Invisible Mentor: Shannon Moroney, Author, Advocate & Speaker
Avil Beckford: Tell me a little bit about yourself.
Shannon Moroney: I’m the author of a book that just came out titled Through the Glass. It’s my memoir of a personal experience as a victim of crime but moreover of the spouse of an offender and the journey through the justice system. I’m based in Toronto, and I travel all over the place doing public speaking and putting some of my efforts into restorative justice.
Avil Beckford: How do you integrate your personal and professional life?
Shannon Moroney: It’s a challenge! I think so much of my professional life is personal because it is about sharing my story. When I go to do a speaking engagement I always bring somebody with me who is just for me – my husband, my mom, my dad, a friend – and that brings everyone together so that I’m not alone with my experiences. When I go out and speak to a community group or work in a prison, somebody is there with me just to share it, and to debrief afterwards and that’s a really wonderful thing and I I’m lucky can do that.
Avil Beckford: When you have some down time, how do you spend it?
Shannon Moroney: I spend it doing the things I want to do, and spend it with people who I love to be with. The work that I do is very emotional and involves a lot of output so I really have to focus my downtime on recharging my batteries. I love to cook. I like to do yoga. I can’t wait until I’m not pregnant so that I can really exercise again – that would be good. I try to do things that are a pleasure, relaxing. Definitely the most helpful and grounding activity for me, other than spending time with my loved ones is doing creative work, whether it’s painting or knitting or making a photo album, something that involves creativity is a really grounding force for me.
Avil Beckford: What are five life lessons that you have learned so far?
- Know yourself. Act within your own values else you’ll be very uncomfortable.
- Prioritize the people in your life over possessions and work.
- The days sometimes go by slowly but the years go by quickly, and it’s good to embrace what you have every day because you don’t know how quickly it can change. I was grateful before this trauma happened I was somebody who was quite aware, and appreciated my life. When the life I knew suddenly came to an end, I knew that I hadn’t wasted any time before that happened.
- Let people talk about you, sometimes you have to stand up for yourself, and other times you have to try not to take things personally, because most people when they criticize, they are coming from where they’re at in their own lives.
- Be compassionate and hope that the compassion you show for other people, and the understanding and trying to put your feet in somebody else’s shoes is what you can expect from other people, and that you’ll be shown that same compassion.
Avil Beckford: How do you define success? And in your opinion what’s the formula for success?
Shannon Moroney: Success is a generalized feeling of positivity, of the right combination of purpose, fulfilling your purpose that you define for yourself, and having people around to share it with. For me, that’s really important. We use the word balance a lot these days, and I think it’s important to try to achieve the right balance of work and play, volunteering and having time for yourself – that’s a good formula to try to achieve. It’s different for every person.
Avil Beckford: If trusted friends could introduce you to five people that you’ve always wanted to meet, who would you choose? And what would you say to them?
- Frida Kahlo, the Mexican self-portrait artist. I would thank her for being an example of someone who could be open to the pain she was in, and not try to make it pretty. She’s not trying to please anybody but herself through her artwork, and in so doing, impacted a lot of people.
- I’d love to meet Lucille Ball just because in my family whenever anyone was feeling sick, the solution was always to eat cinnamon toast and watch I Love Lucy, so I feel like she is a member of my family.
- There are some authors that I’d like to meet and have dinner with. But mostly I would be very nervous about what I would say to them. I would listen to what they have to say to me and not do too much of the talking myself. Authors I admire are Barbara Kingsolver and Jeannette Walls who wrote a fantastic memoir called The Glass Castle and Lucy Maud Montgomery who wrote all the Anne of Green Gables books because I feel the values she puts forward in her books, as I read them as a young girl, impacted how I grew. The character of Anne shaped who I wanted to be – how she was different from other people, coped with her own frustrations. All those authors are people I’d like to thank for what they give, and for giving me a story or a book I can read and learn so much from.
Avil Beckford: Which one book had a profound impact on your life? What was it about this book that impacted you so deeply?
Shannon Moroney: There are many books but I’ll say The Catcher in the Rye even though I haven’t read it for years and years. At the time, I was 16 or 17 when I read it and the main character Holden Caulfield, I felt that I understood him and the actual catcher in the rye is a person that all they want to do is stand on the edge of a cliff and save all the little children who are playing, from falling over the edge of the cliff.
