- 1. (noun) the practice of knowing one’s own accomplishments and gifts, accepting one’s own accomplishments and gifts and celebrating one’s own accomplishments and gifts; 2. (noun or verb) a state of being that involves loving oneself, waking up “like this” and not giving a crap what anyone else thinks about you. Term first coined by William Shakespeare (P. 195)
Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes
I am a badass. I am a badass. I am too a badass, because Shonda Rhimes told me so. It is also written in section 2 of my country’s bill of rights. Yes, I refer to Rhimes’ book as my bill of rights. Other laws include: The Right to Own It, and The Right to Work. I am a proud card-carrying citizen of a little place you might have heard of called, Shondaland. It’s a place where you are free to love who you want to love; free to dance in the rain; free to stand in the sun and be your own person. She is inspiration that the glass ceiling isn’t so high up that it can’t be broken; the road isn’t so narrow it can’t include one more. This country is complex, multi-faceted, and layered. I chose to read this bill of rights as a prelude to my year of intentionally saying yes. Being unapologetic about choosing me. Rhimes has taught me a few things in getting to yes, staying with yes and life after yes.
THE RIGHT TO LIFE
“So you made it out of a uterus a long time ago. Big deal. So did everybody else on the planet. What else you got?” (P. 28) What do you do once you are out of the uterus? It narrows down to the big “P” word. It penetrates our mind in the early morning and late midnight hour of our bedroom… purpose. What is your purpose? Why are you here? This is something that I started to tackle at an early age with great merit to my mom who posed the question countless times. To meditate on your purpose takes bravery, focus and vulnerability. To answer this question, we have to face difficult truths and skeletons buried in our closet. And let’s face it, who wants to do that? Not I, said the cat. You mean on top of the hustle and bustle of everyday, I actually have to sit down and think. You’ve got to be kidding me. Who signed up for this after making it out of the treacherous canal of the uterus. This was not the dealt. However, in short, yes you do. You have to answer the “P” question. I believe everyone has to contribute to the circle of life, and our contribution is derived from our purpose. We have to make a conscious decision to be a productive member of society.
“Tomorrow IS going to be the worst day ever for you. But don’t be an asshole.” (P. 83) Now that that’s out-of-the-way you know your purpose. You’ve got it. What’s next? Once we have it, we begin a never-ending road of trying to reach a certain pinnacle of success. For me, its sitting in front of young bright minds, its hearing my name called backstage at the Golden Globes and making a speech at the Black Women in Hollywood Gala. For you it may be planting gardens, volunteering at senior citizen homes or helping with the nursery at your local church. We go through the mundane details of our busy schedules, to-do lists, vision boards and goal calendars. It’s pretty boring when you think about it. However, if your purpose seems like a monotonous job, that sucks for you! Revisit your gifts and ask God for clarity. You should be having the time of your life. Every morning you wake up should be filled with promise, hope and spontaneity. Despite the hardships that will be thrown at you, with purpose you choose the right to live.
THE RIGHT TO WORK
“…Nothing works if you don’t actually decide that you are really and truly ready to do it.” (P. 157) This is a big one. You can’t force any adult to do anything they truly don’t want to do. We can talk until we are blue in the face, but if one does not make the decision for themselves, your voice is falling on deaf ears. Our society really blows me about this. We spend hundreds and thousands of dollars every year telling people what they should be doing, and every year people make the choice to say “No, I don’t want to,” or “No, I’m not ready.” Now don’t get me wrong, I believe it is our duty to share with each other various paths to a whole, healthy and prosperous life. However, if someone has been talking about losing 200 pounds for the past 10 years, chances are there isn’t anything you can do for them until they are ready for a different outcome. It is crazy for us to think we can change someone else’s outcome when they are still adding with the same factors. Regardless of how you put it, 1+1 will always equal 2. It’s not up to us, it’s ultimately up to them. Once we realize this, the ball is in our court. We then have to determine if we want to entertain such meaningless conversations or if we rather save our energy for a day when our voice will actually be effective.
“You have to be twice as good to get half as much…” (P. 140) Realizing we have to put in the work to reap the results we want is just the first step. Next is understanding we may have to work our little patootie off double time to get what we want. For some, results are handed to them on a silver platter with a trust fund, but for others we have to work twice as hard. We will never know why God chooses to bless some verses others. Frankly, this should not be our concern. When life gives you lemon make yourself a doggone cool glass of lemonade, lemon chicken and don’t forget the lemon meringue pie. Let’s throw a lemon party! I must admit I had to park on this point for a while. I’ve been in a very eerie place as a creative being for the past few months. 2016 was the end of my 3 year business plan as an artist. I had an opportunity to reflect on my accomplishments, as well as my failures. Although 3 years may not seem like a long time, it sure did take a lot out of me. Going from project to project, making my brand public and navigating this world as a young woman took more than anticipated. The start of 2017 was weird, because I choose to say yes to the life of an essentialist as it related to my career. I kept what I considered essential and dropped anything that was not. I had to reconsider relationships, jobs and opportunities. I am beginning to realize I can duplicate my efforts if I focus on a select few ideas at a time, rather than spreading myself across various canvases. Each setting in my life should be a set up. It is a challenge and it takes a lot of strategic thinking, but I am choosing the right to work intentionally.
