Happy Valentine’s Day to those of you fortunate enough to have someone in your life who loves you and who allow you to love them back who may be close by, if not right next to you. Since the closest example I have to that these days is more than a thousand miles away, and since that person is dealing with some pressing issues of their own today, the best I can expect is perhaps the kind of reassuring sweet text that keeps me going on most days. Those of you who have someone a tad closer, as always, have my envy.
But this morning I woke up to yet two more devastating bits of news, after already enduring yet another series of relayed threats earlier in the day. In short order, in the last 24 hours here’s what I’ve learned:
— My ex is demanding money I don’t have by mid-morning, or else she will increase her demand by more than 600 per cent.
— The IRS is threatening to put a lien on me for a situation which my ex’s spite directly caused, and that after I have paid quite a bit of money to put them at bay as I’ve valiantly sought ways to earn enough to deal with them.
— My net worth this morning is less than zero; for at least the next 24 hours I’m overdrawn, nearly fully maxed out on credit and need some maintenance work on my car in order to get back to making even a little money. Oh, by the way, someone apparently side-swiped me in a parking lot, so the car looks more beaten up than it runs, and my insurance payment, also due this week, won’t cover that kind of detail.
— I’m still waiting on several full-time positions which I’ve recently applied for. but timing isn’t quite there, so I’m repeatedly told, so, approaching three years of this pas-de-deux with humanity, I’m still reduced to “I’ll keep you in mind”–because unlike some very special person who certainly doesn’t want to hear from me on Valentine’s Day, literally no one I know seems to know a soul who will actually hire me to work, at least not today.
But this particular news item that I woke up to put all of my own issues on the back burner. As Pamela McClintock and Abid Rahman of The Hollywood Reporter mournfully wrote:
Dave Hollis, former president of worldwide distribution at Disney’s movie studio and a motivational author, has died. He was 47.
A rep for Hollis’ family said he died peacefully Saturday night at his home outside Austin. No cause of death was provided, but his family said he had been hospitalized recently for heart problems.
A charismatic executive, Hollis led theatrical distribution at Disney from 2011-18 during an unprecedented winning streak for the studio. He played a key role in the relaunch of the Star Wars franchise, as well as the Avengers series, Frozen and Ryan Coogler’s blockbuster superhero film Black Panther (2018).
His loss to our industry was significant enough to warrant national media attention. But to me, Dave Hollis was simply a friend and colleague. And the commissioner of my longtime fantasy baseball league.
So when I saw an e-mail from his account in my inbox, amidst all else I was dealing with, I thought perhaps it was simply his announcing our homepage was open for and renewed for spring training and that we were about to begin the countdown to another season of drafting, snarking, trading and camaraderie with a few bucks at stake. I didn’t expect to read his obituary.
Our dealings were mostly virtual of late, as we know, it seems a great deal of my world has gone into lockdown. In Dave’s case, he actually relocated to Austin, Texas five years ago, where he and his stunning wife Rachel wound up after he chose to leave Disney followinh the Black Panther launch, and just before the company’s purchase of 20th Century FOX was to bring about change in his responsibilities. Dave would sometimes host draft parties in person at their beautiful home near the ocean, and Rachel could not have been more friendly or dutiful small-talking with us. She was young, vibrant, super-confident and, in Dave’s own words, he had “married upwards”.
You may know Rachel Hollis’ name as well, particularly if you’re a fan of self-help books and motivational speaking. As Leah Mulroney of THE LIST reported, Rachel became a bona fide celebrity herself—at first ,largely with Dave’s backing:
For a number of years, influencer, entrepreneur, and CEO Rachel Hollis has been catching the attention of over 1.5 million fans and followers. Her glossy photos, cheeky book titles such as “Girl, Wash Your Face” and “Girl, Stop Apologizing” have cultivated a cult-like following for the social media superstar, and she’s gone out of her way to include her fans in all of the ups and downs of her life. For more than a decade and a half, her now-ex husband, Dave Hollis, took center stage and their adoring fans were happy to follow along.
Hollis met her former partner after making a big move to Los Angeles, according to Netline, and dated for two years before officially tying the knot in 2004. The self proclaimed “high-end, stylish wedding planner” reported in the 2012 article for the Huffington Post that she doesn’t exactly look back fondly on the day, citing her use of decor and details that she would now consider to be tacky. While the plastic chairs and tulle accents she used may not be at the height of class and refinement in the world of wedding planning, it’s fair to say that focusing on the wedding details rather than the marriage might have been the first sign of trouble for the Hollises. However, the pair would stay married for 16 years, give birth to three children, and adopt a fourth, according to It’s Fine I’m Fine.
So it was understandable to us mere fantasy colleagues when Dave up and left Disney and, as the Hollywood Reporter story continued, he found his second career, intriguingly as a byproduct of hers:
Hollis surprised many in 2018 when he announced he was leaving Disney to relocate his family to Texas to run his then-wife Rachel Hollis’ company, home of podcasts, conferences and TV shows. Rachel Hollis is an author, motivational speaker and social influencer.
