Embrace All Surprises (Easier Said Than Done)

I like surprises.

I do not discriminate.  I love stereo-typically pleasant surprises like flowers,books, bags, watches, dates, drawings from my children and yummy food (just to name a few).  I also appreciate “unpleasant” surprises because I believe they reveal a truth that is often necessary for your destiny.  Shaun, what does that mean?  It means, self-righteousness or if I may dare say salvation or if I go a step further …PURPOSE is rarely ethereal.  To over simplify my point, lies/secrets revealed may cause pain but they spark a change that would have been unable to grow in darkness.  We need light.  We all need light.

Constructive criticism is usually a surprise and seldom received as constructive.  Usually it invokes anger, resentment and maybe even shame.  However, I believe that even when it is surprising to hear something unexpected about your characteristics or behavior it can still be an experience in development. Instead of making a face and shutting down we can use it as an opportunity to modify.

This is a new philosophy for me.  I do not traditionally take criticism well.  I do not always deal with crisis effortlessly.  I am learning to expand in those areas and exhibit the strength I have.   However, I recently reflected on what was a very challenging time in my life and I realized I would never have made the leap to be more consistent in my spiritual journey if it had not been for the opposition.  As humans we get comfortable.  It takes the element of surprise to shake the ground from under us and force us to rebuild.

If you didn’t get denied for that loan you applied for, would you be attempting to repair your credit now?

If that toxic relationship worked out, would you know that you were slowly committing yourself to an environment where it is dangerous to dream ?  Would you know that you are poisoning your passions?

You studied for the test.  You almost passed. You were confident you could pass.  You were surprised when you failed. Now you are determined to get 100%.  You are less nervous, less anxious, and you are going to succeed because each time you failed you completed another step to pruning your proficiency.  

One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do. -Henry Ford

https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/surprises

Now it is in no way my intention to motivate the malicious mind.  If you know you are attempting to create chaos and disruption then this message is not for you.  Yet, if you are diligently doing everything you can to invoke any innate goodness within then…

Be bold. Love hard. Take advantage of every opportunity to learn. Don’t be afraid. Embrace all surprises or Shut Ya Mouth and Call Me Ugly.

By:Shaun Liriano

I love reading your comments and your insight.

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Pray With Me

Pray with me

Pray with me
Entwine your fingers with mine
Feel my palms sweat and don't shy from the warmth of my vulnerability
Pray with me not for me
Bow your head with graciousness
Stand at my side, not ahead of me or above me 
Dance to the rhythm of my heart beating feverishly
I want to hear your nervous feet shuffling from side to side
I want to see the imprint of your big toe through your shoe
May our intentions and desires be one.
See, I await anxiously, hoping God will see 
that I really hope
and I mean I really hope 
that the road to hell is NOT paved with good intentions
I intend to make a change in this world 
I intend to give children something good to dream about and chase their nightmares away
I intend to clean the filthy
I intend to give a hopeful beginning to those who just want it all to end
I intend to wake up every morning ...early...and spend an hour with myself 

There is something magical about holding hands with a stranger.

First Calvary Baptist Church (Inwood, NY)

Don't be alarmed as I tighten my grip
I just really needed someone to touch me today
I have desperately been waiting for an answer from God 
Desperately been shining as brightly as I can while filtering through so much darkness 
I have been holding my arms outstretched 
I have been kneeling with white paths on my face that begin where my eyes are and end somewhere between my neck and my chin
Waterways traveled there many times
They irrigate the mask I wear and unveil pieces of all that unravels me. 
Pray with me
Embrace me and let me feel the comfort of your awkwardness 
Let me know you are waiting for something from HIM too
Your are not untainted 
You are also afraid sometimes
You too, wish you could ...everything
Pray with me in the middle of the mess
Not at the end of the day when its quiet and neat and the candle is lit and its convenient
Pray with me, with rollers in your hair or your boxers and your A-shirt on, or with your stained apron that smells of fried chicken and plantain
while the kids are saying "Mommy" 5x consecutively...pray with me.
While the game is on...pray with me 
I need the blessing now 
We need the connection now
The calling is now 
The moment is now 
The answer is coming now

Pray with me because I can't shake the feeling that something heavenly awaits and we don't have to wait till we are at heaven's gate to be a part of something that perfect.
Pray with me because I needed you yesterday and the day before and the night before that.
Pray with me and I'll pray with you and we can glue each other back together.

By: Shaun Liriano




 

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