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Shannon Kaiser thrives as a writer and life coach



Photo Credit: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Beaverton author Shannon Kaiser's articles have appeared in six 'Chicken Soup for the Soul' compilations.When Shannon Kaiser submitted her first article for the popular “Chicken Soup for the Soul” motivational-book series, her goal was to share her own experience to help others feel better about their own lives.

As it turned out, the first person she helped was herself.

“When I first found out I was published, and got that letter saying that ‘You are going to be accepted,’ I fell to the floor,” she says. “I was so excited, I was crying tears of happiness. Up to then I’d only felt tears of sadness.”

The elation, the 33-year-old former corporate advertising industry employee explains, went beyond discovering a new career as a freelance writer and self-defined “life coach.”

“It was not as much about (being published) as me sharing my message to help others. I thought, if I’ve suffered and been in this dark place, I can use my words to help others,” she says.

Since then, Kaiser, a former Cedar Hills resident who now lives near Beaverton’s western edge, has had six articles published in the “Chicken Soup” anthology books. Her latest story, “One Year of Celibacy,” appears in “Reboot Your Life,” the brand-new “Soup” book compiled by Amy Newmark and Claire Cook.

Somewhat true to its title, Kaiser’s article explains her now nearly two-year “detox” from dating, relationships and physical intimacy. Slowly realizing her dependence on the attention of men to fuel self-esteem, Kaiser always found herself in the same pattern, “a roller coaster of drama fueled by misunderstandings, anger and regretful words,” she wrote.

While living with a man in Chicago, Kaiser started to seriously question her pattern, which had been complicated by bouts of depression, drug addiction and eating disorders. The unhappy relationship pattern continued after she reentered the dating world.

“I started to date other people, and (it turned out) exactly the same as the other person,” she recalls. “The only common thing between these people is me. I was being desperate for attention, very needy. In relationships, I was a piney little girl. I needed to do some work on myself.”

Rather than looking to others for fulfillment, she looked within. Her relationship “sabbatical” started in 2013, when she relocated back to the Beaverton area and continues as she focuses on getting to know herself alone — with support from Tucker, her beloved golden retriever. Her multifaceted freelance career centers on self-help and travel-oriented books, inspirational speaking and as a “life coach.”

“I have seven job titles,” she says. “I do what I love.”

In addition to her ongoing contributions to “Chicken Soup for the Soul,” Kaiser’s “Find Your Happy,” made the Amazon.com bestseller list in 2012. Her upcoming book, “Adventures for Your Soul,” published by Random House/Penguin, concentrates on “how we break habits that are holding us back.”

Well aware of self-help industry skeptics, Kaiser, who is not credentialed in counseling or psychology, understands not everyone will accept the idea of a youthful 33-year-old with no children trying to improve others’ lives.

“My life experience is my credentials,” she says, refuting the idea that chronological age equals wisdom. “Life experience isn’t just about going through life and the years. It’s what you experience in those years. I’ve gone through eating disorders, drugs, a lot of self-sabotage and fear. Going through that and realizing I can heal myself. I just do what feels right in my heart. I share my experiences, and people either resonate with it or they don’t.”

Jordan Aftanas, who has taken classes from Kaiser at the Art Institute of Portland, where she’s pursing a design management degree, says it’s Kaiser’s communications style that sets her apart as a motivating force.

“She wholeheartedly invests herself in the development of others,” Aftanas says. “She has a unique way of helping people remove clutter from their mind and teaches them how to hone in on their heart’s true desires. She makes it possible for you to truly believe in your own capabilities by sharing her personal hardships and providing endless amounts of encouragement that reenforce her message that ‘It is OK to make mistakes.’”

Kaiser, whose unassuming demeanor belies stereotypes of the pushy, self-involved life-improvement guru, is glad she’s able to translate her challenges into inspiration for others.

“What I bring to the table is me, Shannon Kaiser,” she says. “No one else is me. I’ve been handed a lot of dark times and overcame them. That makes me 100 percent qualified to overcome darkness.”

Photo Credit: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Shannon Kaiser, whose dog Tucker provides her company these days, wrote about her self-imposed period of celibacy in her latest 'Chicken Soup for the Soul' contribution.

Who: Shannon Kaiser, a West Beaverton-based self-help and travel author, inspirational speaker and life coach

Where: Her "One Year of Celibacy" article appears in "Reboot Your Life," the latest Chicken Soup for the Soul book

Information: visit playwiththeworld.com

Facebook: ShannonKaiserWrites

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