Monday, June 11, 2012

Coming out: a musher in the closet

I spent eight years getting a degree in English, only to launch a career in healthcare in 2001. (I know, right? How did that happen? See! There is life after an English degree!) When funding ran out for my hospital job (which I loved and excelled at) in 2008, I was resentful, but like most life-lesson stories, I quickly realized it was a blessing in disguise. I returned to my roots - to who I really am at my core: a writer, a photographer, an artist - to those things corporate life had slowly began squashing out of me.

The need to connect - at least on some level, however minuscule - to communicate and feel a camaraderie with others is a basic human instinct, I think. But so often the hundreds of ways we are "connected" anymore leave a lot of room for misinterpretation.

Sometimes the language that I speak with my camera is easier to translate to others than my words. Sometimes, lately, I reach for my camera instead of my words. Sometimes, I am misunderstood. I fear that misunderstanding, so sometimes I allow my camera to speak for me - to say what I cannot say.

But lately, I have been trying to articulate how I have finally embraced this non conventional life. 

Losing my hospital job allowed me to embrace the lifestyle I wanted to embrace: out here, in the sticks, with my dogs. On some level, I was always secretive about my lifestyle and being a musher when I was in social situations. Afraid of judgments, I didn't readily offer to anyone how many dogs I had ("you have how many dogs?") in my professional life, and even now, I keep my lifestyle hidden from clients. At least until I get to know them, and, more importantly, they get to know me.

I felt like this knowledge was reserved for only a few special and trusted people in my life. 

I always kept a secret stash of lint rollers everywhere - in my vehicle, desk drawer at work, and a mini one in my purse - to quickly brush away the husky hair that invariably covered my (usually black) clothing.

I carried on about how I really drove a 4x4 truck because of the "safe" factor.

I invented elaborate excuses for why I couldn't come to work those weeks in January or February. Race weeks.

I was a musher in the closet.

Something magical happens when you know, without a doubt, who you are and what you're meant to do on this earth and you embrace it.

Unapologetically. Authentically.

A peace settles into your Muck boots. You confidently stroll into work without heed to the white puff of husky hair stuck so brazenly to your black blazer. You no longer apologize for the random smidge of dog poo on your work pumps, but rather wipe it off with a quick swipe in the corporate bathroom.

Why are we raised as children to believe that it is good to be ourselves, only to so often stifle our true passions as adults? Why does society demand so much of us?

Here's to being yourself. I raise my cup of coffee to the mushers, the writers, the poets, artists and those who keep it real and live their authentic lives.

Here's to leaving the closet - no matter what you have to "come out" about.


  1. Love this Shannon. Very true , no matter why or what aspect of your life you feel others will judge you for. Here's to keeping it real and being to true to yourself. Well said my friend!

  2. Well said, Shannon. Well said.

  3. You are awesome... no doubt about it. I understand what you are saying. All my closest friends "growing up" in Columbus were / are bike riders. The "shave your legs" kind of bike riders aka Lance Armstrong bike riders, no motors here. If you've ever seen "Breaking Away" that's who we were - the kids that went to school all day but couldn't wait to get home and take the bikes out for a 40-mile training ride. This might sound "normal" today but in the face of Basketball / Baseball / Football we were outcasts. and looking back on it I wouldn't change a thing


Please leave comments - I always love reading them! namaste!