October 16, 2014

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“It starts with why:” a decision of the heart

Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Decisions are not made with our minds they are made with our hearts. As a business person one of my favorite leadership theorists is Simon Sinek. He wrote a book, and more importantly did a TED talk about his book, “It starts with why.” (My hero) He suggests that the part of our brain that controls our decision making is actually the emotional part of our brain, rather than the rational part of our brain. He suggests, and I believe, that starting with why is what creates inspired marketing and for me, in my career and in my own heart, I know that to be storytelling. But this isn’t just for marketers it applies to people. Have you ever had the moment where something creeps over you and while everything rational points in one direction, you make the opposite decision for another reason you can’t quite put into words? You have experienced the why.

Today, of all days, this sinks deep within my soul. The why for me is powerful. It is my North Star. It reminds me that I follow my instincts and make decisions in my heart that sometimes I don’t even know I have made.

5 years ago today, my water broke unexpectedly with Q and E at 28 weeks and 2 days. I flash back to the moment 7 months before while on Valium when I told my Doctor, “put 2 eggs in.” I was playing the odds but something else told me it was the right thing to do, 2 eggs. There are so many reasons it may not have worked. It almost didn’t, but then it did. Two amazing babies. Two tiny miracles marking their place on this earth to change the course of our lives forever. Two people my heart made the decision for before my head even knew what was happening.

A couple of nights ago, I had a conversation with a friend about what defines success in life. We landed on success means different things to different people. In work some might define it as a certain level of achievement, and some others might say, doing what you love. In life, we might say, understanding your purpose or leaving the world a better place. But no matter what, I believe, that often we make the choices for what success ultimately means for us long before our head catches up. We make the decision, put it to the universe, whether in a purposeful way, or in a more casual toss, but no matter how we make it, it sets off a chain of events. For me, where I am in life and work largely follows this train of thought. I am not taking away from faith but suggesting that it all works together. The conspiracy often starting long before the acknowledgement of choice.

While, 5 years ago I would not have chosen the chain of events, I have always seen the silver lining of my initial foray into motherhood through the wise words of a dear friend who also had her twins very premature, which were, I got extra time to spend with my babies. Some people wait 10 months, I waited 7. I would have not chosen the events but I also know somewhere a long the line, I had made a decision that my life should have purpose and from that moment the Universe conspired to give time just that and on October 16th, 2009 that journey began in earnest.

It has been the single hardest and yet most hopeful, joyful, wonderful period of my life. For all of us being challenged by a new experience today, perhaps in its difficult and scary packaging lies that decision you made somewhere in your heart some time ago. It is only now that the universe has conspired to deliver the moment that changes everything. And, while we don’t know the outcome, this moment will alter the course of our lives to offer something so very amazing we would have never experienced it if given the rational decision-making capability.

Yesterday was difficult across the board, so much swirl of sadness, moments of change for so many dear to me and for me as well. But today, October 16th, 2014, I look back over 5 years ago in awe of my decisions and look forward with gratitude of knowing those decisions now allow me to make each day “mynewfavoriteday.” I hope you will find the same peace in yesterday, today and tomorrow.

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October 9, 2014

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emma pumpkin patch

How to show life 1,000 reasons to Smile (even if it’s shaky)

“When life gives you a hundred reasons to cry, show life that you have a thousand reasons to smile.”
– Unknown

You may have sensed I am back for a reason. Back to my safe place, the place I think about when I get overwhelmed, to take refuge in my words, as little by little the hard casing that keeps me mostly put together each day starts to chip away and suddenly I feel each and every one of the hundred reasons to cry as if they are the each and only one fighting for my attention.

I can feel it as it happens. Events, things beyond my control creep in, stripping me of safety I can usually find in optimism, a smile, a laugh and my ability to compartmentalize through work and day- to – day life. But eventually, no matter how well I think I have done, or how well I am “dealing with things,” it comes back around as an uneasy feeling in my stomach that creeps up through my chest, constricts my breathing and hurts my heart as I blink back tears…it is fear.

Over the past few months several moments, actions and events have come together to begin the drum beat of anxiety and sadness. I am not depressed, I am scared.

Under normal circumstances these things happen in isolation and it’s easy (or easier) for me to see past them as to what’s next. What’s the plan I need to implement to get past it, but then 4 weeks ago something happened to my precious E and I have not been able to shake the fear for it is grounded in the deepest love.

We have become accustomed to everything changing in an instant, so that morning when I caught E jerk out of the corner of my eye as she sat in her chair at breakfast, I knew something was wrong. She had not been herself that morning and I could tell she wasn’t feeling well, but she wasn’t warm so I thought there was no real risk of a seizure, and I was wrong.

As I unbuckled her and swept her up in my arms, I could feel my heart racing and my stomach dropping. I never knew what these moments would bring, how long they would last, what would happen next. As I pinned E to her side on the couch and suctioned mouth so she wouldn’t choke, I felt the peace of the past 5 years wash over me. This was somehow its own weird form of normal for me. I hated that moment.

After only a minute the seizure passed and E rested peacefully. Over the next 24 hours, she would have 23 more seizures, all with varying durations and then there was blood. I think it was the third seizure where I began to truly cry as I held her in position, looked helplessly at my dad and KSP, and prayed out loud that she would be ok, she would come back, she would stop. Throughout the entire day and night we repeated this pattern and the vacillating between exhaustion and seizing. My only reoccurring thought was, “I know there is a reason,” I know there must be a reason.”

Even now as I sit here, I don’t understand the reason. I know I was chosen for E and she for me. But as each passing day seems to throw another challenge for what lies ahead, my chest gets the too familiar tightening feeling. The lump in my throat swells as I blink back tears and worry, shame and fear. Worry for her future. Shame for my feelings of frustration and questions and fear that I am not doing everything possible but mostly fear of what’s left of the unknown.

