We all want a happy ending in life, like Cinderella and Prince Charming, but sometimes Cinderella has to go through pain/suffering and discover her own path to a happy ending. Tia Shurina, author of Everything and a Happy Ending, is not only a talented writer but an inspiration. She’s got amazing inner strength and is proof-positive that when you spread the Light and Love to others, it comes back to you hundred-fold. Her book moved us so greatly that she won the 2016 N. N. Light Book Award for Nonfiction.
In honor of this award, she agreed to sit down with me for a follow-up interview. Everything and a Happy Ending talks about the three men in her life, her journey to self-discovery and working on her own happy ending. She’s an amazing woman and it’s my pleasure to re-introduce her. Take it away, Tia:
If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?
I’m a very sentimental woman, & because of that:
I’d cast Brooke Shields as me since she holds very significant meaning to my story.
I would cast Ray Romano as my dad. The physical physique & resemblance is stunning, &, as the 3rd man in the trio, I feel that casting would add an incredible full circle beauty & intimacy to it. Plus, as a gambler, dedicated golfer, softball enthusiast & avid all around sports fan, I feel he would really, & truly, be able to capture the spirit & essence that was my father’s heart & soul.
I would cast Tony Danza as Larry, my ex-husband.
And as Ray I would cast George Clooney, again, because, like Brooke Shields, he has an extraordinary special significance in the book.
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
My best accomplishment is my 3rd baby, Everything and a Happy Ending. It accomplished the 2 most important things in my life…
feeling I came full circle as a mom to my 2 boys as I gave birth to my memoir. As my boys grew, & my dissatisfaction in my life grew, I hid a sad sorrowful feeling of disappointment that I was short-changing my children by letting my fears push me to settle in my life. My dad’s death was the catalyst & catapult to a transformation & metamorphosis long in the making. As they watched their mom face her fears & follow her heart for the 1st time in her life, I became the example I wanted to be for them. In that experience & thru that process, I am now ecstatic & feeling so proud they are well on their way to happy “everythings” in their lives…relationships, careers, experiences, at least with the things that are within the realm of their own control, of course.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Five years?! Oh my. Seems like a mini-lifetime away! I have to be honest, I’m holding a vision very close & clear in my mind for much sooner than 5 years right now. The last 7+ years that I have spent struggling to turn onto a different course in my life, & change an ending to a story I wrote for myself when I was much younger, much less mature, & certainly much less spiritually strong has been challenging, exhausting, emotionally draining, & very painful at times & I am now eager to finally, fully, turn that corner & step firmly onto that path. But, since 5 is the lucky number you asked about, let me say that in 5 years, I see myself having long climbed completely out of the financial hole that I dug myself into as part of the extraordinary gift of “everything” that I freely, & faithfully gave to another in a spectacular, sacred gift of trust. I see myself long enjoying a blessed, blissfully happy very intimate romantic relationship with excitement & much joy & laughter with a man I am madly, crazily, fantastically in love with. I was blessed with an answered prayer when I was given the opportunity to make some new choices for myself at this certain age in my life. It is the reason I finally faced down my fantastic fears & rose above them by ending my marriage. I will not let that gift be in vain or go unwrapped or unlived & I have full faith that the Universe will deliver us to one another…whomever that someone turns out to be.
Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
I have read each & every review that I’m aware of, so far. Who I am, tho, struggles to NOT let the 1 negative comment out of 100 positive ones eat me alive so, can be draining. In my life, I’m getting better at not engaging, or co-creating with other’s harsh criticisms, so, I keep the faith I will move to that place with the book as well.
In my heart, Ricky Nelson’s song, Garden Party, is my theme song (you can’t please everyone so you gotta please yourself)…but my head sings a different song many days! I won’t plan on responding to the negative. Constructive criticism is one thing…an important valid tool and as an inexperienced, nonprofessional writer I accept they will be a part of the process, but I will do my best to let negative mean-ness “walk on by” (that’s Dionne Warwick…& yes, I love music & find it to be a very powerful inspirational tool!).
What is your least favorite part of the publishing / writing process?
My least favorite part of the process has been the marketing & publicity aspect. The book was a Plan C for sure (maybe even Plan D). I had no desire or plan to share my own personal story so publicly. When came time to promote that sharing…my book…a lot of old “stuff” seemed to circle their wagons. I went kicking & screaming a bit to go with that flow I was so desperate to swim with finally in my life, instead of bucking that flow for so long in my life. And, I’m so outside my comfort zone in soooo many areas of my life right now as a result. It has brought a happiness & peace of heart I have never felt, yet, I am also exhausted from the journey I chose to take almost 8 years ago at this point. Because I’m so beyond my limits, “running on empty” at this point (with Jackson Browne singing back up for me!), & beyond in some important places, this particular part has hit me especially hard. Ive been incredibly protective & especially particular about making sure the story ripples outward in the same energy & intention it was written in…and that is, of course, the spirit of LOVE, & because of that, I continue to wear many hats as I move along this beautiful journey I embarked on after my dad passed. It has worn me out in some aspects, yet, in some other all important areas it has energized me & gifted me with a re-birth that has been so fulfilling. What a rollercoster ride it has been. Good thing I have always loved them!! And, a good thing indeed I finally accepted the possibility that maybe this was something important I do & face & embrace in my life.
