“Do one thing every day that scares you.”- Eleanor Roosevelt
If you know me, you know I love all things Shonda Rhimes! TGIT is my favorite day of the week! Thursday nights work out perfectly for a majority of the season because Thursday Night Football allows me to disappear into my bedroom with a cup of tea and Meredith Grey. Then Olivia Pope! Then Annalise Keating! Nobody complains about my shows. Nobody asks why I’m watching them. Nobody fights over the TV. I have my own comfy sanctuary to retreat to for THREE hours of complete mindless bliss!
When Shonda came out with the book,Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person , I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. You’ll notice I refer to her by her first name as if we’re friends. That’s because in some strange alternate universe we are. She’s kind of like the Facebook friends you make but never meet, yet feel somehow connected to. Maybe that makes me crazy or maybe that just means at the end of a long week….a long month…..a long twenty years…I REALLY enjoy her shows! Either way, sometimes I feel like the characters she writes, get me. They just get me! Which in turn means Shonda must get me! I had no idea what the book was about until I saw her doing press and then it hit me like a ton of bricks. Not only did I want the book, but more importantly, I needed the book.
Year of Yes, follows Shonda after she makes the bold proclamation of saying yes to everything that scares her for one year. You’re probably thinking that doesn’t sound too hard, but you’d be surprised! This isn’t a typical self help book and it isn’t the kind of book that tells you all the ways you need to change. It’s actually very tricky because it never preaches to you, yet you feel compelled to take a long hard look at yourself. It feels like you’re sitting down and talking to a girlfriend over a good cup of tea about all the things in your life that need picking apart (just a reminder, I don’t like coffee). If you’re a fan of Shonda’s, you’ll recognize that the voice in the book sounds very much like her television characters. What unfolds in her year is the realization that EVERYTHING scares her and thus fear is stopping her from living. This woman who has created her own night on television, who has an entire production company named after her, is afraid of everything!
Can you see where I’m going with this? In case you missed the clues let me spell it out for you: I AM Shonda!
I’m scared of everything, but what surprised me is that the more I talked to people about this book the more I realized we’re all scared! Some more so than others. I’m one of the more so people! I’ve read the book several times and each time I pull more wisdom out of it. I’ve recommended the book more times than I can count. I’ve given the book as gifts. For women in particular, it’s a must read. That’s not meant as an man bashing statement…..simply put, I’m a woman so I understand what women go through! This book is like someone peering into your soul and pulling out every fear, flaw, issue, second guess, and insecurity and putting them on display for the world to see. The best part? Even though all the fears are yours and the book makes you get all the feels, you get to watch how Shonda mulls them over, ignores them, pretends they don’t exist, and then puts on her big girl panties and deals with them….NOT YOU! You just get to read about it, but you don’t HAVE to do anything other than shake your head in agreement that you too, know exactly what she’s feeling.
Here’s the thing: you don’t HAVE to do anything more than read it, but you SHOULD do something more than read it! The book was released in the fall of 2015. I read it twice and then made a bold proclamation on Facebook that 2016 would be my Year of Yes!
I’d say yes to all the things that scared me. I’d be big, bad and brave. I’d surprise myself. I’d kick my own ass. I’d become my own Wonder Woman!
And then I chickened out! No big surprise there! I listened to that voice inside me that said I’m scared for a reason. I’m not good enough, I’m not smart enough, I’m not pretty enough, I’m just NOT. So 2016 came and went and although I read the book again and again, I could not get out of my own head long enough to take the plunge.
Fast forward to 2017! As you know from my previous blog post, we had a life altering moment this year. The moment when things changed. That moment and so many moments after it led me to really start taking care of myself. Believe me when I tell you not only does “me time” sound incredible, it IS incredible for the most part. Ten, fifteen, twenty minutes of peace and quiet where everyone knows Mom is meditating and can’t be disturbed is treasured time. However, it also opens you up to really taking a look at yourself. We all love seeing and acknowledging the pretty shiny parts of ourselves. I enjoy that fact that I’m organized. I like knowing when I’m lacking in a subject, I can sink my teeth into research and learn everything I need to know on my own. I am proud that I’ve been on the Dean’s List every semester since starting back to college as an adult. I don’t mind telling people how I advocate for my kids. Those are the parts of me I have no problem allowing others to see. It’s the dark twisty parts (as Meredith Grey would call them) that I hide even from myself. Admitting I’m very impatient, that I’m short tempered, that I have an irrational need to control every situation, that I don’t feel comfortable in my own skin, that I feel like a failure more often than not, and admitting the real reasons I’m afraid are hard. So incredibly hard! Why would I want people to see those parts of me if I work so hard to hide them from myself?
