2017 is the year of motivational audiobooks! Well, at least, it is for me. As a fiction junkie, consuming nonfiction in any form is branching out of my reading comfort zone, but there are smart, inspiring people out there and I want to hear what they have to say. I want to constantly be striving to be a better member of society, a better writer, a better wife, a better friend. During the days I read – or rather listened to – Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes, my life was brighter, and I felt she was helping me get there. Or at least helping me strive.
There was a time, not long ago, when Shonda Rhimes – creator, head writer, executive producer, and showrunner of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal and producer of How to Get Away with Murder – was miserable. She was a workaholic, stressed, overweight, and scared. But these symptoms of unhappiness were buried so deep she hardly knew they were there at all. Then one fateful Thanksgiving, Shonda’s sister mumbled the words You never say yes to anything, which got Shonda thinking. She realized her fear prevented her from committing to anything, from trying new experiences, from saying yes. She was letting that fear govern her life.
So she made a promise to herself. She’d commit to one year of yeses, in which, for 365 days, she would agree to anything that came her way. This terrifying prospect led to a year of parties, interviews, speeches, and playing. Halfway through the year she realized, for the first time in a long time, she was having fun and she was no longer paralyzed by her fear. Facing it, she began to understand, helped negate it.
I listened as this incredible woman realized the source of her misery, and I found myself sobbing. My story may not be exactly like hers, but I think we can all relate to skipping out on the things we really want because we’re too scared. Year of Yes breathed bravery into me, allowed me to recognize things inside myself that I was maybe purposefully not seeing. And now I’m trying to say more yeses than nos too. I joined a club to help with public speaking. I’m working on a new book. And I truly am happier because of it.
Not to mention, Shonda narrates the audiobook (something she’d never do before her year of yes) and she is an inspiration. She is proud yet vulnerable, sincere yet hilarious. I looked forward to my treadmill time because I knew I’d be spending it with her. And that, above everything else, is saying something.
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