I was stoked to preroder copies of In a Heartbeat: Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving by Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy for my mom and I. The Blind Side touched me so deeply the first time I saw it (and the second… and third… and fourth… and fifth… and six… Yes, I saw it six times in the theater.). I was also so touched when I heard Sandra Bullock’s acceptance speech for her Best Actress award, especially when she said, “For the moms that take care of the babies and the children, no matter where they come from. Thank you.” I posted that on my mom’s facebook and her response was “I’d do it again in a heartbeat.” So when I saw the title of the book, I took it as a sign that I was meant to read it. I’ve read The Blind Side, and I’ve seen the movie several times since it was released on DVD, and there is still something that makes it the most powerful movie I have ever seen. So I was excited to read this book. It came out yesterday, but since I preordered in online I got it today. I was so excited when the UPS man rang the doorbell. I started reading about 7 pm, and now it’s 12:18 am the next day… so yes, I read this book straight through in five hours.
I always get a little nervous about reading memoirs. I mean, you’ve got normal memoirs, and then there are literary memoirs, like the stuff Mary Karr writes. Now, don’t get my wrong. I love Mary Karr. Cherry was one of the pivotal reads of my last semester of college, and more recently, I enjoyed Lit as well. But I certainly wasn’t expecting IaH to be anything like Cherry or Lit. For one thing, the Tuohys are not trained writers. And that’s where I get nervous. I have read some really, really, really bad memoirs, and I was so hoping that I would be impressed by IaH. Turns out I needn’t’ve worried, because it was fantastic.
Now, I’m going to digress slightly here and say that I just about died when I got to page 138 and they told the starfish story. If you know me at all, you know that I endured not one, but two hour-long sessions with a tattoo guy to have this little piece of artwork put on my body (my left foot) forever when I graduated college in 2008.
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but I also own three starfish necklaces, a starfish lapel pin, a starfish poster in my office at work, a starfish fruit bowl, and a starfish paperweight I keep in my office. Needless to say, the starfish is a very important symbol in my life. So I pretty much took this as another sign, preceded by the title of the book, that it was a read meant for me.
This book wasn’t the same quality of writing as Cherry. That’s not to say it’s better or worse, just different. The Tuohys are not Mary Karr, but what I love about them is that there are no pretenses that they are. They’re just Leigh Anne and Sean, and their kids are Collins, SJ, and Michael, and you can take them or leave them. Their family comes across as so read and relateable in IaH. (Also, Leigh Anne Tuohy is basically the southern version of my mom.) And their premise is simple: give what you can cheerfully, because when it’s all said and done, what’s “yours” is never really yours to begin with — it’s His. I love this book not because of its complicated syntax or its use of simile. No, I love it because it’s quite simple, and it’s about sharing what we have been blessed with. Just the other day, I was telling a friend I would give her money to go see a doctor (she doesn’t have insurance and had a terrible spider bite). She said “You’re sweet, but I can’t take your money.” I replied, “K, I would not offer if I didn’t mean it. God didn’t bless me with my paycheck so I could roll around in money, hoarding my riches. There’s no point in keeping it if it has the ability to bless others in return.” That’s the heart of this book, and it served as a reminder to me that there is power in giving cheerfully, expecting nothing in return.
If someone asked me right now who the one person I want to meet most, I would truthfully answer Leigh Anne Tuohy. Surely I could name a long list of other people who I’d love to meet (let’s face it, we all know my undying love for Celine Dion), but I and so drawn to the Tuohy’s generous, caring spirit that I would sacrifice a meet-n-greet with Celine for a meeting with Leigh Anne. I hope someday I can work directly with their foundation, the Making It Happen Foundation. I’ve been in Michael’s shoes. I know what a life-saving difference the love of adults who didn’t have to care made in my life, and I was to cheerfully, joyfully, exuberantly give whatever it is that I can to others.
I am so inspired!
My own Blind Side: