Sharla Dawn Gorder

Writer – Speaker

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© Jem Sullivan

Things that make you go, ahhh…

That’s my ulterior motive, just so you know—to make you go ahhh…   I hope to calm you down before your day shakes you up.  (How am I doing?)

I rise every morning before dawn, eager to see what the morning brings, because I now know, despite the quotidian routine of my mornings—teeth-brushing, bed-making, coffee drinking, dog feeding, husband kissing, dishwasher-unloading, story-writing—that when I step out onto that beach in the pre-dawn light, I will be in for a surprise. 

It is never the same, y’all.  And the colors never cease to amaze me—which is why I bought the extra-deluxe-super-duper-Crayola-120-crayon-box.  I wanted to see how many colors I could match to the morning.  And while many colors tend to show up often—Cadet Blue, Manatee, Melon, Periwinkle, Burnt Orange—there are colors, like Electric Lime, Razzle Dazzle Rose, and Purple Mountains Majesty—that streak the sky when I least expect it, and make me go ahhh.

If you follow me on Facebook (@sharladawnstoryteller) or Instagram (sharladawn), these snapshots of the sunrise show up on your news feed every morning, along with the crayon colors they inspire—and sometimes a little story—something to make you go hmmm, once you’re done going ahhh.  Ha!

Here are a few from the last couple of months. 

Do you see what I see?

This is so very clearly an angel wing, fallen from the sky, into my path here on the beach. A few years ago, I took some great advice—more like permission actually—from Deepak Chopra, from his “Book of Secrets.” “When you see the life that exists everywhere, acknowledge what you’re seeing. At first, it may seem peculiar to do this, but you are a co-creator, and you have the right to appreciate the patterns of connection you’ve made. Carrying yourself like a child of the universe isn’t a game of cosmic pretend…”

Allowing myself to indulge this childlike openness and curiosity has changed my life. I play with crayons and seashells. I build sand castles. I use my imagination to help me make sense of life. And my imagination sees an angel wing, here in the sand. And even more than its tacit implication—I’m being watched over—I see in that lovely broken shell a suggestion for today inspired by a favorite quote: “We are all angels with only one wing. We can only fly by embracing one another.”

Single wing seashells always remind me to reach out to another angel—either to ask for help or to offer it. We should not be trying to do this alone. We need not fly in circles.

Here, let me lend you a wing. 


Do you still believe in “Sunrise?” Even when you can’t see it or feel it. Even when it’s not what you wanted, not what you expected, not what you think you needed? Even when it’s boring–plain ole Crayola Blue and Gray? Do you?

So many seashells this morning. 

I like the broken ones. I do. In fact, I only pick up the shells that are in some way broken open. When I come across a shell that is fully intact, with no nicks or cracks (usually a dense and tightly curled olive shell) I often make a little mound of sand—an altar of sorts—and place the treasure atop, for the tourists to discover. 

But me, I like the broken ones—shells, and people.  I, myself, am a broken one.

I know that this sentiment makes folks cringe, and I understand why. Brokenness in our culture implies obsolescence, uselessness, resignation. Synonyms are “damaged,” “defective,” and “busted.” But from ancient spiritual perspectives, a broken and contrite heart is a holy sacrifice to God. Wabi-sabi, in Japanese aesthetic culture, celebrates flaws and imperfection. There is even a South Asian Goddess known as Akhilandeshwari, which roughly translates to “She-who-is-never-not-broken.”

I’m not sure exactly when I switched over from seeking out seemingly perfect shells to gathering only the broken ones, but it may have been about the time I started to apply the same policy to my friendships. The friends with whom I enjoy deep and intimate connections, are the ones who are humbly aware of their cracks and fissures, do not try to hide them, and are tolerant, even appreciative of mine. They are earnest and honest in their journey toward growth. I see in them the values of humility, vulnerability, and self-awareness, without judgment of others or self-pity. They know, as I know, we are all messy mortals. We help each other from a place of honesty and a desire to better serve God and one another. 

I have learned—the seemingly perfect ones are best left to the tourists. Ha!
This morning’s loveliness brought to you by Caribbean Green and Lavender. 

Just when I think it can’t get any better than this…wow! This dolphin accompanied me on my walk this morning, even seemed to double back a couple of times when I lagged behind. That was awfully nice of him. 

I’m going to pay that forward sometime today. 

Years ago I sang a beautiful song at my friend’s wedding (written by Bruce Springsteen). The lyrics still resonate: “If as we were walking, a hand should slip free, I’ll wait for you. Should I fall behind, wait for me.”

Thank you, my friends, for waiting for me when I’ve lost my way. I will wait for you too. I promise. 

Today’s dawn brought to me by my dolphin friend and Crayola Aquamarine and Pink Sherbet. 

