At the age of eight, Shari Moss lived in a single motel unit in the middle of the desert with her three siblings. Isolated from her peers and too poor for toys, she would spend hours flipping through the pages of the motel Sears Catalogue, imagining the home she so desperately wanted. Her journey eventually crossed through multiple cities and two countries where she finds love and goes through hell and back–continuously searching for that perfect house and a life she can be proud of.
After writing two books to help millennials through these challenging and competitive times, entrepreneur and author, Shari Moss’ new book, For the Right Kind of Love, speaks to her own life about overcoming the past and finding joy in helping others.
Drew Appelbaum: Hey Listeners, my name is Drew Applebaum and I’m excited to be here today with Shari Moss, author of For the Right Kind of Love: A Life Journey. Shari, thank you for joining, welcome to The Author Hour Podcast.
Shari Moss: Thank you, Drew, I’m actually pretty excited to be here today.
Drew Appelbaum: Now, a lot of times we come on the show and we ask folks to give us a rundown of their professional background, but this is a memoir here today so if you could tell us just a little bit about yourself to kick the podcast off, that would be great.
Shari Moss: Well, I think it’s probably best to sum it up this way. The book begins a journey, my own journey as an eight or nine-year-old. I was literally living out in the desert with my mother and stepfather who owned a motel–think of the Bates Motel if you will.
To go from there, through several decades to where I am today, and that being past all the career years and a highly successful business and coming out the other side of it and really learning what the most important things are that I learned on that journey. The journey, of course, spans decades and spans all manner of inequality, acceptance, judgment, alcoholism. It spans a great deal of difficulty as a child, a young woman, and through middle age.
Drew Appelbaum: Now, why was now the time to share the stories in the book? Did you have an “aha moment”, was there something inspiring, something as simple as you had more time on your hands because of COVID?
Shari Moss: Actually, it’s funny that you touched on that, I did write the book during the COVID lockdown. It did seem like I could have the right amount of time to do that, but the timing was already there. I am in a position in my life now where the kids are older, I’ve determined what it is I want to do with my life and my wealth.
I had spent the last few years working on me, we’ll just say that, and becoming me and really learning what was most important, what I wanted to focus on and needed to focus on. It all stems back, as you will see through the story, it stems back to what I felt was so lacking in teachers, in parents, in partners.
To come through that, to be sitting in a position of, “Well okay, I’ve done all of that other stuff.” I now am in a wonderful position to look back behind me and help others and show care to people who don’t have somebody there to actually care or be concerned about them, so primarily young people.
I ended up doing a lot of personal work about three or four years ago that led me to really understand the habits and patterns of the way I was living, the choices I was making, and what I really have always felt was important but I wasn’t doing enough about it. COVID came along, I sat, I knew I was going to write my story, I knew I was going to share this.
It’s a hard read for some, it will be for some, it’s not devastatingly, there are people that have certainly gone through so much worse things than I have but it’s a hard, long story. Someday, I knew I would tell that story and I learned recently the power of sharing the story and what it can do for others, simply by speaking out loud.
There’s a difference between being lonely and alone-ness. So many people keep themselves alone in things that they’ve gone through or feel, that they don’t have ways out of things or people to talk to, but as soon as they hear stories, as soon as you’re willing to share yours, it gives others a sense of not feeling guilty or shame that they’re stuck where they are.
A Healing Journey
Drew Appelbaum: Now, a lot of authors have the idea of the book rattling around in your head. I mean, it’s a period during your life, but during the writing process and digging deeper into yourself, sometimes you come through major breakthroughs and learnings.
Did you have any of these breakthroughs or learnings during your writing journey?
Shari Moss: Absolutely. It was the right time to write it. I have been a part of a group that works with others and giving them the space to be able to talk and share their stories and heal from them. I knew that writing this book was also not just to help others, it was an absolute, 100% healing journey for me.
Although I’ve told, in my mind or to others, the story so many times. It really took sitting down and putting those words on the page and being able to say, “Okay, if I write these words and it gets out there, this is going to be a good thing.”
