Sharla Dawn Gorder

Writer – Speaker

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© Jem Sullivan

(I love this story—a re-post from 2016.  Happy fa-la-la-la-la-ing, y’all.)

And we’re off!!!

‘Tis the season, y’all—in case you haven’t noticed.  It started well before Halloween this year, and now we’re already nearly a week into that post-Thanksgiving, pre-Christmas countdown.

And folks are cranky. 

It doesn’t help that this hectic holiday season falls within days of the most contentious political race in recent memory.  We’re starting out frazzled.  And we’ve still got 25 days to get through—and ideally, enjoy. 

And I think we can.  I certainly think we should.  But, for many of us, it will take conscious effort.  For me it will.  I have so much on my plate right now in addition to the cooking, shopping, decorating, hostessing and the other fa-la-la-la-la-ing that the season entails.  It’s mostly good, exciting stuff—marketing my book, teaching my classes, writing my blog, getting ready for a big family vacation, collecting seashells and sunrises…

But it is also a wistful time for me—and for most everyone I know.  It seems we have all lost someone we love, and for better or for worse, the holidays shine a spotlight on that empty place at the table, that empty stocking on the mantle.  We wonder what we will get them for Christmas, before we realize that they are no longer with us.  It’s an emotional time. Continue Reading

         The sky at dawn—so much lovelier with clouds.

         Likewise, the beach—so much more interesting after storms.

         The metaphors that these observations suggest to me sometimes seem trite, even reductive, on the surface.  Clichés, song lyrics and memes abound: Every cloud has a silver lining; what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger; after a storm comes a calm.  (Don’t try telling that to the folks in Panama City—yet.)

         Still, I see it every morning—the sky at dawn really is lovelier with clouds.  The beach truly is more interesting after storms.  And despite the fact that bright sunny days and tranquil seas are the metaphors we’ve all come to associate with happiness, I’m learning that it truly is the inclement weather that enriches my life and inspires me to become a better human.  And it’s not just because stormy days make me appreciate the sunny ones.  No, I think I’m on the verge of learning to appreciate the storms themselves. Continue Reading

I’m throwing myself a party this weekend, complete with birthday cake, party hats, balloons and presents!  I love presents.  I love to get them, and I love to give them.  I’m really good at both. 

But there’s a rule for this birthday party—in bold print right there on the invitation—No gifts please, unless you made it yourself, grew it yourself, wrote it yourself, or will sing, recite or play it yourself.  Draw me a picture or sing me a song.  Write me a limerick or grow me a flower.  Make me a macaroni necklace or a popsicle stick picture frame…

I’ve never been more excited to “open” presents.  Even folks who claim not to have “a creative bone in their body” are digging deep (perhaps in their garden), having some fun (like a kindergartner), and thinking outside the box (or gift bag).  Picasso wrote, “Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”      Continue Reading

“It doesn’t have to be this way.  It doesn’t.” (pg. 218 My Vices Collide; A Celebration of Being a Little Messed Up)

Is it vain to quote myself?  Well, maybe so, but no truer words have ever been spoken by me.  So I will say them again:

It doesn’t have to be this way.

I am proof.

You think it is a secret.  It is not.

You think you’re alone.  You’re not.

You think, “If I can only learn to moderate…” You can’t.

You think it will always feel like this.  It won’t.  It doesn’t have to.  I swear to you it doesn’t have to. 

Talk to someone. Before the sun sets today, tell someone that you’re struggling. If you can’t imagine who you’d tell, then tell me.  You’ve got my number.  Really. 

The following story, “Do Tell,” was the third story in the “Redemption” section of my first book.  It was hard to write.  It took me three weeks.   I thought I had nailed it.  My editor thought otherwise. So, I went to work on the next chapter, “All Told.”  It took an additional month, and once I was done, I felt like a weight had been lifted, followed immediately by an odd feeling of apprehensive determination.  Was I really going to publish this?

Yes, I was. I did. 

I did it for you, because you think you’re alone in this.

You’re not.     

Continue Reading

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