Sherri Shepherd: ‘Give yourself some slack’

Co-host of 'The View' promotes book in Decatur Saturday

“I have to get my kid on the bus. I’m tweeting. I’m running to work with my bra in my hand and no wig,” said Shepherd later that day. Even after she arrived at work, the frenzy didn’t end. “I’m at [The View] panel thinking about what am I going to say about the Carrie Prejean sex tape and I haven’t even formed an opinion yet?” she said. It’s the celebrity version of the life many busy women lead, and Shepherd decided to write a memoir/instructional manual to help them learn to give themselves a break.

Shepherd, who also stars in the Lifetime series “Sherri,” is in town today promoting the book, “Permission Slips: Every Woman’s Guide to Giving Herself a Break.” (Grand Central Publishing, $24.99). She discusses a range of subjects from religion (she struggled with her Jehovah’s Witness upbringing) to loving and marrying the wrong man to taking career risks. Shepherd uses her life as a road map to create the “permission slips” that all women need to write and subsequently use to forgive themselves.

We chatted a bit with Shepherd about the book and learning to live an imperfect life.

Q: Why did you want to write this book?

A: I wrote this book because I feel like as women we are always trying to hold it together and be the perfect wife, mother, friend, co-worker and inside we are truly a mess. We seem to be the nurturers of our home. It was easier in our moms’ day to hold it together. We have so much more to hold together. Even now there is the guilt. At the park, your child falls, a man goes, “Did you break an arm?” Women go, “Am I a bad mother? Is someone going to be mad at me?” We just carry a lot of guilt about not being a superwoman.

Q: What lesson have you learned as a 40-something that you wish you had learned a long time ago?

A: That it is OK to say no. When you are younger you don’t want to say no. You care about if people like you. I found out it’s amazing when you say no. People find a way to do what they have to do. I love being 42. You hit 40 and you are like, “Look, I don’t care.” At the end of the day, I have a 4-year-old I have to raise.

Q: In the book you talk about comedian Eddie Griffin advising you to “do it scared.” Do you still follow that today?

A: Everyday before I go out on “The View,” I feel like I’m going to throw up in my mouth because I don’t know where it is going to go. I don’t like debating, confronting or interrupting people ... and that is what I do every day. I don’t like to step out of my comfort zone, but when you do that wonderful things happen.

Q: Is it still hard for women to break into the world of comedy?

A: I think it is still very hard for females. I think people think women are not very funny. If you look at the late-night comedy shows, there are very few female writers.

Q: If women can only give themselves permission to do one thing, what should it be?

A: I think it would be permission to give yourself some slack. We can’t be perfect. The only person who was perfect died on the cross. We go through WWJD [What would Jesus do?], but it’s like, “What can I do?” Proverbs 31 messed me up for a while.

Event preview

Sherri Shepherd signs “Permission Slips: Every Woman’s Guide to Giving Herself a Break.” (Grand Central Publishing, $24.99), 2 p.m. (doors open at 1 p.m.), Saturday, Nov. 21. The Decatur Recreation Center. 231 Sycamore St., Decatur. 404-370-8450, extension 2225. www.georgiacenterforthebook.org .

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