I did something I haven’t done in a while.
I listened to an entire podcast in one weekend.
Six episodes. Six hours. One highly entertaining and productive weekend.
Missing Richard Simmons.
Yes, you read that right: Richard Simmons. As in, the eccentric, bedazzled tank-wearing exercise guru that made a killing through home dance workout videos in the 90s.
I’m not talking romantic.
I’m talking, I just loved his vibe.
I don’t know how it happened, but I somehow ended up with three Richard Simmons “Groovin’ Oldies” exercise videos with hallmark Richie sporting a jerry curl and purple sequined hot pants.
I’m gonna be honest, I think I felt a kindred spirit with Richard. His effervescence matched my goofy side. And I loved it.
I could still bust out the choreography if the right Aretha Franklin tune came on, complete with “sparkle hands” and high kicks.
So, obviously this podcast piqued my interest.
You see, Richard Simmons has been missing since 2014. He disappeared. Hasn’t been seen or heard from. And so this podcast set out to find him.
They interviewed his house keeper, and his friends. Dove into his past, and got all up into his personal life – including his nearly 2-year stint at a Catholic seminary, his battle with obesity, and then bulimia and other eating disorders. They played old interviews from various talk shows, where we could hear him talk about his struggles with his weight, and his life in isolation from friends.
It was all very…voyeuristic, I’d say. Entertaining, yes. But it was just a little too personal. A little too creepy. Especially since Richard didn’t sign up to have his life scrutinized.
What bothered me the most, was that all the dirt the narrator was uncovering, all the skeletons in Richard’s closet that he was exposing, sure it may have made for riveting podcast material, but at the end of the day, that wasn’t his story to tell. It was Richard’s. And only Richard’s.
It was really eye opening to listen to this podcast while I’m revising the manuscript for my book about, well, the literal skeletons in my own closet. And how, a person’s story is sacred. It’s their life. What they’ve been through. Overcome. The times they’re fallen, and the moments of strife — those aren’t fodder for some edgy storyline. They’re the challenges and the difficulties that have shaped a life.
And Richard, I’m sorry that I listened to your story, without your permission.
Because the truth is, a person’s story is worth telling…but only if and when that person wants to share it.
I know I’ve recklessly shared a lot of really personal things on this blog, and coming up, I’ll be taking that even a step further, but the difference is, I’m choosing to.
I’m putting it all out there with the hope that perhaps one girl who is suffering from an eating disorder might find help. Hope. Comfort, knowing that she’s not alone.
Richard didn’t ask to have his life put on display for the world to judge. That’s his story. His journey. And his information to share.
I will just leave you with this:
Richard Simmons fought a lot of demons in his life. He was tormented by a lot of things that could have led to his demise. But you know what? He didn’t let it.
He turned his life around and created incredible positivity from pain. Beauty from ashes.
And sure, people can jab and laugh at his eccentric outfits and goofy dance moves and silly persona, but at the end of the day, he not only changed his own life, but he helped millions and millions of people turn their lives around too.
So Richard, thank you for the incredibly positive impact you’ve made, truly for the whole world. And I hope that wherever you are, you are okay.
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