- The One Minute Manager, by Ken Blanchard and Spenser Johnson
- The Elements of Style, by Strunk and White
- A Time to Kill, by John Grisham
- Real Peace, by Richard Nixon
- A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens
- Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman
- Remembrance of Things Past, by Marcel Proust
- Ulysses, by James Joyce
- The Bridges of Madison County, by Robert James Waller
- What Color is Your Parachute?, by Richard Nelson Bolles
- The Joy of Cooking, by Irma Rombauer
I remember the first time I saw Amy Poehler in person. She was walking down the dark, shiny marbled floor of 30 Rockefeller Plaza’s hushed lobby. It was during my lunch hour. It was 2003. I was working next door at 75 Rock. It was a temporary pit stop. My team moved from our techno clean, hip, loft-like offices of AOL on West 18th Street, uptown to the corporate world of Time Warner, and were waiting out the final stages of construction on the new Time Warner Center in Columbus Circle before officially moving into our new digs. Glass shiny twin towers were going to be our new home. A strange architectural choice considering 9-11 happened only a few years before.
I digress with purpose. Nevertheless, I digress.
There was Amy. Walking fast, her bag on her back, zipping up her jacket as she moved. Her head was down. Her look… pensive. She was on SNL at the time (obviously), and you could tell she was in the middle of a show week. Marathon hours. She was so tiny and blonde. She radiated a tomboyish hustle. She was lady who wasn’t in the mood for nonsense that moment, but was capable of turning it on when it counted. At the time, I felt a sense of “wow, cool. Amy Poehler from SNL”, but I never realized what an impact she’d make on my life in the years to come.
As one of the co-founders of the Upright Citizens Brigade (at the time I was vaguely aware of her connection), she has helped girls and ladies as old as the sun like me – find their power. (“Smart Girls at the Party” anyone? Check it out.) During the hardest time of my life, the space she and her colleagues created at the UCB Training Center gave me a safe place. It’s where I escaped every Sunday for months on end, from the sadness and illness of home – to a room with chairs and windows and improv exercises. I found The Game. I got to play. I got to be funny. I got to laugh. I pretended to be someone else. I created object work. Edited. Tagged out people. Turned beats of a scene into new ideas. I learned to trust people. Listen. To know when to step into a scene and when not to. I learned to look into the eyes of other people for long periods of time. I learned to get out of my head.I learned to scare the shit out of myself.
I’m reading Amy’s glorious autobiography right now. It’s not a detailed version of her life. It’s not a kiss and tell all book. No. This is a book of profound inspiration for women and men. But mostly – I would say – women. We have to navigate life differently than men. She encourages with tools from her own learning experiences. Amy doesn’t talk about her divorce, but lends her personal experience to provide solace to anyone going through a breakup. She talks about being strong, giving a big “F U” to the demon inside. She also talks about struggle and working hard and being detached from the outcome of your work. For instance, I’ve just finished the chapter entitled, “Treat Your Career Like a Bad Boyfriend”, which offers wisdom on how to remove yourself from the outcome of your work. Don’t judge it. Don’t struggle with it. Don’t let it call you up for a bootie call in the middle of the night when your career has another piece of something on the side. Don’t let your career tell you what to do. Ignore it. Cultivate it. Love it. But don’t be desperate. Give it breathing room. Let it call you. I love this advice. It’s so real and funny and sage and gorgeous and encouraging and beautiful. It’s just a morsel of kick ass advice Amy provides – given by a woman who was raised right. Seriously, her mom and dad must have ruled. They produced a terrific, strong woman who figured it out.
And that’s what this book is about. Figuring it out. Figuring out how to not beat yourself up for not being perfect. Realizing how strong those imperfections make you. Showing how smart you become when coming into your own skin and owning your life – rather than allowing someone or something or a company – to own you. Realizing that you should NOT live in fear. Screw fear. Fear can take a hike, or blow it out it’s ear. Yeah, we’ll feel it. Fear will pervade, but you’ve got to learn from it, heed to its concern and then say “See ya! Leave me alone now!” And anger over situations and idiots in your life? You let it wash over you. Your energy is better spent feeling something more positive.
So, I’m amazed at our Amy. I’m sorry I call her “our” Amy. Amy belongs to no one. But in my heart, she’s my Amy because she has lead by example for years now. Having studied at her school, having seen her do improv in person many times, and having watched her flourish along with Tina Fey as a strong, funny woman who owns her authenticity – this book is the cherry on top. I’m not even done with it yet. I’m sure I’m leaving out some more delicious goodies to come, but I can’t help myself. This book is the bomb and I gotta sing it now.
If you need some funny, down to earth inspiration from someone you will very likely relate to – pick this book up – “Yes, Please” over on Amazon. No really. Do it. The new year is coming up. Her book will rock your 2015. And if you had a great 2014 like I had – it will just continue to make it flow.