Sharla Dawn Gorder

Writer – Speaker

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© Jem Sullivan

          It is one of those weary bleary mornings.  I had awakened way before dawn at 3:00 AM by a very rude headache.  I tried to ignore it (the way I try to ignore rude and obnoxious people) and doze back off, but the hammering was too loud, too jarring.  For half an hour, I tangled and wrangled with the sheets (sorry Ted), then I just got up and took a shower in the dark.  I got some coffee, took a couple of Excedrin Migraines and propped myself up against the headboard and tried not to move.  The headache dimmed, leaving its buzzy echo behind. 

            Then the anxiety kicked in; I sat in the darkness mind-tweaking:  How the hell was I supposed to function today?  When would I be able to sneak in a nap?  How will I be able to focus enough to get my column written for the paper? Where will I get the energy to teach my class? Why am I such a lousy sleeper?  Is something seriously wrong with me?  Am I getting sick?  Am I already sick, and just don’t know it?  Is that dark spot on my wrist really a freckle?  Why is it so cold in here?  What time is it already? Will it ever get light outside?  And on and on and on. Continue Reading

           I cried this morning.

           About the birds.

            They didn’t accost me.  And that made me sad.

            Just a couple of weeks ago the feisty little critters chased me into the Gulf.   Yes, that was me, splashing around in my pretty new yellow dress. And no, I had not planned on going swimming in my clothes at dawn.  

            And yes, that was me, flailing around, arms thrashing overhead and in front of my face like a displaced interpretive dancer on hallucinogens. And no, I was not having a psychotic break. 

            It may have looked that way from the dunes or the balcony of your condo, because you probably couldn’t see my assailant. But I swear, I’m mostly sane. I rarely go swimming at dawn—fully clothed and frantic.  Neither do I dance that early in the day (though I have been known to sing). Continue Reading


            Quick, is there anyone who comes immediately to mind when you read the title of this story?  Conjure an image of their face in your mind.

            Now, imagine that everyone you know is reading this post simultaneously.  What are the odds that your face graces the imagination of a friend, co-worker or family member? 

            In other words—are you, at times, passive aggressive, manipulative, gossipy, or duplicitous? 

            If you answered quickly with a resounding, “No!  Not me—but let me tell you about my boss, mother-in-law, sister, or friend,” you can stop reading right now.  These words will most likely be a waste of your time.  And I estimate that it will take the average reader about 12 minutes to read them all.  But it’s your call.

            The danger in writing about this issue, and other dysfunctional personality traits and behaviors, is that, if I’m not careful, I can set the ball rolling in the blame game—a contest that has no winners, a contest that makes victims of everyone.  And self-appointed victims are perhaps the most cray-cray of all. Continue Reading

           I found myself ruminating as I walked (more like trudged) the beach this morning.  I woke up inexplicably sullen and anxious, and my mind was scrambling around looking for justifications for my dour mood: didn’t sleep well, a family member hurt my feelings, my friend never called me back about dinner, I haven’t written a decent paragraph in a week, I still can’t play B minor on my guitar, I gained a pound after eating nothing but kale and arugula all week, the sunrise was obscured by clouds, and what’s with all this seaweed on my beach?

            It was down around Avenida 18 that I nearly stepped on a little treasure in the shore break, one I don’t see every morning.  Amidst the broken conchs and whelks and jingles and augers, tangled in that annoying seaweed, I happened upon a starfish. Continue Reading

 Stop counting your blessings.

            Yes, you read that right.  Just stop.  Stop counting your blessings; I think I’ve got a better idea. 

            I’m not averse to enumerated lists, mind you. Heaven’s no!  I confess that I’m rather compulsively drawn to the lure of the list.  I recently ran across a spiral notebook in a box of old diaries from when I was about 15, that was nothing but lists:  lists of everything I’d eaten when I’d been on a diet, (which was always), lists of everything I’d spent (when I was trying to save my allowance for Joni Mitchell’s new “Court and Spark” record), lists of everything I’d borrowed (Diana Swift’s off-the-shoulder Indian print maxi-dress, which I still haven’t returned), and everything I’d loaned (most everything in my closet).  There were shopping lists, homework lists and prayer lists. I even ran across a list of every “boyfriend” I’d ever had—it was alarmingly long for a fifteen year-old!  Ha! 

            No, I love me some lists—I write a “to-do” one just about every day of my life—and at the very top of each one is this cryptic reminder:  TIS.  (I’ll decode that for you later.) Continue Reading