Discover Professional

What’s Been Going On?

It's been a long year+ since my last update on this website.  It's not that I haven't been busy (or even blogging), but my focus as been elsewhere.

I returned to the practice of law, while continuing to work on the Shine Vision as much as time would permit. From April – July of 2016, I was super-busy getting all my “ducks in a row” for my return to the legal world.

During July and August of 2016, I was also hustling lots of farm produce grown at Shine Springs Farm. We had a great mid-summer harvest of watermelons and okra.

Our Shine Springs Farm watermelons took 1st and 2nd place at the Franklin County Watermelon Festival “best tasting” competition.

My recipe for watermelon-flavored sweet iced tea won the “best flavored tea” competition sponsored by the Franklin County Extension Service (ACE / Auburn University). I'll find the recipe and share it.

Thanks to Chef Chris Newsome, Chef-Owner of Ollie Irene for buying and serving lots of Shine Springs Farm produce in 2016 (and 2014-15). It's been great to get to know Chef Chris and wife, Anna, through my farming activities.

I handled several trademark registrations and then the legal work started to take off.

My niece Allison lived with me for 8 weeks in the late Fall while she did a round of clinical training with a Birmingham PT healthcare provider for her degree in physical therapy. It was fun having a room-mate again. 🙂

It turned out to be a great year, although it was definitely not without its challenges!

God is good and He will meet our needs when we come to him in faith.

The whole return to law practice was an exercise in faith, because it wasn't something I intentionally chose to do or that I entered into lightly.

As I opened myself up to fully embrace His will and purpose in my life, the doors began to open to law in ways I had never anticipated. As I took the tentative steps in faith, the opportunities and somewhat bigger picture began to unfold.

Each week has been a continued exercise in faith as I've sought to take action in ways that serve the clients I've been blessed with, while continuing to pursue non-legal activities and work that are consistent with the Shine vision and values.

As the “bigger picture” has unfolded, I've also come to see how my background in law is entirely connected with necessary for my Shine vision to come to fruition, in part through Shinecast® media and in part through other similar-but-separate ventures.

In late February, I attended the Lawyerist's TBD Law 2 event in St. Louis.

Sheree Martin attends TBD Law 2 Conference, Franklin County Times April 2017 article

In a few days, I'll be making the official announcements, but I'm about to launch a series of courses to help creative professionals, solopreneurs and entrepreneurs with legal and business topics. The initial offerings will be through the Sheree Martin Law website, but I'll be moving them into a standalone portal later in June.

This isn't the final logo for Write: Legal but it's one of my early DIY designs:

Write: Legal (TM) a Resource from Sheree Martin // Law

June 2-3, 2017 I'll be speaking at the Southern Christian Writers Conference in Tuscaloosa. It's always a great time and a very inspirational conference.

Thanks to Cheryl Sloan Wray for including me among the speakers she featured on her blog in the weeks leading up to the conference.

Lots to do….best get to it!!


Sports Consumption: Say No to the Passive Life

As I made the daily walk around my neighborhood the past two weekends I noticed lots of folks were playing host to football game TV watching parties.

Alabama and Auburn have had big games and, as the saying goes, Saturday down South is all about football. And, to be quite honest, tailgating before a game or just hanging out with friends to watch a game is (or can be) a truly enjoyable social occasion, win or lose.

Back when I used to regularly attend sporting events, I loved to commiserate with folks sitting around me, most of whom were strangers. The game ended and we went our separate ways. But for a few hours, we were co-participants in a sporting spectacle. As often or not, the social aspect of the game and the spirit of competition was what made the experience spectacular, not all the video Jumbotron stuff.

Watching and Reading

During the 80s and the first few years of the 90s I was a HUGE fan of college football. If I wasn't at a Crimson Tide game I was watching it on Saturday, usually with friends. If not with friends, I watched with family. Before and after the game I was monitoring all the sports talk radio. Sundays included hours of reading news coverage of the previous day's games. In those days, I started every morning with coffee and a newspaper, so I also spent a half-hour or more each day reading sports news.

During those years, I was also a regular runner and by 1989 I had a full-time, relatively demanding career as a business lawyer. My Monday through Friday schedule was packed with work to minimize the need to work on the weekends. At some point, I began to think about writing more and pursuing new hobbies but just could not find the time.

