Elizabeth Taylor: A Passion for Life – Wisdom & Fluff

“I believe people are like rocks formed by the weather. We’re formed by experience, by heartache, by grief,  by mistakes, by guilt, by shame–all the things that psychiatrists would like to take off your shoulders. But how do you become a full-fledged human being without taking the burn head-on?” – Elizabeth Taylor 

On the surface, Elizabeth Taylor: A Passion for Life by Joseph Papa looks… light, airy… a little heavy on the fluff.

The cover is glossy with a beautiful photo of Taylor wrapped in ivory silk. The inside is part memoir… and a whole bunch of quotes, a few stories written in larger-than-average type, photos and just a hint of lavender (the color, not the scent). If you’re a mega-fan of Taylor or just an admirer, you’ll appreciate this little gem. If not, move along, nothing to see here. Although, that’s too harsh. There is wisdom to be gleaned in this little book, as there is in many books… and relationships, situations and places – often when you least expect it! – if you’re keeping your eyes open!

Look again at the quote above, found on page 160 in a section on “Challenges”. We’ve talked a lot about guilt and shame in this space… what do you think about her take on it? It seems to me that she’s saying we need it, to learn and grow. What she’s NOT saying is to carry it, shroud yourself in it, let it weigh you down for, say, ever. No, instead she says, “Face it head-on. Process it. Then, move along.” Wise words, me thinks!

I do not pretend to be an expert on Elizabeth Taylor or what she went through in her life. I remember her marriages, of course, and her friendship with Michael Jackson.  I also remember that in the last years of her life, she suffered with extreme physical pain. I learned nothing new about her in this book. But then, it is not that kind of book.

Actually, this is the kind of book that may appeal to you if you’re a Liz fan and also like to take your self-help in small, palatable doses, packaged nicely and surrounded by pretty pictures. It would also make a great gift for the Liz fan in your life. (Or, okay, it would make a neat bathroom book. Not that I’m suggesting. Ahem.)

Hey! This quote also caught my eye: My motto has always been to be true to myself, whether it pleases others or not. 

If we listened to this one thing, our lives would be so much easier. Well, maybe not. Sometimes, doing the true (or right) thing is far more difficult than we expect. Anything but easy. Stepping away from a relationship that no longer serves us, or leaving a job, or saying no even when we know someone we care about will be disappointed… I think it comes back to what I talked about just the other day: Boundaries. Being true to yourself will probably mean setting boundaries… and that ain’t easy… especially if you’re just beginning to draw lines in the sand (or cement). I say it that way because I used to draw lines in the sand and then a strong gust of wind would blow over and *poof* the line was gone, along with my boundary.  Now, I draw them in cement, whenever feasible and possible. I don’t want any misunderstandings. Ah, but this isn’t about me. (Ha!)

I really liked this little book. I found a quiet loveliness about it and some wisdom, too.

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