When I read The Catcher in the Rye as a teenager, I knew that’s exactly what I wanted to do in the world was to keep the little children from falling over the cliff, so much so that I wrote that as my ambition in my yearbook, my career ambition. By becoming a teacher, by working with young people who’ve experienced violence, and by finally becoming a mother myself, my passion is for children and young people and trying to keep them away from the dangers, and allow them to grown and fully be themselves. I hold that to the main character Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye.
Avil Beckford: You are one of the 10 finalists on the reality show, So, How Would You Spend Your Time? Each finalist is placed on separate deserted islands for two years. You have a basic hut on the island and all the tools for survival; you just have to be imaginative and inventive when using them. You are allowed to take five books, one movie and one music CD, and whatever else you take has to fit in one suitcase and a travel on case. What would you take with you and how would you spend the two years? T he prize is worth your while and at this stage in the game there really aren’t any losers among the 10 finalists, since each are guaranteed at least $2 million?
If there is anyway I could bring my guitar with me, I would because the guitar is the best travel companion. I would try to build a connection with nature around me, observe and get involved with the natural life rather than try to fight it, and look for ways to survive and realize that everything I need would be around me.
I would also spend a lot of my time crying, I’m sure, because I’m a very social, outgoing person, very extroverted, and that would be the number one hardest thing about being on my own, would be not having other people around me.
- I would take a really long book that I have never read before, something really hard like War and Peace, something that would make me a better person. I have actually lived in some very isolated places where you read anything because there is nothing else to do so it’s a good way to get through hard books.
- I would take some of my favourites that I can really escape into. I would take something like Anne of Green Gables: The Collection, or Little Women (Sterling Classics) – these classic books from my childhood that I could escape and love.
- I would take one of my favourite Buddhist books of literature, which is The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times (Shambhala Library) by Pema Chodron because I think that would give me guidance as I coped with being on this isolated island.
- I’d take a Barbara Kingsolver book, maybe Prodigal Summer: A Novel or the The Poisonwood Bible: A Novel. These are the kinds of books that each time you read them you get more so it would be okay to reread them.
Movie & Music CD
For music I would take the Indigo Girls, the album that has “Closer to Fine” (Indigo Girls) which has been a staple of my life. I’m not a big movie person, but it would probably be Little Women. I don’t watch new movies all the time, but Little Women is one I like to watch every year and I feel so comforted. I think where I’m going for this life on the island is for comfort and security and not new or scary or anything like that.
Indigo Girls – Closer To Fine
Little Women (1933) – Trailer
Avil Beckford: What excites you about life?
Shannon Moroney: Possibilities, the opportunity to travel, the growth I have in my relationships. I’m at a wonderful point of new beginnings with my new husband, with our children about to be born. There are a lot of things. I feel so lucky to have the life that I do, to have the perspective that I do, to have come through such a horrible situation. I feel very lucky to live in Canada, very lucky for the opportunities that I have. I’m very lucky for my education and all of those things make life a lot easier, and it’s something that lots of people in the world don’t have, is the opportunity even just to dream and get excited about life because work and daily survival is so important.
For me, even though I lost my ability to dream for a while when I was just having to survive day-to-day and make all these difficult decisions that when I finally emerged and got back that ability to dream and have hope, it’s a wonderful experience. So lots of things excite me about life, and I hope it’s long.
Avil Beckford: How do you nurture your soul?
Shannon Moroney: Connecting with nature is the number one thing for me. Usually if I see myself coming off balance because I haven’t spent enough time in and around trees, connecting with the beautiful wilderness that we have in Canada. But I do live in a big city so I also have little practices that I do that offer me a chance to reflect, whether it’s lighting a candle, burning some sage, or just sitting quietly is very important to me. And my soul is nurtured so much by other people and by being around the people who I love.
Avil Beckford: If you had a personal genie and she gave you one wish, what would you wish for?
Shannon Moroney: I would wish for more compassion in our world – that’s the number one thing I could think of, less judgement and more compassion.
Avil Beckford: Complete the following, I am happy when…..
Shannon Moroney: I’m happy when I’m with the people I love.
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