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What’s normal anyways

by Shayne Traviss

Do you remember Forrest Gump? I do. And If I ever momentarily forget I’m reminded by my partner and friends. “They call me Forrest Gump”. or in my case they call me Shayne Traviss. The similarities are that I find myself in the most extraordinary experiences, but each seem to ‘walk me home” to the same place in the end. 

A few weeks ago, my dear friend Olena, and new Mayor of my town, was inaugurated, I had worked on marketing, media, and communications for her campaign. Trying on an old hat that perhaps was warn but fit the experience perfectly.

I have warn many, may hats, and experienced many, many “Forrest Gump” like moments in my life. And if you’ve been following along, you’d know they’ve ranged from being followed by Oprah Winfrey on Twitter, and invited to her private events, to my ‘Hollywood debut” next to Mila Kunis in the Number one Netflix Movie ‘Luckiest Girl Alive”, starting my own personal care company with my partner, breaking through the resistance of my middle school teachers words “you’ll never be a writer” and writing a book on Radical Authenticity published by Watkins Publishing UK, hanging with Television Icon Norman Lear in Sedona Arizona, Styling Fashion Shoots and being noticed by a Vogue Italia Photographer, to dancing around Tribal fires in rural South Africa, and sitting with the most revered Guru on the Ganges in the Himalayas in India. And now, well, putting on my old marketing, media, and communications hat to do my part in helping usher in who I believe to be the best representative for the community I live and play in. 

And on inauguration night, over a glass of wine (or two), a new ‘Forrest Gump” experience was about to be born, and one that would have the impact to make it to one of the top ten most moving experiences of my life. 

My friend, and Olena’s partner, Giorgi, had a favour to ask. He, had to fly to Vancouver for a week on a personal mission, and asked, “Could you manage my restaurant for a week while I’m gone”. And my answer was immediately, ‘Yes”, however, in my lifetime of ‘Forrest Gump” experiences, in many genres, in many places, restaurant experience was not one of them. This was outside of even my normal.

But this restaurant was different. Staffed by many of the 31 Ukrainian Refugee families Olena had worked so tirelessly to bring to our hometown; sheltering them from the absolute nightmare that had become their lives, their country, their homes. 

During this experience. Not only did I learn the art of service and how that could be applied to every one of our lives, but each one of these women’s warrior stories; of how they fled, survived, and continue to survive their experiences, and having family members still living in their war-ravaged country hit a place in me that recognized my own PTSD and trauma and moved me to tears.

What I learned, in one week, stepping outside of my normal, in a genre I have never had experience with or even thought as a possibility in my lifetime; about myself, that genre, and the women I worked with was more powerful than what I have learned in eighty percent of my life’s journey. 

Their individual stories of suffering (to personal and treacherous to tell), their resilience, their humanity, and their ability to carry and process their pain, while still giving everything they had, to light the way for others; a level of grace, dignity and tenacity that is worthy of sainthood. 

By me, having the courage to step out of what is, or I considered my normal, and embracing the off the beaten path, spontaneous, “Forrest Gump” life yet again; hasn’t made me the richest person monetarily, but perhaps the richest in experience and the wisdom of the heart. 

And, so, “What is normal anyway”. In the words of Wayne Dyer “when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”.

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