Category Archives for "Shawn Smucker"

S-E-X on the Big Blue Bus (A Guest Post by Shawn Smucker)

Today, I have the privilege of presenting guest blogger, Shawn Smucker.  Shawn is a fellow blogger from the great state of Pennsylvania.  I have enjoyed connecting with Shawn over the last year or so.  His writing is inspiring and thought-provoking.  Today is a special day for Shawn as his newest book officially releases today.  How To Use A Runaway Truck Ramp is a collection of thoughts and stories from the adventure of a lifetime that he took with his family last year in a big blue bus.  After reading Shawn’s post below, consider picking up the new book.  You won’t be disappointed.

The woman who still feels like a girl sometimes tires of digging through the bottom of the bus for the kids’ shoes or wondering if the next Laundromat will have a change machine. The man who still feels like a boy is weary of emptying the waste tank and worrying about getting the bus stuck. The third month of a four-month trip is the 21st mile of a marathon.

The woman looks for a movie for the kids while the man makes popcorn. She bends over and sweeps Legos out of the way, then opens the small drawer under the couch. The man pinches her butt. She laughs and looks over her shoulder.

“What movie are you picking, Mom?” one of the four kids shouts.

They have been in very close quarters for over ninety days. Moments of intimacy for the parents are few and far between. The man gives the woman a signal.

Meet me in the back in two minutes.

They walk back the long bus hall, closing the two doors. They are giddy, like high schoolers trying to find a place to park late at night. Unfortunately, the bedroom door has a gaping hole in the bottom where a large vent used to be, so the man blocks it with an oversized plastic storage container. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

She moves the dirty clothes on to the floor, and he jumps into bed. More Legos greet him, like tiny sea urchins. They sigh and pull back the sheets and pick out the Legos and doll clothes and Matchbox cars.

When the bed is clear, they lay down. He smiles. She smiles. He kisses her.  Then, they hear the tiniest of voices from the other side of the storage bin blocking the door. He looks over his shoulder, and a small head peaks up through the narrow space.

“Guysh, what are you doing?” It is their four-year old. She has long blond hair and blue eyes, and her s’s come out like sh’s (think Sid from Ice Age). She wants a drink. The man shakes his head in disbelief.

“How do you even fit through there?” he asks, walking toward the door.

“Are you guysh naked in there?” she asks them.

He tries not to laugh. She keeps asking questions.

“Did you lock the door sho that no one would shee you when you’re naked?” she asks again.

“I wish,” he says, leaning down and pushing her head gently back through the vent. “Now, go ask your brother for a drink. And don’t come back in here until the door is open. Understand?”

“Of coursh.”

He goes back to the bed and lies down beside the woman. And suddenly the woman and man are boy and girl again. They look at each other – she giggles, and he laughs. They hold hands and stare at the ceiling. She suddenly remembers, in the time it takes a lightning bug to flash on and off, that this is the greatest adventure of their life together. He recalls the first time they held hands in that movie theatre in Camp Hill, PA. He remembers how he hadn’t wanted to be anywhere but there.

They hear the voices of their children in the front of the bus: how’d it happen so fast? How could those two people holding hands fifteen years before be in any way connected to these very different but same people, holding hands in Yellowstone while their four children argue over popcorn rights in the front of the bus?

Outside, a few miles away, herds of bison and elk wander through Haydn Valley. A bear swims through icy Yellowstone River, her cub following desperately behind. Downstream, water crashes through the gorge, wearing away another layer of time.

But in the big blue bus, for just a moment, time has stopped.

(This piece first appeared at Tamara Out Loud)

When was the last time you felt like time had stopped?  How has parenting been different than what you imagined?

Shawn Smucker is the author of How to Use a Runaway Truck Ramp and Building a Life Out of Words. He lives in Lancaster County, PA with his wife Maile and their four children. You can find him on Twitter and Facebook, and he blogs (almost) daily at Maile blogs at


Learning To Count To Five – Guest Post by Kevin Haggerty

Today, I have the privilege of presenting a guest post by Kevin Haggerty.  Kevin and I have become friends over the past few months thanks to the wonders of the blog world.  His writing at The Isle of Man is generally humorous and he often shares thoughts in his daily posts that stretch me.  I’m honored that Kevin would consider sharing his Stretching story here on the blog with The Stretched Community.  I’ve included a short bio for Kevin at the end of the post.  Please visit his blog, add his blog to your regular reading, leave him a comment, and tell him that I sent you.  Thanks!

[If you’re interested in sharing your Stretched story with the rest of The Stretched Community, leave me a comment so we can connect.]

Learning to Count to Five

About a week ago, Jon asked me to write a guest post for his “Stretched” series. It was kind of comical to me, the timing of it anyway, because I’m currently going through a period of my life where I’ve never felt more stretched.

Here’s the brief rundown, for those of you who don’t know me:

  • In October of last year, my wife, Kim, and I bought our first house, after being married for two years.
  • In December, we received the incredible news that Kim was pregnant with our very first child.
  • In March, I found out that I was not going to be offered a contract to teach next year at the school for which I’ve worked for the past six years. Essentially, I was going to be (and have been) laid off.

