Thank you for stopping by my blog! I don't always write consistently, but will work to share my thoughts more often. I write about everything from hockey, my business, personal experiences, and inspirational messages. Please read, enjoy, and feel free to share.
Ten things I've learned from road tripping through Saskatchewan
1. My hockey family is amazing. This trip only came to be because of one hockey family, and almost didn't happen because of trades three days before I was supposed to leave. It was saved by another hockey family who changed some of their plans, and rearranged stuff to be able to fit me in.
2. It's cold in January in Saskatchewan. Like wearing tons of layers and still feeling like your face is going to fall off kind of cold. And the crazy thing is, it was actually warm compared to the weather they usually have at that time of year. Seattle is practically tropical after hanging out in -18 F weather (-28 C for my Canadian friends) Also, if you spend enough time in cold Sask weather, you find yourself thinking that 3 degrees is warm.
-18 windchill but we wanted to see the river
3. Saskatchewan hockey fans are friendly, even when your team wins. The best part is that none of them questioned why I'd come all the way from Seattle to watch my team play. They just seemed to understand.
4. There is a lot of flat land in Sask. Like miles and mile and miles and miles of it. But it's beautiful, and there's something magical about being out in the middle of nowhere with very few people or cars. Parts reminded me of Northern Idaho where I grew up, with miles of farmland and tiny towns that you may miss if you happen to blink.
5. A hockey rink is a hockey rink. They come in all shapes and sizes, and they are filled with fans cheering for their teams no matter where you are. But, we are pretty spoiled in our barn with our leg space, elbow room, comfy seats, and warmth. And Seattle fans really are a special breed. I can see why our boys talk about us when they say what they love about playing here. So many of the rinks were half empty, and quiet. And even if it was full, it was still so quiet. We don't know how to do quiet as fans here in Seattle, and I'm quite proud of that. I also learned that three Seattle fans yelling and whistling for our boys can make quite a bit of noise in a rink like Prince Albert. I'm pretty sure I heard us echoing. Hopefully the boys could hear us too.
Speaking of PA, two things. It's definitely my favorite rink that we went to. It's small and compact, like someone took a regular rink and squished it. The suites are wooden boxes with office chairs. But I loved it. It had a hometown hockey feel to it, an intimate feeling that made it so much fun to be in. The second thing about PA? The game my boys played there was probably the best one I've ever seen them play. 100 percent of the team gave 110 percent every single shift. They dictated play for the top team in the CHL for the full 60 minutes, and I loved every minute of it. If we can even come close to replicating that in future games, we can win. A lot. The boys came together and played for each other, and it was a beautiful thing.
6. I can't believe I am saying this, but cowbells aren't so bad. Wait, bear with me here. I hate cowbells from going to games in Everett where everyone has one and they ring them non-stop for EVERYTHING. There were some cowbells at the rinks in Canada, but amazingly enough they didn't make me want to rip my hair out. The owners rang them when their team was announced, scored, or killed a penalty and they rang them at a reasonable level. I was amazed. So I guess it's not that I don't hate cowbells, I just don't hate Canadian cowbells.
7. Eastern teams are surprised at how much we check. In Moose Jaw the fans behind us were quite upset that we kept "hitting their players." They wanted a penalty every single time, and I didn't have the heart to tell them that the boys were holding back. I can't imagine what they would think if they watched a Seattle/Everett or Seattle/Portland game.
8. I love Moose Jaw. It's the cutest little town full of old buildings and history. I was surprised at how much I loved it. We walked around downtown and did the underground tour which was amazing. We stayed at a gorgeous historic hotel as well. The whole experience was fantastic, and I wouldn't mind going back again.
9. Humboldt. We went to visit the site of the bus crash, and there are really no words to describe the feeling. It was an intersection like any other, out in the middle of the Saskatchewan flatlands. It could have been an intersection anywhere in the middle of Canada, or for that matter, the United States. The air was heavy, there was a weight to it. I could feel the emotion washing over me as we approached it, sadness, grief, love, heartache. We got out of the car, and it was bitterly cold with the wind blowing all around us. It seemed fitting. It was haunting. It was overwhelming. I wanted to get a shovel and dig every one of those tributes out of the snow so that everything that had been left there out of love could be seen by anyone coming through. We waded through snow up to our knees so we could be closer to it, to pay our respects. I wanted to leave something for those lost, for the families, but hadn't brought anything from Seattle. So I left a crystal that I got a couple of days after I lost my dad. I have been carrying it around for 7 months, filling it with strength and love. It felt right to leave it right there with all of the hockey sticks, jerseys and other items left by loved ones. I think that anyone connected to the hockey community, or anyone in general should try to make it out to this site.
