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.

photo credit http://www.pit-36.info/mngkrif-kevin-hart-are-you-done-face.asp

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


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…

Photo credit https://2yvxip346v4g11b8zt1rvr1m-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Text-Message-Customers.jpg

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.

Morning Walk Free

No sleep in my eyes
No pain
No tears
No lies
Crying isn’t for the weak but for the stagnant


Insecurity and uncertainty
Built by the illusions of society
Committed to the lost pieces of my identity
I walk
Physiologically run
To the person I always thought I would be
And introduce her to everyone who stood by me


And together we’ll bury the remnants of doubt
Today we’ll rewrite and rewire
Today we’ll fight for everything worth fighting for

By Shaun L.

Replenish! #Shutyamouthandpraysundays



Every Sunday (for awhile) I will ask you to journey with me in understanding of self. A journey in the acceptance of growth. We will build a BS barrier and become more resilient together. I am NO life coach. That is not my aim. I am a writer. However,  all journeys are more fun with company. Most advice you give should also be directed at yourself. Sometimes we need to follow our own instructions. Sometimes we need to diagnose ourselves.
Being relatable is a gift and one that draws positivity.

This Sunday I took the kids to church at noon. We cleaned the house top to bottom prior to that. We ate an awesome breakfast. We danced. We loved. Most importantly we talked. I remembered how important it is to sit straight up, look in their eyes and focus. Listen. Today was a good day.

Day 8 of the self esteem challenge :
Are you comfortable with accepting compliments? Why or why not?
(Courtesy of life and magic in Wyoming at wordpress )
I am not always comfortable. There are things I know are above average and compliments on those assets I graciously accept. You have to believe something yourself before others will believe in it.

Day 9: What do other people say is sexy about you?
This is tough! I have heard different things. Mostly its my command. In a comfortable situation I take full command if a leadership position is needed in order for a task to be completed. I’m resolution oriented. So I just like things to be fixed quickly. I’ve been told my smile is sexy.

Gratitude Journal Resurrection


Hi! I brought back the gratitude journal for #fumblingwiththefoolishnessfridays

Needed to remind myself of all the things I am blessed with RIGHT NOW in this life. Needed that adrenaline rush. Needed the ego boost (#30dayselfesteemchallenge.) He cannot give you more if you cannot take care of what you have. If you are oblivious to all of His graciousness. If you panic or crumble with every attack,  He will assume you have forgotten you are a vessel carrying His power.

Yesterday’s challenge  (Day 6) was :
What is your favorite part of the day and Why?

I like when its quiet late at night when everyone is asleep. I like the peace but I like the security of knowing they are there.

Day 7: What did you do for yourself today? Reward yourself for being amazing!

I didn’t do anything for myself today. 😦
But! I am looking forward to zumba class tomorrow at 10:30am

Tell me about your gratitude journal! Are you going to start one? What are you most grateful for?? Comment or tweet me @ShutyaMouthNow

You Are A Hot Mess! (Introspection piece)


The other day my family was getting up and ready for the days activities. I watched my fiancée take the last pair of draws from the dresser  (“draws”=underwear.) I felt bad because laundry is one of my chores. We share the household responsibilities. I made a silent oath to head to the laundromat before work.

When I got there, there was a woman with a plastic caddy. It had disinfectant wipes, bleach, detergent,  fabric softener, and dryer sheets. She wiped down the folding table with the wipes. While she waited for her laundry she put a minimal amount of makeup on. When her laundry was completed, it was immaculate. It was drop off service worthy. She smiled with pride and carried her laundry to the car.

I thought to myself, “When did I stop folding panties? When did I start throwing socks into the bag and praying a match would be found?” I used to work retail. I KNOW how to fold clothes. I know how to make them look beautiful with limited wrinkles.

When did I become a hot mess?


There is a car wash I like to frequent  (when I have some extra cash.) A petite hispanic man is the guy who welcomes you when you come in. He smiles a bright genuine smile with one gold tooth. Then he says, “Hola angel!” He gives you your ticket and he moves quickly and with exuberance. One night I was passing by on the way home. I noticed him getting on his bicycle.

I thought to myself, “Would I be able to be that professional and kind? Could I take such good care of peoples automobiles when I don’t have one of my own?”

When did I become a hot mess?


