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Finding My Sunshine (A Memoir) by Shannon Leith McGuire (Book Spotlight / Author Interview)

FINDING MY SUNSHINE by Shannon Leith McGuire
Content Rating:  PG+M for bad language, anger, and suicidal thoughts, clinical depression, and assault
 
“What if that someone was you?” Shannon had been so quick to blame others for her anger. She knew she was drowning in darkness and pain; being born with a learning disability made her feel defeated by life. She tried drinking heavily in order to quiet the demons. After being kicked out of college, Shannon took a leap of faith and started working in a nursing home. That’s when her angels appeared and the miracle began. The insight and wisdom she gained from those elderly new friends led her on an inspiring journey of discovery and self-acceptance. Each of us has our own path. Some of us just need angels to help us find it. This is her story.
 
 
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Bio: Shannon was raised in a small town in Eastern Montana, where you leave your car keys in the ignition and your front door unlocked all the time. The kind of place where sunsets and sunrises can be seen for miles on the horizon. Where the spring crickets and frogs resting in the irrigation ditches helped transition the days into a calm resting night. Where the winters can get so cold, air can freeze.

It was only after she was academically suspended by the college she was attending, that she became a Certified Nurses Aide (CNA). She did her training in Billings, Montana and it was there she learned how to take care of others and bonded with the geriatric population.

​For over five years, Shannon worked in the same nursing home where she received her training. The work was hard, but it grounded her and helped her find balance in what had become a deeply unbalanced life. It was not until she was a CNA, at one of the hospitals that she had a dream-three nights in a row-that she was going to become a nurse.

She currently resides in Tampa, Florida, where you may hear her laughing with her husband of over 10 years,  scuba diving in the ocean, taking walks with their rescued pit-bull dog- Darby, or dancing together to life’s music.

 

In your book you wrote how disappointed you were when you found out you had Poly Cystic Ovary disease and that you had always wanted to have 4 boys. Did you ever think of adopting?

Yes, I did. However, I knew for some time I could not take care of myself. How was I going to be able to take care of children?  I was not put together yet, and it took many years for me to feel like I was able to care for myself. I did not have the money to work with a fertility specialist. It was something I had to come to terms with and accept. It was not in God’s plans for me to become an actual mom.  So, I am a mom to my rescue dog, Darby. 

 

 

What is your pet peeve?

One thing I learned from my time in counseling with Tom is to be truthful.  I found that if you are honest in the beginning, everything really will turn out okay. There is no reason to lie.  Lies start a domino effect and people get hurt. Sometimes you cannot take back what was lied about. Saying “I am sorry” after a lie is owning up to the action, and it changes everything. I learned you only are as strong as your word. 

 

 

There are many memoirs out there about people’s lives. What makes yours so special?

 Like so many other memoirs, mine is about finding myself and finding a balance. I write about how I was trying to survive; I had darkness all around me. Counseling helped me shine the light on the darkness, and really helped me own up to my insecurities, anger, and hatred of myself. I realized I never was a victim of life.  I just needed help; I denied myself for many years. My hope is my book will help others get help earlier and live their best life and not wait so long to get it like I did. I hope others learn that mistakes are not a life sentence, and you can get better. But first you must admit you need help. That is the first step. I hope I make it easier for people who are struggling to find their way and let them know it is okay. And, let them know their lives can be SO much better.

 

 

Tell us more about your rescue dog, Darby.

Pit bulls have such a bad rap. I have learned a lot about the breed from watching Pitbull’s and Paroles and reading up on them on my own. We wanted to help.  We were on a web site, Pet Finder, and we saw her.  She looked like she had road rash on her right shoulder, and scars all over her face, but she was still smiling. We made an appointment to go meet her, and she was lovely.  She had healed stab wounds all over her body and her tongue needed to be surgically put back together. She was found when police did a raid on where she was living.  Jimmy’s Angels rescue center took her in, cared for her, and brought her back to life. We fell in love with her. They came out and did a home check. She has been with us for a little over a year now. She is living proof what a little bit of love can do to change someone’s world.  She goes everywhere with me.  (And she snores louder then my husband.)

 

 

Tell us more about your favorite resident. What drew you to her or him?

I have so many favorite people I have taken care of over the years. But I guess the 2 that I truly bonded with were Betty Ann and Phyllis. I talk about them in my book. I guess because they were once broken also, and both shared it with me.  They shared with me their stories and how they got through the tough times and struggled with addiction (alcohol) as well.  I guess what drew me to them was the rawness of how they were.  They too had one-night stands, got drunk at parties, lived by the seat of their pants, did what they needed to do to get by.  They helped me realize mistakes are not life sentences. It is just life.  They helped me stop taking things so seriously and being so hard on myself.