I have seen some very brave people in the last couple of years share their own journeys, one, in particular, was in a prison in Colorado. I was part of a group called One Last Talk, it’s One Last Talk Movement, and I was part of a local leader in a group. So, we all got together, and they were holding one in a prison and I listened and spoke to afterward, listened to six of the inmates tell their stories in 15 minutes, and every single one of them started with just horrific things that were done to them as children.
It brought me back to that feeling I’d always had of, “Who is watching the children, who is taking care of the kids?” This is really where the core of the story begins. Many things happen later on the journey to late in life, but it always kept taking me back to care and concern when we’re very young and what happens when we don’t have it?
Drew Appelbaum: In your mind, who were you writing this book for?
Shari Moss: That’s such a good question and I got asked that a few times recently. I always want to try and simplify that or downsize it or categorize it and say, “Well, you know, if I had to choose one, I would say young women.” Then I think, “No, it’s also for middle-aged women.” Then I think, “No, even older women who are in situations need to know that they can find the strength and the power and the resilience to stand up for themselves.”
Then I think, “But it’s not just women. It’s for men as well.” If I do have to say something, I will say for young women. I want them to know that they have a future they can work towards for themselves. They have to remember what their own power is and what their own core beliefs are and stand up for what is right.
This book carries you all the way through everything, from a young woman working in a man’s world in the 80s–trust me, the profession I was in was completely a man’s world and all the difficulties with that. Getting into a marriage with heavy opposition from the in-laws because I wasn’t like them. In the beginning, in school, being poor and being judged just for that, instead of who I was and given opportunities or chances to show who I was.
That being the case, I think if I had to say, “Well, who is that for?” I think young people should know this story. I think that they should know that they can find resilience and power and be themselves and know what’s right.
Drew Appelbaum: Let’s dive into your earlier years in your childhood and, you mentioned it earlier, just what was it like growing up and living in a hotel room in the California desert?
Shari Moss: Well, actually, the word hotel is a little too fancy for what it was. Picture the eight-unit motel. It was in the desert–now, today, of course, La Quinta I understand is quite the spa capital of the desert and Palm Desert and of course, Palm Springs. Back then, it was a desert, and you were bussed into another small town to go to school, and you really lived half a mile from other homes, and there wasn’t much there.
On top of that, we were four siblings, all a year apart in age and we’re playing with tumbleweeds that blow by and running around in the foothills. Coachella Valley is the area. The good thing is, we had each other, and we were very imaginative and creative.
I’m not sure what would have happened if we didn’t. Because you could imagine, just visualize that we were on our own, the parents really were not around. I do touch base on the fact that the stepfather was not a good person, not that we really knew why, we just knew he wasn’t and my mom, I think was just too young.
When you’re there, you learn to survive, and that’s what happened later in life where all the people who tried to also knock me down or put me down or hold me back, well, they weren’t going to. I’d learned at such a young age, how to stand up for myself and take care of myself.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t come without its problems that are associations as well. There’s a big trust issue, there’s a big wanting to do everything yourself, there’s a big fear of not having that right kind of love. These are all the things that come back, and it was pretty tough. It was pretty tough in the early days.
Drew Appelbaum: You eventually moved to Canada where your mother was from but when you got there, shortly after, she just ended up being gone for days and weeks at a time and this went on for a number of years. Now, looking back, did you ever find out where she was or what she was up to when she wasn’t around?
Shari Moss: Well, we more or less knew at the time, we just chose not to delve into it. I think it became better when she wasn’t there because when she was, it was quite frenetic and not nice. I think we knew, in one respect, as I said, she had kids so young, so she didn’t have her youth necessarily, her young adulthood. I think that’s what happened. I think she was still young.
We were becoming teenagers. We could have jobs to afford to buy food for ourselves and that’s where it was left. She left to go have her fun and knew that we could support ourselves. Unfortunately, for my last sister, the fifth sibling that came along, who was 10 years younger, it didn’t go so well for her.
Desire to be Successful
Drew Appelbaum: Now, you mentioned again earlier that this made you independent, almost maybe too independent, but do you feel like that independence did guide you to become more successful in other parts of your life?
