Once I realized the past 8+ years of my work history was a bit of a black hole, I decided to write a book. I had no idea where it would take me, but since I had been a fairly decent writer back in my school days, I decided I would take on the challenge. It proved to be pretty hard to get back into any sort of creative or descriptive writing – I was used to writing cables in the CIA – which is a very robotic style of writing. I spent about a year and a half writing Single in the CIA, through my first pregnancy and into my first child’s newborn stage. I would write on my slow, tiny notebook, balanced on the arm of the rocking chair, while I rocked my newborn son to sleep.
The book was meant to be a fun read, but it also touches on some of the waste, fraud and abuse that was (and I’m sure still is) entrenched in the huge government bureaucracy that is the Central Intelligence Agency. It was truly a swamp! When I worked there, I had no idea how corrupt the government could be – I only knew how vicious the women, in particular, who worked there could be!
I’d like to think my writing has improved a lot since this very first book. It has opened up so many doors for me – from TV interviews to contributor, editor and content writer jobs. It’s even scheduled to become a television series at some point in the future.
Many people ask me about writing books. My advice to anyone who thinks they have a book in them – just write – and keep writing! Nothing is ever perfect – but you have to get started and once you finish – put it out there into the world, imperfections and all!
What does a former CIA officer do once she’s no longer a CIA officer and has a family of her own? She writes multiple CIA-inspired books, invents a baby product, goes crazy with a music album (followed by releasing singles), builds an app and writes children’s picture books, of course!
BurpMitt® products consist of super-absorbent, organic cotton products for baby and home. Mommy’s Gone Mad! is a comical music album for small children and parents of small children. The children’s album led to working on some more adult music singles. Cooking in the CIA is an app with recipes learned from years of entertaining and world travel.
If you would like to purchase a BurpMitt® product, you can find them on Amazon.
As we celebrate our Independence Day here in the US, I think about the freedoms that are very dear to me. My freedom of speech is something I take very seriously as a writer and author. It is also a way for me to make money to help support my family.
I have friends and contacts on social media from all walks of life, from all over the globe – likely one of the most diverse groups of people anyone has ever seen. Most people I know from all of the locations I have traveled and lived have been supportive and open-minded and simply great. If they have not been openly supportive, or do not agree with views expressed in my articles, books or posts, I wouldn’t really know it, as they themselves know enough to just scroll on by. You see, we all used to be able to have different opinions and views yet still be friends – we could still be civil even in disagreement. Sadly, more and more these days, this is not the case.
For those of you who have been supportive of me and my family – thank you. Keep being you and never give up on what you believe in. Share your opinions freely, but realize you are on social media, where most have the attention span of 250 characters and cowardice and narcissism rule.
For those of you who have attacked me – be it by arguing incessantly with my friends and family via comments, blocking or unfriending me personally, or whatever – I have this message for you: I’ve watched some of you change from seemingly happy-go-lucky fun-loving people to angry, outraged trolls. You spout your self-righteous virtue signaling and I see right through it. I have always respected all of your opinions, even if I thought they were misguided and misinformed. I just scrolled on by. But you don’t want to give me the same consideration. Get over yourselves and stop with all the outrage. You are clearly miserable in your life, and you look it too! Get off of Facebook and make a positive change in your life.
I get at least 3-4 messages a week from various contacts who are convinced my posts, articles or books are all about them. It would be funny if it weren’t so sad. If you think every post, article or book is about you, then you might be a narcissist.
I won’t be bullied or silenced. Don’t ever try to tell me what I can or cannot say on my own personal page, blog or whatever it might be. I am a writer, I stand for free speech and expression. I’m not sure when cowing to tyrants became the norm, but I won’t be participating in that activity.
A word of caution: be careful of using Facebook as your way to stay in touch with people. I have written articles about this subject. The dangers of thinking you understand where someone is coming from based on a quick Facebook post are numerous. Comments made at the click of the button can be easily misconstrued, by a largely ignorant herd-mentality crowd. Just because you shriek louder does not mean you are right.
