Sharla Dawn Gorder

Writer – Speaker

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© Jem Sullivan


            Quick, is there anyone who comes immediately to mind when you read the title of this story?  Conjure an image of their face in your mind.

            Now, imagine that everyone you know is reading this post simultaneously.  What are the odds that your face graces the imagination of a friend, co-worker or family member? 

            In other words—are you, at times, passive aggressive, manipulative, gossipy, or duplicitous? 

            If you answered quickly with a resounding, “No!  Not me—but let me tell you about my boss, mother-in-law, sister, or friend,” you can stop reading right now.  These words will most likely be a waste of your time.  And I estimate that it will take the average reader about 12 minutes to read them all.  But it’s your call.

            The danger in writing about this issue, and other dysfunctional personality traits and behaviors, is that, if I’m not careful, I can set the ball rolling in the blame game—a contest that has no winners, a contest that makes victims of everyone.  And self-appointed victims are perhaps the most cray-cray of all. Continue Reading

           I found myself ruminating as I walked (more like trudged) the beach this morning.  I woke up inexplicably sullen and anxious, and my mind was scrambling around looking for justifications for my dour mood: didn’t sleep well, a family member hurt my feelings, my friend never called me back about dinner, I haven’t written a decent paragraph in a week, I still can’t play B minor on my guitar, I gained a pound after eating nothing but kale and arugula all week, the sunrise was obscured by clouds, and what’s with all this seaweed on my beach?

            It was down around Avenida 18 that I nearly stepped on a little treasure in the shore break, one I don’t see every morning.  Amidst the broken conchs and whelks and jingles and augers, tangled in that annoying seaweed, I happened upon a starfish. Continue Reading

 Stop counting your blessings.

            Yes, you read that right.  Just stop.  Stop counting your blessings; I think I’ve got a better idea. 

            I’m not averse to enumerated lists, mind you. Heaven’s no!  I confess that I’m rather compulsively drawn to the lure of the list.  I recently ran across a spiral notebook in a box of old diaries from when I was about 15, that was nothing but lists:  lists of everything I’d eaten when I’d been on a diet, (which was always), lists of everything I’d spent (when I was trying to save my allowance for Joni Mitchell’s new “Court and Spark” record), lists of everything I’d borrowed (Diana Swift’s off-the-shoulder Indian print maxi-dress, which I still haven’t returned), and everything I’d loaned (most everything in my closet).  There were shopping lists, homework lists and prayer lists. I even ran across a list of every “boyfriend” I’d ever had—it was alarmingly long for a fifteen year-old!  Ha! 

            No, I love me some lists—I write a “to-do” one just about every day of my life—and at the very top of each one is this cryptic reminder:  TIS.  (I’ll decode that for you later.) Continue Reading

(Here are a couple of stories from my newspaper column in the Island Times.)

Today on my walk, I came upon some itty-bitty footprints, a toddler’s, I assume.  They were perfect little “Hang Ten” feet like that ubiquitous logo from the ‘70s I loved so much.  The sweet little feet were pointing toward the Gulf, but I followed them for a few paces away from the water and toward the street until they suddenly disappeared.

         It made me think of that lovely old poem, “Footprints in the Sand,” but from an entirely different perspective. Continue Reading

I am sitting at my laptop in a hotel room overlooking the dawn on another coast.  The palm trees here are impossibly tall, and the sun is not where it’s supposed to be. Ha!  We’ve been visiting family and friends in Southern California for the last week, and I’m overcome with gratitude for these people and this place. (I’m actually a little teary as I write this.) I spent a decade of my life here (the ’80s) and formed friendships so indelible, that even my neglect is powerless to erase.  

I planned this trip with this goal in mind:  to reconnect.  I have been so humbled and inspired by the response of my friends, some I haven’t seen in twenty years or more.  Thank you so much for taking the time to brave the LA traffic (and rain?!) to get together with me. I love you all—Melendy, Pattie, Keala, Linda, Kimberly, Susan, Caren, and (hopefully) Jinny. 

I’m republishing this story—the third in a series of three—that I wrote last year, with this suggestion:  Do whatever it takes to be a friend, to rekindle old friendships or deepen existing ones.  Social media is a bridge perhaps, but will never be the Island itself—the lovely warm respite—that true face-to-face (not face-time to face-time) communion offers.  Thank you my friends.  


Youser Manual, Part Three

I found a letter in an old keepsake box—a love letter actually.  Across the top of the single sheet of notebook paper, in careful cursive, was the salutation:  To Sharla with love.  My heart fluttered a little to read those words.  The letter was dated March 10, 1975.  We were sixteen.

It is not hard to recall this love from my adolescence.  It was a good love, a strong love, a true love.  It is not hard to remember this love because it was an enduring love—and to this day remains good, and strong and true.  In fact, we had lunch together, this love and I, on Saturday.  Along with my husband and son.  Continue Reading