I shuffled a few pieces of loose leaf papers together on my desk and stapled them. I opened to the first page, put pen to paper and began to write out my short story, along with illustrations (my "books" always had illustrations.) The first page would always say, "Written by Shannon Crino" in perfect cursive penmanship. Then, dressed in my neatly pressed green plaid St. James school uniform, I would bring it to the front of the class and place it next to the other books my fifth grade teacher had organized for our daily reading time. I'd then sit and eagerly await my classmates to take one of my books and read them. I'd patiently watch their expressions as they would finger through the pages, and when they'd look up, their eyes meeting mine, they'd smile.
That sealed the deal for me when it came to writing. I knew I wanted to be putting words on pages that meant something to someone. A way I could resonate with them. For the rest of my life.
Later that year, as one of my newly written books sat on the coffee table in my parent's den, my father remarked, "Your illustrations and books are ordinary. There's nothing that stands out that makes them amazing. They're just..." (and I hung onto each crippling word) "plain." I was crushed. And with that critical statement from my father, I put down the pen.
Approximately 4 years later, during my obsession with Rat (let's be clear--the rock band, not the rodent), I secretly began writing in a notebook crafting stories of how Warren found me so amazing and Robin was madly in love with my best friend, Tiffany. One notebook turned into ten, the pages filled with soap opera-like strife of love and betrayal. I would spend countless hours in my room putting the words that flooded my head onto paper. The notebooks would go into my closet each night to be hidden away from prying eyes. Once the obsession with Rat was over, so was the story writing. Eventually I just considered them clutter, and told myself no one would ever want to read about how a rock star fell in love with an average girl. I tossed them all out and put down the pen once again.
During my final year attending Rhode Island College for my Bachelors in Psychology, my parents filed for divorce. Shortly after, the relationship with my boyfriend of 3 years ended as well. The dusty pen found its way back into my hands and I took my sorrows out on paper. Once I became a wife and mother, it would get put to the wayside for many years...although instead of forgetting about it, I would yearn for it. I would lean more on what others thought I should be doing, all the while knowing that writing was what I was meant to be doing.
On October 24, 2005 I took the leap and pressed Publish on A Girl's Gotta Spa! I've never thought of the blog name as just a title. It was (and is) an action phrase, a verb...hence why there is an exclamation point on the end of it (that many print and online publications seem to always leave out.) I grew up in the Calgon, take me away era and A Girl's Gotta Spa! has the same intention. Additionally, it is not Girls Gotta Spa (and to be honest, when people say that, it's like hearing nails on a chalkboard to me.) That indicates that "other girls" need to spa. "A" indicates singularity. And in that singularity, it means YOU. Girl's versus Girls because the apostrophe indicates possession. In the end, each part of A Girl's Gotta Spa! means that you, essentially, are taking ownership over pampering your mind and body.
Blogging has been the best thing I have ever done for myself. It has been my creative outlet, it helped me create an income when there was none, it helped me make contacts and develop relationships outside of my tiny town in the Poconos. Not only has my writing helped me to resonate with others, it helped you to resonate with me. Solving your skin care woes became my passion, and arming you with information about product hype encouraged me to always get to the bottom of those so called "claims." Long or short, each post I write, I carefully think through, like I am speaking with a trusted friend.
Just in case you don't know, today I celebrate EIGHT years of beauty blogging.
About one year (almost to the day) into blogging, my life would once change again when a NYC PR firm would approach me to work for them. And as I detailed in my About Time post, I doubted myself and my abilities (go read that post, it's really good!) As we always say in Psychology, fear and doubt come from trauma in our childhood. I truly believe that one moment where my father made me feel like I wasn't good enough set the stage in my mind (along with countless other criticisms from people along the way), that I could never dream big.
To that, I now say, "You are only confined by the walls you build for yourself."
Instead of allowing the words of others to build me up, I instead put these things called dreams in a box and put them away as the words of others would tear me down.
During these eight years of beauty blogging I've been in countless beauty magazines (online and print), I've been on TV, I've spoken at beauty industry conferences, I've been a mentor to new beauty bloggers, I've worked for a top beauty PR firm, I've become a social media consultant, I've helped launch small brands and I've helped large brands grow traction...I've become a mom to four wonderful boys, gotten a divorce, got remarried to my very best friend and finally began to feel comfortable in my own skin. Most of all, I have confidence in my abilities and who I am.
Now, in year eight, we have a team of writers (all talented women, in fact), but while they write (and I continue to edit and do reviews too), I'm beginning to shift my focus to something I've wanted to do for a very long time. Have my own bath and body line. (You can check out our Indiegogo campaign.) I'm working very hard behind the scenes (YOU GUYS it is SO much work), but I feel just as much passion about it as I do about writing. While there are many (as in countless) days where I get down on myself and feel like I can't do it or that no one will buy it (except maybe my mom and mother-in-law), I keep reminding myself to dream big. I keep bringing myself back to be that 11 year old girl who desired to dream big and do what she loved.
And so, with that, I want to clearly tell you that if you have dreams and aspirations--go for them! Don't let the criticisms of others become obstacles. Don't doubt yourself. Know your worth. Be your own inspiration. Respect your talents. But most of all, dream big and find your way to those dreams no matter how long it takes. Because IT WILL happen.
To many more years of beauty blogging (and beauty products!) Thanks for always listening to me,
ShannonSubscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! for more beauty reviews! Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest and check us out on Instagram and G+. Got a Kindle? We’re on Kindle too! Shannon on G+