The Power Walk

“I have a trail I want to show you. Will you go walking with me?”

Admittedly I’ve put on a few pounds. The thought of walking didn’t sound as appealing as drinks and appetizers. However, my mother is a ridiculously busy person and we never get to spend time together so I accepted her invitation. She’s one of those people who “have it together.” The reliable conservative type.

“Maybe if I walk with her, her sense of order will rub off on me because I definitely didn’t get it genetically.”

When I got home from work, I informed my husband I was going for a power walk with my mom. I know him. He probably immediately envisioned old ladies at the mall with pink dumbbells in their hands with walkmans and black Sony headphones. He’s a runner. He runs at least 6 miles a day so walking makes no sense to him. When I came out the bathroom in my hot pink Miami souvenir t-shirt and my psychedelic Hot Soxx and tights, he gave me a quizzical look. “You’re not going to burn any calories. Why are you dressed like that?” I smiled, kissed him and the kids and left.

The truth? I was genuinely excited. I needed a break. Just a moment to decompress. An hour to reassess the tasks on my mental “to do” list. I have colleagues who “unplug” weekly. They do not tend to their phones, social media or personal email for a day or two. An old friend of mine has a rule that neither she nor her spouse can answer their cellular phones after 9pm. When the kids are asleep and it’s just the two of them it becomes time to unplug from everyone else and recharge their union. It sounds corny but there is validity to it.

“When I came here before, all these trees had no leaves. Some of the flowers looked dead like they’d never bloom again. Now they’re all green.”

The power walk was a physical reminder that life is just a meandering trail that we haven’t seen before. We don’t know what comes next. We can fret over bugs. Or maybe at night someone will jump out of the darkness and attack us. A tree branch may break and fall on your head. No matter what happens there is also a strong possibility it will be scenic, pedagogical and best of all you may find company so you don’t have to walk alone.

The older I get, the more I value the friend that will pray with you. It’s like singing your favorite song and someone just jumping on the hook and harmonizing with you. That’s powerful!

The trail may be unique to you but someone else has already walked it. Seek counsel from wise elders, mentors, or even blog communities. There are people who have been through what you’ve been through or they are going through it right now with class and ease. They’re making it look easy!! While you’re panicking, they’re strategizing and preparing for the next blow.

After the walk we went to Wendy’s (I did get a salad at least) but regardless of what I ate I felt lighter. I shed some stress. I was a little more content with the lack of control that humanity sometimes requires. It really was a power walk.

By Shaun Liriano

What are you doing?

Years ago I worked for a reputable insurance company (I’ll leave them nameless.)  I was in their customer service department.   I received a verbal warning one day (first stage of disciplinary action) because our quality team caught me writing poetry while on a phone call with a customer. Now, I’m the queen of multitasking so the customer wasn’t neglected at all. I would write when the customer said “give me one minute” or “just a sec, let me find that paper.”  It happens all the time.  Instead of sitting there rolling my eyes, staring at the phone wondering, “What are you doing?”  I would write.  I would write poetry.  I would write narratives. I would create stories around the customers and imagine the details of their lives.   Then when they said, “Okay I’m back, sorry about that”  I would snap back to reality. At this particular job, I took 1000 calls a month.  Yet, they scolded me.  I couldn’t understand it.  If I was doodling in a pad, it wouldn’t be a problem but typing brilliance in Microsoft word was enough to get a recorded warning from a superior.

I was livid.

That was the moment my feelings towards that source of income changed.  I even remember performing a poem at an open mic that night entitled “disciplinary action.”  The crowd loved it.  The warning was unfortunate for my customer service career but it inspired an influential moment in my love for poetry and stage performance.

Sometimes I’ll send my daughter to the bathroom to brush her teeth.  Fifteen to twenty minutes will pass and I’m waiting for her to finish so I can read her a story.  I’ll scream into the bathroom “What are you doing?”  She’s always responds,” I don’t know.”  In reality she was singing, dancing, making animals out of the toilet paper, cleaning the sink  with hand soap or just staring into space.  I ask her, “Why do you say you don’t know when you know exactly what you were doing?”  She just laughs at me.