He revealed in his 2020 self-help book, Get Out of Your Own Way, that he had found himself morose, at odds with his wife and drinking too much toward the end of his Disney tenure. “There is something unbelievably liberating about owning the truth of my experience,” he told The Hollywood Reporter at the time.
The following year, he wrote a second self-help book, Built Through Courage: Face Your Fears to Live the Life You Were Meant For, that chronicled his difficult, public divorce and personal reckoning.
When my own life fell apart, I sought Dave out around the time his second book was about to be released. It was one of the only serious conversations I had with him, but for the purposes of this it was monumentally influential. In our brief Zoom call, Dave reminded me to pursue and express myself with passion as he had learned to do. Write a book, he urged. Start with a blog, A daily journal, if you will. With a handwriting like mine (I was genetically predisposed to having a doctor’s scrawl) a traditional diary was never an option. But blogging was certainly an option. Naturally, I sat on that fine idea for several months, but after a trip to Florida where an actual friend connected me with her friend in Chicago, I was able to scrape together enough money and support to launch this site.
So for those of you that look forward to–or despise- these musings, as well as its now almost-daily delivery, you have Dave Hollis to thank–or blame.
Dave expressed at the time that he and Rachel were still amicable, as I so yearned to be (and still do) with the person who I briefly shared a home with. I’ve never held out any hope for anything of the sort with my actual ex, but I was at least encouraged by Dave to try and forgive her. Let’s simply say that her actions over the ensuring months, most recently yesterday, have made that completely impossible.
And I kick myself for never following up with him again. Or even following his story. Because here’s what I learned about Dave and Rachel’s on-the-surface idyllic lives in the ensuing months, thanks to Rosemary Rossi and Ross A. Lincoln of THE WRAP:
And then in the summer of 2020, the Hollises announced they were divorcing. The contrast between the end of their marriage and the advice they’d given caused enormous controvery among their fans. And in 2021 their public image suffered more when both Rachel and Dave Hollis had some very public meltdowns.
In Dave Hollis’ case, in November 2021 he held an Instagram Live to promote his book, “Built Through Courage: Face Your Fears to Live the Life You Were Meant For” which had come out several weeks earlier. It turned into a full meltdown during which he berated his followers and demanded they purchase the book, and even spoked rudely to one of his daughters. He later apologized, but in early 2022 he pulled away from social media activity, and there were rumors he had entered rehab.
And Rachel’s private persona, as THE LIST added, revealed some even darker truths:
The downfall of motivational speaker Rachel Hollis was inevitable; her perfectly curated life that often came accompanied by a stream of cliched inspirational quotes created a persona that seemed almost unbelievable. And while constructing a fake reality hardly seems remarkable on social media, Hollis’ brand as a self-reliant #girlboss found itself in her numerous self-help books, a podcast and conferences – all preaching the message: “You, and only you, are ultimately responsible for how happy you are” (via Washington Post).
However, the toxic positivity in her rhetoric of “giving women the tools to change their lives”(via Instagram) was just a few controversies away from being refuted, as Hollis’ ignorance of her privilege as a white, rich woman couldn’t be ignored in 2021. The New York Times best-selling author of “Girl, Wash Your Face” posted a (now deleted) Instagram video that may have been the last straw for many of her fans.
In the video shared to Instagram, Rachel Hollis responded to a commenter who found her “unrelatable” after she mentioned having housekeeper “come twice a week to clean my toilets” and the influencer did not take it too well.
Someone commented and said ‘You are privileged AF.’ And I was like, ‘You’re right, I’m super freaking privileged. But also, I worked my ass off to have the money – to have someone come twice a week and clean my toilets,'” she said in the clip. Followers watched as she approached the hole she wouldn’t stop digging herself into, adding, “What is it about me that made you think I wanna be relatable?” It could be the fact that all of her books try to relate to her audience with cutesy anecdotes and revelations about herself (via Time).
“No sis, literally everything I do in my life is to live a life most people can’t relate to. Most people won’t work this hard. Most people won’t get up at 4 a.m. Most people won’t fail publicly again and again just to reach the top of the mountain,” she continued, finally coming to the conclusion, “Literally every woman I admire in history was unrelatable. If my life is relatable to most people, I’m doing it wrong.”
While the video was already tone-deaf, ignoring structural and racial privileges that helped her career, Hollis’ caption rubbed salt to the wound: “Harriet Tubman, [Ruth Bader Ginsburg], Marie Curie, Oprah Winfrey, Amelia Earhart, Frida [Kahlo], Malala Yousafzai, Wu Zetian… all Unrelatable AF. Happy Women’s History Month!”
Louiza Doran, an anti-racism educator called Hollis out for diminishing her housekeeper’s work to “cleans the toilet” as “the most disgusting capitalistic, privileged flex that was so quick, but it said so much about how she as a human being views the power dynamic and the social hierarchy,” on her Instagram Live. It wasn’t a widely contested view as Twitter agreed vehemently, leading to the unrelatable girl boss losing 100,000 followers in the aftermath (via The New York Times).