Through meditation and taking this journey of self discovery and self love, I’ve realized my fears come from two places. One is my fear of feeling stupid. At some point somewhere in my life someone made me feel inadequate. This has set up a huge roadblock for me in moving forward with anything I want in my life. I don’t want to be the center of attention with all eyes on me because I might say the wrong thing, or dress the wrong way, or not understand what someone is talking about. This has held me back from so many experiences. I don’t want to be the person in the room who looks dumb! The second issue is my fear of failure. What if something I do doesn’t work? Then I’m a failure AND I look stupid for trying! The most irrational part is that if anyone else were to come to me expressing these same fears I’d give them a pep talk and send them out into the world! I’d point out how they aren’t really living. How they can’t truly find their passion this way. How they will never know until they try. How it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks because their self worth lies within themselves and how they think about themselves. If they KNOW they’re not stupid then nobody else can ever say they are! If they know sometimes things don’t work out and that trying is the key, then failure will never take place! I would tell them with certainty to embrace their own badassery!
“Badassery: 1. (noun) the practice of knowing one’s own accomplishments and gifts, accepting one’s own accomplishments and gifts and celebrating one’s own accomplishments and gifts; 2. (noun) the practice of living life with swagger : SWAGGER (noun or verb) a state of being that involves loving oneself, waking up “like this” and not giving a crap what anyone else thinks about you. Term first coined by William Shakespeare.”
-Shonda Rhimes, Year of Yes
Taking a look at my dark twisty parts inspired me to take another look at this year. We’re more than half way through and it’s been all about change. I didn’t realize it, but my Year of Yes started in May! The day I said YES to taking care of myself was my first big yes to a fear. Instead of being afraid of what others would think of me for making time for my sanity every day, I said YES to me. Next, I said YES to acknowledging the dark and twisty parts of myself. The ones I was scared to see and let out. In admitting they’re there, I can work on making them better. You can’t truly heal and move forward until you acknowledge the pain and insult. You also can’t move forward until you own up to what part you play in these issues. Taking responsibility is essential to healing and growing. Next up, saying YES to this blog! When the idea came to me, my initial reaction was no way, people won’t want to hear what I have to say! They’ll think I’m stupid and ultimately I’ll fail! I said YES to not caring about any of that! YES, to doing something I love …..writing, photography, and helping others. YES to more time on filling my soul with things I’m passionate about! Next up….and this was HUGE! I said YES to holding a snake! Anyone that knows me, knows my fear of snakes goes beyond just eeww they’re icky! I have a deep seeded fear that stems from my childhood. A fear that has resulted in my running over a child with a stroller while leaving my children with the snake, while sprinting to safety, all while screaming f-bombs! Maybe I’ll share that story with you one day! As you can see in the picture I’m absolutely terrified, but I did it! It was partly to prove to myself that I could and partly to show my kids (who know Mom will put a for sale sign in the front yard if we ever find a snake on our property) sometimes you have to do the things that scare you the most because they make you feel the most alive!
That brings me to today and my next YES! Since the book originally came out, Shonda has now added the Year of Yes Journal to accompany it. It allows you to write about each yes you perform each day! I bought the journal and decided that since I’ve already started saying yes, I mine as well run with it. It’s all about setting a good example for the kids right? Well partly. It’s also about showing myself that the dark twisty parts are exceptional pieces of the puzzle that make me who I am. Putting myself in situations where I’m terrified, forcing myself to figure out what it is that’s causing the fear and then facing the fear will result in more personal growth than any book I’ve ever read.
I may have delayed my Year of Yes for quite a while. I may not have started on the first day of 2017. However, without even planning it and without even meaning to, 2017 has become my Year of Yes. That means I’m growing already, because the twisty OCD would NEVER let me start this on any day other than January 1st, yet here I am…..telling all of you that from this moment forward I will say YES to all the scary things! I will say YES to all my fears! I will say YES to sharing them all with you. I will embrace my inner Wonder Woman! I will celebrate my badassery! I will sweat swagger from my pores!
Stay tuned because this will inevitably involve a trip to the haunted penitentiary that I spoke about in my above Facebook post. And as I mentioned in that post two years ago, I’m almost certain I will need to say YES to Depends. But guess what? I’m not afraid to admit that!