why the best things in life are free, along with skiing

Since it’s Easter Sunday while I’m writing this, and also closing day/week for a lot of Ski resorts around the United States, I thought I’d pay homage and share a little bit about something that may have been one of the best things to ever happen to me. And I’m not even being the tiniest bit dramatic when I say one of the BEST.

So for those of you who watched this season of Keeping Up With Shannon, you probably figured out that I moved out of my parents basement and did a full send to Utah. Quarter life crisis? I’ll let you decide on that one. Basically, an opportunity came amongst beep bopping around in my hometown back in Michigan, and I simply had to take advantage. So now I’m here.

Summer of 2021 was hot, dry, new, scary, refreshing, happy, sad, busy, all of the above I guess. I started to settle into my new home, make some new friends, exist, and the weather started to get a little colder. My attention started to pivot towards winter. I thought to myself, “man it’s kind of a bummer the health of my knees is equivalent to that of an 80 year old woman with chronic arthritis”, and it had been a minute and a half since I was on a snowboard, plus skiing isn’t exactly cheap, so my thoughts for winter plans were looking pretty grim considering all of the above. Given my “circumstances” (aka excuses) I accepted the fact that I probably wasn’t going to be doing a winter sport this season. With that being said, I decided to ask around about doing something fun on the weekends to occupy my time, and maybe meet some new people while I’m at it.

And along came the Silver Baron Lodge at Deer Valley. A friend of mine mentioned there was an opening for part-time work in Guest Services at a property with Deer Valley Ski Resort, one of the nicest ski resorts in the country located up in Park City, UT. I was totally out of my element, and didn’t know left from right when it came to hospitality in a Mountain town. I reached out to the operations manager at the property, said I was “outdoorsy enough I guess” and the next thing I knew, I was talking about dates I could work, and how I could help. This was so exciting. I was elevated at this point in time, because I was going to get to work busy season where there was CONSTANT people flowing in and out of Park City for their ski trips. And as an extrovert, I felt like I just hit a goldmine thinking about all the conversations I was going to have, connections I was going to make, etcetera, etcetera. December came around and I started working the front desk at the Silver Baron Lodge, and I was already obsessed with the job. I loved helping people check-in, chit chatting with wealthy old dudes, hearing their stories, and mostly just enjoying being around individuals in vacation mode.

“Yeah yeah yeah, Shannon, but you have to learn how to ski” I kept hearing. “You’ll love it, you’ll become obsessed”, “it’s like a drug!!” I was working at a SKI RESORT and I had never tried skiing. It seemed like a criminal act. It bothered me that I was scared to hurt myself again as well. So finally, I was like okay “Shannon your knees can handle it. You’ll probably suck at first, but you’ll figure it out.” I was kind of afraid in all honesty but I figured, why not. So a wonderful soul I met along the way agreed to teach a grown woman how to ski on one of her free days, and basically — the rest is history.

To put it simply, I quickly became obsessed. By the time my second weekend skiing came along, I was already skiing blue runs, and simply wanted to be nowhere else but on or around the mountain for the rest of the winter. I was getting the hang of it, and I realllly liked to do it. Sunday’s were the day of choice, considering it was my only free day and favorite day of the week, given I was working in Salt Lake City during the week at my full time job. But Sunday’s became Friday’s and Sunday’s. Friday’s and Sunday’s, quickly became my Wednesday evenings, Thursday evenings, Friday’s, and Sunday’s. This was a new found love that I never expected.

To say that something shifted in my brain is an understatement. I finally knew what all the talk was about. There was a developed urge or like an impulse to drop everything I was doing and go to the mountain at any given moment. “What was happening to me?” I thought. I hadn’t felt more alive, happy, and calm in a very very long time.

I sit here and reflect on my first ski season as it comes to a close. The only regret I have after this season, was that I hadn’t started it sooner because of the fear of getting hurt. What a bullshit thought right? I now realize why skiing is more than just a winter sport for people.

If you recall, I played soccer for a bit there. My final season in college was cut short due to a knee injury, and since then, a wave of emptiness followed, considering the thing I loved to do for 18+ years of my life wasn’t there anymore. I’ll admit, I was really bummed about this for a while.

When skiing came along however, this was a chance to work at getting good at something again. The “training for the game” mindset was re-awakened, I started to get into better shape, my skin started to clear up, I started eating healthier, and it has provided me, in a weird way, a sense of purpose. “Train to get better at skiing” was the goal all winter.

And the only feeling that comes to mind right now is gratitude. Skiing has provided a community, new friends, some of the nicest, and most genuine people I’ve ever met in my life, from so many different backgrounds. Plus, I was lucky enough to become friends with people who were insanely good at skiing who were so kind to teach me, wait for me to get down the mountain, and challenge me to do something more difficult. It has provided a form of exercise, an opportunity to move the body, and an even better leg workout during a nice powder day 🙂 Deer Valley was the beginning of a journey I literally never planned would occur. I went into this winter thinking I was never going to get out on the mountain. For me, at the beginning, it wasn’t about the skiing. It wasn’t about the free passes. It was 100% about getting out of my comfort zone and meeting new people. Now, all I’m thinking about is “how do I ski down more black runs next season” and “should I get powder skis for next year?”

Here’s the thing — I’m not going to sit here and pretend like I’m “all that and a bag of chips” when it comes to skiing. I’m not even close to being good. Like you’re not going to see me in the next rail jam. I was just athletic enough to pick up on the basics, was lucky enough to connect with some insanely cool people to help me, and left the rest to God. Truly, I needed all the help I could get.

But to touch on another benefit, and probably the most important, is the effect it had on the mind. Skiing is truly a spiritual experience, not to get all “woo-woo” on you.

