Written from a life lived on the edge of society, Spinning in Circles and Learning from Myself, by author Tsara Shelton, offers an insightful and powerfully uplifting collection of ideas and stories. She shares writings on a range of subjects spanning several stages of her life with topics including women’s issues, marriage, prejudice, abuse, mixed-race relationships, equality, culture, and more.
Shelton—a mother of four—opens up about the difficult elements in her past, but offers a positive, realistic perspective on those events. As the oldest of eight children, she discusses in detail her childhood in Toronto, Ontario, and how she learned to live thanks to her brothers and her mother—all on the autism spectrum. Shelton reveals how she dealt with being a pregnant teenager and how her beliefs help guide her parenting.
As Shelton progresses through life’s stages of growing up, she shares the importance and validity of each stage, always with an eye for answers and an infectious joy in the never ending journey that is growing up.
My sons and I moved recently. Packing and purging fifteen years’ worth of torn clothing, favorite toys, movies and music, old homework assignments and random notes to ourselves is exhausting—emotionally and physically.
It’s a good kind of exhausting if you encourage it to be.
Fifteen years of our growing-up was experienced in that house in the woods. Rummaging through overstuffed drawers and crawling to the backs of forgotten closet space has a way of inviting time travel and strange mixed up memories.
Who my sons and I are now is vastly different from who we were when we began tossing army man toys under the couch, yet we all remain eerily unchanged. It’s fun, this packing and purging of ourselves. It’s fun, and it’s revealing.
I discovered a box of old keepsakes, they were from my teenage years. I am not a teenager anymore, but my four sons are and I found many treasures in the me that is who they are now.
I was also slapped in the face with surprise. I could hardly recognize myself in the journals! I remember the events I was writing about—pregnant at eighteen with a fiancé who wouldn’t commit—but I didn’t recall feeling the things my words revealed. Yet as I read on I felt them, and they were familiar.
“I refuse to get out of bed. I’m stuck there wondering where my fiancé is, how he’s feeling and if I’ll ever hear from him again. Every time the phone rings now I almost die and I’m so depressed and lost I hate myself.
I force my eighteen year old body out of bed with the slow, painful pace of a ninety year old. My brothers are playing just outside my door and part of me feels joy. How lovely to wake up to the sound of children playing, innocent laughter. That same part of me reaches to touch the child that grows in me, anticipating the day that I wake up and he or she is playing just outside my bedroom door. That same part of me smiles.”
I read these words in my journal and I feel everything at once; how I’ve changed, how I’m the same, and how my children have always been my everything.
As we move our belongings into our next home for building memories and growing-up, I catch myself being almost obsessed with a desire to hold onto the old and run with wild abandon into the new. I want it all!
I love stories, and I love growing-up. I love learning the same lessons over and over with more intention and a wider vision. I love looking at the world I existed in and valuing its role in helping me build the world I’ve created.
It’s important to tell your story, now. Not when you are good at it, not after you’ve lived it; now. But also know that there is such value in exploring and discovering the art of intentional storytelling along the way. Begin now, but learn and grow and enhance for the later.
This book is my gift to now.
I’m planning, twenty years in the future, to read it and shake my head in wonder and surprise. “Who did I think I was? Why would I include that story?” I’ll wonder with a knowing (possibly toothless) grin. Then I’ll pour a cup of shade grown fair trade organic coffee—despite my sons suggesting that I slow down the intake—and work on the follow-up book. A Collection of Stories that Quickly Grow Wise.
That one might be a gift to me.
Tsara Shelton is a writer of musings, sipper of coffee, and addict of anything story. Having learned life exploring the edges of society, through storytelling she finds her footing in the world—as a mom, wife, daughter, and citizen. Shelton, her husband, and their four children live in both Texas and California.