Music, The Virtual Time Machine

By Shannon Boatwright

“The music that touches you in your youth is magnified as you get older. Each record can be a virtual time machine – all you need is to hear a second or two and you go back to that place and time when you first heard it.  It’s a brilliant feeling when music touches you so profoundly and stays with you through time.”

  • Rob Halford

Music, for me, is an incredible source of inspiration on so many levels. Rob Halford is considered a Metal God. His voice is out of this world – his vocal abilities and range have put him on the top of the lists as one of the best voices of rock.  After reading up on him, what I really like most about him is his passion for music and his recognition of its ability to truly transport people.  One of my favorite drummers, Brad Wilk, posted this quote by Rob on his Instagram. It really caught my eye because I truly cannot imagine life without music. Music is what helps to fuel my world, keep me motivated, keep me inspired.  All types of music have this lovely ability to take you away, envelop you in its graces and flood you with memories, visions and dreams.Music, The Virtual Time Machine

When I hear certain music, I am most definitely transported to another time. Sometimes instantly. For example, if I hear “Coming to America” by Neil Diamond, I am instantly transported to my living room back in my elementary and middle school days when my mother would blast his music while we cleaned house. She would have it playing loud and proud and I secretively loved it, especially this song. I can see the room, I can smell the fragrances of our home, I can see my Mom singing along and getting taken away by the passion of the song. Growing up with a professional pianist mother who loves music immensely and music is literally her life, well, you get influenced! It’s inevitable. Whether it was classical music, Neil Diamond, Abba, Julio Iglesias, gospel music, classic rock or Yanni – music has always filled the homes that I grew up in.

Music was and is a source of therapy, a source of freedom, a source of great escape. And goodness knows, when I hear certain songs, I am totally transported back in time!  I can hear a song from the movie Annie and instantly be transported to the early 1980s when I would act out the entire movie in my living room for my family. I can hear the song “Dumb Dog” from when Annie is singing to the dog Sandy and instantly feel myself back in my childhood backyard where I used to sing the song to my own dog as I wandered around my yard pretending I was on the streets of New York. I can even smell the pine trees!  When I hear the Guns-n-Roses’ song, “November Rain” I am totally taken back to 1992 when my best friend Tammy and I went to the Metallica/Guns-n-Roses concert at Williams Brice Stadium and thought we were the coolest chicks ever.  Or, “Crockadile Rock” by Elton John, which takes me right to my varsity cheerleading auditions in which I overcame insecurities and went for it, having a blast with the choreography, making the varsity team.  I think of my team and Coach Elliott every time I hear that song and I can literally feel the school carpet under my sneakers as I rehearsed and auditioned.

I could fill page after page of the songs that create a time machine for me that transports me back to glorious moments and memories in which I can still remember the setting perfectly, recreating the moment in such a way that I feel I could close my eyes and still feel, see, and touch everything around me from that special moment in time.  It’s a brilliant thing indeed to be touched so profoundly!  My wish is that my mind and heart are able to always hold onto to this sensory ability that music brings out in me. Here’s to hoping my virtual time machine never breaks down! I hope and pray that music will always have this magical ability to transport me, allowing memories to flood my senses.

Where does your virtual time machine take you? What songs transport you to fabulous moments and special memories?  Pay attention and take note of these priceless songs and allow them to take you back, so that they can stay with you throughout your lifetime!

Stunning Success

By Shannon Boatwright

For the 2017-2018 school year, this phrase, “stunning success”, has become my new favorite…

Stunning

adjective

extremely impressive or attractive.

synonyms remarkable, extraordinary, staggering, incredible, outstanding, amazing, astonishing, marvelous, phenomenal, splendid;

 

This phrase, “stunning success” was used to describe one of my productions with my honors students this past year – and by the playwright herself, no less.

My 2017-18 school year has been one of my busiest – which I say that every year and each year I seem to top myself in the busy department. But this past year, I can with confidence say, was a remarkable, outstanding, marvelous, impressive year! Certainly stunning!