10. Last but not least. Eight days can be a long time on the road, but with the right people it can be amazing. It's the first time in 7 months that I have laughed more than I've cried, and the closest I've felt to being myself in a long time. I am beyond thankful for the Lees for letting me tag along, and for welcoming me into their family. I am also thankful for the Andrusiaks for inviting me along on the original trip, this never would have happened without them. We will just have to find another road trip to go on in the future. This is a trip I will never forget, and I am beyond thankful for my hockey family for making it a reality.
Hockey is healing.
Fifty years ago today something magical happened. Two souls that were meant to be came together in a little city called San Francisco. I don't say that they met, because I truly believe that these two souls are intertwined so much so that they find each other in every lifetime, at every chance they get. This time they were known as Garrick and Andrea, and when their paths crossed it started a beautiful love story that lasted 6 months and 14 days shy of 50 years. The kind of love story that you read about in fairy tales, that should have lasted another 15-20 years at least. The type that that transcends lifetimes and continues into eternity even though it may have been cut short this time.
It's a love story that needs to be told, but it's not my place to tell it, since I have only witnessed it from the outside. But I can tell you that my dad spent every day of the last almost 50 years making sure my mom knew how loved she was. Most people think this kind of love doesn't exist anymore, but I witnessed it my entire life, and I am still searching for that love myself. See, after growing up seeing it in person, I could never settle for anything less than butterflies. My dad is the type of man who would randomly bring wildflowers home to my mom. No reason, just because he wanted to. He left notes around the house saying "I love you" with his little smiley face he always added. He made a hot chai tea latte for her every day, and sprinkled cinnamon and shaved chocolate on top. He cleaned up after meals because my mom cooked, so why wouldn't he? When her favorite singer, Andrea Bocelli came out with a new album, he got it in secret, then set it to play on repeat so that when my mom came down later that morning, it was the first thing she heard. There are so many little things that he did every single day to make sure she knew how much he loved her. Every. Single. Day. And now he's gone. I miss my dad. With all of my heart and soul, but more than that, my hear hurts knowing how much my mom misses him. How she wakes up every day without him, after almost 50 years of having him there. He made her happy for 50 years, and now he's gone. I mean, I know he's there. Because where else would he be but with my mom, but it's just not the same, and my heart aches for her. I don't know how to make this better, all I want is for her to hurt a little less, but how can she when the love of her life is no longer there making her smile every day. I can only hope that she will continue to feel his love, that my love, my brother's love, and all of the people who have reached out will be enough to bridge this gap so that she can slowly regain her happiness. Slowly come back to the happy, positive soul she always has been. Because in addition to missing my dad so much, I also miss my mom. I miss her happiness, her carefree innocence. I know it's there, it's just hard to find without the person who made her feel safe, secure and happy every day.
So yes, my parents have a love story that needs to be told. but unfortunately today, I can't tell it. I was going to try, but my heart is still so broken, and instead I am trying to see through my tears to type, wanting to tell the beautiful story, but my aching heart not letting me today. Because today should have been a celebration. A celebration of 50 years of the most beautiful, pure love that you can find. And instead we are left asking why something like that would be cut so short. Why the Universe, or God, or whoever you believe in would take a beautiful man out of our lives way too soon.
I truly believe that my parents' souls will find each other in every single lifetime for eternity. How could they not? But I am still mad, sad and upset that their time in this one was cut short. The world deserved more of their pure, beautiful love.
So today put as much love out into the Universe as possible. Hug your partner, tell them that you love them. Do something for them. It doesn't have to be big, just something small. A note, their favorite dessert, flowers, it doesn't matter. Just something to let them know you love them. Do it for my parents. Do it in honor of their 50 years of amazing love, respect and beauty. Do it for me so that I know that love is being spread out in the world in their names, and because I have no one to share my love with yet.
Do it for love.