I went to a reading for a play a week ago.  When the reading ended the lights came up and everyone was beginning to stretch and socialize.  I was fixed. I couldn’t move.  I kept staring at this desk in the corner.  I could imagine writing at the desk. I could imagine doing homework with my children at the desk.  I could even imagine a naughty marital moment on top of the desk.  I completely zoned out.  I was gone. I could feel the splinters from the desk.  I could smell the wood. It was awesome.  I took a picture because I didn’t want to forget it and I knew there was some reason it impacted me the way it did.   An associate next to me said, “What are you doing?

I am making sure I don’t miss the sign I am supposed to see. 

Do not get distracted from what you are supposed to be doing.  Look at a picture and pay attention to the background.  There is something huge you were created for.  Don’t get in trouble playing with toilet paper and dealing with other people’s sh*t. You have to get your bread and butter but don’t forget the meat and potatoes.  You are here to do something meaningful and influential.  Do what makes you feel complete and let that be the distraction from day-to-day noise.

Hey! What are you doing?

By: Shaun Liriano

The Icing On the Cake …

Photo by Shaun Liriano

Your heart is cracked and split at the seams.  The losses you’ve endured, others wouldn’t have been able to survive. You’re resilience is unmatched.

Pride flows out of you like like a crashing winding river. It has unexpected bends and speeds.  It drowns everyone you touch in excellence.  Your stare exudes a longing for progression.

Your touch could melt ice. Your voice is soft but strong.  Your tongue is poetry.

Your hope is infectious.

Your smile makes the brightest star jealous .  It cannot match your luminescence.

You see…

The way you look and the way you feel is just the “icing on the cake.”

By Shaun Liriano

“As Far As I Can Throw You”

Photography by Shaun Liriano

He threw her.  Just threw her with full force like you chuck a football through a field. He threw her. She flew through the air.

I always knew I could fly, she said.

For the first time there was someone he could trust with his life and he wanted to show her that he cared.  He wanted to show her that she was special.  He wanted to show her that he’d be “mush” without her.

I trust you about as far as I can throw you, he said.

Then he threw her.  He hurled her body and watched it spiral through the air. His love poured out of the sweat that beaded on her forehead.  His faith sprouted wings in her back.  His hope stripped her naked and replaced her bland clothing with an aerodynamic super suit colorful enough to match her vibrant personality.

At first, she was afraid. Fretfully, she gathered herself and tried to get her bearings.  She tried to get used to being in the company of birds, high branches, and jet planes approaching their landings. She screamed in excitement.  No one seemed alarmed that she was up there.  They expected her to be in the sky.  It was as if she didn’t belong on the ground and everyone knew it.

He didn’t look at her though. Once he threw her he didn’t wonder if she could take flight.  He BELIEVED she could. So he obliviously kicked a ball through a field and watched it roll on. He read an article from time to time. He viewed television shows at leisure. He felt the warmth of an onlookers admiring glance. He chugged along knowing she was soaring through the sky for the first time.

Isn’t he wondering if I am okay?  How does he know a larger creature hasn’t consumed me?  Hasn’t he thought about my loneliness? Sometimes it’s cold up here.  I don’t know anyone up here.  Sometimes I’m scared.  I’ve never flown before.  I’ve never been thrown before.  At first it was fun but where is he?  What is he doing?

Her fear ignited a fire so fierce it singed her beautiful wings. It incinerated her custom costume.  It sent her flailing through the sky clumsily…falling.

She landed in a bed of roses.  The thorns, long and sharp, pierced her skin and her blood mixed with the crimson red of the rose petals.  Her body naked and covered in ashes and blood writhed in pain.

She screamed out in horror, “My love! Where are you?  Why didn’t you fly with me?  Why did you leave me all alone?”

Silence.  She waited in the cold.  Naked. Vulnerable.

