Collected Quotes: Year of Yes (How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person)

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In public, I smiled. A lot. I did a HUGE amount of smiling. And I did what I called “Athlete Talk.” […] Athlete Talk is when the athlete goes before the press and keeps a smile on her face, voice bland and pleasant as she deftly fields one reporter’s question after the other—never once saying anything of controversy or substance.
—  “Chapter 2: Maybe?” A Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes


I didn’t have a choice. I didn’t want a choice. Once I saw the unhappiness, felt the unhappiness, recognized and named it … well, just knowing about it made me itchy. Like itchy on the inside of my brain. Continuing to say no was not going to get me anywhere at all. And standing still was no longer an option. The itchy was too much. Besides, I am not a person who can see a problem and not solve it.
—  “Chapter 3: Umm, Yes…?” Year of Yes


She’d once lost herself in his orbit, revolving around him, desperately in need of his sun. She’d made herself smaller to accommodate his greatness. Now she has surpassed him. […] She has learned to not let go of the pieces of herself that she needs in order to be what someone else wants. She’s learned not to compromise. She’s learned not to settle. She’s learned, as difficult as it is, how to be her own sun.

— “Chapter 4: Yes to the Sun.” Year of Yes


I’m not revealing anything. I’m not sharing anything. There is nothing of me in here. I speak from behind a curtain. It’s like a magic trick—I open my mouth but you never actually hear me. You just hear my voice.

— “Chapter 5: Yes to Speaking the Whole Truth.” Year of Yes


Maybe you know exactly what you dream of being. Or maybe you’re paralyzed because you have no idea what your passion is. The truth is, it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to know. You just have to keep moving forward. You just have to keep doing something, seizing the next opportunity, staying open to trying something new. It doesn’t have to fit your vision of the perfect job or the perfect life. Perfect is boring, and dreams are not real. Just … DO. […] Do until you can do something else.

— “Chapter 5: Yes to Speaking The Whole Truth.” Year of Yes


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 fifty 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.

— “Chapter 6: Yes to Surrending the Mommy War (Or, Jenny McCarthy Is My Everything).” Year of Yes


I’m no longer looking for the enemy. So I no longer see the enemy. And so finally, in this year, I allow myself to fully lay down my weapons.

— “Chapter 6: Yes to Surrending the Mommy War (Or, Jenny McCarthy Is My Everything).” Year of Yes


I am not a naturally optimistic person. I’m too in my own head to be a constant source of cheer. I have to work at happy. Dark and twisty is where my brain likes to settle. So I can use some reminders of what is good and optimistic and glass-half-full about this world.

— “Chapter 7: Yes to All Play and No Work.” Year of Yes


Losing yourself does not happen all at once. Losing yourself happens one no at a time. No to going out tonight. No to catching up with that old college roommate. No to attending that party. No to going on a vacation. No to making a new friend. Losing yourself happens one pound at a time.

— “Chapter 8: Yes To My Body.” Year of Yes


Lucky implies I didn’t do anything. Lucky implies something was given to me. Lucky implies that I was handed something I did not earn, that I did not work hard for. […] 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.

— “Chapter 10: Yes, Thank You.” Year of Yes


I don’t think it ever occurred to me before how much and how often women are praised for displaying traits that basically render them invisible. When I really think about it, I realize the culprit is the language generally used to praise women. Especially mothers. “She sacrificed everything for her children … She never thought about herself … She gave up everything for us … She worked tirelessly to make sure we had what we needed. She stood in the shadows, she was the wind beneath our wings.

[…]

This is good, we’re told. It’s good how Mom diminishes and martyrs herself. The message is: mothers, you are such wonderful and good people because you make yourselves smaller, because you deny your own needs, because you toil tirelessly in the shadows and no one ever thanks or notices you … this all makes you AMAZING.

— “Chapter 10: Yes, Thank You.” Year of Yes


Saying what you think and wading into the deep end don’t always have a happy ending. Difficult conversations are something of a gamble and you have to be willing to be okay with the outcome. And you have to know, going in, where you draw the line. You have to know when in the conversation you are going to say no. You have to know when you are going to say, “That doesn’t work for me.” You have to know when to say, “I’m done.”

