Hi there. Nice to meet you.
I’m Shelly Thorn, the founder of Bird’s Eye View. This page shares a bit about me… to learn about the site, go to About Us: An Elevated Perspective on Challenging Topics. And you may also wish to check out Site Structure & Format: How Information is Presented Here.
I lived for a year in the glorious Garden Route of South Africa. I’ve never felt more in love with a place, and that’s saying a lot considering how much I loved Costa Rica and the North Cascades in Washington state. Like everywhere else, South Africa has a difficult past and problems that persist. People there have experienced pain and trauma and things that are very wrong. And there is also some stuff that is very right. I found, for example, that wisdom and resilience is a common thread among South African people. And it was such a joy to find that nearly every single person I encountered over a year’s time had a quick smile, and exhibited patience and grace. The closest I’ve come to seeing such widespread, visible humanity has been in Costa Rica and at the 2016 gathering of people at Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota.
I feel forever wedded to the Western Cape. Often, when I’m walking in nature, I am transported back to South Africa’s forests and beaches. I can hear the birds, see the endless beauty, and smell the forests. I only wish I could feel it again, but I am happy to have experienced it and to know that it exists.
Up until 2020, my typical day involved mothering young adults and working from home in the pacific northwest, sipping on half-decaf coffee and taking a break for a nice, long walk with our 95-pound black lab, Buster.
After 10 years in the same home, I moved multiple times in 2020, beginning in January with a move I’d been preparing for. I had spent the entire last week of 2019 engaged in fire ceremony. For hours, I would sit on the back patio going through box after box of memorabilia, taking a last look at high school essays, letters, birthday cards, work records… and then into the fire they would go… burning and purging, burning and purging. What freedom!
All that preparation and effort was richly rewarded when, on January 1st, 2020, I found myself relaxing post-move on the gorgeous Oregon coast with all three of my sons, and our pup.
My oldest son, who had been away many years, spent a few unexpected months at home and we all reconnected. From the perspective of now (in the future), I understand that time to have been a sort of huddling in preparation for our next adventures that would scatter us across the planet by 2021.
When things began shutting down in the spring of 2020, my two youngest sons and I moved to my small riverfront cabin in a tiny town. It was a dream come true for me as this had been my happy place for the previous seven years. I would visit whenever possible and now we could be there day after day. It felt like I was living a dream. I had time to upgrade the kitchen, plant gardens, go on more hikes, join the local yoga studio and stain the decks.
A year later, in the spring of 2021, one of my sons and I decided to head out on an RV trip throughout the western United States. it turned out to be an epic and beautiful adventure… another dream come true!
My Early Years
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. After working at an ad agency and then a retirement residence, I ended up at Microsoft where I enjoyed a fairly long stint in the 90s. It was a good fit for the personal drive I had to prove myself as worthy. 🙂
At that time, Microsoft management prided themselves on being ultra-responsive to market opportunities and one of the results were constant “re-orgs” (re-organizations). This meant that at least once or twice each year, I’d have a new job title and responsibilities, a new manager and co-workers, and a new office. I enjoyed the freshness of change and while I had a number of different types of jobs, it usually had something to do with marketing and strategic planning, communications and research, and a bit of sales administration and promotional 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 be able to devote myself to mothering.
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 yoga studio floor. I enjoy doing practical things and engaging in physical labor as much as I enjoy mental work, and I feel most in balance when I do both.
Beginning in 2011, I worked quite obsessively 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, but as the years have rolled by, I see now why I was called to do it..
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.