Wednesday, August 24, 2016

What happened to summer?

Anyone? Anyone? ... Bueller?

Has your summer slipped by as quickly as mine did? I blinked and August just vanished into thin air. The good news is I'm still here, still hanging in there, following my sugar-free lifestyle, dancing my butt off with Katia and doing the occasional tone up with Tracy and I feel good. Great actually. For the first time since I hit midlife, I feel balanced and in control. Touch wood.

So what is midlife? 

Midlife is the halfway point (by my definition) where you're no longer in angst and confusion about who you are in the world. It's a time where you can really step into your own shoes and feel comfy walking a mile or twenty in them, you can just be unapologetically you! For further information, look to the right of this post and see Shamandment #1, and insert your own name.

Do you have to have a crisis to get here? 

I don't think so, not if you accept yourself fully and have lived a life that's true to who you really are. Unless you've spent the majority of your life faking it or trying to fulfil some ridiculous (real or imagined) image of who you think you're supposed to be, then yeah maybe a crisis is in order. 

Is it dark and terrible?

All depends on how you look at it. With a sense of humour no, it's kind of fun and sometimes even hilarious. Irksome at other times sure, like when you're getting a pedicure and the girl who looks to be about 12 years old (when did everyone start looking so young?) asks if you'd like a complimentary toe wax and you think "Christ, my eye sight must be shot, how did I miss the soul patch on my big toe?" But mostly it's cool. These are our "Carlsberg years," you know the ones, the years where we're still happenin' but we're a little wiser and more sophisticated, still too young to be considered the "Golden years." Thank the lord!

Anyway.

I'll be honest when I tell you that 2016 has really put me through the wringer, pushed every button, brought up all my shit, forced me to look at the deep dark corners, examine my triggers and crutches and go to's when I'd rather not deal, and has forced me to deal, to surrender, to hand my crap over to a higher power, and to trim away all the things (sugar, people, thoughts) that are not feeding my soul. I've become so much closer to some amazing people, y'all know who you are, been inspired by new folks doing innovative things and have been granted opportunities that I am gonna rock the hell out of over this last quarter. 

Don't know about you, but for me it's feeling like a "back to school" event. I wanna run out and get some shiny new shows and a brand new back pack for my clean slate, fresh start, happy autumn season that I can feel is right around the corner. And you know me, whenever I want a fresh start I tend to create something new. So I've done just that. I have created a new IG PAGE that I plan to stuff chalk full of beautiful nature shots, trendy urban discoveries, and new job/work related fun stuff. Can't wait to share it all with you, so hope to see you there!

Until then here is just a small taste of the beauty I was blessed to be surrounded by for the past two weeks.


Big hugs and lots of love,
Shan




Thursday, July 21, 2016

A Gentle Reminder

Today, I felt a pull to come here and tell you how great you are. Did you know that? That you're truly great? I felt the need to remind you that you're special and incredibly beautiful. And also to ask if you knew how very terrific you are. You're terrific. And if you think that you're not talented enough or not creative or smart enough, I want to gently remind you that you're way better than you think you are. You know that other person that you're constantly comparing yourself to? Oh go on, you know who I mean... That person isn't better than you. They're different from you that's all. But guess what? That difference is a game changer because YOU bring a whole 'nother skill set to the game and the world needs what you've got. There's nobody else like you.




Just thought you should know.
Love,
Shan


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Looking for the Magic

The world is hurting right now, there is no doubt about that. You cannot turn on the news or click online without seeing, hearing, or reading about yet another tragic death or act of terror. It can feel overwhelming and like very dark times. We can get swallowed up by fear, judgement or hatred, we can get lost in our search for understanding. It might feel like there is no way out of this downward spiral and I am not here to tell you that I have the answers.

I don't.

I can't pretend to make sense of the chaos, the anger, the divisiveness as I too am grappling with all of it. I'm not a religious person so I can't stand here and say God has a plan. But I am spiritual. I know there is a power greater than me. I know that there are light workers in the world who help to illuminate this darkness, people that have access to tools that can bring peace and they are sharing what they know. It's up to us to seek them out.

At the moment I am extremely grateful to Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra for bringing us another one of their 21 day MEDITATION challenges. This one is on getting unstuck.


It's essentially a gentle reminder to allow each new day be just that, new. Being aware of your thought patterns and habits allows you to identify them, acknowledge the ones that are not serving you and making a conscious effort to not bring them into your now. Much harder than it sounds. Just to go off track here for a quick second, statistics say that 97% of women have an "I hate my body" moment at least once everyday. So it's safe to assume that we as women generally seem to have negative self talk going on and this conversation doesn't stop at our appearance, it carries into our skills as a parent, partner, boss, employee, we judge ourselves too harshly. Knowing that how can we turn around and say hey everyone, stop judging other people. I'm not saying none of us like ourselves and that if we are judging ourselves that we automatically judge others, I'm just saying that the solution to the world's current climate of fear and hatred might not be as simple as "love each other", for how can we love each other if we haven't truly learned to love ourselves in the deepest sense? By becoming aware of these negative thought patterns and finding more positive replacements.

