cheryl strayed

Last week, for a girls’ night out, I spent an evening with Cheryl Strayed.  Well, I spent an evening listening to her speak.  You probably remember my excitement when I heard that Reese Witherspoon was producing and starring in the movie Wild, based on Cheryl’s book.  I saw the movie on the day it opened.  And loved watching Reese, Cheryl and Laura Dern walk the red carpet for premiers and award shows! {Whoa, with all those posts you might say I am a little obsessed.  I swear -I don’t stalk!}

She spoke to a packed house at Benaroya Hall.  How about some highlights?

1.  She shared that she waited almost a decade to write about her trek on the Pacific Crest Trail because she didn’t have anything to write until that time.  She didn’t want the book just to be about her.  Instead, she wanted the book to be less about her time walking and more about what makes us all human.  Those things that connect us all.

2.  Her book editor asked her to edit out her pre-hike sexual encounters with women. Maybe a bit too edgy??

3.  Cheryl dreamed of being a writer as a young girl.  She was fascinated by the magic you could create with a sentence.

4.  The advice Reese Witherspoon gave her about delivering her {one} line in the movie?  “Don’t f*ck it up.” 

5.  She would one day like to hike the PCT with her husband and children.  She wants her kids to be a little older so they can carry their own gear.  Or she would take a llama. Pack animals are allowed on the trail.

6.  No matter how hard she tried, she realized she was incapable of ruining her life.  She finally decided she needed to something big.  Something physical.  She needed to do this to become the person her mother had raised. So, she hiked the Pacific Crest Trail.

At the conclusion of  speaking individually {and successfully having the entire hall in tears} she sat with a moderator and answered questions from the audience.  Guess, what?  She answered my question!  I asked her, “While reading your book, I was struck by your encounters with strangers and their kindness.  Can you speak to this and how it effected your journey on the PCT?”  Her answer included thoughts about the kindness of strangers after her mother’s death.  How people she didn’t know showed up to help in big and small ways.  This is the mid-west way.  She added that the strangers she met on the trail helped her immeasurably and they are out there every year.  The good is out there.  Go find it!

PS:  I really wanted to ask her about the red carpet and the 411 on Hollywood secrets.  I decided against it because I was certain it wasn’t “literary” enough for the audience.

PPS:  She admitted the ability to love her children and hate them in the exact same moment.  OMG, I think I want to be her best friend!

PPPS:   Anyone who can speak in front of 2,000+ people and drop F bombs all night-is all right in my book!



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  1. PIper Henry says:

    What an amazing night Denise!

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