Giving the World Back a Portion of its Lost Heart

“…in a time lacking in truth and certainty and filled with anguish and despair, no woman should be shame-faced in attempting to give back to the world, through her work, a portion of its lost heart.” – Louise Bogan

Glory in the Morning (cover art)

Today is a big day for me. Huge. This morning I launched a campaign on the crowd funding site Kickstarter. I’m trying to raise funds for my picture book, Glory in the Morning, to be made into a book app and a traditional book. For those of you who don’t know me personally, I am putting my heart on the line. Asking for monetary support feels like jumping off a cliff to me. But the risk of failure has been trumped by the urgency of sharing my gift with the world.

Glory in the Morning is a classic fairytale in the tradition of the Wizard of Oz. It’s message is about empowering children to listen to the still small voice within. I trusted that whisper as a child but soon learned from the adults in my world to disregard it. This happened so often I became disconnected from my own thoughts and feelings and went to the outside to see how I “should” respond to situations. I ignored my inner guidance on a daily basis. That led to a lack of sense of self, and not believing how I felt was important.

It took me years to give myself permission to trust my instincts again. I’ve learned that we don’t only see with our eyes but with our minds and our hearts. When I began to filter out the noise of the world and listen to my heart, life became so much easier. I came to know that it’s not only safe to act on my intuition, but it also saves a lot of time and trouble. This knowledge was the springboard for self-trust, and the understanding that who I was mattered. Living our inner truth is the foundation for a happy life. Without trusting our inner guidance, we have little hope of fulfilling our dreams.

How wonderful would it be to know from an early age that our intuition is a gift to help us navigate through life? My picture book Glory in the Morning holds that truth.

”If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent read them more fairy tales.” – Albert Einstein

Watching Over Glory

Watching Over Glory

My models Lexi and Olivia helped bring Glory in the Morning to life.

Why Worry?

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“Live life as if everything is rigged in your favor.” – Rumi

I’ve spent a good amount of my time on Earth fretting.  A defense developed in childhood, worry was my talisman, my rabbit’s foot. I believed it kept me safe. The burden of that mindset eventually brought me to a place of despair.

I’ve heard it said that if you’re run by fear, you have a lack of love in your life. Could that be true? Believing that there is a loving Being who has my best interests at heart would certainly assuage the panic I lived with. I began shifting my focus to how my life would work if a God who delighted in me was in charge.

What if life happens just the way it’s supposed to?

What if everything appears exactly when we need it?

What if inside each problem is a lesson that is a gift to help us grow?

What if following our hearts is following God’s guidance?

What if letting go of our plans leaves God room to out dream us?

Instead of being comfortable with worry, I am learning to be comfortable with trust. When I’m in that state, everything works itself out, often miraculously so. I’m finding out that there is no need to orchestrate life. All is well. The evidence of that can be found in the blessings that surround us. There is a place for everything, and everything is in its place. 

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I met my models Riley, and Nick on a walk with my dog.

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My nephew’s puppy’s ears make him look ready to take flight.

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Text and images © Sue Shanahan. All rights reserved. www.sueshanahan.com

 

Every Child Is Like a Flower

Once when I was feeling less than pretty, it occurred to me, “Who told you that you aren’t beautiful?” I began to wonder, what if our differences actually are a gift? What if what’s unique about us is what makes us beautiful? When we let go of our preconceived notions, we’re free to enjoy our individuality. I am thrilled with the trend of using children with disabilities in ads. I love that the world is waking up to the truth that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes and colors.

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The illustration above is based on a photo I snapped of a friend’s daughter, Clare. Her mother needed her photographed for a calender featuring children with Down Syndrome. After adjusting the layers of netting on Clare’s party dress, I saw a longing in her mother’s eyes. Maura had the same yearning every mother has for their child. She wanted her little girl’s beauty to be appreciated. I, in turn, was smitten with Clare. Looking at the photographs from the session, compelled me to design an illustration around her. Yes, being beautiful is no longer for the chosen few.
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The real Clareclare-17

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All text and images © Sue Shanahan. All rights reserved. www.sueshanahan.com

Happy Spring

Spring has sprung. And with it comes hope. I see hope in the lilac blossoms. I smell hope in the freshly mowed lawn. I hear hope in the ceaseless chatter of the birds. Hope born anew surrounds me.kaley-13

The above illustration is aptly entitled Hope. It illustrates the line, “I believe spring brings out hope in all of us,”  from the book What I Believe. The little girl in it is my great-niece Kaley. She looked like a little china doll to me. I hunted for her vintage pinafore on-line and found the perfect one through a Mrs. Bird. I wanted to have her wearing something that set off her timeless beauty. After her mother dressed her, we plopped her on my kitchen table and I began snapping away with my camera. When photographing a baby for an illustration, I am always loose with my vision for it. You just never know how they will cooperate. I took about 20 shots, and then Miss Kaley was done. Something else I’ve learned about the models I work with is when they are through poising they are through. A smile can’t be coaxed out of a child who wants to move on.

Immediately after loading the shots on my computer, I knew which image I would base my art on. The way Kaley was looking down and touching her toe looked lyrical to me. The butterfly and the outdoor scenery were fabricated. What couldn’t be fabricated is the wonder on my little model’s face.

The real Kaley

The real Kaley

Below is another photo I love. I snapped it while shooting a wedding for a dear friend’s daughter. At times I think this photo begs to be put into an illustration. At  other times I think it stands fine just the way it is. I’m curious to know what you think about it. If you have a moment, leave me your thoughts.Girl with Hydrangeas

All text and images © Sue Shanahan. All rights reserved.