Hey you!

I’m Shauna — a writer, teacher, and lifelong believer in people. 

Let’s discover our joy together.

You may know me from my first website. Gluten-Free Girl, which I started as a personal writing site in 2005, then grew into one of the most-loved food blogs in the world. My husband and I taught culinary getaways in a villa in Tuscany, appeared on The Food Network, and won a James Beard award for one of our three published cookbooks.

Certainly there were big flashes of joy all along the way.

Joy has always been my theme song.

And yet, I never could relax enough to fully enjoy it.

I lived life at a run and constantly second-guessed myself. My daily to-do list was three yards long and no matter how many hours a day I worked, I still hadn’t crossed those 36 tasks off my list.

I worried about not making the New York Times bestseller list or enough money. My system was fueled by anxiety and the drive to do more and more and more.

After suffering a mini stroke in 2015, I realized that my body was talking to me.

Change your life.

This urgency gave me the courage to start telling my true story — a life of jangled nerves on high alert, plus crippling doubt and self-hatred after enduring a traumatic childhood.

This led to my memoir, Enough: Notes from a Woman Who Has Finally Found It.

After I finished the manuscript for that book, my doctor diagnosed me with PTSD from my adverse childhood experiences. I committed my entire self to healing from that toxic stress.

And I found one habit that brought me more peace than any other.

Designing my life for joy. 

I’ve never been so at peace as I am right now. 

And now, I want to share the path to discovering your joy with you. 

There’s a way to slow down and treat yourself with more kindness.

It’s not an easy path — it’s hard to make new habits and change what we were taught early on — but it’s the most important path you’ll walk in life. 

Making a habit of hard-won joy is a brave and radical act. 

I want to guide you on that path.

So, what are some of my joys?

In no particular order, I love:

the smell of the earth after rain;

the Beastie Boys and the Beatles; 

Mo Willems, Wendy McNaughton, and Samin Nosrat, plus the internet that connects them;

kd lang singing anything, but particularly Halleljuah;

Jonathan Van Ness;

the work of Brené Brown; James Brown; James Baldwin; Etta James;

anything Michelle Obama shares;

walking through Judd Creek trail on Vashon Island by myself;

tomato sandwiches, inspired by Harriet the Spy;

facing a blank page and needing to dive in;

snuggling my kids in the morning;

Mister Rogers;

the sound of the waves as they lap at the shore;

HamiltonRentThe Sound of Music, and Fiddler on the Roof;

talking with strong, kind women;

listening to Brandi Carlisle belt it out; 

Ta-Nehisi Coates and Emily Dickinson;

protests against injustice;

blackberries so ripe they fall into your hand when you pick them;

the poems of Mary Oliver, Warshan Shire, and Maggie Smith;

kayaking; going into the garden in the morning;

brand-new books (to me; used is fine) that I am about to open;

dancing to Beyonce songs;

the community of people in my hometown and online;

the early albums of Talking Heads, Magnetic Fields, and Sleater-Kinney;

Ted Lasso;

the Dalai Lama;

learning, laughing, and facing my fears to change my mind. 

Also, coffee. Lots of coffee. 

My favorite place is at the table with people, sharing stories and laughing together. Food connects us and spurs good conversations. In these days of COVID, that gathering is a memory, mostly. Still, it remains.

I really dig my friends, my husband and my two kids.

I’m here. 


Some of the quotes that have resonated most in my life.

“Kindness is my religion.”

—The Dalai Lama

“I am like a drop of water on a rock. After drip, drip, dripping in the same place, I begin to leave a mark, and I leave my mark on many people’s hearts.”

—Rigoberta Menchu

“That which irritates us about others can tell us about ourselves.”

—Carl Jung

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

—Toni Morrison

“The only way out is through.”

—Albert Camus

“My personal obligation is that it is not enough that I succeed on my own. I have to care what happens to the kid in the desk next to me at school. He’s just as smart, but his mom works. And my father always taught us to take in everybody‘s full story, not to judge people—the drunk uncle or the cousin out of work because we didn’t know what happened to them. We weren’t special. As a result, if something good happens to you or you have an advantage, you don’t hoard it. You share it. You reach out. You give back. I can say that my family, my neighborhood, my notions of community growing up shaped that view and shaped my choices in life, just as I felt that your experiences shaped yours.”

—Michelle Obama

“If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him… the people who give you their food give you their heart.”

—Cesar Chavez

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.”

—Martha Graham

“Go without hate, but not without rage. Heal the world.”

—Paul Monette

“When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”

—Audre Lord

“Look around, look around, at how lucky we are to be alive right now.”

—Lin Manuel Miranda

“Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilized by education: they grow there, firm as weeds among stones.”

—Charlotte Brontë

“Kindness, I’ve discovered, is everything in life.”

—Isaac Bashevis Singer