To selfie or not to selfie. That is the question these days. I fully admit I’ve had to “unfollow” people whose Instagram feed is, to put it frankly, an onslaught of narcissism. Don’t get me wrong from the start here, but I follow people I want to see. Not judge, not envy, but really see. Seeing people I am connected to is life-giving; it warms my heart. I love the instant Insta check-in with those I care about and admire, who make me think and laugh, who I can truly relate to. I love the encouraged freedom I have watched the #tamily create, bringing so many authentic, humble, and graceful women forward to let us see you. That freedom marks the big difference from those on social media who are creating an alter ego, which ends up being not even remotely as beautiful as real life (to me, anyway). The “look at me now…no, look at me NOW” feeds that are all over the place are leaving out an important lesson. As my dear friend and doctor Ana Casas’ 101-year-old Grandmother shared with us in Ana’s newsletter earlier today, “How you say something is just as important as what you say.”
There are days when I have to post for the “aspiration,” up to industry “standards,” but a selfie—whoa, that’s a toughie. Believe it or not, I was a painfully shy child and I so clearly remember the day I felt I could finally start to come out from behind that cloud of hesitations. What I love about the way our community has evolved, and what it was created from, is that it makes it safe for all of us to selfie not for the self, but for the sharing and caring.
This week, I am interviewing a woman I truly wanted to seek out and find on my feed long before I had the pleasure of actually meeting her in person. She is so humble and gifted. Her words and actions so well thought out and kind. She is the true definition of a wise and loving “old soul.” In fact, when I met her face to face I was truly taken by her beauty. I had no idea what she actually looked like because you could barely see her face in her Instagram icon—it was turned and mostly covered by her hair. Her work and her words were the beauty I knew her for. When we finally met, I encouraged her, please, let us see more of you!
I realized why I wanted to see more of her: as a mother, I can tell you, there is nothing more important than seeing the expression on your child’s face. As a rule, my son’s father or I have always been there to pick him up from school in the afternoon, because, in my opinion, seeing and getting his in-person brain dump at the end of the day is a really important part of being there. When you care about people, you want to really, fully check in. You want to hear their voice and see their eyes. I encourage all of us to selfie. If you want to share a moment when you think your hair looks good, or a funny, or even a pimple (bless you Lena Dunham—that pimple selfie was a freeing favorite for me), share it! What we don’t want is to see your “Instagram life,” some fake version of, “oh, look at how hot and cool I am all day every darn day,” because, if you ask me, that isn’t anything close to inspirational.
Shannon, thank you for letting us see your face, but even more thanks to you for making us want to see it so damn much for so long by sharing the things that really are the most cherished, beautiful, and lovable in life. Your words. Your thoughts. Your encouragements. Your complete lack of self-centeredness. You are a gem, my darling. A talented woman who truly understands what life is all about. Thank you for sharing and take this letter as a selfie request to all of you in the #tamily, because I love seeing each of you really being you.
All of my love,
I am an Indigenous filmmaker. Here’s a trailer to my film Empire of Dirt. I also write a live television show called The Indspire Awards, here’s a clip of the opening number.
I didn’t have many role models in the media growing up so it’s important for me that our youth see themselves represented in the media in a true and positive way.
We only make up 4% of the population in Canada, yet our women account for more than 16% of the homicide rate, our men make up 25% of the prison population.
The number of Murdered and Missing Aboriginal women is Canada is absolutely epidemic.
And our men are just as likely to suffer.
Awareness brings change. I think just being aware of it and talking about it with people is how change happens. Awareness brings change.
SOME #TAMILY MEMBERS WORKOUT IN THEIR LIVING ROOMS IN IOWA, OTHERS ON THEIR BALCONIES IN ITALY. WHEN AND WHERE DID YOU START #TAREALTIME?
I workout in whatever space is available, the living room, bedroom, hotel rooms, wherever. It all started with a book and a blog. I was living in an isolated community on Vancouver Island and had been working with the Mat and Perfect Design Series DVD’s when Tracy announced the release of her new book Tracy Anderson’s 30-Day Method. Recovering from a neck injury I needed something to whip me back into shape and I’d hoped that the bootcamp between those pages would do the trick. To keep myself accountable, I started a blog called Mastering The Method, thinking I would just muse about the experience and no one other than my mom would ever see it. Much to my surprise there were women out there like me who’d discovered this magical method and before too long we where chatting about it and our little Metamophosis Social Club was born. (A title coined by an online/ now real-life friend Natalia). I’d worked my way through those 90-days and well into years of Continuity when Tracy boldly imagined training with her in real time. She was already part of my family at this point, how could I not?
WE ALL FACE CHALLENGES WHEN IT COMES TO BEING OUR HEALTHIEST SELVES—INSIDE AND OUT. WHAT HAS BEEN THE HARDEST PART OF YOUR JOURNEY?