That’s the short version.

It certainly isn’t how I drew it up, but when does life ever work that way? We don’t get the 12-month forecast for our life. Though, that would be nice, and if that were a website, I’d totally add it to my RSS reader subscriptions.

Instead, we generally get hit with life-changing news, then we have to adjust on the fly, like a hockey line change.

You don’t get advanced notice. You just have to make it up as you go.

So, at 32 years old, I’m at a place where I’m having to really figure things out. It sounds torturous, and in a lot of ways, it is.

But it’s also an awesome opportunity.

I have the chance to start over, in a lot of ways. I have the chance to take all the things I’ve learned and experienced and use them to branch out in a new and exciting direction.

Currently, on my blog, I’ve started a series of posts called “When Life Karate Kicks You in the Face.”

It will feature multiple volumes and will go until I’m done. Yesterday was the beginning of the series and featured Volume 1. I’d love it if you checked it out. Tomorrow, I’ll be posting Volume 2. It’d be great if you were able to read that too, and maybe even share in the discussion as it unfolds.

In the meantime, I want to share with you some of the things that have encouraged me during this down period.

There are two things I’ve used to help me when I am tempted to give into the demons. Maybe they’ll help you too.

Advice from Jack Shepard

In the hit television series, LOST, one of the main characters, Jack Shephard, gave some advice on how to overcome adversity.

In the very first episode, Jack tells Kate (also one of the main characters) a story to help her deal with the fear she is facing, while she is in the middle of stitching up a wound on his back.

Jack can tell the story better than I can, so why don’t I let him tell you instead:

It seems corny and cliché, but there’s a lot of truth to it. Jack was faced with a circumstance wherein he could have run for the door, and allowed disaster to overtake him (and the poor girl on the operating table), or he could have got a hold of himself and fixed it.

In life, often, those are our only two choices. Fight or Flight. Sometimes, I run away. But I can’t run away from this one. My wife needs me. My unborn son needs me. I could run, but I’m not going to.

Encouragement from a Friend

During all of this, my friend Shawn Smucker has been an incredible resource and encouragement to me.

If you’re unaware, Shawn wrote a book, Building a Life out of Words, about his decision to walk away from his business as a contractor, to follow his dream of being a writer, all as a married father of two young children.

Shawn made it work for him, but it wasn’t easy. Not in the slightest.

Shawn has been aware of my journey. I’ve talked to him a lot, along the way. He’s given me advice and really helped me a lot as I’ve been trying to decide just what to do.

One day, he e-mailed me. He asked me how I was doing. It was one of my “bad days.” I was honest with him. I told him I was depressed. I told him I wasn’t doing well, and that I was considering abandoning my dream of being a writer to do something “safe.”

Here was his response:

Hang in there, man. It’s a long road. There’s no time for feeling sorry for yourself.

I saved that. It meant a lot to me. I’m so grateful he had the courage to reach through the internet, grab me and shake me when I needed it.

There’s no time for feeling sorry for yourself. Sound urgent, doesn’t it?

It was urgent. It still is.

What will it be for you today? Will you give into the fear? Or will you count to five, face the terror and then take the control back. It really is a choice.

What will you choose today?

Kevin Haggerty is a 32-year old husband and expecting father. He runs and writes for a humor blog called TheIsleOfMan.Net. For his full-time job, Kevin is a middle school teacher and basketball coach. He also writes for a mixed martial arts (MMA) blog called He’s the oldest of seven children, a continual skeptic and smart people think he’s funny (at least that’s what he tells himself).

3 Thumbs Up!

Today, I’m highlighted three things that get my thumbs up as I head into this weekend.

First thumb up:  The 9 Thumbs Podcast.  The idea for this post came from the three guys (Rob Stennett, Jason Boyett, and Matthew Paul Turner) who put out this new podcast.  Each episode, the three hosts talk about nine things that are getting their thumbs up.  So far, they’ve released two episodes.  The podcast is funny and informative.  They talk about movies, TV shows, podcasts, people, inventions, and all kinds of other stuff.  It’s worth checking out.  You can find them over at iTunes where you can download the podcast for free.

Stennett, Boyett, and Turner from

Second thumb up:  The Grand Theater.  I blogged about this place several months ago.  After a visit to The Grand last night with my wife and son, I’m convinced that this “old-time” theater located in East Greenville, PA is a true diamond in the rough.  The movie and snack prices are still reasonable.  The movies are great (last night we saw The Lorax).  What more could you ask for?  If you live in the Montgomery County, Pennsylvania area, I highly recommend you take a trip to The Grand, you won’t be sorry.

The Grand from a visit a few months ago

Third thumb up:  Shawn Smucker’s blog.  I just stumbled upon this blog this week thanks to some reviews for his new e-book, Building A Life Out Of Words.  I’m still figuring him and his blog out, but so far it’s a thumbs up for me.  Go check out at

Shawn Smucker from

You’ve just read my first 3 Thumbs Up! post.  What do you think?  What would you give a thumbs up to this week?