To the Everett Silvertips' fan who decided to harass a female Thunderbirds fan after the last game, here's something you should know. That girl came to cheer on her team because it's her happy place. She came to watch her team play because it's the one place she can escape reality right now. She even risked coming to a barn where she has been harassed in the past because she needs that escape. That girl, the one who was minding her own business walking out of the arena after a loss, the one you chose to hurt by ringing your cowbell as loudly as you could within inches of her ear, that girl lost her dad six months ago. She is barely making it through the holidays right now because she is missing him so much, so she goes to as many as her team's games to distract from that, because win or lose, watching her boys play helps. So by being a complete jerk and choosing to harass a fan who was doing nothing to you except wearing the opposing team's jersey, you ruined her night, and made her that much less likely to come support her team in your barn no matter how much she needs it. You took a grieving girl who is barely holding on, to the edge, and where you may have seen an overreaction to your stupid prank, she was holding herself back from so much more. She saved that for when she got outside of the arena and broke down in the dark. By deciding to be a jerk to someone who was doing nothing to you, you took away her happy place.
So here's an open letter to all sports fans. Be kind. Be respectful. Let people cheer on their teams respectfully and in peace. You never know how much being there means to them. You never know who may be fighting a battle and barely holding on.
My original post about the incident
It's incredible how one phone call can completely change your life and turn it into something you don't even recognize. Five months later and I'm still reeling.
It was a Saturday morning like any other. I got up, (actually got dressed since I was heading out the door early to get some shopping done,) came downstairs, gave the kitties their treats and started making my smoothie. My phone rang, and checking it, I saw it was my parents. I smiled thinking that they were calling to support and encourage me after having to deal with some book world drama the day before. Since the blender was running, I let it go to voicemail, planning to call them back as soon as I was done blending. Then it rang again. So I picked it up. And instead of my my mom and dad's soothing voices on the other end, it was my mom. Panicked like I have never heard her. Saying six word I never thought I would hear. "Your dad's had a heart attack." I tried to ask her questions as the words sank in and I began to panic. All she could say was "get here Shauna." I grabbed my purse and walked out the door with the clothes on my back. Already praying to God, the Universe, to anyone that he would be okay. I mean he had to be. He was healthy, and strong. He did yoga every morning for fifty years, lifted weights, worked out every day. He ate well and took his vitamins. Maybe they made a mistake? No way MY dad had a heart attack. I got in the car and began the worst drive of my life, the 2 1/2 hour (without traffic) drive around the peninsula.
I'll be honest. I barely remember that drive, and I definitely shouldn't have been driving. I was NOT holding it together. I was sobbing, praying, freaking out. But my only thought was to get to my mom. To get to my dad. I didn't have time to wait, to call someone, to hope they may drive me. I had to go right then. It was Saturday morning, so my brother was sleeping in. But I called. And called again, hoping that their phones weren't on silent. I called my friend Kristina, my spiritual adviser who had already gotten me through so much in the few short years I had known her. She is probably one of the only reasons I made it through that drive. I wasn't there. I wasn't present. But she was a calming presence. She kept me from completely falling apart. Barely. I realized about 30 minutes into the drive that I should probably call the hospital to make sure they had made it there. I looked up the number and called the Port Townsend hospital. They knew nothing, and didn't have my dad. They gave me a number for a Bremerton hospital where they could have brought him and I called there as well. (All while I was driving and bawling) See, the thought never crossed my mind that my dad wouldn't make it to the hospital. Up to this point I KNEW that he would be okay. There wasn't a doubt in my mind that he would be okay. Why wouldn't he be? He was healthy. Strong. Plenty of people had a heart attack and lived and they weren't even close to as healthy as my dad. SO I KNEW that he would be okay. I trusted the Universe, I believed. Until I called their house again when the second hospital had no information either. I don't even remember who picked up the phone. My mom? Her friend Lisa? I don't know. All I know is that the Fire Chief took the phone from them, took it into the office and said the words that would crumble my word into pieces. That would forever change who I am and turn everything into a fog. He said "I am so sorry, but your dad is gone. We worked on him for 45 minutes, but we couldn't revive him. We kept trying because your mom couldn't let him go." I don't remember what I said. I think I thanked him? I didn't want to believe him. I wanted to crumble into a ball and fall apart, but I couldn't because I was driving, and I had to get to my mom. I asked for my mom and again, letting him know I wouldn't tell her since they hadn't yet. I couldn't be the one to say those words to my beautiful mama. I somehow held it together long enough to tell her I was coming. That I was halfway there.
