Saturday, November 22, 2014

As I was reading my newsfeed, one of my personal idols discussed the importance of writing a letter to our younger selves. The age chosen (for them) was 13. For me? It was 15. Because for me at 15, I was scared, alone and homeless….pregnant with twins and not knowing what I was going to do with the rest of my life. So this? This is an open letter to my 15-year-old self. As I write this, I wonder, what would you say to yours?

Dear Me,

I remember you. I know how scared and alone you feel right now. I know that right this second you cry yourself to sleep every night. You don’t know how you are going to do this. You feel like you failed. You feel like you gave up on the life you wanted; on the life you always dreamed of having. You felt like you gave up your normal. You haven’t.

And, dear younger me, you will feel like this for a decade or so. You will feel lost, alone, abandoned. You will be kicked figuratively and literally while you are down. You will feel that your best is never good enough. You will move all over the country. You will try to be a good wife, a good mother and always feel like you failed. There will be nights where you cry over the stove because you don’t know how to cook; because no one ever taught you. There will be days where you are terrified about the chastising that is coming when he gets home, so you will scrub walls and baseboards until your hands are cracked and bleeding. There will be days you walk two miles in subzero temperatures just to volunteer at your children’s schools. There will be days where you walk into the grocery store with a calculator, just so you don’t go over budget on the small, paltry $162 of state assistance you receive to feed your family. You will work two jobs and finish high school a year early, but still feel like a loser. And you will cry. A lot. And you will feel like giving up nearly every day. And you will look in the mirror and hate your bruised face and the scar on the forehead he gave you. 

You will tell yourself that you are horrible, rotten and awful. But here is what separates you from so many others: You will never quit. Ever.

Not only will these experiences, these horrors, teach you how to manage money and coupon and save better than anyone else you know, you will become a financial guru. You will be a nationally acclaimed and published author by the time you are 27. You will be the youngest manager of a technology training company that ever existed, and one of the very few females. You will be a successful Realtor. You will be an amazing trainer, you will be able to tell stories and draw people to you and become the highest and best version of yourself by the time you are a mere 32 years old. You will be an author. You will be an entrepreneur. You will be (in short) a rockstar. A dream you have given up on this particular day that I am writing to you; a dream you will give up on so many days after this one. But, despite it all, you will rise. Because that is what you are born to do.

After rising, however, comes the fall. Just when you feel like you have it all together, life is going to kick you in the stomach…again.

You will find out something about your family that would break most people. You will find a horrendous, horrible secret. And even though they told you that you were crazy, and even though you believed them, you still knew. And when you stay true to your heart, you will get (on video) something that will cause you to have a nervous breakdown…for two years. Something where you are hounding police, the FBI and other venues still…to this day.

You won’t believe in love. Much as you don’t right now. You won’t believe in the goodness of people. You will become mean and calloused and hateful. You will hurt people both intentionally and unintentionally, because you are so broken in yourself that you don’t know what else to do. You will do this for two full years. And you won’t know why. You will lose friends, make enemies and you won’t care. Until later.

But from this too, you will also recover.

Because, my darling 15-year-old me, in your chest beats the heart of a true warrior; a woman I didn’t (at your age) even dream I could become. Yet, here we are. Circumstances and turns of fate that would shake the core of even the most battle hardened warrior, you will survive. And you will turn these things around, and you will thrive from them. You will defeat them, in your way, in your time. You will do this because you have a warrior’s heart and a loving soul.

If I had any piece of advice to give you, 20 years in your future, it would be this: Never forget love. It will be hard some days, it will seem nearly impossible for several years, but the second you forgot this, is the second you lost yourself; the second you stopped loving yourself. And, looking back upon our collective pasts, this is the one thing I most regret.

But, my 15-year-old me, you will survive. You will conquer. Know that every experience coming toward you will shape and sharpen you; they will make you into a machine, a force of nature. They will catch fire in your soul and that fire will burn bright. So, even though things seem bleak right now, know that in years to come, peace and happiness will follow. You’ll have a life you can be proud of; and one you choose to make even better every day.

Most of all, know that I love you, and that if I were sitting next to you right now, I would hold your hand, stroke your hair, wipe the tears from your eyes, smile and make sure you know that everything is going to be okay in the end.

Because it will be. I promise. We are still here, and the heart of a warrior still beats in us both.

All my love,

Posted by Shauna Zamarripa On 1:39 AM No comments READ FULL POST

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Isn’t life funny? Everyone around you has opinions on what you should or shouldn’t do; on how you should or shouldn’t live your life. Even me.

Guilty. As. Charged.

I would often sit around and remark on how “broken” other people were. Truth is, that’s easier to do than admit that I, myself, was broken, isn’t it? After all, no one wants to deal with their own shit. Not really. It’s easier for us to talk about what is wrong (or was wrong) with everyone else, instead of focusing inward and doing something my significant other had told me to do awhile back, “Keep your head down and stay in your own lane,” he said.  

But here is the thing:
You will continue attracting the same people (just wearing different faces) until you learn the lesson that they are sent to teach you. And the same situations will continue to repeat and manifest themselves in our lives until we finally say, “No more. I’ve already been here. I have already learned this lesson. I’m not going to repeat it.”

