I have nothing in common with Shonda Rhimes.
She’s the creator and producer of some of the best shows on TV today: Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder. She’s an introvert. She went to an Ivy League college. She was named one of Time magazine’s “100 People Who Help Shape The World.” Yeah, there’s nothing in common there. But when I heard about her new book (yup, now she’s an author too) Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person, I felt like I had found a new friend.
The basic idea of her book is that while she is very successful, she’s an extreme introvert who would rather be home snuggling her kids than appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live, afraid that she would commit some crazy social faux pas or would trip and literally fall on her face…and bleed to death. She became an expert at declining invitations. Then, her sister said something that sparked a change in Shonda: “You never say yes to anything.” Six words that changed Shonda Rhimes’s life. She promised herself that she would say “Yes” to anything that scared her for a whole year. I won’t spoil it for you but the book goes on to chronicle her adventures and what she learned about herself along the way.
As a parent, I realize that I say “No” a lot. It comes out of my mouth in many versions: No, Not now, Maybe later, We don’t have time to do that now. It’s part of the territory of being a parent. My own daughter very recently recited those same six words: “You never say yes to anything.” She added a foot stomp for good measure, of course.
So here it is, the start of a new year and everyone’s making their resolutions. Although I’m not good at resolutions–making them or keeping them–I can still taste the most recent “No” on my tongue. What am I missing out on because of “No”? The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that saying “Yes” will add value to my life in many different ways. Here’s where I’m going to start saying “Yes”:
“Yes” to playing with Barbies. Or legos. Or painting with watercolors. Whatever. All I mean is that I’m going to say “Yes” to more play with my daughter. I want to get silly with her. I’ve said it before that I want to be more present with her. Play is where you learn a lot about your child and who she is, what makes her tick. She’s growing up so fast and she is SO interesting. I don’t want to miss a moment of her, especially while she still thinks I’m pretty cool, too.
“Yes” to dating my husband. Yeah, we stink at date nights. But we had one a few weeks ago and it was really nice. So nice that it was almost surprising: Yes, we’re two grown-ups who still have a lot in common with each other and can make each other laugh. How about that? As much as I want to be more present with my daughter, I want to give my husband, our relationship, some undivided attention. He absolutely deserves it, and so do I.
“Yes” to planning adventures. I am the worst when it comes to planning things like activities with my kid or vacations. I like to wing it. But that doesn’t always get me the result I want. After another not-so-exciting school vacation, my husband and I were talking about what kind of childhood do we want Zoey to have? You know, in the big picture sense. If we really want her to experience the type of childhood that aligns with our value system, it could require some big changes. It’s not something you can jump into. That’s definitely going to take some thought and real planning. I’m saying bye-bye comfort zone and “Yes” to planning.
“Yes” to being still. I am not one to sit still for very long. I fill silences with meaningless gibber-gabber. I do not reflect on life, my life, very often. I have been known to fill a spot of inactivity with laundry. Laundry, people. Stillness and quiet make me uncomfortable in a jump-out-of-my-skin kind of way. Some quiet time will be good for me. I’m almost in my mid-40’s. My life could use a little reflecting, because, hey, who knows what’s in store for me in the second half?
In her book, Rhimes says she chose to start saying “Yes” because saying “No” had led her to a place of unhappiness. She figured that saying “Yes” would at least take her somewhere different, if not better. I think that’s a wonderful way to look at it. While I don’t think I’ll have the type of impactful year that Shonda Rhimes had (I mean come on, look at her resources!) but I bet I’ll have deeper, more meaningful experiences with the ones I love. That is definitely something I can say “Yes” to.