You have to know when to say, “This isn’t worth it.” “ You aren’t worth it.” The more I said what I thought, the more I was willing to dive into the difficult conversations, the more I was willing to say yes to me, the less I was willing to allow people in my life who left me emptier and unhappier and more insecure than before I saw them.

—  “Chapter 11: Yes to No, Yes to Difficult Conversations.” Year of Yes


Freedom lies across the field of the difficult conversation. And the more difficult the conversation, the greater the freedom.

—  “Chapter 11: Yes to No, Yes to Difficult Conversations.” Year of Yes


No is a complete sentence. I’ve heard that cliché over and over. So, I decide to treat saying no in the same way I treat saying thank you. Say no and then don’t say anything else.

—  “Chapter 11: Yes to No, Yes to Difficult Conversations.” Year of Yes


I’m great at taking care of other people. So why am I so bad at taking care of myself? Why am I so unwilling to show myself the same kindness and consideration, to cut myself the same slack, to give myself the same protection and care that I would give anyone else?

—  “Chapter 11: Yes to No, Yes to Difficult Conversations.” Year of Yes


I was scared to have an opinion because I was afraid of having a different opinion than everyone else.

—  “Chapter 11: Yes to No, Yes to Difficult Conversations.” Year of Yes


I don’t know if anyone has noticed but I only ever write about one thing: being alone. The fear of being alone, the desire to not be alone, the attempts we make to find our person, to keep our person, to convince our person to not leave us alone, the joy of being with our person and thus no longer alone, the devastation of being left alone. The need to hear the words: You are not alone.

The fundamental human need for one human being to hear another human being say to them: “You are not alone. You are seen. I am with you. You are not alone.

— “Chapter 12: Yes To People.” Year of Yes


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. You should get to turn on the TV and see your tribe, see your people, someone like you out there, existing. So that you know on your darkest day that when you run (metaphorically or physically RUN), there is somewhere, 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 then 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. I think that when you turn on the television and you see love, from anyone, with anyone, to anyone— real love —a service has been done for you. Your heart has somehow been expanded, your mind has somehow grown. Your soul has been opened a little more. You’ve experienced something. The very idea that love exists, that it is possible, that one can have a “person”… You are not alone. Hate diminishes, love expands.

— “Chapter 12: Yes To People.” Year of Yes


I’m going to accept this award as encouragement and not as accomplishment.

— “Chapter 12: Yes To People.” Year of Yes


The upside of culling people from my life is that my focus has become very clear. My vision has become razor sharp. I now work to see people, not as I’d rewrite them, but as they have written themselves. I see them for who they are. And for who I am with them. Because it’s not merely about surrounding myself with people who treat me well. It’s also about surrounding myself with people whose self-worth, self-respect and values inspire me to elevate my own behavior. People who require that I stay truthful and kind and not totally crazy.

— “Chapter 13: Yes to Dancing It Out (with the right people).” Year of Yes


Writing and I are MFEO (Made For Each Other). I tell him that my well of energy is only so deep and that I happily pour that energy into writing and raising my daughters, and so I would never be pouring the energy into a devoted marriage in the way I know from our conversations he imagines a marriage would be. I tell him that he would resent me and grow to hate me if we got married and I did not make him a priority above my work. And I have no ability to downgrade my creativity in my soul. I have no desire to do so either.

— “Chapter 14: Yes to Who I Am.” Year of Yes


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 all of us.

We all spend our lives trying to follow the same path, live by the same rules.

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.

There is one rule.

The rule is: there are no 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 is not 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.

When you feel the need to apologize or explain who you are, it means the voice in your head is telling you the wrong story. Wipe the slate clean. And rewrite it.

No fairy tales.

Be your own narrator.

And go for a happy ending.

One foot in front of the other.

You will make it

— “Chapter 14: Yes to Who I Am.” Year of Yes


The Rest

Chapter 15

I had no armor on. I had nothing to hide. I was worried about nothing.

I was … fearless.

And so we had a conversation. We had a chat. We talked.

What had I always been so afraid of?

What had I been guarding?

What was I so nervous about?