Shari Moss: Yes, it did. I was one of them that thought, “Well, I want to have the good things and I want to have the nice things and I want to have a good life.” That entailed working harder than most people I was working with at the time. I learned as much as I could, I worked as many hours as I could, and I gave it 110% because I knew what was on the other side and I wasn’t going to go back there. I wanted to be successful, and I wanted to have the things that I thought that I would never have.
That’s a good segue into telling you ahead of time that you’re going to find out in the book that I really did come to learn, yes, I was successful and yes, I really took my parenting seriously and I had a great relationship with my kids, but it really was sometime later that I realized that being a good person was the most important thing. I always had my integrity and my honesty and my kindness. Those are the things that I came out with in the end, really.
There’s a reason that house is on the cover of the book and you will find through the story I weave the idea that that’s what I needed to have to have that life. That’s what I never had growing up is that sort of life with the house and the kids and the parents around and involved and activities–but it was about the house.
I fell into a rhythm, even later as a young woman working and supporting myself, that that was still so important. Coming out again, this also circles back to why it was the right time to write the book. I’ve recently had purpose and cause to sit down and evaluate everything, and where I am and what I have, and realized what of that is not as important as I always thought it was.
Because, you know, I am a very happy person, things are really well, going very well for me and my kids, but it had to happen. I had to get on this side of it to realize that it doesn’t matter where I live, it doesn’t matter how it looks. I shouldn’t say the things I have. I’m not that materialistic, but how it looks and how it presents, and how many I have. Because I found myself collecting homes or places to live, I should say.
Drew Appelbaum: I’m glad you brought that up because the book is broken up by chapter and the chapters are homes, different homes. It seems like it’s also that a new chapter means a new chapter, not only in the book but in your life.
I want to move on, we talked a little bit about your childhood homes and part two of the book is your marriage homes. This is a portion of your life where you ended up building your career, you found love, sometimes you found not-love. What was this period like for you and when you look back at it, was it nostalgic or were there really big changes you wish you can make?
Shari Moss: Well, actually, that is a very astute and appropriate question. It is with whimsy and nostalgia in a way, what it ultimately leads to but it was an exciting, fun journey as it started out. The darkness came in a little bit later, but in the meantime, both my husband and I worked really hard, we ended up creating our own business. We were very good at what we did, and we were very successful.
It was a lot of fun learning on that journey and having places and spaces–it did become quite nice. I think what ended up happening was I struggled to hold onto it because I thought that I earned this, and I worked for it and this is what I had always wanted.
Yes, the chapters kind of do name and center around homes and they did change. The homes changed as my life changed until they actually did get better. They were great, they were wonderful, they were fun, then they became very dark. They became prisons, I became tied down to something that wasn’t right, and I had to fight my way back out of it. Then, of course, the research. The research for that home. Again, I had to have that right home, which ultimately led me to another one, and then we see what happens.
I think where you get to is the decision of how I feel about what I do have–that’s what comes out at the end of the book because again, and I am not sure if this is where your questions were going to lead, but it was when my work turned to something far more fulfilling that has been in my heart since I was a little girl, and that was to help others. To help others who need it, whether it is just talking or support in what their decisions and choices are, or things aren’t going well, or they need to get away from things that are bad for them.
It’s been a few years of that. I’ve even taken some of my kid’s friends in. One in particular who was in so much trouble and just needed a place where he had to learn to be responsible for himself and that’s what he found here. You know, again, it is that link back to what we talked about judgment. There’s a lot of young people that come to talk to me because they know that they will not be judged. I will listen, I will hear them, and if they ask me my opinion they’re going to get it and they usually do.
But the homes, yeah, the homes are a big central theme. It’s very important to get to the end of that story and what I ultimately discovered.
Drew Appelbaum: When you were in these homes, you began to be really successful at work but you were also working with your husband at the time, and like you mentioned, you really wanted to be independent. You really wanted to have that successful career coming from where you came from. How hard was it to separate work from your home life, especially from working with your husband at the time?
Shari Moss: We both were so excited–we had worked in the same industry for a number of years for other people and the two of us had become such a great team together we knew that we really wanted to do it on our own. Because we entered our lives together working together and then of course subsequently ended up finding a beautiful relationship, quite a profound love, it wasn’t hard in the beginning.