 
 
connect with the author: website
 
 
 
 
 
Disclaimer: All questions and answers were constructed by the author and/or their representative. 
 
 
 

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Thrive: The Facilitator’s Guide to Radically Inclusive Meetings by Dr. Mark Smutny (Book Spotlight / Author Interview)

THRIVE: The Facilitator's Guide to Radically Inclusive Meetings by Dr. Mark Smutny
 
 
Imagine meetings where everyone is heard and all people matter.

Picture organizations that embrace all voices and are committed to justice, equity and opportunity. Imagine businesses, nonprofits and the public sector creatively engaging people in thousands of ways—seeking their best ideas, empowering the silenced, and building communities where all are treated with dignity and respect.

That’s what Thrive seeks to create.

Each chapter contains practical insights and accessible stories that transform meetings from dull to dynamic.

You will learn how to:

  • capitalize on diversity’s strengths.
  • keep meetings task-oriented and collegial.
  • facilitate effectively in polarized or conflicted settings.

Thrive includes chapters on privilege and power, multilingual and virtual meetings, and full inclusion of people with disabilities.

Whether you are a skilled practitioner or new to leadership, Thrive will teach you techniques for facilitating more effective, inclusive and energizing meetings.

 
 
 
 
 
 
Meet the Author:
Dr. Mark Smutny

 
Dr. Mark Smutny is a professional facilitator, consultant, speaker, author and founder of Civic Reinventions, Inc. He is known for helping organizations uncover the wisdom hidden in their diversity, build cohesion, and achieve their goals.

He draws upon decades of work planning and leading retreats, facilitating meetings, and working with nonprofits and businesses. He teaches and writes on the arts of inclusive facilitation and inclusive leadership skills. He has worked in the fields of homeless services, affordable housing, transportation services for special needs populations, business and resident associations, faith-based groups, and public/private partnerships dedicated to strengthening civic engagement.

Mark received his Master of Divinity degree from the Harvard Divinity School, one of the most religiously diverse theological institutions in the world. His doctorate focused on organizational revitalization in multicultural settings. He is a Program Associate with the Kaleidoscope Institute, an agency that equips leaders to communicate effectively across cultures, ethnicities and race.

When not working, Mark and his wife, Barbara Anderson, enjoy the Cascades, cooking, gardening, exercising their dogs, and playing with their granddaughters.

You can learn more about Mark Smutny and Civic Reinventions, Inc., professional facilitation services, consulting, coaching and training at civicreinventions.com or by sending Mark an email.

 
 
 
 
 
What made you write about inclusive meetings?

I wrote Thrive because I’ve sat in zillions of meetings and in many of them been bored out of my mind. A few people dominated while most remained silent. I wanted to share insights accumulated over a lifetime about how to facilitate meetings marked by energy, creativity, and the engagement of everyone.

 

 

There are many books out there about diversity and inclusion, what makes yours different?

Books on diversity, equity and inclusion have mushroomed in response to the Black Lives Matter movement and other racial justice initiatives. Most address topics such as how to recognize unconscious bias, stereotypes and system racism. Others describe how to have honest conversations about difficult topics in polarized times. My unique focus is on inclusive meetings—the landscape in which we live a good portion of our organizational lives.

 

 

You are a White, straight, privileged man. What makes you think you can be an expert on diversity and inclusion?

I am not an expert on diversity and inclusion, especially when it concerns race. I am still learning be more empathic. I do have a passionate commitment to social justice. I am an expert on how to design an lead meetings that are fun, productive and inclusive.

 

 

Who are you writing for?

I want to help young and midcareer nonprofit leaders who spend a huge portion of their lives in meetings. My hope is to introduce them to principles and practices that transform meetings from dull to  dynamic and inclusive.

 

 

Do you have another profession besides writing?

I am an Independent Professional Consultant. My consulting business, Civic Reinventions, helps nonprofit by facilitating their strategic plans with an emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion. I also facilitate annual planning retreats. I am developing a series of webinars on inclusive meeting practices that will launch in 2022. I am also a Presbyterian minister.

 
 
What is your next wring project?

I am hip deep in researching and writing a book on inclusive leadership practices for nonprofit leaders. 

 
 
How do you recharge?

I have two, high energy Brittany Spaniel dogs that must get aggressive, off-leash exercise every day. I tether then to my mountain bike and off we go like Huskies pulling a sled in Alaska. The neighborhood children see us tootling along at 15 miles per hour and call out “I love your dogs!” The exercise clears my brain and I get a big dose of joy in my heart.

 
connect with the author: website ~ email ~ goodreads
 
 
 
 
 
Disclaimer: All questions and answers were constructed by the author and/or their representative. 
 

