30 Over 30: Amy Poehler

I read Amy Poehler’s new memoir, Yes Please while flying home from Hong Kong, and LOVED IT.

Sure, The Guardian claimed that “it’s not a coherent, well-knit piece of writing organised around a central narrative or argument,” and that “it’s meant for those people who, upon hearing Poehler’s name, exclaim, “Oh, I love her!” That may be true. But, there was also a lot of wisdom in there.

For example, Amy Poehler’s thoughts:

1. On How to Move Forward When Tired and Afraid (especially when writing): “Well, the first thing we do is take our brain out and put it in a drawer. Stick it somewhere and let it tantrum until it wears itself out. You may still hear the brain and all the shitty things it is saying to you, but it will be muffled, and just the fact that it is not in your head anymore will make things seem clearer. And then you just do it. You just dig in and write it. You use your body. You lean over the computer and stretch and pace. You write and then cook something and write some more. You put your hand on your heart and feel it beating and decide if what you wrote feels true. You do it because the doing of it is the thing. The doing is the thing. The talking and worrying and thinking is not the thing. That is what I know. Writing the book is about writing the book” (pg. xv).

2. On Career (and the distinction between it and creativity): “Creativity is connected to your passion…Career is the thing that will fill you up and never make you truly whole. Depending on your career is like eating cake for breakfast and wondering why you start crying an hour later…You have to care about your work but not about the result. You have to care about how good you are and how good you feel, but not about how good people think you are or how good people think you look…You will never climb Career Mountain and get to the top and shout, ‘I made it!’ You will rarely feel done or complete or even successful. Most people I know struggle with that complicated soup of feeling slighted on one hand and like a total fraud on the other. Our ego is a monster that loves to sit at the head of the table, and I have learned that my ego is just as rude and loud and hungry as everyone else’s. It doesn’t matter how much you get; you are left wanting more. Success is filled with MSG” (pg. 222-225).

3. On Self-Respect and Emotional Regulation: “When someone is being rude, abusing their power, or not respecting you, just call them out in a really obvious way. Say, ‘I can’t understand why you are being rude because you are the concierge and this is the part of the evening where the concierge helps me.’ Act like they are an actor who has forgotten what part they are playing. It brings the attention back to them and gives you a minute to calm down so you don’t do something silly like burst into tears or break their stupid f-ing glasses. Not that there is anything wrong with crying. It was Marlo Thomas and the Free to Be…You and Me gang who reminded us that ‘crying gets the sad out.’ It’s just that sometimes anger should just stay anger and tears can change anger to something else. However, if you do start crying in an argument and someone asks why, you can always say, ‘I’m just crying because of how wrong you are…’ I stomped upstairs and felt angry for about five minutes, and then I watched the anger travel through my body like a wave and leave. Emotions are like passing storms, and you have to remind yourself that it won’t rain forever. You just have to sit down and watch it pour outside and then peek your head out when it looks dry” (pg. 237-238).

Of course, I also loved reading about how she worked her way up, building an improv show, theater, and training center from scratch, in NY in the 90s.

And, it doesn’t hurt that she appeared in her first episode of SNL on September 29, 2001 – 13 days after turning 30.

Here she is in a performance given one week prior to the birth of her first son. Since then, she has had another baby, written and starred in a television show, received 15 Emmy nominations, co-hosted the Golden Globes, published a book, and produced Smart Girls at the Party, a digital series featuring young women, like Ruby the Feminist, who are “changing the world by being themselves.”


Sing it, sister.

To read about more women making critical contributions – even after age 30 – Follow me on twitter @shespoised or like She’s Poised on Facebook (and select Get Notifications from the drop down menu).

Categories: 30 Over 30

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