Broken people give broken advice. Same as broke people give broke advice. The financial and personal sides of life add up so well, don’t they? If you wouldn’t take financial advice from someone living paycheck to paycheck, why on Earth would you take life advice from someone who doesn’t (respectively) have their own shit together in that one little area? And why do you still subject yourself to surrounding yourself with broken pieces, when you haven't made yourself whole yet? 

You wouldn’t. You shouldn’t. I won’t.

I don’t pay much heed to relationship advice from people not currently in a happy, stable relationship. I often brush off advice on living my life or parenting from people who don’t have kids, or people whose kids are out of control, or from people who are making the same stupid mistakes that I am, daily.

In my eyes, Robert Downey Jr. said it best:
“Listen, smile, agree. And then do whatever the fuck you were gonna do anyway.”
Perhaps another (more vanilla) way of saying it, is “follow your heart” or “listen to your gut”, but I’m partial to Downey’s take on it.

I see it all the time. I hear it all the time. “So and so gave me advice on this, and now I’m even more confused,” or “Someone said I should…”

My reaction is always the same? “Do they have to live with the consequences of your decision? No? Then why do you care?”

Mind you, I am not perfect. Far from it actually. I have a million and a half quips, quirks, shortcomings and character flaws. In fact, taking the time to list them would fill up more than a page or two. On the flip side, I never try to hide my shit. I won’t lie about it. I’ll admit to being flawed and broken and imperfect. I don’t receive validation from other people, because I know, that at the end of the day that at least I am genuine about it. Well, now anyway.

Flaws and all.

Here is a doozey for you, I was almost a mean girl again. Almost. (A couple of years ago, I made Regina George look like Mother Theresa) But, finally, I snapped. I realized that, no, I’ve already been through this lesson. I refuse to repeat it. And if that means making snap decisions and cutting people off, I will do it. Every. Single. Time.

Because I know me. I know that if I surround myself with spite, I will become spiteful. I know that if I surround myself with dreamers, I won’t do what I need to do. I know that if I surround myself with bullshit, I become bullshit myself. Worse still, I am often guilty of amplifying my environment; of taking whatever is going on and becoming like an emotional sonic boom, where it comes out of each one of my pores. I can’t help it. That’s one my character flaws. I often times become my (sometimes amplified) environment, which is one reason I am so particular about safeguarding it. Every time I don’t, I end up screwing up….in massive ways.

But here is the funny thing about the last 48 hours: I learned something. A lot about myself. And I did a major accountability check....of myself. And while my words can be biting and often harsh, they have to be sometimes. And I’m okay with that. While my bitch switch rarely gets flipped, when it does….it’s probably best to duck and cover until the fallout subsides. (Yes, I know this is yet another character flaw. Don’t act like you don’t have them.)

However, something deeper has come from all of this. As much hell as I have given my significant other for a few things, I find myself now living (and loving) a small mirror of his life – cherishing my alone time, time with my daughter, time with him and not getting in the middle of things that I don’t need to be in the middle of. And I see it now, and it makes sense to me. But it took all of this to push my nose straight into a lesson that I thought I had learned, but hadn’t quite yet applied, of keeping my head down and staying in my own lane.

If I want to move forward, I need to move up; surround myself with people and places that are better, smarter and more talented than I am; people I can learn from; people who inspire me to be better. I mean there are times you have to be able to help people and lift them up, but daily? Daily, I don’t need any more people projects. I don't have enough time to invest in this anymore, to committing to fixing anyone else (or trying to) of making anyone a project. Because I already have one.


And so do you. Yourself.

So the next time you are getting broken advice form a broken person, first, make sure that person isn’t you…and second, remember that all you really have to do is smile, nod and do whatever the fuck you want to do anyway. Why? Because you are the only person alive who has to live with the consequences of that. And that is the best piece of "advice" I have ever received, because when I stopped listening to everyone else, I was able to hear me again. Finally. 

And when I did hear me again, this is the first whisper I heard: Try again. Fail better. 
Posted by Shauna Zamarripa On 10:27 PM No comments READ FULL POST

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

One of the biggest, most whipping, full-sized, vastest skirmishes I have ever gotten into with my significant other was over two simple words: “I’m gonna.” However, I shouldn’t have been fighting with him, I should have been wrestling with myself.

It went a little something like this….
Him: “You’re brilliant. I know you are talented and gifted, but you have far too many ‘great’ ideas and take far too little action on them. That makes it hard for people to believe in you. Even me sometimes.”

Naturally, myself, being an utterly irrational girl at the time, I was outraged. I mean like Italian-housewife-with-a-frying-pan-and-the-mouth-of-a-sailor-who-was-willing-to-fashion-a-toothbrush-into-a-shank sort of livid. There was a little yelling, a few tears, a slammed door or two and a man (who was right all along – by the way) choosing to be exiled to the sofa for his nightly siesta.

Yes. It’s true. I can really be a girl sometimes. And also a mammoth pain in the a--...but that is another story for another day.

But why was I so choleric about a stupid statement, you ask?
Because he was right. And oh my God, I hate when he is right…I mean, who did this guy think he was? It’s my job to be right. Not his. Pffft.  

But he was. He was a thousand percent in the right. I had been so overwhelmed, so depended upon, so tugged at my skirt where I was at the time that I lacked follow through on my dreams. The “I’m gonna’s” in my life had begun to the eclipse the “I dids.”