— “Chapter 15: Yes to Beautiful.” Year of Yes


I didn’t do anything. You did all the work. It was like … It was like you needed permission. […] I gave you permission. Not a big deal.

— “Chapter 15: Yes to Beautiful.” Year of Yes


Chapter 14

Writing and I are MFEO (Made For Each Other). I tell him that my well of energy is only so deep and that I happily pour that energy into writing and raising my daughters, and so I would never be pouring the energy into a devoted marriage in the way I know from our conversations he imagines a marriage would be. I tell him that he would resent me and grow to hate me if we got married and I did not make him a priority above my work. And I have no ability to downgrade my creativity in my soul. I have no desire to do so either.

— “Chapter 14: Yes to Who I Am.” Year of Yes


See. The thing about this big momentous breakthrough I had that crystallized who I am and forever changed my life? This breakthrough only happened to me. I had a breakthrough. Someone else got broken. So while I was busy having epiphanies, a horrible thing was happening to a perfectly wonderful human being. I may have been growing and changing but I was also taking someone’s dream and plan for the future and setting it on fire. That the price of my joy was another person’s pain is something I’ll forgive myself for. One day.

— “Chapter 14: Yes to Who I Am.” Year of Yes


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 all of us.

We all spend our lives trying to follow the same path, live by the same rules.

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.

There is one rule.

The rule is: there are no 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 is not 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.

When you feel the need to apologize or explain who you are, it means the voice in your head is telling you the wrong story. Wipe the slate clean. And rewrite it.

No fairy tales.

Be your own narrator.

And go for a happy ending.

One foot in front of the other.

You will make it

— “Chapter 14: Yes to Who I Am.” Year of Yes


Chapter 13

They do not make me braver, faster, stronger. They tell me I already am braver, faster, stronger. They do not chase my demons and chop off their heads for me. They tell me I am capable of slaying my own demons. They do not gladiate for me. They tell me I can gladiate for myself.

— “Chapter 13: Yes to Dancing It Out (with the right people).” Year of Yes


The upside of culling people from my life is that my focus has become very clear. My vision has become razor sharp. I now work to see people, not as I’d rewrite them, but as they have written themselves. I see them for who they are. And for who I am with them. Because it’s not merely about surrounding myself with people who treat me well. It’s also about surrounding myself with people whose self-worth, self-respect and values inspire me to elevate my own behavior. People who require that I stay truthful and kind and not totally crazy.

— “Chapter 13: Yes to Dancing It Out (with the right people).” Year of Yes


Have I been just rewriting people’s personalities to be better than the actual people? Creating them to serve whatever purpose I needed?

— “Chapter 13: Yes to Dancing It Out (with the right people).” Year of Yes


We fiddle with it. It is never exactly right, it is never perfect. And yet it is flawless. It is everything we want it to be.

— “Chapter 13: Yes to Dancing It Out (with the right people).” Year of Yes


Chapter 12

I’m going to accept this award as encouragement and not as accomplishment.

— “Chapter 12: Yes To People.” Year of Yes


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. You should get to turn on the TV and see your tribe, see your people, someone like you out there, existing. So that you know on your darkest day that when you run (metaphorically or physically RUN), there is somewhere, 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 then 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. I think that when you turn on the television and you see love, from anyone, with anyone, to anyone— real love —a service has been done for you. Your heart has somehow been expanded, your mind has somehow grown. Your soul has been opened a little more. You’ve experienced something. The very idea that love exists, that it is possible, that one can have a “person”… You are not alone. Hate diminishes, love expands.

— “Chapter 12: Yes To People.” Year of Yes


I don’t know if anyone has noticed but I only ever write about one thing: being alone. The fear of being alone, the desire to not be alone, the attempts we make to find our person, to keep our person, to convince our person to not leave us alone, the joy of being with our person and thus no longer alone, the devastation of being left alone. The need to hear the words: You are not alone.

The fundamental human need for one human being to hear another human being say to them: “You are not alone. You are seen. I am with you. You are not alone.

