God, Opinions, Our Forefathers, the Internet and MY Sandbox
My own personal version of, "Hi. Welcome to my blog."
Please excuse by tirade but...have some CLASS!
What happened to actually thinking about what you say, before you say it?
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
12:26 AM Shauna No comments
As a writer, most people think I write for (or about me). Here’s the truth: I don’t. For the last year, I have been keeping journals for myself and for some of the most amazing people in my life, that I write half way through. Then, I leave a blank page. My message on that page? "The rest is up to you."
When I go, whenever that may be, everyone in my life has a story book. If they are here to write it, that’s wonderful. If they aren’t, that’s okay too. I figure it’s a great gift to leave behind when I’m no longer here, or maybe even a gift to give when I realize they aren’t going to be for much longer. Why? Because none of us are promised tomorrow. Having lived through a fire that almost killed me, having lived through other circumstances that probably should have, I understand this on a very organic level. Do and say today whatever you can. Because a missed opportunity is something you could regret for a lifetime.
Not all stories in your life are meant to intermingle forever. Not all people in your life are forever people. As I got to talking with a friend tonight, I realized I had a few “forever” people in the mix, but those I’ve known for 20 or 30 years, those who know that (at my core) I have never really changed are still my forever people. For me, life is simple, it’s family first, always and forever. Those who understand that my loyalty will always be to my family and friends (and yes, my loyalty is fierce and demanding) also organically understand that my loyalty demands those who are friends --at least those who become friends -- be like family, and, understand that my loyalty is probably (notably) my one and only best quality.
What if you wrote a story about everyone in your life who means the most to you right now? Where would you start? Where would you end? What do you choose to leave behind? Where would their blank page be? Imagine if you could give someone that. Imagine if you could hand your heart and soul in a bound leather booklet, halfway full of random scribbles. Imagine, just for a moment, how many lives you could change. Then, do it.
Friday, February 14, 2014
12:14 AM Shauna No comments
For those of you who don’t know, a Kuerig is supposed to be the best thing since sliced bread and pockets on jeans. It’s an instantaneous coffee cup maker that was designed to give you a single, perfectly brewed cup almost seconds after you press the brew button. But, today, my Kuerig taught me some valuable life lessons.
1. Not Ready
Recently, someone near and dear to me spoke about clocks; about how everyone is on their own; about how all anyone can do is plant seeds and wait for those seeds to take root and grow or wait for them to die before they ever reach their potential. How relevant is that to us as human beings?
Funny thing is, I don’t even remember turning it on (maybe my house is haunted), but when I walked in and out of the kitchen, I saw the “Not Ready” light blinking on my coffee pot. And it got me to thinking…The most glorious and wonderful things can happen to us when we are “Not Ready”, as can the most horrendous. It’s what we do with the ingredients that counts. Because if we wait until we are ready, we will wait for the rest of our lives. Why not just jump in and swim against the current? Why not do everything, say everything when we are not ready? Because we never really know when we are ready…until we do exactly what we think we aren’t ready to do.
2. Brewing Now
My coffee pot also always tells me that it is “brewing now”, but it is rarely often the “now” that I think it should be. Good things take the right amount of time, the right amount of nurturing, and (most importantly) more than just one right element. Several elements have to blend (quite seamlessly) for you to attain perfection. I must remember this. So must we all.
The descale feature on my coffee pot demands that the things of yesterday be cleansed to make way for the things of today. How poignant. How relevant. Yesterday has got to move aside if the future is ever going to take her proper place.
So, I guess you could say, everything I have ever learned in life, I learned from my coffee pot. Who knew?
Monday, February 10, 2014
10:44 PM Shauna 2 comments
Tonight, I had a very raw, open, honest conversation with my youngest daughter. We hashed out some things that desperately needed to be hashed out. And, as we got to talking, I asked her if she had done what I had told her to do. She cocked her head, in her inquisitive fashion – as she all too often does – and said, “What”? So, I reminded her.
