‘Girl, Wash Your Face’ writer Rachel Hol­lis ready for more

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - LIVING - By Leanne Italie The As­so­ci­ated Press

How to kick butt at the of­fice. How to kick butt as a par­ent. How to kick butt, so to speak, in your mar­riage.

There’s no short­age of books, pod­casts, blogs and so­cial streams of peo­ple dis­pens­ing ad­vice, mo­ti­va­tion, home tips and the idea that per­sonal growth, hap­pi­ness and health can be achieved if one just fol­lows and be­lieves. So what’s a life guru to do? Well, write a book that lands at the top of just about ev­ery best-seller list, for starters. Love her or trash her, Rachel Hol­lis has done just that with “Girl, Wash Your Face,” a col­lec­tion of lies she once told her­self and how she turned them around.

Hol­lis, 35, is the lit­tle en­gine that could as she reaches for more ev­ery day of her life, mostly from the ru­ral spread on the out­skirts of Austin, Texas, that she shares with her newly minted busi­ness part­ner and hus­band of 14 years, Dave Hol­lis, their four kids and a mini schnau­zer named Jef­frey.

The Hol­lises do more than sit home in Austin. They run, a lot. They blast out livestreams. A lot. They record pod­casts in their closet and or­ga­nize life-af­firm­ing con­fer­ences for mostly fe­male au­di­ences who cheer and scrib­ble their dreams on pa­per as Rachel waves her arms and jumps around on a stage, urg­ing them on.

The Hol­lises drink wa­ter, a lot (half their body weight in wa­ter a day) and want you to do the same, per­haps while you’re fol­low­ing Rachel’s lead on prep­ping healthy meals and snacks for your­self and your kids, train­ing for a half-marathon and si­mul­ta­ne­ously writ­ing a new book and pro­mot­ing the last one at the same time.

Th­ese two are Made for More, one of their slo­gans, and they’re just about the cutest duo work­ing in the space to­day, whether you can make it hap­pen for your­self or not.

Rachel’s “Girl, Wash Your Face,” from the Chris­tian im­print Thomas Nel­son, was re­leased in Fe­bru­ary. It just passed the mil­lion-sold mark af­ter a slow start, climb­ing its way up the lists through word of mouth. She doesn’t hold back, de­scrib­ing the sui­cide of her brother when they were teens, her tense child­hood as the daugh­ter of a Pen­te­costal preacher in the sticks of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia (yes, there are sticks) and the some­times de­bil­i­tat­ing anx­i­ety that has plagued her through the years.

She hops on In­sta­gram to greet her “tribe” be­fore cof­fee, jokes about her hair and eye­lash ex­ten­sions and deals with her young brood while en­gag­ing fans, chid­ing one of her three boys to stop pee­ing in the yard, for in­stance, or laugh­ing as her kitchen knife gets stuck in a squash on cam­era.

Where did Hol­lis come from? Well, Weed­patch, Cal­i­for­nia, of “The Grapes of Wrath” fame, in the be­gin­ning, with a move to Los Angeles to make her dreams come true at age 17. Hol­lis, 43-year-old Dave and their kids de­camped to Austin last year to get more bang for their busi­ness buck, buy­ing an old church they’re con­vert­ing into of­fice space.

So how does one go from food blog­ger to event plan­ner to run­ning a life­styles site to best-sell­ing writer?

“What sets this book apart is — this sounds so lame to say — is my voice. I’m not an ex­pert. I’m not a guru. Any­thing I’ve ever done, the work I’ve done, has al­ways been like your girl­friend telling you what worked for her,” Hol­lis said. “Even as a food blog­ger, which is how I got started, I was just telling what worked for me. ‘Hey, this is the casse­role I made that got my kids to eat din­ner the other night.’”

Over the years, her con­tent changed as she “evolved as a woman,” as her boys — now 11, 10 and 6 — grew out of tod­dler­hood (the cou­ple also has an adopted 18-month-old daugh­ter) and as she re­al­ized she needed to fix the things wrong in her life.

“I was hav­ing mas­sive anx­i­ety at­tacks. I was abus­ing al­co­hol. I was mak­ing re­ally poor choices, and I thought, gosh, I don’t want to go through the rest of my life like this,” she said. “I want to get con­trol, so I started to do ther­apy and I started to read books and I started to lis­ten to pod­casts. I was like a sponge for this in­for­ma­tion.”

Rachel is not Gwyneth. While an ad­mirer of all things Pin­ter­est per­fect, she is not in­ter­ested in putting a Goop gloss on who she is and what she says. She slams back her cof­fee like a boss (dos­ing it with cin­na­mon af­ter she gave up milk and sugar), ad­mits to yelling at her kids (not so much any­more) and thor­oughly ap­pre­ci­ates the taco joint near

their Texas home.

So where does Dave fit into all of this? Well, he’s got a tat­too that reads “Ally,” to go with the one his wife al­ready had, “Mogul.” He was head of dis­tri­bu­tion for Dis­ney, where Dreams are of­fi­cially Made, for seven years and worked there for 17, un­til he rec­og­nized he was in a cor­po­rate rut while Rachel was home reach­ing for more.

“I fi­nally one day said, ‘Fine, I don’t trust it. I think that there’s some snake oil in this per­sonal de­vel­op­ment space but it’s worked for you. I have to at least see what it’s about,’” he said.

Rachel’s lifestyle blog, The Chic Site, is where she truly be­gan build­ing a fol­low­ing. Her “Girl, Wash Your Face” is her sev­enth book, if you count a novella of long ago. She has crossed gen­res, from a novel about three young women mak­ing their way in Los Angeles, with two fol­low ups, to a cook­book and soon, “Girl, Stop Apol­o­giz­ing,” out in March.

As pod­casts have taken hold again, the Hol­lises have scored there, too. Rachel started alone with “Rise,” but as the two have be­come a self-help power cou­ple, they’ve added “Rise To­gether” to fo­cus on mar­riage. Both pod­casts have made it into the Top 10 on iTunes. They’ve also made a feature-length doc­u­men­tary, “Made for More,” about last year’s “Rise” con­fer­ence. The film was a Fathom event shown for two nights in the­aters ear­lier this year that sold 100,000-plus tick­ets around the coun­try.

This new life, Dave said, “feels like a call­ing,” and if that sounds like God talk, it is. Th­ese are peo­ple of faith who are unashamed but not ter­ri­bly Bi­ble-thumpy as they dis­pense the self-help that has worked for them, both as in­di­vid­u­als and as a cou­ple.

“Mogul” re­mains Rachel’s power word, just as “Ally” does for Dave.

“I refuse to live as half of my­self just be­cause you can’t han­dle all of me,” Rachel said. “I have a high school diploma. When I started out I was not well con­nected. I didn’t know any­body. I didn’t have the skill. I didn’t have any­thing. I’m self-taught in ev­ery re­spect. That’s why the word, to me, was so pow­er­ful.”

(Thomas Nel­son via AP)

This cover image re­leased by Thomas Nel­son shows “Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Be­liev­ing the Lies About Who You Are so You Can Be­come Who You Were Meant to Be,” by Rachel Hol­lis.

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