And, as mad as I was at him that chilly December evening, the truth is, I was really mad at myself.

Furious even.

So here we go….
Being a writer, I replayed the entire conversation in my head about a million (or so) times over the
next few days. Naturally, I adopted the stubborn attitude that “I would show him. I would prove him wrong, by turning the ‘I’m gonna’ into ‘watch what I did.”

But he already knew that. He knows me better than I do myself most days.

He knew precisely what he was doing. Never has this man had a laissez faire attitude when it came to me. He knew I needed to be pushed – and sometimes kicked squarely in the bum. I hadn’t been challenged in a while. And he knew I thrived on that.

So I sucked it up, told him he was right (oh he loved that) and then I did the solitary thing I rarely do….I asked for help. From him. And he was more than willing to give it to me.

Building dreams….
When I told him what I wanted to do, what I needed, he said, “No problem. I will make it happen. We will work on all of this together.”

So we did. Of course, as we always did, we bantered back and forth, got frustrated with one another throughout the creative process (if you can believe it, I am horrible at communicating in this area…because I am a control freak of the worst proportion and he actually wanted to be told what to do), but he would still give me the progress he made on helping me build MY dream as the days and weeks progressed. Despite some (cough) creative and intellectual differences. Well, and him getting mad at me because I wouldn’t tell him what to do – which still shocks me to this day -- we still moved forward. But, then again, that is what we do. We have evolved a lot in the last few years. More than what folks know. 

Then, I changed my mind on how I wanted to showcase my model (I told you I am a girl – we change our minds). I wanted to (as I would often tell him) ‘go big or go home’. But, he wasn’t even mad, he was all aboard to press on, and to redo the work he had already done to help me get where I wanted US to be. After all, he isn’t just my partner in life, he’s also my business partner. We compliment each other on the areas the other is weak in…both personally and professionally. And, despite our differences, we have always made a dynamite team.

All because he believed in me. But even more than that, he believed in what we were doing, not what we were “gonna” do.

But he didn’t believe in me because of the I’m gonnas that I was feeding the world…. But, more importantly, because of what he had already seen me prove myself capable of.

The last time I said “I’m gonna” with no follow through.
One humid May afternoon, as I was agonizing over a decision, he took me out for Mother’s Day. And I remember this day vividly, because I made the command decision that it was the last time I would ever let “I’m gonna” fall out of my mouth and hit his ears.

He looked at me, straight in the face, and said, “I love you. No matter what you decide, I love you. But this is killing you. It’s sucking every ounce of you down with it. Go. Quit. No notice. No nothing. Just go. Because you are never going to be able to do what you are amazing at if you stay there. They are sucking the life out of you. You are always tired, upset and angry. Every day lately. You are stressed out and frustrated and overworked and underpaid. And my girl is better than that.”

So I didn’t tell him I was “gonna”. I just did what I had to do, and told him about it after the fact.

And you know what? He was proud of me. Not because I was “gonna” do something, but because I did something.

So what have you done lately?
Ever since that day, he still wants me to build my dream, to build a dream with me, and we don’t talk about what we are “gonna” do….we just talk about what we have done. And I am back to doing what I LOVE. What I was BORN to do, and it’s the best thing I have ever done; something I would have potentially missed out on, over a few misplaced and misguided “gonnas”, that if he hadn’t kicked me in my arse about, I would still be doing – still a master of justifying my own bullshit.

I tell you to beware of “I’m gonnas” because I know there are many of you out there who say you are “gonna” do something tomorrow, next week, next year…but you never do it. You lack follow through. You have the best of intentions, but, at the end of the day, nothing ever gets done. The days turn into weeks, the weeks to months, the months to years and then one day you wake up and you’re still working that shitty retail job you hate, surrounded by people who do nothing but party and live paycheck to paycheck…and they are 40. They have gotten nowhere, they spend their lives on “gonnas” and let their dreams die….because they were too afraid, too cowardly to take action. Will you choose that same life? Or will you do something better? The thing you were BORN to do?

Here is the scary thing: People notice this; they can see straight through your I’m gonnas. They notice this more than anything else. The constant “I’m gonnas” make you appear like a joke. Because the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Because accolades are only given once the work is done, the sweat wiped from your brow and the mission accomplished, not over flowery words and shallow, empty promises.

After all, “I’ve done” is a far better qualifier than “I’m gonna.”

So do yourself a favor, and drop the I’m gonna’s from your vocabularies of promises and daily conversations. Instead, think about, “What can I say I have done by the time the sun sets on this day?”

“I’m gonna” will kill you, it will poison your life and bury a stake in the heart of your dreams. Because you will find every excuse, every distraction to turn the “I’m gonnas” into yet another tomorrow, further letting what you are supposed to do slip away, causing the loss of the one commodity no one can make more of: time.

I know, because I’ve done it. 
Posted by Shauna Zamarripa On 10:44 PM No comments READ FULL POST

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

There is a certain art to letting go of things, I think; a serene grace that is challenging (if not impossible) for we, as human beings, to fully grasp – let alone accomplish.

And when I say we, I really mean me, but, I think there are others like me out there who can relate. And maybe, if you're out there, this will help. 

I am the worst at this; this “letting go” business. I will hold on to grudges and past hurts as if the Universe will somehow stop making them – and here is a hint, it won’t. I have held on to resentments and anxiety as if they were my kindred.

