She Let Go

Breathe in. Breathe out. Let go.

Without a thought or a word, she let go.

She let go of fear. She let go of the judgments.
She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.
She let go of the committee of indecision within her.
She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons. Wholly and completely,
without hesitation or worry, she just let go.

She didn’t ask anyone for advice. She didn’t read a
book on how to let go… She didn’t search the scriptures.

She just let go.
She let go of all of the memories that held her back.
She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.
She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.

She didn’t promise to let go.
She didn’t journal about it.
She didn’t write the projected date in her day-timer.
She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper.
She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope.

She just let go.
She didn’t analyse whether she should let go.
She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter.
She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment.
She didn’t call the prayer line.
She didn’t utter one word. She just let go.

No one was around when it happened.
There was no applause or congratulations.
No one thanked her or praised her.
No one noticed a thing.

Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.
There was no effort. There was no struggle.
It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad.
It was what it was, and it is just that.
In the space of letting go, she let it all be.
A small smile came over her face.
A light breeze blew through her.
And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.

— Reverend Safire Rose

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Woman of Distinction

“I am a woman of distinction.

Recklessly beautiful and untamed–my heart is splayed wide open for I not only trust the process, but I trust the force in which each one of my feet hits the ground and my ability to maneuver through the joys and grief I face each day.

I walk tall, taller than an old cypress tree because I am at home in my skin — my self worth lives in each nook and cranny of my spine.

It is not attached to exterior what have you’s like money, a piece of paper, a house, a car, this world approval, a ring or success.

My success is in presence.

I am present in the humans I stumble upon like heart beats at first light and in the night.

I salsa dance bare bummed with bronze skin and white cheeks — let the music sway and bend and dip my spirit with the grace of a dozen fire flies drunk on the Moon’s wine.

I am dripping in salt, browned from the sunshine, and barefoot in my beauty.

I am not afraid to tell you I am beautiful because I have done the work to be at home in my soul’s skin.

I do not shrink to accommodate the insecurities of those around me, but stand tall to remind them gently, why crouch?

My body may be a meat bag, a vessel for the magnificence I hold inside but I cherish each scar on my chin, each freckle, each voluptuous sun bleached curl, each inch of my breasts.

I walk with my head held high when I walk into a room because I know there is space for me in this world — however I may come.

I show this world my tears and my laughter, unashamed.

I know better than to try and fix or heal the suffering of this world.

I know that by healing my suffering, I heal this world.

I am a woman of distinction and I am not afraid to love you before you are ready.

I am not afraid to move faster or slower than the expectations we lay on vulnerability and opening.

I open at my will.

I open at the first drop of a breeze, at a smile from the man sitting with a green top hat that I pass in a taxi cab.

I open fearlessly and sweetly and ferociously with all the might I can for what good is living if we are not loving?

I am here to love and love I will.

I am a woman of distinction, and I am not a victim of circumstance — I feel when things are out of alignment and I move from them with as much grace as I enter.

I show up for this world.

I set boundaries with ease that honour me.

I understands that no is self love and everything after no is unworthiness.

I am worthy, darling — oh so deliciously worthy.

I am authentic as all hell and can taste bullshit from a mile away.

I spit out societal Koolaide laughing and write my own bible.

I ground — ground through movement, through dance, through the sea.

I drink the ocean for breakfast and kiss the red dirt for dessert.

I do not keep my freedom in a cage that requires six whiskies to be let loose.

I dance and shimmy and shake and love through my life.

I am a woman of distinction — you will feel me when I walk into the room.”

 

Although I wish I could take credit for this, it is actually something I found on Facebook.

 

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Head-Over-Heels

I was always the girl who wanted the mysterious stranger. The more unavailable a person was, the more attractive they became to me. “Hard to get” was a challenge and an opportunity for me to prove my worth in my mind. The hot and cold mind games made me crazy, but they added passion and dimension to a relationship. I only loved them harder when I thought I was losing them. The thrill of the chase was my drug of choice and I couldn’t get enough.

And then, slowly, I began to realize that I had enough. I didn’t need that drug anymore. I deserved to be pursued, to be loved with every fiber of someone’s being, to be spoiled and taken care of. I looked at the way I poured myself into people and I thought “that is what I want for ME”. And if no one else could love me like that, then it was up to me. And I started to treat myself the way I wanted to be treated. I became my own Prince Charming. And I began to realize I am absolutely worth it.