And to those dearly departed UNfriends: over the past few years their tolerance for perceived opinions that differ from their own has waned and apparently have warranted swift unfriending! Here’s to you – Happy Independence Day! Your bitterness and hate only leads me to more and more success.
I’ve been trying to think of ways I could help someone during this time…. Then it dawned on me that I have taken dozens, if not hundreds, of classes online over the years. I’ve compiled a list of resources for online learning – from resources for teachers and parents to use with homeschooling, to adult-themed subjects – from great sources.
Futurelearn.com – This is a great place to find free classes on just about anything you can imagine. They offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop. They have hundreds of partners from around the world. These include many of the best UK and international universities, as well as institutions with a huge archive of cultural and educational material, such as the British Council, the British Library, the British Museum, and the National Film and Television School. They also work with a range of internationally renowned organizations – from professional bodies such as the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), to businesses like the BBC and Marks & Spencer, to the UK Government. I have taken everything from a class on Infant CPR given by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to World War 1: A History in 100 Stories, to one I’m currently taking on Rome.
Edx.org – Free college classes. I have taken everything from Harvard classes titled China’s Political and Intellectual Foundations and Buddhism and Its Scriptures to a class on The Spain of Don Quixote given by the University of Madrid, to the Medieval Icelandic Sagas given by the University of Iceland. They have just about anything you can imagine from some of the best schools in the world.
Udemy.com – They have a wide range of classes in subjects ranging from game development to mobile apps to IT certification, to marketing and business. They have Python, ethical hacking, you name it. These have a small price usually, but I see lots of sales going at all times.
*** Update: Udemy.com now has a free resource center. FREE classes!
NASA/Kennedy Space Center – Initially it was announced by some media outlets that they would be having Facebook Live events, but it appears they have been canceled for now. You can still access their online learning links though.
Free education resources from the Nordic countries: Here you have 40+ remote learning solutions from Estonia, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden that you are welcome to use. For kids, preschool as well as K – 12, great resources to include ones for other languages, from all over the world. Don’t let the 99math throw you off – there are resources from ALPA Kids – a mobile application where children can learn colors, numbers, the alphabet by playing with examples of their own culture and local nature, to the Future Astronauts Program – a 12-week program with activities connected to life skills of astronauts. Consists of inspirational Space material and easy-to-introduce activities to support STEM learning. Teachers have curated NASA materials that are relevant and interesting for young children, to Finland Math and it’s digital exercise platform Eduten Playground – an excellent resource for remote teaching and learning. It’s the most popular math learning tool among Finnish teachers, and one reason is that it is very easy to assign exercises for the students, and set and track goals, to resources specifically for teachers’ management of students – I could go on and on this one has so many different resources – all the way through higher education.
Pat Flynn – Smart Passive Income: Online business toolkit. Mr. Flynn is a master of passive income. He offers all sorts of training, lots of it free, on how to successfully work from home, how to create passive income streams that really make money, and more. Ever wondered how to set up and make money with affiliate links? This guy is a master at it.
Graduate School USA (used to be Grad School USDA): Long ago, I took classes on HTML through Grad School USDA. Now, it looks like it is more geared toward the federal workforce, specifically management and human resources. And it looks like they cost a bit to take. But still might be a valuable resource for someone.
Tonya Leigh of French Kiss Life: Ms. Leigh runs a lifestyle brand and global movement called French Kiss Life. She teaches people how to manage their own minds and bring joie de vivre into their daily lives. She does blog posts, podcasts and YouTube videos.
My Life Suckers: A comical YouTube channel and blog run by a mom who used to be a Senior Editor for Nickelodeon’s parenting website for 6 years where she wrote about snot and ear infections. They have put together a great blog post full of resources. Resources ranging from Khan Academy: Excellent free tutorials for all ages in math, science, computing, humanities and more. They have courses from preschool math all the way to AP Calculus to Hike Find Draw: A hiker takes you along with him as he photographs what he finds. He then chooses a photograph and teaches his audience how to sketch what he has found on his hike, there are so many different options.
