Shonda Rhimes on dreams and being a powerful working woman who is also a mum

This Dartmouth commencement speech by Shonda Rhimes, creator of Grey’s AnatomyPrivate Practice and Scandal, is awesome, and I’m not just saying that because she’s one of my heroes. Some highlights:

I did not dream of being a TV writer. Never, not once when I was here in the hallowed halls of the Ivy League, did I say to myself, “Self, I want to write TV.” You know what I wanted to be? I wanted to be Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison. That was my dream. I blue sky’ed it like crazy. I dreamed and dreamed. And while I was dreaming, I was living in my sister’s basement. Dreamers often end up living in the basements of relatives, FYI … So one day I was sitting in that basement and I read an article that said — it was in The New York Times — and it said it was harder to get into USC Film School than it was to get into Harvard Law School. And I thought I could dream about being Toni Morrison, or I could do.

Whenever you see me somewhere succeeding in one area of my life, that almost certainly means I am failing in another area of my life. If I am killing it on a Scandal script for work, I am probably missing bath and story time at home. If I am at home sewing my kids’ Halloween costumes, I’m probably blowing off a rewrite I was supposed to turn in. If I am accepting a prestigious award, I am missing my baby’s first swim lesson. If I am at my daughter’s debut in her school musical, I am missing Sandra Oh’s last scene ever being filmed at Grey’s Anatomy. If I am succeeding at one, I am inevitably failing at the other. That is the tradeoff. That is the Faustian bargain one makes with the devil that comes with being a powerful working woman who is also a powerful mother. You never feel a hundred percent OK; you never get your sea legs; you are always a little nauseous. Something is always lost. Something is always missing.

Learning to grieve

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The very first time I attended a funeral, I was 30 years old. I suppose you could say I was kind of fortunate to have avoided an encounter with grief for so long, but I knew it was only a matter of time. The past year has been a crash course in loss and grief: a friend’s twin baby girls, my grandma, a close, dear colleague.

Today is Mei Ann‘s birthday; she would have been 33. I wasn’t able to attend her funeral, and maybe that’s why I occasionally have to remind/convince myself that she’s really gone. Her email address still pops up, her Facebook account is still there. Her number is still in my phone. But at least I’m not expecting her to text me and tell me what happened at her own funeral. Which, crazily enough, I did for about a week.

The thing about grief, as I’ve learned, is that it becomes easier to tap into the more you do it. And it is only when you lose someone you truly hold dear that words like ‘heaven’ and ‘resurrection’ really mean something.

One more star in heaven

I remember the first time we met, the last time we spoke. And all the moments in between, too many to count. More press conferences than I can recall, the dozens of interviews we did together. All those tennis events we covered – those were always extra special, somehow – that time we snuck into the VIP lounge at KLIA to get a photo with Richard Gasquet and Rafael Nadal. That was all you; I didn’t have a clue where they were. You always found a way, and that was just one of the many things I admired about you. Thanks for letting me tag along for the ride.

I never told you how lucky I felt to have known you, how grateful I was that our paths crossed. You were one of the kindest, sweetest, most generous people I had ever met. Doubt I’ll meet too many more like you. Sentimental to a fault, sure, but also arguably the single most patient human being that ever walked the face of this Earth. I’m not the only one who thinks so, and all of us can’t be wrong so it must be true. I hope you know how cherished you were, that even in your too-short time with us, you made such a big, big difference. Thanks for, well, everything.

Rest in peace always, Mei Ann. I’ll think of you often. You used to joke that we had a psychic link (“psycho link”, you called it). Does it still work? Because you are so fondly remembered, deeply loved and dearly missed.

Till we meet again.

Everyone needs to read this: Malala Yousafzai on The Daily Show

“I used to think that the Talib would come, and he would just kill me. But then I said, ‘If he comes, what would you do Malala?’ Then I would reply to myself, ‘Malala, just take a shoe and hit him.’ But then I said, ‘If you hit a Talib with your shoe, then there would be no difference between you and the Talib. You must not treat others with cruelty and that much harshly, you must fight others but through peace and through dialogue and through education.’ Then I said I will tell him how important education is and that ‘I even want education for your children as well.’ And I will tell him, ‘That’s what I want to tell you, now do what you want.'” – Malala Yousafzai

8 Mistakes our brains make every day and how to prevent them

1. We surround ourselves with information that matches our beliefs.

2. We believe in the “swimmer’s body” illusion.

3. We worry about things we’ve already lost.

4. We incorrectly predict odds.

5. We rationalize purchases we don’t want.

6. We make decisions based on the anchoring effect.

7. We believe our memories more than facts.

8. We pay more attention to stereotypes than we think.

Guilty on all counts. Read the full article at Business Insider. It’s a good one.