And as I fell head-over-heels in love with this woman, and with this life, I began to realize that the way other people loved me didn’t matter anymore. I didn’t have to settle. I didn’t have to be unhappy. I could fully and freely love them and expect nothing in return.

I didn’t need breadcrumbs from someone else’s half-empty table anymore because I had prepared my own feast and I had enough to share with anyone I encountered. I began to love with a reckless abandon that I had never known. I started telling people what I loved about them, started loving others the way I had always dreamed of being loved. Raw, real, unfiltered. Not watered down to fit into modern society. I found things to love about people I had previously been bitter towards. I looked for things to love in the people that were challenging. I discovered new reasons to love my friends. I allowed romance to come back into my life.

I began to realize that real love never feels like a prison. Love sets people free. Love doesn’t clip someone’s wings and force them to stay. Love allows them to soar. It leaves them absolutely free to be themselves. Free to follow their dreams. Free to choose me or not, with no impact on the way I felt about them. I stopped loving my self-imposed image of who people were supposed to be and learned to love people exactly as they are. I learned to stop, to look, to really see, people. I decided that I would hold their hand through anything and love them the best I could until they didn’t want to hold hands anymore or until loving them compromised my love for myself.

And I started saying “I love you”. I started screaming it, living it, attempting to be this radical version of love to the world around me.

And the world around me started to change. And as people walked in and out, I learned to wish them well with a heart still full of love. And the people that came to fill those gaps? Those people are my people. Open and vulnerable and passionate and magical. The world became a fantasy place again, filled with the wonder of life, awe-inspiring and amazing.

So, my friend, if you are reading this, I love you! I love you with everything I have, no strings, no need to reciprocate. And I won’t stop loving you. I may love you as a close friend, or I may watch you and love you from a distance, but I will not stop loving you.

And I challenge you to try it. Tell someone that you love them. Take a chance. It can be a friend or a romantic partner or a child. Tell them. You never know whose world you will change.

In all honesty, it will probably be yours.

 

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White Whale

It’s been a long time since I last read Moby Dick, but I found myself engaged in a conversation about life’s white whales this weekend, so I bought it on Audible and I am in the process of listening to it again.
(Side note: If you haven’t read it, you probably should. So many life lessons for reflection. It is about everything, an adventure spun in allegory that seems to exist outside its own time, much like Don Quixote and the poetry of Emily Dickinson. It is so broad and deep that is can practically accept any interpretation while it stares back and mocks our desire for interpretation.)
sea

Image found on Google.

Ahab’s obsession with harpooning the whale is about so much more than what it seems; it is evocative of a tendency we all have to pursue certain outcomes with an intensity that may lead to devastating consequences.
Upon discussing my friend’s proverbial white whale, they asked me, “Shannon, do you have a white whale?” I may have blushed a bit as I answered that I did, indeed, have one. Because of how well they know me, I am fairly certain they are aware of what it is already. (So, if you are reading this, your best guess is probably accurate.)
Perhaps we all have a white whale. There is something, somewhere in the fabric of our lives, that changed us forever and left us wondering, seeking, desiring, perhaps full of vengeance like Ahab, or perhaps in wild, reckless pursuit of love like my friend. At times, it can be so difficult to see how our single-minded pursuit of an objective, even if it seems like a good thing, can be destructive to us and others.
We have all had a moment (or a few) in our lives where we felt like we could only achieve a particular objective or outcome if we focus on it single-mindedly. Sometimes we allow a thing (or person as it may be) to become so big in our minds that we can no longer keep everything in balance. Sometimes, it’s difficult, painful, heart-wrenching to even think of letting go.
Thankfully, we have the opportunity to hold ourselves back from following Ahab’s footsteps. We don’t have to become so engrossed that we lose ourselves and hurt those we love.  Sometime we have to painstakingly, consciously, choose to let our whale roam free, knowing it/they forever altered our course, and accepting that the resolution we long for so badly may never come to pass. And sometimes, by freeing our mind of the objective or outcome that we desire, we are able to keep the beautiful parts of what was and find ourselves richer for it.
Melville alludes to this idea that embracing paradox may be the key to happiness or life. There are several areas of the book where we see this – Ishmael’s fragmented thinking from different perspectives as the book progresses, or the way he lives by embracing death as he clings to the empty coffin to survive. It seems almost as though it is the multiplicity of truth that sustains him.
I find this to be eerily similar to my own world. I spent years wrapped up in the idea that I had to be a particular type of person, throwing away the person I actually was in that pursuit. I spent seven years pursuing a person who didn’t know how to love me, leading us both to make extremely toxic choices with consequences that will last a lifetime. And just recently, I had the opportunity to embrace death, and it was only in doing so, that I was able to kiss him goodbye for a while and realize how much I appreciate life.
When we widen our mind to see that all things are part of a continuum, we discover our ability to survive and thrive no matter the external circumstances.
So, embrace the paradox, the multi-faceted wonder that is life.
Let your whale go. 
Realize it was but a brief moment, one that changed you forever.
Take the time you need to realize that it is not, and doesn’t have to be, the only moment you base the rest of your life around.
… and if you do somehow happen across that whale again in this incredible adventure of life, perhaps you can make a better, more conscious choice to avoid it or embrace it, knowing that nothing is ever forever. 