And here is another hint...they aren’t.

Because holding on wasn’t harming those who harmed me (or who I convinced myself had done so), holding on was actually killing me instead.

Over the past four years, I have had a plethora of ups and downs and sideways moves. Some were at the hands of others, but the ones I am the least proud of were the ones inflicted by my own hands. After a severe trauma two years ago, I said and did things that I should have never said nor did. I had a complete, total mental breakdown. I was weak and full of rage.

I was angry at the world.

The problem was that I took that anger out on the people who least deserved my wrath. And there is no repair for that. The damage I inflicted with my hateful words and horrible attitude was too deep to forget. Forgive…maybe, but never forget.

You see, I had been in a toxic relationship for so long, that I, myself, became toxic.

Since then, I have written apology letters I have never sent, I have atoned with a higher power and asked for forgiveness for my sins. Yet, I still couldn’t let go.

My shame, my pain, my powerlessness over the wrongs I had done were consuming me. And that fed in to my anger and rage against a toxic environment that pushed me (consistently) to the brink of completely losing it. I was self-absorbed, ego driven, manipulative and a straight up asshole. And I can admit this, because this was all necessary in my process of letting go.

And you know what? People judged me.

And you know what else? I don’t care.

I know who I am, what I have done and what I have not. In fact, I am often my own harshest critic. Thing is, this was part of my process. This was part of my growth.

You see (and perhaps this is the writer in me), I would OBSESS about exposing people for who they were, I would plot and plan and craft ways to condemn them with the written word. But why? For what? To what end?

The truth is, I don’t really know who these people are, good or bad. I’m not God. I don’t truly know if they are still the same way. I don’t speak to them, nor they to me. Perhaps, they have changed. Perhaps I had to change to understand this. Perhaps, this was part of my lesson; to accept and embrace my imperfections and wrongdoings in order to just start letting go. Because obsessing was literally killing me. I was poisoning me from the inside out. And it wasn’t until I realized this that I knew I had a choice to make. I could either let go, or die.

And breathe.

This is part of letting go.

The other night, I was scrolling through my newsfeed. I saw a name. A name that usually makes me feel badly about a series of events.

But I (finally) felt nothing. I was finally indifferent.

You see, I had finally forgiven myself. I had let go.

So something I normally wouldn’t have liked out of my own ridiculous need to justify my own bullshit, I liked it anyway.

Because I had begun to let go.

Then, the hamster in my head began spinning even more feverently. I thought, if I can feel no love nor hate for someone who I once had both emotions about, why can’t I do this for people I have felt nothing for in the first place?

And that was when it happened. That was the moment. The turning point. The epiphany – of sorts. It was four o’clock in the afternoon, and I was sweeping my kitchen. I looked up to the sky and said, “If you can hear me, I need your help. I am often arrogant and selfish and strong willed about these things, but I can’t do this on my own. I need your help. Please, help me to let go. Help me glean the wisdom that the only way I can change the world is if I change myself. And I need to do this.”

But it wasn’t a “poof”, there was no magic existential lightning bolt of awesomeness that catapulted from the sky and cleansed my soul to where I was immediately and automatically inspired to let go.

But it was a start.

Ever since that day, I find myself letting go of more and more.

But do you know what else I found when I started to let go?

I found me again. Better still, I began to create a me that I am becoming more and more proud of. For the first time in 35 years. 

And I missed her. And I can’t wait to see what she does next.

Letting go is an art form; it is an impossible task for some of us in a dreary world where we seem to float from one tragedy to the next, but, ironically, it is also the one thing, the most important lesson we have to learn if we are truly committed to creating a person inside of us we can be proud of; it is the necessary apex of self-discovery we have to reach before ascending the downside of the mountain.

After all, a new adventure awaits us there too.

All we have to do is….let go.

There is something I said to a friend earlier, that once (not too long ago) applied to me as well, and it was a lesson that my stubborn asshole self couldn’t learn any other way: "I am compassionate enough to reach out my hand when someone is drowning, and strong enough to fight for what I know is right, but I am also wise enough to know that if the person who is drowning isn't ready to reach up and help pull themselves up, I will drown with them."

And I'm not in the business of drowning. Well...not anymore. 

Posted by Shauna Zamarripa On 10:14 PM 1 comment READ FULL POST

Friday, September 19, 2014

We got in the car that morning, him still refusing to tell me where we were headed. His eyes were twinkling as I kept interrogating him on the way. He, however, was resolute in telling me where we were headed, despite me performing my very own home version of the Spanish Inquisition. He insisted that it was a surprise.

Once we got several miles out of town, I lost my cell phone signal (cue gasp). Naturally, being the co-dependent individual I am on my phone, had a meltdown.

“Oh my God Jon, I have no signal and we are out in the middle of nowhere. What am I going to do????”
He laughed at me as he watched me try to “Lion King” my phone – you know, holding it up like Raffiki did Simba when presenting him to the animals – desperately trying to retrieve some type of link up with humanity.
And nothing.

He giggled at me for 45 minutes…which is right about the time I gave up.

He said, “This weekend is about us. No Facebook, no texts, no cell phones. Just us. You’ll be alright.”

“Okay. I trust you,” I mumbled, begrudgingly, resigning myself to being ‘unplugged’.

