5 Lessons from Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

5 Lessons from Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

Saying Yes in a Year of No

When I ordered the Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes, I thought that it felt ironic as 2020 has been more like the big fat Year of No.

I had started 2020 thinking that it would hands down be my biggest Year of Yes yet. Sean and I had said yes to moving across the world. I had said yes to leaving my job to pursue this new adventure. I had said yes to wanting to start a program in order to expand my education and to upskill. These yeses were sure to introduce me to opportunities that would be full of saying yes to things that scared me and challenged me. Personal growth was a guarantee! This was going to be my year of self discovery! YES! YES! YES!

Then our visa process got delayed. NO! Then a global pandemic which caused Australia to close their borders. NO! This year has been relentless and continues to feel like one roadblock after another.

Here I am trying to say YES!!! and so many doors have closed with big fat NOs. Life feels like it is on pause. So how do I say yes now? How do I move forward from here even when I am trying to say yes? Please Shonda, tell me and shed some light. Maybe I do need this book now more than ever.

How Shonda Started her Year of Yes

Shonda is the critically acclaimed and award-winning creator and executive producer of the hit television series Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, and Scandal and the executive producer of How to Get Away with Murder and The Catch. You may have heard of some of these series… Her Shondaland empire is kind of a big deal!

photo of Shonda Rhimes with Shondaland director's chair

Even with her wild success, Shonda still found herself feeling miserable. Her wake up call was when her sister called her out and said,

“You never say yes to anything.”

All she was doing was working. She had been telling herself that she was too busy to do anything else. I think many people can relate. She declared that she would say yes to things that scared her for a year. Why? She determined that:

  • Saying no has gotten me here.
  • Here sucks.
  • Saying yes might be my way to someplace better.
  • If not a way to someplace better, at least to someplace different.

With a year of saying yes to things that scared her, Shonda experienced many life-changing revelations and lessons.


Shonda really drove this point home when she gave her Dartmouth commencement speech. She told the graduating class of ’14 that dreaming would not get them anywhere, she encouraged them to get out there and do.

“I think a lot of people dream. And while they are busy dreaming, the really happy people, the really successful people, the really interesting, powerful, engaged people? Are busy doing.”

Shonda Rhimes, Year of Yes

Also, #StopPretendingHashtagsAreTheSameAsDoingSomething. Really do the work!



You don’t want to be a pushover and just say yes to anything. Being able to say no and to be direct about your no, can actually make more room for the right yeses and to rid yourself of added drama and wasted time. Here are the ways that she advises that you can say no:

  1. I am going to be unable to do that.
  2. That is not going to work for me.
  3. No.

“One. Word.


No is a powerful word. To me, it’s the single most powerful word in the English language. Said clearly, strongly and with enough frequency and force, it can alter the course of history.”

Shonda Rhimes, Year of Yes

Additionally, has anyone ever said anything offensive or off-putting to you and instead of addressing it in that moment, you obsess over it and let it bother you for days and days on end? I love Shonda’s idea of saying, “What do you mean by that?” I am definitely going to try that response the next time that I find myself in that situation!

“When someone says something petty or nasty, one of those little passive-aggressive things that would usually just pick at me for days, my new response is not to shut the door and bitch to anyone who will listen. Now? The moment they say it? I ask, ‘What did you mean by that?’ in a calm voice.”

Shonda Rhimes, Year of Yes



“I am not lucky. You know what I am? I am smart, I am talented, I take advantage of the opportunities that come my way and I work really, really hard. Don’t call me lucky. Call me a badass.”

Shonda Rhimes, Year of Yes

Shonda says that women have a hard time accepting compliments and praise for their accomplishments and it’s true. I always feel so uncomfortable interviewing and talking about myself and my achievements. Ladies, this is unacceptable! We need to practice badassery. When someone compliments you simply say, “thank you” no excuses, ands, buts, or ifs! Talk about your accomplishments and hard work with pride rather than taking a modest, meek approach. Let’s normalize it so that we no longer feel this way!

photo of wonder woman

The Wonder Woman Pose with your hands on your hips and feet spread wide apart will make you feel more confident and badass. Give it a try! Shonda says so!



“I change the bottom of my email signature so that it now reads: Please Note: I will not engage in work emails after 7 pm or on weekends. IF I AM YOUR BOSS, MAY I SUGGEST: PUT DOWN YOUR PHONE.‘”

Shonda Rhimes, Year of Yes

Then guess what? She actually does it! Before, she did not prioritize play. That playful part of her had been lost but by placing these boundaries, she was able to spend valuable time playing with her daugthers and re-discovering that fun part of herself again.



“I can experience life or I can give up on it.”


Don’t forget that you are worth experiencing life. If you have found yourself giving up on it, you can start your own Year of Yes and get back on the right track.


Have Shonda and I driven home the fact that saying YES will change your life? Good. Give her book a read and while you are at it, check out the other books that I have reviewed too.

Even though, this feels like the Year of No, I think that these are very valuable lessons and you can ALWAYS find ways to say YES to yourself and to finding someplace better, or at least to someplace different.

5 Liberating Takeaways from Untamed by Glennon Doyle

5 Liberating Takeaways from Untamed by Glennon Doyle

Recently published in March 2020, Glennon Doyle‘s most recent book, Untamed has already been added to Reese’s Book Club and the #1 New York Times Best Sellers lists. It’s eye-catching cover, accolades, and powerful description make it a must have for your bookshelf.

When reading Glennon’s memoir, you can feel how fired up she is about women finding their voices and paving their own paths as she has successfully done. She left her husband after he cheated on her and began to pursue a relationship with world renowned soccer player, Abby Wambach. Glennon writes about how she is now living her life in an unapologetic way that awakens her soul. She is finally living her life for herself and she explains through her breakthroughs and stories, why you should be doing the same.

photo of Glennon Doyle and Abby Wambach
I love following these two on Instagram, @abbywambach + @glennondoyle

Here are my 5 biggest takeaways on how women can shift their mindset to live untamed, liberated, and free:

#1. Look inside, not outside for answers.

“The facts were right there in front of me to see. But the truth was right there inside of me to feel.”

Glennon Doyle, Untamed

When making decisions, Glennon has observed how females, including herself, tend to look to each other for approval. Rather than looking to others, Glennon believes that you should look inside yourself to your own Knowing for the answer. The Knowing is your inner individual consciousness and truth.

Have you ever made a big decision and went to others for their advice? I have found myself doing this less and less as everyone has their own opinions and often their input just ends up muddling what I really want. Try discovering the answer by finding stillness and looking inside yourself for how to proceed. Only you know what is best for YOU.

#2. It’s ok to feel.

“I did not know that I was supposed to feel everything. I thought I was supposed to feel happy.”

Glennon Doyle, Untamed

This one really hit home for me as I have been so frustrated with how society puts so much pressure on feeling good and happy. You are supposed to be a beam of positivity ALL OF THE TIME and that’s just not realistic. There are many situations in life where it is ok to feel sad, mad, confused, or down. Rather than numbing those feelings by staying busy, drinking, doing drugs, etc it is ok to sit with them for a minute and explore them and ask yourself why you feel that way. Your feelings are trying to tell you something, stop and listen. Learn from them. You do not have to stay in a bad place for long. I believe in giving yourself time to mourn and to work through those feelings before moving on; it’s the healthiest way to propel yourself forward.

a GIF of the grinch saying "help me! I'm feeling!"

It’s ok to feel a variety of emotions – it’s what makes you HUMAN (unlike the Grinch)!

#3. Be a model, not a martyr.

“Mothers have martyred themselves in their children’s names since the beginning of time. We have lived as if she who disappears the most, loves the most. We have been conditioned to prove our love by slowly ceasing to exist. What a terrible burden for children to bear—to know that they are the reason their mother stopped living. What a terrible burden for our daughters to bear—to know that if they choose to become mothers, this will be their fate, too. Because if we show them that being a martyr is the highest form of love, that is what they will become. They will feel obligated to love as well as their mothers loved, after all. They will believe they have permission to live only as fully as their mothers allowed themselves to live.”

Glennon Doyle, Untamed

“My children do not need me to save them. My children need to watch me save myself.”

Glennon Doyle, Untamed

I 100%, no 1000% agree with this! To be deemed a “good mom” society expects you to give up your wants and needs and play the martyr to your children. Rather than to suffer and to live your life for someone else, Glennon says that the best mother is one who lives their life as a model for their children.

“I was a good wife. I had three babies and put all their needs so far ahead of my own that I forgot I had needs at all. I was a good mom.”

Glennon Doyle, Untamed

#4. Being human is hard and you can do hard things.

“Being human is not hard because you’re doing it wrong, it’s hard because you’re doing it right.”

Glennon Doyle, Untamed

You can do hard things. WE CAN ALL DO HARD THINGS! Challenging yourself even if you fail will always be more rewarding than taking the easy route or not trying at all. Life is not supposed to be easy. I love working out and running, but you better bet that I tell myself that I can do hard things nearly the whole time to get through.

We Can Do Hard Things coloring page
You can download, print, and color this Untamed mantra page as a daily reminder.

#5. Be brave.

“Whether you are brave or not cannot be judged by people on the outside. Sometimes being brave requires letting the crowd think you’re a coward. Sometimes being brave means letting everyone down but yourself.”

Glennon Doyle, Untamed

I cannot and will not be peer pressured to do something that I do not want to do and you should not either. Just because other people are living their life a certain way, does not mean that you have to follow along. Stop and think if it really serves you. If not, be brave and do what feels right to you.

“Blessed are those brave enough to make things awkward, for they wake us up and move us forward.”

Glennon Doyle, Untamed

Speak your truth even if your voice shakes and it is the unpopular opinion. I have always spoken up for myself and always will. I have learned that I cannot find peace with something without doing so. Some may see it as being stubborn or as being abrasive, but you know what it really is? Being brave. “Say what you wanna say, make it mean everything.” is one of my favorite lyrics from the song ‘Let Go‘ by one of my favorite bands, Matt and Kim. You are brave and the world needs to hear your voice!