 

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Wanna know?

You know what’s sexy? Someone who knows what they want. You know what’s incredible? Knowing I am what they want.

If you want me to find you attractive, effort is everything. Don’t tell me you care, show me you care. That’s what sexy is all about. In my experience, the moment a relationship becomes lukewarm, it may as well be over. Yes, I said that. I don’t want lukewarm.

I want brutal honesty about how you feel about me. Don’t hide your feelings and pretend like they don’t exist. If you are confused, say so. If you want to slow down, say so. If you are falling hard and fast, say so. There is something incredibly beautiful in being able to speak honestly and without reserve. And I will promise to return the favor and not to judge you for it.

Wanna know what makes me fall for you? The random texts in the middle of a busy day that show you were thinking about me. The good morning and goodnight conversations. Having your full attention when our busy schedules align enough to see each other.

Wanna know what makes me trust you? Being there. Doing what you say you are going to do and not being flaky. Keeping your word. Being there when I’m on top of the world and taking time to celebrate with me. Being there when my health is failing and I can barely get out of bed. Being there through the great and through the ugly. You don’t have to know what to say or do. Just be there. Make an effort.

Wanna know what excites me? You making plans for us. A night in with a good movie. An adventurous hike. Making a meal and inviting me to join you. Looking at a future event and getting tickets because you know I will love it. It all comes down to effort in the end.

Wanna know what makes me see long-term? Kindness. Being kind to me will get you a long way. Being kind to others when you have nothing to gain, that will get you much further. Making an effort in little things that aren’t about you, oh yes, that is the type of person I want to spend my life with.

Wanna know how to keep the honeymoon going? Make me laugh. Make me laugh so hard I cry. Never stop playing. Never stop looking at life as a grand adventure. Have fun every single day and drag everyone around you into it.

Wanna know how to connect on a deeper level? Forgiveness and apologies go a long way. No one will ever be perfect, so whether it’s me or you that screwed up, being able to admit it and work together to fix it is the only way to stay connected.

Wanna know how to enjoy each other the most? Be present. Don’t look too frequently at the past or future, but honor and cherish each moment spent together. Value the time we have on earth and make your people a priority because nothing lasts forever.

Wanna know what makes me feel secure? You being certain of how you feel about me. You telling me how you feel about me. You being unashamed to be seen with me, to let people know we are together. In my history, silence always meant certain danger, so please don’t be silent.

Dating is so challenging already and bringing ambivalence into the picture only makes it more so. If you act like you don’t care, I will believe you. If you choose to play hot and cold or neglect to make time for me, I pay attention and I will return the favor. I don’t want to play investigator trying to decipher mixed signals. I want to know you are all in.

I want more than words. I want action. I want to know that you will do what you say and that I can trust you. That’s someone I can be with. That’s the type of person who will captivate my heart and earn my forever. There is nothing sexier than effort.

And for the person willing to put in the effort, I will not hold back. I will reciprocate your efforts. And you will always know that you are appreciated, admired and loved.

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Lonely, nah.

Thunder crashes on occasion amidst the steady pitter patter of the rain in the chimney and on the windows. Such a beautiful sound.

I’m tucked in bed now, my book still laying beside me, beckoning me to open it again.

For a moment I feel the lonely, embracing it as a friend. It’s good to cherish what you have and if you don’t accept the lonely, how will you appreciate the connection?

But I’m not really lonely. My life is so full of wonderful people that I frequently think I must be the luckiest woman alive.

I have friends that nudge me to move when I find myself becoming stale and stagnant, friends that inspire my creativity with their own, friends that have taught me what love is, truly.

So tonight, laying here, I am so grateful for every one of you that is a party of my world. You are incredible and amazing and I am looking forward to the next time I get to hug your neck and talk with you.