I had my heaviest workload yet as a teacher/director responsible for the success of three big productions throughout the school year.  One of the productions being the school district musical. This was a huge undertaking that required an enormous amount of time and effort, and my first time ever directing a school district wide production. Needless to say, it was a major relief when myself, my production team and cast’s hard work paid off with, yes, a stunning success.

I produced and directed one of largest, most successful 8th grade honors drama performances, gaining recognition from the playwright, Lindsay Price with the reputable, drama resource company, Theatrefolk.

Stunning Success: Shuddersome: Tales of Poe

And using the same fabulous resource of Theatrefolk, I produced and directed another play from their catalogue by playwright Lindsay Price, called Box, for the 7th grade honors drama end of the year production. It too was a surprising, stunning success.

pic 1To know that you were able to inspire audiences and talented, young individuals, is a real gift. I’m exhausted from having such an overwhelming, busy school year, but I am ever grateful for the hard work and dedication having paid off.  So I’ve decided that the phrase, “Stunning Success”, is my 2017-2018 mantra that I plan to continue grasping ahold of as I enter new phases of my life. I hope that I can continue doing extraordinary things, making remarkable differences in others lives and continue to create stunning successes!

And I’d like to take the moment here to remind you and myself, that we have the ability to be stunning in everything that we do. We don’t have to accomplish major things, achieve big awards or direct huge shows to be stunning. We can be stunning in the little things as well! So my challenge to myself and to everyone is to do your best to be stunning – find ways to be extraordinary, marvelous, outstanding and amazing on every level. Whether with a smile or act of kindness to a stranger, in the special time with family & friends, in taking steps to take care of yourself…infuse a dose of fabulousness in all that you do. I am certain it will make your life more splendid. Stunning, in fact. 😉

Nature Deficit Disorder

By Shannon Boatwright

My name is Shannon and I am suffering from Nature Deficit Disorder.

I read a most fabulous article in the recent Columbia Metropolitan Magazine, titled “Forest Bathing – A walk in the woods for the soul” by Warren Hughes.  What a wonderful read and at a time in my life when I’m definitely at a deficit for getting outdoors to enjoy myself. Ironically the only reason I even had the opportunity to relax and read was because my back was hurting so bad after a long school day of moving too many heavy objects around on my stage at school and my sweet husband had prepared the bathtub for me so I would soak in an epsom salt bath and hopefully feel better. I made myself put up my phone and actually try to relax. I took the opportunity to flip through the latest magazine that had come in the mail that I had not had the time to look at in the past weeks.  As I soaked and read, I was pleasantly surprised at the inspiring information within the magazine. It was almost as if the universe was sending me a very strong message!

Rainbows over Lake Murray, SC

Rainbows over Lake Murray

According to what I read, I totally have a nature deficit disorder!  Being a drama teacher, whose classroom is a stage – a large room with NO windows, and whose office is a small concrete room, with NO windows, who spends hours upon hours after school directing productions in theatres, with NO windows, …well, it starts to wear on you after many years. Especially during the school year’s busy season of productions and after school commitments, I get home exhausted and taking a walk or bike ride just doesn’t seem like an option.

But I know well enough that it’s something I can’t put off. Like exercise, I realize that it’s a requirement in order to feel better overall. I have to make it happen. Even when I’m so busy. Yes, even when I’m so busy! I don’t want to be the person that always says, “someday or whenever I’m finally less busy, I’ll do such and such.” At this point in my life I have to recognize the importance of making it a priority and a requirement so that I can live my healthiest life, mentally and physically.

Last summer when I had the honor and great privilege of traveling to France and Switzerland with my mother, I was truly refreshed, invigorated, inspired and overwhelmed in a most wonderful way being in, breathing in and seeing a part of nature I’d never ever seen before. Being in that beauty, in person, was truly glorious. There really are no words to adequately describe it.

Nature's Glory in Switzerland

Nature’s Glory in Switzerland

Switzerland Overflows with Nature's Beauty

Switzerland Overflows with Nature’s Beauty

Quoting John Muir in the article, John Cely says, “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of autumn.”

I mean, come on! Is that not beautiful!? I know I could really use some of nature’s peace flowing into me like sunshine flows into trees! And who doesn’t want cares and worries to drop from your body like the leaves of autumn?