One Sunday afternoon around 1994-95, surrounded by piles of newspapers and the TV on in the background, I realized that I had given up a big chunk of my life reading and watching other people play sports.

Rather than living my life and pursuing my dreams, I was watching other people pursue their own.

And so, with that epiphany, I stopped reading sports news or watching sports news on TV. I didn't stop watching sports on TV at that time, but I stopped reading about sports.

I suspect that my choice to stop reading about sports has salvaged over 10,000 hours of time over the past 20 years, assuming I was spending about 7 hours a week keeping up with sports news. Even if I was multitasking some of the time, that's still a lot of sports news media consumption.

10,000 hours is enough time to become an expert in something, or so I've been told.

I stopped watching sports on TV in 2008. The only time I watch sports on TV now is if I go a viewing party (rare) or if I make an exception for something special, like some Olympic events. So I've probably added months, maybe years, of time to my life by giving most sports viewing.

Sheree Martin age group award 3rd place Helen Keller Festival 5 mile run 2012


I realize that I am an anomaly.

I'm not opposed to watching sports or even consuming sports media. But I do think that sports consumption can lead someone down a path he or she never intended. One day the person wakes up and years of life have passed by. Time is the one resource or asset we can never recover.

Sports consumption is a huge industry.

This industry I'm talking about isn't about playing sports, professionally or recreationally. I put that sports industry in a different category.

I'm just thinking and writing here about the sports industry that uses marketing and persuasion to get us to attend sports events and develop team loyalties, that uses pro athletes to endorse products, that employs thousands of writers, pundits and media content creators to produce stories about these teams and athletes and dramatize the competition.

Every college and university has established or is in the midst of launching some type of sports marketing, sports communication and/or sports media program. These are hugely popular with students, who dream of being hosts on ESPN sports talk shows or spending their days dreaming up ways to get fans in seats.

I see several potentially harmful consequences of all the emphasis on sports consumption.

1. If you are watching other people play sports you are probably sitting, sometimes standing, but mostly sitting. You are probably eating at some point. Sitting and eating too much typically lead to bad outcomes. Exhibit A: American's obesity problem.

2. Although sports marketing and media production are hot career paths right now, I suspect the universities are turning out way more graduates for this industry than it can absorb. On the plus side, good communication skills are transferable across industries. But video editing is something that can be easily outsourced, and video camera operators can be (and are being) replaced by robotics and technology like the GoPro. And the hosts of the big shows: These spots are usually reserved for the former pro athletes, the retired coaches. It's rare for a sports journalist to rise through the ranks to a coveted anchor slot with first-class travel, a cushy dressing room, and assistants to do all the actual hard work that takes place 24/7 in the world of sports media.

3. Related to, but distinct from, #1 above: Time spent watching other people do things (whether its sports, “reality” tv or movies) is usually time that you aren't doing something to improve your own life. I'm not suggesting that we/you/I should never watch TV, never go to a movie or play, or never attend a sporting event. In fact, we can learn from watching other people do things. But moderation is the key.

And it seems that more than a few people have moved from the occasional spectator to the all-in, all-consumption sports-obsessed fanatic. There is a difference between being a fan and being a fanatic, even though fan is simply a truncation of the word fanatic.

So anyway, those are just some musings that passed through my head as I walked through my neighborhood. And when I sat down last night to peruse my social media streams and found them filled with tweets and status updates from friends and relatives ranting about a bad call or venting frustrations (to put it mildly), I closed the screen to my laptop and picked up a book.

Well, a Kindle with a screen to be precise, but I spent a few hours reading. Still somewhat passive but when I closed the flap on the Kindle cover and turned off the light I didn't feel as if I'd thrown away a piece of my life.




Grow Inspire

Transcend and Transform

Sometimes situations do not always turn out as we expect or hope. This is usually a blessing in disguise.

Sometimes, perhaps, we think too small. Sometimes we may be charting a course that merely leads us to someone else's dream.

Sometimes there is a lesson still to be learned that can only come from facing adversity or overcoming some obstacle. Until we’ve learned that lesson we can’t advance to the next stop on our own journey.

Summer before last I spent a week in Vermont studying in a sustainable food systems leadership program. That turned out to be a transformative experience for me in two ways.