A friend I met along the way put it like this… “It’s one of the only things you can do in your whole life where, when you do it, it truly frees your mind. You stop thinking about everything else and just live in the moment and get down the mountain. It’s so freeing.” And I can attest to every word of that. Having to brace yourself for some rough snow, some bumps here and there, or some steep incline, kind of teaches you to stop thinking so much and just do. A mindless act. Meditative with a side of flow. You’re probably thinking right now, “please chill out, go and charge your crystals on the next full moon ya hippy”. Fair. But truthfully, I have never been more calm and focused and not to mention happy. Genuinely. Shit could have been hitting the fan that week at my less-than-chill job in finance, and going skiing the following weekend could literally reset my entire brain to be ready for whatever was coming the week following. Plus, what is better than being outside in fresh air, rolling around in the snow like a little kid, tailgating out the back of someones rig with a nice little beverage in hand, with the sun on your face in the middle of January?

So if I could say anything to skiing, I would say thank you. An unexpected “thank you”. For awakening a part of me that had been dormant for a long time. For connecting me with salt-of-the-earth individuals with so much to share and so much to learn from. For making a foreign and new place feel more like a home.

To the reader, whether you’re skiing or not, I hope you’re enjoying these last days of the season in ways that make you happy, with the people that make you happy 🙂

Now someone direct me to the nearest beach ASAP!!!

Why Listening Solved (almost) All My Problems

Since I’m arguably the best at pointing out the obvious things in life, let’s start with the most obvious. I’m a talker. And I talk A LOT. From the moment my little body graced this world to the present day, I have always had something to say (a quick apology to my parents for many years of sleep lost.) I am your quintessential extrovert. I process things way better when given the opportunity to vocalize them and I LOVE people.

I always thought about being an extrovert as “my thing.” I love being a social butterfly, being able to make friends with any person who walks the earth, intimidated by no human. I was that little girl on family vacation in Florida who would come up to you in the middle of your underwater handstand contest at the pool and say “hey wanna be my friend” if you’re looking for some context. Years and years have gone by and I have always thought about my extrovert-ism as a strength. I wore it with pride like a brand new jacket from Zara on a night out. And I can honestly say, socially, I’m not inhibited by people. I have my off days, of course, but overall, I get a little bit of a high when meeting new people. It’s fun to me.

But we’re doing a lot of talking here. And like, cool Shannon, you’ve established being an extrovert is the best.

But is it? Let’s talk about that.

So the point of the discussion surfaces. Thank God. As I’ve pointed out, there are a lot of advantages to being a talker. Throughout my life, being an extrovert has been great, and has definitely given me an upper hand when it came to public speaking, or let’s say, giving a presentation in class. But there are definitely some hard truths that I’ve had to face from being the one who is constantly filling the space with noise.

For starters, it’s annoying. I mean honestly, you’ve seen me on Instagram, talking about God knows what. And, unfortunately, it took me a pretty long time to figure out that not everyone cares about what you have to say. In fact, people care about what you have to say maybe 1% of the time. Maybe. I say that with the utmost positivity too. I’m merely being realistic here. And why is that? Well…people care about their own situations. Whether they’d like to admit that or not is completely up to them, but everyone likes to be paid attention to, heard, seen, and ultimately– everyone just wants to feel important. At the end of the day, do you really think Karen is going to want to listen to you spout off about how much you love this and adore that? No ma’am. Karen doesn’t give a shit. But she does care about her raise at work, how her day went, how she’s feeling, etcetera. Need all you do is ask, and the floor is hers.

Which is where we commence our discussion on the importance of listening. And how it can solve a lot of your problems, as it continues to do for me.

There were many situations that I can point out vividly, where listening could have saved me a lot of hassle. As an extrovert, shit was not always sweet. And it was my own damn fault, most of the time. I never actively desired to listen, because I was so concerned with spewing my thoughts out into the void and if I didn’t in that very instant, of course, I would die!!!

So it wasn’t really until these last few years, playing college soccer, experiencing life as an early twenty something, ALLLLLLL the way up until this pandemic, that I finally had enough of myself and said–

“Just shut your mouth.”

So that’s what I did. I was a bad listener, and it had cost me.

It was in that moment that I realized in order to be a better listener to others, I had to start by becoming a better listener to myself.

Not getting into too much detail here, but like many of us, the beginning of my 2020 was a legitimate dumpster fire filled with Napalm, being dragged through the streets, setting ablaze anything in its path. I was at a job that I hated, I was depressed, and overall, really lost internally. But enough of the sob story. So I started taking personal audits of my mind. Taking a peek at my intuition. Becoming friends with her again. After a pretty traumatic last year, I had realized there was all this residual, internal dialogue and noise that was clogging up my ability to listen on the inside. I was so messy. Unclear. So I did what anyone who’s having a life crisis does, and started to meditate. Did you just cringe reading that? Me too. But of course, #healthiswealth so I took a break from social media for a while. I quit that job I hated, embraced unemployment at the time and when I tell you I committed to meditating, I COMMITTED. I didn’t spend all this money on a fancy trip to Bali. I didn’t sit in a tent on the black beaches to meditate for 20 hours to come to this cathartic, spiritual enlightenment. But because I was broke, had basically started from square one, I did in fact spend time in my backyard, in my room before bed, on really long runs, just being with myself, listening to what was going on in the ole’ noggin’. Meditation can really work wonders with consistent practice, and honestly it helped me come to the conclusion that I was (1) being a huge baby and (2) reallyyyy needed to get my shit together. But it wasn’t until I was able to fill my brain with realistic thoughts, painful but truthful thoughts, taking an honest glance of my situation, that I could really take action on any of that.

Something that I’ll never forget from this past year was coming to this amazing, groundbreaking, never seen before, conclusion that reading is actually a form of internal listening. So I took up reading to consciously work on this. I think from the time I moved back in with my parents to now, I’ve read about 25 books. And for me, this is an anomaly. An unheard of event. For reference, in high school, I will never forget when I took one look at the Grapes of Wrath in Honors English in the tenth grade. My teacher placed it on my desk, I read one page, and simply closed the book and said “I’ll pass.” I think I failed just about every test that unit. To tell you the truth, Spark Notes was my bestie through all of high school. I HATED reading when I was younger, and truthfully, I think it’s because I didn’t want to listen to someone else tell the story. I wanted to tell the story.