Sipping Coffee Amongst the Gorgeousness of France

Sipping coffee amongst the gorgeousness of France

In the article it speaks of getting into nature as an imperative, not just a luxury. It’s crucial. Crucial to our well-being on so many levels.  There are studies that prove that being indoors for too long is literally physically and mentally bad for our health. It makes complete sense to me. Our society’s dependency on screens, all our gadgets that we of all ages seem to be so addicted and attached to nowadays, is turning us all into very sick people. It’s a sad state of unwell being.

How do we deal in today’s society? How do we combat this overwhelming deficit? Awareness is a start for sure. This idea of a disorder resulting from a nature deficit is no new concept. It’s been growing for decades, most of us have just been too busy in front of our screens to notice.

In The Nature Fix, subtitled “Why nature makes us happier, healthier, and more creative,” bestselling author Florence Williams explores state-of-the-art research from three continents to explain the inestimable benefits that spending time in nature has on the body, mind, and soul.

Columbia Metropolitan Magazine

“Forest Bathing – A walk in the woods for the soul” by Warren Hughes

I don’t know why anyone in their right mind would argue that getting outdoors isn’t good for you. It just makes sense. Mother Nature is not just powerful in negative ways, her amazing, positive ways far outweigh the negative. She has a glorious abundance of healing power and beauty to offer if we just take the time to see it, be in it and experience it.

Even in the Suburbs, Nature's Beauty is Present

Even in the suburbs, Nature’s Beauty is Present

Now that I’m aware of my deficiency, I plan to dedicate time to fixing it and filling more of my time refreshing myself basking in nature’s glory. Like so many others, I need it. I know I need it. My body, my mind, my heart, my soul needs to soak in the healing powers of nature. It lies right outside my door and doesn’t have to cost me a thing, doesn’t even have to cost me tons of time. A bit of an awakening is on the horizon – one that will benefit me on many positive levels. I’m ready for journeys and adventures that will allow peace, freshness and energy to flow into me! Here’s to combating the nature deficit disorder!

 

 

Be the Light

By Shannon Boatwright

Don’t wait on the light at the end of the tunnel. Be the light.

Annually I have many events that require tons of planning, preparation, and hours upon hours of hard work that lead up to some sort of final big event. Just recently I successfully survived one of the biggest endeavors I’ve ever accomplished. I directed the Lexington Richland School District Five musical. My first time ever directing a production of this caliber with students across an entire school district.  To say it was a huge job is an understatement. Fortunately, it was an enormous success and I am proud beyond words at the incredible final product and knowing that all of mine and my production team/cast/crew’s hard work paid off immensely. Most importantly, many young, precious minds were inspired and together we collaborated to create entertainment success. A priceless opportunity indeed.

During the process of working toward our success, many people would say to me, as they saw me in my exhausted states, “There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, girl! You got this! It’ll be all over soon.” In fact, anytime I have a big project or production going on, very often I hear these sorts of statements about there being a light at the end of the tunnel.

This got me thinking.  Yes, the process can be excruciating and yes, we definitely look forward to the end product finally coming to fruition and being checked off of our calendar. But aren’t we missing the point in a sense? It’s the process that creates the success, so if we only focus on the light at the end of the tunnel, then we’re neglecting the beauty of the process that takes place as we go through that tunnel. Had I not done my best work to direct and create confidence in my cast and cooperate and communicate with my production team and crew, then that supposed light at the end of the tunnel would’ve never been able to shine.

So I am making a conscious decision to attempt to Be the Light. I don’t want to just look ahead to the end, I want to make the best of the moment, seize the day and enjoy the process. That light doesn’t have to just be at the end of the tunnel. I can create it every step of the way.

So the next time you have something big on the horizon, will you only look towards the ending product, not living for the here and now? Or will you allow yourself to enjoy the process and shine along the way?

Don’t wait on the light at the end of the tunnel. Be the light!

 

No Electricity!? OH NO!!