I hung up the phone, and I couldn't breathe. I felt as though all the air had been taken out of my lungs. I was sobbing. I was in disbelief. There had to be a mistake. This was not happening to my dad. To my family. Just then a beautiful Blue Heron lifted from behind the concrete barrier, coming out of nowhere, and flew over my car. I knew. I knew it was my dad letting me know he was with me. And I just kept driving even though I was falling to pieces. I'll say it again. Thank God for Kristina. I called her back, and she talked with me until I was about 30 minutes away from my parents' house. She was trying to get her kids ready for the day, getting them out the door, but she talked to me the entire time. She was my rock, one of the only reasons I made it through that drive. Now I am also pretty sure my dad was riding along with me, keeping me safe until I could get to the love of his life, but at the time I didn't feel it. Some of you may not believe in this, but at one point Kristina said "He's here. I can feel his love for you. He's pouring so much love into me for you that I'm getting gooesbumps. He wants to make sure you know he's here and loves you." She had never met him, but I had talked to him so many times about how this woman had helped me, how she had gotten me through so much, so he knew she would feel him there even when I couldn't.
This whole time I was calling my brother in between talking to her. My messages getting increasingly panicked. I called my sister in law. And finally when I was about 20 min out from my parents' house I snapchatted my niece telling her to go wake up her parents if she was up. She responded immediately, and they called me so I could break the worst news of our life. Our dad, our rock, was gone. I will never forget the wailing I heard on the other end. I don't even know which of the three of them made that noise, I just know that my heart broke a little bit more hearing it. They said they would be out the door as soon as they could be to catch a ferry.
While I was driving, I thought my mom was alone. I had no idea that her amazing neighbors came over as soon as they saw the ambulance and held her through the whole thing. I pulled into their driveway. Shaking. Bawling. And sat in the car for a brief moment to pull myself together so that I could be strong for my mom. I walked in the door, and she was sitting with people holding both of her hands. My heart broke a little more in the moment I saw her, knowing that the love of her life was gone. The man she had been with and in love with for 50 years was gone. She flew into my arms, and we cried. We cried for the loss of her love, my dad. For a man that gave so much to the world, and still had so much to give. For a man who was ripped so suddenly from us. I held her tight wondering how anything would ever be okay again.
I am still wondering that today, five months later as I write this. Because how can anything be okay when the light that guided us was snuffed out? When my anchor was suddenly gone, leaving me drifting aimlessly and lost? How can anything ever be okay when my mom is suddenly alone when she used to always have his strength by her side? There's no closure. I didn't get to say goodbye. I didn't even know I should. I will say I am thankful that he knew how much I loved him, and I knew the same. We talked almost every day, and always said "I love you." For that I am beyond thankful. But God I miss being able to ask him questions about my business. To be able to email back and forth about random stupid shit that happens every day. I miss knowing that he and my mom are safe and happy in their beautiful, loving world, happy and still so in love after 50 years. I miss him every single moment of every single day. And I am struggling to find my identity without him. He and my mom are the reason I am who I am. So who the hell am I without him when my identity is so rooted in them? I know he's here. I know he's with us every day, but it's not the same. And I know he understood death. Didn't fear it, and understood it on a different level. I wish I could be at that level right now. I know he hates seeing us sad, especially my mom, and tries everything he can from where he is to change that. But even knowing these things I miss him so much. I don't understand why this happened. I'm mad. I'm sad. I'm in a fog. I'm just plain lost.
I do have moments though. Where I can feel that positive, happy bit of me trying to push through. I just can't grasp it. Because if I try I remember that he's gone, and it goes away completely. My mom feels it too, and it gives me a glimmer of hope that at some point it will bubble over for more than a fleeting moment. That at some point we will start having more "happy" moments than sad ones. I especially hope this for my mom. I would give anything in this world for my mom to be happy again. Not just for a moment when we are doing something fun, or enjoying ourselves, but for that time when that happiness outweighs that sadness again. I have to believe that will happen. The outpouring of love from both people I am close to, and people I barely know has been incredible. I may not be responding to everyone, but every single word. Every single bit of love sent our way helps.
