Does anyone ever read a book and try to absorb every single word because it’s so good and you want to remember everything about it forever?

Or is it just me?

On a related note, I’m reading Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton.

Her memoir is honest, authentic, vulnerable and raw (I realize those might all mean the same thing). Glennon is a compelling writer and a fiercely brave truth teller. Love Warrior is, at times, so painfully honest it makes me squirm. But most of the time, Glennon’s words make me feel seen. And although I’ve never spoken to her, she makes me feel heard. She turned to an eating disorder very early in life because she felt every nuance of life acutely and didn’t know how to handle the overwhelming impact. Me too, Glennon, me too.

 

 

yearofYES

I am really excited about my 2016 New Year’s Resolution. After thirty-plus years of trying different versions of the same resolution (to lose weight), I have given up on body focused resolutions. This year I am going to read one book a month.

I’ve never been much of a reader. Growing up I much preferred to see a story unfold in front of my eyes. Reading felt like a lot of work. And if I’m being honest, I didn’t have the attention span or the patience to sit and read (which I now know was a side effect of my eating disorder.)

Over the last several years, I’ve wanted to become a better reader. Cheryl Strayed said, “Books can save your life.” I think she might be right. 8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder played a large role in helping me save my life last year. The Gift’s of Imperfection and Daring Greatly gave me the language to talk about and understand my feelings. The books gave me real, tangible life saving tools.

So in 2016 I am saying yes to reading more. Steve is too (although we’re reading different books).  I started with Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, which was wonderful. I hope to write more about my takeaways from that book in another post. While I was finishing up Big Magic a few weeks ago, I picked up Year of YES by Shonda Rhimes with the intent to save it for February. Then I started reading.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that the woman who created Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Scandal and How To Get Away With Murder, wrote a book that I couldn’t put down. The woman is an incredibly compelling storyteller. She writes like we’re already friends. I often forgot that she couldn’t actually hear my “me toos” or see me nodding my head in agreement.

I use post-its to tab pages that resonate with me and I ran out of tabs on Shonda Rhimes. The book was “ran out of tabs” good. In a nutshell, the book is about the year she decided to start saying yes to things that scared her. While preparing Thanksgiving dinner a couple of years ago and listening to Shonda talk about declining yet another invitation to something awesome, Shonda’s sister remarked that she never said yes to anything. Those words struck a chord with Shonda. Her sister was right. And, more importantly, Shonda realized she wasn’t happy. She said no so often that she’d lost sight of who she was and what made her happy. Rather than put herself out there she hid. It was time to stop hiding. She started saying YES.

Shonda’s honesty and realism made her relatable (something I was not expecting because, ya know, she’s Shonda Frickin’ Rhimes!!!). I loved her bluntness on “how she does it” as a mother, which is to say, she doesn’t. She wasn’t going to paint a picture that wasn’t real. When she was younger she’d spent hours in the bathroom trying to get her hair to look like Whitney Houston’s, only to discover years later that Whitney wore a wig. She wasn’t about to let anyone lose precious time trying to emulate something that didn’t exist. Not on her watch.

She talked about how if she was succeeding in one area of her life, she was inevitably failing in another. For example, if she was accepting an award at a Gala event that meant she was missing bedtime stories with her kids. Or if she was at her daughter’s piano recital she was missing Sandra Oh’s last day on set. She talked about having a lot of help and how she depended a lot on her amazing nanny. Rather than try to play it off like she could have it all and do it all and you could too, she was very honest about her choices and why she made those choices.

She really got me thinking about what it means to be a Mom and how we’re all different and that is okay. And it’s okay to want to pursue your dream. She talked about saying yes to her kids. Whenever one of her kids asks to play she says yes. And sometimes that means she’s on the floor playing with puzzles in a ball gown.

As a Recovered person on a crusade to bring awareness about the deadly dangers of eating disorders, I was pleasantly surprised with how little she talked about her weight-loss in the book. Out of 307 pages, she spent about 32 pages talking about how she lost over one hundred pounds. And she didn’t talk about it until much later in the book. Based on what our society values, she could have easily written an entire book on her “weight-loss journey” and sold six billion copies. She could have even come up with a whole “Shondaland Diet” and branded it and taken it to a level that rivals Weight Watchers.

But she didn’t. Because weight-loss wasn’t her journey. And it certainly wasn’t the prize. Her focus was on who she was, not on what she looked like. She recognized the importance of changing her mindset. Her mentality of saying no to everything held her back and kept her from enjoying her life and embracing who she really was. Her decision to start saying yes to things that scared her did not have a prerequisite. She didn’t say that she would start saying yes AFTER she lost weight. She said yes that day, right then and there. By saying yes, she started to discover the amazing woman she already was, losing weight was simply a side effect.

Year of YES inspired me to start saying yes more. For decades I hid, but now I am getting out more. Doing more. Being present and allowing myself to be seen and meeting more awesome and inspiring people. It’s scary because feelings get hurt and I’m still always scared of catching a cold, but I’m learning more about who I am and what I am capable of.

 

 

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