All the while, he returned to the field of her original launch every day after breakfast.  He wondered why she never returned. He assumed she must be enjoying the clean air, the ascension.

Why didn’t she ever try to throw me?

He felt her absence but he also felt her presence.

-By: Shaun Liriano

*Dedicated to my muse.

My life is part humor, part roses, part thorns.

~Bret Michaels

 

 

Again…

There she goes again with that dumb hat.

She did her hair first and then she put on that dumb hat…again. 

Does she want me to pay for her hair?  She can’t think it’s sexy. It covers her eyes.  I love her eyes. It hides her long thick hair.  I love her hair.  I imagine having her hair sewn into a blanket I can wrap myself in. She puts a hoodie over that beautiful frame. She throws sweats on and she falls into “comfort” but I can’t find her in the layers of fabric.  There are already so many layers to her.  When I peel back one, I notice the next, and each time I peel I find something new to fall in love with or temporarily hate.  She’s an anomaly. She’s a walking talking anomaly.  She is proof of God’s sense of humor.  She was made out of perplexities and unrealistic expectations and …humility.  She’s a body of water moving freely through her own veins.  Water instead of blood.  She gives life to herself and still praises something greater than herself. 

I can’t see her eyes.  How will I know if she is listening to me?  How will I know she can hear my heart beating?  How will she see the footnotes at the heel of my thoughts with giant asterisks that only she is disciplined enough to notice and read?

How will I know if there are tears I need to wipe away? 

I hate that stupid ass hat. 

(Woman enters the room.  Just got dressed.  Freshly showered and in her “favorite hat”)

Woman: Hey babe.  How do I look?

Man:  You look beautiful.  I like your hat.

By: Shaun Liriano

Keeping it 1000

Focus.

You can only catch one chicken at a time.

and my favorite…

Jack of all trades and master of none.

A person who is multi-talented or curious is often considered to be “flighty”, “messy”, “lacking focus”, or a “dreamer.” These are your liberal arts majors in schools.  These are your subway singers. These are your “professional students.”  They are always “finding themselves.”  What I’ve noticed is these people are exhausting to their loved ones.  Are you one of the aforementioned?  Well, have you ever been asked any of the following?

So what do you want to do with that?

Oh! So you’re a _____________now?

What are you going to do for money?

The questions are fielded towards you and what do you do?  Do you get defensive because they don’t “get” you?

There isn’t much I think believe I cannot do (thought and belief are different but that’s a separate post.) I’ve tried it all.  I’ve done personal training, martial arts, I took security guard training, I played tennis, I played chess in college my freshman year (although I wasn’t very good)…you get the idea.  The only two things that have been constant in my life are music and literature.  They pacify my inner baby.  When I enter that space, I am in another world.  I am in a safe cocoon of calm.  I am invincible.  I am untouchable.  There is no high like that of creating something and seeing the effect it has on others.  That connection is remarkable.  It’s a human relationship that allows you to alleviate someone else’s pain or share in their happiness. Although those are my constants, it doesn’t mean I am not capable of doing something else.

Your ambition is your double-edged sword, Shaun.

Currently, I am in a place of self exploration.  I am taking an acting class. It is freaking amazing!  I wanted to sharpen my stage presence as a poet.  I signed up for the class and it has opened doors of opportunity that I couldn’t have imagined.  I’ve met people who have been in the industry for decades.  The networking, the experiences, the tips, the tricks, the progression I’ve made is priceless. Now, I can create monologues with my free verse poetry and I personally know actors, playwrights, and venue owners who can bring my writing to life. The excitement I feel is so juvenile.  It is a childlike hope.

It is a childlike hope.

Sometimes people say, “let me keep it 100 with you.”  That means they are going to tell you the truth.  They are giving you 100%.  When someone is really trying to bring it home they may say, “I’m gonna keep it a thousand!”

They’re keeping it real.

