Let’s Get Cheesy

I’ve decided to post the things I’m grateful for this Fall…

The colors of crimson, cocoa, evergreen, sand, and rust surround me in open fields. They close me in like a child shutting their lunchbox lid before the bossy kid comes to trade. I’m safe in here. I’m hidden. I’m protected.

The temperature is always just right. The rain is never too heavy. The sun is never too hot. The wind is never too fierce. I can meet with nature at any time of day and be greeted with an all welcoming environment.

They remind me of my childhood. Red light green light…1 2 3. “Helicopter helicopter” they shout and they Jump as high as they can. Jump rope, manhunt, tag, Simon says, all they need is each other. They make musical notes with their mouths and bend their bodies backwards under a broomstick and play limbo. They need no cords. They need no buttons. One blows bubbles and the other one pops them. One belts a song out like a 90’s R&B one hit wonder. The other dances. They draw dreams in driveways and ask me not to wash it away. I let God and the rain decide when the ground will be black again.

Pieces of my tribe

Pumpkin spice latte’s and apple cinnamon candles bring a little luxury to my day to day. Jack-o’-lanterns dress my doorstep. Autumn leaves wind down my railing. Chrysanthemums await on the patio.

Liberty Park, Queens
Photo by Shaun Liriano

This moment that I share with a ceiling fan, a flickering light, lavender scented pillows, and the moonlight coming through my open blinds. I am thankful for this moment. I can hear my youngest daughter snoring in her toddler bed. I feel accomplished with the execution of today’s activities. I’ve managed in the best way I could and I know my best is enough. My lower back may be sore, my feet are sick and tired of me but my HEART is full. I can express to decompress when so many people wish they knew how to expel the feelings that overwhelm them. I bleed voluntarily and breathe intentionally and for that I am grateful.

By Shaun Liriano

Clean Your Life

What does that mean?

When I started putting my vision board together this year with a group of friends, I didn’t know why I cut those words out. Something about them screamed at me. Each letter grew two arms and reached for me to rescue them from the dated magazine they originated from. So I obliged. How could I leave them there?

Clean your life. I attempted my version of clean eating multiple times. I have our house cleaning on a schedule with apps, planners and reminders so everyone can chip in. The kids are rewarded for their chores. They practice goal setting. It’s quite beautiful to see. Does that mean the house is spotless? Nah. It is definitely warm, sanitary and inviting and that makes us happy. However, laundry has always been a thorn in my side.

In this house the laundry room was an explosion. I was too embarrassed to take a before picture. Recently, I purchased a sorter. I bought special detergents for the darks, oxy clean for the whites and all the stain removers and cleaners to make Martha Stewart and Snoop proud. I swept and mopped the entrance and put down a new mat. I’m still working on getting it just right but I’m happy with the results. What else in my life am I missing?

I spoke to my sister once and shared an experience that was unpleasant (to say the least.) She said, “I wish you wrote more about stuff like that on your blog. People can relate to that.” Isn’t it great when people give you those transparent moments? I always wanted this platform to be positive. I stopped over sharing years ago because I felt like my vulnerability was taken advantage of (we’ll save that for another post.)

I saw a college friend on my way to pick up my kids one day from school. We had a quick conversation in the middle of the street. A memorable conversation. He was open and kind and it seemed like we were back at the student activities center chatting in the cafeteria. Time passed hadn’t ruined familiarity. He talked about a tough relationship and the challenges of parenting and his career goals. When it was time to conclude, he mentioned this blog. He told me he was thankful I was still writing. He admired the fact that I could do it while juggling my other hats. I was astounded because I didn’t even know he was a follower. He doesn’t comment but he sees. I admitted I wished I was more disciplined. He assured me, what I have time to do is still impactful.

What if “clean your life” means, stop hiding the dirt? What if you can only help yourself and others by being completely transpicuous? I love all of my friends but there is something absolutely amazing about the person who tells you how they actually are when you ask. It’s cool if you legitimately are “fine.” I just really treasure my translucent friends and I treat them like the magical fairies they are.

Clean your life…

I have difficult days. I often sacrifice effort in one area in order to be exceptional in another. Parenting full time at any time is hard. Parenting during a pandemic is anxiety ridden and complex but I’m doing my absolute best. I cry all the time and I don’t think anything is wrong with that. I am also wary of people who cannot openly express all of their emotions because I believe when they do finally come out, it can be cataclysmic. I am an advocate for life coaches, motivational speakers, counselors and therapists. I believe we should normalize ALL health including our mental health and well being. I have an ill family member and I am actively forcing myself to be “normal” each day without thinking about the fact that I cannot support them in the way that I want to. I have wonderful parents and a consistently loving step father. My godparents are astronomical. They don’t ask questions and they are unwavering. I know whose team they are on…mine. I diligently work to be as good of a god parent as they have been to me. I am often creativity constipated. So having great people around me to motivate me and keep me accountable are a godsend. My husband is the first person I remember ever telling me, “Your best is enough.” I think most of our arguments are because he’s satisfied with the effort I’m putting in and I’m frustrated by not reaching my own ridiculous expectations.