Food glorious food, I’m such a sugar junkie I really should have a sponsor. I was on the thin side growing up so never had to learn to balance my dietary budget. This became a problem when in my 30’s I was still grocery shopping like a teenager whose parents were away for the weekend and my metabolism decided to crap out on me. It happens. So figuring out not only what to eat but how became the struggle. In fact I’d dare to say that it wasn’t until this past summer that I have been finally able to reframe my entire approach to eating.
HAS BEING PART OF THE COMMUNITY OF #TAMILY WOMEN HELPED YOU TO OVERCOME THIS? HOW SO?
I’m deeply indebted to this amazing community of TAMmers, without them I wouldn’t know a fraction of what I’ve since come to learn about food and how to fuel my body. These women introduced me to smoothies, to proper food combinations, to PH balances, new super foods, recipes and all sorts; still my biggest challenge remained the sugar. Sophie, another online/ now real life friend was able to convince me to try Dr. Junger’s Clean program. I’d had the book for ages and many people had extolled its virtues, but that somehow fell on deaf ears until Sophie. Not sure how she got through to me, maybe because she’s a living example of radiant health. In any case it was a game-changer. And I’m quite certain I’d have never thrown pomegranate into a smoothie if it weren’t for Emery!
ONE OF THE COOL THINGS I LOVE ABOUT THE #TAMILY IS HOW IT CONNECTS WOMEN ALL OVER THE WORLD. HOW ARE YOU INSPIRED BY OTHER WOMEN? WHO IN THE #TAMILY INSPIRES YOU? HOW DO YOU CONNECT WITH OTHER WOMEN IN THE #TAMILY BOTH ON INSTAGRAM AND IN REAL LIFE?
TArealtime girls get it done! To be honest, I think that there’s a certain type of woman that gravitates toward the Method. I don’t just mean hard working or dedicated or determined, because anyone who sticks with a program for as long as many of us have stuck with the Method are all of that. Rather I believe many of us are introverts to varying degrees. We don’t always connect to others all that easily. We tend to be on the shy or quieter side, we’re slightly more sensitive and I think we kind of recognize that in one another. There is a gentle mutual respect there. It became evident during last year’s January streaming contest, when even those of us who rarely post pics of ourselves joined in, there was this overwhelming support that came from that. The friendships and connections that grew up out of that month together went well beyond the mat. As others have said before me, we started sharing not only the workout; we began sharing our lives in a broader sense. I equate it to the pen pals of yore. We text, direct message, skype and talk on the phone. Who inspires me? I could easily fill a page. Not one among them doesn’t inspire me; I’m talking about real women with careers and families and super busy lives who not only make the time to take care of their physical health they make the time to connect, share and support. It’s a beautiful sight to behold.
LIKE MOST WOMEN I KNOW, YOU ARE BUSY! WHAT TIPS DO YOU HAVE FOR FITTING WORKOUTS INTO A HECTIC LIFESTYLE?
I’ve given my body a really hard time over the years, often pushing it beyond its reasonable limits thinking I’d be this resilient twenty-something forever. Now I hear myself groan as I get out of bed in the morning. There is no question that movement is mandatory. Live-stream, Tracy and her Method are the oil to my Tinman, I’m sure I’d completely seize up without her. I guess what I am saying is it’s not really a choice.
ONE THING THE #TAMILY HAS IS STYLE. WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE OUTFIT TO EXERCISE IN?
Listen I am so not fashionable when I work out. In fact the one time that I treated myself to something really special from Lulu Lemon, I found it too precious to sweat in. Seriously. I live vicariously through my #sisTAs. You’re more likely to find me in a Hanes or Stanfield undershirt and a ratty old pair of sweat pants.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TA MOMENT?
Meeting the Muffin-Top-Slayer herself. I mean I’d mythologized and mused about her for years so I was obviously terrified. Tracy is a little bit like New York City. You love it; you’re intrigued by it, you might be a little afraid to visit because it might not live up to your expectations, but of course every time you go it exceeds those expectations. That’s Tracy. Then to get to move with her and all these amazing women I’d been working out with “virtually” for months, it was too surreal.
IT’S ALL ABOUT BALANCE. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PRE-WORKOUT MEAL? FAVORITE INDULGENCE?
I don’t eat pre-workout. If I’m going to be working out later in the day, I’ll be sure it’s at least four hours after a meal.
Favorite indulgence. If you’d asked six months ago I’d have answered Ben & Jerry’s. Now? A few squares of good quality dark chocolate is all I need.
HOW ELSE DO YOU FIND BALANCE IN YOUR DAILY LIFE?
I’m a writer so I spend far too many hours on my butt hunched over a laptop, so doing the Method is a must, that mind body connection is so important. But I love meditation and the outdoors so marrying the two in a walking meditation is the perfect escape.
