroom mirror that says, “I can say it or I can eat it.”

The yeses were adding up. The swagger, the play, the thank-yous, the difficult conversations, the weight loss—I was beginning to seem like a different person.

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.

Chapter 12. Yes to People

No one is meaner than a pack of human beings faced with someone who is different.

I was still struggling with how to speak up for myself. How to stand up for myself. How to gladiate for myself. It was ironic.

I don’t know if anyone has noticed but 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

You should get to turn on the TV and see your tribe. And your tribe can be any kind of person, anyone you identify with, anyone who feels like you, who feels like home, who feels like truth.

The goal is that everyone should get to turn on the TV and see someone who looks like them and loves like them. And just as important, everyone should turn on the TV and see someone who doesn’t look like them and love like them. Because perhaps then they will learn from them.

If you are a kid and you are out there and you are chubby and not so cute and nerdy and shy and invisible and in pain, whatever your race, whatever your gender, whatever your sexual orientation, I’m standing here to tell you: you are not alone

Chapter 13. Yes to Dancing It Out (with the right people)

We argue. We debate. We fight. These are not useless exercises. I want my editors to fight with me. I like to be challenged. I like to be proven wrong.

I sit there. Realizing I am in a friendship in reality that mattered so little because I have created this friendship in my imagination that mattered so much to me. I don’t even think I like the real Pam.

Becase it’s not merely about surrounding myself with people who treat me well. It’s also about surrounding myself with people whose self-worth, self-respect and values inspire me to elevate my own behavior. People who require that I stay truthful and kind and not totally crazy. Not eating every single thing in sight. Not hiding. Not saying no. I want Ride or Dies who make me want to be a better person.

“Don’t let what he wants eclipse what you need. He is very dreamy,” she says. “But he is not the sun. You are.”

Chapter 14. Yes to Who I Am

He kindly offers, “I can just hang out here while you write. We don’t have to talk. I just want to be with you.” You and I are close friends now, reader. So you know how I feel about writing. Writing is the hum. Writing is laying track. Writing is the high. Now imagine that hum, that high, that track to be laid is behind a door. And that door is five miles away. Those five miles are just . . . writing crap and doodling and trying to have an idea and surfing the internet and hoping like hell not to get so distracted that you give up. Worse?

We all spend our lives kicking the crap out of ourselves for not being this way or that way, not having this thing or that thing, not being like this person or that person. For not living up to some standard we think applies across the board to all of us

She (her producer, Betsy Beers) has an encyclopedic memory for TV, films, literature, pop, culture, music, you name it. I often do not remember where my watch is until someone points out that it is on my wrist.

I toss in some glitter and take out some of the sparkles. I want to get the point across—I do not want to get across any actual facts that involve another person.

We all spend our lives trying to follow the same path, live by the same rules. I think we believe that happiness lies in following the same list of rules. In being more like everyone else. That? Is wrong. There is no list of rules. There is one rule. The rule: there are no rules.

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.

All Excerpts From Rhimes, Shonda. “Year of Yes.” Simon & Schuster. iBooks.

This read was worth every page flip (or swipe), and I mean every! Going by the excerpts, I don’t think this is even a quarter of what it’s about. If you need a pick me up, a good laugh, and someone to tell you that you’re normal with all your wierdness, then this is it.

Happy Reading fellow Snipper!

Signing ~~~ *Off*

22 thoughts on “Book Review: Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes.

  1. Looved the chapter on her commencement speech,especially dreams are for losers, got me off my a** and into actually doing what I am meant to. You might also like Tiny beautiful things by Cheryl strayed

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    • Ha! Grace, I feel you. That’s the point I also started marking my best lines, after the commencement speech. She touched a spot and made me want to get my lazy ass doing.
      Yaaay! Thank you for the recommendation. I will source for it.

      Like

  2. Hello Kawi. Thanks for this post. Knowing all her TV works, I’m itching on the edge to pounce on this book. I’d be in heaven if you e-mailed me a copy. Thanks.

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  3. I love that you fan-girl and put in powerful excerpts from the book. Lol.
    I’d love a copy if you don’t mind sharing it.

    Like

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