Well, I’m going to keep it a thousand…

Do what you do, every day, to the best of your ability and with no apologies.  If you’re a genius, no one will understand what the hell you are doing.  You may be judged.  You may be called names. God willing your loved ones will support you and love you even in a state of confusion.  You can reward them later when you are successful.  You can write in a journal so they can read your thoughts when you’re dead. Whatever you decide to do is okay as long as its authentic.   Do not use monetary value to bring legitimacy to what you do.  There are people crying in mansions.

Check out what I found randomly googling one day:

3. A jack of all trades is a master of none.

This saying got cut short as well and originally said “A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.” Unlike what our version would lead you to believe, having multiple interests but not being an expert in anything could actually prove advantageous.

https://www.theodysseyonline.com/7-phrases-youve-been-misquoting

If you’re good at everything…do everything!  Kick ass at it.  Bust down doors instead of waiting for them to open. Make it hard to be ignored.  Surround yourself with people who believe in you.

The only way you can fail is by second guessing yourself and listening to the voices in everyone else’s head.  You can do this.

-Shaun Liriano

 

 

 

Don’t Complain

I remember when a good friend of mine was pregnant with her first child.  We are college buddies.  We were at an event for another friend of ours.  We’re standing by the bar (of course she wasn’t drinking) and an acquaintance looks at her blooming belly and begins a conversation about childbirth and the woes of being a mother.  This was a lengthy talk.  Our eyes grew wider as we listened intently.  This was many years ago but all I remember are the forewarnings vividly.

Oh you like to be cute! I see your nails are done. You won’t have time for that.

You’re lucky if you get a chance to eat!

This happens all the time.  Right?  A group of “seasoned mothers” with a “mother-to-be.”  We tell them about the hours of labor, the pain, what color your body part turned, what new smell you discovered…

When my cousin was pregnant with her son, another family member and I were “bragging” about the happenstance of being able to shave and shower in the same session without interruption.  Pregnant Cousin promptly responded, “You two sound like refugees!”

She’s right.

Today, I laugh about the awkward conversations amongst the mommy crew.  Its honestly all in comradery.  I don’t think anyone ever wants to scare the new mommies.  Motherhood is something to celebrate.  It is never dull, you are always learning, and you are consistently responsible for the experiences and growth of another human being.

One of my favorite quotes is by Kahlil Gibran:

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

There are days where I am completely exhausted from work.  Then it’s time to put on my “mommy hat.”  I have to do homework, clean, prepare food (or at least take it out the fast food bag,) run bath water, make lunches, read, pray with the kids, and then finally collapse and try to take care of myself. Like any human I get overwhelmed but I love my children.  I love doing arts and crafts with my step daughter, watching movies with my 3 year old, and having crawling races with my son (I always let him win.)  There are challenges and there are tests that I in no way could have been prepared for so now I just stay in tuned with gratefulness.

I read an article (http://nypost.com/2017/04/23/several-dead-after-house-fire-breaks-out-in-queens/)  the other day that floored me.  I had just finished arguing.  I woke up on the wrong side of the bed and it was too late to go back to sleep and try again.  I woke up an asshole.  I can admit it.  It happens to the best of us but I was saddened by the article.

Four children died in a fire.

I kept seeing the words flash across my mind like a scrolling LED message. What a sobering moment.  It was like God screamed “STOP COMPLAINING!”

STOP COMPLAINING

What would you do without these “little headaches?”  I have another cousin that calls them “freedom suckers.”  I am eternally grateful for the blessing of being a mother.  There are other titles that I am so proud of but that one has to be the best.

Finally, when I was pregnant with my daughter I remember a co-worker saying, “One day you will be alone with the baby and the baby will be crying and you will be crying and you two will just cry together and soothe one another.” Whoa!  I felt depressed but that isn’t necessarily a sad moment.  I know several mothers who have experienced that and it is a tremendous bonding time with your child. You both want to be heard.  You both probably don’t even have a specific reason for crying.  You both will provide comfort in a unique way.  Crying isn’t an expression of weakness.  Crying is how you bathe your soul.

Take a bath today.  Try not to complain. Enjoy every part of who you are.

-Shaun L