Updated: Feb 12, 2021
Fond memories are the sweetness, the core and magic of our lives. When people pass, all we have are those memories to cherish and cling to. So shouldn't we all be spending our energy on making special memories with those we love and cherish the most?
I used to think we all had stories, but what we really have are many, many memories that each deserve their own story and time in the spotlight because they are a part of who we truly are. They are the substance, the meat - or, for my fellow Vegans - the plant-based protein.
"Memory is a way of holding on to the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose."-Kevin Arnold
I want to start with one of my first and favorite memories. I remember going to my grandpa's farm to visit him, the dogs, the apple trees, the horses and the wooden swing-set he had made for my sister and me. I did all my dreaming there.
My Grandpa would wake up early everyday at 4:30am. I could barely sleep waiting for the clock to hit 4:30am so I could be with my grandpa in his photography room. He had a real photography dark room! He would show me how he developed his photos. I would just sit and watch him work. What's interesting is, I don't remember any talking - I would just watch and listen. I cherished this time because it was just us. He would always take me to get donuts after, which was obviously my favorite part! I don't remember my Grandpa talking much but we always shared a strong bond that I will cherish forever.
My first "Oh no, am I in big trouble" moment was being in preschool and having the biggest crush on this boy. One day I decided to give him a big kiss to finally show him how much I liked him. I remember a teacher talking to me about how I can't do that and I got in trouble. Meanwhile I was so proud of myself because I had wanted to do it for so long and I finally worked up the courage to do it and I couldn't understand why I was in trouble! They should be proud of me......
I spent most of my childhood growing up in a little town called Port Orchard. It was simple, small, and when I got older we all called it "PoDunk." My mom raised my sister and me as a single mom working multiple jobs just trying to make ends meet. She did everything in her power to provide for my sister and me. She never bought anything for herself because all she made went to providing a home, food and what her kids needed. I remember her going from working her full-time day job from 4am-4pm driving a school bus, then going to work most nights at her 2nd job at the fast food restaurant. Then, on the weekends if it was in season, she had her 3rd job at The Rodeo Drive-In Theater.
I don't remember her ever having days off or vacation since she was constantly working so that my sister and I had all we needed. Our dads were not physically or financially involved in our lives, at least, until I met my dad when I was 12 years old. My mom did it all and I could always sense the financial stresses so I wanted to help. I remember babysitting, mowing yards, teaching dance and working to help raise money and often using it to help buy food or necessities for our family. What's embarrassing to me now is that I was so embarrassed about anyone knowing I was "poor" or that we struggled. Now, I am proud and thankful for where I came from because it has led me to who I am today!
“Your memory is the glue that binds your life together, everything you are today is because of your amazing memory.”-Kevin Horsley
Food banks, eviction notices, borrowing change to buy Spaghetti O's, staying at friends' homes in-between my mom trying her absolute best to get or find us a place to rent (which, when you have no credit, no money and a rough rental history, is NOT easy). My sister and I both started working as soon as we could to help. When I started dancing and we saw my potential and how much I LOVED it and that I wanted to train more, it was so hard because we just couldn't afford it. So my mom would clean the studio while I practiced and then when I was older I taught younger dancers to help pay for my tuition costs.
I remember praying, wishing, hoping and knowing one day I would not have to always struggle. I think I knew and embraced from a young age that I needed to be driven in order to get out of this financial struggle. I think I took it on at a young age that it was my responsibility to make my life better. I wanted to be able to help people one day. I wanted to inspire young people who think their circumstances have to dictate their future.
We are ALL in control of our lives! It's just up to us to decide to take full control of the direction we are headed! No one in my family had been to college, so I was going to go. I wanted to go to college, be successful, meet Prince Charming, have 3 kids and live happily ever after! But thank god we have learned there isn't such a thing as happily ever after - it's more like "happy and hopefully better every single day."
I was preparing from elementary school how to beat the odds and be on Homecoming Court and a Cheerleader. I wanted to be in the "Most Likely to" parts of the yearbook. I wanted to be popular and be with the hot guy in school. So that was the mission - and I made it ALL happen. ALL my HS boyfriends are probably thinking I'm talking about them with the "Hot" comment, LOL.
Politics are everywhere - even in High School Cheer Tryouts and Homecoming Court. But my little Cinderella story beat the odds and the politics. My dad wasn't friends with the principal, my mom wasn't a teacher, and I didn't do YoungLife to secure my spot on the Cheer Team or Homecoming Court. I was "undercover poor" and still made ALL those things happen. That is pretty badass! Twelve-year-old Shay would be ecstatic but 36-year-old Shay wants to hug my younger self and tell her she does NOT have to be what she thinks everyone else wants her to be - she just needs to be herself. That I don't need to show or prove anything to anyone. That when she finally takes the scary risk on being confident in her authenticity she will SHINE!
So what happens when the girl gets ALL she thought she wanted? The popularity and acceptance she so desired? Well, she leaves PoDunk for college in another State in Denver, Colorado to start ALL over again.
So there she was: Shay in the City, the big City of Denver! I made some EPIC memories in Denver...... The funniest was when I was working at a high end restaurant and dance club, I served Peter Forsberg and had absolutely no idea who he was, oh and one time my manager told me I was working the Swingers Party and I was SO excited because I loved to dance. But they weren't those kind of Swingers......
I look forward to sharing my "Denver Dating Diaries" memories with you one day...... maybe!
We are all made up of the memories and people who have come into our lives. Some have taught us lessons, broke our hearts, left or we left them, inspired us, changed us, motivated us, passed away, or are still with us.
Heres to many more sweet memories for all of us in 2021! xo Shay xo
"Memories are always invisible to eyes but can be felt with the heart."