We were so both committed to making this business a success and that’s something we always had. We could work all day and go home and sit at the table and talk about it and still sort of share in that excitement, but I didn’t stay there that long. He ended up being there himself for quite a while.
It was when my second child was born, quite a few years into the business that I stayed home, and for the first time in a long time, we could actually separate that. It was really good for us, it was something that we really needed to do, but it was time.
We didn’t have a problem before that and even then, I was still involved enough and cared enough, you do when it is your own business, that I was still part of decision making and him being able to talk about it. And I of course knew everybody there very well, I hired most of them, so the transition was necessary, but we didn’t skip a beat there.
Drew Appelbaum: Now, a source of heartbreak in that relationship was when your husband would suddenly take off sometimes, sometimes for even a week or more, and we talked about it earlier, the same thing happened with your mother. Did this give you flashbacks of what happened in your childhood and that maybe one day he wouldn’t return or, “Oh no, this is happening again?”
Shari Moss: Well, it certainly was one of the reasons for digging my heels in and not letting go. I didn’t want that world to change. I didn’t want my world to end with separation, divorce, et cetera, or even just bad things going on in the house because believe me, there were both of those things. The lack of being there and not nice things going on in the house–so yes, you’re absolutely right but that’s why I was so determined and I took it all on myself to make it work.
Unfortunately, the more I did that and the more accepting I was and the harder I worked to keep us all together as a family, you could say that it was easier to be taken advantage of and to go off and do things. Those were during the dark times during substance abuse, I’ll just put that right on the table. Anybody who’s going through or lived with an alcoholic knows precisely what I mean about how they have to remove themselves, and what they’re doing with their life when they actually come back.
It’s not nice, so I think because of that past yes, I finally had to–we did have that love, that authentic love, the right kind of love, and something else was driving it away. Driving that wedge, crumbling it, making it increasingly difficult to hold onto, and because of that past, I probably held on longer than I should have.
Drew Appelbaum: Eventually that relationship with your husband strained and it led to divorce and can you talk about how you rebounded your life and career after that?
Shari Moss: Yes, you know, as much as I really enjoyed and loved our business, and I was very good at it, but I knew in my heart that was not actually going to be my only career. When I was in high school, I knew then that I was going to be a writer someday. I didn’t know how or when, but I just knew I was going to be. I had won writing awards, et cetera, et cetera, but then everything came along and it was exciting and adventurous.
I really was at home for a long time by myself, the kids were grown, and I was trying to keep myself busy with a few hobbies and that sort of thing, but it always came back to in my mind that I wanted to write. I knew someday I may write that story, that life story, but in the meantime, I had other things to do.
Because it was such a long hurtful time in the last few years with my husband–let’s face it, you know by now that I knew how to survive and pick myself up and be strong and resilient and go and do what it is that I needed to do. Only this time, I had to do it for both myself and my kids. They were essentially late teens by this time and so I put my head to task, and I am very, very good at that. “What was the most important thing to do? Well, we’ve got to get our own home, settled and in a routine and back to happiness and laughter in the house because God knows we hadn’t had enough of that in the last little while.” They had left rather scared and rather frightened.
That was my focus and so I took care of that, got everybody settled, everybody was happy, and it was a warm atmosphere in my kitchen again. Then I thought, “Okay, well what excuse do I have now for not doing the one thing I always thought I would do?” Then my daughter came to me and I was complaining probably again saying, “Oh I thought I would be writing by now,” and she looked at me and said, “So why aren’t you?”
I thought and then I looked around, “You know, kids are doing their own thing, the house is settled,” and I just looked at her and she said, “You know, Stephanie Meyers wrote hers with three kids at home and blah-blah,” on and on and on, she wrote that vampire series and I said, “Yeah, but she didn’t live with your dad.” When she walked out of the room I went, “Huh, well guess what? This is what I am going to do now.”
The fiction story I’d always had running through my mind for a few years because I spent a lot of alone time as you can imagine, in the last few years of my marriage, and I made up this really cool story. I sat down one day and thought, “No, I don’t think I am going to go there yet. I have work to do. I have work to do, I am not finished working.”