Characters often find themselves in situations they aren’t sure they can get themselves out of. When was the last time you found yourself in a situation that was hard to get out of and what did you do?
The situation I find myself in right now. My ex & I have a very Modern Family kind of living arrangement. He moved out for quite awhile after we split & then became my roommate after his dad passed away over a year later…a gift to my ex, wanting to be kind & help him out, even as I was trying to honor myself 1st & foremost, finally, in my life. That choice was also a gift to Ray, which is all detailed in the book as to the why’s I made them. At the time, I trusted was going to be for a short amount of time & felt certain was a positive healing choice & opportunity for my ex & I…& our 2 boys actually, after they witnessed a bit of tumult between us in the time before we finally split. But, it passed its circle of healing at a certain point & rounded back to an un-healthy situation again, & I’ve been struggling mightily as a result as my circumstances have changed through the years as I tried to do what was best for Larry, best for Ray & honor myself at the same time. I gave everything to Ray, as I promised him I would…and, he accepted my gift, which continues to make me so happy, but, it has also wreaked havoc on my life in many, many ways. And, because I was giving to Larry at same time too, all of our choices have co-created a firestorm that is indeed scorching me now. Its a difficult time, but, I am so devoted to myself…&, as my father’s daughter, am rolling the dice & placing a big bet…on me!
I’m currently in full swing of trying to get myself out, on my own…the book is part of my attempt to gain back some of the financial security I gifted to Ray, part of my offering of trust.
What is your biggest fear?
Well, to piggyback off the last question, I will share that on a difficult, dark day, I will allow the fears to have their moment & take me to my knees in fear & worry that even a tiny remote chance exists that I will be unable to get myself onto a firm financial foothold & start the new life I so desperately wanted for myself when I made the decision to end my marriage is definitely topping the list these days. After I allow myself to be human, however, I am well aware of the importance to get up from my knees & walk away from those fears so that energy does not get to stick around me. It is so unhealthy to wallow in it but I am also aware of the importance of allowing feelings & acknowledging emotions as well, after a long time in my life of kinda stuffing them away. It’s a balance, for sure. There’s a powerful scene in Eat Pray Love where Elizabeth is on her bathroom floor, distraught, praying to her God for help. It’s a beautiful scene of surrender, and faith…& I’ve certainly been there, as I’m sure many have. But, for me, balance is so important…& in my ordinary/extraordinary, divine but very human “story”, there is a scene where it isn’t the quite of night but the bright light & busy-ness of day, in my bedroom, with neighbors downstairs & kids in the next room to hear me, even as I have closed the door to try & maintain some privacy & dignity, screaming to my God, in devastation & despair, feeling betrayed & forsaken. So disappointed in a divine Universe I felt could never be capable of, or allow, such selfishness, such unfairness, such cruelty. That scene is my best way to articulate my biggest fear in a visual, to accompany the words I shared about the state of affairs that my ALL-IN choice & promise to Ray created.
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
I’d like to be able to become invisible. Sooo much mystery & more than just a little angst too, would no longer exist in my life if I were able to do that.
Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before?
Giraffe Hotel in Nairobi Kenya
What’s on your bucket list (things to do before you die)?
Besides above, which gets me to Africa, I’d like to visit Alaska & Hawaii, which were places my dad wanted to get to, drive cross country & see the Grand Canyon, a visit to a few other of the Wonders of the World (either classic, new or natural), a Mediterranean cruise, learn to speak a little French (which I find to be a very sexy language), learn to play the drums & piano, mentor…& since I have 2 sons, I’d like to mentor a girl, & lastly, have a book I wrote made into a screenplay!
Title: Everything and a Happy Ending
Author: Tia Shurina
A memoir about 3 interconnected relationships & 3 special men in my life. The fact that youre reading this makes me happy. Maybe youve mistaken this for a how to give a good happy ending sexual self-help book. Maybe youre reading because you have a genuine interest in anothers journey. Either way, Im good. My journey almost destroyed me. Almost. Boy, have I come to like that word. What a pleasurable word almost can be. You may almost be ready to buy my book. You may almost be ready to begin an amazing new journey of your own. You may almost be over that rainbow Judy Garland sings about. What great potential almost can hold, if you can flip your way of thinking. Just imagine controlled pessimism, doubt, and fear flipped into blind optimism, faith, and love.
Grow with the Flow
(of the Current of Your Life)
Come together… at just the right and perfect time
Such wonderful advice, to go (and grow) with the flow. I heard it from my dad, as he encouraged me to swim more with the current of my life, rather than against it, as I’d done for a long, unsatisfying time. It is a great title for a book chapter or TV episode, yet it can be difficult to true-ly live in real life, I think.