And what a huge theme that is, of today. Everyone wants to tell their story. But, often, not everyone wants to listen, which I believe, has created the divides we see plaguing the human race. And I was a first hand offender of that. The fact of the matter is, we NEED to learn to be better listeners.

To sum it up, I’ve compiled a list of things that I’ve learned/mental notes I’ve taken in the process of actively shutting up, and putting listening first. You can take it or leave it. It is in no particular order or process, but here it is:

  1. People love to talk about themselves. So if you ask them to they JUST might take a hint, and ask you to do the same. Then you can tell your story.
  2. Asking someone a question is cool, but asking them the second question is gold. It shows you gave a shit about what they said before and you’re fully engaged.
  3. Listening requires effort and energy.
  4. If you’re going to speak, ask yourself first: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?
  5. Listening requires empathy.
  6. Put your phone away when you’re having a conversation with someone. It’s hard to do these days since everyone has one, but I’m sure you’ve got a purse somewhere, a back pocket, so put that thang away. Distractions in general.
  7. Meditation is the best way to truly listen to yourself and help you discern between what is truth and what is fallacy in your own brain.
  8. By practicing number 7, this skill can translate to real life situations.
  9. Genuinely try to be in the other person’s shoes. Where have they been? What have they seen to make them think/speak/feel this way?
  10. Talking a lot can make you stand out in the best and worst ways.
  11. Listening more can help you pick out when it IS the right time to speak up and say something.
  12. Talking more does not make you the smarter person. Most times, it’s quite the opposite.
  13. Listening more can make you a better leader.
  14. Listening is a selfless act.
  15. Listening requires patience.
  16. People will disagree with you, and you have to learn to listen to that sometimes.
  17. People will be dead wrong, and you have to listen to that too without telling them so.
  18. Internal dialogue is still dialogue.
  19. Listening is not merely shaking your head and saying “I understand.” You have to feel it.
  20. Listening makes you a better conversationalist, saying more does not. Period.
  21. Listening can often lead to better/more efficient problem solving.
  22. Listening can help you develop deeper relationships.
  23. You don’t have to always give your opinion on everything you’ve heard.
  24. Through listening, we can see the truth.

So obviously, everyone’s a work in progress. I’m not a listening expert. But it’s just a little food for thought. Have a happy Monday!

Be the Steak

So we have all heard the saying, “the grass is greener” or quite the opposite “the grass is not always greener.” This implies that we need a change in our lives. We have become bored with whatever we have been bothering with for a certain period of time, so we move on. To something different or refreshing.

I am not against this idea of finding “greener grass.” Change is great — that is also not the point here. It is something with our culture that I have noticed, maybe you too, have noticed. A change. An unsaid mindset that has struck society, and has thus far evolved the way we do things.

I’m going to try to tie a few themes together in this piece–it will all make sense by the end I promise. This is what happens when you have a lot of thoughts and you just want to share them

Finding greener grass or seeking it out poses a lot of questions: what made you want to initiate a change in your life? Were you unhappy? Uncomfortable? Bored? Unsafe? Regardless of what you felt at the time, you wanted or desired something different. And that is okay.

So what is the point? The long story short all boils down to one thing that has become of our fast-paced society. The very thing that makes us want to seek greener grass– instant gratification.

Most people want it “right now” these days. And as a society, we have granted the access. We live in a world of abundance. So when we desire something, we are expecting to get it now.

Think about it.

You go to the local Starbucks and order your usual. A skinny, vanilla, iced latte with one pump of vanilla sweetener because you are “cutting back.” But if that drink is not underneath your lips in 2 minutes upon ordering– a rage blackout. Or how about the time you sent that massive novel of a text to your significant other about how your life is falling apart, oh by the way, you need the groceries to be picked up after work, and also you are an emotional wreck today, but also you really want to talk about this one thing — and you don’t get a response for hours. Mutiny. Of course let us not forget about the time that you ordered a pair of Nike Air Force 1’s online and opted for express delivery and they came… that’s right — A DAY LATE. Mass chaos. You get the point. People are impatient.

Society is so adapted to being fast-paced because we have demanded faster and more efficient as a human race. We have studied human behavior since the beginning of evolution and basically concluded humans hate waiting. And of course! Who wouldn’t want their shit sooner than later? We created the drive-thru, the computer, unlimited data, the automobile, and of course the email system so we don’t have to send a pigeon to deliver our letters to one another anymore. We are quickly headed into the age of full-on automation. Another word for that is artificial intelligence or AI. But to be honest, that’s a whole other rabbit hole to go down at another time. All of this making our lives faster, desires more achievable, and changes more efficient. But these are little examples, that represent a larger theme at play into the bigger decisions we make in life.

Right out of college, you see students become so engrossed in “making it big.” They have this sweet degree, a piece of paper that said they did a good job looking on Quizlet pages for exam answers, and a smile on their face expecting some slick career right out of the gate. That does happen, sure. But a lot of the time, those of us in our 20’s get lost in our own realities and forget that things take time.

So let’s talk about that for a second.

Run it back to the whole “grass being greener” scheme. For example, a college kid who just graduates gets a full time job at Company A, and he’s been there for about a year. He’s learning the ins and outs, doing a fine job, making a pretty decent salary, getting the routine down, and now he’s getting pretty good at it. He’s upset however because he hasn’t been promoted yet. He sees all his peers getting these huge raises, this and that, wondering why he hasn’t been rewarded. What does college kid decide to do? He decides to quit and go to Company B, thinking the grass will be greener.

College kid has some valid concerns. I get it. I have seen myself slip down this path as well, don’t get me wrong. Feeling impatient with how I am progressing in my role, and not really seeing any benefit because things are getting “boring” or “monotonous.” I am in my twenties; I am dying for some cash and a reputable career. If I can find myself valued better at another company, with a better situation for myself, then yes, I am going to consider the opportunity. But there is something that I have realized about the reality of this whole cycle. It goes hand in hand with the Starbucks example. Taking too long to get your coffee? Go to Dunkin Donuts where it’s a minute faster. Not being promoted to manager within your first 6 months of your first big girl job out of college? Quit and go somewhere else. Your significant other is boring you after the honeymoon phase is worn off? Cheat or move onto someone different that gives you that fresh new hit of dopamine. All of these things happen today, and all of these things fall under the umbrella of instant gratification. And we want it right now, which can throw off our mindset of enduring the process when it is necessary to do so.