And it comes back to somehow helping, working with people, with young people. By now, I’d had a really, really good relationship with all the young people in my kid’s lives and others, friends and family and I sat down and I thought, “I understand them and I understand their language and I know how to listen to them and I know how to talk to them.” I wrote the first book, which was basically designed to help them get where they wanted to go because let’s face it, all millennials at that point wanted to be entrepreneurs, they still do, and they thought it was going to be easy. So, I wrote secrets that they need to hear that just might help them.
Then the second book came along because my editor in the first book is just this beautiful young woman, a true millennial herself, and we both learned so much from each other we became friends, that we together and wrote the second book for them, which is like a guidebook. It is almost like a philosophy about how us older people and you younger people really should be. We have a lot, both of us, to offer and we could help each other.
All of this came out, and in the meantime, I am still really finding peace with myself and developing the sense of, “Wow, that felt really, really, really good and I like this stuff,” so I went from there and I started designing workshops for young women to help them work their way through adversities and challenges and figure out where they should be putting their focus and what they needed help with.
That went really, really well and I just got more and more energized the more I did that sort of thing. That became my path, and I feel that everything else I’ve gone through has led to being in the right position at the right time to do that.
Drew Appelbaum: That is really wonderful that you were able to overcome and find that path. Shari, I just want to say that we just touched the surface of the book here today, but I want to say that writing a book where you really let it all out there and you show so much vulnerability, it’s no small feat, so congrats on having this book published.
Shari Moss: I have to tell you, it’s a rollercoaster. You talk about timing, the day I sat down, which is exactly one year ago. I’m so proud that I picked up the pen the first week of April and the book is now launching the last week of March. It seems very appropriate and it’s a lot of work, don’t get me wrong. I know other people doing the same and it’s a long process but again, it’s your own healing process you’re going through.
I wanted to tell this story. I was ready but I’ll tell you, you start writing, you have to go through it. The first thing I said to myself was, “Do I want to do this?” I am so happy right now and by the way, just so you know and you do get this in the book, I am now in the most incredible relationship. There was a number of years that, you stay away from it and then you say, “Well, okay maybe it is time to date, have some fun, or do something just for me.”
The more I got settled into what was fueling me and making me feel really good about helping others, something came along that just opened right up and it felt so good and so that’s been taking its time and it is going really well.
But to go through this journey of writing the book, you actually have to go through the events again one by one, and you have to write it all out and you can edit later and determine what stays, what’s not, and what is written well enough et cetera, but the first thing you have to do is tell all of those stories. It is not like I haven’t either told myself them or told others or had to live through them, but you have to do it again.
The challenge was to literally create a space for yourself that you allow yourself to do that. You allow yourself to feel it because you can’t write about it in truth unless you are feeling the emotion, being able to write about that emotion, and what it meant and how you felt. I was able to do that. Again, it seemed like the right time, so I had my quiet space and created a daily practice.
There were moments I would finish a segment or a chapter and I would have to get up and take a walk but I kept telling myself that, “Okay, I really want to do this because I want people to know. I want people to know that they can, through dedication and perseverance, find a better way or things that they needed help with and are trying it and understand them.”
That was done and then I felt so good. I thought, “I don’t have to say all this again. I’ve done it.” But then you go through the challenge of, “Oh god, uh-oh, now everybody is going to know,” and you need to accept that. So, for some people who know me very well, it was really hard for them to read, that didn’t know about some of these events but there will be many more people that are going to read this and say, “Oh my god, I’m not alone,” and you know, that’s why you do it.
Drew Appelbaum: Shari, this has been a pleasure and I’m excited for people to check out the book. Everyone, the book is called, For the Right Kind of Love and you can find it on Amazon. Shari, besides checking out the book, where can people connect with you?
Shari Moss: I have my own site that I’m in the midst of redoing actually because I sort of veered off into some really wonderful work because of this book. I do have my own site, shariannemoss.com. I would love anybody to come there and see what I’m all about.
Drew Appelbaum: Well Shari, best of luck with your new book. Congratulations on it being published and thank you so much for coming on the show today.
Shari Moss: Thanks Drew, you’ve been very kind.