#GreatRead: Year of Yes – Shonda Rhimes

Around this time last year, I started reading a book that truly shaped my 2017—Year of YesHow to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun, and Be Your Own Person by writer and producer extraordinaire Shonda Rhimes! Especially as we’re getting ready to enter in another new year, I thought it was perfect to share this great read with you guys if you haven’t checked it out yet!

Unless you’ve seriously been living under a rock, you’ve definitely heard the name Shonda Rhimes before. Especially those of us glued to our TVs for another crazy night of TGIT (Thank God It’s Thursday) with Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder. Shonda created two out of three of these and serves as producer! She’s got a lot more on her list, too (check her credentials!).

Yet, with all of her fame and glory, Shonda truly liked to stay behind the scenes. She worked and spent time with her family. That’s…pretty much it. In reading the book, I found that she was an introvert like me, who stayed in her head to make up these wild stories we love so much. She didn’t go out to many events or do many interviews or have any fun…until the year that she details in this book.

Shonda’s own journey on her Year of Yes in 2014 started with a simple but staggering statement from her older sister Delorse in Thanksgiving 2013. After hearing Shonda go on and on about all the events she’d been invited to that she had no intention of going to (out of “busyness” but really fear), her big sis dropped a line that shattered Shonda’s entire mindset. “You never say yes to anything,” Delorse told her. Delorse then proceeded to tell her little sister all about how Shonda always works, but never makes time for fun anymore.

At first, Shonda angrily tried to shake off her sister’s words. After all, declining all of these big events made perfect sense for her. She literally runs her own magical TV land (Shondaland to be exact), and she’s also a single mom to three girls. In her own words, she’s literally “bringing home the bacon AND frying it up in the pan.” The lady is a BOSS, okay?

But Shonda also knew that she had grown comfortable in being behind the scenes. Partly out of necessity. Mostly out of fear. So she decided to make 2014 the year she said yes to doing all of the things that scared her. Things like giving  the commencement address at her alma mater, Dartmouth College, or going on Jimmy Kimmel for a live TV interview! In this year, she learned to better assert herself and her choices unapologetically, while taking better care of her health and her kids. She learned to enjoy the life she has, and has become all the better for it.

And then Shonda put all the amazing lessons she learned in this book to share with all of us!

Shonda Rhimes is ME. Well, I don’t run my own shows or anything near what she does, but you get my point. Shonda Rhimes is a lot of us. We become consumed in work, or being caregivers to our loved ones, or maybe, like me, consumed with social anxiety that, a lot of times, we literally can’t bring ourselves to enjoy the life we’ve been blessed with. We can’t bring ourselves to try new things or take risks out of fear.

This book forced me to go outside of my comfort zone in 2017, going after opportunities and going places that I normally wouldn’t. And you know what? My 2017 was GREAT. I was finally able to move out on my own with a nice place all to myself just like I wanted. I stepped up my game and asked for what I wanted when it came to my writing career, which worked out well. And I created this site, turning away from what I thought I wanted with my entertainment blog, and realizing that maybe this is my life purpose. Using my gift of words to inspire and uplift others, as well as myself. All because I stopped letting fear get in the way all of the time.

Now, I’m not completely fearless. I still back down from time to time, BUT I’ve gotten a lot better at going after the things that I want and the opportunities I have. And it was partly because of this book! I’m so grateful Shonda decided to open up to the world, because her story truly helped me to move forward in my own life. So I encourage everyone to check it out, and go after everything they want in 2018!

Words of Wisdom: “Be a Doer”-Shonda Rhimes

I LOVE Shonda Rhimes. Obviously, many of us know her for all of the TGIT craziness in Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder, among other writing and producing work.  I watch religiously, but, over the past year specifically, I watched more of her empowering interviews and even read her book, Year of Yes, which truly shaped my 2017.

In this clip, Shonda speaks openly with Robin Roberts about being a doer, and not just a dreamer. People often have the gifts, but do the bare minimum thinking that their big break will come out of nowhere. That someone will magically find us on Instagram or YouTube, and we’ll blow up overnight. For a rare few, that happens. But most of us will never succeed if we think and act that way. We really have to bust our tails to make our dreams become reality!

Watch below…


I get this. When I first The Spotlight when I was 18, I made the naive mistake of believing that my work was so great that people would automatically find me, love my blog, reach out to be featured, and want to hire me for other opportunities. Let’s all laugh together. I soon realized the harsh reality that that wasn’t the case, and I had to be willing to put in the work necessary to get ahead. I had to balance school, and working on the site. I had to reach out to people for new opportunities to continue to grow. I had to take on less exciting jobs in order to pay bills and continue to boost my freelance career. I had to DO THINGS to be successful. Dreaming and planning are only the first part.

You can’t wait for opportunities and success to magically appear in your lap. It really doesn’t happen like that. Even promoting your blog, business, or SoundCloud just on social media doesn’t do as much as people think, especially when people’s timelines are already flooded with links. You have to be willing to go the extra mile. Pitch managing editors your ideas. Send your music to various websites for potential features (following their submission guidelines of course). Go to networking events and meet people of similar interests and backgrounds. Take on that job fair coming up. Get an internship on the side in what you really want to do. Get that side hustle going. Whatever you do, don’t just sit around, passively promoting yourself, thinking that somebody is going to find you and give you the opportunity of a lifetime. We’re all unique and clever in our own ways, but, be real, you ain’t THAT special.


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