— “Chapter 12: Yes To People.” Year of Yes


Chapter 11

Saying what you think and wading into the deep end don’t always have a happy ending. Difficult conversations are something of a gamble and you have to be willing to be okay with the outcome. And you have to know, going in, where you draw the line. You have to know when in the conversation you are going to say no. You have to know when you are going to say, “That doesn’t work for me.” You have to know when to say, “I’m done.”

You have to know when to say, “This isn’t worth it.” “ You aren’t worth it.” The more I said what I thought, the more I was willing to dive into the difficult conversations, the more I was willing to say yes to me, the less I was willing to allow people in my life who left me emptier and unhappier and more insecure than before I saw them.

—  “Chapter 11: Yes to No, Yes to Difficult Conversations.” Year of Yes


Freedom lies across the field of the difficult conversation. And the more difficult the conversation, the greater the freedom.

—  “Chapter 11: Yes to No, Yes to Difficult Conversations.” Year of Yes


No is a complete sentence. I’ve heard that cliché over and over. So, I decide to treat saying no in the same way I treat saying thank you. Say no and then don’t say anything else.

—  “Chapter 11: Yes to No, Yes to Difficult Conversations.” Year of Yes


I’m great at taking care of other people. So why am I so bad at taking care of myself? Why am I so unwilling to show myself the same kindness and consideration, to cut myself the same slack, to give myself the same protection and care that I would give anyone else?

—  “Chapter 11: Yes to No, Yes to Difficult Conversations.” Year of Yes


I was scared to have an opinion because I was afraid of having a different opinion than everyone else.

—  “Chapter 11: Yes to No, Yes to Difficult Conversations.” Year of Yes


[…] most of us aren’t used to being spoken TO. We are used to being spoken about. We are used to avoiding all the conflict. And of course, in the avoidance all we’re doing is creating more drama.

—  “Chapter 11: Yes to No, Yes to Difficult Conversations.” Year of Yes


I realized a very simple truth: that success, fame, having all my dreams come true would not fix or improve me, it wasn’t an instant potion for personal growth. Having all my dreams come true only seemed to magnify whatever qualities I already possessed.

—  “Chapter 11: Yes to No, Yes to Difficult Conversations.” Year of Yes


Chapter 10

I’ve started to think we are like mirrors. What you are gets reflected back to you. What you see in yourself, you may see in others, and what others see in you, they may see in themselves.

—  “Chapter 10: Yes, Thank You.” Year of Yes


I still couldn’t own being powerful. I tried hard to make myself smaller. As small as possible. Tried not to take up space or make too much noise. Every time I won an award or something big happened, I worked to appear a little bit sillier and sweeter and simpler in the face of my own greatness.

I just wanted everyone else to feel comfortable.

Funny thing is, no one ever asked me to do it.

It just seemed like what I was supposed to do.

— “Chapter 10: Yes, Thank You.” Year of Yes


[…] when you negate someone’s compliment, you are telling them they are wrong. You’re telling them they wasted their time. You are questioning their taste and judgment.

— “Chapter 10: Yes, Thank You.” Year of Yes


I don’t think it ever occurred to me before how much and how often women are praised for displaying traits that basically render them invisible. When I really think about it, I realize the culprit is the language generally used to praise women. Especially mothers. “She sacrificed everything for her children … She never thought about herself … She gave up everything for us … She worked tirelessly to make sure we had what we needed. She stood in the shadows, she was the wind beneath our wings.

[…]

This is good, we’re told. It’s good how Mom diminishes and martyrs herself. The message is: mothers, you are such wonderful and good people because you make yourselves smaller, because you deny your own needs, because you toil tirelessly in the shadows and no one ever thanks or notices you … this all makes you AMAZING.

— “Chapter 10: Yes, Thank You.” Year of Yes


I’m actually worried that 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?

Wait.

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?

— “Chapter 10: Yes, Thank You.” Year of Yes


Lucky implies I didn’t do anything. Lucky implies something was given to me. Lucky implies that I was handed something I did not earn, that I did not work hard for. […] 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.

— “Chapter 10: Yes, Thank You.” Year of Yes


Chapter 9

Think of them.

Heads up, eyes on the target.

Running. Full speed. Gravity be damned.

Toward that thick layer of glass that is the ceiling.

Running, full speed, and crashing.

