Before her Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes was an expert at declining invitations others would leap to accept. With three children at home and three hit television shows on TV, it was easy to say that she was simply too busy. But in truth, she was also afraid.
Shonda’s introvert life revolved around burying herself in work, snuggling her children, and comforting herself with food. And then, on Thanksgiving 2013, Shonda’s sister muttered something that was both a wake up and a call to arms: You never say yes to anything.
The comment sat like a grenade, until it detonated. Shonda, the youngest of six children from a supremely competitive family, knew she had to embrace the challenge: for one year, she would say YES to everything that scared her. Reading the book, I saw so much of myself in her fears. It inspired me to take on the challenge and start my own "Year of Yes!"
1. Yes to “me time”
In my daily life, I have a habit of putting myself last. It is all about the kids all day every day. I let my kids and job get the best of me, but I don’t get the best of myself. I don’t get to just chill and enjoy Tasha anymore. Tasha is always on the go doing something, preparing for something, or trying to make sure I don’t drop the ball on something. Tasha rarely relaxes and when I do I feel guilty because I feel I need to be doing something. No longer will I feel guilty about sitting and doing absolutely nothing. No longer will I feel bad about letting the kids go with the sitter, friends, or family so I can enjoy some much needed quiet/quality time with MYSELF. I will carve out some “me time” doing something that makes me happy.
2. Yes to Professional Development
I have become complacent at work doing my same job but expecting different results. I felt I was so qualified and talented that I didn’t need to drastically improve until I received another job. I would only take on new tasks when they were presented to me or in my “duty lane.” Basically, I chose to stifle my own professional growth due to mastering my current job. What about the job I was trying to get to? What about the fact that I had true career goals for myself (in my head)? I also think a part of me was secretly most afraid to become too talented and be given more responsibility and a higher expectation, which is a complete oxymoron knowing I desired to move higher up the ranks. In March, I constructed and wrote out a training plan for myself and asked my job to pay for my year training subscription. I strategize the training I am taking based on my current tasks and my future job. My goal is to take at least one training per month.
3. Yes to Healing Properly
I have been avoiding my “one-on-one, don’t stop until it’s done, show me Me” time with God. I am afraid of the process I will have to go through to heal from past hurt, disappointments, and let downs. Don’t get me wrong, I want to be healed but not ready for the pruning and plucking that comes with it. I will be straight up honest and let anyone know I am not perfect and I have some flaws that Jesus Himself is going to have to work on. However, I knew once He started I could not just say ok Jesus I am going to take a break on this healing process right quick, holla at me in about 2 months. Nope, I knew once I started, it started (the Bible itself said He will continue His work until it is finally finished). So, I AM STARTING. I want so many things in life that is dependent upon this healing. Numbers 11 and 12 symbolize the beginning of my healing (and don’t skip to 11 and 12 to see what they are lol)!
4. Yes to playtime
I am an unmarried mom so I have no husband staying with me, waiting for me and the kids to get home to help with everything that needs to be done between the times we get home in the evening to the time we lay our heads on the pillow at night. I am always so focused on not dropping the ball and making sure that I am prepared for the next day that I don’t stop and enjoy TODAY. I let the kids play while I prepare dinner for that night, pack lunches for the next day, and everything in between. Then we start our bedtime routine. Sometimes I am so exhausted by bedtime I can barely hold my eyes open long enough to read a book. Now don’t get me wrong, I do read to, play with, and do things with my kids. I mean come on what kind of mom do you think I am? LOL. However, I don’t as often as I would like because I am so busy preparing for tomorrow. I will begin to do as God told me, “don’t worry about tomorrow for it will take care of itself” and play TODAY!
5. Yes to “Stretch Me Out My Comfort Zone” Work Projects
I joined Toastmasters for professional development. I want to be a public speaker. One day I came to work, I kid you not, and my supervisor told me that she wants me to start giving the most important brief to all visitors (high level, lower level, only 2, large group of 40, etc) that come to my organization. I resisted. Like you don’t understand… if you came by yourself asking about our organization to start a partnership I would brief you. ALSO, if the President of the United States (Barack Obama) came to my agency I would have to brief to him. Uh uh! I came up with every reason in the world of why I wasn’t “ready” and haven’t had the time to really get the brief down to a science enough to speak it. Then one day I am laying in the bed and something says to me, "have you ever thought about this being the cornerstone to lay the path to you becoming the public speaker that you say you want to be." Say hello to the agency’s briefer!
6. Yes to Surrendering to “Super Mom”
You know they always say if you want something done right, do it yourself. Well I take that same approach with almost EVERYTHING to do with my kids. I have to be involved in every little detail when it comes to them. Even if they are hours away in MS with my mom who obviously raised me and I am just fine, I want to be involved in EVERYTHING. Because of this, I most times don’t ask for or accept help. It’s a mommy war in me that if I am not too involved it makes me feel I am surrendering my title and responsibility as “mom.” Then I feel guilty and sentence myself accordingly causing me not to enjoy my time away from them because of the obligation of still being “mom.” Well, I say YES to a village. We were always told it takes a village to raise a child. Although I am the Chief of the Mommy Village (when it comes to my own children) that doesn’t mean I can’t trust my Indians to do their job in the village.