Which brings me to another of the light workers I'm currently loving right now, Marianne Williamson. Marianne is an author who was brought to the attention of the world at large by, you guessed it, Oprah Winfrey. MW wrote a book called A Return To Love, Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles.


I've just started reading the book in conjunction with doing these meditations each day and it has had a profound impact on me. She is teaching me, along with these meditations, to let go and be in the moment; forget the past and don't worry about the future. Don't worry? How can we not worry? People are being blown up, shot to death and mowed down in our very streets!?! I understand that, but you have to ask yourself, is fretting about it going to undo it? No. But being aware of it allows you to change something within yourself. Hear me out.

As a writer I have to be very self motivated, self-directed and disciplined, but as a result I put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed, do more, be better and consequently can be very hard on myself if I don't live up to my sometimes impossibly high standards. Like, "What do you mean you don't have an Oscar yet, how old are you?" or "You have a social responsibility to be a voice for the voiceless, to create role models for our children with the characters you write, how dare you want to write something just for fun!" It's endless.

One of the first aha moments from the book (spoiler alert) is that we are already perfect. I know, I know you've heard it from me a million times, we're all worthy and already good enough, but listen to what she writes:

Perfect isn't something you need to create, because the Creator already created it. (I use Creator as it's more comfortable for me than God for some reason) The perfect you is the love within you. 

So... our ability to love is what makes us perfect? I can live with that. But what about the people I find hard to love? Or the people I find hard to forgive? Because if there are folks in my life that I love but cannot tolerate or have a hard time forgiving, what chance is there that the world is going to be able to heal through forgiveness for all these mass tragedies if we cannot forgive the people in our own lives?

Marianne has an answer to that. "Any situation that pushes our buttons is a situation where we don't yet have the capacity to be unconditionally loving." Those things are there to bust our comfort zone and move us beyond our stuck points into better versions of ourself. MW has a big chapter on forgiveness and how it is an act of self love because what we judge in others we are really judging in ourselves and if someone has made a mistake and we don't forgive them, we are essentially holding them in the past and not allowing anyone to move forward. (I've over simplified it obviously but well worth the read). This doesn't mean you're going to just say "oh well, what that driver in Nice did was a mistake and we forgive him," but what we can do it take a look within and perhaps begin with forgiving ourselves for wanting to hate him. As I said, I don't have the answers.

But the biggest aha moment for me as I am reading this book was this... Faith.

Everything works with a brilliance of design and efficiency that our human efforts have never begun to match. Planets revolve around the sun, seeds become plants, embryos become babies, the acorn becomes the oak, with no help from us. Their movement is built into a natural system. You and I are integral parts of that system too. We can let our lives be directed by the same force that makes flowers grow  --- or we can do it ourselves. To trust in the force that moves the universe is faith. Faith isn't blind, it's visionary.

I really liked that. In fact, I breathed a giant sigh of relief upon reading that. You mean that I can relinquish control? Thank God (pun intended) because I was beginning to feel like I was about to steer myself right over the cliff into the abyss. I had always thought that surrendering was an act of weakness or somehow cowardly, but it isn't. I wouldn't step into the cockpit of an aircraft and expect that I could fly it any more than I would think it weak to hand over the controls to a certified pilot, so how is my life any different? I'm sure you can come up with some pretty snappy retorts but I am making a point here. There is a reason that alcoholics in recovery say "let go and let God" because they know they cannot do it alone. I cannot do it alone. We cannot fix our world alone.

I'm starting to believe that if I am able to truly let go, to surrender to some greater plan, that maybe, just maybe things might start to shift. I mean you know those people that seem to drift effortlessly through life almost as if they're somehow charmed? Everything seems to go their way, things always workout, they are always happy and at ease? Maybe this is the secret that they already know. Oprah sure seems to know it. I'm not saying her life has been easy, far from it, but it's been abundantly blessed and as a result she has helped to spread those blessings around. She's touching my life as I write this and I have never even met the woman.

I think it's high time that you and I noble reader step out of our own way (or maybe you're thinking finally Shan, it took you long enough to get here), we hand the controls over to the one who knows how to fly and we spend our time looking for the magic and expecting the miracles. Who knows, if we expect them, perhaps they'll appear.

Have a beautiful day and who knows where the road will lead. Someplace wondrous I hope and as long as there is hope, everything will be okay. That I know for sure.