Discussion: Year of Yes



By Celia Powell

Shonda Rhimes has done it again… this time with her self-help memoir Year of Yes! IT’S A HIT. I must say, I truly enjoyed reading this masterpiece. This is exactly what I needed to start my year off right. When I finished reading this book I was left feeling inspired, encouraged, uplifted, and motivated to take on some new challenges and to say Yes to ME. In my opinion, this book definitely has something for everybody. There are so many great lessons and takeaways related to self-love, happiness, motherhood, friendships, relationships, and much more. I found myself highlighting and underling OFTEN. Shonda Rhimes is extremely relatable and I found myself laughing aloud A LOT. In the book Shonda Rhimes chronicles her Year of Yes project and provides examples of how she challenged herself to start living her best life and enjoying the fruits of her labor. Reading the book allowed me the opportunity to accompany Shonda on her journey and bear witness to her transformation as she concurred her fears and tacked the things that scared her most. For example, I watched each of the speeches and television appearances that she cited in the book, Dartmouth Speech (June 2014), Jimmy Kimmel Interview (April 2014), Hollywood Reporter Women in Entertainment Speech (December 2014), and Human Right Campaign Speech (March 2015); and saw the difference as she progressed along her journey. I could see what a difference her Year of Yes project had made on her—in terms of her confidence, presence, appearance, etc. I was impressed and I wanted IN! I decided that I too would say YES to everything that scares me and see where life takes me as I proceed on my journey to find my happy place. So, I created my own Year of Yes Challenge and shared it with my girlfriends, and they shared it with their girlfriends… and here we are!

My Year of Yes Challenge Update:

I started off STRONG. I booked a trip to London for New Year’s Eve just to see the big fireworks show. I’ve found myself busier and booked a trip literally every month until July. Thanks for the Push Shonda!!! However, I did say Yes to NO. I forwent a trip to Lisbon, Portugal and instead used the money to buy a car, so that I could get around while living abroad in Europe. Like many of my friends that have read Year of Yes, I went a step further and got the Year of Yes Journal to document my journey and tell my story. Of course I’ve fallen off. I haven’t written a single note in my journal in two weeks… okay three, but I’ll get back on it, LOL. I’ve been busy being a doer as suggested by Shonda in her Dartmouth Commencement Speech, LESSON ONE: DITCH THE DREAM. BE A DOER. NOT A DREAMER. (p. 79). I’m personally working on doing what I say I’m going to do as Shonda wrote about (p. 31). Hence, me hosting Colorful Chats this month. I still haven’t mastered this yet but I’m working on it.

Favorite Quotes:

“…Yes is about giving yourself the permission to shift the focus of what is a priority from what’s good for you over what makes you feel good.” (p.123)

“I have to be my own greeting card. And to do that, I have to at least be able to take a compliment.” (p.189)

“People like being around whole, healthy, happy people.” (p.201)

“No is powerful. It’s a big weapon to have in your arsenal. But it is a very tough weapon to deploy.” (p. 216)

Book Club Meeting in Germany:

So I hosted a book-club meeting with a group of women I met in Frankfurt, Germany. These women were from diverse backgrounds; some married, single, or divorced; working women, stay-at-home mothers, and entrepreneurs… So you know it provided for a lively discussion with meaningful and heartfelt exchanges from some STONGLY opinionated women with powerful stories of their own (i.e. pure entertainment and food for the soul). I’d prepared discussion questions and planned to use them to guide the conversation… but we never even used them. One-by-one we just went around the room and shared our biggest take away; what the book helped us to acknowledge about ourselves (i.e. those ah moments); and we shared what we planned on saying Yes to this year. In true Shonda Rhimes fashion we had wine flowing alongside my signature bottomless Mimosa’s and Bellini’s and a tasty brunch buffet…and before we knew it, two hours had passed just like that and our discussion went on well into the evening. Here are some photos from the event:







Shout out to all the Badass Doers in my life Carissa Harrison, creator of The Twenties Gal; Chyra Lewis, owner of The Gift Geisha, Akeila Richards, founder of Sensei.co; Charisse Weiss, founder of Red Lips Red Wine; my best girlfriends; and every strong and ambition women I know. I LOVE you all and draw inspiration from each of you on a regular basis.


“…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.” (p.258)


To all the ladies that decided to join in on the challenge and read the book, I hope that you are trying hard to see you self as special; falling in love with yourself; working on being happy, healthy, and whole; and celebrating your success.




Discussion Board Questions:

  1. What was your biggest take away from the book?
  2. What made you laugh aloud?
  3. How are you coming along with theYear of Yes challenge?
  4. What have you said Yesto?
  5. What have you gained from saying Yes?


  1. Year of Yes was everything I needed to whip me into shape for attacking my best year yet! I’ve always wanted to read more, you know “a well-read woman is a dangerous creature” but would always recuse myself to lack of time. But not this year, starting my own book club, after reading your first post and receiving your blessing to extend discussions to my friends and me in New York has really been so fulfilling. Shonda’s writing was so witty, clear and in your face without beating you up. Chapters that stood out to me the most were, “Yes to saying the Whole Truth”, “Yes, Thank You”, “Yes to No, Yes to Difficult Conversations”. I have always struggled with speaking up for myself, creating stories that dimmed my light and struggled greatly with taking a compliment, “who me, nooo ::duck, blush,etc.::” lol. Hearing Shonda’s affirming words in my thoughts helped me to understand how damaging I was to my own self and most recently gave me the confidence to confront some at work issues. In my own Year of Yes challenge, I have committed myself to saying yes to speaking my truth, creating time and space to tangible self-care practices, and saying yes to all the things that scare me (ie public speaking) at work!


    • YES! YES! YES! to your entire post. One of the main messages in your post that resonated with me is saying yes to thank you. Quite often, I would water down a compliment and try to find a way to share the recognition with something or someone. I am working on minimizing my response and simply say thank you. I am working on my confidence too.


  2. Year of yes was so motivational for me , I am a very routine person I hate change . This book gave me the vulnerability of allowing myself to be free and be ok with not knowing how things are going to turn out . I laughed out loud all through the book because shonda although very famous and wealthy all of the moments she have in her day are just like everyday people from having butterflies in her stomach before a speech to being stretched out on the floor drinking wine . In this year of yes I challenged myself to saying yes to working out in a gym something I have been afraid of for a long time allowing fear to cripple because of not wanting others looking at me while working out .


    • Hey Ashley,

      Similarly, Shonda’s testimony about her health/weight loss was probably the most relatable for me. I’ve always wanted to shed the pounds, but mentally wasn’t ready for the commitment. It took me some years to discover the need, and now I am ready. This is my year to yes to health!


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