Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Sharayah Lynn Clancy.
As you can imagine, I’ve spent most of my life saying my name carefully, hoping it will be heard right. However, I am soft-spoken and really not that careful in my annunciation so no one ever hears it the first time. For the record, it’s pronounced shŭ-rāy-ŭh. It’s pretty phonetically correct but people see all those letters and panic. Sharon? Shawreeyah? I am the namesake of an Amy Grant song that was released in 1985. It’s terrible. Really 80’s, but not in a good way, just like her hair on the album cover.
I was born in Seattle, the third of four children and the only girl. After brief stints in Montana, Oregon, and back in Seattle, we finally settled in Helena, Montana in 1994. I’ve been here ever since. We were raised in a non-denominational evangelical church and homeschooled all the way from kindergarten through high school. Yes, we were those people. My parents did a pretty good job of making sure we were involved in a variety of activities and even though we weren’t allowed to watch the Smurfs or Ninja Turtles, our pants were usually long enough and our parents still listened to secular music, so all in all it was a good experience and I’d like to think I am on the less weird end of the Christian homeschool spectrum.
I did however continue to lead a slightly sheltered and naïve life growing up in Montana. The most trouble I remember being in was getting grounded for a month in the 8th grade when my parents found out I had a “boyfriend” that I talked to on the phone and held hands with at a Rebecca St. James concert. That kept me from “going out” with any boys for a long time, which (when combined with having a habit of making very direct eye contact in conversations and usually preferring the company of boys over girls) led to having a reputation of being a flirt but never actually dating anyone.
At age 16 I graduated from high school. A perk of being homeschooled is that you can do your school as fast as you want and I completed high school in 3 years. About that time, our friend Regan moved home. In high school he was a good friend of my brother’s and they played in a band together. While he was at college in Tennessee I used to talk to him on the phone, because I was 15 years old and.… well…. I am not really sure why else there would have been an appropriate reason for me to call him and I am also not sure if I’ve ever asked him if he thought I was super annoying at the time. Anyway, he came home after a year at college and rejoined the band. Despite there being “rules” about dating band members’ and friends’ little sisters, and the fact that 19 sounded an awful lot older than 16, Regan and I started dating that summer. Sure, my brother wasn’t too happy about it at first. But could you blame me? Regan was adorable, and kind, and funny. And I was a devoted groupie. J/k. Sort of.
Fast forward 14 years and here we are: 11 years of marriage, three kids, and lots of different houses, jobs, friends, band names, and experiences together. I am less naïve now but still make very direct eye contact. Regan is still adorable, kind, and funny. And he and my brother have remained good friends.
Regan and I homeschool our 7, 6, and 3 year old children, and help lead the church we have been a part of our entire married life. Yes, we turned out to be those people, but again I’d like to think we are on the more normal end of the high school sweetheart, Christian homeschooler spectrum. If there is even a spectrum for that. Both of our parents live here in Helena and help us out with the kids a lot. I’d be pretty helpless in general without my mom. The other day I read an article that talked about how millennials highly value community, family, and creativity in their work. That is definitely true for us, as much as I hate to admit to being anything close to a typical millennial. We both are creative and have a lot of interests and it’s hard to think of what we want to be and do for the rest of our lives.
Last year we turned our life upside down and closed Regan’s business, a purposeful decision to get him out of a career he did not enjoy. Regan currently stays home with our kids while I work full time. We do value not being constantly go-go-go, and our kids having a lot of time to play and use their imaginations is a priority and our main motivation for homeschooling. So we are frequently adjusting and trying to make sure life doesn’t get too crazy. We have no idea what’s next for us in life, in our careers or education or anything really. It’s an exciting but scary place to be.
What is your favorite time of day and why?
When I stayed home with the kids, or now on weekends, sometimes the day kind of drags on and I haven’t accomplished that much yet but then I reach this point where I feel motivated, and want to go do something! make something! see people! I’ll look at the clock, and it’s almost always 4:30. Then at night I start to get a little tired… maybe think about going to bed… but pretty soon I find myself more talkative, feeling inspired and creative. And it’s 10:30. Like clockwork, 4:30 or 10:30 strikes and I’m ready to do all the things.
What is one of your favorite quotes?
Song lyrics definitely have a way of sticking with me more so than That Amazing Thing That Abraham Lincoln Said and I am the type of person who listens to a song over and over and over (and over) until I am almost sick of it. There are so many that I can think of, but some of my favorites are from Don & Lori Chaffer, of Waterdeep, who have that line in many of their songs. Ya know. The line that is beautiful, sometimes harrowing, and makes you say “damn” and then listen to it again.
“you will always hurt
you will always sting
because you don’t let go of everything.
until you’re quiet one dark night
and you give up the fight you’ve fought so long
and find that trust is not a game
that naïve, stupid people play
and you let it rain
you let it flood
you let it drive out all the pain
What was the last movie, TV show or book that really impacted you and why?
I recently read Darkness Is My Only Companion by Kathryn Greene-McCreight. She is an Episcopalian priest who wrote about her battle with bipolar disorder, her process of working through the diagnosis and treatment, and reconciling it to her faith. The book did a couple of important things for me. For one, I could identify with a lot of what she was talking about, and there is a certain comfort in that. I have struggled with depression off and on for a long time–worse after each pregnancy–and for the longest time I didn’t realize what was happening. I would just say I was crabby, in a funk, and try to shake it off. I always thought the definition of depression was something more extreme: being suicidal or staying in bed for days or something like that. I was (and still am at times) overwhelmed, paralyzed by decisions, lacking motivation to do anything, dreading waking up in the morning, exploding into uncharacteristic rage. It took me a long time to realize that depression is primarily what I was experiencing, and on some level having a name for something helps. The second thing that the book did for me was serve as a reminder that while yes, I get depressed, it is not that extreme. I get out of bed and get things done, even if it feels like I am walking through mud some days. I may lose my temper but I don’t have recurring thoughts of harming myself or anyone else. I’m not bipolar, swinging from deep depression to mania like the author of the book did. The distinction and perspective was important for me because once I had a name for how I felt, there was the opportunity to feel a little sorry for myself, dramatize it a bit and blame everything on being depressed. Reading about her experiences was a factor in motivating myself to make some changes, I think partially out of fear that things would get worse. First I had to acknowledge what was going on, that I wasn’t OK and things were bad. Then I had to acknowledge that things weren’t that bad. Now I am trying to do something about it.
