Today I finished “Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person” by Shonda Rhimes. In November 2015 I attended the LA Times Ideas Exchange: Shonda Rhimes in Conversation held at USC. I admit that book discussion allowed me to alter my perception of Shonda. After reading her book and watching a few videos of her delivering speeches/talks, I am now a fan of the woman, Shonda! I have always been proud of her, I mean she is a black woman owning a day of the week on prime time TV (mic drop). Now I am a fan of the women because she openly discussed some issues that have pledged me for years. Yes I said pledged me.
As a little girl I wanted to be Wonder Woman. I had the underoos to prove it. I wore that undershirt like a second skin. So of course when I saw the Ted Talk about Power Posing, a concept researched by Amy Cuddy, I was fully on board and almost become evangelical about the idea. Every quarter I share the video and concept with my students. Needless to say, I was overjoyed when Shonda described how she Power Posed in an elevator. Her style of writing is humorous and I could see her doing her best Wonder Woman stance. For some time now I have been thinking about what successful women do to maintain their sense of self and how they really manage their lives. In this book, Shonda lifted the veil a bit and shared with the world that she too needed a confidence boost every once in a while. High five Wonder Woman and Power Poses, YES!
I am nowhere close to achieving what Shonda has but in her book she described this idea on being the first, the only and the different, FOD. She says FODs breathe rare air and it can be isolating. Ok y’all hear me out… When I decided to pursue my dream of living abroad I knew I was stepping in the space of First, Only and Different for my family and my circle of friends. You see only a few men in my family who served our country lived aboard and none of my friends had the desire. Finally, after dreaming about it for years I was able to do so. When I left it was to only be for a year but five years later I moved back home to the USA. It took me another seven years to embrace the FOD-ness of what I did and to feel good about my time abroad. You see my return home was not glorious as I hoped and the US economy was in trouble. That combination was a double whammy that knocked all of my ambition right out of my mind, body and soul. In 2007, I tried to let my dreams come back to life but I wasn’t ready. In 2015 my fire was reignited and steadily since my dreams are rising like a Phoenix, new dreams are being conjured, and progress is being made.
So when I read Shonda discussing her FOD-ness, other FODs and watched her describe herself as a Titan in her Ted Talk I felt hope and relief. Hope welled up inside of me because I had a right now role model. In college I was beginning to articulate my dreams but not seeing anyone to emulate, expect Oprah, along with some bad advice my dreaming was tampered. Knowing that muted dream was inside of me I still sought mentorship. Look, there are really successful black women and women in Los Angeles but women of any ethnicity at the Shonda level of leadership and achievement, I don’t know nor have access to and I want to be a billionaire or at least experience success on a massive level. So to be reading the words of a woman who I can identify with is INSPIRING. It matters that Shonda is a real person because her background, her career, her success, her work ethic and her life choices say hey you, in my case Lorne, you can do it too. I also felt relief. Relief calmed my anxiety because there is a black woman living in a big way, is openly saying I love what I am doing and is being supported. She is not alone and she is not lonely. Y’all the thought of being alone and lonely has stopped me in my tracks. Now I was reading about a woman who had friends and family AND was doing the “damn thang”. YES!
There are other great points Shonda discusses in the book, like having a nanny and how she chooses to parent. However, I won’t give it all away, get a copy of the book and read (or listen to an audio file) for yourself. I know you will enjoy it as much as I did.
If you have read “Year of YES” please share your comments about the book below.