Our first stop was “The Apple Store” and not the geeky, genius bar Apple Store. A little place off the beaten path that had an apple orchard and baked goods. He ordered us one of his favorite things there, a turnover. And for a brief second, I was able to retrieve a signal and post about said mouthgasm. He laughed as I made him go forward in the car and in reverse, just long enough for me to get my post off into cyberspace.

Where he told me we were staying...
About an hour later, we pulled in to where he told me we were staying. The cabins looked like this. I said nothing. I was in shock. I mean, afterall, my idea of “roughing it” was a two star bed and breakfast. The place he took me was a truck stop/cabin I-don’t-even-know-what. I swallowed the lump in my throat and closed my eyes and he walked in the office to “check in”. I kept saying to myself, “Give it a chance, Shauna, it might not be that bad.”

He emerged from the office moments later, and doubled over with laughter. He got back in the car and said, “I’m not going to make us stay here, I just had to see what you would do. We are staying somewhere else.”

“You ASSHOLE!” I exclaimed. “I was in the car freaking out…and….REALLY????”

We both laughed for the next hour in the car, where we got to our actual destination…a little resort in deep in the Hill Country, with beautiful cabins on the mountains.

After we checked in, we sat on the porch and watched the sunset. It was beautiful and serene. We even had a little feline visitor who quickly became our friend.

Where we actually stayed...
That night, we went downstairs, had dinner and sat out next to the humongous fire pit. We ended the night in the cabin, listening to music as he tried teaching me how to dance.
It was perfect.

The next day, we got up early, had breakfast and went hiking all day in Lost Maples. It was an amazing trip.

And, that Sunday night, as we drove closer to San Antonio, we both admitted that we didn’t want to go back -- even if only part of it was in both of our heads....we got to a point where we just "understood" the other. Because when it was just us, when there wasn’t anyone else in the way, everything was perfect. As we walked back into the fire, we both said we would try and do better.

We are, however, only human….and we didn't. 

Part 9 (coming soon)

Posted by Shauna Zamarripa On 1:05 PM No comments READ FULL POST

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

September was a strange month for us. It began in a crescendo of awesome, then sunk, then rose again. It started off with a trip to Fredricksburg that we took one weekend. And we had an amazing time. We, as we often did, planned just about everything last minute, but we spent two absolutely glorious, drama free days there. And, it was then that I noticed a few things:

1. Our talks in the car. They were always open, free and meaningful. Talks neither of us could have with anyone else. And we know this, because we admitted it to each other...finally.

2. He stared at me a lot that weekend, thinking I wasn’t looking or didn’t notice, but I did...and that comes into play later.

3. That when we were “away” from the people we both proclaimed (at the time) ‘friends’ everything was right with the world. It wasn’t ever until we came back to San Antonio that there was interference and drama from those outside our circle. 

And that was when my resentment for said people began to build. A lot.

Yet, I still attended every baseball game. I was always the first call when he would lose his keys on the VIA park and ride to the Spurs games, and he still called three times a day…sometimes more.

September also became the month that I resolved to create and work on a list of people who I loved, and to remind them every day that I loved them…him most of all. So, first thing in the morning, I would text my loved ones a personal message. Then, again, the last thing I did before I went to bed was the same.

He would rarely respond, other than a smart ass remark most days, but I kept on anyway.

It wasn’t until he sent me these that I realized how much he had started to count on those messages throughout the day:

But yet, always the interference from the outside that month. Too many people poking around, asking questions and inserting themselves like tampons in our business. Funny thing was, they all came from “his” side of the fence, not mine. There was a lot of conniving and manipulation and just outright deceit. Finally, I had it. I couldn’t take it anymore.

One night, as we were talking, I told him that I couldn’t take it. If I could have the fortitude to tell people to buzz off and mind their own business, so should he. But, I made it clear that if he was “with me”, he’d better damn sure make it clear to those self-same individuals, because continually living in what felt like eternal limbo was driving me insane.

He refused.

And I simply could not (and cannot to this day) understand why. I told him, “Why do you care about so many people who never have a conversation with you unless you reach out to them first, or unless they want a bar tab paid? Why do you hold on so tight to people who have already let go of you?” I remember telling him that night, breaking down into tears that I knew he was better than that, that I saw such greatness in him, and that his obsession with holding on to what was gone (and should remain that way) made no sense to me, as I watched that war within his own heart and mind tear him apart. 

Because the truth was that watching that, watching him wrestle with a past full of people who didn't really care about him at all tore me apart. You see, I have never had any issue with cutting people out, letting people go. Not because they are bad, but because I realized that they are bad for me; that they aren't meant to go where I am going...and that's okay. I don't feel a need to collect people, to remain "friends" (Facebook or otherwise) with people who don't add value in my life. Long ago, I decided that if you aren't making deposits in my life, you're making withdrawals, and if the withdrawals exceed the deposits, something is very, very wrong. 

As someone who spent most of her life trying to "fix" the problems for everyone else, I was lied to, used and often taken advantage of. When I saw the same things happening to him, I simply could not stand for it. I recognized those people for who and what they are, and they were (and are still all) people who continually judge others...who they, themselves, aren't even close to getting their own shit together. 

He was (is) better than that. So am I. And I had no time, nor patience, to trifle with people who wanted nothing more than to remain in the past, in their past and to bring nothing but that past to our proverbial present table. 