Do you have a favorite author?
Anne Lammott is definitely a favorite. But I can’t pick just one! At the top of the list is also C.S. Lewis, especially his Space Trilogy and Chronicles of Narnia. Those and Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women and Eight Cousins (and their sequels) are some of my all-time favorite books that I could read again and again and can’t wait to read to my kids.
What about music? Pick a favorite musician and tell us why you’re a fan.
Currently, I am totally into Sufjan Stevens. I’ve been a fan for a long time but find myself listening to his albums a lot more recently. My friend Kathleen and I used to play Made-Up-Word Scrabble, in which you can play any word–made up or not–as long as you can define it. I played the word Sufty, which we defined as the term for when you feel like listening to Sufjan Stevens, or the feeling that a particular Sufjan Stevens song would be the perfect soundtrack for the moment you are in. So I guess I’ve been feeling Sufty a lot lately. I love how his music is both beautiful and eclectic, with lovely harmonies and surprising melodies, and is often serious but sometimes silly. He also has a side project called Sisyphus, a collaboration with Son Lux and rapper Serengeti. I love their album, but cannot quite recommend it because the language may offend those with *ahem* delicate sensibilities. We saw Sufjan Stevens in Missoula a couple of years ago on his Christmas tour, where another favorite artist of mine (Rosie Thomas) played in the band. It was definitely one of my favorite concerts ever, for reasons including but not limited to the Wheel Of Fortune-style wheel they spun to choose which song to play next, and the 15-minute closing song called I Am The Christmas Unicorn.
If you had more time during the week, what’s a hobby or activity you’d like to try?
Ceramics. Sculpting though, not pottery. I would love to learn how to sculpt both figures and abstract pieces.
How would your friends describe you?
generally Friendly, Hospitable, Helpful, Creative, Adaptable, Independent, Spontaneous
however Not A Morning Person, Will Keep You Up Past Your Bedtime, Sometimes Intense; about a few things, Particular; when hungry, Angry and/or Indecisive; Almost Always Late
What do you value most in a friendship?
I really have come to appreciate a level of mutuality in friendship. I am naturally a planner and a gatherer but don’t always want it be my role. I have more friends around me now who pursue me as much as I do them, and I don’t feel like I am the only one who calls or makes plans. Sometimes their needs are a priority, and sometimes mine are. I guess there is just more give-and-take. It is refreshing after having some imbalanced friendships at times in the past.
Coffee or tea?
Coffee, strong and black.
Chocolate or vanilla?
Neither? I’m more of a fruity person. I don’t buy fruit snacks for my kids anymore because I will eat THE WHOLE BOX. In one day.
Introvert or extrovert?
Right in between. On the Meyers-Briggs I sometimes get an I and sometimes an E. I generally want to be around people, but large groups can be overwhelming for me.
Rural or urban?
Urban, but not big city.
Dress up or dress down?
Dress… comfortable. I wear dresses a lot. Not because I like to dress up, but because dresses are (in terms of comfort) as acceptably close as I can get to wearing pajamas to work.
Cats or dogs?
Cats, though I am horribly allergic to them.
Sunrise or sunset?
Sunset. I love it when the sun starts to go down in the summer and everything cools off.
Detailed or abstract?
Abstract, and usually asymmetrical.
Classic or modern?
Mostly modern with some classic to soften it.
Call or text?
Usually text. I’m not much for talking on the phone.
Fiction or non-fiction?
I do love both but give me a good novel and I will get lost in it for two days.
Salty or Sweet?
Both, alternating, so you can eat more.
What do you love most about Montana?
I love how friendly people are. While visiting a friend in Seattle a while back, I noticed how no one looks at you when you’re out and about. We had been walking around Ballard for a couple of hours, walked by hundreds of people on the sidewalk, and seriously there was never a smile or a nod like you would get in Montana. I then took it as a personal challenge to try to get people to look at me so I could smile at them. Which probably just came across as creepy. Oh well. Sometimes it is good to feel anonymous but I thought… how lonely to walk all around a city and have no one acknowledge your existence.
What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
Working full time has definitely been one of the hardest things. My job is very multi-faceted, which is interesting but sometimes exhausting, and I still run my bookkeeping business on my days off. Between everything it seems I often don’t have much energy or patience for my family when I get home. I miss my kids terribly but at the same time I am less used to the chaos so they drive me crazy more than they used to. Regan has had to take on a lot of new responsibilities and learn new things–including homeschooling the kids–and not only has it been a hard adjustment for him, it has been hard for me to relinquish responsibility and not stress or worry about what is or isn’t happening at home. He has done a great job and we expected things to be challenging. It just has taken a lot longer to get used to than we anticipated!
For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
I feel very grateful that Regan and I get along so well. We have made plenty of good and bad decisions over the years, but I feel like through it all we’ve been in it together and generally on the same page. Getting married really young doesn’t always work out as great for people as it has for us. Of course we have our little disagreements but for the most part we are just well suited for each other.