Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes

Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes

yearofyesShonda Rhimes’ heartfelt memoir about the power of embracing who you are and having the courage to set aside what you are not.

Though outwardly successful, Shonda was miserable. Between over-working and her introverted tendencies, she turned down every invitation and social event. The ones that she was forced to accept were anxiety inducing trials or complete blanks because of panic attacks.

Shonda didn’t even realize she was unhappy until, one Thanksgiving, her sister tells her that she doesn’t say yes to anything. Something clicks and Shonda embarks on a Year of Yes. Her results are astonishing and so is this memoir.

I have never watched a single episode of Grey’s Anatomy. I didn’t even realize that that was her show. You don’t need to be an aficionado to appreciate this book.

Shonda begins with some crushingly honest passages about her discomfort at sharing her life and her passion for writing. “Making stuff up is responsible for everything-everything I’ve done, everything I am, everything i have. Without the tales, the fiction, the stories I’ve spun, it is highly likely that right now, today, I’d be a very quiet librarian in Ohio.” pg 6, ebook. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. 🙂

The first part of this book was actually hard for me to get through because she was so obviously uncomfortable at creating a window into her heart and mind. She gets over it and so did I. “When it was first suggested to me that I write about this year, my first instinct was to say no. Writing about myself feels a lot like I have just decided to stand up on a table in a very proper restaurant, raise my dress and show everyone that I’m not wearing panties. That is to say, it feels shocking.” pg 12, ebook.

Shonda is just so relatable. Take this confession about motherhood: “I don’t know about you, but the mistakes and missteps I have made since becoming a mother… before kids, my confidence could not be dented. Now it’s shattered on a daily basis. I don’t know what I am doing.” pg 63, ebook. I know, right! Nobody knows what they’re doing. I take comfort in that.

Throughout her year of challenging herself, Shonda discovers that she’s uncomfortable in her own skin because of her weight. This next passage is for anyone out there who has body image issues: “I believe everyone’s body is theirs and everyone has a right to love their body in whatever size and shape and package it comes in. I will fight for anyone’s right to do so. I will kick ass and take names if I have to. Your body is yours. My body is mine. No one’s body is up for comment. No matter how small, how large, how curvy, how flat. If you love you, then I love you.” pg 85, ebook. End of story.

I also liked how she came to a new understanding about how life works: “I’ve started to think we are like mirrors. What you are gets reflected back to you. What you see in yourself, you may see in others, and what others see in you, they may see in themselves.” pg 120, ebook. I’ve started to think that too.

The Year of Yes is recommended for readers who enjoy memoirs or for those folks out there whose lives are in need of an awakening- a shaking of the snow globe of your reality, if you will. Shonda said yes to things that scared her and discovered, on the other side of fear, a life truly worth living. I hope that we can all be as fortunate and as brave on our journeys.

Thanks for reading!

Stronger by Jeff Bauman, Bret Witter

Stronger by Jeff Bauman, Bret Witter

strongerI am not a big news watcher. I try to keep up on current events, so I knew about the bombing at the Boston Marathon, but I didn’t watch the news broadcasts as they occurred nor did I see the (now famous) picture of Jeff Bauman being wheeled away from the bomb site. So, this whole book was a revelation and learning experience for me.

In a straight forward and honest manner, Jeff describes his life, what happened to him that tragic afternoon, and then how he and his family picked up the pieces of their lives and began to move on.

He also describes what happened at the shootout between Tsarnaev and the police from the officers’ point of view (he heard multiple first hand accounts from the men who were there). He details the trauma to his body and mind- some of it is very graphic, but that’s how he experienced it.

I think this was a very intimate memoir.

In addition to sharing his inner most thoughts and emotions, he doesn’t try to make the people in his life look better than they really are. For example, the portrait he paints of his mother is very unflattering. She tends to drink to excess and then vent her emotions while under the influence.

Apparently she has behaved this way Jeff’s entire life, so he doesn’t think much of it. It’s very dysfunctional, at best, and alcoholic, at worst. But, it’s real and not something that he had to share with the world.

Jeff chose to share it.

At multiple points in the book, Jeff denies that he’s a hero, but he is. He’s demonstrated the resiliency of the human spirit and sheer determination to move on with his life by learning to walk with his new legs a mere six months after the bombing.

I sincerely hope that his life continues to move forward and that he finds more peace than is detailed in his memoir. He deserves that, at least.

I received a free copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads. Thanks for reading!