By Shannon Boatwright

A rockin’ storm pounded through my area of Lexington, SC recently, with four tornadoes touching down. Not cool. On many levels. The main level being that many people suffered damage to their properties. From what I’ve heard, I don’t think anyone was hurt thankfully. Most of us were just inconvenienced with power outages. One of those people being my family. We were without power for over 6 hours. Yes, only 6 hours. I know, that’s totally & absolutely nothing compared to what so many Americans have had to suffer through when it has come to Mother Nature ravaging our cities with her craziness over the past few years across the country.

But the truth is, you never know how much you truly use electricity, until you no longer have it! It was comical how many times we’d all try to flip on light switches and other basic things, knowing we had no power, but doing it out of habit. My 12 year-old son would start flipping light switches on & off repeatedly as if the simple act would make it actually work & bring the electricity back.

Naturally I was in the middle of doing loads of laundry. And of course I’d also planned to wait until later afternoon/night to bathe, wash my really dirty hair and do more housework and school work.

I learned firsthand that in my house apparently, I need electricity in order to have hot water. Having to wash my big head of hair, leaning over the tub to wash this thick mane of mine, with incredibly cold water, was not fun. Though my hubby may say otherwise, as I think he enjoyed the laugh that my squirming and squealing gave him as I suffered through the cold water and attempted to give myself a literal washcloth bath trying to get clean with zero hot water.IMG_7093

We thought my angel boy, Sawyer, would totally lose it without internet access. Heaven forbid a kid nowadays have to go without a connection to the internet and gaming world! And my angel girl, Mina, completely prepped our bathroom with all the amenities that she thought we’d need in the event that a tornado hit and we have to take shelter in the tiny downstairs bathroom. Here are the things she made sure to place in the bathroom for our protection and survival…

One blanket, a candle, a stale package of saltines, bananas, a can of beans, some cotton balls, one cup of water and some chocolate – cause you know, no one should have to battle a tornado without some chocolate.  I asked Mina, why the cotton balls? There’s already a basket of toilet paper rolls in the bathroom. She said, “Mama, if anyone gets cut, the cotton balls will soak up the blood better!”

IMG_7096

She also pointed out that she could admit that in the case of a tornado she actually liked our toilet lights that normally aggravate her, because they run off of batteries. (We have those super fun toilet lights on our toilets that are motion detected and create a mini dance party in your toilet if you go to use the bathroom without turning on the room light. I personally love it because then I don’t have to blast the bathroom light when I have to go potty in the middle of the night.)  I was only reminded to take a picture of the little bathroom survival set-up when our dog, Monte, caught our attention as he kept trying to eat the chocolate and crackers in the bathroom.

So here’s the deal – the lack of electricity issue was only, simply, an inconvenience. As we dealt with the aggravation throughout the day, making the best of it all, I kept thinking about what it would be like to live in a world without electricity and not know any better. Back in the day, there were no luxuries of what electricity brings. No warm water, no easily, quickly heating up/cooking food. No fancy washing and drying machines. No computers, tvs and gadgets that provide entertainment, and certainly no internet.

Did the power outage totally throw off my to-do list and plans for the day with the family? Absolutely. When you’re used to doing things a certain way, no matter what, it’s gonna throw you off. But could I still live, survive and thrive? Of course. Do you have to have the luxury of electricity to survive? Absolutely not. Do I feel totally bad fussing about losing ONLY about 6 hours of electricity? YES!

The positive point in all this…I appreciate this luxury of electricity something fierce! Especially the warm water part. I could do without internet and even without being able to cook food using electricity, but goodness, do I ever totally appreciate the ability/luxury to take a hot bath or hot shower!  It’s these occasions that create an appreciation in you that words may not be able to express. Let’s just say I’m ever thankful to be growing up in a world that provides us so many incredible luxuries that spoil us so very much!

Take the time to think on it. What would your life really be like without electricity? How would you cope? And I mean if AFTER experiencing the joys and pleasures of electricity, how would you deal with suddenly not ever having it again? Something to ponder for sure.

Who Are You Hanging Out With?

By Shannon Boatwright

Ok, so I already had this whole idea ready, notes written and all, for a blog entry I was all into and passionate about. But then, I see this post on Instagram by Prince EA (@prince_ea) and I had to drop everything and write about this topic. The post said…

“Who are you hanging out with? There was a 20- year study done at Harvard, it said that your physical health is determined more by your relationships than the food you eat, the exercise program you’re on or the genes that you have inherited.”