But like Hollis likes to remind people, she has failed publicly many times, “again and again just to reach the top of the mountain.”
She’s been accused of plagiarizing inspirational quotes, including a line from Maya Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise” (via BuzzFeed), which she again blamed her team. Her “Rise Together” couples conference was a culmination of the hundreds of happy Instagram posts Hollis posted with her husband, Dave. The conference for women and couples marketed her and her husband as relationship pros, offering “some tangible advice for improving their relationship.” Attendees paid $1,800 to hear from them and possibly save their marriages, only to find Rachel and Dave divorcing two years after. Ironically, she denounced pseudo happy couples in a 2019 leadership conference (via YouTube).
Dave did find another love, albeit briefly, and as THE LIST article concluded, Rachel has also unsurprisingly been doing well in that aspect of life.
In June of 2021, Rachel Hollis reportedly signed up for a dating app to find some new people to hang out with, according to HITC. In a recent Youtube video, Rachel Hollis explained that one of those friends had evolved into something a bit more than friendship. Though she has not confirmed the identity of her new beau, she has described him as “really attractive” and appears happy about this new relationship.
And, let’s face it, on paper she’s still quite a catch. But she will also now be raising those four beautiful children without their father. And I”ll never have the chance to ask him for any further advice, either on which middle infielder to draft or what I can possibly do on a day like today to stay positive.
So much for what people choose to see when they only look on the surface. So much for trying to hide one’s feelings. So much for being uncomfortable, As the Hollises’ lives have proven, there’s often much, much more to a story than meets the eye.
The best I can possibly do on a day like today is to honor Dave’s memory and continue to try and try and try and try for fairness, justice and salvation. And to simply put into a concise short lost what I TRULY want isn’t all that difficult to express:
- I want a real job. Something that pays me enough to actually develop a real plan with real helpers who really know how to achieve resolution. Not merely those who only offer well wishes. Well wishes won’t make the IRS go away. Nor will it make my one time housemate any more receptive to allowing me to be grateful. I”m DAMN GOOD at what I do, and my track record PROVES IT.
- I want a little bit of financial help to merely allow me to continue to exist. I have put up the link below several previous times, and each time I’ve been chastised by those who claim to know better that it’s self-destructive, yet the overwhelming majority of those who have done that haven’t offered me a single penny for actual need. I’ll put it up AGAIN today, since I’m REALLY FREAKED OUT with the overdraft notice. Especially on a day when my ex is quite likey literally chortling with glee to join the IRS in pursuing my incarceration, and considering how my lawyer is responding to my pleas for sanity and the rate he’s billing me at, I kinda think he’s laughing at me too (And, frankly, I’m not all that sure many of you aren’t laughing as well).
- I want RESPECT for what I BELIEVE. Who I choose to help. Who I choose to believe. What deity I choose to follow. What makes me happy. What motivates me. If any woke person demands I understand their POV one more time, especially today, I’m gonna scream as loudly as I ever have–and those of you that know me know that can be alarming. I’m exhausted from explaining myself. I’m literally shaking with frustration at how difficult it is to simply get someone to find even a few minutes in their busy lives to simply to give a crap about following up on the process of an interview, a promised return phone call, or even a god-damn text. Ghosting is all too regular in my life. A LIKE ON SOCIAL MEDIA IS NOT AN INTERACTION!!!!
- I want actual, real, tangible, pro bono legal advice to deal with my overwhelming issues. Someone, someone, SOMEONE HASSSSS to know SOMEONE who will not rip me off or scam me!!!! SOMEONE HAS TO BE ABLE TO HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I’m exceptionally well aware that typing in all caps is considered to be rude AF. I typically don’t. But it’s Valentine’s Day, I’m completely broke, I’m alone and my inspirational millionaire friend is dead. Cut me a shred of slack?
I’m still alive, unlike Dave Hollis. I suffered plenty, but apparently he suffered too, and paid the ultimate price. Even he was drawn in by someone beautiful, a believer and seemingly perfect, as I was (and to an extent still am). I really can’t believe that his choices drove him to actions that ultimately compromised his health in some way beyond his control. I’m in the best physical shape of my life, and I can’t seem to share my joy with anyone on anything more than a hopelessly infreqent basis.
I’m heartbroken I was too self-centered and selfish to check in on Dave. I’ll never have the chance beyond here to apologize. You can still apologize to me if any of this whatsoever resonates with you. Again, I’ll remind you of the link below. But, honestly, I’d much, much MUCH rather earn my way out of my despair and debt and back into your good graces. And still hope against hope some day, before I wind up like Dave, the two people who I’m certain would have preferred to read MY obituary today give me some relief from my anguish.
I wish that wish weren’t as much of a fantasy as our baseball league was, or my ability to be competitive in it weren’t pure folly. But that’s life. And, like it or not, I’m still in it.
Any reaction whatsoever to this would be especially wonderful today. Please. Be My Valentine?
Until next time…