Draw Your Life
My child is an interesting creature. An artist by nature, creativity flows through each and every pore of her soul. She is always drawing, always creating, always in a mode where she pushes herself to be the best, most amazing artist she can be. Honestly, what that kid can draw blows my mind.
For Christmas, one of the people I work with gave her an amazing gift: a sketchbook. But that sketchbook came with one caveat: she had to draw out her life as she wanted it to become. As she vetted her frustrations to me about where she is and where she is going (forward thinker as always), we talked about what she wanted. Finally, after an hour long heart to heart, she agreed to draw out her life… after I told her my story.
As a writer, lists make sense to me. As a merchant of the written word, as a smith of sentences, words are the most powerful weapon in my arsenal. So, I broke down, and I told her a secret, and it’s a secret that (I believe) will help anyone who reads this.
Two years ago, I wrote a list. I called that list my “Get out Plan”. This list outlined what I wanted out of life and where I wanted to go. And I began following that list, everyday for six months. Then, a miracle happened: not shy of just two months after I was ready to quit, I was given a situation that gave me the inner power and fortitude to push forward, to not quit, to not give up.
Fast forward a year. Someone in my life pushed me to make a different list. And while a minor tragedy (averted) happened with my house fire three months after that, more good things came upon that horizon as well.
(Do you notice how the timeline begins to decrease?)
Then, finally, I made a third list, again, at the prompting of someone in my life who knew the power of doing so. And it only took 48 hours for me to see the results of that one. And, since then, even after a minor fallout…I feel happy, free and me again. No longer having to watch what I say, for fear that the gossip police might take it and run with it…it’s a wonderful feeling. It cut the marionette strings of my self-imposed slavery to the thing I love the most: the written word; to self-expression. It allowed me to feel comfortable and safe in my own environment again.
So here is my lesson, my wish, my goal for you…
Make a list, draw something, take a picture, create a spreadsheet, make a sandcastle…whatever muse works for you in your life that makes sense to you…and make that into your tomorrow, your dream, your ‘what you want’. Because, as a very wise person told me once, “After you put that energy out into the Universe, she will push you, prod you and fight your backslides, all in the interest of not giving up on you.”
And I guess that’s the trick isn’t it? Life is all about finding the people and things and energies that won’t give up on you, even when you are tempted to give up on yourself.
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
9:48 PM Shauna No comments
I hear the word ‘friend’ tossed around a lot in conversation. Many people allow this sacred term to fall out of their mouths with such ease, it disturbs me. Why? Because not everyone who smiles at you is your friend. Not everyone who frowns is your enemy either.
Learning Through Life
I had an agent come to me last week, to request a heart to heart. Something she said to me resonated so deeply within my core, it shook me a little. She said, “I can’t do it. I thought my light would be enough to bring him out of his darkness, it isn’t. I feel like I’m drowning, suffocated and dying. It’s like a cancer.” And it struck me the way it did, because I, myself, have been there, many times. I have believed that if you love someone enough, if you demonstrate enough care and compassion, they will reciprocate. This, however, is not always the case. This, is why givers need to set limits, because takers rarely will. I told her that sometimes, we have to cut our losses, and let people remain at arm’s length, until they are ready to embrace something different, something more. The conversation ended in a hug. But the pain in her eyes that day is etched on my soul. As most other people’s pain often is.
The Tie In
I have a sign in my office that reads, “Friends are the family you choose for yourself.” In my world, the term “friend” is quite sacred. If someone isn’t enough of a friend to me to be a substitute family member, I won’t award them with that title. And, many times, when I hear the word friend thrown carelessly around, I feel my blood boil. And let me explain why:
My definition of “friend” is the person who calls you when you post a status update or send a text that you are struggling or suffering. They are the person who would drop anything and everything to be by your side when needed, or even when not needed. They are the person who holds your hand a little tighter, even when you push them away. In my mind, the word “friend” is not used lightly.