I honestly am not sure why I am sharing all of this with you. I guess because it was cathartic to write. I guess so that you can get a glimpse into why I have been absent, why my business is so slow, and why I am so slow at getting back to people. But also to let others who are grieving know that they are not alone. That others have felt the same pain, the same loss, the same ending of hope. My inbox is always open for anyone who needs to talk. I know how alone this can make you feel.
A book that has helped me and my mom, and rose quartz that we have had with us since that day.
Last night as I was hugging the people I love most in this world I almost burst into tears with how thankful I was to be able to hold them and tell them I love them. Because there are 58 families who will never get to do that again, and over 500 families who are hurting and holding onto hope that their loved ones will be okay after this horrible tragedy in Vegas.
I don't understand the kind of hate that could bring someone to hurt other human beings, and I am thankful that I can't understand it. I only understand Love, and I am okay with that. I know there is evil in this world, it keeps rearing its ugly head, but it's how we respond to that evil that matters. It's the lines around the block at the blood banks, the people bringing supplies to places that are needed, and the people doing anything to help their fellow human beings. It's the people throwing their bodies over complete strangers to protect them, or making sure they get out safe. It's the way the new hockey team in Vegas sending their players out to thank first responders, and to brighten the day of the victims, and creating a foundation to help financially. These tragedies and disasters that have been happening are beyond heartbreaking, beyond words, but the love and outreach that comes after them is what we should focus on. Especially when you feel helpless and heartbroken.
Individuals can not change the world by themselves, but every little bit helps. Spread love not hate. Be positive, and help those around you, even if it's something little. Teach your children to give back, to be kind, to do everything they can to help those around them. Hug the ones you love a little tighter, tell them you love them....use the actual words. Hate will NOT win. Love will always emerge to counter it. This world may seem dark and scary, but there is so much light to be found, you just have to focus on the good.
I always come back to this MLK Jr quote, because it seems to be one that needs to be repeated over and over in this crazy mixed up world we have right now. "Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that."
Be the light. Be the love.
I almost forgot what date it was today. I almost missed an important (to me) anniversary. Today, three years ago, an amazing author Vicki Green bought my very first image I ever sold for a book cover. To this date it's still one of my favorites, and will always mean so much to me. Funny thing is, even 400 covers later, I still get that crazy excitement every time someone licenses and image. I still squeal, and feel so honored and amazed that an author would want my photos on their covers. It's an honor to work with each and every author I have gotten to work with. It seriously means the world that my images can be the face to their books. That my images will be wrapped around months, sometimes years of hard work for them. That they trust me team and my work enough to have my images on the front of their blood, sweat and tears. And this one right here started it all. It's incredible everything that has happened in the last three years. I've traveled all over the country (and world) and have met some of the most amazing people. I've made life long friends who understand my kind of crazy. I've been able to turn my passion into my living, and I am living my dream. It's extremely overwhelming at times, but it's pretty damn amazing too, and sometimes I have to sit back and remember that. Remember that a little over three years ago I didn't even know that this book world existed. Four years ago I was struggling to keep my dream of owning my own photography business alive. Four years ago I hit so many obstacles financially that I almost gave up and went back into the work force. But the thought of doing that hurt more than struggling for a little while longer, and thank goodness I did. I honestly can't imagine my life if I had taken a different path. If I hadn't found this amazing book world with so many incredible people in it. THIS is where I am meant to be, and I am so excited to see where my path leads in the next few years.
So thank you Vicki for being the first person to believe me, and thank you to each and every author since. It means the world, and I promise to ALWAYS so my best by you. <3
So many people don't understand why I love hockey so much, and why I hate missing games. Honestly I don't fully understand it myself. All I know is that it's my lifeline. It's my happy place, a place to get away from the stress of life, and focus fully on watching my boys play for 60 minutes. It's a place filled with people I love who understand that same love of the game. People I see 40+ times a year who I share my life with, get to know, and look forward to seeing each and every game. It's a place I can cheer when my boys win, and feel their pain when they lose. Where I can be proud of them each and every night when they leave everything they have on the ice, and feel like I have a small part in all of it by being in the stands and cheering my heart out for them. At this level, I even have the honor of getting to know the players through the booster club, so the games mean that much more with each victory or defeat. Each year we say goodbye to players we have watched play for 4-5 years. Players we have seen grow in their games and as people since they hit the ice at 15 years old. It's heartbreaking and exciting since many of them move on to bigger and better things. Each year we also welcome new faces, and get to watch that excitement as they learn the game at this level and settle into their roles.
