I’m Shelly Thorn, the founder of Bird’s Eye View. This is about me, personally. To learn about the site, go to About Us.
My typical day involves a fair amount of half-decaf coffee, working from home and a nice, long walk with a 95-pound black lab.
After 23 years of mothering, I still feel like my priority is attending to my three boys, but the fact is, only my youngest is still at home and, as a high-schooler, his attention is often elsewhere. He’s highly empathic and intuitive, understands things at a deep level, is excellent at both golf and skateboarding, and loves technology, ancient history and socializing.
My middle son, who has loved numbers since before he could talk (and chess before he was in kindergarten), is happily immersed in an astrophysics education that’s challenging him to his max. He’s passionate about the stars, math, consciousness and finding how everything is connected.
And my eldest? Look up the word “intense” in the dictionary. It reads “of extreme force, degree or strength” alongside his picture (haha). Really, though: you should have seen him fish as a kid. Unreal focus. His current drive is learning every possible truth about food and nutrition, and he’s determined to share the power of natural food and healthcare for the benefit of all.
Each of my boys takes my breath away.
We’ve had a relatively “normal” family life, which means we’ve had our share of pain and drama. In this moment, we’re all okay. We’re connected. They’re healthy and out exploring the world, learning who they are, uncovering their purpose for themselves. This moment is a blessing that I don’t take for granted.
My Happy Place
Whenever possible, I drive four hours (passing through the stunning North Cascades National Park) to the Methow Valley in north central Washington state, where the air is fresh and the rivers are clean, the community is warm and down-to-earth, the mountains beckon, and the birds call. I have a tiny cabin where I can hear the river gurgle all year round.
The weather can be intense and harsh, with freezing in the winter and fires in the summer. And there are challenges faced by other communities: how to balance land use and conservation, and all the other factors related to being a destination for visitors and a place that local families can thrive. As they say, nothing’s perfect. But I’m inspired by the way this community has come together to take charge of its own fate for so long now. And it teaches me what’s possible when communities elevate the discussion to accommodating multiple needs without sacrificing what’s most important.
When I’m at the cabin, I still work from home, but I also chop wood, hike the endless trails and put my feet in the river. I use soap made by a local mom, get organic veggies and handmade jewelry from the farmers market and savor the rich carrot cake made by a bakery in town that uses locally grown ancient grains. The cabin and the Valley offer me everything I need, and more than I could have hoped.
How I Got Here
The Methow Valley feels like home to me and perhaps that’s because I grew up in Alaska. I stayed in my hometown of Anchorage through college, slogging it out for four years of full-time work and full-time school at my local commuter college, the University of Alaska. Getting a degree was my top priority. I saw it as my passport to freedom. My folks hadn’t gone to college and the responsibility was on me if it was going to happen. And so I did the application process, got a loan and a small scholarship, and worked office jobs that let me fit in my classes. By my last year of school, I was desperate to get out and see something new. That would take even more money, and so I added a part-time waitress job to my full-time office job and class load. How is that possible? I must not have slept. I remember coming home after serving the evening diners at Harry’s Restaurant and re-counting my tips before sliding the cash into the pocket of a three-ring binder. My strange little savings plan worked. Relieved and excited, but nervous as hell, I took my hard-earned bachelor’s degree and my school debt, and packed up the car, setting off on the famed Alcan Highway to Seattle, ready to start a new life.
I loved my early years in Seattle. I did a lot more than work, but I think I’ve offered plenty about my personal life here so I’ll focus in on my work. After working at an ad agency and then a retirement residence, I ended up at Microsoft where I enjoyed a fairly long, intense stint in the 90s. It was a good fit for the intense drive I had to prove myself as worthy. (That’s another story!)
I usually did whatever needed doing which was often marketing, communications and research plus strategic planning, administration and operations. I grew pretty attached to seeing myself as an employee of this intense organization but when my first child was born, the tension of trying to balance it all became too great. I quit to stay home with my son, and with his brothers who came later.
After my children were in school, I shifted gears and worked as a doula, taught yoga, managed a yoga studio and gave thai massage. I didn’t mind having jobs where I might cook a meal for a new mama or sweep the studio floor. I enjoy physical labor about as much as mental work and I feel most in balance when I do both.
Since 2011, I’ve spent most of my time working (quite obsessively, to be honest) on a website for yoga teachers and teacher trainers. I created the site out of a deep desire for it to exist but I thought of it as a legacy, not daring to hope it could actually become my full-time work. Sweetly, it grew steadily the first years and that was all the encouragement I needed. My passion for this “work” brings together so many of the things I love. I can’t imagine ever tiring of it.
I’ve come to specialize in managing immense amounts of information. For my yoga work alone, I’ve researched about 300 books and sorted through thousands of articles. I’m constantly searching out and evaluating resources as I consider how I can make quality information more accessible and useful to those who could benefit from it. I’ve developed an information management system that’s insanely detailed, but it works. I love learning, drawing connections between things, and making good stuff more accessible to more people.
In a nutshell, my current work is part education and training; part inspiration and support; and part strategic planning and tool development.
Why Bird’s Eye View
In 2018, I found myself spending a lot of my spare time immersed in following a few courageous and fascinating people who are speaking out about tough and unusual subjects. I found myself completely sucked into their stories and research.
And then, seemingly out of the blue, I woke up one morning knowing that I had to support those who are bringing light to issues that have been too long in the shadows. So now I’m providing truth-tellers (you?) with tools to make it easier to effectively share their powerful stories. And I’m helping the rest of us get our arms around some tough subjects.
Bird’s Eye View isn’t anything I ever planned to do. In fact, it’s a pretty strange undertaking. It’s cost me dearly in money and time and energy, and it doesn’t really fit into an identifiable category. I find it hard to describe it in an “elevator speech.” Creating this site wasn’t really sensible in a left-brain sort of way.
But I sure use my left brain to work on it! I’m finding a few of my skills particularly well-suited to the research and writing I do here. I’m accustomed to “showing my work” by offering verifiable sources and exposing assumptions. I’m committed to doing the legwork to prepare the foundational knowledge needed so that we can build understanding of topics, methodically, from the ground up. I’m relentless about striking hyperbole and developing assertions logically. And I prioritize practicality: Why should we care? What can we do?
I’m grateful to have found ways to devote my energy to things I’m inspired by, and that I find deeply meaningful. And I love all the surprises I find along the way. I’m optimistic that at some point, with so many folks contributing what they have to offer, the scales will tip, and things will change.
Bird’s Eye View is my offering to the earnest souls contributing their part to the global awakening happening right now on this remarkable planet. I’d love to hear from you.