Shauna

Hi there. I’m Shauna.

The moment I realized that human beings wrote books—the magic that opened the world to a lonely kid—I wanted to write them too.  

Now I am a full-time writer and an editor who loves helping others find their stories. 

Every moment I have lived has taught me something. I am continuously growing, questioning, and becoming. (Plus, laughing at myself.) These days, I challenge myself to change my mind about unconscious biases on a regular basis.

In spite of it all, I am in love with the world.

And always, always—I’m a girl in love with words.

My newsletter, ENOUGH, is about all of this, plus recommendations for art that moves me and other people’s stories. Plus, there are recipes.

My most recent book is a collection of essays, spurred by questions that circled in my mind after I suffered a mini-stroke in 2015. ENOUGH is a narrative of a woman who moved from spending anxious decades worrying she was not good enough, to finding her rage and choosing to no longer pretend, to a woman who has found enormous joy in mostly enough. It’s a book about healing childhood trauma, sexuality, becoming fearless, freedom, female rage, laughter, marriage, and being a mama. Most women will recognize themselves in this book.

Once upon a time, I was known as Gluten-Free Girl, which was the name of the food blog I began in 2005. For a year, I created it by myself, then I met my husband, Dan, who is a chef. Together, we developed hundreds and hundreds of recipes for the blog, our three cookbooks—one of which won the James Beard Award—and food publications such as Food52, the Washington Post, the New York Times, and others.

My husband and I decided to let go of GFG in 2017. But we are still developing recipes, based on what we make with what we have in the moment and our fascination with flavors from around the world. We offer those recipes to subscribers to our newsletter.

In no particular order, I love: the smell of the earth after rain; the Beastie boys; Mo Willems, Wendy McNaughton, and Samin Nosrat, plus the internet that connects them; kd lang singing anything, but particularly Halleljuah; Jonathan Van Ness; the work of Brene Brown; James Brown; James Baldwin; Etta James; anything Michelle Obama shares; walking through Judd Creek trail on Vashon Island by myself; tomato sandwiches, inspired by Harriet the Spy; facing a blank page and needing to dive in; snuggling my kids in the morning; Mister Rogers; the sound of the waves as they lap at the shore; Hamilton, Rent, The Sound of Music, and Fiddler on the Roof; talking with strong, kind women; listening; Ta-Nehisi Coates and Emily Dickinson; protests against injustice; blackberries so ripe they fall into your hand when you pick them; the poems of Mary Oliver, Warshan Shire, and Maggie Smith; kayaking; going into the garden in the morning; brand-new books (to me; used is fine) that I am about to open; singing Beatles and Beyonce songs; the community of people in my hometown and online; the early albums of Talking Heads, Magnetic Fields, and Sleater-Kinney; learning, laughing, and facing myself.

Also, coffee. Lots of coffee. 

My favorite place is at the table with people, sharing stories and laughing together. Food connects us and spurs good conversations. In these days of COVID, that gathering is a memory, mostly. Still, it remains.

I really dig my husband and my two kids.

I’m here.

Some of the quotes that have resonated most in my life.

“Kindness is my religion.”

—The Dalai Lama

“I am like a drop of water on a rock. After drip, drip, dripping in the same place, I begin to leave a mark, and I leave my mark on many people’s hearts.”

—Rigoberta Menchu

“That which irritates us about others can tell us about ourselves.”

—Carl Jung

“When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game.”

—Toni Morrison

“The only way out is through.”

—Albert Camus

“My personal obligation is that it is not enough that I succeed on my own. I have to care what happens to the kid in the desk next to me at school. He’s just as smart, but his mom works. And my father always taught us to take in everybody‘s full story, not to judge people—the drunk uncle or the cousin out of work because we didn’t know what happened to them. We weren’t special. As a result, if something good happens to you or you have an advantage, you don’t hoard it. You share it. You reach out. You give back. I can say that my family, my neighborhood, my notions of community growing up shaped that view and shaped my choices in life, just as I felt that your experiences shaped yours.”

—Michelle Obama

“If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him… the people who give you their food give you their heart.”

—Cesar Chavez

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.”

—Martha Graham

“Go without hate, but not without rage. Heal the world.”

—Paul Monette

“When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”

—Audre Lord

“Look around, look around, at how lucky we are to be alive right now.”

—Lin Manuel Miranda

“Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilized by education: they grow there, firm as weeds among stones.”

—Charlotte Brontë

“Kindness, I’ve discovered, is everything in life.”

—Isaac Bashevis Singer

This is my 5th-grade photo, taken when I was 10. The Bicentennial flag lets you know the year. So does my home-perm hair, which I never wanted. My glasses, my buck teeth, my flannel-pattern blouse — everything about this is terrible.

Or so I thought, for years upon years. At a certain point in my life, this was the most embarrassing photo I could imagine. Nothing mortified me more than the thought of someone seeing this photo.

Now, of course, I think this photo is darling. There’s nothing embarrassing here. Instead, I want to hug this little girl, who was around my daughter’s age now.  I don’t live in shame for any part of me now. But I did. Oh, I did.

I wish I could hug this girl when she was crouched on the top of her closet, doors closed, hiding from the noise of her parents fighting again. I wish I could hug this kiddo when she pleaded to go to a friend’s house after school but she was told no, over and over, because of her mother’s fears about anyone leaving the house at all. I wish I could hold her when she sat in class, perched on the edge of her seat, hand raised always, because knowing the answers at school was the only place she found any validation. I wish I could step in when her parents fought viciously every afternoon and insist that she come between them when they had their fists or knives drawn and she used every ounce of her to say the right thing to make them stop. Just stop.

I wish I could hug this kid and take her out of there.

But I do know this. Books saved this kiddo’s sanity. She lived and breathed in words like talismans and one day, she dreamed of being a writer, like Jo March or Francie Nolan or Harriet the Spy.

I have a feeling that if she saw my life now, she would feel, for the first time, that everything eventually would turn out okay.