When it comes to this big idea of instant gratification and seeking out greener grass, I speak from experience with my own peers, generation, etc. I do realize, that this is also a stereotype. Not everyone falls under the umbrella. One thing I do want to share with my fellow young people, however, who live in this age of automation, information, and efficiency, is that patience is still a virtue.

Got that big job out of college and haven’t been promoted yet? Haven’t figured out what your role is within the company just yet? Be patient. Learning the ropes of a company does not happen in a week. I believe the saying is “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Okay??? So the same thing applies here. Your career was not and will not be built in a week, a month, or even a year. Learn from your higher-ups, ask questions, work with a mentor. I will talk about the universe in another post at some point in more depth, but I’m a big believer that things happen to you at the perfect time and when they are supposed to happen. If that means after a certain period of time your job is legitimately trash, and you need to get out of there, make sure you have evaluated the situation honestly first before making a rash decision. So be patient with your career, or maybe look at it as a portfolio of experience rather than just “having the job.” Every company is different, so whenever your time to shine happens, it may be shorter, or longer following your first day on the job. That promotion, that raise — it will come. If you are an entrepreneur or a sole business owner of an e-commerce business for example, (which is all the rage these days and the way of the future), your sales might not take off for another few months. But again, patience is key here. The work you are putting in now is preparing you to reap the benefits in the future. It’s just not there yet.

The same thing goes for losing weight, or implementing a new habit of this sort into your lifestyle. There are so many companies and products that promote to “lose 30lbs in ONE WEEK” like it’s legal or something, feeding on our urges to be instantly gratified. Maybe you can do it, I’m not sure, but the most successful athletes, body builders, and trainers take years to master the technique of keeping weight off, establishing muscle, becoming lean, and burning fat. And that is not to discourage any of you. It is simply a fact. People fall into the trap of looking at the scale, seeing that the five pounds they were intending to lose, is not lost, even after that 3 day juice cleanse they just did. The result? They give up. And why do they give up? They want the results now, instead of granting themselves the patience necessary to understand this process will take consistency and time.

Now, when we start talking about this theme and how it plays into interpersonal relationships, something kind of “snaps” in my brain when this topic comes up. Online dating, for example. You want to get to know someone? Tinder, Bumble, Instagram, Twitter. Start talking right away about whatever it is, whenever you want to. AMAZING stuff. We have made it so convenient, and adhered so perfectly to one’s instant gratification, you can now get to know someone without even being in their physical presence. You do not even have to meet them ever. Ground breaking. And I do mean that. People have found connections through these mediums of communication that have made their lives better and 10 times more efficient, supplied a source of income, started movements, created business relationships and partnerships. There is good that comes out of all that.

There is something we MUST, and I repeat, MUST understand about human to human relationships, however. In how it relates to satisfying instant needs. You are not going to know what kind of person you are dating, or just getting to know, until a certain amount of time passes. Whether that takes days, months or years, it depends. So for all that is good and holy, BE PATIENT. I have dated individuals for 6 months to as long as four years. Some of my best friends have been with me my whole life, whereas some I have only known for a few months. It all depends. But one thing that I definitely know for a fact–trust is built over a period of time. Rome was not built in a day. The problems I see in a lot of present day relationships arise in the courting process. Right at the beginning. For intimate relationships, the courting phase has taken a bit of a backseat to our quick fixes, and there are a lot (not saying all) of relationships that tend to move extremely quick.

So what does that mean when relationships move fast? Is that bad? Am I going to get a smack on the hand from the relationship police if I really like someone from the get-go? Of course not, but just hear me out…

What I am trying to say is, when there is not much time allotted for trust, morals, honesty, and all of the core values of a relationship to develop, there is potential for the relationship to suffer a great deal in the long run. It’s much like cooking a juicy New York Strip steak. You have to marinate the meat with a few different spices, then squeeze some lemon on it, then add some olive oil, hours before it’s ready to be thrown on the grill. We want ALL of this person right now, we want to experience love right now, know all of their deepest darkest secrets right now, get into bed with them and experience physical attraction right now. You can agree with me or not, but social media exploits that very fact.

First, take a deep breath. Second, be patient. Not sure about that one person? Maybe meet up for coffee a couple of times to listen, learn. And yes, actively listening to another person takes time.

After reading that you probably thinking, “okay, Grandma…” It’s true, I’m old school. The whole concept of actually getting to know someone in person is huge for me. Social media relationships are, yes, a connection, however there is something VERY important missing from getting to know someone that way. Give someone the chance to feel the vibe you give off. It is ALL about the vibes.

To the reader, again, do what you want with this information. If your situation is different, great! I’m happy for you. My hope is that someone takes a piece of information from this whether it’s how to marinate a steak properly, or if it is about developing a deeper, more real relationship with others and yourself. Change is a good thing. It is also an inevitable thing. If we are going to make the decision to change something, move onto something different, we have to realize that the grass may look greener on the other side, but we have to evaluate a couple of things. Have we or have we not granted ourselves the patience to appreciate or cultivate the green grass that is right in front of us? Any fool can give into their instant gratification. Which is why I am telling you… Be the steak. Be patient. What you want is coming. For when it is time you take a bite, it will be the most juicy, flavorful, and real experience you have ever had.

A Little Something About the Truth

I once was in first grade, on a hot summer day playing in the kiddie pool, and I told the entire neighborhood that my mom was an Olympic figure skater on the Mexican national team. Okay Shannon, that was quite the attention grabber. But I will get to the point. The point: this was a lie that I told. The lie started a small flame and spread like wild fire around the neighborhood. Everyone started asking my mom “Wow, the Olympics?? You must have been legendary.” All the neighborhood moms knew this was of course, a lie, and laugh about it to this day because it was such a random and weird thing to hear coming from a first grader. My mom came in my room a day later and asked me why I would make up such a silly thing. But to tell you the truth (lol) I’m not really sure why. Maybe I really wanted my mom to be on the Mexican figure skating team. Maybe I wanted her to be an Olympic athlete so I could tell all my friends at lunch the next day. Maybe I wanted to be interesting. Who knows.  So without further ado, today’s topic is about the truth.

