Thanks a lot, Shonda Rhimes.
This is really all Shonda’s fault. “This” really refers to a few things. It’s Shonda’s fault I:
Think dancing-it-out solves all problems
Believe everyone has a person
Will forever be jealous of Meredith Grey’s ponytail
Find popcorn and red wine to be an acceptable dinner
See the beauty in being dark and twisty
And know that sometimes you have to choose to stand in the sun
But mostly it’s Shonda’s fault that for the last month of my life I have stepped out of my comfort zone, and it’s scary out here.
You’re probably wondering how the Queen of Thursday Night nudged me out of the safety of my routine little world. I’m a voracious reader. I’m perpetually in the middle of two or three books: one in my purse, one on my Kindle, one by my night stand. I’m also perpetually over scheduled so when Shea suggested we start a book club with some of my favorite girls, I was so in. Our first book was Shonda’s Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person. Being fascinated with the psychology of happiness and motivation, I’ve made my way through several self-help books. I walk away from most with a few thoughts to incorporate into my life but Shonda, Shonda fundamentally changed how I approach living my best life.
Shonda realized that even in her success she was limiting her life by constantly saying no. Saying no to new and different experiences out of fear, out of complacency, out of busyness. It’s easy to say no. There is always a reason to say no. Saying yes is hard. Saying yes is work. I found myself nodding my head (yes, naturally) to much of the book but a few ideas hit me the hardest:
Find your tribe: Changing how you approach life will cause some growing pains both internally and externally. A new outlook on life shed light on the people and relationships that limit you. You will also see more clearly the people who support you and your growth. Your tribe, your gladiators, your ride or die people will show themselves. Hold on to them, let them support you and support them just as much. My ride or dies are affectionately known as the “A Team.”
Say yes to saying no: For as much as I say no to scary things, I say yes to too many little things. This drains energy needed for bigger yeses. Little yeses create noise, busyness. It’s easy to say no to big things when you say yes to all the little things. Set boundaries; decide where you put your energy and effort. I’m a chronic fixer, it’s who I am as a person. One of the A Team has to frequently remind me, “You can’t save them all, Drea.” Say no to the things that don’t serve you, that don’t help you be the best you. It isn’t selfish to do what is right for you.
Say yes to scary things: Shonda spent a year saying yes to big, scary things. I don’t think we need to argue Shonda’s success, her life pre-Year of Yes was pretty solid. Saying yes made it better. Saying yes makes me better. Yes pushes beyond the comfort zone. Yes is growth.
In the week after I finished the book, two big, scary things entered my life. One day leaving yoga one of the teachers mentioned teacher training was coming up and they’d like to see me in it. NOPE! No. Nah. Then someone else suggested it. Then someone else. One of the A Team had suggested it months before. This was my first big say yes opportunity. I said yes. No is easy. Yes is hard. Yes is committing to things that are scary, that are challenging. Yes is forcing me to work and to grow.
Then I was having coffee with a friend to talk about being vegan and how to adult. She suggested I start a blog to share my thoughts. My immediate response, “I don’t have anything worthwhile to share.” A soft no, a no of self-doubt. A yes meant work, the possibility of pouring energy into something and failing. No is easy. Yes is hard. But, Shonda said I need to say yes. Still in the infancy of my yesing I floated it by some of my people, they agreed I should do it. Spoiler Alert: I did it. You’re reading it. Here we are.
The part of the Year of Yes that inspired me the most was Shonda’s commencement speech at Dartmouth. You can view it here. It pushed me to be a doer not a dreamer, to step into this world of yes. I’m still learning the yes. Learning to yes with confidence, real or projected. I’ll share my yesing with you. And if you hate it, blame Shonda.