Joyful Things

Year of Yes Book + this week’s joyful things

Year of Yes Book Review from Michelle Hickey Design

July 22, 2020

I’m Michelle.
A modern maker with a classic approach to design. Ever in search
of beautiful typography and
baked goods.
TOp categories
Get your Digital Brand Blueprint

In this post, I share a book review of Year of Yes, plus four things that have been bringing me joy lately.

Early in June, I realized that my bookshelf was greatly lacking in diversity. Big mistake. Huge. (Julia Roberts voice) Since then, I’ve been fixing that by filling my shopping cart, library queue, and Audible wishlist with books by Black authors.

I love listening to memoirs and personal development books when they are read by the author, so I started with The Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl, by Issa Rae. It was good, but I didn’t connect with Issa in the way I thought I would. When it came down to it, she’s much cooler than she claims to be.

Year of Yes Book Review from Michelle Hickey Design

Year of Yes

The next book on my Audible list was Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes. I’ve never seen an episode of Grey’s Anatomy (which she created), and have only dabbled in two of her other shows: Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder. I want to establish that I was not Shonda fan-girl, but it is how I would classify myself after finishing Year of Yes.

I thought that I already knew this book. I had read this story before: a person decides to make some grand gesture and then their life changes for the better. Blah, blah, blah.

Another big mistake. Huge. Year of Yes was so much more than that.

Shonda’s year of yes, wasn’t just about saying yes, but also saying no. It was about learning to honor herself, her preferences, and her quirks. It’s a story about pushing outside of your comfort zone to find where you really belong.

Before I started reading Year of Yes, my perception of Shonda Rhimes was that she was a powerful, strong woman. She describes herself quite differently: shy, bookish, introverted, and awkward. I found myself relating greatly to her transformation story. It also made me realize that I still haven’t fully leaned into that truest version of myself.

If you are a creative who knows that you have more to give, I would 100% recommend this book to you. I hope it will inspire you as it did for me.

Here are a few more things that have been bringing me joy lately:

Magic Spoon - Joyful Things from Michelle Hickey Design

Magic Spoon Cereal

My biggest nephew turned four last week, and I am missing him so much. Being away from my nieces and nephews, during the virus has been tough, but we’ve been making the best of it.

One of my sisters (who also lives far away from the rest of our family) and I spent a few weeks trying to think of a perfect gift to send him. We wanted it to be extra special since we wouldn’t be there to give it to him in person.

On a recent episode of The Tim Ferriss Show, I learned about Magic Spoon Cereal — healthy recreations of childhood cereals. It sounded really fun, so I checked out the site, and fell in love with the design and the concept. My sister (the birthday boy’s mom) eats a gluten-free diet, so we knew she would appreciate it.

And so we sent my nephew a variety pack of Magic Spoon (four boxes), and he tried every one of them on the morning of his birthday. Cocoa was his favorite. The best part was, my mom recorded the entire thing. It was precious. Afterward, we got to FaceTime with the birthday boy and he told us all about his magical birthday breakfast.

Insight Timer - Joyful Things from Michelle Hickey Design

Let it Be Easy

I haven’t been meditating every single day, but when I do, I’ve found myself reaching for the same practice. For me, it has been the one that keeps giving, even on the days when I don’t meditate.

The practice is a ten-minute guided session on the Insight Timer App (free to download, no registration needed), called Morning Ease: A New Way of Being, from Bethany Auriel-Hagan. In it, you’ll hear the phrase “Let it Be Easy”, over and over again.

It’s simple but powerful. I tend to complicate things. I often anticipate that a situation will be more challenging than it actually is. That phrase, “let it be easy,” has been a game-changer. What if we just let things be easy?

The more I repeat it, the more I believe it, the easier things are becoming.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Joyful Things from Michelle Hickey Design

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

After four months, we finally finished our “quarantine show”, The West Wing. It was our first time watching it and know that we will do a rewatch at some point, but for now, it was time for something new.

My brother-in-law recommended Brooklyn Nine-Nine and it was a show that has been on my to-watch list for a while now. One week later, and we are already into Season 3.

The show is much like The Office and Parks and Recreation— fun, funny, feel-good, with characters that you both love and hate. The will-they-won’t-they love story hook always pulls me in and this one already delivered. I won’t elaborate in case you haven’t watched it yet, but it’s really good. A worthy quarantine part 2 binge.

Viticulture Game - Joyful Things from Michelle Hickey Design


Staying at home has also led us to open up the game cabinet (which are actually storage benches in our upstairs loft). My friend Kalyn’s husband, Joseph has introduced us to so many cool games over the years, and one of those is Viticulture. PS, his board game blog is awesome!

Viticulture is similar to Settlers of Catan, but for me, it’s less anxiety-inducing because it isn’t as competitive. You’re still battling to win, but each player is on their own path. A true introverts game. If you prefer offense to defense, and you are a game nerd, you will enjoy it!

This post contains affiliate links.

add a comment
+ show Comments
- Hide Comments
  1. […] the second time in two weeks, I’m here to tell you that my preconceptions about this book were completely […]


Map out a month's worth of strategic content using this guided planner and calendar, and begin posting with confidence.




on the air

A Podcast for Creatives

Join me and my friend Steve King for a bi-monthly discussion about the complex, messy and beautiful experience that is being a creative.

LIsten in


Whether you need help developing your brand's aesthetic, or scroll-stopping visual content, I'm here to help you and your business stand out in the digital space.


Free download

Map out a month's worth of strategic content using this guided planner and calendar.


This two-page workbook will help you hone in on your brand's aesthetics so that you can easily create consistent content.


Design. Champagne. Books. Travel. Film + TV. Scenes from my kitchen. And cats.