3 Things Shonda Rhimes Taught Me to Say “Yes” to


I started my 2016 reading list with a “Self-help” book. Not just any “self-help” book, but the one every one and their mother–literally–has been rushing out to get (my mother gifted me a copy for Christmas, and her mother gifted her a copy for Christmas).

Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun, and Be Your Own Person, is a somewhat personal memoir that reveals how Shonda Rhimes, aka Ms. TGIT, aka Queen of Hollywood, revolutionized her life with one word, “yes.”

Now, of course it wasn’t as simple as saying the word, she actually had to follow through on a journey “yes” led her through. That journey left her over 100 lbs lighter, a few friends shorter, and a whole lot happier. Here are three things I learned while reading along:

1 Say “Yes” to Yourself:

“If I am going to say ‘Yes’…I might as well say ‘Yes’ to being me.”      – Shonda Rhimes

It is quite devastating how difficult of a responsibility this can be. Yes, a responsibility–not a job, a task, a thing on your checklist. It is your responsibility to say yes to yourself, to take care of yourself, to preserve yourself. You have to be the best you, not just for yourself, but for those (children, employees, etc.) who count on your presence and direction. No one else has been given the responsibility to live your life, or to love you, that was designed specifically for you, so why not thrive in it.

2 Say “Yes” to what scares you:

Easier said than done, right? Right. But it’s no excuse not to try. Fortunately for you, the President of Dartmouth won’t be calling you and asking you to give a commencement speech that will be attended by thousands of people and streemed across the internet. And if he did, guess what, you could do it.

Sometimes fear just needs a good slap across the face to remind it who’s the boss.

3 Say “Yes” to saying “No”:

Would you believe that someone other Sandra Oh was close to not playing  Cristina Yang on Grey’s Anatomy? At least that would have been the case if not for that one word, “no.”

“No is a complete sentence”

There are times when saying “no,” is just as liberating as saying, “yes,” especially when it comes to yourself and what you want.


Shonda, by no means, created the illusion that she immediately succeeded at every new routine she developed in her year of yes. Though she keeps it rather light on the details of struggle, the important message to remember is not to give up. She didn’t say yes to perfection and neither should you. You, Shonda, and me, are saying “yes” to being our best selves.


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