Sharla Dawn Gorder

Writer – Speaker

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© Jem Sullivan

It was dawn and the beach was deserted—just me and my heron.  I shambled along the water’s edge, half-asleep, moving east toward the sunrise.  About two blocks into my walk, at about Avenida 14, I noticed another denizen of the dawn start to make his way down from the houses to the water. Our paths intersected, and before I could offer a greeting, the man blurted out, “I like your stuff.”

Ha!  Now if you have ever been unfortunate enough to see me before my first cup of coffee in the morning, I’m sure you understand my alarm—and perhaps his. 

My immediate response was to look apprehensively around me—were we really totally alone on this vast beach?  Why yes; yes we were.  I then looked down at my own disheveled self, and muttered the most eloquent of greetings—“Uh.” Continue Reading

“The best thing for being sad…is to learn something.”

Sometimes the best advice is the simplest.  And sometimes that advice comes from a legendary Welsh wizard—and a Facebook friend.

A couple of months ago I was idling around on social media, feeling a bit blue, purposeless, and irritable, when I stumbled upon a post that captured my fickle attention and held it. 

The post was not accompanied by a striking photograph.  It wasn’t flashily formatted with a bright background and a fancy font.  No, it was just some typed words—my friend’s words—and a quote.

Pattie—one of the most creatively brilliant women I have had the pleasure of knowing (for over 35 years)—reported that she had been feeling “sad,” and that her sister had shared with her a most hopeful and unconventional bit of advice from a fictional sorcerer of Arthurian legend. 

This is what Merlin the Magician, in T.H. White’s The Once and Future King, has to say about being sad, or blue, or melancholy—or even, I dare add, depressed: Continue Reading

Youser Manual, Part Three

I found a letter in an old keepsake box—a love letter actually.  Across the top of the single sheet of notebook paper, in careful cursive, was the salutation:  To Sharla with love.  My heart fluttered a little to read those words.  The letter was dated March 10, 1975.  We were sixteen.

It is not hard to recall this love from my adolescence.  It was a good love, a strong love, a true love.  It is not hard to remember this love because it was an enduring love—and to this day remains good, and strong and true.  In fact, we had lunch together, this love and I, on Saturday.  Along with my husband and son.  Continue Reading

Youser Manual, Part Two

I got unfriended a couple of weeks ago.  It wasn’t very nice.  Yet it was very necessary.  And I swear I’m not sitting here snacking on sour grapes when I tell you this: I am relieved.  A little sad.  A lot baffled. But nonetheless relieved.

Unfriend.  What a hostile sounding word.  Everybody knows what it means in the context of social media—to remove someone from your list of “friends” on Facebook.  But fortunately, that can happen without you even knowing it, and you may not have been actual friends to begin with.  In real life however, when you are “unfriended” you usually know it.  And it hurts to be “removed.”   To be dismissed.  To be rejected.  (Abandonment issues, anyone?)

I have been removed, dismissed and rejected before.  And I have, myself, been the remover, the dimisser, the rejecter.  Sometimes the end slowly evolves; other times, it’s like a you’ve stepped on a landmine.  Whoa!  What just happened?  Is that my leg over there? Continue Reading

What if your husband came with a “user manual”?  Or your boss?  Or even your new friend at the club?  What if you, yourself, came equipped with a little booklet of instructions designed to help others understand how you best function, what might cause you to short circuit, and, perhaps most importantly, what helps facilitate enjoyable or helpful “usage” of you (yousage, ha!) in the context of important relationships in your life? 

What if? 

Would your user manual resemble the tome issued with the 1975 Betamax video recorder, about 9000 pages—translated into every language but Pig-Latin?  Or would your instructions fit neatly on a label—machine wash, drip dry?  Or maybe it would be something in between?

For weeks I’ve been pondering the idea of a “relationship user manual” or “friendship user manual,” based on a business article that my husband shared with me last month about a guy named Jay Desai.  He is the young CEO of health technology startup, PatientPing.   Continue Reading