What if cleansing was more like a mud bath? Can you be bare and cover yourself in what others may consider to be a mess just long enough to accept, maybe forgive and hopefully move on?

Clean your life.

-Shaun Liriano

I Think You’re Doing Great

Cause I felt like it

Whoever walks in integrity will be delivered, but he who is crooked in his ways will suddenly fall.-Proverbs 28:18

I think you’re doing great…but what do I know? Seriously, these are tough times.

Do you remember when Covid-19 got real for us? March 2020. I had my 35th birthday. It was beautiful, humble, and my husband planned it perfectly. Fresh haircut and some blond highlights. I saw friends and family. I ate my favorite foods and had wonderful conversations. My mother bought me a gorgeous dress. Everything that sometimes validates us in our human form, was accounted for.

Except, that wasn’t everything that mattered. A week later God said, “Sit down, be still, be with your family, and focus.” Collectively we all did. We soon realized (I think), our plans were derailed and maybe that was a good thing. I believe we became more intentional with our friends. We have a higher regard for life (and death.) Some have been desensitized to mortality and some of us have been more severely impacted. No matter what side of the fence you stand on, we are still divided while all standing on the same ground.

This is not a post about Covid-19. This is about confidence and identity. This past year may have changed you and taken some things away from you. However, I think you’re doing great. Only you know what eco friendly, non-plastic bags you’re carrying. Only you know the contents and why those things still burden you or strip away at you. You can conquer that. You are not the summation of those faults. You’re great!

I tell my kids: Integrity is what you do when no one is watching you. It is a core value. That is a simple definition. It it not an easy practice to execute.

Whatever is challenging you right now, isn’t over. You have more work to do. You haven’t given up. You’re doing great. Let that be what ignites your next move and makes you grateful for your next breath. You are loved.

By Shaun Liriano

Dreams- Realize Who You Are, When You Are

My aunt says she has a friend who proudly wears a t-shirt that reads ” If your dreams don’t scare you, you’re not dreaming big enough.” I love that. It made me realize my own ambitions may be dwarfed. 

In fourth grade I wanted to be a singer.  I would draw pictures of myself with sequin gowns on and a mic in my hand. By sixth grade, I wanted to be an attorney.  Ironically,  by high school I had already performed at Carnegie Hall and Westbury Music Fair. I sang for McDonald’s Gospel Fest and Pathmark Gospel Fest at Penn Station.  I represented my school at a debate at Fordham Law School. It seemed as though my dreams were being realized.  The problem was they weren’t my dreams anymore. 

I developed a passion for writing.  At first I didn’t know if I was any good but my teachers and my family were taking notice. So I submitted a few articles to New York Newsday and they published four! I remember getting the checks in the mail. You would think that would help me focus. Focus. Focus.

Focus. If I could write that word 15 more times and not lose the attention of the 60 followers I have (lol), I would. I think of where I would be if I realized who I was when I was. I’m starting to see that as convoluted as it may seem, YOUR AMBITIONS HAVE TO MATCH YOUR ABILITY AND CURRENT REALITY. The peers I have who explored their musical talents when we were young are making a living doing music. Some are producers or music instructors but they’ve succeeded.  The girls on my debate team are lawyers now (well one is a paralegal but you get it.) It’s all about timing.

So what are my dreams now? I literally dream about my family. I dream about being someone they know they can trust and rely on. I want to age gracefully.  I want to meet my great great grandchildren one day. I want them to see all the things I’ve accomplished through life because I couldn’t “focus” so I did it all! I’m going to prove to them that you can be a jack of all trades and a master of all! As corny as it sounds I dream of love. The kind I read about as an adolescent.  With the right partner, you can be motivated to accomplish ANYTHING.  Everyone guides their decisions with love or lack of it, whether they admit it or not. So I’m going to focus on everything because my REALITY is I’ve never failed at anything I’ve attempted to do. I just didn’t do it for long! The constant in my life has been my dedication to good and my commitment to the human spirit. That’s who I am. Hate it… love it or shutyamouthandcallmeugly.

-SMN