Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

I'm listening to Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes.  Yes, that's present tense, I'm listening to it.  I'm only about half way through.  This is one of those books I found by browsing through available now in audio book form from my library.  I am a sucker for year of stories.  Year of eating locally.  Year of bible living.  Year of not buying anything new.  Year of not buying anything from China.  Year of doing something that scares me every day.  Whatever.  If someone is doing a year of something and writing pretty much articulately about it, I'm there.  So, I downloaded it and, yesterday, started listening.  Why am I writing a review before I'm done?  I've got things to process and this seems to be a good place to do it.

Shonda Rhimes is the creator, executive producer and head writer of Grey's Anatomy and Scandal, amongst others.  However you personally may feel about these shows, they are a big deal.  Me, I watched the first 3-4 seasons of Grey's Anatomy before deciding I was done and the first two seasons of Scandal before deciding the same.  Both are seriously compelling at first and both feel too much like soap opera rehashing of the same things after a while in my ever so humble opinion.  All of that is to say that I didn't pick this book up because it's Shonda Rhimes.  That's fine, but not a huge draw.  I picked it up because year of books are like crack to me.

The idea here is the Shonda is hugely successful in her field, but also really introverted and, thus, while she's invited to do all sorts of awesome things, she always says no.  For a year, she commits herself to yes. 

One reoccurring thought I have while listening to this book is, "People really are just people."  This may seem like a lesson I should have learned long ago, but it's really fairly recently that I really rather believe that it is so.  There is no need to be intimidated by people, no mater if they are a movie star or a potential boss.  People are people with the same underlying concerns, foibles, and personality quirks. 

Recently, a couple friends of mine have been talking about opening a dessert bar/coffee shop.  They were talking about hiring people and I realized that I could easily be put in charge of hiring people for their shop.  And what would I be looking for in an employee?  A sense of humor, good team work, reliability.  If you present yourself in a stiff, formal way, I probably wouldn't hire you.  If you oversell, I probably wouldn't hire you.  Now, I'm not everybody and different people are certainly going to be looking for different things, but whoever they are, these people are still just people.  Be yourself and know you're also just a person.  If you get hired, you've been hired for the right reasons. 

Shonda is a person.  I like some things about her, others don't appeal all that much.  I like the "leave no mom behind," attitude toward ending the mommy wars, for example.  I am not wowed by her, though.  I'm not listening to this book and being awestruck because she's just a person, which is what she'd probably like you to take away from the book anyway, so I don't feel too bad about that.

The thing, though, that I really felt the need to actually stop cleaning the house, pause the book and write the review right now to write about is this:  My child wanted me to play with her all the time.  All the time.  I'm not exaggerating here.  As a baby, toddler, preschooler, child, this kid wanted me to play with her, interact with her, snuggle to her, read with her, talk to her, push her on the swing ALL THE TIME.  She was okay with it being her dad or her grandma or, as she got a bit older, one of her friends sometimes, but her preference through most of these years was me 24 hours a day.  (And, sure, we could sleep, at least some, but together was far preferable to her than not.)  I'm not saying this was because I was so wonderful.  I wasn't.  I mean, I'm a pretty good mom, don't get me wrong.  Did do all these things she wanted so very much of the time, but I also lost my patience, wanted me time, and sometimes yelled.  I got her involved in various activities mostly to give me a break.  Luckily, some of those activities she liked and, thus, they did give me a break.  Eventually some of those activities were the catalyst for her taking (self prescribed) steps toward becoming independent.  Which, by the way, happened way too soon for such a clingy (but awesome, don't get me wrong) young child.  She pretty much left home at 15.  Don't worry, this was all on good terms.  We're still very close.  She's 18 now and just finished her freshman year of college.  After a quick 6 week trip to China, I'll even get to spend a couple of months of the summer with her.  She will certainly not want me to play with her the whole time.  That would be seriously smothering at this stage.  Things change.

Why am I bringing all this up?  Because Shonda says anyone can say yes when their child asks them to play because you're not Taylor Swift.  Your child will only want to play for about 15 minutes before they want to go do something else.  Something that doesn't involve you.  Yeah, that may be true for a lot of kids, but it so was not for mine.  Now, though, at 18?  Yeah, anytime Davan asks to play in whatever form that takes, I say yes.  I don't hold her attention for more than an hour or so at a time anymore (on average) and she'll be gone again in a couple of months.

Anyway, I doubt I'll write another review when I'm done, so I'll wrap this up now.  I do like Year of Yes.  I'm certainly going to finish it.  I don't love it.  I feel nitpicky about some of the proclamations (more than just the one, although that one really stood out to me, clearly) and that niggles as me as I listen, but, overall, this is a decent enough story of Shonda's year and growth through saying Yes.

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