There’s an Oscar winning movie, Marty, from 1955. It’s a fictional story of two average people who meet a bit later in life, fall in love, and get a happy ending. Marty, a plain man, meets Clara, an ordinary woman. Both are lonely, and both feel even less than plain and ordinary. It is a beautiful love story about meeting, connecting, trusting, redemption, and second chances arriving later in life. It is extraordinary and ordinary, both at the same time. It is almost unbelievable, yet totally attainable. It is a once in a lifetime story and an everyday possibility—the perfect balance.
Now, imagine the story is not fiction, but real. Imagine there real-ly exists a Marty and Clara, who meet when fate crosses their paths, but not as middle-aged, world weary, lonely adults, but as much younger, scared, lonely adults. Imagine also that this particular Marty and Clara are not plain or ordinary at all on the outside, yet on the inside feel the very same way Marty and Clara felt. It is a difficult challenge for even the older, wiser adult to go with the flow, but for the younger, intimidated, un-wise young adult to ponder the paths that could be taken, instead of the choice to trust, to let it all go, to jump in and let the current flow you to where you are meant to be is much harder. Imagine that this very real and very scared Marty and Clara pair go their separate ways, rather than go all in and take the risk first time around.
But if life is a journey of human choices and divine plans and assistance in mind and soul from the start, consider the possibility that, if their destiny is to come together, they will make their way back around the circle to reunite. Given another chance to simply be together, when the time was right and perfect for them, they’d reconnect like yin connects with yang.
What if the universe has always been watching their backs, moving them along divinely, in just the right and perfect way, to help them get a second chance someday? As Sophie says in Letters to Juliet, “‘What’ and ‘if ’ are two words as non-threatening as words can be. But put them together side-by-side and they have the power to haunt you for the rest of your life: What if? What if? What if?” What if, like in reel life, the real life Marty makes a promise to the real life Clara, to come back to her so that they can have that love affair, finally, to go with the flow, and meet up with her soon? What if the real life Clara devotedly waits as the reel life Clara does—sitting, motionless, on the sofa, just waiting for her Marty to reach out, not moving or budging until he did, because she grew scared that if she did, it meant she didn’t trust him, petrified it meant she didn’t have faith in him? What if?
What if, in a very real life, a very real Marty and Clara can face their fears this time around their circle, and find the courage to actually go with that flow? Maybe, just maybe, they can have that love affair that often exists true-ly in fairytales, but once in a while moves into reality as well, jumping off the pages of a book, leaping out of the TV or off the reel life movie screen—a real and a very true love.
Will Tia Shurina give Ray Romano a “Happy Ending”? New Memoir Reveals Relationship and Unveils Transformation
Feb 01, 2016, 12:11 ET from Everything and a Happy Ending
NEW YORK, Feb. 1, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Sometimes a person’s outside public persona isn’t reflective of their inside private life. Everything and a Happy Ending shares her struggle with authenticity between her outer and inner worlds; her real and true lives. It also details how an old friendship turned to secreted emotional love affair and how she helped him flip a not so funny reality into a fantastical new reel life self.
As Tia transitioned through her own real life roles she became the muse for one of Hollywood’s most beloved stars.
Her book illuminates her awakening and metamorphosis, committed to embracing the high road of nourishment, while exuding courage and kindness. Her memoir shares her journey to give and receive love without domination, submission, or sublimation. She takes the reader through sorrow and tribulation leading to growth, clarity, peace, release and joy recounting three interwoven circles & love stories. EAAHE chronicles how her childhood relationship with her father set the foundation for her long marriage to her ex-husband; then shares how their adult relationship “set the stage” for a unique love story with the comedian. She details how her faith is strengthened as her own re-birth inspired her old friend to grow and evolve himself. She’s been his shadow muse since a poignant, powerful reconnection became the catalyst for her privately shared personal evolution which became the root and core of Romano’s own journey of “soulwork”. That inspiration allowed him to achieve some of the greatest successes of his career.
Shurina states, “My dad’s advice to his children was, ‘hold your form’. Those bestowed bellwether words were integral to embracing my faith, finding joy within (and without!), allowing ‘true’ love, giving in peace and empowering others to rise to their own best form.”
Her story is a tour de force of emergence into empowerment & the recognition of the interconnected heart, balancing the spiritual and the material, and her selfless, unconditional giving to help liberate another from a life born of a need for adulation and acceptance.
“It’s my prayer another woman of a certain age feeling dissatisfied in her life might take a babystep forward.”
EAAHE combines real and true aspects of Eat Pray Love crossing paths with 50 Shades, Marty, Parenthood and Someday Someday Maybe meeting When the Balls Drop.
Tia Shurina lives in Queens, NYC but still spends time on the Jersey Shore, where she feels safest in the bungalows she spent her childhood summers. She is, most days, really filled with joy. She is, every day, truly filled with peace. She looks forward to a happy ending each new day, however it unfolds, whomever it holds, & however the Universe molds, as she continues to create a new “happily ever after”, staying committed to rising above her fears, moving out of her comfort zones and going with the flow of her life.