Life As Art: Normal is a Dryer Setting


I ran across this image on Facebook one day recently and felt such a resonance with its message. I don’t know who Aunt Frances is, but I sure as hell want to be her when I grow up.

Spending most of my life as an outsider means I’ve never felt normal.

I never fit in.

I was never compliant – not willingly – and I never will be.

In order for me to live in a way that doesn’t sicken me, I have to live outside the boundaries of what most people think of as a normal life.

My sheroes are maverick women like Helen Keller, Amelia Earhart, Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keeffe, and writers: Virginia Woolf, Emily Dickinson, Jane Austen, Gloria Steinem,  and George Sand.

I like to wear leopard print dresses and silver earrings and men’s boots.

I like to eat what I want: cake, curry, potato chips, Korean BBQ, Pad Thai.

I paint my toenails turquoise or red and am toying with dyeing my hair purple. At this point in my life, I want the inner world I inhabit to show.

I don’t care if I am strange or an acquired taste.

If you like me, fine.

If you don’t, there’s the door.


After I turned forty, I seriously gave no fucks what anyone thought of me.

I wanted to live out loud.

I wanted to sing and shimmy and shake.

I didn’t want to be a timid mouse.

I wanted to roar.


So much of my early life was spent afraid. Afraid of the dark. Afraid of death. Afraid of risk. Afraid of failure.

I worried and fretted and freaked out over every little thing that might go wrong.

And you know what?

It all turned out to be a complete waste of time, energy, and life force.

What about what might go right?

Now, I find myself furious whenever anyone tries to tell me what I ‘should’ do or ‘should’ think.

I have zero tolerance for toeing the line, being a good girl, doing as I am told, or having anyone – male or female – tell me to sit down and shut up.

You sit down and shut up if you want to, but do not ever tell me what I think or what is permissible for me.

I decide.

See, this child dials direct.

I have access to my own wisdom and my own choir of angels.

I can call on them anytime and I do.

Imagine that?!

The closer these feet march toward the end of my glorious days on this beautiful planet, the more I realize that being alive while I am alive is the only goal.

If you want to sit in the corner and wait for your reward for not taking a cookie, feel free.


I am taking the cookie, riding the bike, and licking the god damn spoon!

I plan to unwrap and use this unfettered, courageous heart on loan to me. For the limited time I’ve been given, I plan to live.

I suggest you do the same.


Everyone has a book inside of them. Everyone has a story. Wouldn’t you love to share yours with the world? Get your free writer’s toolkit, packed with tricks and tips to get you started. Just do it. Don’t wait. Don’t die with an untold story inside you.

Copyright 2017  Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved

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6 thoughts on “Life As Art: Normal is a Dryer Setting

  1. Thank you so much for reminding me that I am a maverick too!! When I was 13 in Jr. high I wanted a Burgundy Panne Velvet pant suit with bell bottoms!! My mom got it for me and I excitedly wore it to school. Everyone just stared and whispered behind my back. I was humiliated and never wore it again. I’m 59 and I’ve been playing it safe since I was 13!!! I’ve got to find a Burgundy Pantsuit like the one I had at 13. Thanks for reminding me who I really am.

    1. Your message brought me to tears, Theresa. I’ve been buying myself all the types of clothing I wanted at 13 or 14 (faux fur, a sequin jacket, argyle sweaters, boots). I just decided that I would give myself those things (leopard print dress) even if I wasn’t thin and even if my hair is white. Now, I realize that I am emerging from life-long hiding and allowing myself to be seen. Being our authentic selves is why we are here. I am no longer going to hide my light. Neither should you. ~ Shavawn

      1. I love dying my hair purple. This last Saturday I added magenta to show my solidarity with my girls around the world. Do it! If you want purple go for it. In high school I wore an old pair of my dad’s work overalls. I had them patched with hearts and flowers. I also wore my Star Trek communicator pin on them. I’ve never known normal.

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