The truth??? Yep. That little anecdote above is just a smidge of what we are going to talk about. Some call it reality. And what’s reality? Reality is what is actually going on. In the dictionary, reality is defined as “the world or the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them.” The truth of the matter. Let’s walk through a couple of examples.

The sky is blue, the clouds are made of water, the grass is green. Truths. Here is how it relates to human beings. There are fat people, skinny people, oblong people, plump people, people with brown hair, blonde hair, green eyes, blue eyes, we have blood running through our vascular system to our heart to help us live our lives. There are people in this world who are good readers, writers, good athletes, bad athletes. More truths. Okay, so you get the point now. People and things are what they are because…well…they just are. Here is where things get sticky and I attempt at making a point. I’m not going to fill my blog pages with every post knocking social media and how it sucks, but let’s get this straight here– with the media being so down our throats nowadays, with likes on the line, with job postings asking for a minimum requirement of “X number of followers on social media accounts,”, and with people actually making a living posting pictures all over the internet, our image is more important than ever to the public these days. Being liked is of the utmost importance of society. Whether some people would like to admit this or not, 99% of us WANT to be liked, we NEED to feel important. Even the most pessimistic individual who says they do not care of one’s opinion of them, wants to feel important somehow.

And that’s not a bad thing, by the way. Being liked is a great quality to have. Feeling important and having people like us gives us a sense of connection and belonging, as explained by Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. So what happens? When you want to be liked there are a lot of things that start to happen. We start to pay attention to our influences. With years of being conditioned by what used to be only our parents or immediate family, we now have our peers, our peers social media accounts, our professors, coaches, what we watch on the TV, news stations with their own personal bias, our school systems to “educate”, universities, blog posts, etcetera–we’re all being socialized, every second of the day to help us determine what is “likable” or acceptable versus what is not.

How exhausting is that? I’m exhausted after reading that myself. But it is an important observation. When it comes to how we are influenced, it starts with our parents and immediate family. Our “tribe”, if you will. At that point, we grow older, our brains start to develop, we have opinions now from our previous trials of influencing, our friends have opinions that want our opinions to become their opinions and on that note we start to engage in a little something called groupthink. I was listening to a podcast by Joe Rogan (I will link it below) where he had philanthropist and angel investor Naval Ravikant on discussing the idea of tribalism. Very interesting stuff but it was 2 hours long, so summing it up– we identify with our “tribe.” When we identify with our tribe and engage in groupthink, throughout life, in schools, social media, or political parties the “truth” of these groups (what we are supposed to believe) is taught, preached, and lived. Because these so called “truths” are being preached for the masses to follow and conform to, the “individual” truth is taking a backseat.

Let’s run it back however, just to make sure I’ve not completely lost you. So the brain functions, distinguishes our tribe along with the influences that teach us the so called “truth” through groupthink. This makes individualism hard. We are influenced to conform from an early age. Social media puts our image on blast and feeds our brains even more of what is liked and what is not. Got it.

So here we go with why the truth is so important. And to start that discussion, we need to delve into what the truth isn’t– a lie.

It’s simple. Here’s how it goes…you think of the reality of the situation, whether it be an external truth about the universe, the world, or even an internal one about yourself. Now avoid it by talking about something that isn’t that. A lie. A fallacy. Why do people do it? The list is endless as to why people fail to tell the truth. For personal gain, status, attention, insecurity, you name it, there is one commonality amongst these motives… We are unable to accept our reality; our individual truth.

Let us take an example. Instagram. A feeding ground for fallacies and lies about a perceived reality. Women in their twenty somethings will edit their pictures to be a little thinner if they think they’re too fat, ass a little fatter, jawline a little slimmer. But why? Because sometimes we don’t like how we look, even if that’s how we look at the time. When women and men make these edits to their pictures, we are not seeing the real version of this person. We do not want to accept the current reality that we may have a little bloat after eating some four-cheese nachos. We do not want to accept the fact that our butts do not look like any one of the Kardashian’s butts. We might not want to accept the fact that we might be overweight, unhappy, or flawed in anyway. Now that might upset some people, I get that.  We do not want to accept the great features we have about ourselves, of our incredible, working, human bodies, because we’re so busy comparing ourselves to Behati Prinsloo’s amazing bod after being pregnant with two kids. The perceived reality is that Behati Prinsloo has the best supermodel body, but the actual reality is that in order to get herself back into model shape, she had to make a lot of sacrifices, and face a lot of harsh realities about herself to get back to where she wanted to be. It probably wasn’t easy as she makes it look. Her story is not the same as your story.

Another example. Some guy posts a picture with his current girlfriend, and they are so happy, smiling and in love, and everything is perfect. The “perceived reality” strikes again. But what you don’t see behind that smiling picture, are the hard and mature conversations that have to happen for them to stay together, or the sad fact that Debra is nose deep in six other guys dm’s being unfaithful every weekend. But from the outside, they have a “healthy relationship” when the reality is it might be very unhealthy. A lie.

We will see men and women traveling to all parts of the globe for a summer straight, visiting the most spiritual temples of India, backpacking through the Swiss Alps, or sipping the finest wine from the Marchesi di Barolo winery and think “why doesn’t my life look like that.” Sis, it doesn’t look like that right now because it doesn’t look like that right now. Read that again. You might not have the funds to pay for that trip, or the motivation to plan, but whatever it is, your life is your life, and their life is theirs. Who knows, that picture taken on the Swiss Alps with the majestic mountain cattle might have taken four hours of struggle and pain, someone might have thrown up over the side of the mountain, or the cattle might have pooped on someone’s shoe. Who even knows if it was that amazing of an experience? The point is, it might look wicked cool from the outside, but you don’t really know if that’s what YOU want to do, because again, this is your reality as we speak and their reality is something different. And that is COMPLETELY okay. And I’ll be the first one to say that there are so many good things social media does for business, connections, promotions etc. but the point here, is beyond that.  You can’t rely on Instagram and someone else’s perceived reality to experience the cool side of your own life. If you want that trip to India so bad to visit the Taj Mahal, then start saving! Start planning, do the research, ask for some help, and MAKE it your reality to experience.