I couldn’t ask for more.

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Furious Tears

3:50pm- “Can you meet a little early to get the kids? I have stuff to do.”

Never a request I would turn down. I finished up my haircut and headed to our meeting spot.

As the kids opened the door, I could feel the difference in their demeanor. So quiet. Not the normal “hey mom” or hugs from behind.

Just sitting there.

Confused, I turned around to say hello… and saw my son crying.

I waited until their dad pulled out of the parking lot and I reached back to touch his leg. “What’s wrong, Jaybird?”

Then the tears really started pouring. My heart was already breaking as I saw in his eyes what I already knew.

“They fought all weekend mom. My stomach keeps doing flips and it made me throw up. I should have had a phone. If I could have called you, we could have come home yesterday. I didn’t like seeing that. I’ve already seen it before.”

I knew what he was referencing. At almost 4 years old, he watched his dad beat his mom… almost to death. I could see that this one wasn’t going to be something simple to deal with.

Jaylah interjected with some information about how their dad was going to be homeless and unable to care for them because of me… and a few other manipulative phrases that I remembered all too well from my time with him.

“I’m so sorry you had a hard weekend. Come here and give me a hug. I’m glad you’re home and you’re safe now.”

They both came up between the seats and we all embraced in an awkward hug.

My blood was boiling. Angry with him. Angry with myself for letting them go without a proper escape plan. Angry with the court that said he deserved to spend time with them. I still don’t understand why the state does not regard domestic violence as child abuse because it impacts their tiny beings to the core. It changes them. It isn’t okay to send your kids into that situation ever. But if you don’t, you are held in contempt of court. You become the criminal when you try to protect your children. It isn’t right and it isn’t fair and I dream of a day that it will be different. But right now, that is reality.

And right now, I’m angry.

But I know that all damage control needs to come from me. I know that explosive anger will only make the situation worse. I know that I have to be the example of healthy emotions.

I told them I was angry and sorry and that I hoped it would never happen again. I told them that hard things will happen in life sometimes and that the best thing we can do for ourselves is be prepared. And I told them that I will always fight for them, I will forever be in their corner. I told them they were so loved and that what they saw this weekend was NOT love. People love each other by treating each other with respect and kindness, and even when you disagree on something, it is NEVER okay to behave like that. I made a plan with them. And I spent time holding them and attempting to hold back the tears.

Yes, I will leave a new legacy for my children. Yes, I hope and pray that they will see good things from my life. But today I realized that the darkness that had seemed so far away is actually much closer than I realize. I realized that protecting them still means being vigilant and doing everything in my power to be involved in every aspect of their world. It means earning their trust. It means making safety plans. It means figuring out where consequence and necessity meet. It means reevaluating things to give them the tools they need.

I never wanted this for them. But it is their reality and I must face that. The only way to conquer fear is to face it head on. And that is what we will do. For as long as it takes.

My legacy will not only be passion, it will be strength and resilience and a backbone of steel. They will know what healthy looks like and they will know what it takes.

The tears haven’t stopped flowing much tonight… But I promise this heart isn’t weak. No, it is strong. And I will teach my children to be strong. And when the opportunity arises, I have no doubt they will find the right path.

Please pray for my kiddos. And all the other children that have to go through the same thing due to the “system.”

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2018

When we go into a new year, we tend to have expectations or resolutions or just some hope for what the new year might bring. 2018 was no different for me. I wrote my “Little Big Year” post and determined to do what I could to change my world one small step at a time.

At this time last year, I didn’t know what the future held. I didn’t know how long I’d survive if I did and I wasn’t sure if I could handle much more of my body failing me. All I knew was that I had to try. I had to keep fighting. I had to do whatever it took.

I had no idea how much my life would change. But I am so grateful for 2018. It was the year I learned to live myself.

I’ve been trying for years… Hoping that someday I would be enough to be okay with me. I kept hearing “its just a decision”, but I had no idea what that meant.

It wasn’t one decision though. It was so many little ones.

It was the decision to see a naturopathic doctor when western medicine provided no hope.

It was the decision to make sure my finances and life insurance and we’ll were in order so I could rest easy that my kids are cared for no matter what.

It was the decision to start saying no to people who drained my energy.

It was the decision to let go of perfection and look for excellence.

It was the decision to take charge of my life and stop allowing wishy washy answers and hunt ferociously for the truth.

It was the decision to pursue adventures.

