I normally haven’t got time to read about the trials and tribulations of A-list celebrities. I never read Hello, give the National Enquirer a wide berth, and never, ever, never pick up a so called (ghost written) celebrity "autobiography". Never, ever, never till I threw "Burnt Toast" into my basket in Borders.
Oh how I love Teri Hatcher. I didn’t wanna. I
really didn’t wanna. But how I love her ditsy, silly, delightful
philosophies on life. Her all too familiar anxieties, aches, teeny joys
and total, utter commitment to her little girl. Read the exerpt below
and tell me she isn’t me. She isn’t you. She isn’t all of us…
"Toast. Think about it for a moment. It
probably has the simplest recipe in the world: one ingredient, one
instruction. Still, you know when you’re trying to make it and you just
can’t get it right? It’s too light or too soft, then…totally burnt.
Charred in a matter of seconds, now it’s more like a brick than a piece
of toast. So what do you do? Are you the kind of person who tries to
scrape off the black? Or do you smother it with jam to hide the taste?
Do you throw it away, or do you just eat it? If you shrug and eat the
toast, is it because you’re willing to settle for less? Maybe you don’t
want to be wasteful, but if you go ahead and eat that blackened square
of bread, then what you’re really saying, to yourself and to the world,
is that the piece of bread is worth more than your own satisfaction.
til now, I ate the burnt toast. I learned that from my mother,
metaphorically if not literally. I can’t actually remember if she even
likes toast or how she eats it. But what I know for sure is that
although she was a loving and devoted wife and mother, she always took
care of everyone and everything else before herself. This habitual
self-sacrifice was well intended, but ultimately it’s a mixed message
for a child. It taught me that in order for me to succeed, someone else
had to suffer. I learned to accept whatever was in front of me without
complaint because I didn’t think I deserved good things.
toast bread just fine. I don’t know about you, but my toaster only has
one button. It’s a no-brainer. And still, I’ve been eating that
metaphoric burnt toast all my life, and I think other people do too.
Then I hit forty. Jules Renard said, "We don’t understand life any
better at forty than at twenty, but we know it and admit it."
Admitting that there were things I still needed to figure out made me
see this new decade as a chance to reconsider some of my behaviors. Did
I really want to spend another ten years this way? The easy answer: no.
The harder realization was that in order to change, I needed to stop
eating the burnt toast. I had to be done anticipating failure. I had to
be done feeling like I didn’t deserve good things, tasty things. And I
was. I decided I was too old to continue this way. I didn’t want to do
it anymore, and I don’t want other people to do it either. There is a
way for us to value ourselves without taking away from anyone else. We
should settle for nothing less than being good to ourselves and others.
But it’s hard to break old habits. You can make a new piece of toast in
a couple minutes, but happiness takes work. That’s why I wrote this
book. It’s my wacky, serious, skittish, heartfelt attempt to share my
jagged route to happiness with other people like me.
small and simple, and maybe eating a lousy piece of it doesn’t seem
like the worst thing in the world. Agreed. I can think of far worse
things. But this isn’t a book about surviving worst-case scenarios.
It’s about weathering the small challenges that we encounter every day.
This scar that I have on my left shin might give you an idea of what
I’m talking about. I got it when I was at the beach with my daughter,
Emerson Rose. It was the first morning of our trip, and Emerson and I
spent it playing in the sand and walking along the beach. In front of
our hotel, about fifteen feet off the shore in a calm area of the
ocean, there was a floating trampoline. Pretty cool, huh? I’d never
seen that before. It looked like it was intended to be fun, but was it
something I really wanted to do? Not so much. I didn’t want to be
bouncing around in front of the whole beach in my less-than-supportive
bikini. Nor did I want to plunge into the deep, dark ocean to swim out
to the trampoline. Wading was just fine with me. Before I was a mother,
I wouldn’t have gone near something like that. But I am a mother now,
and I could see that Emerson was afraid, but curious. As a single mom I
find myself in this situation a lot, there’s some adventure that
doesn’t appeal to me, but there’s no one I can turn to and say, "Your
turn, honey. Take Emerson out onto the trampoline."
