So a while ago, I tried an experiment. Forone year, I would say yes to all the things that scared me. Anything that mademe nervous, took me out of my comfort zone, I forced myself to say yes to.
Did I want to speak in public? No, but yes.Did I want to be on live TV? No, but yes. Did I want to try acting? No, no, no,but yes, yes, yes.
And a crazy thing happened: the very act of doing the thing that scared me undid the fear, made it not scary. My fear ofpublic speaking, my social anxiety, poof, gone. It's amazing, the power of oneword.
"Yes" changed my life."Yes" changed me. But there was one particular yes that affected mylife in the most profound way, in a way I never imagined, and it started with aquestion from my toddler.
I have these three amazing daughters,Harper, Beckett and Emerson, and Emerson is a toddler who inexplicably refersto everyone as "honey." as though she's a Southern waitress."Honey, I'm gonna need some milk for my sippy cup."
The Southern waitress asked me to play withher one evening when I was on my way somewhere, and I said, "Yes."And that yes was the beginning of a new way of life for my family.
I made a vow that from now on, every timeone of my children asks me to play, no matter what I'm doing or where I'mgoing, I say yes, every single time.
Almost. I'm not perfect at it, but I try hard to practice it. And it's had a magical effect on me, on my children, on our family. But it's also had a stunning side effect,
and it wasn't until recently that I fullyunderstood it, that I understood that saying yes to playing with my childrenlikely saved my career.
See, I have what most people would call adream job. I'm a writer. I imagine. I make stuff up for a living. Dream job.No. I'm a titan. Dream job.
I create television. I executive producetelevision. I make television, a great deal of television. In one way oranother, this TV season,
I'm responsible for bringing about 70 hoursof programming to the world. Four television programs, 70 hours of TV --
Three shows in production at a time,sometimes four. Each show creates hundreds of jobs that didn't exist before.The budget for one episode of network television can be anywhere from three tosix million dollars.
Let's just say five. A new episode madeevery nine days times four shows, so every nine days that's 20 million dollarsworth of television,
four television programs, 70 hours of TV,three shows in production at a time, sometimes four, 16 episodes going on atall times: 24 episodes of "Grey's,"
四个电视节目 70小时。三个秀同时制作，有时甚至四个，每时每刻都有16集直播 24集的《实习医生格蕾》，
21 episodes of "Scandal," 15episodes of "How To Get Away With Murder," 10 episodes of "TheCatch," that's 70 hours of TV, that's 350 million dollars for a season.
In America, my television shows are back toback to back on Thursday night. Around the world, my shows air in 256territories in 67 languages for an audience of 30 million people.
My brain is global, and 45 hours of that 70hours of TV are shows I personally created and not just produced, so on top ofeverything else,
I need to find time, real quiet, creativetime, to gather my fans around the campfire and tell my stories. Fourtelevision programs, 70 hours of TV,
three shows in production at a time,sometimes four, 350 million dollars, campfires burning all over the world. Youknow who else is doing that? Nobody, so like I said, I'm a titan. Dream job.
Now, I don't tell you this to impress you.I tell you this because I know what you think of when you hear the word"writer."
I tell you this so that all of you outthere who work so hard, whether you run a company or a country or a classroomor a store or a home, take me seriously when I talk about working,
so you'll get that I don't peck at acomputer and imagine all day, so you'll hear me when I say that I understandthat a dream job is not about dreaming.
It's all job, all work, all reality, allblood, all sweat, no tears. I work a lot, very hard, and I love it.
When I'm hard at work, when I'm deep in it,there is no other feeling. For me, my work is at all times building a nationout of thin air.
It is manning the troops. It is painting acanvas. It is hitting every high note. It is running a marathon. It is being Beyoncé. And it is all of those things at the same time.
I love working. It is creative andmechanical and exhausting and exhilarating and hilarious and disturbing andclinical and maternal and cruel and judicious, and what makes it all so good isthe hum.
There is some kind of shift inside me whenthe work gets good. A hum begins in my brain, and it grows and it grows andthat hum sounds like the open road, and I could drive it forever.
And a lot of people, when I try to explainthe hum, they assume that I'm talking about the writing, that my writing bringsme joy. And don't get me wrong, it does.
But the hum -- it wasn't until I startedmaking television that I started working, working and making and building andcreating and collaborating, that I discovered this thing, this buzz, this rush,this hum.
The hum is more than writing. The hum isaction and activity. The hum is a drug. The hum is music. The hum is light andair. The hum is God's whisper right in my ear.