It was the decision to eliminate everything that was suffocating me and learn to breathe again.

It was the decision that I will NEVER settle again. Not in the work I do, the relationships I keep, or the way I live my life.

It was the decision to take a leap of faith (or a few of them) and just see what happened.

It was the decision to heal, no matter what kind of hard that meant I had to relive.

It was the decision to forgive. Anyone and everyone because I’ve made enough mistakes of my own and they don’t deserve to take that much energy from me still.

It was the decision to embrace confrontation and learn how to grow from it.

It was the decision to say no, over and over again.

It was the decision to say yes to the important things, the things I really wanted in my life.

It was the decision to value my family and make the effort to see all of them.

It was the decision to stop talking and start walking. Taking action on so many things that I had only thought or talked about in the past.

It was the decision to allow other people to love me. And that, just that decision alone, changed my world.

I am so grateful for 2018. Although it was not an easy year, it was a year of tremendous growth and that is everything I hoped for last January.

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I’m Sorry Self

“Mom! Jaylah is disrespecting property!”

It was seemingly the twentieth fight of the morning, but this one sounded like something real since it directly violated Rule #2: Respect People and Property.

He continued on, detailing her destruction as I stood up from working on the headboard that I desperately wanted to finish today.

I walked inside and saw her sitting beside the scene of the crime, “Hey Boog, what’s going on?”

She rolled her eyes and looked away, crossing her arms and sticking her chin out as far as she could.

“Jaylah, we should talk about this. If you’re not ready, you need to go to your bed until you are.”

One thing she learned well from her favorite movie is an icy glare. It was more frozen than, well, the movie itself.

“You can walk or I can carry you, babe. You choose.”

She walked to her bed and crawled under the covers, completely hidden from view.

“I’ll come talk to you in a few minutes.”

I took a mom time-out. The property she had destroyed was custom made for her. It had taken a tremendous amount of time and effort. I had to remind myself that it was just stuff and the lesson was going to be the important thing here.

I walked back to her room. “Are you ready to talk?”

She peered out from under the covers with one watery eye and I discerned a almost invisible nod.

I sat on the end of the bed, scooting her onto my lap. She was still doing her best to look away, so I slipped one hand under both of hers and stroked her hair with the other while I waited for eye contact.

Finally, after what felt like an hour, she looked up.

“You realize you broke Rule #2, right?”

Faint nod.

“Why did you do that? I made that special, just for you. Why would you want to destroy it? I just don’t understand.” I tried to keep my voice as neutral as possible.

I wanted to tell her it hurt my feelings. I wanted her to know that I had plans for it, plans where she gave it to her daughter, detailing how her mom had made it for her. I wanted it all to be about me. My hurt. My pain. My loss.

But it wasn’t about me. It was about this precious little girl who will someday have to face the big, bad world on her own. It was about preparing her for that.

Big, fat, crocodile tears now. Her voice shook as she gripped my hand a little tighter. “I didn’t think it would matter mom. It’s mine.”

My heart broke a little as I started to explain. “Baby, you have to respect yourself and your property. You have to know how to take care of things. You are just as important as anyone else and you have to treat yourself with as much, if not more, respect than you treat others. You matter. You are valuable. And so are the things you care about. But you have to set that standard and know that first. Do you understand that?”

I lifted her chin up so I could see her whole face. She nodded again. “I’m so sorry mommy.”

“Baby, tell yourself sorry. You hurt you by ruining your stuff, right?”

She nodded again, a bit stronger now. “I’m sorry self.”

Oh my heart. If only I had heard those words a few weeks or years ago. How easy it is to forget…

I’m sorry self.

How many times have I forgotten that very thing? How many times have I settled for second, or worse, destroyed something valuable to me, compromised my values, been untrue to myself because it was “just me”?

How many times have I hidden the hurt or acted out of my insecurities and spent days, weeks, months, regretting the very thing that I thought would make me feel better in the moment?

I’m sorry self.

I’m sorry for treating you as less than. I’m sorry for not showing you the respect you deserve and desire. I’m sorry that I’ve given you the impression that you are unworthy. I’m sorry for settling.

Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone goes through hard times. Everyone has a memory or two that they would rather forget. And that’s okay.

You’re still worth it. You’re still valuable. You are made for more. So take the time to remind yourself of your worth. Take pride in your accomplishments. And don’t ever, ever let anyone treat you badly. Especially yourself.

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Published!

I had an article published for a non-profit recently.

https://www.7billionones.org/shannon-legacy/

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