The people I have met in the last 8 years while watching Seattle Thunderbirds games are amazing. The parents, the players, the billets, the season ticket holders, all of the people I look forward to seeing again each August as hockey season ramps up again. I have met some life long friends from all over the world through this game.
So no. I can't fully explain my love of hockey to someone who hasn't experienced. But those who have experienced it understand. Once it's in your blood it's impossible to get rid of. It's my happy place, and I am beyond thankful to be part of this crazy little hockey world. Here's to a long playoff run for my boys so we have a short season without that rush.
The picture above may just look like a photo of a bookcase full of books, but it is so much more than that. This photo isn't about the bookcase, but rather what is on it. It contains the paperbacks I have so far from the authors who chose to put one of my photos on the cover. To me they are so much more than books. They are the results of hopes and dreams, of blood sweat and tears, of countless hours of work. Each and every book represents an author who has poured their heart into the pages, and it's an honor that they chose my photos for the covers. I feel so incredibly blessed to have found my passion. To be working for myself and pursuing that passion each and every day. There were days when I first started my business that I almost gave up. That I thought I would have to walk away from my dream and go back to the "real" world workforce. There were days when I was so discouraged by things people said to me, or frustrated when I couldn't pay my bills and I almost gave up. But the thought of giving up was so much worse to me. So I kept working my ass off, knowing that somehow, someway, I would succeed doing what I love. Then I found this crazy little book world and was able to combine my passion for photography with my passion for reading. I found a whole community of people who are my "same kind of weird." A whole community of people who understand what it is to follow your passion and see it come to fruition.
I am so incredibly blessed to be part of this book world. When I was younger I always thought that it would be pretty amazing to be able to travel while doing photography and get paid to do it. Well, it pays to dream big. It pays to work your ass off. It's worth the blood, sweat and tears and the struggles paying my bills. Because today and every day forward I am living my dream and pursuing my passion. <3
Thank you to those who have had faith in me and especially thanks to all of those authors who are on this shelf, as well as the ones who will soon join it, and will fill many more. Because this? This is so much more than just a shelf full of books. This is a shelf full of dreams and passion to follow those dreams. <3
I never take this crazy little ride I'm on for granted, but sometimes it hits me. Like really hits me how amazing it is. This business that I built from scratch. With blood sweat and tears. With days spent crying, and years spent struggling, yet I never gave up. Even on the hardest and darkest days I knew this was my dream. I knew I was meant for this. I knew I was meant to forge forward and make a difference. I feel blessed every day, but some days it blows me away what has happened in a little over two years because of my drive, my work ethics, my hard work and my stubborness to never quit even when quitting seemed like the only option. I remember the defining moment 3 1/2 years ago. I was sitting on the couch in the apartment I could no longer pay rent on, looking at bills I couldn't afford to pay. And I had a choice. Give up on my photography business and get a regular, good paying job. Or keep forging forward and make my dream happen come hell or high water. The thought of giving up broke my heart, and it was then and there I knew that this was what I was meant to do, and there was no way I could give up on it. No matter how hard it would be to make that dream a reality, I couldn't give up. Thanks to the kindness of friends, a move, determination, and the decision to help a care package group with their charity calendar, that dream began to take form and slowly move forward.
The next year was a rough one. I struggled. I cried. The love of my life walked away from me. I thought about giving up. But the struggles formed me. They made me grow, and solidified my decision that I was on the right path. I launched my model page in February 2016, and when I found out I could combine two of my passions, books and photography, I messaged dozens of authors introducing myself and my work to try and get my foot in the door for book covers. I was told over and over again by people in the industry that I would never make it as a model photographer because I wasn't willing to photoshop or alter my photos. There were days when I believed them and almost quit. But the positive influences in my life, especially my family, Kevin Moss and Drew Deaton, wouldn't let me. They encouraged me and pushed me until I used the negative to fuel my drive and stoke my fires. I used those negatives to learn and grow, making myself better with each and every shoot. And now, about two years later I have almost 300 book covers licensed with an amazing group of authors and models. I have a charity calendar that grows more each year and actually makes a difference in peoples' lives through Honor the Sacrifice. I organized a successful author event in 5 months in a place I had never been, and I am working on another one in Seattle for 2017. I have an absolutely incredible group of authors, models and readers who believe in me and support me in everything I do. I have amazing life long friends I have made in this crazy little book world. I have people I have known most of my life, and people I met through OpLove who message me and tell me how proud they are. All of this fuels me each and every day and makes me feel incredibly blessed.