We swam out
to the trampoline and bounced around for a while. Then Emerson wanted
to jump off, but she was scared. I said, "Oh sure, let’s do it. It’ll
be really fun. I’ll go first." You and I both know that I did not want
to jump off that trampoline. I was scared. But I don’t want to teach
that to her. I don’t want to project my overblown imaginative worries
onto her wide-eyed innocent hope. Now the thing about this floating
trampoline is that it wasn’t very bouncy, and what little bounce it had
was weird and off-kilter, so you couldn’t really plan your trajectory.
But my daughter was waiting and watching, so what could I do? I flew
off the trampoline into’a huge belly flop. A belly flop looks funny. It
even sounds funny. But I’m here to say: It’s. Not. Funny. My stomach,
my arms, my legs, all my skin burned. I was instantly red and tender
all over, but I didn’t want Emerson to see that I was in serious pain.
That wasn’t the lesson I wanted to teach. I knew she could do it and I
knew that she, unlike her aging mom, would be fine. So I popped my head
out of the water and said, "That was so fun! Give it a try." She
jumped straight off, loved it, of course, and did it again and again.
When we got back to the beach, I saw that I had a long cut on my leg
from the water (who knew that could happen?). Emerson noticed the
blood, and I shrugged it off with some stupid excuse. I was in agony,
but I didn1t want to cry in front of Emerson. Instead, I got a
rum-infused coconut beverage from the guy walking down the beach and
subtly iced my wound. Now I look at the scar on my leg and wonder if I
did the right thing. Should I have let Emerson know that I was hurt?
Should I have called over a (preferably cute) lifeguard for some first
aid? Why didn1t I do that? Why did I hide the truth about what was
going on with me? Did I do it for her or for me? Was I trying to be
cool or tough? There1s an emotional experience embedded in that scar.
There1s a lesson locked in it. I1m done making silent self-sacrifices.
I1m done hiding the truth. Here it is. Have at it.
I hope you’ll
discover as you read this book that vulnerability plays a key role in
my life. It 1s hard for me. I have trouble admitting that I need other
people. I’ve always tried to be honest about my fears and insecurities
and self-doubt. In my scrapbook from 1999 there’s a fortune-cookie
fortune that says, "Your luck has been completely changed today." But
you don’t change in a day. Just because you’re getting older or more
successful doesn’t mean you automatically grow as a human being. You
learn things when life presents you with an opportunity and you’re
ready to receive it.
When Desperate Housewives came along, I
was, like many an aging female actress in Hollywood, a big has-been.
I’ve made no secret of that. I never expected to get a second chance,
though I must have saved that fortune in hope that everything actually
could change overnight. When it did, when Desperate Housewives became a
hit, I suddenly had the job and security and affirmation that I!d given
up on long before." The lessons here are about how to forgive, love,
enjoy, and explore yourself as a woman. I’ve finally gotten to a place
where I’m easier on myself. I’m comfortable and happy being a mother.
Being in my body. Feeling sensual as a forty-year-old woman. Most of
the time. If you’ve ever felt like a spicy gumbo of fear and
confidence, despair and hope, desire and satisfaction, mother and
child, pretty and ugly, strong and weak, then keep listening. The
journey’s a whole lot easier if we take it together."
she be any more wonderful? I swear that by the end of her lovely take
on life, I just wanted to pick up the phone to her and go "I know!!"
. Not since Simple Abundance has a writers view of the world
resounded quite so strongly with me. Really. Perhaps it’s a
case of the right book at the right time. Or perhaps for all her
insecurities, Teri Hatchers greatest talent lies in speaking the truth
about all the injustices we are all too quick to serve upon ourselves.
With humour, wit, and moments of vulnerability that make you want to
I wish she was my bezzie mate, and trust me, you will
too. And together we shall stand with Teri, and say "No more burnt
No more bloody burnt toast. Promise?
Buy the book. Or see her talk about it with Bill Maher here…