“Losing yourself does not happen all at once. Losing yourself happens one no at a time.”
Books are great. They really are. All the letters and the smell of fresh print and the way a bookshelf looks when it’s crowded with interesting titles. But for someone who despises paper and would gladly speak for the trees, I think an amazing audio book is where it’s really at. A captivating voice – all the better if it’s the author’s – orchestrating rich characters and delivering slivers of dialogue that widen your eyes and sing to your soul … Yeah, that’s my jam.
Going into “Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person,” one would anticipate a good show. I mean, the woman (Shonda Rhimes, of course) fashioned the twisted minds and friendship of Meredith Grey and Christina Yang for McSteamy’s sakes. As if grandstanding, she then gave us the quivering, lavish lip and firm-but-passionate prose of white-hat-wearing Olivia Pope. She claimed a land and a night of the week and an acronym and a hashtag. I would expect the woman to be able to write a book. But she didn’t.
She didn’t just write a book. She wrote her cliff’s notes for self-improvement and true satisfaction. She, herself, is not a specimen of human perfection. You don’t begin the book thinking she is and, even after following her through 365+ days of extending and challenging herself, you don’t end the book thinking she is. That’s not the point. Perfection is not the end game. Happiness is.
Once she gave herself permission to be uncomfortable and bold and a tiny bit selfish, that’s when she met the best parts of herself and her life. Let’s face it, we all take comfort in the layers. We cover the raw truths with whatever it takes … food, sarcasm, passive aggressive quips, makeup, clothes, work, Netflix, wine, excuses. It all works the same. It all creates a barrier between the yucky bits of our true selves and the perception of our true selves. I know what my layers are made of. You can probably figure yours out as well. For Shonda, it was predominately food and social sheepishness. She was hiding behind an unhealthy weight and choosing evenings on her couch over once-in-a-lifetime galas and interviews.
What she reveals in the book is that, by saying yes to her body and yes to her peers and yes to her accolades, she was able to shed those security layers and uncover a happier version of herself; one that felt more fulfilled and appreciated and alive. Relieving yourself of that weight – both literally and figuratively – frees up all this space for joy and adventure and self-acceptance. It’s beautiful really.
I recommend this book because it’s masterfully written. I recommend it because she reveals which Grey’s Anatomy cast member is in her ride-or-die group of friends. I recommend it because you’ll see yourself in it somewhere. I recommend it because it’s clever and honest and she was about as transparent as she could be without compromising herself or her relationships. And I recommend it because it makes you want to say yes, or at least consider it.
Welcome to the church of Shonda …
This is everything, but it’s even more than everything from 16:20 on: