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.

9 Ways to Cultivate a Creative Life Beyond Fear | Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

9 Ways to Cultivate a Creative Life Beyond Fear | Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

When I refer to “creative living,” I am speaking more broadly. I’m talking about living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.

Elizabeth Gibert

I earmarked the page with this quote on it – Page #9. I knew early on that Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert would resonate with my beliefs about leading a creative lifestyle and I was not wrong. Gilbert shared interesting theories and her personal insight to articulate creative living and the mysteries of inspiration in a resounding way.

Here are my 9 biggest takeaways if you want to invite creativity and provoke inspiration in your life:

#1. Don’t ask for permission

“You do not need anybody’s permission to live a creative life.”

Elizabeth Gilbert

Have you ever heard that it is better to ask for forgiveness than for permission? This definitely applies to living a creative lifestyle however, there should be no reason to need forgiveness. Often your closest friends , family, and loved ones will be skeptical of new endeavors. They raise their concerns and act as though they are doing you a favor. This will only put doubts in your mind. If something creative is calling to you, try and go for it! You don’t need anyone’s permission to do so.

#2. Keep moving

“If you can’t do what you long to do, go do something else. Go walk the dog, go pick up every bit of trash on the street outside your home, go walk the dog again, go bake a peach cobbler, go paint some pebbles with brightly colored nail polish and put them in a pile. You might think it’s procrastination, but – with the right intention – it isn’t; it’s motion. And any motion whatsoever beats inertia, because inspiration will always be drawn to motion.”

Elizabeth Gilbert

If you feel stuck on something that you are working on, just keep moving. I believe in moving your body for at least 30 minutes each day. My workouts keep me grounded, happy, and strong.⁠ But this is even more than just physically moving. Pick up a hobby even if it is unrelated to your main project. Right now, I have found myself knitting and embroidering. Any movement will spark creativity.

One of my biggest A-HA moments for a project came while I was not sitting and brainstorming but simply taking a scenic walk home from work.

#3. Act upon your ideas

”Inspiration is always trying to work with you. Trust it and it will trust you. The work wants to get made and it wants to be made through you.”

Elizabeth Gilbert

Have you ever had an amazing idea but you did not act upon it and then someone else did? Gilbert introduced a theory that ideas and “genius” find people and if that person does not bring that idea to life, it will move onto someone else who will bring it to life. Sometimes you aren’t at the right place to bring the idea to life due to limited resources or other factors that need your attention and focus and that’s ok. But if you say yes to the idea then it’s on! See it through!

#4. Relax and stay light

“So take your insecurities and your fears and hold them upside down by their ankles and shake yourself free of all your cumbersome ideas about what you require (and how much you need to pay) in order to become creatively legitimate.”

Elizabeth Gilbert

Stay unburdened and relaxed especially when pertaining to your creative endeavors. Do not put too much pressure on your creativity. Have you ever noticed that you feel inspired and creative while on vacation? Creative thoughts are often blocked or strained by stress. Allow yourself to slow down and relax and in return, inspiration will strike.

As I was writing this, my Apple watch agreed. Just breathe.

#5. Don’t be a tortured artist, embrace creativity with gratitude

“Every time you express a complaint about how difficult and tiresome it is to be creative, inspiration takes another step away from you, offended.”

Elizabeth Gilbert

It is common to think of artists as dark, deep people. Often, burdened with addictions and a traumatic past. They are depicted as being isolated while working on their craft and they complain about how hard it is to create their art. Others may view this as the model of an artist and feel that they have to unleash their darkest sides and complain in order to be successful.

This is not the case. Living a creative lifestyle should be enjoyable and bring happiness. You don’t need to feel tortured in order to dig into your creative calling.

#6. Dress to impress your creative side

“I might even put on perfume, for God’s sake. I don’t even put on perfume to go out to dinner, but I will put on perfume in an attempt to seduce creativity back to my side.”

Elizabeth Gilbert

Right now, I know that a lot of us our sporting our best loungewear, messy hair, and have likely started showering less. Often it is hard to find motivation in such a state. For me, a bold lip color is my superpower. It makes me feel confident and I swear that it attracts creativity. What do you wear that makes you feel this way?

Photo by Mikkel Paige Photography | Makeup by Makeup by Ashley Mooney

#7: Be Entitled

“Creative entitlement doesn’t mean behaving like a princess, or acting as though the world owes you anything whatsoever. No, creative entitlement simply means believing that you are allowed to be here, and that—merely by being here—you are allowed to have a voice and a vision of your own.”

Elizabeth Gilbert

I’m not talking about how everyone says that millenials are entitled. I have a friend who spoke to a group and then she declared herself a speaker. She didn’t wait until she had spoken for 10 years or headlined 20 conferences to declare herself a speaker, it only took that one time. After that, she created a website and reached out to people to book speaking engagements. Just like that.

I have had a blog for only a little over two weeks and I am now a blogger. I am also an event planner, an event designer, a marketing professional, a social media strategist, and a business developer as I have also done all of those things. However, people seem to shy away from such titles. Heck, I’ve even spoken to a group before, therefore, I am also a speaker.

I think this sense of entitlement also goes hand in hand with being confident and the “fake it before you make it” mentality. Don’t hold back from giving yourself a title.

“Defending yourself as a creative person begins by defining yourself.”

Elizabeth Gilbert

#8. Be Curious

“Do whatever brings you to life. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions and compulsions, trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart. The rest will take care of itself.”

Elizabeth Gilbert

If something is calling to you, try it! Pottery, gardening, yoga – go for it! Who knows where it will lead and what creative thoughts and connections it will unravel.

#9. Be Persistent

“I saw it as proof that you must never surrender, that no doesn’t always mean no, and that miraculous turns of fate can happen to those who persist in showing up.”

Elizabeth Gilbert

Living a creative lifestyle is living outside of your comfort zone. Of course there will be ups and downs but you have to appreciate the whole process and be persistent in your journey. Don’t get discouraged. Even if she wasn’t inspired, Gilbert would write for at least 30 minutes a day to perfect her craft in order to become the amazing writer that she is today.

Don’t be discouraged if someone else is further along than you or if they have already done it. It has not been done yet by you. There should be no excuses to indulge in what inspires you and makes you feel creative even it has been done before.

I know that I have always been drawn to creative endeavors, creative people, and a creative lifestyle. You too? You have to explore your creativity otherwise, you will find yourself being destructive and wondering why. Put your energy to good use! You will feel accomplished and proud of what you create.

“If I am not actively creating something, then chances are I am probably actively destroying something — myself, a relationship, or my own peace of mind.”

Elizabeth Gilbert

These are just 9 ways to cultivate a creative life beyond fear. Big Magic includes many more! Read it for yourself and see if this book inspires you to be more creative as well.

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!