So the big lesson here, which I will not exclude myself from as I have learned some things while writing this–with so many avenues of influence, have you ever sat with yourself to think about your own personal truth? With no distractions, no influence, just your own personal being. Your own reality of your situation. I saw a quote that really hit deep for me by Stephen Cope, an author and psychotherapist who studies the affects of meditation and yoga.

“Through practice, I’ve come to see that the deepest source of my misery is not wanting things to be the way they are.  Not wanting myself to the be the way I am. Not wanting the world to be the way it is. Not wanting others to be the way they are. Whenever I am suffering, I find this war with reality to be the heart of the problem.”

And this is the crux of it all. As a society, we try so hard to portray these images of ourselves, that are simply….inaccurate. We go on LinkedIn to share how successful we are with the world in this cool, new, lucrative opportunity, when we might hate the job in reality. We post a happy picture of ourselves, so we can be perceived as happy, even if we struggle on the inside. We find ourselves attracted to people who we think will fulfill our image of that dream relationship that we’ve put so high on a pedestal, but realize they might not be the one for us, so the relationship suffers when we try to fit this person into our false reality.

So to this I say, it’s okay to be human. It’s okay to make mistakes, it’s okay to not be perfect. Accept yourself for what you are. Even if that means you have flaws. I know that sounds corny, or maybe you’ve heard it before from someone else, but I mean this. We can work on these flaws, refine ourselves to our highest selves when we can distinguish our realities from our illusions.  Because when you experience finding your own truth, you find peace in that. The closer you are to your own truth, coming to conclusions on your own, we can better understand others, and let them into our lives. “Looking the part” will never ever trump “being the part.” We are human “beings” after all, so let’s just be.

Joe Rogan Feat. Naval Ravikant

Is it that “simple”?

Feeling overwhelmed at all?

Unfortunately, we all are, and being overwhelmed is the new normal.

This blog post is for the times where we feel everything needs to stop. The time where we feel we have over committed ourselves, assumed too much responsibility, filled our plate to the brim, etc. You get the point. It’s stress! And we’ve got too much of it as a society. This seemed like a good place to start.

Now a disclaimer to this blog post–stress is not always a bad thing, for there is a little something all of us experience every now and again called “healthy stress.” WHAT?! How can that be a thing? How do I know if any of the stress I feel is “healthy?” The answer to that question differs with every person. Something I will emphasize consistently throughout my blog posts is that no human is the same, so everyone’s version of stress is a little different.

How does society go about fixing the amount of stress? Or I guess, the first question to answer would be how do you go about changing an existential crisis in society? The answer: one individual at a time.

Now I’m no expert, and I don’t have all the answers. Just from experience I’ve had in my twenty years of living, I’ve learned a few things about being stressed and how to handle it. You don’t have to listen, obtain, or act on any of this information. I’m not telling you what to do. Who knows? You might be entitled to something. You might even be a person that doesn’t experience stress EVER! However, more times than not, it seems that people nowadays handle stress so terribly, simply because they don’t know how to do it in the first place, nor do they have the time. But nonetheless, here are a few things that might be useful to help simplify your life and if one person can reduce being overwhelmed in their daily life by doing one of these things, I’ve done my job.

To Start…

Know that you’re time on earth is temporary. WAIT WAIT WAIT!! That is so morbid, Shannon. Gah why would you start with something like that to ease my stress? Well in order to be totally comfortable to ease your stress, you have to be realistic with your current situation. We are mortal humans that partake in a very short amount of time in the grand scheme of the universe. With that being said, it’s important to prioritize which things in our lives are realistically worth stressing out about. For example, you’ve got some petty drama among your friend group. It is kind of annoying, and may put some unnecessary stress in your life because you want to work things out with your friends. Trust me, I’ve been there. But one day you see that the girl who lives across the street from you, has a brother that’s deployed in Afghanistan in combat, fighting for his country; a duty that could potentially end his life. Her, along with her family’s stress, is far greater than a couple of petty arguments that you’ve witnessed in your friend group. Think about the big picture.

Get off social media, TV, your phone, or any technology for a little while. We see so many things that stimulate us through the media, which can contribute to the stress we feel on a daily basis. It’s just the nature of media that can make us feel uneasy, or overstimulated. I will say, I’m a frequent user of the internet, networks, media, etc. and there are definitely times where I feel I’ve seen too much or I’ve become distracted. We constantly see what people are doing. People tweet about their problems like it’s their journal, and all of a sudden you feel emotionally connected to the problem their tweeting about when you’ve literally had nothing to do with it. All of a sudden you start creating your own problems that don’t exist. You see an Instagram post of someone with a super model-like body, and maybe it’s not exactly what your body looks like. But now, you set a standard of how you should look. “Why don’t I look like that?” Truth is, the way you look is 99% of the time due to genetics. Your metabolism, your build, everything can be explained by your gene pool. So setting a body type standard on the super model you saw on Instagram, can be hard, considering her gene pool is different than yours. And that’s okay! Do NOT stress about other people’s bodies in comparison to your own. Worry about your own situation, and that will make things easier to set goals for yourself if you would like to improve anything.

No lie, it’s a good thing to be connected to the world, but sometimes it’s a good idea to clear the mind, and disconnect for a little bit.