Perhaps my definition is born from a lifetime full of mired relationships. Perhaps I seek a purity that often eludes us all. Perhaps I am too harsh in my definition…but I don’t believe I am. I believe we are in a society where collecting people is valued over collecting quality people, or even people who have the potential to be quality people. Perhaps we are so self-centered and focused so inwardly that we don’t see the forest for the trees anymore. Perhaps we need some retraining.
If you aren’t selective about who you call friend, and are constantly disappointed by the lack of love and commitment in your life, it might be time to reframe what the word friend really means. Are you careful about who you call “friend”?
Thursday, January 9, 2014
10:41 PM Shauna No comments
As far back as I can recollect in my memory banks, I cannot (for the life of me) remember a time where I haven’t preferred to be a student of human behavior; an observer. Sure, to most of the outside world, I appear a confident, outspoken extrovert. I am not. In fact, I am likely one of the most introverted people you will ever meet. I am the wallflower; the corner sitter; the quiet one who spends time at events sizing up each situation, evaluating body language and behavior patterns. It is, after all, in my nature. It is, after all, what makes me a writer. For most writers, you see, are not merely one person. They are a consortium of people who come together into one whole, but each piece has been carefully crafted; learned and observed over time and great struggle. For we writers, we artists, we crafters of prose and merchants of the written word find far more value in the introspective than we ever will in the actual participation of things. Such is our blessing; such is our curse.
Last year, I embarked on a challenge that I told no one about. It was a one word 365-day challenge. The gist of this embargo was that I was to choose one word and craft my entire year around it. I did so. And, that word was change. Little did I know that when I chose that word, how transformative, how powerful and how incredibly profound its impact would be. That word was one, simple little thing; a single syllable: change. And my, oh my, what a year’s difference can bring.
What I learned is what I am now a student of observation on, watching change. It’s a hard thing for most people. We all have such a strong tendency to swim against the current of whatever the future is trying to usher in by clinging on to the past with an iron clad grip. We desperately fight against the grain of where we are supposed to go and vehemently attempt carving a path backward into the simple sea of sequential mediocrity. We oppose moving forward, and we work so hard on stepping back into what (or who) we know, what is comfortable, what is familiar.
Let me tell you what I learned this last year. Instead of fighting against this current, going with the flow of change, letting go of things, habits and even people who are not supposed to be on your path right now is exactly what you are supposed to do. Fall in trust and know that your destiny will catch you. Look forward into the darkness, and strike the match of your own inner spark to traverse forward. It’s here you will find peace.
Today, this year, is rife with opportunities for us all. Take a chance to create a new beginning. To stop doing the same old things and visiting the same old places that you always have with the same crew. Stop having the same conversations. Stretch. Become more. Challenge yourself.
Me? Well, I made a promise to myself that every day I would learn something new technologically and philosophically. So far, so good. You see, my plan for myself is vast, and I fully intend to move forward in step, but I never will if I keep doing the same things in precisely the same way I always have. And…neither will you.
I had a conversation with a great friend of mine the other day. His journey is parallel to mine, but opposite in just about every way. He is learning to open himself up to other people, while me…well, I am learning how (for the first time in my life) to set healthy boundaries. I have become more private, I keep more to myself, I share less, and I do so because – as a student of life – I have learned that most times introspection leads to self-awareness which leads to balance. We live in a narcissistic time, where our own opinions are so highly valued in our own minds that we leave little room for anyone to question them (I mean, how dare they?), when instead, we should probably take more time to examine how and why we are feeling and reacting a certain way. Why? Because if you can’t control your emotions, who is? With anger probably being at the top of the list for me, and, I imagine, the top of the list for most of you.
So, this year, my “one word challenge” is simple. It’s a two-syllable reminder of what I need to attain in order to get to the next level. And it is simply this: balance. And this year, my blogs will be a telling of how I go about finding it. With the goal, as always, the same. I write, not because I like to hear my own voice, but rather, because I sincerely believe there are people out there who feel exactly the same way I do, but who just don’t know how to put a voice to it. If you are one of them, I hope you follow along this year, and, when you’re ready, I hope you share your voice with me, or if you are up for it, the world…because others are waiting, who are just like you too.
All my best,