As we get closer to the 5th year since my first book, Single in the CIA was published, I thought I would take a few minutes to say a BIG Thank You to all of you for your support and to celebrate some of the accomplishments from these past 5 years. I couldn’t have done it without all of you.
And then there is American Greatness. I was honored, and quite intimidated, to be accepted as a contributor for them – as they have some incredible writers. I currently have one piece for them: American Parent.
You give of yourself in your writing. You touch hearts. It’s a rare gift Shelly. — David Kamioner, Writer, Contributor and Author of Prisoner of the Chattering Class
No holds barred, precisely the commentary I’ve heard from others in similar situations. Thank you for who you are and being a role model for others to include our 14 year old daughter. Much appreciated. — Anonymous Reader
I will say it took courage to do what you did. Sort of like charging a machine gun nest. After the first step it’s too late to back out. — Frank Boccia, Author of The Crouching Beast
Thank you so much for being brave enough to show the world this view. You have done society a service with your pen! — Anonymous Reader
And, last but not least, Single in the CIA is being adapted for TV! That’s right – you may be seeing the book that began it all on your television screens!
As you can see, I have LOTS going on, and more to come. Who knows what the next 5 years has in store, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to be big. I have fun coming up with new ideas and bringing my creations to life!
Again, I thank you all for the support. I hope everyone has a very happy holiday season. Here’s to FUN and laughter!
While most of the men I encountered in the Agency were a particularly narcissistic and womanizing bunch, the women of the Agency definitely took the cake when it came to viciousness and backstabbing. It was as if destroying your fellow female colleagues was a requirement for success as a woman in the Agency. This was rarely accomplished in public view; it was most often a behind-the-scenes demolition of another woman’s reputation.
And so it happens, in every workplace – endless time-wasting meetings, gossip and trash-talking. But at the CIA we were supposed to be above all of that – we were the “cream of the crop”….
….they were discussing the staffing of our office, going over each employee and what their position was. Barry said that when my name was mentioned and Barry described me as “the blonde”, one of the women in the meeting then spent quite a bit of time arguing that I was not a blonde, I was a brunette. The woman making these claims was someone I had met once or twice in passing. According to Barry she was adamant that I was not a blonde, I dyed my hair, and she spent at least ten minutes arguing with him about it. Barry thought the story was funny; I was just appalled. Besides the fact that I have always had blond hair, why was this an acceptable topic of discussion in a front office meeting? I could not understand how the color of my hair was relevant to any staffing meeting in the CIA.
You could say that my twenties and early thirties were an endless procession of douche bags, and most of the men I encountered during my Agency career were no exception. That was acceptable to me, I never considered myself a victim, I was merely along for the ride….. However, I was not prepared nor particularly suited for the reality of the workplace dynamics, in which I spent much of my days dodging perverts and battling unseen enemies lurking behind cubicle walls….
I will never forget seeing the burning on the horizon as I drove down the road. The Pentagon had just been hit. The plane had flown right over the road as I was driving. I had just returned to the Washington DC area, where I lived, from visiting New York City and seeing the Twin Towers in person. I was currently working on a HIDTA money laundering task force with local police, DEA, and IRS agents. I was severely underemployed in the position, but I had dreams of working for the CIA one day and, as is my nature, would not stop trying.
The people in the DC area were mostly a miserable, angry bunch. But after the attacks, I noticed an extreme change. People were suddenly being much kinder to each other. People were letting other people in front of them in the gridlock traffic that makes up the Washington DC area. People were courteous, helpful and respectful.
These days, we have gotten so far away from that. We are back to being angry and hostile. Jumping to conclusions about people we don’t even know. Not listening to one another. Making personal attacks simply because we think we know where a person stands on an issue, mostly based on a social media post. We have family interactions through social media, which is sometimes fake and phony and easily misinterpreted.
I will never forget September 11th and neither will my children.