Shonda Rhimes: Her Year Of No, Self Doubt & Raising Teenagers

September 1, 2016  |  

Shonda Rhimes, Good Housekeeping. Photo: Stephanie Diani

Shonda Rhimes, Good Housekeeping. Photo: Stephanie Diani

Good Housekeeping snagged television’s most creative writer, Shonda Rhimes,  as their guest editor for their September “Awesome Women”  issue. Awesome in her own right, Shonda has taken television by storm with four highly-addictive series’, Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and The Catch. In addition to taking the entertainment industry by storm, Rhimes is also a single mother to three daughters; Harper, Emerson, and Beckett. In the whirlwind of life, Shonda manages to tackle her goals, and motherhood, with time to spare to moonlight as a magazine editor. In an interview with GH, Rhimes takes a minute to talk about some of her personal housekeeping philosophies, and what she believes makes an awesome woman.

Good Housekeeping: After a year of consciously saying yes, what is your bar for saying yes versus no these days?

Shonda Rhimes: If you look at the pie of your life, it has two halves: work and family. Everything you do has to come out of one of those halves. If you can’t justify saying yes, then say no and feel good about it.

What made you put “no” back in rotation?

Part of it was doctors telling me to stop trying to do everything — work out and eat right and drink water every day. I’m in kind of a “year of no” now, but I have decided to challenge myself to be athletic, which I never was before because I don’t have any coordination. It’s about overcoming my fear of being adventurous, doing things like kayaking and rock climbing, but I haven’t gotten there yet. I’m trying to learn how to ice-skate, which is hilarious. I take my children to ice-skating lessons every week.

Do you ever worry about not being liked?

I don’t anymore. If you’re going to be a leader — or someone’s mother, frankly — you can’t worry about that. To lead or to parent means not being liked sometimes. And if you want to be successful, you really can’t make your life about whether or not someone wants to be your friend. At work, those people are your colleagues — they can become friends later, but you’re not there to make friends. You’re there to do your job.

Are there practical things you do each day that help you stay focused?

I get up at 5 a.m. — and I hate getting up at 5 a.m. But I do it so I have an hour and a half to myself before the children wake up. I work out if I have the interest, but I also spend time just hanging out in my house. Then the children get up, and I hang out with them, braid their hair and talk to them about what’s going on. I can spend time with them without feeling like I have to rush somewhere.

Grey’s Anatomy was a breakthrough in terms of portraying strong, competitive women. Whom are they modeled after?

I keep getting asked how I write about such smart, strong women, and my response is, what’s the alternative? Weak, stupid women? They’re just normal people, not role models — if you’re aspiring to be like any of them, something’s a little bit wrong. You may want to dress like one or have her job, but do not aspire to be her!

Read the full interview at

Check out more from Shonda below, and comment what makes you an awesome woman!


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