7. Yes to Less Work and More Play
I used to be a social butterfly. I had a bunch of friends, took lots of trips, went to many events, and enjoyed nights out on the town. Now, not so much. I barely can fathom the idea of doing anything other than work and kids. And since I can’t bargain with those 2 (the kids because I am their mom and the job because I have to clothe, feed, and house us), most of the time I only do those 2. I decline many of invitations like I am just so busy and most of the times use the kids as an excuse. Sound like Shonda huh? New to the area, this is not beneficial because I am not able to truly meet new people and learn the area (besides googling) like I would want. On the flip side, I have heavily adopted the “no new friends” motto so I am like why should I go anyway? I finally internalized that I am not going to make new connections, network, and have local associates (some that may turn into friends) sitting at home. Besides, everyone needs some fun in their lives that is not limited to when they travel to the state where their friends reside. Yes, to those invites I continually get for get – togethers, happy hours, more play dates, and entertainment... and just being more social.
8. Yes to Getting My “before kids” Body Back
I have become super lazy. Not the couch potato who stuffs her mouth ridiculously and doesn’t care type of lazy. However, I am the “gauge what you eat (not as in all healthy but in the “girl now you know you just ate that burger just eat some cereal for dinner” type of gauge) and don’t work out at all” type of lazy. To top it off, I have a gym membership I have been paying for almost a year and a half and I can probably count on 1 hand the number of months I have constantly gone. Why do I keep paying for it you ask? Because, I keep saying in my head “one day I am going to go back.” Yes, to going back!
9. Yes accepting my life where it is now
I want the big title at work, the money and time (finances and time off work) to vacation when I want, my own business for residual income, the husband, and so much more. I can only use those things as motivation to keep going. I cannot, however, use not having them as weight to hold me down. I have to be content with what I have in the sense that now I don’t have the big title and have millions of dollars, but I do have a great job making great money. I don’t own my own business now but I am working on it. These things motivate me to say YES to opportunities to get me closer to them. Moreover, it reminds me that this is a temporary state (no husband) so I can accept where I am and work with what I have while striving for my next season... having faith in God to elevate when the time comes!
10. Yes to Collaborations
Spiritual and creative partnership is the newest and most exciting yes for me right now. I’ve always been a bit of a creative and spiritual loner—preferring to go hide away in isolation with my own ideas and questions, and then emerging into public only when my projects are complete. But in the past few years, I’ve made a few friends whom I not only love, but also admire for their creative spirit. I’ve started joining forces on some wonderful collaborations.
11. Yes to Transparency and Vulnerability
My desire to not be transparent or vulnerable has taken over in my life in more ways than one. One, I hold a lot in (or bombard the few friends I have tirelessly with the same story) because I have the super crazy thought that I am super amazing and can fix it all on my own. Two, I don’t really like the pity (that’s the only thing I can really get since I like to do everything myself). Third, I am the "old school keep people out of my business” type. You can believe rumors and make up stories of what you think I am going through and how I got to wherever you think I am all day BUT you WON’T hear it from ME!!! It’s certainly not that I am trying to appear super perfect but more of a “why do you need to know.” Well, God reminded me at the end of the day we are all imperfect trying to perfect ourselves in Him. He reminded me that He encouraged us to carry each other’s burdens. Maybe me sharing my testimony can make your burden a little lighter to carry, and vice versa. He has revealed to me that not only do I need to do this so I can own my life scars and move forward but also so I can help other women who may be battling some of the same things. So yeah… number 12…
12. Yes to What God Told Me to Do
So… about that transparency and vulnerability and God telling me I need to start sharing my testimony… yeah, about that! God told me that I need to use my talents for His purpose. OH, those talents are writing and speaking. I’ve loved both since a child. One day I was reading and thinking about things that excite me. Two things that I know for sure, besides the smiles on my children’s face whenever they see mommy, are writing and motivating/encouraging women. Plain as day, He told me to put the two together and add sharing my testimony. AND BOOM! He told me to start a blog. OH, I was obedient. I started everything behind the scenes. Well maybe not everything was done behind the scenes (trying to find a way to pat myself on the back)! I launched a survey getting candid, imperfect feedback from women like me. But behind the scenes, I have created a logo and gotten it professionally done, created a business plan, AND worked on a website. I JUST HAVEN’T LAUNCHED IT YET (I added yet because I am still convincing myself here). You know why? Go back to the first paragraph about Shonda. It FRIGHTENED THE HECK OF ME. So, guess what? Today I am saying YES TO MY BLOG.