I read Year of Yes with my book club last month and was so excited to delve into what motivates and challenges Shonda Rhimes. She's the amazing creator/writer behind TV shows like Grey's Anatomy and Scandal (she's also executive producer of How to Get Away With Murder and a new show, The Catch, premiering March 24). Shonda has created beloved characters that are smart, human, flawed, and lovable. I love that her shows (Grey's, Scandal, and How to Get Away With Murder air consecutively on Thursday nights on ABC; that's what #tgit is all about!) have created trademark words in pop culture, like McDreamy and va-jay-jay (i.e. vagina, duh!). I remember crowding around the TV with a bunch of my roommates in college (there were six of us in one house!) to watch Grey's. Everyone was obsessed. We were all very different, had different passions and backgrounds (my roommates and I), but that show brought us together.
There are way too many parts of Year of Yes that are beautiful and validating and fascinating. Like when Shonda talks about her nanny, and how important she is—and how women need to share when they're using help and not feel ashamed of paying for childcare. And then there's her refreshing story of why she's decided not to get married. There's also the way she talks about her love for the Grey's Anatomy character Cristina Yang, and how that character is so deeply intertwined with who Shonda is. (See? I could go on forever.) Here are five quotes that I especially loved, which sum up why you need to get on Audible or head to Barnes & Noble, or pick up your Kindle and buy Year of Yes, pronto!
1. On learning to take a compliment
"I am smart, I am talented, I take advantage of the opportunities that come my way and I work really, really hard... Call me a badass...
I wrote out that whole series of compliments to myself as part of my "Yes." And it was HARD to do. I felt like a complete jerk the whole time I was writing it. And the sad part is, right up until I got to "badass"? Those weren't even compliments. They were facts. Sadder? Did I just say that I'm actually worried people will think that I am into myself? I am worried that people will think that maybe I think I am special? That I am in love with myself?
Isn't that the GOAL? Don't people pay money to licensed therapists to get into themselves, to fall in love with themselves, to think they are special?...
I can take a compliment now. Thank you. Smile."
2. On standing up to people
"No matter how hard a conversation is, I know that on the other side of that difficult conversation lies peace. Knowledge. An answer is delivered. Character is revealed. Truces are formed. Misunderstandings are resolved. Freedom lies across the field of a difficult conversation. And the more difficult conversation, the greater the freedom."
3. On inclusion and making people feel they are not alone (from her Human Rights Campaign speech)
"I really hate the word diversity. It suggest something... other... Or rare...
I have a different word: normalizing.
I'm normalizing TV. I'm making TV look the way the world looks. Women, people of color, LGBTQ people equal way more than 50 percent of the population. Which means it ain't out of the ordinary...
You should get to turn on the TV and see your tribe. And your tribe can be any kind of person, anyone you identify with, anyone who feels like you, who feels like home, who feels like truth... So that you know on your darkest day that when you run (metaphorically or physically RUN), there is somewhere, someone, to run TO... You are not alone.
The goal is that everyone should get to turn on the TV and see someone who looks like them and loves like them. And just as important, everyone should turn on the TV and see someone who doesn't look like them and love like them. Because perhaps then they will learn from them. Perhaps they will not isolate them. Marginalize them. Erase them. Perhaps they will even come to recognize themselves in them. Perhaps they will even learn to love them."
4. On motherhood not being a job
"Being a mother isn't a job. It's who someone is. It's who I am.
You can quit a job. I can't quit being a mother. I'm a mother forever. Mothers are never off the clock, mothers are never on vacation. Being a mother redefines us, reinvents us, destroys and rebuilds us. Being a mother brings us face-to-face with ourselves as children, with our mothers as human beings, with our darkest fears of who we really are. Being a mother requires us to get it together or risk messing up another person forever. Being a mother yanks our hearts out of our bodies and attaches them to our tiny humans and sends them out into the world, forever hostages.
If all of that happened at work, I'd have quit 50 times already. Because there isn't enough money in the world. And my job does not pay me in the smell of baby head and the soft weight of snuggly sleepy toddler on my shoulder. Being a mother is incredibly important. To the naysayers, I growl, do not diminish it by calling it a job."
5. On happy endings being different (and not wanting to get married)
"My happy ending is not the same as your happy ending. Everyone has their own version. We all spend our lives kicking the crap out of ourselves for not being this way or that way, not having this thing or that thing, not being like this person or that person. For not living up to some standard we think applies across the board to us. I think we believe that happiness lies in following the same list of rules. In being more like everyone else.
That is wrong. There is no list of rules. Happiness comes from living as you need to, as you want to. As your inner voice tells you to. Happiness comes from being who you actually are instead of who you think you are supposed to be.
Being traditional isn't traditional anymore. It's funny that we still think of it that way. Normalize your lives, people. You don't want a baby? Don't have one. I don't want to get married? I won't. You want to live alone? Enjoy it. You want to love someone? Love someone.
Don't apologize. Don't explain. Don't ever feel less than... No fairy tales. Be your own narrator. And go for a happy ending. One foot in front of the other. You will make it."
She's pretty friggin awesome, right?! (BTW, this week Shonda did a TED talk that covers some of her messages from Year of Yes.) If you've read the book, I'd love to hear what you thought of it in the comments below. Any books you'd like me to review on Galbraith? Let me know in the comments, too! Reading is one of my favorite things in the world, so I'm always looking for new titles.
P.S. Want more book love? Check out "8 Reasons You Need to Read Amy Poehler's Book." And follow along on Snapchat (heatherfurlow), Instagram (@summerheather), and Twitter (@heatherfurlow) for updates on Galbraith each week!