Say for Me Love..

I love The Avett Brothers. This love started when BP first introduced me to them on runs one day. I am pretty sure that “Die, Die, Die” was the first song of theirs I ever heard. And. I. Was. Hooked.

They have evolved over the years. They have varied musical influences. They give back (i.e. Cheerwine Giveback, and St. Jude fundraisers). I’ve seen them many times in concert (I think four times in Indiana and twice in Ohio?). I can’t get enough. I was sad to miss them in OH on the Outlaw Tour this year (with Willie Nelson, Alison Krauss, and Old Crow).

Their lyrics sing to my soul. Their rhythms make me dance. They bring me to life. They bring energy to what they “touch”. And that is life giving.

Today I Am..

  • thankful for fall days, hayride traditions, and flame throwers that start bonfires.
    giddy at hearing baby giggles and little squirmy dances.
    excited by kiddos who share their Pokémon cards with me and make songs for my favorite characters.
    blessed by friends who ask questions but have the tentative grace to know I might not want to or be ready to share.
    intrigued by the semester ahead and the nuances of what all this profession holds.
    proud of the legacies I see and the deep roots I’ve watered.
    unapologetically me.
    grounded enough to share my truth, to hold fast to it, and refuse to be silenced.

We Can Call Him…

My family has always been big on nicknames. It may not exactly seem like it, but it’s true. Before I was born, my sister Shelly took to calling me “Shannon Bananon”. I can hear the retelling of my mom saying “she may not like that, don’t get used to calling her that!”

There was a cartoon on television when ai was in..middle school maybe? I don’t remember what it was but I distinctly remember one episode where they talk about nicknames and one friend starts calling the other “Pumpkin Pie”. My dad thought it was the dumbest thing. And of course hat made my sisters and I find it even more hilarious. Needless to say, we call him that or “PP” any chance we get.

One of the familial names in our family is Nihls. For whatever reason, the nickname has always been “Bud”. Sometimes nicknames don’t make sense but still stick.

When Stacey and Josh found out they were having a boy, they started thinking more specifically about names. They wanted something that would also come with a nickname. Many of the names they considered were regal or presidential. So as we were all on a cruise to celebrate my 30th birthday, we kept bantering about names one even at dinner. Because of my love of presidents, I was all about this. It got to the point where names were getting more and more ridiculous, I threw my hands in the air and said “find, we will just call him ‘HOOVER’ “. Everyone looked at my in shock (and probably horror). No one was on the same page yet, because with my mind they rarely are. “Shannon, how are we going to get a nickname out of that?!” And in true Shannon fashion, I said “We can call him Sweeps. You know, like Hoover is a vacuum?” And it stuck–the nickname, don’t worry, they didn’t name their kid after Hoover.

Today is Sweeps’ birthday. And so, here is a photo for each month of his life.

The cutest all snuggled up, still with his hospital bracelet on his wrist. September 2018

The little pumpkin! October 2018

All the giggles. November 2018

Like Auntie, Like Sweeps. December 2018

What did the fox say? January 2019

Getting bigger. February 2019

The silliest. March 2019

Dapper Sir. April 2019

He’s inherited Josh’s eyebrow action. May 2019

Papa visits. June 2019

First tooth! July 2019

“Snuggle this muggle” all day. August 2019

Story time Sweeps! September 2019

To Set at Liberty Those Who are Oppressed

Mission is my heart. Service is my soul. I was raised in a household full of stories that centered on giving back. Whether tales from Zaire, or the prodding of us to look out for the little guy, or using your voice and your vote for social justice. The lessons were endless, and not always obvious teaching moments. Sometimes it was just the tone of the situation or interaction. They say “actions speak louder than words”.

So it’s no wonder I worked for ASP for as long as I did. And it’s not surprising that I keep going back year after year. It’s a rich piece of who I am and what I believe in, what I believe I should be doing as a person on this planet. Yesterday, I received a flier from ASP in the mail. This isn’t unusual, they send mailings and updates and announcements throughout the year. But this was different. It was a unique take on celebrating Glenn “Tex” Evans’ birthday (he’s ASP’s founder). A spirit week of service. A way to engage “right where you are, just the way you are”–that’s one of Tex’s adages, engrained in the brain of every staffer, the real guiding light of the organization.

I loved the idea, and wanted to share it with my church and other folks. And they accommodated and made it available to be shareable from their website (shoutout to Cara for that one). So I’ll leave you with it here. This organization is making a difference. Youth who were my friends, youth who came to my centers, youth I’ve mentored, youth I currently work with and have worked with at Tapestry/SCC–they have all made a difference. And so can you.