SMiley

Wow. So on one level, YES, but Wow. Shocking to really think about. And I mean, really think about it…

#1 – How is your physical health?

IMG_6535

#2 – What kind of foods do you eat?

#3 – What kind of exercise are you getting?

#4 – Ya got good genes?

#5 – How are your relationships?

#6 – Who ARE you hanging out with?

 

This one has really made me think….

For me, as a public school teacher, I know my health is not as good as it could/should be. Why? Because, I’m overworked, overwhelmed and grossly underpaid. And let’s face it, I don’t have or make enough time for ME. Who do I spend most of my time with during the work week? Adolescent, middle school kids.

Of which, maybe 30% are well behaved, respectful children who make an honest effort.  50% are lazy, rascals that test a teacher’s patience at almost every turn. And 20% are inconsiderate, disrespectful punks that need a good dose of real discipline.  Add to that equation the fact that I’m a person of great passion and dignity, that cannot help but give 150% to my job – which means, I attempt to reach all these kids that I spend most of my time with during my work week.  It’s exhausting.

I should work out daily. I fortunately do a lot of moving within my school day, whether dancing, doing warm up after warm up with each class or simply being on my feet, walking the halls of the school or constantly dragging seating and/or set pieces around on my stage. But, do I do a focused work out just for me? Nope. Not usually. I’m always teaching or doing activity for something else/someone else. Do I need to make the exercise happen for me? All for me? YES!

Do I eat good? Sure, compared to most. I’m not a soda person.  I have my coffee every morning, usually only one cup. Do I put too much sugar in it? Yep. Two whole spoonfuls with French vanilla creamer. I can’t do it any other way. I’ve tried. I’d rather have no coffee, than have to endure drinking dirty water – aka black coffee. I discovered that firsthand when I did the Whole30 healthy eating program. My other drink of choice, besides a relaxing, lovely glass of wine, is good ole southern sweet tea. Which in my house, we only make green tea since the hubby has battled kidney stones. I like to think I do pretty darn good with drinking water. I have my days of course, but generally I do really well with drinking a lot of water because it just flat out makes me feel better.

Food wise, quite honestly, I don’t count calories and I take pride in the fact that I never plan to. I love food. I love to cook. I could eat pasta every day. But, the cool thing, … as you get older, you start listening to your body. At least I have. I’ve learned. I know when I need fruit. I know when I need veggies. I know when I need grains and/or red meat. I’ve learned to listen to my cravings. Even those rare times when I need chocolate. 😉 Our bodies speak to us. We just have to listen.

Do I have good genes? People tell me I do. I like to think I do. My family is beautiful, in my opinion. All mostly healthy people. Any critical issues, etc they have suffered from in my bloodline have been due to injury or sickness for the most part. No tragic hereditary ailments. For which I am incredibly thankful.

My Mama is beautiful. Fortunately for her, she has been blessed with a strong dose of the Italian bloodline of her family tree, which has graced her with gorgeous, dark skin that seems to age half the amount of time most normal people’s skin ages. Of course it helps that she takes amazing care of her skin. But she indeed has genes to thank for that. Me. I’m a different story. Though people constantly and consistently say that I look like my mother, it’s really only that my mother and I are two peas in a pod. We have the same mannerisms, the same manner of speaking at times… let’s just say we are artists born of the same brush. It’s a magical thing. But the reality of my exterior is that I have a lot of my father’s genes. And, my dear Daddy is of Scottish decent. Even some Irish may be in there. Therefore, yep, I am a true blond/auburn/strawberry little lady with white, freckled, easily prone to wrinkle skin.

Now fortunately, on the talent scale, I’d like to think I should be very thankful to have equal parts of both my parents, as they’re both very charismatic, outgoing, friendly, talented individuals. But I’ve come to the harsh reality that I just don’t have all the exterior genes that my mother has. I think the only Italian genes I inherited are definitely that of an interior nature, which is that I have a naturally determined, strong willed, very passionate, sassy temperament that either wows a person or scares them.

