Review: Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun and be Your Own Person

Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun and be Your Own Person
Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun and be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I picked this up on a flight from London to Cairo figuring, from the cover, that it would be both light and inspirational. Perfect flight fodder.

I didn’t buy this because I love Shonda Rhimes’ work, or because I am an avid fan of her TV shows. I had never heard of her before picking up this book and I haven’t watched any of her TV shows. In fact, I haven’t watched any TV shows of any kind for over 10 years. So I have not a clue what ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ is.

This book irritated me for a long time. The writing was light, accessible, punchy, but oh my God, Shonda, get to the point! So many times I was editing it in my head, and cutting vast chunks of text, that made not the slightest difference to the point being made. By the time I got to the end of the book (two months after starting it), I’d sort of got used to this never-getting-to-the-point style of beating her readers up, and I started to enjoy, rather than wanting to chuck the book out of the window. But by then it was too late. The book was done.

But it’s message? Yes, we could all do with a lot more saying ‘Yes’ to life. Too often, it is easy to throw away the great gifts that life brings our way, out of fear. Fear of consequences that may never come about. Fear of the unknown. Fear of ourselves. Shonda showed that all of these things can be overcome. That actually, we can all say ‘yes’ to life (and ‘no’ when it is appropriate). It reminded me of a book I read years ago by Stuart Wilde. Can’t remember the title now, but the message was the same: grasp the opportunities that life throws at you because you don’t know what they might lead to.

If you are into the work of Shonda Rhimes, you might like this book. If you are looking for a good self-development/motivational book to get you up and at it, then maybe you’ll like this but frankly, there are better books out there covering the same topic.

View all my reviews

About Steve Gooch

Steve Gooch was born in March 1962 in Rugby, Warwickshire in England and grew up there with his two brothers and sister. He moved to Corsham in Wiltshire and attended Bath Academy of Art, where he studied sculpture and printmaking, before going on to work on projects for the artists Joe Tilson and Nick Pope. He also helped with the publication of a limited edition folio of Paul Eluard’s poetry. Steve moved to London to study for a postgraduate teaching certificate and then worked as a teacher of art in the UK. He gained his MA in Education with the Open University and also studied the discipline of Reiki with his Reiki teachers in Newcastle upon Tyne. His daughter Marianne was born in 1994. For a period of time, Steve devoted himself to teaching Reiki in his hometown of Rugby, before moving to Egypt, where he resumed his career as an art teacher, becoming the Head of Art in a prestigious British International School in Cairo. He continued to teach Reiki, introducing the discipline for the first time to Egypt. He also wrote extensively on the subject for various Egyptian English-language magazines. Returning to the UK, Steve’s son Sam was born in 2004. Not wanting to go back into the teaching profession, Steve took a job as a chef in a vegetarian restaurant and wrote his first book ‘Reiki Jin Kei Do: The Way of Compassion & Wisdom’. It was the world’s first book on that particular tradition of Reiki and is still considered to be the standard reference work on the subject. Steve them moved to Sudan, where he was again Head of Art at the prestigious Unity High School, and built an online living history for the school, called 'The Unity High School Archive'. It was in the process of building this archive that Steve uncovered a major scandal involving senior members of the Anglican Church, local dignitaries, and members of the faith communities. As a consequence, he got to know the head of the Secret Police in Khartoum quite well and then promptly left the country. Steve moved back to Egypt and took up a post as Head of Art in a school in Alexandria. Very much involved in the Reiki community in the UK, however, he founded the national organisation ‘Reiki Jin Kei Do UK’ and became the editor of ‘Focus: The Journal of Reiki Jin Kei Do UK’, and then set up the global ‘Reiki Jin Kei Do International’. He also set up the global video-arts project '12seconds for Peace'. The concept grabbed the attention of a number of big names in the peace movement, including Nobel Peace Prize nominees, and threatened to go viral. Circumstances (revolutions and social unrest) put it on the back-burner. Likewise, a major peace initiative called the 'Global Concert for Peace', scheduled for the summer of 2013, which would have been the world's biggest musical event, also went on the back-burner. Steve moved to Saudi Arabia for a little over a year in 2014, before returning to Egypt to take up a senior management position in another British International School in Cairo. Finally, after a year of professional purgatory in which he realised that there is no such thing as a good British International School in Egypt, he decided ‘enough is enough’ and quit the teaching profession for good to focus on his writing, art and Reiki classes. He is currently living in Cairo and writing ‘The Temple of the Djinn’, which is loosely based on the events that he uncovered during his time in Sudan. He is also teaching Reiki and working freelance for a variety of Egyptian magazines. He misses the UK and is looking forward to spending more time in his home country with his children. He'd also like to find time to paint and make sculpture.
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