Crashing into that ceiling and falling back.

Crashing into it and falling back.

Into it and falling back.

Woman after woman.

Each one running and each one crashing.

And everyone falling.

How many women had to hit that glass before the first crack appeared?

How many cuts did they get, how many bruises? How hard did they have to hit the ceiling? How many women had to hit that glass to ripple it, to send out a thousand hairline fractures?

How many women had to hit that glass before the pressure of their effort caused it to evolve from a thick pane of glass into just a thin sheet of splintered ice?

So that when it was my turn to run, it didn’t even look like a ceiling anymore.

I mean, the wind was already whistling through—I could always feel it on my face. And there were all these holes giving me a perfect view to the other side. I didn’t even notice the gravity, I think it had already worn itself away. So I didn’t have to fight as hard. I had time to study the cracks. I had time to decide where the air felt the rarest, where the wind was the coolest, where the view was the most soaring. I picked my spot in the glass and I called it my target.

And I ran.

And when I finally hit that ceiling, it just exploded into dust.

Like that.

My sisters who went before me had already handled it.

No cuts. No bruises. No bleeding.

Making it through the glass ceiling to the other side was simply a matter of running on a path created by every other woman’s footprints.

I just hit at exactly the right time in exactly the right spot.

— “Chapter 9: Yes To Joining The Club.” Year of Yes


Chapter 8

Fat runs toward me and jumps up onto my body and clings there. Like it knows that it has found a home. Like it wants to be with its people.

— “Chapter 8: Yes To My Body.” Year of Yes


F.O.D.—a First. Only. Different. We are a very select club, but there are more of us out there than you’d think. We know one another on sight. We all have that same weary look in our eyes. The one that wishes people would stop thinking it remarkable that we can be great at what we do while black, while Asian, while a woman, while Latino, while gay, while a paraplegic, while deaf. But when you are an F.O.D., you are saddled with that burden of extra responsibility—whether you want it or not.

— “Chapter 8: Yes To My Body.” Year of Yes


Second chances are for future generations. That is what you are building when you are an F.O.D. Second chances for the ones who come behind you.

— “Chapter 8: Yes To My Body.” Year of Yes


It irritated me to my core that we live in an era of ignorance great enough that it was still necessary for me to be a role model, but that didn’t change the fact that I was one.

— “Chapter 8: Yes To My Body.” Year of Yes


My life revolved around work. And outside of work, I took the path of least resistance. I didn’t have the energy for difficult conversations or arguments. So I smiled and let people get away with treating me however they wanted. And that only made me yearn to be back in the office. Where I was in charge. Where I was the boss. Where people were too respectful or kind or happy or afraid to treat me like crap.

— “Chapter 8: Yes To My Body.” Year of Yes


Finally I just … gave up. My friends self-selected down to a smaller core group. I stayed home more. And spent more time working. More time alone. More time hiding.

— “Chapter 8: Yes To My Body.” Year of Yes


Losing yourself does not happen all at once. Losing yourself happens one no at a time. No to going out tonight. No to catching up with that old college roommate. No to attending that party. No to going on a vacation. No to making a new friend. Losing yourself happens one pound at a time.

— “Chapter 8: Yes To My Body.” Year of Yes


I was ambivalent about so much of it. The feminist in me didn’t want to have the discussion with myself. I resented the need to talk about weight. It felt as though I was judging myself on how I looked. It felt shallow. It felt misogynistic. It felt … traitorous to care. My body is just the container I carry my brain around in. […] But so is a car. And if the car is broken down and busted, my brain isn’t going anywhere.

— “Chapter 8: Yes To My Body.” Year of Yes


[…] food created a nice topcoat. It helped to smooth down the ragged bits. Sealed off the parts of me that were broken. It filled in all the holes. Covered up the cracks. Yep, I just put some food on top of any and everything that bothered me. The food just spackled right on in there.

And presto! Underneath the food, everything inside me was smooth and cold and numb.

I was dead inside and that was good.