THE RIGHT TO OWN IT
“I’m going to say YES to accepting any and all acknowledgements of personal fabulous awesomeness with a clear, calm ‘Thank you’ and a confident smile and nothing more.” (P. 179) I struggle with this so much. Some call it being coy or humble. For me, it’s fear of pompousness and pretentiousness. I loathe cocky people, always have and probably always will. However, I am learning there is a difference between having confidence in your mastery and bloating about your mastery. I never want to become with I hate. For a long time (and I am still guilty of this), I reign supreme in being the ultimate compliment dodger. I can dodge complements better than an 8th grader dodging an inflated softball in an elementary school gym. I am learning to realize there is a release through the stroke of an ego. It takes the pressure off of being so uptight. There are still some haters in the world, but I rest easy in the fact we live in a society where complements can be genuine without ill intentions. There is nothing wrong with appreciating your comprehensive knowledge on a subject. Yes, of course there will always be more to learn. Of course there will always be someone who knows more than you. Of course you will always be a student of life. We can’t change that. We must learn to accept the journey it took for us to get to our current level. Let us never discredit our ethic. Talent will turn the key, but ethic will get you into the room.
“Don’t call me lucky. Call me a badass.” (P. 181) Nothing about my journey has been luck. I have worked my butt off to get to where I am. It is not where I want to be, but every blood, sweat and tear has been accounted for. With a combination of brains, books, talent and a strong work ethic, I have been afforded endless opportunities. Blessings have fallen in my lap every step of the way. Honoring these facts have been difficult for me. Similar to Rhimes, it makes me feel like a complete jerk, but why? Why does showing self-love and acknowledgement make us cringe? Maybe it’s a fabric of our culture that is broken. Maybe this unpleasantness has been passed down from generation to generation. Is it a fear that we may have to meet expectations that come with our greatness? No one really knows. In my own personal struggle, I declare we must overcome this fear. We must shower ourselves with complements. We must supplement ourselves in truth and boost our own self-worth. Nothing is wrong with showing yourself a little tender love.
THE RIGHT TO LOVE
“People like being around whole, healthy, happy people.” (P. 201) If you didn’t do something today that made you smile, go back to bed and try again. Whole, Happy People Smile. Smiling People Love. Loving People are Healthy. Love is a subject that is so vast, multiplex and cavernous B Mor’s bookshelf couldn’t fully cover this topic if we tried. Through this book, I realized I was not truly loving myself as I thought. I noticed my decision-making was based on other people’s reactions and not my own. We cannot go through this world worrying about others. Social media does make this a bit impossible. However, we must think about God and self first, and everything else will fall in line. If it doesn’t, it was never meant to be apart of your life-line in the first place. There are times in our life when we are simply not happy. There’s no shame in admitting that! It is during those times that we must ask ourselves some difficult questions. Are we not happy because we are mentally or physically drained? Are we not happy because of a spiritual disposition? Are we not happy because we have been ignoring our needs? If so, a change is needed. For you, it may be changing jobs. For someone else, it may be relocating to a new city. Regardless, you deserve the right to experience love on a galactic level.
“And just as important, everyone should turn on the TV and see someone who doesn’t look like them and love like them.” (P. 235) I stared at this quote for a few days after reading it. It struck a chord with me as a Christian, artist and writer. As an activist, I believe every culture and nationality should be featured in all aspects of media from radio, film to the news and television. There shouldn’t be one group of people who cannot see themselves in the face of broadcasting. Nevertheless, I never considered the love aspect. As writers, we strive to create juicy, twisted, in-depth characters. That’s the goal! We spend countless days and sleepless nights creating authentic characters who can bring joy and pain in the same breath. So why did I not consider that this went beyond their personalities? How can one write about what they don’t understand? It is our job to learn, understand and grow. Even if I do not agree with one’s life choices or it defies my morals, who am I to cut off a branch of communication between them due to my ignorance. I will also preference this by saying, I don’t think everyone who disagrees with another person’s lifestyle is phobic. I also don’t condone disrespecting anyone, because their beliefs do not align with yours. As I continued reading, this quote really challenged my idea of diversity and inclusion. How can I make a visceral connection to a character that is the total opposite of me? How do I compose relationships unfamiliar from my way of life? Although I am still answering these question, the simple answer is to stay open and connect through a 4-letter word that often times get overlooked, L-O-V-E. I leave you with this “LET HER B” Moment by Shonda Rhimes:
THE RIGHT TO SAY YES
“I know now that is what my Year of Yes has always been about. LOVE. It’s just love, is all.”