And when you have a hum like that, youcan't help but strive for greatness. That feeling, you can't help but strivefor greatness at any cost. That's called the hum. Or, maybe it's called being aworkaholic.
Maybe it's called genius. Maybe it's calledego. Maybe it's just fear of failure. I don't know. I just know that I'm notbuilt for failure,
and I just know that I love the hum. I justknow that I want to tell you I'm a titan, and I know that I don't want toquestion it.
But here's the thing: the more successful Ibecome, the more shows, the more episodes, the more barriers broken, the morework there is to do,
the more balls in the air, the more eyes onme, the more history stares, the more expectations there are. The more I workto be successful, the more I need to work.
And what did I say about work? I loveworking, right? The nation I'm building, the marathon I'm running, the troops,the canvas, the high note, the hum, the hum, the hum.
I like that hum. I love that hum. I needthat hum. I am that hum. Am I nothing but that hum?
And then the hum stopped. Overworked,overused, overdone, burned out. The hum stopped. Now, my three daughters areused to the truth that their mother is a single working titan.
Harper tells people, "My mom won't bethere, but you can text my nanny." And Emerson says, "Honey, I'mwanting to go to ShondaLand."
They're children of a titan. They're babytitans. They were 12, 3, and 1 when the hum stopped. The hum of the enginedied.
I stopped loving work. I couldn't restartthe engine. The hum would not come back. My hum was broken. I was doing thesame things I always did, all the same titan work, 15-hour days, workingstraight through the weekends, no regrets, never surrender, a titan neversleeps, a titan never quits, full hearts, clear eyes, yada, whatever. But therewas no hum. Inside me was silence.
Four television programs, 70 hours of TV,three shows in production at a time, sometimes four. Four television programs,70 hours of TV, three shows in production at a time ...
四个电视节目 70小时，三个秀同时制作，有时甚至四个。四个电视节目 70小时，三个秀同时制作我曾是那个完美的巨人。
I was the perfect titan. I was a titan youcould take home to your mother. All the colors were the same, and I was nolonger having any fun. And it was my life.
It was all I did. I was the hum, and thehum was me. So what do you do when the thing you do, the work you love, startsto taste like dust?
Now, I know somebody's out there thinking,"Cry me a river, stupid writer titan lady."
But you know, you do, if you make, if youwork, if you love what you do, being a teacher, being a banker, being a mother,being a painter, being Bill Gates,
if you simply love another person and thatgives you the hum, if you know the hum, if you know what the hum feels like, ifyou have been to the hum,
when the hum stops, who are you? What areyou? What am I? Am I still a titan? If the song of my heart ceases to play, canI survive in the silence?
And then my Southern waitress toddler asksme a question. I'm on my way out the door, I'm late, and she says, "Momma,wanna play?"
When did that happen? I'm missing it, beinga titan and mourning my hum, and here she is changing right before my eyes.
And so she says, "Momma, wannaplay?" And I say, "Yes." There's nothing special about it. Weplay, and we're joined by her sisters,
and there's a lot of laughing, and I give adramatic reading from the book Everybody Poops. Nothing out of the ordinary.
And yet, it is extraordinary, because in mypain and my panic, in the homelessness of my humlessness, I have nothing to dobut pay attention.
I focus. I am still. The nation I'mbuilding, the marathon I'm running, the troops, the canvas, the high note doesnot exist.
All that exists are sticky fingers andgooey kisses and tiny voices and crayons and that song about letting go ofwhatever it is that Frozen girl needs to let go of.
It's all peace and simplicity. The air isso rare in this place for me that I can barely breathe. I can barely believeI'm breathing. Play is the opposite of work.
And I am happy. Something in me loosens. Adoor in my brain swings open, and a rush of energy comes. And it's notinstantaneous, but it happens, it does happen.
I feel it. A hum creeps back. Not at fullvolume, barely there, it's quiet, and I have to stay very still to hear it, butit is there. Not the hum, but a hum.
And now I feel like I know a very magicalsecret. Well, let's not get carried away. It's just love. That's all it is. Nomagic. No secret. It's just love.
It's just something we forgot. The hum, thework hum, the hum of the titan, that's just a replacement. If I have to ask youwho I am, if I have to tell you who I am,
if I describe myself in terms of shows andhours of television and how globally badass my brain is, I have forgotten whatthe real hum is. The hum is not power and the hum is not work-specific. The humis joy-specific.
The real hum is love-specific. The hum isthe electricity that comes from being excited by life. The real hum isconfidence and peace.