— “Chapter 8: Yes To My Body.” Year of Yes


Food does work. Food feels so good when you put it on top of all the stuff you don’t want to deal with or know how to deal with. It even works on stuff you don’t even recognize as worthy of dealing with. Food is magic. It makes you feel better. It numbs you. Beautiful magical food deadens your soul just enough so you can’t think too hard about anything other than cake or sleep. Putting food on top of it casts a spell to make the feelings go away. You don’t have to face yourself or think or be anything other than your brain—no body necessary.

— “Chapter 8: Yes To My Body.” Year of Yes


[…] I am seen. And I am getting comfortable being seen. I’m getting used to being seen. I am realizing that there’s a part of me that wants to be seen.

— “Chapter 8: Yes To My Body.” Year of Yes


Everything sounds like crap until you are in the right mind-set.

— “Chapter 8: Yes To My Body.” Year of Yes


I no longer can deal with being numb.

Now numb feels creepy to me.

Now numb feels not just dead but rotting.

— “Chapter 8: Yes To My Body.” Year of Yes


Being numb no longer suits me. It’s ill-fitting and I’m antsy about it. I find myself snapping back at people more. Or writing little Bailey-esque rants into my emails when someone’s upset me. I don’t want to be numb. I want to tell someone who has upset me to take their attitude and shove it right up their—

— “Chapter 8: Yes To My Body.” Year of Yes


Chapter 7

[Give] yourself the permission to shift the focus of what is a priority from what’s good for you over to what makes you feel good.

— “Chapter 7: Yes to All Play and No Work.” Year of Yes


[…] what I’ve come to understand is that letting her know my full attention is available is more important than anything else.

— “Chapter 7: Yes to All Play and No Work.” Year of Yes


I am not a naturally optimistic person. I’m too in my own head to be a constant source of cheer. I have to work at happy. Dark and twisty is where my brain likes to settle. So I can use some reminders of what is good and optimistic and glass-half-full about this world.

— “Chapter 7: Yes to All Play and No Work.” Year of Yes


Chapter 6

I’m no longer looking for the enemy. So I no longer see the enemy. And so finally, in this year, I allow myself to fully lay down my weapons.

— “Chapter 6: Yes to Surrending the Mommy War (Or, Jenny McCarthy Is My Everything).” Year of Yes


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 fifty 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.

— “Chapter 6: Yes to Surrending the Mommy War (Or, Jenny McCarthy Is My Everything).” Year of Yes


…] doesn’t it feel like everyone else has figured it out? I don’t know about you, but it’s the idea that I’m not measuring up that gets me. I’m constantly worrying and wondering and feeling like I am failing because everywhere I look, everyone else seems to be thriving.

— “Chapter 6: Yes to Surrending the Mommy War (Or, Jenny McCarthy Is My Everything).” Year of Yes


Chapter 5

Who you are today … that’s who you are.

Be brave.

Be amazing.

Be worthy.

And every single time you get the chance?

Stand up in front of people.

Let them see you. Speak. Be heard.

Go ahead and have the dry mouth.

Let your heart beat so, so fast.

Watch everything move in slow motion.

So what. You what?

You pass out, you die, you poop?

No.

(And this is really the only lesson you’ll ever need to know.)

You take it in.

You breathe this rare air.

You feel alive.

You are yourself.

You are truly finally always yourself.

— “Chapter 5: Yes to Speaking The Whole Truth.” Year of Yes


If I am succeeding at one, I am inevitably failing at the other. That is the trade-off.

— “Chapter 5: Yes to Speaking The Whole Truth.” Year of Yes


Tomorrow IS going to be the worst day ever for you.

But don’t be an asshole.

— “Chapter 5: Yes to Speaking The Whole Truth.” Year of Yes


[…] your entire life up until now has been about getting into a great college and then graduating from that college. And now, today, you have done it. Yay!

The moment you get out of college, you think you are going to take the world by storm. All doors will be opened to you. It’s going to be laughter and diamonds and soirees left and right.

What really happens is that, to the rest of the world, you are now the bottom of the heap. Maybe an intern. Possibly a low-paid assistant. At best. And it is awful. The real world, it sucked so badly for me. I felt like a loser all the time. And more than a loser? I felt lost.

