How A Book Made Me Better

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At the top of the year, I read Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes book for the first book of the year with my book club. To sum up the book, Shonda decided to spend a year saying yes to everything that scared her. From going to sit with Oprah to giving a commencement speech at her alma mater, Dartmouth College. A week after I finished the book, I received a free entry into the 2016 NY Marathon. At first, I said “absolutely not” but I didn’t delete the email. After two days of feeling guilty for reading that motivating and inspiring book, I registered for the marathon while waiting to board a plane to Berlin during my euro trip.

I signed up for something that seriously scared me. Actually, scared is a strong word but I was definitely stressing over it. At the time when I decided to sign up, I was “backpacking” through Western Europe. I was flying and traveling every week just months after the Paris attacks and it didn’t stress me out as much as that marathon entry. I thought about it every day. I talked about it all the time while unintentionally annoying my family and friends. But to be completely honest, after a while I put it in the back of my head. I half-heartedly trained for it whenever I saw runners actually training for it via Instagram. I also said “I have plenty of time. I don’t need to train six months before.” Eventually, that became “I still have time, its 3 months away.” Oddly enough, time flew past me and I was boarding a plane from Atlanta to New York for the NY Marathon weekend. Was I prepared? Absolutely not. Was the race still going to happen? Yes. Was I going to run the race? That was a question I asked myself up until the night before. The evening before the race, I pulled up Year of Yes and skimmed through the book until I landed on it: the line that sparked this entire ordeal.

“Saying yes…saying yes is courage. Saying yes is the sun. Saying yes is life.”

I said yes to the marathon back then and it was for a pretty decent reason. I said yes because everything in me said no. It was my natural reaction to the question on whether I would do it or not. I forced myself to say yes and my mind questioned that decision every day. I began to make up excuses for why I wouldn’t be able to run the marathon 4 months before race day. Reading that quote again brought it all around for me. Saying yes was saying yes to something that pushed me. Something that could force me to impress myself. Something that could encourage me to accomplish something. While I rolled my eyes at least twenty times before the race started, I was there. I was running that race because I said yes regardless of my lack of preparation, my excuses or my obsessive dramatic thinking of quitting the race at every mile marker. 26.2 miles later, I crossed that finish line. I received my now cherished medal, race poncho and a much-needed race bag filled with water, snacks and recovery. I laughed, cursed, smiled, ran, walked and completed that race. The first thing I thought when I crossed the finish line was “Oh my goodness, I don’t have to think about that anymore!” I said yes to it and I did it all because Shonda Rhimes wrote an amazing book.

 

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