The real hum ignores the stare of history,and the balls in the air, and the expectation, and the pressure. The real humis singular and original.
The real hum is God's whisper in my ear,but maybe God was whispering the wrong words, because which one of the gods wastelling me I was the titan?
It's just love. We could all use a littlemore love, a lot more love. Any time my child asks me to play, I will say yes.I make it a firm rule for one reason,
to give myself permission, to free me fromall of my workaholic guilt. It's a law, so I don't have a choice, and I don'thave a choice, not if I want to feel the hum.
I wish it were that easy, but I'm not goodat playing. I don't like it. I'm not interested in doing it the way I'minterested in doing work.
The truth is incredibly humbling andhumiliating to face. I don't like playing. I work all the time because I likeworking. I like working more than I like being at home.
Facing that fact is incredibly difficult tohandle, because what kind of person likes working more than being at home?
Well, me. I mean, let's be honest, I callmyself a titan. I've got issues. And one of those issues isn't that I am toorelaxed.
We run around the yard, up and back and upand back. We have 30-second dance parties. We sing show tunes. We play withballs. I blow bubbles and they pop them.
And I feel stiff and delirious and confusedmost of the time. I itch for my cell phone always. But it is OK. My tiny humansshow me how to live and the hum of the universe fills me up.
I play and I play until I begin to wonderwhy we ever stop playing in the first place.
You can do it too, say yes every time yourchild asks you to play. Are you thinking that maybe I'm an idiot in diamondshoes?
You're right, but you can still do this.You have time. You know why? Because you're not Rihanna and you're not aMuppet. Your child does not think you're that interesting.
You only need 15 minutes. My two- andfour-year-old only ever want to play with me for about 15 minutes or so beforethey think to themselves they want to do something else.
It's an amazing 15 minutes, but it's 15minutes. If I'm not a ladybug or a piece of candy, I'm invisible after 15minutes.
And my 13-year-old, if I can get a13-year-old to talk to me for 15 minutes I'm Parent of the Year. 15 minutes isall you need. I can totally pull off 15 minutes of uninterrupted time on myworst day.
Uninterrupted is the key. No cell phone, nolaundry, no anything. You have a busy life. You have to get dinner on thetable. You have to force them to bathe.
But you can do 15 minutes. My kids are myhappy place, they're my world, but it doesn't have to be your kids, the fuelthat feeds your hum, the place where life feels more good than not good.
It's not about playing with your kids, it'sabout joy. It's about playing in general. Give yourself the 15 minutes. Findwhat makes you feel good. Just figure it out and play in that arena.
I'm not perfect at it. In fact, I fail asoften as I succeed, seeing friends, reading books, staring into space."Wanna play?" starts to become shorthand for indulging myself in waysI'd given up on right around the time I got my first TV show,
right around the time I became atitan-in-training, right around the time I started competing with myself forways unknown. 15 minutes? What could be wrong with giving myself my full attentionfor 15 minutes? Turns out, nothing.
The very act of not working has made itpossible for the hum to return, as if the hum's engine could only refuel whileI was away. Work doesn't work without play.
It takes a little time, but after a fewmonths, one day the floodgates open and there's a rush, and I find myselfstanding in my office filled with an unfamiliar melody, full on groove insideme,
and around me, and it sends me spinning with ideas, and the humming road is open, and I can drive it and drive it, andI love working again. But now, I like that hum, but I don't love that hum. Idon't need that hum.
I am not that hum. That hum is not me, notanymore. I am bubbles and sticky fingers and dinners with friends. I am thathum. Life's hum. Love's hum.
Work's hum is still a piece of me, it isjust no longer all of me, and I am so grateful. And I don't give a crap aboutbeing a titan, because I have never once seen a titan play Red Rover, RedRover.
I said yes to less work and more play, andsomehow I still run my world. My brain is still global. My campfires stillburn. The more I play, the happier I am, and the happier my kids are.
The more I play, the more I feel like agood mother. The more I play, the freer my mind becomes. The more I play, thebetter I work.
The more I play, the more I feel the hum,the nation I'm building, the marathon I'm running, the troops, the canvas, thehigh note, the hum, the hum, the other hum, the real hum, life's hum.
The more I feel that hum, the more thisstrange, quivering, uncocooned, awkward, brand new, alive non-titan feels likeme.
The more I feel that hum, the more I knowwho I am. I'm a writer, I make stuff up, I imagine. That part of the job,that's living the dream. That's the dream of the job. Because a dream jobshould be a little bit dreamy.
I said yes to less work and more play.Titans need not apply.