CAN YOU SHARE YOUR FAVORITE POST-WORKOUT RECIPE FOR THE REST OF THE #TAMILY TO ENJOY?
Yes, this Crunchy Thai Salad is healthy and whole and the best part about it is that it can be made ahead of time and you can grab it on the run and eat it just about anywhere. (Recipe below!)
ALL RIGHT, HERE’S A FREE PASS TO BRAG: IN ADDITION TO THE SUCCESS OF STICKING WITH IT, WHAT PROGRESS HAVE YOU MADE SINCE YOU STARTED #TAREALTIME AND BECAME PART OF THE #TAMILY, BOTH PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY?
The progress on this journey has been one of cultivating a new relationship with my body. I used to beat myself up if I couldn’t get a move or do all the reps or learn a dance combo (which I still cannot do BTdub), but now I really appreciate my body’s ability to actually pull off some of this crazy sh*t that Tracy has us do. I can see my health as evidenced in my ability to run up four flights of stairs or carry seven bags of groceries up said flights. I’m capable and strong and mobile. Many people my age are not. Obesity is an epidemic. It’s heartbreaking.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR BODY?
I love how capable my body is, but if I had to choose a physical feature that I could attribute to the Method, it’s definitely my arms. When I was young, they hung like twigs that were merely there to keep my sleeves from collapsing. When I gained weight, they puffed up like sausages, just round and horribly shapeless. Now though? I’m constantly whipping them out going: “Check out the hammers, Sledge and Jack.” I love having sculpted arms. I can still hear her voice from Metamorphosis level 5 I think it was where she says how exciting it is to see your arms change; that it’s one of the first things you’ll notice. She was right.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR INTERNAL SELF?
First I love my commitment. I love that I’ve found a workout that works. Tracy, you promised you’d keep doing this well into your 70’s and beyond we’re right there with you girl.
Second, I love how much more forgiving I’ve become of myself if I fall off the clean eating wagon, or if I miss a day or two of workouts because work’s 24/7. I know that the method and clean eating are always going to be there to catch me.
WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HAVE FOR WOMEN WHO ARE STRUGGLING WITH THEIR HEALTH AND BODY IMAGE?
We have all been there in some form or another; the media makes it so. But you can take back your power if you don’t compare and don’t compete. There is no one else on earth like you. You have nothing to prove. No being a hateful meanie to yourself, it won’t ever get you anywhere. Instead use that energy to focus on what you can do for yourself. You can move your body; you can nourish and support it, and appreciate it for every breath it takes and every beat of your tireless heart.
ALL PHOTOS PROVIDED BY SHANNON. FOLLOW HER ON INSTAGRAM @SHANMASTERS.
CRUNCHY THAI SALAD
Yes, this Crunchy Thai Salad is healthy and whole and the best part about it is that it can be made ahead of time and you can grab it on the run and eat it just about anywhere. You’ll need 4 glass jars with lids.
1 Cup black rice rinced
2 cups frozen shelled edamame beans
4 large carrots peeled and diced
6-8 radishes trimmed and sliced
4 cups chopped red cabbage
1 large red bell pepper seeded and diced
6 scallions, sliced thinly
6 tbsp coconut milk
¼ cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp raw honey
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
Cook the rice, then spread in an even layer on a plate to cool, or refrigerate it until you are ready to make the salad.
Meanwhile cook the edamame, drain rinse and cool.
For the dressing, blend everything in a blender or food processor until smooth.
Next divide the dressing evenly among the four jars. Then layer in the rest of the ingredients in the following order: carrots, radish, cabbage, edamame, bell pepper, scallions, and rice.
There should be space left over at the top that will allow you to shake and serve when ready and since the dressing only touches the heartiest veggies, you don’t end up with a soggy salad.
NUTRITION INFO PER JAR:
435 calories, 15 g of fat, 68 carbs, 12 g fibre, 17 g of sugar, 16 g of protein, 226 mg sodium
FAVORITE CURRENT QUOTE:
“I’M SICK OF FOLLOWING MY DREAMS. I’M JUST GOING TO ASK THEM WHERE THEY’RE GOING AND HOOK UP WITH THEM LATER.”
– MITCH HEDBERG
ALL-TIME FAVORITE QUOTE:
“SOMETIMES IT IS THE PEOPLE NO ONE CAN IMAGINE ANYTHING OF WHO DO THE THINGS NO ONE CAN IMAGINE.”
– ALAN TURING
CURRENT FAVORITE BOOK: Thomas King’s The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America
ADVICE SHANNON WOULD PASS ONTO YOUNG WOMEN THAT SHE WISH SHE HAD KNOWN EARLIER ON IN LIFE:
Trust yourself, trust your own voice, and find something to believe in and be passionate about. If you can find that one thing that makes your soul sing then the rest is gravy.