The obvious transformation comes from what I learned and the vision that knowledge helped to solidify.

An unexpected benefit, though, was a brief opportunity to experience rejection.

After our group dinner Thursday night we had the opportunity to hang out and socialize with each other and with some of the speakers and session leaders. As the evening progressed, we drifted away in small groups, some back to the residence hall where most of us were staying, some of us stopped by a grocery coop. After the grocery visit, I returned to my wing of the residence hall alone.

As I walked down the deserted corridor to my room I heard lots of laughter from a room just across the hall from my door. Just as I arrived at my door, I heard a familiar voice in an obviously mocking tone say something that included the words “in Alabama.” Peals of laughter drowned out exactly what was said.

I paused in front of my door to listen, suddenly and painfully aware that someone was making fun of me. I was the only person in this group from Alabama. I had probably rattled my key or something, as I approached, because as quickly as the laughter came, it ceased, as if someone had heard me arrive and signaled to the others to kill whatever impersonation was underway.

I unlocked my door, went inside, and settled in to read.

Although I wasn’t interested in dwelling on what had just happened, I’m human.

I’d just spent pretty much every waking moment, from breakfast until after dinner, getting acquainted with about 30 individuals who were equally committed to doing something about the food system. I’d gotten to know some better than others. It was easy to figure out some of the people who were not in the room, because we had parted ways at the grocery co-op we’d visited on the way back to our respective lodgings.

I was fairly certain that I recognized the voice of the mocker. It was somewhat distinctive, even though partially disguised by the attempt at imitating my voice. And I was fairly certain they knew that I’d overhead.

I’m not a petty person and I knew that I would never overtly say anything.

But I also knew that I had to decide on my response, or it would eat at me, despite my best efforts to keep the selfish, wounded wolf of pride at bay.

As I lay in bed that night, trying to fall asleep, these words came to me:

Transcend and Transform

That would be my response. Transcend. Rise above.

At that moment, I perceived the transformation to be more about working to transform our food system. But I quickly came to realize the transformation would be internal.

The next day, when I saw these folks at breakfast, I felt nothing more than collegial companionship. Maybe even a bit of compassion for the person whom I thought to be my imitator.

I was the one being transformed. My willingness to ignore what had just happened and let it go changed me in some major way. It was liberating to be free of chains that come from holding onto a negative feeling.

Although that’s not the first time I’ve faced adversity, it’s the first time that I’ve known first-hand that someone was making fun of me. I’m sure it’s not the first time I’ve been mocked. I’m a teacher, so it has happened, I'm sure. But it’s the only time that it’s happened in a context where I experienced it first hand, in real-time.

We often grow in ways we least expect.

For the past few years, I’ve been dealing with another form of adversity that I’ve come to realize has some parallels with what happened in that residence hall in Vermont last year.

Although I was chosen, I wasn’t the choice of the one person who holds the power that matters in the context.

Without using the word “transcend” at the time, when I first learned what had happened, I chose to focus on improvement and personal development. I was naïve enough to believe that if I expanded my skills and produced the desired results, the evidence would speak for itself.

I chose to focus on myself, not fixing the other person. I produced the right results, but the results didn’t yield the predicted outcome. When confirmation bias is in play, evidence isn't interpreted objectively.

In the process of trying to figure out how to deal with the situation and trying to control the outcome, I learned that just had to let go.

I had to let go that I could influence the other person’s response to my efforts. I learned that I had to let go, even of the results of my efforts.

I’ve learned that confirmation bias is a real phenomenon and that we humans are a fickle lot. We tend to only see what we want to see.

Over the course of the past year, I’ve come to the realization that I will never win over that person.

I can only control my response. And my ultimate response has been to transcend. Let go.

Over the past 4 years, I’ve grown in ways and in directions that I never would have predicted. I’ve learned new skills and I’ve learned more about human psychology than a Ph.D. in that field would ever yield.

But most importantly, I’ve been transformed.

Had I not experienced a fleeting and irrelevant moment of rejection in that corridor in a residence hall in Vermont, I don’t think I would have experienced transformation through this other situation.

And I've come to discern that everything I've experienced has been preparing me for something I never envisioned.

Life is funny that way.

Transcend. And Be Transformed.


Do you agree? How have you learned through adversity? I'd love to hear your story. Share it below in the comments.