When Shanan Kelley first came to Bend in 2009, she told her friends she’d be back to Seattle in a few short weeks. Eight years later, she’s still here teaching yoga, emceeing events and fundraisers and bringing laughter through The Night Light Show, a regular variety show featuring local artists and community members. Adjusting to life in a smaller city has allowed Kelley to tap into her creative side. Kelley sat down with Bend Magazine’s Teafly Peterson to talk about finding her muse and what it’s like to live on “island time.”
On Starting Over
I was in denial about moving here. I was living in Seattle, which I loved. I thought if I left it would be a big deal, because it is so beautiful there. So, if I was leaving then surely it was because I was going to New York or London or beyond. But then I got here and it was so beautiful, and the idea of moving at a slightly slower pace sounded really appealing. There were so many wonderful people here who were talking about how much they loved their community, and that really captured me right away.
On Bend’s Growing Pains
I don’t miss making $10,000 a year. I don’t miss being recessed. I think our poverty consciousness has slightly improved. This is why I love the growth. I want more unique people to come here. I want people who have a bigger thought process and broader view of what it means to live in society to come here and help us make good policy and manage how we grow and make the most of what we have here. I want that for myself, and I want that for my larger community as well.
Bend is a really safe place to do a lot of things. When I first moved here, I felt really strongly that I could build something for myself here. The possibility of what I could build felt like it was worth pursuing, without a doubt.
Leaving the Rat Race
We’re on island time here. When I first came here, I was really shocked by how long it would take for someone to email you back in business. I had to embrace it. And then I loved it, because it gave me some grace. And then you get a bonus of, like, ten hours a week, because you’re not in your car as much. You could use it for anything—exercise, time with your family, creativity! That is really significant. And if you use that bonus of ten hours a week to sit on your ass, it will literally change your life.
I get my sense of humor from my family. Growing up, we had a lot of stress, but we laughed all the way through it. They made me super sensitive. I had experiences as a young person that were so intense, you don’t un-experience them. Those experiences gave me a level of empathy.
Finding Her Voice
When I got to the University of Washington, I took Drama 101 and I just was like, “Oh my God!” All of a sudden these doors just flew open. I’ve always known I was funny, but as a young person it would veer toward sarcasm. So, I was learning how to manage that. And then I was in this drama class and it was so open and free. I had found my place! Prior to this I thought I wanted to be a lawyer or an engineer. As it turned out, I just wanted to play one on TV!
On Being Ourselves
Sometimes in Bend, we have this “big fish in a small pond” mentality. It is very high-schooly in a way. Do you do this because you love it or because you feel the need to fit in? I would love to see people give themselves permission to break out of that and explore more deeply who they are and why this place called to them. Because that is truly beautiful, people being themselves. There are so many healers here and so many people facilitating opportunities for that kind of work—for true connection and self-discovery, so take it. What are you using your bonus “island time” for?
Find more information on Shanan’s Night Light Show here.