Please welcome back guest writer Sarah C. for a Theme Week piece on saying yes as a part of self care.
Shonda Rhimes, creator of just about everything on Thursday nights on ABC, wrote a book a few years ago, about living a bigger life and saying yes (“Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand In the Sun, and Be Your Own Person”). In the beginning of the book, Shonda is essentially a workaholic hermit and, despite her professional success, is prompted to rethink her personal life after being challenged by her sister. As a result of the challenge, Shonda conquers her fear of public speaking and interviews, integrates more fun into her day, and takes stock of how she treats her body.
I’ve found that, while making self care a part of my life, I will often use it as a reason to go for the path of least resistance. I’m tired so those dishes, yoga, and a shower can all wait until morning. Then I find myself scrambling to find a clean spoon on my way out the door with hair straight out of a 90’s grunge video. Self care, for me, works best in the form of challenges, not coddling. It’s about what satisfaction I’ll find in the bigger picture, not just that moment.
So when I found that Shonda had released a “Year of Yes” journal, I impulse bought it. The journal provides daily accountability, inspirational sayings, and a theme for each month. I think it would be unreasonable to stick only to the theme provided—I like to think of them more as guidelines. One month’s theme is “difficult conversations” and I’m not sure I could manufacture 31 difficult conversations if I wanted to.
This month, I am paying special attention to beauty. I’ve been making an effort to wear a little bit of jewelry every day just because it makes me feel extra snazzy. Before we took a trip out of state, I made a point to clean our house so that when we came home it would look nice and not feel chaotic. I’ve also been working in my garden again, thinking that I should help fill the area around me with beauty as well.
Focusing on beauty is like a meditation to me. Everywhere I go, I try to look for beauty, for things to say yes to, for ways to live a fuller life. This form of gentle, guided challenge has been really good for me. It’s enough to nudge me out of my comfort zone and force growth, without feeling overbearing.
If my description makes this sound appealing, I urge you to start with the book before picking up the journal. I’m not sure if the journal would feel as powerful without having seen what saying yes can do through Shonda’s eyes. In addition to being one of the most kick-in-the-pants books I’ve read recently, “A Year of Yes” is funny. I suspect it will end up being one of my go-to recommendations from now on.
While I may not be working on a whole ABC lineup next fall, I am hoping that all these reflections and yeses will help me advocate for myself more strongly, and to seize opportunities before I drown them out in fear. Here’s to my own year of yes.