Not that I would ever tell him who he can or cannot have as friends, mind you. But rather, I recognized, early on, those people who were not his "friends" at all. People who would do nothing but use him or take advantage of his generous heart. People who would talk badly about him behind his back, but still come to him for financial assistance. No. Not acceptable. People who didn't give a shit about him on his birthdays or other special occasions. And people who I know did not, because for the past three years weren't around for a single thing, unless Jon or I paid for it. They did nothing; contributed nothing; gave nothing...and only showed their faces when they wanted something. 

And those who did do something...anything at all...over the last three years? Well...they
always asked me (or him) to reimburse them. Ha. Some "friends" those are. Assholes is more like it. Assholes who pretend to be successful and "balling" on Facebook, but people who still to this day are unable to cover their own bills, whereas he and I have not only been able to cover our own bills, but move forward and become even MORE successful financially and in our relationship since they have been gone. Coincidence? I think not. 

You become like the five people you hang around with most. We hung out with losers and liars. I stopped. And while he did stop hanging out with them, he wouldn't cut them out completely -- but I did, and I never felt even the slightest tinge of guilt over it. But that was where we disagreed. He wouldn't cut them out completely. He got stuck. 

My argument has, was, and will forever be the same, "When you leave the door open to the past, the past will come calling. When you answer the past, it still has nothing new to say. Let go completely. Delete the photos, delete the messages, delete the people. And if God wants them to catch up, or reunite you, He will. But holding on to anything, or anyone just for the sake of holding on to them, collecting people, takes up the space that the next person God wants to lead to you into your life." 

See, that's why I never have an issue with it. God puts in my path who he needs there, he removes people for the same reason. And, I have enough trust and faith in him to see that, and to remove people who He doesn't want there anymore, so I can clear the space for new introductions....because that's the only way to move forward. One day, I think he will understand that too.  

Not that I ever claimed to be perfect, you know, I’m not. Never have been, never will be.

And, as the middle of September bled into arguments about people who needed to exit our lives (that he didn’t see yet), at the end of September, he said, “Let’s get away from here. Let’s just go. When it's just you and me, it's perfect. And I want that again. Let's just get away from all the dicks and the drama. Pack your bags. We are leaving for the weekend, and I'm not telling you where we are going.”

So we did. We packed our bags and skipped town to a destination I didn't know about just yet. And it was exactly what we needed, because it turned into the surprise vacation of a lifetime…the one that changed everything. 
Posted by Shauna Zamarripa On 10:45 PM No comments READ FULL POST

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

August was the month I grew in love, and in patience for this man. Yet, he was a hard case. I wanted to show him that friends (real ones) and lovers (real ones) didn’t exclusively distribute time, affection or effort. 

If there was one thing I was good at, it was remembering dates. In particular that month, I remembered it had been a year since his mother passed away. He was being a particular troll that day. Finally, at 10pm, I looked at him and said, "I know today is difficult for you, it's the day your mom died. But that doesn't mean you have to take it out on me." 

I will never forget his face. His eyes widened, in shock. He said, "That was TODAY? Oh my God, I had almost forgotten. Without you, I never would have remembered." 

I sat with him and held him as he updated his profile photo in remembrance of his mother, and I held him close as tears streamed down his face. The only words he could muster by the end of the night were, "Thank you. Thank you for reminding me, thank you for being here, just...thank you." 

I knew he was getting to a place of emotional healing that he needed to be, but that still wasn't good enough for stubborn old me. As September and baseball season ebbed closer, I remember the way things went down.

I had asked him MONTHS prior, “You play baseball. Why don’t any of your ‘friends’ come and see you play?” He had no answer. 

I said, “That isn’t right Jon. It just isn’t. If people are your friends, they would support you.” 

He said, “I don’t ever tell anyone when my games are.”

 "No, you don't, but you DO post about it on Facebook, and you also check in. You wouldn't behave that way if you didn't hope that someone would care enough to come and watch you do something you love to do. Has anyone?" I retorted -- already knowing the answer.

He replied, "No, they haven't." 

So, I took some initiative. After seeing the location on Facebook several times, I knew where his games were, and knew his team name, so I looked it up online. I thought it was sad and (frankly pathetic) that his “friends” couldn’t do the same. I looked up his baseball schedule and told Jessica that we were going on a mission (to the Missions) one Friday night.

So we did. We showed up when he had a game, without saying a word to him about it prior. And never in my life have I seen a man’s eyes glow the way his did that night. Naturally, I played it cool, but he was in love with the fact that I took the time to not only go and find him doing what he loved the most, but that I also brought a cheerleading section for him. We laughed, we clapped and we had a great time. Immediately after, he didn’t want us to leave. He said, “Hey, do you all want to go and have dinner?” And we did. And these were the days that he was “playing it cool” and “not wanting to admit we were together.” And I wasn’t having it…so he spent a lot of time being mad at me. It became an interesting time….

But, as Jessica and I drove home that night, she said to me, "Love really does change a man. His eyes. it was all in his eyes. He didn't want us to leave...and he couldn't stop staring at you all night." 

I remember telling her, "Yes, it does change things. So does patience. And I'm willing to be patient as I wait for him to become something great...."

Which leads us directly to the next argument. 