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Cut and Run by Annabelle Lewis (Book Spotlight)

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​Their story continues . . .

The four Boston clairvoyants, blessed—or cursed—with special powers, must fight a ruthless enemy and stop injustice. In Dead Cat, Run, the Sisters of Fate drove them together, but at what cost? The God Apollo wasn’t playing around. He’s still dead set on vengeance.

Sinister forces will have a wicked agenda. An energy grab, a mineral rights war, and deadly mercenaries create a mortally serious game. But the psychics’ sibylline abilities aside, they’re only human. At least three of them are. (What’s up with that?)

Can they stop the killers? And who will survive?

​An energetic contemporary thriller, Cut and Run will have you on the edge of your seat as the dance between good and evil resumes.

 
 
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Excerpt of chapter one!! 

 
Duke Montague Marshall squinted into the harsh rays of the sun as they beamed with a strobe-like effect through his front windshield. Behind the wheel of his silver Toyota RAV4, he looked at the dashboard clock. Ten minutes to arrival.


“Nice up here,” Fiddler said, looking around. “Lots of trees.”

Duke felt no need to reply to his riding companion’s inane comment about the dense pines and spruce trees of the Superior National Forest. The forest, covering 3.9 million acres of land in Minnesota, also had about 2,000 lakes around the Superior National Forest and Boundary Waters region between the United States and Canada.

He looked in the rearview mirror at the vehicle following them. Five minutes to arrival.


“Run down the Monday-morning setup for me again,” Duke said.

“Assembly takes place in a green, industrial-type shed to the right past another shed-like main office with an awning and signage. They’ll be having their bullshit, Monday-morning meeting. Every fucking Monday the heads and general labor have a bull session. Donuts. Coffee. That kind of thing.”

Focusing on the task, Duke said, “We’re sure everyone will be there? No one in the quarry yet?”
 
Fiddler shook his head, his longish hair pulled back today. “Nah. Just the two places. Main office with the awning and the big green shed next to it.”

Not really worried about how things would go down, Duke told him to cut the noise once Fiddler started chattering about his planned trip to Turks and Caicos.

They’d arrived. Granger’s Quarry, a trillion-dollar shithole.

As they drove down a small gravel hill, Duke’s eyes roamed the parking lot. Relieved to spot the particular vehicle they needed, he pointed to it before slowly pulling up to the front door of the Granger’s Quarry office. He pressed the hatch button and got out, followed by Fiddler, and watched two more men on his team unload their own vehicle right behind them. They each grabbed a cheap AR15, all loaded with 30 round mags of 5.56 mm ammunition. One hundred twenty bullets should do the trick.


They closed the back ends of the vehicles, and Duke pointed to Thing 5 and then to the black F150 Ford truck they’d passed in the parking lot. Thing 5—or Alpha, as he was really known—was the number-five guy on Duke’s team and not yet deserving a personal pronoun. On Duke’s crew, a name had to be earned, but he was confident that Thing 5 knew what to do. Next, Duke’s focus turned to Thing 6, or Bravo. He pointed Bravo toward the front steps of the office and said, “Not until you hear me first.”

Thing 6 nodded as Duke and Fiddler headed to the green shed for the weekly BS meeting. Today, at least one of them will have something real to gripe about. The large industrial, metal shed next to the office had an eighteen-foot garage door open to the September elements. Duke could hear someone talking inside, so he raised his fist to stop Fiddler and quickly peeked inside. Sure enough, maybe fifteen guys sat in there, listening to some asshole at the front, yakking away—probably Chris Granger.

 
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Meet the Author:
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​Annabelle Lewis is a pseudonym for the author who lives in Minneapolis with her husband, children, and a wild thug of a dog who sleeps beside her. A multi-genre writer and publisher of 9 novels to date, her humorous mystery caper books have a theme – taking down the bad guy. Villains beware! She also writes a scathing blog and highly entertaining monthly newsletter. Sign up to follow at her website.
 
 
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Dead Cat, Run by Annabelle Lewis (Book Spotlight)

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​You’re where you’re meant to be. Run, if you can.

High school senior Jenny Gallagher’s psychic abilities have made life in her small New England town rocky. Her premonitions and déjà vu have given her a reputation, one she’s not happy with. Tragedy is about to strike, however, and oddly, this time, she doesn’t see it coming. Is her gift betraying her?

Not far from Jenny, Wellesley Professor Maximus Dyer also has a gift—a painful and useless one. His ability to see the past has brought him insight into history, but otherwise, he’s never known what to make of it. The psychic shocks he receives through his unprotected hands have made any genuine human relationships beyond his grasp. Then someone who doesn’t trigger a vision enters his life—a dog?