It’s one of those broody, moody mornings—clouds and shrouds of gray-green mist, low hazy light, lazy air. The sun seemed so reluctant this morning—“Do I have to? Again?” And yet it rose, a dutiful yellow star on the horizon, then disappeared behind a mattress of ash-colored clouds.

I walked the beach sulking. (Yeah, I do that sometimes.) Somebody done me wrong, and I was rehearsing in my head my clever, righteous retorts. With every step toward that sun that wouldn’t shine properly for me, I got madder and madder—more and more indignant. More and more tangled up in my mangled mind. I went from sulking to seething. 

Then I heard it—Unh-uh!!! I was trudging back up the stairs to the house lost in my dark thoughts, and it scolded me again—Unh-uh!!! I looked around, chagrinned. I sat down in the big Adirondack chair on the corner of the deck and resumed my fuming. How dare anyone treat me…Unh-uh!!! Unh-uh!!! Unh-uh!!! Okay, okay, okay! I get it, you annoying little Fish Crow! I get it.

Choose another thought, Sharla. It isn’t rocket science. You get to choose. Every moment of every day, you get to choose. Pick another thought—a song lyric, a prayer, a jingle, anything else. 

I settled on trying to whistle the theme song to the Andy Griffith show—mostly to annoy the crow. 

Broody moody Sunday brought to you by Crayola Olive Green and Gray—and an obnoxious little Fish Crow in my driveway. 

On my walk this morning, I saw a solitary Black Skimmer gliding just inches over the water. I had already put my camera away, so I was obliged to simply observe and appreciate the beauty of this odd little bird, in its tiny tuxedo with flamboyant red accessories.

The Black Skimmer has a ridiculous underbite, and its eyes are more catlike than birdlike. He has Pippi Longstocking legs and a yippy bark that sounds like I stepped on Shuba’s squeaky toy. 

I watched this funky bird till he was a dot over the pier, while all the other birds behind me, mostly gulls and terns, scavenged the shore in cliques for dead stuff and refuse. And a silly thought occurred to me—I wonder if the other birds make fun of him. Is that why he’s alone? Is he the Rudolph or Edward Scissorhands of shore birds? Ha!

He is a unique bird—the only species (of nearly 1000) in all of North America that has that conspicuous underbite—with the bottom part of his beak longer than the upper. This allows him to fly low over the Gulf dragging the lower mandible through the water and snapping up supper as he soars. Can the other reindeer—I mean birdies—do that? I think not. 

Alas, we are all “fearfully and wonderfully made” according to specifications we may not ever fully comprehend—Rudolph with his shiny nose, Edward with his scissor hands and me with my extreme pensiveness. I’ve been this way forever, y’all. It sets me apart sometimes—in lonely ways. But it has also been known to save my life. I was created this way. Maybe it’s my super power. What’s yours? 

Today’s dawn brought to you by Crayola Unmellow Yellow and Shocking Pink. 

My “current” events today—sand currents. I just can’t do traditional news this morning. Maybe I’m burying my head in the sand (irony intended) today, but I need a day to disconnect, so that I might reconnect in a way that is more meaningful than this paralytic fretfulness I feel at the mere mention of these proper nouns—Las Vegas, Houston, Puerto Rico…I even heard what every coast dweller dreads—Jim Cantori calling my town out by name. (How dare he!) Yes, there’s another storm out there. But I refuse to watch it spin on the radar screen—or any other. I’m turning it all off today. I love Anne Lamott’s observation, “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” 

Sharla Dawn at Dawn brought to you by Crayola gray and white.  

Please don’t forget to “like” my new Facebook Author/Speaker page: @Sharladawnstoryteller. That’s where I’m posting all my Sharla Dawn at Dawn images and musings, plus information on speaking engagements, book promotions and sneak peeks into the new book I’ve begun writing.  I also post Sharla Dawn at Dawn photos and reflections on Instagram at sharladawn.  

Just in time for the  holidays!  Buy three, get one free, only from this website!

Books are also available from these and other gracious retailers:

At the beach:
         Geronimo’s Outpost
          69 Via DeLuna Dr.
          Pensacola Beach, FL 32561
          (850) 435-9555

In Gulf Breeze:
          832 Gulf Breeze Parkway
          (Publix shopping center)
          Gulf Breeze, FL  32561
          (850) 934-3436

In East Hill:
         Angel’s Garden
         1208 N. 12th Ave.

         Pensacola, FL 32503
         (850) 435-9555

Mall area:
Miles Galleries
           (at the front register)
           5109 Bayou Blvd.
           Pensacola, FL  32503
           (850) 607-6560

At Seaside:
         Sundog Books

         89 Central Square
         Santa Rosa Beach, FL  32549
         (850) 231-5481

In Fairhope:
        Page and Palette

        32 S. Secton Street
        Fairhope, AL  36532
        (251) 928-5295

In Spokane, Washington:
       Auntie’s Bookstore
       402 W Main Ave
       Spokane, WA 99201
       (509) 838-0206


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