Exercise, or do yoga.  Feeling stressed after a long day at work? Been sitting in an office chair for too damn long? Go workout! Put your headphones in, pick your favorite workout playlist, and tune in to tune out. This is probably my favorite form of de-stressing because one, I get to sculpt myself into getting in better shape, two, it scientifically makes me happy, and three it’s EASY. You don’t have to have a black card membership at Planet Fitness, or pay some monthly subscription. Go for a run outside! Walk the neighborhood. Go for a bike ride. Walk some more. Swim in your pool. Play some tennis. Get off your ass, somehow. Exercise helps you sleep better, regulates your breathing, helps the digestive system move along, and it’s even good for your skin complexion! The endorphin neurotransmitter is released when you workout or when you engage in strenuous activity, which can explain why you feel happy or vibrant after a workout, otherwise known as the “analgesic effect”. It helps relieve pain, whether it be stressful pain, or physical pain. Yoga is another great way to ease stress and escape from the outside world for a bit. Different breathing techniques, stretching of the body, and meditation are good ways to release unnecessary tension we may feel. It’s a good way to cleanse our spiritual side, and be in touch with our body.

Have a conversation with someone with your undivided attention. Why Shannon? Well, you see, in a world where we text, and speak to one another through other mediums of communication, it’s nice to have a simple conversation with someone face to face. Enjoying a conversation about god knows what, could simply distract you from whatever it is your stressing about. Really pay attention to what someone is saying. It makes them feel that what they’re saying is important, even though it may bore the living poo out of you, but you’ve engaged in some form of listening. Listening to someone else’s problems or ideas could give you perspective on your own. It also improves your communications skills.

Take time to enjoy your coffee.  This really only applies to coffee drinkers, I guess you could substitute with tea, but it’s pretty self explanatory if you ask me. If you’re not in a rush one morning, sit down, and don’t get up until your coffee/tea is finished. Relax.

Get up early. Start off your day early, so you have the full day to get done what you need to get done.

Create a To-Do list. For all you Type A individuals out there! Create a plan of attack for your day/week. Having an idea of what you want to accomplish is a great way to relieve stress. Just make sure you don’t overwhelm yourself with too many tasks! Remember if you finish at least one, you’re getting somewhere.

Read a book/article/newspaper/blog. Get entranced into a story! Regardless of the topic. Reading improves literacy, comprehensive ability, calms the nerves, and it’s the best way to travel through time.

Enjoy nature. Nature is sweet! Take a walk in the woods (with a friend please), go hiking, swim in the lake, climb a tree (carefully and swiftly), or even go hug one, listen to the ocean, breath in the fresh air. Nature is the one thing that is so much bigger than any of us, so enjoy being a small part of it, for this can relieve stress. I’m not asking you to turn to a flower child, or go all hippie, but just appreciate nature and what it has to offer.

Write it down. Whatever it is you’re feeling, write it down! Start a journal, or even just scribble it down on a piece of paper, napkin, or sticky note. This can be therapeutic for those less willing to talk about what they are feeling. I think it’s especially important to write down when you feel happy. Write down every last detail about how you feel in your time of happiness, so when you read it at a future date, go ahead and try to recreate the moment. It helps us feel time when we write. For some, writing can serve as a way to get your thoughts aligned. It can sometimes tell you whether your problem is really worth stressing out about or not.

Get rid of things you don’t use. Purge of the unused! Having extra things and nick knacks that you might have an emotional attachment to, even though you haven’t looked at it in 6 years, may contribute to your stress. It’s clutter! Save room for things that are actually important to you. It will simplify your life, and you’ll be able to keep track of your things a little better.

Take a short nap. Naps are super important! And they don’t have to be long either. By sports-science studies, people and athletes who took naps 15-20 minutes long felt more energized during the rest of the day rather than someone who didn’t take a nap, or took too long of a nap. Taking naps that are too long can throw off your circadian rhythm and no one wants to be up all night, however any type of sleeping allows your body to heal, burn fat, relax, and dream. So that’s pretty cool!

Remove difficult people from your life. This is actually easier than it sounds, and way easier than people make it out to be. If someone is making you unhappy, throwing you some shade, or making your life difficult, you don’t have to keep them around. More like, you don’t have to stay around. Referring to get rid of things you don’t use, “save room for things that are actually important to you.” This includes people as well. Some people can provide a lot of negative vibes when they enter a room. They’ll get the hint when they realize that people just want to live their lives without someone trying to bring them down with negative sappiness.

Change around your room/living space. Change can be refreshing! Putting things in different places and moving things around to create a new scenery is important in relieving stress.

Listen to music. Music is good for ANY situation. Whatever music tickles your pickle, listen to it. Listening to music can calm our auditory nerves, and help us escape from outside forces of the world. Music helps escape time.

Have a dessert. In moderation, of course. But have something sweet. Enjoy it because you deserve it!! Remember chocolate is ALWAYS the cure, unless, of course, you don’t like chocolate. Sorry.

Kiss. Whether it’s your significant other, or some rando on the street, science about kissing DOES NOT LIE.  According to facts, “kissing boosts levels of neurotransmitters like dopamine (which is involved in craving and desire) and serotonin (which elevates mood and can help spark obsessive thoughts about a partner), which both make you feel good. It decreases the stress hormone cortisol and increases serotonin levels in the brain. Kissing has also been measured to lower anxiety and has similar benefits to meditation.” How about them apples? Smooch away people!

And most importantly…


Take time for yourself.

Honestly, this encompasses everything I’ve talked about in this blog post. You have to take care of yourself. Whether you’re a big business executive, a mother, a father, a sibling, a friend, or whatever role you may take in society, you have an unselfish obligation towards something. A lot of the time, we do what we do primarily for something or someone else. Whether it be the business we work for, the team we play for, the coach, our boss, our parents, our country, SOCIETY– the list can go on. This is the most overwhelming thing for some. But where is the time for “me”? This is where we take a “me” day. If you can, try to ask your boss for the day off to get your life in order. Go shopping and treat yourself to some new cloth to wear around town. Do it alone if you want. Go get yourself a coffee. Put as much cream and sugar in it as you want, so much, that it doesn’t even have to be coffee anymore if you don’t want it to be. Go for a drive by yourself. Take a bath with some candles. “Sitting in your own filth” they say? I call it heaven. Need to go for a walk to clear your head? Do it. Want to go get your nails done? Girl, work it. If you need to be isolated for a little bit, that’s not a bad thing, and no, you’re not turning into a recluse. It’s just for once, you’re alone with your own thoughts, actions, and feelings. You are not overwhelmed with everyone else’s opinions, thoughts, feelings, problems, insults, etc. Just you. And by no means is that “selfish” in a bad way. It’s simply taking care of your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual states.