You can access the Spirit Week postcard here

It’s Still An Answer

I have a friend who is fervent in their stance that “I don’t know” is an answer to any and all things.  And that in lieu of having an answer, it’s the best (most honest) thing to say.  I’m not sure I’d really considered that much before she had told me that one day, many moons ago.  But it makes sense, doesn’t it?  There isn’t a need to make stuff up (those as humans we often create an answer to fill the void).  Maybe we need to appear smart, put together, Johnny-on-the-spot, etc.  Maybe we just need to keep our insecurities at bay.  But I do think she is right. “I don’t know”, and it’s copious amounts of family members (“I am not sure”, “I don’t have that answer”, ::shrug::), are valid in the place of some made up filler.

I guess this post is coming from a realization that I use the shrug emoji a lot.    It’s made me think about how much in this life and in this world that we don’t actually know.  It’s more than you’d think (probably because like above, people aren’t quick to admit that they don’t have an answer–or they just create one in place of not actually having an answer).  Another friend and I had a deep conversation a month or two ago about how your thoughts and understanding changes as an adult.  I think as young people we are pumped with knowledge, and the expectation that we can regurgitate it on command.  Whether taught directly or indirectly, we gain the understanding that we need to have concrete answers (for ourselves and others).  So this friend was completely vulnerable about how little he actually felt like he knew.  It shook me to my core, because that’s never been his default.  But it also caused lots of aftershocks in my brain over the following weeks.  Some of what he shared about his interactions with others was very real to what I was feeling in some other friendship.  It gave me new perspective and understanding, and legs to stand on moving forward.  It gave me a foundation to tweak and make my own.  Though many things have changed over the years, his philosophical spirit is still intact.

So your take-away?  Be honest.  Know it’s okay to “not know”.  Be empowered to say that (and then maybe even empowered again to try and find the answer).  Just because I don’t know the answer doesn’t mean I don’t have opinions about it–but those things are very different.  Even when I do know the answer, often I still have opinions about it.  There can be beauty in the unknown.

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Today I Pass

I promised myself I’d write something every day. But today I definitely don’t feel up to it. But I won’t let the moment pass me by–I will maintain the commitment. And so, you get these words and that satisfies the commitment.

It’s Been Four Days

Four days since your birthday. Four. I won’t send a card anymore. I won’t call anymore. My sister claims we have no grandparents, and there is a part of that that is 100% accurate. Our biological grandparents are all gone–the 2 before our births and the 2 after. But you’re still here (or so I assume–I have to think someone, somehow would let us know if you weren’t). I will never stop loving you, but I’m not sure if I can ever fully forgive you. And that’s the honest truth.

A friend reminded me that every family has its difficulties, its quirks, its issues and burdens to take on. Part of me has been happy to let you go, and part of me it still gets very sad to think you live so close and yet choose to be so far away. Family isn’t always easy. We all have things to deal with and work through. But in all honesty there doesn’t seem to be a good reason to sweep it under the rug or pretend word weren’t exchanged and that feelings and hearts weren’t forever changed.

You aren’t what I remembered. You could probably say the same about me. Funny how sometime our unique perspectives bring us to the same place but on opposite sides.

And a Bowl Full of Mush

Do you ever have those days you don’t want to get out of bed? Sleeping sounds like the perfect pastime? Yeah, today became one of those days. For whatever reason my brain has felt foggy and like mush all day. It doesn’t help that I still have some notes to type up for class tomorrow. But, taking breaks and time to slow down and be gentle with myself. And taking Tylenol to keep this god-awful headache at bay. Here’s to tomorrow being better. credit: Goodnight, Moon

Like a Bird In a Cage

I haven’t said it much, haven’t wanted to specifically draw attention to it, but I’ve been on a health journey this year. I was on an exercise journey in 2018. I was dedicated but didn’t see many results-I didn’t feel stronger or more agile or leaner. But January of 2019 saw a friend sharing her own journey with Weight Watchers and how she thought it could be beneficial for me as well. Coming from anyone else I might have been offended, or blown them off, or just laughed through it–but something made me listen, and listen deep that day.

And so I signed up and started tracking points. Really, it was a huge shift–actually watching what I was eating, being accountable for the empty foods that had filled my life, and looking at ways to institute better choices in the short term (and long term). I started seeing results, little by little. I started feeling better (go figure that what you put in your body directly affects how you feel 🤯). Shelly was next on the band wagon. And we’ve stuck with it. I’ve lost just over 31 pounds so far this year, and I have about 40 more to go until my first goal weight. But I’ve proved to myself that I can do it, and I’m motivated.

It can be difficult to see the change in yourself–whether because you see your face and figure every day, or because you live in an unconscious denial, or there are still things that don’t look exactly the way you think they should. But I was going back and looking at photos the other day and did a couple of side by side photos and just was in awe of the difference. I can feel the difference–my clothes fit differently, I have more stamina, moving around has a different sensation. But I don’t always see it.

This is Thanksgiving 2017 on the right and September 1, 2019 on the right.

This is a photo from a couple of years ago on the right and a photo from earlier this week on the left.

Change is good, it’s important. If you put your mind to it you can do great things. I’m pretty proud of myself and know I’ll make it to my goal, maybe not by the first of the year, but soon after. I refuse to stay the caged bird, at the whim of my weight.