The same passion that drives me can also drive people away and make me vulnerable to critics and pain. But it's part of me, and I believe it is the reason I am here today, so I will not let it go or apologize for it. When I was younger I dreamed that someday I would travel and take photos and get paid for it. A little while back I realized that is exactly what I am doing. How's that for living your dreams??
Sometimes it blows my mind that so many people know who I am, and know my work. It's bizarre, surreal and exciting to me. To know that I influence people and make them smile on a daily basis just by posting and being me. All because I had a dream and never gave up on that dream even when giving up felt like the only option.
So dream big. Follow your passion. Don't ever let anyone tell you that you can't. You never know what may happen if you do. That dream of yours just may become a reality.
This may be the hardest thing I've ever written, knowing I may be putting it out into the world. Even as I am typing I kinda want to hit the backspace button as the words appear on the screen. But if me sharing this helps even one person, it is worth me stepping so far outside of my comfort zone that I can't even see it.
So here goes.
I have depression. I hate saying that. Hate admitting it, as if by saying it, it makes it more real by admitting it out loud. It's something I see as one of my biggest weaknesses, and something I have struggled against my entire life, even as a kid. I have no idea why I have it. I really have no reason to be depressed. My childhood was amazing. Seriously. If I could go back and do it all again, I wouldn't change a thing. My life hasn't been perfect, but it's been pretty great, and I am blessed in so many ways. So there is no reason in my mind why I should have this sadness weighing on me. Why I should suddenly be sad and crying for no reason over the littlest things, or for no reason at all.
This has cost me friendships and relationships because it means I am more sensitive. It means I sometimes withdraw into myself and push others away, or get stuck in my own head and blow something way out of proportion that should have barely registered as a problem. It means that I sometimes take things that people say the wrong way, make them into a worst case scenario, and freak out, when really it isn't that big of a deal. All of this can come across as me being negative to others who don't understand, and I am perceived as a negative person. Being called negative is seriously one of the worst things to me. It hurts me to my core. Because overall I am a positive person. But sometimes I just can't stave off that darkness, that fear that those I care about will walk away from me, leaving me a crumpled and broken person yet again. That fear that I will be alone and never find those who want me and love me unconditionally. I love hard, I jump all in, and I am one of the most loyal people out there. But that fear and sadness pulls me down and causes me to hurt the very relationships I value the most.
So I hide that sadness. I hide the darkness. I hide the depression. I hide it by doing things what brings me the most joy. By giving to others to uplift them. By doing what I love. By being around people who make me smile and uplift me. But I can't always hide it. It still creeps in. No matter how busy I keep myself. No matter how happy I am, and no matter how hard I try to keep it back. The worst part is that it seems to come out once I am comfortable with a person. Once I fully trust them, and hand my heart over in friendship or love, the insecurities kick in, the defense mechanisms kick in, and the darkness makes an appearance. The sadness ends up coming to the surface with the last people I want to see it. Which usually means they pull away, or see me as negative...or just give up on me and walk away.
I want to fix myself. I want to let that darkness go, but I don't know how. Maybe getting it out in the open instead of hiding it will start that process. Maybe by sharing it with those I care about, they will understand me more and not be so quick to judge me or call me negative when I falter and lose my sunshine/ Maybe by sharing it and helping others with the same problem know that they AREN'T alone, it may in turn help me to heal.
Honestly, even as I write this, I don't know if I will have the strength to share it. I don't know if I will be able to admit something to others that I've hidden for so long from myself. But I want to be stronger. I want to be that light that I know I am. If it helps even one other person reach out or feel stronger than it will be worth it right?
So here goes.
My name is Shauna. I am a happy and positive person, but I am also broken. I am strong with a beautiful soul, but I also suffer from depression and a darkness that doesn't completely disappear no matter how happy I am. But I will NOT let this darkness rule me or change who I am. Because I am stronger than that. I have plans. Big plans. I AM going to make a difference in this world, and nothing can stop me, not even myself.
Who's with me?