“Brave means living from the inside out. Brave means, in every uncertain moment, turning inward, feeling for the Knowing, and speaking it out loud.”

Glennon Doyle, Untamed

Thank you Glennon for writing such a profound memoir. She writes so much more about her struggles with addiction, bulimia, and divorce but I’m not here to spoil her book for you, I am here to encourage you to read it for yourself and to get fired up right along with her. Become a GD cheetah! (You’ll get that reference when you read the book.)

photo of a running cheetah

Interested in what other books that I think you should have on your bookshelf? Check out my other Book Reviews.

Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo | 7 Quotes + Book Review

Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo | 7 Quotes + Book Review

How One Simple Belief Can Help Us Overcome Any Obstacle and Create Unstoppable Success

I can not stop raving about Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo. I am having deja vu right now as I type this as I previously quoted Marie and mentioned her book in my very first post on this site. I knew that her book deserved it’s own post and a further elaborated review.

Everything is Figureoutable starts off with a story about Marie’s mom and how the mantra, “Everything is Figureoutable” became instilled in her life. After that story, she shares her struggles and successes which led her to discovering that being a life coach was her calling. In addition to her own stories, she interjects various and diverse stories from others who have incorporated her mantra into their lives and how it has helped them overcome struggles and pursue a better life. She also has included many exercises that you can do while reading the book. Be prepared to speak out loud and to have a paper and pen ready!

Here are 7 of my favorite quotes from Everything is Figureoutable:

At this very moment, you can choose to put yourself in either a growth mindset or a fixed mindset. One leads to a life of pain and stagnation. The other to endless growth and fulfillment.

Marie Forleo

You don’t have to get it perfect, you just have to get it going.

Marie Forleo

Starting small doesn’t mean thinking small.

Marie Forleo

The most powerful words in the universe are the words you say to yourself.

Marie Forleo

You can do whatever you set your mind to if you just roll up your sleeves, get in there, and do it. Everything is figureoutable.

Marie Forleo

Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.

Marie Forleo

If it’s important enough, I’ll make the time. If not, I’ll make an excuse.

Marie Forleo

Have you ever heard to add the words “in bed” to the end of your fortune from a fortune cookie? Do it. It’s hilarious. On a serious note, Marie has an exercise where you add the word “yet” to the end of negative beliefs that you have about yourself.

For example:

  • I am not a good writer yet.
  • I am not fit yet.
  • I don’t drink enough water yet.
  • I’m not ready yet.

This is just one of the simple ways that Marie shows how you can simply rephrase your thoughts so that you can make life changing alterations.

You’ll want your own copy of this book. It is a must read! It has deepened my overall attitude towards life and inspired me to take action in ways that no other book has. I know that it will do the same for you too.

10 Quotes from Chasing the Bright Side by Jess Ekstrom | Book Review

10 Quotes from Chasing the Bright Side by Jess Ekstrom | Book Review

I am at that stage in my life where people that I know have been getting married, having kids, and writing books. Yes! I know several people who have become authors in recent years. It is so cool to support them and to read their hard work. You know how when you are growing up, you are encouraged to create something that will exist even after you are gone? Publishing a book is the real deal!

Jess is a fellow Wolfpacker from NC State University who created her business, Headbands of Hope, while she was still a student. Since college, she has continued to spearhead many successful efforts and events in the Raleigh community that I have attended over the years. Speaking of, I am virtually attending her first conference, The Bright Side Conference, today which is what inspired me to share her quotes and to review her book with you all.

In Chasing the Bright Side, Jess shares stories of her mistakes and victories in creating Headbands of Hope, of her internship at Disney, of having one of her short stories published in Chicken Soup for the Soul as a child, of her family losing their life savings, of attending improv classes to improve her speaking abilities, and so much more. She has a can do attitude that encourages others to go for it and to chase their calling. I am happy that she has shared her journey with the world. Her style of writing is just like having a conversation with a friend and it is a very enjoyable, feel good read.

I think that this book would be very beneficial for both adults and young adults to read. If young adults read this book before entering college, it may inspire them to accomplish more and to reach farther during their college career like Jess did.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

Hard times give a choice: the excuse to do less or the reason to do more.

Jess Ekstrom

If we have the ability to worry about the future, it also means we have the ability to imagine a better one.

Jess Ekstrom

Every expert was once a beginner.

Jess Ekstrom

Failure will always feel better than regret.

Jess Ekstrom

Optimism isn’t about being happy all of the time. It’s about understanding and digesting the hard stuff and still believing there will be good on the other side.

Jess Ekstrom

Boiling water can soften a potato but harden an egg. The same environment can produce two totally different results.

Jess Ekstrom

We can’t always control our experiences, but we can always write our story.

Jess Ekstrom

Are you as moved by Jess’s words as I am? This chief optimist has thought of everything and has a webpage dedicated to images with her quotes on them, sized perfectly for both your Instagram feed and for your Instagram story so that you can share her words of wisdom with ease.

Keep up the good work, Jess! Rooting for you!