Your year of “Yes”

Last year Shonda Rhimes (that amazing, multitalented award-winning Television producer) released a book called ‘My year of “Yes”. She begins the book by saying, “I am a liar” and goes on to describe the tall tales she used to spin at catholic school.

She was always getting into trouble because she was always making things up. You might think an unrepentant lie-teller would have a little trouble finding success in the real world, but you would be wrong.

She goes on to tell the story of discovering her perfect place with people who appreciated a good lie and paid well for it: Hollywood. She’s the mastermind behind TV shows like Grey’s Anatomy, How to Get Away With Murder and Private Practice.

Rhimes was also an introverted workaholic who never accepted invitations, social engagements or events. Her debilitating social anxiety and unhappiness with her weight caused her to say ‘no’ to many amazing opportunities outside of her comfort zone—her made-up world. After a challenge from her sister in late 2013 Shonda decided she’d say yes to anything for a full year. She wrote “My Year of Yes” about that year, and the important things she learned from it.

TOP 5 LESSONS FROM RHIMES’ YEAR OF YES

1) SAY ‘YES’ TO USING YOUR VOICE

Your experience matters. The lessons you learned and the wisdom you acquire from your experience is a valuable asset you can share. You can affect your part of the world so be brave and let your voice be heard.

2) SAY ‘YES’ TO YOUR WEIGHT

Rhimes turned down a lot of events because she wasn’t happy about her weight. Whether you want to lose weight, gain weight or stay the same, accept it or work on changing it, but don’t be ashamed of it. Say ‘yes’ to loving your body and commit to giving it the best you possibly can.

3) SAY ‘YES’ TO SAYING ‘NO’

Before her Year of Yes, Rhimes avoided conflict. Learn to say ‘’Yes’ to difficult conversations and meetings, and no’ to things and people who are sucking the life out of you. Don’t waste time on frivolous aquaintences or negative people.

4) SAY ‘YES’ TO REAL FRIENDSHIPS

Don’t let work supersede every other social occasion. Pay attention to the people in your life who you really enjoy and who really enjoy you. Sometimes you need other people.

‘Sometimes the only way to get going is to have others push you’. The self made person is a myth. No person got there alone. Say yes when someone offers to help without asking too many questions.

5) SAY ‘YES’ TO LOVE

Saying ‘yes’ to love communicating truthfully with the people you love. You owe your yourself and your loved ones that much. Say ‘Yes’ to self love when you stop rebuffing compliments. Instead of self-deprecating jokes or comments, just say, “Yes”. Thank you!”

And smile.

Why I started buying real books again

I could read like a fourth grader by my first day in Kindergarten. I got my first library card, by myself, when I discovered a small community library at my bus stop. I was lucky—the librarian didn’t let my scant nine years stop her from recommending grown-up books to me. She recognized a kindred spirit when she saw one. I wondered over big glossy art books, thrilled by the colors in the paintings and the stories of the artists’ lives.

Some of my fondest memories are of sharing books with my numerous brothers and sisters. We loved discovering oddities on my father’s bookshelves, and that man always had a book in his hand. My own daughters treasure books they remember from my bookshelves during their childhood. Sharing books has always been a joy and I, too, always had a book with me wherever I went.

I stayed faithful to my library until I discovered I could own them. That’s when the ‘collecting’ began. My bookshelves were a clear picture of who I was and what fascinated me, obvious to anyone interested enough to browse them. And, conversely, I loved browsing other people’s bookshelves, fascinated by what I found out about them as well. I have books everywhere, on nightstands, kitchen counters, and big art books on the coffee table in front of my sofa.

But I once took ten pounds of books with me on a two-week trip to Russia and Finland. Big mistake. I bought a Kindle as soon as I got back to the States. It was brilliant, really——the thing held hundreds of books and didn’t even weigh a pound, perfect for traveling the world. Technology is insidious and now, ubiquitous. I have the Kindle app and Audiobook apps on my phone, earbuds in my purse, a usb cord in my car. Now I can read anywhere, anytime. It’s impossible to resist convenience.

Discarded book collections overflow in Goodwill stores and thrift shop shelves. In the last Pottery Barn catalogue I noticed featured “nick-knack” shelves instead of bookshelves, and I’m seeing that shift everywhere I look. No longer can I browse bookshelves as a guest in someone’s house. You can’t tell what I’m reading (or thinking) anymore from looking at my bookshelves, and it makes me sad.

So, shopping in a local second hand store, I came across three or four shelves of hard cover books I have already ‘read’, but on some random device—I didn’t own the actual book. I felt a sense of kinship with the previous owner of these books—we had the same taste in fiction! I grabbed a basket and tossed as many of the books I’ve actually read in the basket. As I checked out (grand total:$35) I made myself a promise: I’m going to attempt to track down every book I’ve ever read. I’ll take my time, I’ll buy them used, and I’ll share them with friends again. But mostly, they feel like old friends, and I like keeping my old friends around.