So all this being said, you’d think that all of this would have a heck of a lot to do with my physical health. I mean come on!

Yet this Harvard study stated that “your physical health is determined more by your relationships than the food you eat, the exercise program you’re on or the genes that you have inherited.

This is huge and I totally get it.

The reality for some people, despite what they eat, how much they work out or what genes they were graced with, is that they’re miserable. Their physical body may look good or their life may seem awesome to others, but internally they’re a mess. Is this because of unhealthy relationships in their lives? Ever heard the stories about the celebs, rock stars, actors, sports stars, dignitaries, etc who seem to have it all? Success, fame, power, riches….yet, they struggle consistently with emotional demons and some even end their own lives? Whew. Wow.

Yep. Doesn’t matter how fabulous the exterior may seem. It’s the relationships that mold the person.  Just maybe, the people we surround ourselves with…the people we have true relationships with, are what truly defines us.  ???   Hmmmmm…

Does my stressful job within the public school system affect my health? Heck yea it does. On more levels than I could begin to describe here. And, let’s face it, if I didn’t have the fellow teachers, the ones that have become truly best friends among the battlegrounds of public school, I would never survive the war that is public school. The relationships I have been graced with while soldiering through the dirty platoons of teacherdom, well, some of these friendships are everlasting. Seriously. I don’t know what I’d do without some of these fellow warriors I’ve had the honor and pleasure to work with. And during those school hours, despite the brats and rugrats I may have to deal with, I still build faith in my grand, underappreciated profession, thanks to the precious few students who make an effort, make me smile and remind me of why I try so hard to inspire.

And my family and real friends, my oh my, I could write page after page about the true family and friends that I have faith, security and thankfulness in knowing that they love me, they forgive me, they adore me, they have my back no matter what …it’s a truly priceless thing to know I have loved ones I can go to for support no matter what I may be going through.

I can absolutely attest to the fact that in my older, more recent years, I have become a healthier person due to the people I surround myself with. My husband, my Love… he makes me a better person. He adores and supports me in a way that words cannot begin to describe. Sometimes just the look in his eyes gives me the push I need to be myself and pursue my dreams. His genuine adoration and love allowed me to find myself. His humble, supportive, loving nature reminds me that it’s ok to put myself first. He has this grand ability to love me and allow me this priceless opportunity to be ok with sharing my talents. So I can say with utter confidence, when I hang out with him, I am complete. I am a healthy, awesome individual because I can be me.

Relationships? Are they really that important to our health?

Oh My Goodness, YES YES YES YES and YES.

So, who are you hanging out with??

Not Saying Good Luck

By Shannon Boatwright

 

I don’t say “Good Luck”.

I say “Make it happen. Earn it. Be excellent.”

Brendon Burchard

IMG_6369 (1)

Alright, so I like to inspire others – as much as possible. But I am also easily inspired. I like to find my own personal inspiration in the little things, the big things, the random things…you name it. A little inspiration can carry one a long way and have a priceless, lasting effect on someone. Therefore, it is my belief that an opportunity to inspire someone is never a wasted effort.

That being said, I came across this quote from Brendon Burchard and it has hit me hard, in a most positive, touching way.  I find myself telling others “good luck” all the time! Like seriously, when really thinking about it, I say this a lot to people. But does saying good luck really provide the support and encouragement that I’d like to provide to people in my life? Honestly… No.

Now that I think about it, I myself certainly don’t want to rely on chance or this idea of luck. We must create our success and allow positivity to guide us to our real winnings in life. Most things are just not a roll of the dice, or a scratch card, luck of the draw kind of situation. If I want positive things to happen in my life, I have to take a stand, share my voice, use my talents, and work for it to make it happen!  So I don’t want to encourage others to wait on or put stock in any kind of hope that they’ll simply “get lucky”.  I plan to make a conscious choice to not say “Good Luck” to others and instead, like Brendon Burchard, I will say “You got this! Be excellent, earn it and make it happen!”

Will you wait for good fortune to knock on your door? Or will you work hard to be excellent and make it happen?  How will you encourage others?