On Saturdays I like to go to Zumba class at the gym. It is so much fun! It’s a good way to let loose. My Zumba instructor is fantastic! She looks like Jessica Alba in the movie “Honey.” She has so much energy! She is always smiling. She seems to organically LOVE what she does. She always remembers peoples names. She gets in front of you and dances with you when you are beginning to become exhausted.

I watched her yesterday and thought, “How sensational it must be to get paid to do what you love. What a blessing it is to be able to dance for a living.”

When did I become a hot mess?

I think I know the answer.

I became a hot mess when the innocence of being bedazzled by brilliant simplistic intrinsic happiness was stripped from me. Children are so happy when you get them a 50 cent sticker from the vending machine. They love a new movie or ice cream. It can literally make their day. That was stripped from me. You have to make an effort to regain that. Sometimes you will make the effort and it will go unnoticed. It may seem trivial to others. You have to keep trying. You have to believe that what you say and feel matters but somehow prevent it from defining you. Every interaction is an opportunity to change someone’s life…especially yours.

Today was hard for me. Knowing the amount of effort I invested will put me to sleep (that and Tylenol PM.) 🙂
Seriously though, I think know that effort and the redefinition of innocence will give life some new seasoning. It will make challenges easier to swallow. It will make me less of a hot mess.

By: Shaun Nickens

We Wear the Mask

We Wear the Mask
By: Paul Lawrence Dunbar

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.

We smile,  but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!


I always hated sunglasses. I always thought they were for people who were hiding. That’s okay. Isn’t there a point when we all need to be hidden? When the world expects you to keep churning, where can you seek sanctuary?
Where can you feel safe when you feel like your soul is rotting?

How do you find God’s arms on earth while you’re slapboxing with Jesus?

How do you break through a glass ceiling when your knees are bucking and your feet are bleeding? 

What is your mask? What do you use to shield the world from the flaws that make you human? Are you trying to breathe and trying to shout but someone or something is holding your head under water? Someone has placed a big black garbage bag over your head in the middle of your climactic monologue. Now the scene is ruined.

We wear the masks.
We hide and repair.
We return as survivors not victims.
Warriors wear masks.
No shame.
No fear.
We wear the masks.

By: Shaun Nickens

You Are Only As Good As Your Last Performance

You are only as good as your last performance…

Thats what my old vocal coach used to say.

I fondly remember performing at the International Festival at Bayside High School my sophomore year. I sang the Kelly Price rendition of “I Know Who Holds Tomorrow. ” This sharp dressed Sisqo loving Junior came up to me after seeing the rundown for the show and he said, “If you’re good enough to sing THAT song then you’re good enough to sing with me!” I loved the boldness and accepted the challenge.

No limitations

The night of the International Festival we performed “We Can’t Be Friends” by Deborah Cox and RL. If I do say so myself,  we sounded AMAZING! The vocals, the riffs, the range, the strength and the talent was undeniable.  I remember my navy blue velvet form fitting dress.  I felt so confident.  When we were done, the accolades never stopped.  When I got to chorus that Monday,  my friend Tareaphe (who is now a music engineer) said, “Do the talent show.  No doubt you’d win!” I appreciated the vote of confidence.  I accepted the challenge.

I went to the auditions and I sang some Barbara Streisand song my mother made me do. No one knew it but they didn’t care. I guess it was an advantage because they didn’t know I messed up either. It sounded good so I made it through!  I was so excited. A senior on the football team whispered, “Yo, you’re going to beat the main broad this year.”

Ha! I can laugh at that now. Who was the “main broad”?! The main broad I’ll leave nameless but we can just say her voice was strong and even though she was no Whitney Houston. . .she was CONFIDENT!

So I went to the talent show determined to beat the “main broad. ” I sang “Nobody’s Supposed to be Here” by Deborah Cox.  I stood there effortlessly singing my heart out and then I got to the climax in the song.

” No no no no no/ no no no no no/ no ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh …

Everyone in the auditorium stood up! All the air in the room when straight to my head! People were screaming my name. So I took the subliminal vote of confidence and I went up another octave. 

“Oooooooooooo ohhhhhhhhhh yea oh yea…”

My left ear popped. Couldn’t hear the music. I went temporarily tone deaf. I couldn’t get back on track. Everyone who was standing started to slowly and awkwardly sit down. I was instantly alone and mortified. 