Sidrah Keeling runs determinedly optimistic throughout her life, trying hard not to ask the big questions about why. Her foresight, her ability to see glimpses of the future in her dreams, often drives her to follow a path she doesn’t understand. Alert and listening, with the guardrails of security she’s erected in place, she’s forced again to follow her dreams. This time to a man. Who is he?

Lurking deep in his sensory deprivation tank, Turner Black sees it all. Born out of the great chaos of time, he once again feels the forces of good gathering to move against him. Not in this life. This time, his darkness will reign supreme. The hunt for his antithesis will begin again now. He can’t wait to feel his opponent in destiny bleed.

​A fast-paced contemporary mystery thriller with a supernatural hierarchy, Dead Cat, Run will keep you up all night, glued to your seat.

 

Buy the Book:  
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Meet the Author:

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​Annabelle Lewis is a pseudonym for the author who lives in Minneapolis with her husband, children, and a wild thug of a dog who sleeps beside her. A multi-genre writer and publisher of 9 novels to date, her humorous mystery caper books have a theme – taking down the bad guy. Villains beware! She also writes a scathing blog and highly entertaining monthly newsletter. Sign up to follow at her website.
 
 
Connect with the Author:  Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram ~ Goodreads
 
 
 
 

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Measure, Mix & Marinate: Embracing the Key Ingredients to a More Fulfilling Life by Cheryl Schuberth (Book Spotlight / Author Interview)

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Every inch of kitchen counter space was in use. All five of us were busy measuring, stirring, rolling, sautéing, and baking. There was flour and oil everywhere. And most of us were wearing some of it. No one was thinking about clean-up, as we were simply trying to get the meal done so we could finally sit down and eat.
 
​​As a wife, mom and former corporate go-getter, Cheryl knows firsthand the frustration of trying to do it all and feeling that none of it is good enough. As the world slowed down for a global pandemic, Cheryl inspected her own life and who she wanted to become—who she needed to become—to serve at her highest level. Much of this discovery occurred in the kitchen during playful evenings side-by-side with her sons, husband, and mother. Their time together led Cheryl to realize that how you measure your priorities, mix them in with your life experiences, and marinate on and adjust to the results determines the direction of your life.
 
 
 
 
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Cheryl Schuberth is a graduate of the University of California San Diego and a respected corporate leader.

As a wife, mom, and former corporate go-getter, Cheryl knows firsthand the frustration of trying to do it all and feeling that none of it is good enough. After twenty-five years leading and coaching teams in the male-dominated technology space, she stepped away from that world and embarked on a mission to enhance her relationships with her teenage sons and, at the same time, empower other working women to become more curious about their options and reevaluate their priorities.

She now coaches women to help them feel their best, increase their confidence, and put themselves at the top of the list. Cheryl lives outside Boulder, CO, where she enjoys hiking, skiing, and all things outdoors.
 

 

1.. How do you balance out time spent focused on writing?

(Cheryl)  I love the outdoors and picked up hiking again about a year before I started writing my book.  Hiking is not only great exercise, but there’s something about being in nature that calms me and brings perspective to everything else going on in my life. It’s definitely a great change of scenery from the four walls in my office and increases my focus while I am writing.

 

2. What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?

(Cheryl)  I’ve moved to a new city across the country or world three times without having a job when I got there. The last and most significant was when my husband and I quit perfectly good jobs in Chicago and moved to Colorado without income lined up. This time was different because we had our two month old son on our adventure with us. It took a few weeks for my husband to find a sales position and then I chimed in with some consulting opportunities that led to a full time job.

 

3. What’s your favorite meal to make?

(Cheryl)  I love tackling the big meals – Thanksgiving, Christmas and other gatherings. I enjoy the planning aspect of it and ensuring that everything works together. If you’ve read my book, you’ll understand why that’s important in my house.

 

4.) What’s your favorite meal to eat?

(Cheryl)  I could eat Mexican food everyday. Especially tacos. Growing up in San Diego, good Mexican food was always around so I never got sick of it.

 

5.) What’s your favorite holiday or other celebration?

(Cheryl)  I love Thanksgiving. Not only because there’s no judgment for how much you eat, but because it’s just about being together. There’s no scrambling to find the perfect gift or stressing about how much you should spend. No one in particular is at the center of the day. You’re just there to be together and celebrate your relationships. We should do more of that throughout the year.

 

6.) If you could cure any disease, what would it be?

(Cheryl)  My dad was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s Disease so I would definitely focus on that. It’s horrible to watch the people you love lose their memories and themselves, and be aware that they can’t do anything about it. It’s horrible for the person with the disease and incredibly painful for those who love them.

 

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Disclaimer: All questions and answers were constructed by the author and/or their representative. 

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