The book that changed my life...

posted on: Thursday, 2 May 2019

I went back and forth on the title of this post for a while. I wondered if my wording wasn't too strong. I thought people might think I was being dramatic in stating that a book changed my life. I worried that maybe it might seem to click bait-like or that it wouldn't be taken seriously. But, as many times as I tried to change it, I always came back to "The book that changed my life," because that's exactly what it did. There's no exaggerating with that statement. If there was one book I could put in the hands of my younger self, over and over again, it would be this one. And I will be forever grateful for the woman that put it in mine. But, let's take a step back here. How did Lynn Grabhorn's Excuse me, your life is waiting, find it's way into my hands and why do you need to read this book right now? Read on dear reader. 

Just to give some quick context here, I'm an American living in London. I moved here in 2002 and let's just say this homebody was not prepared for the homesickness that would accompany such a decision. With my career in the arts, here in London, taking off, it would appear to every person looking in that I had a pretty amazing life across the pond. To be honest, I did a damn good job of making sure everyone knew that as well. On Facebook all my posts were upbeat and showy, like the life of a 23 year old should be right? I know we've heard this song and dance a thousand times before - happy on the outside, miserable on the inside. It seems to be a common theme these days. Back in early 2000s, we weren't as open about mental health then as we are now. So, I suffered in silence for a bit, letting my anxiety get the better of me and finally allowing it to drive me into a dark place I was pretty sure I wasn't coming out of without the help of some good meds. 

I marched myself down to my GP in London and I asked for a psych referral. I was referred to a psychologist's office and had an appointment in two weeks' time on a Friday morning. On approach to the date, it was life as usual. Oh, the life of a twenty year old. Looking back, I'm pretty sure my state of mind problem was a mix of too much alcohol and a clear lack of vision for where my life was going. The two made for some murky waters. The Thursday night before the Friday appointment I found myself in a bar, in Soho, and talking to a bunch of friends of friends. I met a girl who had spent a number of years in the USA as a kid and was now over working in the UK, in Hampstead. At the time I didn't think to ask her what she did. We were just out, having a great time and she was the older sister of a good friend and that was that. 

The next morning, I woke up, slightly hungover, and walked to the doctor's office. When I opened the door to the psychologist's office, guess who was staring back at me? Yup, the older sister of the friend. She smiled as I opened the door and said, "I was wondering what the chances were that this would be the same Emily Johnston." At first, I was embarrassed. I'd just been sharing shots with this professional, who I was hoping was going to fix all my broken parts, the night before. I think she could tell that I was momentarily at a loss for words. "Don't worry," she said. "Just think of it as the fact that we've skipped ahead in the greeting." I laughed, sat down and began explaining to her everything I was feeling. I did relax pretty quickly and she did a good job of listening to what then felt like some pretty superficial problems. I finished with, "...and I guess that's about all of it," and she stood up and walked over to her book shelf. When she came back, with a yellow paperback in hand, she said, "I've got just the thing."

In the next five minutes the good doctor explained that she knew I was coming from a place where most doctors hand out anti-depressants like candy (and they do in the USA, no doubt about that... but I absolutely agree that they are needed for so many people, so please don't think I am placing any judgement here). Clearly, I was there to get some medical help and I did expect that would be handed out in the form of a prescription. She then said she wanted me to try something before we went down a medicated solution. That's when the book made its appearance. She handed me Lynn Grabhorn Excuse me, your life is waiting. She told me to go home and read it over the next week. Depending on how I felt, she would see me again if I needed it in two weeks. But, my clear instructions were to sink my teeth into a paperback for help first. I went away pissed off. I'm not going to lie. What the hell would a book do to help me crying myself to sleep at night? I couldn't think of anything more ridiculous. 

That night, after work, I came home and watched some TV, ate a frozen pizza and crashed into bed for the night. When I looked across the room, my brown leather bag was sitting next to the door and I caught sight of the yellow paperback peeking over the top handle. What the hell could I lose? I opened it to the first page. The dedication read, "To every one of us... who finally...maybe...possibly...believes they have the right to perpetual happiness, beginning now." I hadn't made it past the dedication page and I was crying. That sentence may not mean anything to you, but to me it struck a chord in that moment and I kept reading. 

Chapter one is titled "How we got in this mess" and it begins, "How do we get what we get in life? Why do some people seem to have it all while others suffer so?" It goes on to talk about positive-thinking books and why this one is different. I mean, hell, it's marketed as a positive thinking book, so even I was wondering, at the time, what made it so special. And I wish I could tell you an exact reason why it's different. I wish I could say it is x, y and z, and that's why you need to buy it right now, but it won't work. I know because I've tried it before. It turns out I'm rubbish at selling this book. I've given it to every single one of my friends who's been going through a tough time. I've assured them it's life changing, as it will teach you all about positive thinking and will take you down a path you never even thought was possible. Each and every time I get an eye roll. And each and every time my friends take the book and forget about it, until they don't. And when they don't, when they finally pick it up, I get a call saying, "you are rubbish at explaining why this book is so important, but I couldn't be more thankful that you gave it to me." I kid you not. Every time. 

So, I thought it was time I finally pay it forward to you, dear FFG reader, after all of these years. This is my secret weapon. And you can go ahead and eye roll. I can feel it coming on. But, you need to buy it, you need to digest it and you need to believe in its power. Or you can ignore all of this and just move on in your merry life. But, I will forever be thankful to that mental health professional who saw a young woman that was suffering and offered her the ultimate tool for assistance and success. And here's the craziest part of all, when it comes to this book. Back when I finished the book and was practicing all the tools it had taught me, I wrote something at the top of one of my journals as I was doodling one night. On one line I wrote, "the world of fashion" and underneath it I wrote, "fashion foie gras" and drew a goose in heels. I had no clue what the heck I was doing or what I was writing. I had just read a chapter talking about projecting and I knew I wanted to work in the world of fashion one day, so I wrote it down. The name Fashion Foie Gras is a whole different tale. But, there it was. And here we are. That isn't to be used as proof, it's just to say that this booked changed my life. So it's not proof, it's just a perfectly reasonable explanation for why this post gets the title it does. 

If you are going through a tough time at all, or just need a bit of a pick me up, please give this book a go. Go to your local bookshop today and grab it. 

Lynn Grabhorn's Excuse me, your life is waiting (linked to Amazon for those wishing to purchase online... no pressure... DO IT!)