— “Chapter 5: Yes to Speaking The Whole Truth.” Year of Yes


Maybe you know exactly what you dream of being. Or maybe you’re paralyzed because you have no idea what your passion is. The truth is, it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to know. You just have to keep moving forward. You just have to keep doing something, seizing the next opportunity, staying open to trying something new. It doesn’t have to fit your vision of the perfect job or the perfect life. Perfect is boring, and dreams are not real. Just … DO. […] Do until you can do something else.

— “Chapter 5: Yes to Speaking The Whole Truth.” Year of Yes


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.The dreamers. They stare at the sky and they make plans and they hope and they think and they talk about it endlessly. And they start a lot of sentences with “I want to be …” or “I wish …”[…]

And they dream of it. The buttoned-up ones meet for cocktails and they all brag about their dreams. The hippie ones have vision boards and they meditate on their dreams. You write in your journal about your dreams. Or discuss it endlessly with your best friend or your girlfriend or your mother. And it feels really good. You’re talking about it. You’re planning it. Kind of. You are blue-skying your life. And that is what everyone says you should do. Right?

NO.

Dreams are lovely. But they are just dreams. Fleeting, ephemeral. Pretty. But dreams do not come true just because you dream them. It’s hard work that makes things happen. It’s hard work that creates change.

— “Chapter 5: Yes to Speaking The Whole Truth.” Year of Yes


I’m not revealing anything. I’m not sharing anything. There is nothing of me in here. I speak from behind a curtain. It’s like a magic trick—I open my mouth but you never actually hear me. You just hear my voice.

— “Chapter 5: Yes to Speaking the Whole Truth.” Year of Yes


[…] just by telling you it could happen, I have somehow neutralized it as an option. Like as if saying it out loud casts some kind of spell where it cannot possibly happen now.

— “Chapter 5: Yes to Speaking the Whole Truth.” Year of Yes


Chapter 4

She’d once lost herself in his orbit, revolving around him, desperately in need of his sun. She’d made herself smaller to accommodate his greatness. Now she has surpassed him. […] She has learned to not let go of the pieces of herself that she needs in order to be what someone else wants. She’s learned not to compromise. She’s learned not to settle. She’s learned, as difficult as it is, how to be her own sun.

— “Chapter 4: Yes to the Sun.” Year of Yes


The things that you can do when you are at the bottom of the ladder change as you move up. At the top of that ladder, doing many of those very same things makes you an asshole.

— “Chapter 4: Yes to the Sun.” Year of Yes


Chapter 3

I didn’t have a choice. I didn’t want a choice. Once I saw the unhappiness, felt the unhappiness, recognized and named it … well, just knowing about it made me itchy. Like itchy on the inside of my brain. Continuing to say no was not going to get me anywhere at all. And standing still was no longer an option. The itchy was too much. Besides, I am not a person who can see a problem and not solve it.

—  “Chapter 3: Umm, Yes…?” Year of Yes


So you made it out of a uterus a long time ago. Big deal, […] so did everybody else on the planet. What else you got?

—  “Chapter 3: Umm, Yes…?” Year of Yes


Chapter 2

I would have said no because if I had said yes, I would have had to actually do it.

— “Chapter 2: Maybe?” A Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes


Like every other mother on the planet, from the moment my first baby entered the house, I stopped getting real sleep. Motherhood means I’m always a little bit awake, a little bit alert at all times. One eye open.

— “Chapter 2: Maybe?” A Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes


The thing is, a good story is not about purposely lying. The best stories are true. Giving good story just requires that I … leave out the untidy bits.

— “Chapter 2: Maybe?” A Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes


This is who I am.Silent.

Quiet.

Interior.

More comfortable with books than new situations.

Content to live within my imagination.

—  “Chapter 2: Maybe?” A Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes


In public, I smiled. A lot. I did a HUGE amount of smiling. And I did what I called “Athlete Talk.” […] Athlete Talk is when the athlete goes before the press and keeps a smile on her face, voice bland and pleasant as she deftly fields one reporter’s question after the other—never once saying anything of controversy or substance.

—  “Chapter 2: Maybe?” A Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes


Chapter 1

[When] You are your own boss—your job is only as busy as you make it.

— “Chapter 1: No.” Year of Yes

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