Well  needless to say, the “main broad” won and my god brother took me to dinner to cheer me up but it didn’t work.

I share this with you because it is a lesson I am still learning.  Stay humble.  Be prepared.  Be smart. Remember that fans are not necessarily friends and they may desert you during those awkward moments when it isn’t cool to cheer for the loser. When you hit the high note but you feel low remember you need to be your own biggest motivator. Just like my couple of days of “stardom”, consistency is important. In this world where moral challenges are prevalent and the unemployment rates are fluctuating YOU have to be able to dig yourself out of temporary funks.  There will always be disparaging remarks but you are only as good as your last performance. 

The world is your stage!

By: Shaun Nickens

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How Do I Begin? 12.10.07

How do I begin?
What do I say?
If I was an artist, what would my background be?
How about a landscape with trees and peppermint clouds that you can taste before you see?
If I were a true musician, what would I play?
I’d glue my fingers to the keys and make the audience sit and watch me stationary on a rotating stage.
If I was a murderer, I’d perform a double homicide on Ms.Phony and Hypocrisy.
If I was a mother, I’d birth individuality.
I’d breastfeed it attitude and responsibility, from each titty.

How do I begin?
Do I talk about the kin that built me up or screwed me up?
How do you love a lyricist whose greatest worth is her words?
How do I begin to give oxygen to a sheet of paper?
How can a woman neutralize the judgement of man before she allows it to shape her?
How do I begin to describe the warfare within a wordsmith?

By: Shaun “ControversE” Nickens

Its 2013! What are you swallowing?

Happy New YearHappy new year and all that. Hope you’re not the same person you’ve been for all the years that preceded this one.  I hate to be cynical but usually by the time you stop doing this –>  2012    , you’ve already broken those resolutions. Why’d you make them?  What do you have to prove and who are you proving it to? At the end of the day we need to be making a consistent effort to improve.  Your other option is to commit to being the same scumbag you’ve always been, wear your flaws on your fitted hat, be strong and wrong and tell everyone to “Shut Ya Mouth and Call Me Ugly.”

It’s not easy to improve.  You may see old habits creep in.  The stealth of habitual hatred or just the act of being stagnant is clinging and clandestine.  You won’t notice what you do to piss other people off!  I can almost guarantee that! It’s natural to you…its organic.  You won’t know you’ve upset them until they’re screaming or silently sobbing.  For a writer that’s an intense response.  One of my favorite writers in Edgar Allen Poe.  In “The Philosophy of Composition” he says, “Beauty of whatever kind, in its supreme development, invariably excites the sensitive soul to tears. Melancholy is thus the most legitimate of all the poetical tones.”  In plain terms, Poe is saying you’ve succeeded as a good writer when you can make someone feel something, more specifically sadness.  That’s great if you’re a writer but as a regular civilian, I don’t think a lot of people will want to be around you.  You’d be the dark cloud.

I am truly making an effort to change.  I’ve got my Pandora set to Marvin Sapp.  I’m back to my church services and my devotions.  When my schedule clears, I’m diving head first back into my ministries.  I don’t use profanity as much.  I reached out to old and gold friends who’ve always added quality to my life.  I drink more water and all that.  At the same time, I’ve never been a “holy roller” or a “pew tosser.”  I love art and literature.  I am a very passionate person.  I’m a people watcher.  I’m an undercover comic.  Being an artist requires a certain level of “worldliness.”  So where do I stand?  You’ll always have to maintain a balance.  You’re a parent?  You have to be the person you are that was chosen divinely to bring new life into this world. Still you may welcome the time alone when the baby is with grandma and you can listen to Kendrick Lamar, watch Pulp Fiction and have a “77” (vodka and 7-up.)  It doesn’t make you a bad person.  It makes you human.

Leave the resolutions for Lucille Roberts commercials.  Just be your best by bedtime each day.  If you fail, try again tomorrow.  As long as you’re trying, you’re not failing.  Medicine usually doesn’t taste good but it usually heals whatever your ailment is.  Are you only swallowing what satisfies a stationary lifestyle?  Are you swallowing seduction and sex and ignoring love and intimacy?  Are you swallowing stereotypes?  What are you swallowing? 

Happy New Year. Bless!


-Shaun M Nickens