He would say, “Shauna, I know how I am when I am in a relationship with someone. I’m a dick. The last thing I want to do is hurt you. I am who I am, and I can’t change.”

My reply to him was always the same, “Jon, you choose to be a dick. You said you love me. You said you respect me and don’t want to hurt me. Prove it. You aren’t who you are, you are who you choose to be.”

And, on August 19th of that year, I heard him struggle with his own statement for the first time. He began to say, “I am who I…” and then he stopped short, before even allowing himself to finish a statement that he knew drove me nuts, and abruptly and said, “Grrrr. You make me crazy.” And, making him crazy is my specialty. 

I challenged him…in a way that few people could. Often times I never ever realized how what I would say to that man would sink in, plant a seed and grow until months later. That’s just how he is.

Ah September. He was a hard case, this one. He fought me tooth and nail about being “officially” in a relationship, despite the fact that we were unofficially in one. And it drove me bonkers. One day, in September things blew up. I told him, “In or out, there is no half way. Half way, people get hurt. You need to make a decision. I’m either your friend, your lover or your girlfriend, but there is no more half way.” And man…when I stood my ground, things changed.

I remember the day like it was yesterday. He was messaging me on Facebook all day, after texting me that morning -- to which my response was very short and unyielding. I had a MAJOR event that day that I was working. I had no time to argue with him. By the time I was able to read the thesis he had sent to me, it was the last few words that really meant something...

He said, “I can’t think. I can’t focus at work. I can’t do a damn thing. This is driving me crazy. All I can see or hear is you, and all I can think about is you. I can’t do anything. I can’t function, Shauna. And that’s not like me.”

Me, resolute, said, “Good, that’s a sign you need to make a decision. If you’re coming to
me for sympathy, you’re coming to the wrong place. No more emotional roller-coaster nonsense. I have three daughters to raise, and I respect myself too much to be someone’s “fuck buddy”. You’re either in or out, I don’t care which, but you need to make that decision.” I said, “We are either lovers, friends or nothing at all.”

And oh how he “hated” me for “pushing” him. But he loved me for it all the same. And that was September…..well, part of it. 

Posted by Shauna Zamarripa On 1:15 AM No comments READ FULL POST
There wasn’t a day that went by that he didn’t check on me after the fire. Stubborn as I was, I went back to work too soon. He worried about me. He told me so each day. But, I will never be who I am I didn’t push myself. And I did. I pushed myself. Too hard some days. I would come home exhausted. Literally unable to function. All I could do was sleep. But I pressed on. That’s just me. I told no one of my struggle, not even him. I just did what I had to do. And every day, I got my three calls and I don’t even know how many texts.

Two weeks after I was released from the hospital, I had no idea what I was in for on my first follow up appointment. I took no pain killers that morning (I had decided I couldn’t function while on Percocet, and surely wouldn’t drive on it). But, he knew when my appointment was, and called and texted me to make sure I was up on time to make it -- even posted on my Facebook timeline that day; even asked me if I wanted him to take me. Again, my stubborn self told him, “No.” I could handle it, “I got it,” I said. I was independent and didn’t need anyone -- at least, according to me.

Boy, was I wrong.

I went to SAMMC at 9 that morning. I was there for three hours. They scraped out each burn wound on my right arm. They took tweezers and picked out the dead skin. The pain was so intense that I was sweating and felt like I was going to pass out. But yet, I powered through. I always did.

When it was over, still not a painkiller in me, I got in my car and drove to work. Everyone there immediately noticed that I was pale, shaking and in terrible pain. I was literally about to pass out. But, stubborn as I am, I wouldn’t admit it. I kept saying, “I just need to sit down.” I drank water, and knew it was only a short amount of time before I was going to close my eyes and fall. It was two in the afternoon, at this point. I felt it, I knew I couldn’t handle being at work that day, and I was trying to figure a way out to go home….without letting anyone know how bad it was; how much pain I was in.

I saw the concern on everyone’s face as they passed by me that day. They knew I wasn’t okay. And, truth be told, I wasn’t. I was light headed, I was dizzy, my arm was throbbing -- wrapped from my hand to my shoulder in ace bandages with gauze and antibiotic treatment and all sorts of tape underneath. Yet I still refused a painkiller. I insisted that I would be alright.

He called at 10 am, then again at 11, then again at 12. I didn’t answer. I didn’t want him to know how much pain I was in. At 2 pm, he called the office line. I couldn’t avoid him anymore. He already knew. He said, “Go home. I know you, I know you are being a stubborn asshole, and you need to go to my house and rest, it's closer. If you need me to come and get you, I will come and get you. I am leaving work now and I will meet you at my house in 30 minutes. Don’t argue with me like you normally do, just go and do it.”

I replied simply, “Okay.”

He said, “Wait. What? Okay? You’re not going to put up a fight? Now I know it’s bad. I’ll be there in 20 minutes. Leave NOW.”

He knew me.

So, I left. I made the 15 minute drive to his house, sweat dripping out of each of my pores because of the pain. Totally unable to realize where I was, and lucky to have made the drive at all. I had never experienced such massive pain in all my life.

When I got there, he was waiting for me. He took me to the bedroom, and laid my on the bed. He kissed me on the cheek and told me to rest. Said he was going to go and get us something to eat and that I was not to move from that spot until he got back. He wanted me to sleep.

