Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Story

The story of my life is that I do things like hop on planes as though I'm that person. I put on make-up and haul my laptop in a cute bag and I walk with my eyes facing front, pretending I'm someone other than a girl who has never, ever executed an online pre-board (honestly, I don't even know what it's called and I'm not convinced it's even real...) I sit at the gate and flip through my phone like everyone around me, the notion washing over me, who have I become? I swore I'd never be a chronic boredom filler, but I let it recede. There's a local-famous person just a few seats down and when I point my phone directly at him and take a picture, he assumes I'm absent-mindedly scrolling through my Instagram feed.

Cory and the kids dropped me off curb-side last week with the kids still in pajamas, and it's really the only way to travel. I'll remember that the next time I schlep off alone to O'Hare, driving for hours, angsty that I'm lost, worried about parking and maneuvering and shuttle buses, pre-emptively anxious about airplane toilets (<< the WORST).

I'm not a good traveler.

Before every single flight I've ever made, I lie in bed a night or two beforehand and ask Cory, "What if I die?" I never feel okay until he promises me I won't. And when one of my kids tells me the night before this last trip, "I'm worried you'll get lost from us," I promise them the same - I'll come back. I promise - We all know better, but I take liberties and boss God around a bit. He is God and I am not, it's true. But my kids have born enough heartache and these are promises I should be allowed to make without reservation. Keep us needy in other ways, God. Please.

The story of my life is that I often get homesick for my family, once I'm "there". I always want to take them with me and I never feel fully right until I'm back home.

You're nodding along because you know it's true, this is what it means to have a family. It doesn't matter if you're the mom or the daughter or the sister or the girlfriend.We tie our souls inextricably to others and when there's too much slack, well, we're adrift.

But the story of my life is that sometimes, once I'm squirreled away, "disappeared into the sky," trusting my kids are still kissed and cared for; once I'm among people whom I love and who love me back, I fall into step. The blues recede, and I wiggle my shoulders into a different dress.

I'm linen when I thought I was always cotton.
Still me, but with time on my hands and a clearer head.

I sit in a barn among an unlikely sisterhood and feel untethered, strangely emotional, unsure of whether I'm mostly happy, mostly sad, or somewhere in between. There's a common thread between us, and I'm speechless over the way we're bound. They have welcomed me well and accepted me as fully Shannan.

But I can't bring them home with me.

The story of my life right now, with the last mockingbird in denial about the setting sun and the neighbors kicking up a fuss, I know I'm in need of people who not only acknowledge my life, but understand it. I need compatriots. I've become numb to the ways a weird life gets lonely.

The strum of a guitar, the song and the moonlight, they cracked something deep inside me.
I'll patch it up with tar and pitch. I'll patch it with a wish.

It won't be like this forever.

The story of my life is that I was meant for a hayfield, but that's not all.

I understand the weeds, never prettier than when they grab the light. I'm a sister to the busted-up sidewalks of this city. The flower that pushes up between them has my heart forever.

We think of ourselves as wholes, but maybe we're actually a thousand different intersecting arcs.

We are so many things. We won't stop contradicting ourselves. We couldn't if we tried.

We're incomplete works of art in a studio where progress sometimes looks like reheated soup and yesterday's socks.

The singular story of my life, and yours, is that it never stops bending/fading/snapping into view.

This is the story of life.


  1. I love this! I totally get it! Keep writing good stuff sister!

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  2. Linen when I thought I was's amazing the dresses we can slip into if we allow Him to push us out of our comfort zone. Yes?

  3. So pretty; so visual. I'm beginning chaplain training soon and I wonder who ministers to you? on that personal level? Is it us?

  4. Shannan, just saw your lovely home in Flea Market cool is that?!?!?!? Now the whole world can see your talent that your readers have enjoyed for years! Loved seeing that sweet boy and the cat in the photo shoot with you! Many, many congrats!

  5. My 3rd daughter (my fifth child) is home from China for almost 8 months now. She is 9 years old. At first, she was not ok with "this new mama" that she had. Now if I manage to slip away for a potty break, she waits outside the closed bathroom door while saying, "Mama? Mama, I will keep you company." I love this -- "We tie our souls inextricably to others and when there's too much slack, well, we're adrift." She needs a pretty taught line between us right now, which is sometimes wonderful and sometimes hard for mama. You put into words just what she feels and made me smile.

  6. My life is nothing like yours except for our shared faith, and yet every time you post, your words resonate deeply with me. Thank you. You're writing a book, right? Write quicker!!


    Muscle is built with progressive overload which means that the body is able to adapt to the stress that you put it under over a certain period. The condition that your body is in today reflects the quality of the conversation that you have been having with your own body.

  8. Well, it looks like fun to me. : - )

  9. ~~'The story of my life right now, with the last mockingbird in denial about the setting sun and the neighbors kicking up a fuss, I know I'm in need of people who not only acknowledge my life, but understand it. I need compatriots. I've become numb to the ways a weird life gets lonely.'~~ wow. truth.

  10. You are not the tea bag (as if I have ever called anyone a tea bag before....), you are not the hot water in the cup that flows through the tea are the cup. The porcelain cup that remains long after the beverage has been drunk. Hot or cold, full or empty, you are the cup that holds it all securely together, cradling, loving anything within your grasp. You are rather beautiful, Shannon, in how you see the world. I love how you love your family. Blessings.

  11. I read your blogs and am still left wondering, what did you do, where did you go, what was the occasion? The pictures don't tell me anything. Please, what were you doing? I understand you missed your family and you love the country, but I didn't understand the rest. Maybe you just have a different way of expressing yourself. I'm not criticizing here, just curious.

    1. She was at a retreat in North Carolina for all of the Incourage writers ( She links to the page where she talks about an unlikely sisterhood.

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  13. I was (randomly) chosen to attend Emily's Book Release Party next month at the barn. PLEASE say you will be there. I would love to meet you.