When I first met Shannon through a mutual friend, there was something about her that stood out; I had a strange feeling she was going to be a person I could deeply connect with. It wasn’t until halfway through that evening when an actual conversation took place between us. Thinking she was someone else, I accidentally did something to her that made me feel so embarrassed, yet Shannon embraced the faux pas with much laughter, lightheartedness and jokes. That confirmed to me she was definitely the type of person I would like to get to know. Shannon’s humor and honesty is rare to find; I’m so grateful to have met her.
After our serendipitous encounter came to a conclusion, we stayed connected. As she and I started hanging out, if one of us was free, we would text the other. Then we would meet for a drink or coffee. I remember one day we went for a long walk on the beach talking about our lives. It was at the next get-together where she approached me with the invitation to share my story. I felt humbled and honored that she considered that what she had learned about me would be significant to others. Shannon explained how my life’s narrative could help so many other people who might be in a similar situation.
I needed time to think it over, because I was still shocked that she felt I was a strong person to go through what I did. She told me that no one would have known the hardships and abuse I suffered based on my positive attitude and where I am today in my life. Shannon never pressured me or mentioned the opportunity again. She was always mindful and considerate of my feelings, waiting until she might hear back from me. It was only after a couple more social events that I realized what an amazing project Shannon has taken on for our diverse community. Her approach was so relaxed and gentle; she made me feel so comfortable. This is when I decided that I would be honored to be a part of this amazing journey of sharing, healing and empowering.
For my first interview for the book, I went to her home. When I walked in, she had snacks and drinks ready for us, which really made the environment relaxed, warm, and inviting. I don’t tell my story often, however I will admit that this was the first time I laughed so much during the telling. There aren’t many people I trust; yet I immediately connected with this gracious woman. That was the sign that I just met a genuine, true person. I’m blessed, grateful and so fortunate to call her my friend.
Shannon, I want to say “THANK YOU” for this wonderful and amazing opportunity and experience. You are pure light in people’s lives. Thank you for your patience, your understanding, and your support. I wish you much success for what you are doing. You have impacted many lives—mine being one of them. You are a rare GEM!