So if you feel overwhelmed, stressed, or lost in this day in age, do not worry! A lot of us feel your pain. There are so many things that try to complicate, influence, and toss our opinions and thoughts every which way. Take a deep breath. Do the simple things that can make a monumental difference in your well being. Stay true to yourself. Be honest with yourself, and don’t forget to live! Enjoy life, and live simply.










The Pattern of “Love”


So something you should know about me is that I am a sucker for romance. I really am. It may not seem like it in public, and the display of affection might not be plastered all over signs and posters, but alas, I am in love with love.

As a little girl growing up, I would watch Sleeping Beauty. Over, and over, and over again. You see, I’m not going to place all the blame on the beloved “true love’s kiss” for setting the bar so high for my idea of love, but it definitely plays a part. As I watched the infamous Disney princess movies, of the prince charming, saving the damsel in distress, I started to notice a pattern that existed between the girl and guy.

The pattern goes a little something like this:

Man and woman meet. Man courts woman using the utmost chivalry in his bones to test the waters.  Woman then decides her feelings about the man. Man asks to see woman. Again, then again. They see each other close to everyday at this point. Great. Man finds himself alone with woman, where he gently gazes into her eyes, grabs her, and kisses her. Things are definitely heating up now. We have now escaped the friend zone at this point. Man and woman then find they enjoy this kissing thing they do. Man and woman now kiss all the days of the week. Twice to three times a day. Lots of kissing. They enjoy kissing so much, that they decide they want to do it for the rest of their lives. Man asks woman to marry him. She says “yes!” without hesitation. Man and woman soon have approximately 2.5 children to satisfy the planet’s scarcity/growing population/etc. Man and woman live happily ever after. The end!

Quite the pattern huh? This pattern has been formulated over many years of observing relationships. I’m no doctor, but that’s how it goes for the most part, does it not? I mean come on, I definitely did not have the brain capacity as a toddler to understand any of it. But does the pattern actually exemplify an accurate depiction of “true love?” What is true love? How do I get it? How do I know I have it?

The questions rolled through my head. Throughout middle school, and parts of high school, I was insecure to the fact that just maybe, I would never find love. Mom said, “we love you, Shannon and that’s all that matters.” Now Mom was soooo right about that (love you Kathleen). Having family love is a kind of love that goes deeper than your own being. I’m not going to say you’re born into it, but I will say your family can’t, for a lack of better words “unlove” you. I had a couple of boyfriends, who were very good guys, who came from great families, who treated me well, who I had tons of fun with, but who had never made me feel something different. These relationships eventually ended, with no harm done, but that’s how I knew it was not love that I felt for these people in the first place. This saddened me. I had this fixed pattern etched in my brain. I wanted it to happen to me. Why couldn’t I awaken from my innocent naivety with “true loves” kiss?

I’ve figured, that with more years lived, with more people observed, the answer to my questions had nothing to do with the pattern at all.

It came down to self-awareness. Throughout my young adult life, I have learned, it is so important to stay true to who you are. To know what you’re about. To be aware of your insecurities and strengths alike.  I say this because if you don’t know who you are as an individual, how are you going to be comfortable loving, let alone knowing someone else? How are they going to be able to accurately assess who you are, if you don’t know yourself? It’s confusing. For everyone. It happens to be the underlying issue of today’s generation. We are constantly told what we should do. How we should do it. Who we should do it like. It takes away our individuality. Our spunk of finding ourselves and learning through our own experiences. The reality is, there is no possible, or 100% accurate comparison that can be made among individuals of the world. It’s simply because everyone is different.

Which brings me back to this so-called “pattern” I have formulated in my head about love. The pattern is, for the most part, accurate. But since every human being is different, we cannot pin point exactly what love should feel like. It’s a personal experience. No love is the same. I hate to sound like a broken record, but social media, and any type of media for that matter, glorifies a certain image of love. The way it should sound; the way it should look. Truth be told, we search for what love should look like. Or to quote the film, Perks of Being A Wallflower, “we accept the love we think we deserve.” We formulate a plan of how to achieve that type of love. But that’s just not natural, now is it?

Love shouldn’t be forced. If two people enjoy each other, for whatever reason or reasons that may be, that’s a starting point. But love is so much more than that. It’s intimate. It’s intense. It’s individual, but together.

I encourage you, to love naturally. I’m not going to go on a huge rant of how love should be or not be. But the most important part that I will tell you– you don’t have to do the searching. It should find you. Love takes no template. It just is, and when you find it, it’s truly glorious.


OH NO!? She’s really done it, hasn’t she. Succumbed to earth-shattering conformity of blogging, that has shook the generation to the core; I am Shannon Magnan. This is my “not so official looking”, official blog page. Pretty cool, huh? Kind of rough in the process, and I’m not going to say it’s perfect, but if there is a text box somewhere for me to type in, and a website for you to visit to read that text, then I think we’re all going to do just fine in this whole process.

Now the first step in all of this, and the only thing I ask from all of you reading, is to just stick with me. I tend to talk a lot, about a lot of things, but I promise you it will be worth your while.

The birth of this stupid idea happened just now, actually. I wouldn’t say completely out of boredom,  but I will say that I’ve been in the University Financial Planning and Budget office for about 6 hours now, looking at an Excel spreadsheet, wanting to cry while I snack on some overpriced, Pizza flavored Combos (my piece of shit lunch.) I’ve now thrown away the bag of combos, finished whatever hood-rat BS I was doing before, and here we are. However, I have always wanted to blog. It’s fun, I’m okay at writing about stuff, and I like to see what people have to say about the stuff. Pretty simple right?


So our adventure embarks today! Thanks for reading.