Today is October 16th and the birthday of Shawna Ayoub Ainslie of the #LinkYourLife movement. Her writing home is found beneath a rambling porcupine banner at The Honeyed Quill. Shawna is a writing coach and consultant, specializing in creating safe spaces for artists who engage in issues of survivorship and social justice. Her blog posts support writers and, like Carrot Ranch, connects to a vibrant online community. Shawna has a guest series on her blog, and I’d encourage anyone from this community to consider her Call for Guest Posts. It’s an opportunity to talk about the social justice issues behind your fiction or what story you share (and survived) in your memoirs. You might also recognize Shawna for the Flash Fiction Contest that we hosted at Carrot Ranch as a fundraiser for her son’s service dog.
Today, I’d like to honor the often unseen work of Shawna Ayoub Ainslie with 16 sweet reasons I’m grateful for what she does. And thank you to fellow #Lifer, Devon J Hall, for encouraging the posts today for Shawna’s online birthday celebration.
Shawna, I’m grateful for:
1. A quill dipped in honey. The act of writing itself is a journey to truth, but the choice to lift up with one’s words is the choice to use honeyed ink upon the page. You set the tone.
2. A movement called #linkyourlife. Many claim that social media is disconnecting people. #linkyourlife demonstrates the opposite: that through social media we can go deeper and forge meaningful bonds through shared stories.
3. A voice. What happens in silence perpetuates in silence. You coach survivors to share their stories, coaxing each voice to break the silence.
4. A safe place. Those who have experienced abuse are often re-traumatized by the backlash that can exist when sharing their stories. You provide a safe place. You encourage respect. You teach us to learn as we go.
5. A safe place to be heard. Within that safe place you model how it is we can listen to one another.
6. A safe place to ask. Within that safe place you let us ask hard questions and allow others to answer from compassion, knowledge and experience.
7. A safe place to share. For some of us, the safe place may be the first time we voice an experience or test out reaction to our story.
8. A safe place to withdraw. For others bold and brave to publish, the safe place provides a safe harbor to escape the attention brought on by sharing our stories.
9. A vision based on community. You dream for yourself and include others in the dream. This is the opposite of Trump. He dreams for himself, manipulates the expectations of others and delivers to satisfy only his ego. You truly understand what it is to dream inclusively. You should run for president.
10. A perseverance that is encouraging. Dreams are not built in a day no matter how clearly the vision. And circumstances often derail the strongest of dreams. You show us how to keep the dream on track. You show us our dreams are possible, too.
11. A compassionate pack of tools. No matter what shit-storm hits the media or what individual suffering might be going on, you have practical tools to share from uplifting songs, to meditations, to wise words you’ve penned or shared with others.
12. A values-based coaching style. If writing were football, you’d be the sport’s Vincent Lombardi. “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.” ~ V.L.
13. A love of family that spills over for a love of others. The fruit of a life well-lived is love. You have a bumper crop and we all get to share in it.
14. A cool porcupine design. Sooner or later this logo on a coffee cup with be all over the world and we will feel like the cool kids with the cool cup.
15. An opportunity to grow. You give others what they need to grow their craft, voice and publishing/sharing goals. You house everyone from readers and lurkers to advocates and authors. And no matter where each us might be, you reach out to encourage our growth.
16. A friendship beyond the (web)page. Thank you most for that!