So I did. It was 4:30 in the afternoon. He didn’t wake me up for dinner until 8.

But when he did, he was incredibly sweet. He had gently shut the door when he left, so I could rest, but when he returned home, he opened it, jumped on the bed, kissed my cheek and said, “Sexy ladies need to eat. I have Whole Foods pizza downstairs.”

He grabbed my hand and took me downstairs and watched as I was only able to eat about half a slice of pizza…the pain still gripping me. He tried to get me to eat more, he fought with me vehemently to do so, but I couldn’t. And when he realized how much pain I was still in (because I never complained), he just smiled at me, took my hand, brought me upstairs and tucked me in. He never pushed me, even though I needed a good ass kicking at the time, he just made sure I was okay. He put me to bed at 9pm. He came to bed shortly after, and when he did, all he did was hold me and kiss my forehead.

And that was our August that year. That was all we did. And those are still my favorite times.

There are no photos here, because I wouldn’t allow them. He has some, in his private stash, but those are ours, not yours. At least, not yet.

Posted by Shauna Zamarripa On 12:17 AM No comments READ FULL POST

Sunday, September 14, 2014

After telling the world about our house fire, the response I received from friends, family and even “fans” was nothing short of amazing. However, those who knew me personally were also given a very specific set of instructions, “Do NOT tell him,” I said. “He is on vacation and doesn’t want drama and he doesn’t need to know about any of this until he gets back.”

But, someone let it slip on Facebook, two days after the incident. I didn’t realize it. I thought nothing of it at first. I didn't think about him seeing it or not, or even caring if he had seen it. At that point, I expected nothing from him at all. I guess that was my first mistake.

After two days in the hospital, I remember laying on my sofa, in a Percocet coma after I was released to go home. I was out of it. I had been out of it for days, after enduring a burn shower, physical therapy and a morphine drip…I was the furthest thing from myself that I could remember. My phone kept ringing and beeping, interrupting some very much needed sleep. On that second day home, however, I noticed that I kept missing calls from an international number. I didn’t think much of it at the time, so I continued ignoring the calls. The only thing I was interested in doing was sleeping anyway. The pain medication and neural inhibitors made me nearly worthless. I couldn’t drive, function or do much of any
thing else.

But the number kept popping up…several times a day...relentlessly.

Finally, on the third day home from the hospital, I answered. It was him.

His voice was fuzzy and sounded far away. He said, “I have no cell reception here. I checked Facebook the other day and heard….”

He started crying. I could hear him trying desperately to choke back tears.

“That you were in a fire. Are you okay? Please tell me you are okay….”

I told him I was fine. That there was no need to worry about me and that he should enjoy his vacation (I told you I was stubborn).

He then proceeded to say, “I don’t know what I would do if anything ever happened to you. I come home tomorrow. Can I come and see you?”

I replied, “Sure.” Thinking he wouldn’t show up anyway.

But, true to his word, immediately after he landed, he called me, picked up dinner for me and came straight from the airport to see me.

And, the second he saw me, he cried. He hugged me. He wouldn’t let go. He made sure I ate and that I was comfortable and he left saying, “I’ll call you tomorrow.”

And he did call me the next day, after texted me several times that night. He said he was happy I was okay, that he could never lose me, that he wouldn’t know what to do without me.

“Finally,” I thought to myself, “It took all of this for him to ‘get it’ but he finally gets it.”

And, for the next few weeks things began returning to normal. At least, as normal as what was "us" back then...and as normal as it could be for awhile.

I was impatient back in those days, and refused to understand how it was so hard for him to be in a relationship, forgetting that he had been by himself for nine years; forgetting that I was the first person he had “let in” in a very, very long time.

As we ebbed toward the beautiful, neither of us saw what was brewing underneath all of that. At least, not yet. It wasn’t time. So, for the next few weeks, we enjoyed each other’s company. He didn’t even mind that I had no eyelashes and had lost a lot of my hair. We went right back to being inseparable. Right back to our comfortable spot. And, it was the best place for both of us to be.

And, for those of you who are wondering about the trip, the ex-girlfriend didn’t go. She "flaked" she often has, does and will forever do. His friend, Leonard went, instead. And they golfed a lot. Even when we were “fighting”, he never wanted to let go of the idea that I would get over it and find my way back home. And, I always did. Despite the fact, that even after the fire, all he wanted to do was show off photos with vapid, vacuous children, I let it go. At least, most of the time. I, as I found out later, was one of the few who did. He made people livid at his posts, his vacation photos, his commentary about "gorgeous this or that", even moreso than I. It was at this point, may people unfriended him and approached me, asking, "How can he do that to you? It's so disrespectful! You were fighting for your life and all he seems to care about are some stupid 20-year-old tramps on vacation." 

And while I have never disagreed with that, that is a part for the next segment of the story...

Because, for him, Facebook was a fallacy...whereas for me, it was an extension of who I am. And it still is. 

Posted by Shauna Zamarripa On 11:02 PM No comments READ FULL POST
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    Shauna made her mark in blogging starting in 2008 and has been on the front page of major publications such as Yahoo!,, MSN Money, CNN Money and more. Her finance and real estate expertise are world renowned and free to the average user. Shauna also runs a marketing consulting company and is the team lead for one of the largest teams in San Antonio, TX - Rockstar Agents and RE/MAX North. 


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