When E was tiny, it still felt like we had so much time to figure it out, but with her 5th birthday just days away and the new threats to her daily life and my sanity, that seem to present themselves without warning or care, I feel the clock ticking. Like a big giant 30 second-hand echoing in my head. Seizure medications, trusts, estate planning, school preparations, therapy accommodations, it’s like wave after wave or inexperience and unknown crashing down, threatening to grab me, sucking the oxygen from my lungs in an icy swirl of flailing arms and legs trying to find which way is up.

Choosing who gets what, planning for all of E’s arrangements. Who will care for her if something happens to us, and what is something happens to them. How do we prevent her from getting turned over to the state? How do we afford it all? How do we make sure Q and M know they are loved and no matter what happens we had to plan for E because we can’t put it on them to take on such a massive responsibility?

And then, I stop. I breathe. I cry. I come back here. I put it all out into the world and hope that is comes back to me in some organized fashion in my head.

I take myself outside of me and look around at all the other people that find such joy to have E in their lives and by virtue of her, we get to receive them into our lives and find our own comfort and joy. I think about the families I have spoken with and how what we have learned has been passed onto them so they can try to find their own sense of peace in this world of unknown. I think about my mom and dad and KPS’s mom who can be with E and really see her just as they do and not with the veil of protection and sometimes anger I find with the outside world for how they look or interact with her once they know something is different. I think about how everyone roots for her and gives us such overwhelming support and love that I marvel at how lucky we are nearly everyday. I think about Q and M who are thrilled with her progress and allow for her unknown grievances against them. I think about how our eyes are opened to a world of compassion and empathy beyond us to other families who have it far worse than we do.

As I sit on the plane and type this post, tears fall from my eyes. I am scared (and quite frankly the girl next to me is probably scared too!)

E getting  her EEG on her brain waves to track seizure activity last Friday.  Even in her misery of being wrapped up like a burrito she showed she could find a reason to smile.

E getting her EEG on her brain waves to track seizure activity last Friday. Even in her misery of being wrapped up like a burrito she showed she could find a reason to smile.

Change is afoot. Life is throwing reasons to cry. As of last Friday, E will now go on seizure medication. Since her last bout of seizures, she has started having more frequent mild everyday seizures and while I had desperately hoped to avoid this medication, it seems it is another milestone in this crazy journey. I see her growing and changing and time feels like it’s slipping away to give her everything she needs and deserves. The tears are always near.

And now, I stop and remember E. I feel her in my soul reminding me there are so very many reasons to smile. She and her brother and sister are here. She is happy. She is joyful. She knows she must work hard and she doesn’t know anything else. She knows her giggle is infectious and her smile even more. She knows to trust us. She knows her accomplishments come in baby steps not huge leaps and she knows that we must take one step at a time. No matter how unstable it may feel and sometimes we may fall down, we can’t sit and cry, we must get up and move on to get better. To find stability. To create confidence. She shows life everyday 1,000 reasons to smile, and in this moment, I know my sweet 4 year old E, who does not talk, yet tells me a million things, is exactly right, through her smile.

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No matter what we are all going through, even if the smile is unstable, it’s still our choice to choose the smile through the tears and in that choice, if only for the moment, lies “anewfavoriteday.”

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October 6, 2014

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Supernova

How to be a Supernova among the Stars: A tribute to Will Poovey

Success by Ralph Waldo Emerson:

To laugh often and much

To win the respect of intelligent people

and the affection of children;

To ear the appreciation of honest critics

and endure the betrayal of false friends;

To appreciate the beauty, to find the best in others;

To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch,

or a redeemed social condition;

To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.

This is to have succeeded.

If you have ever met one of these people, you know it instantly. They shine brighter than us all. They infect us with optimism and the thoughts of possibility. We subscribe to their joy and lust for life, and when they leave us, we feel the void so deeply we struggle to find the words to capture it properly.  We must lean on one another and layer on to  one-another’s stories, and memories, and smiles as we remember “that time” we as individuals, will never forget.

When KSP called me on July 7 as I touched down in Detroit, he led with, “I have some weird news.”  Unsure what “that” meant and how to react, I paused and uttered “ok.”  His words that followed landed like a bomb on my heart.  “I think Will is dead.”  I sat in shock as I felt the beautiful supernova of Will’s soul scream past me and evaporate leaving me only in deep sorrow.

My inability to rationalize what KSP was telling me came from the larger than life footprint Will created with everyone he met. It came from knowing his incredible wife, our friend K, whose own vibrancy and grace was what balanced Will and tethered him to this planet so that we could all dip in and out to benefit from his gifts.  It came from knowing his children who still model everything I hope Q, E & M will grow up to be one day; kind, thoughtful, polite, passionate and smart. It came from the notion that those of us that were lucky enough to know him beyond in passing, feel as if we wallow in that cavernous area left behind, at least so I thought until we went to his service.

As I looked down at his program, nearly 2 months after he passed away in a tragic accident while on holiday at a wedding in Zimbabwe, it hit me that Will’s birthday is today, October 5.  I knew Will’s birthday was in October. I had always thought it was the 13th due to the times we had celebrated in the past, the most significant of which was October 15th, 2009, the night I stayed out late, 28 weeks pregnant paying tribute to Will at a club in Hollywood.  After a fun filled evening of having random club goers come up to touch my burgeoning belly, and Q and E bouncing around with the thumping of the music as I sat under Will’s careful eye to make sure I was feeling ok and had enough water to drink, KSP and I came home and 3 hours later my water broke and our lives would never be the same.

If you have spent any time here then you know I believe everything, every moment, every person comes into our lives for a reason. Whether you know why immediately, or the big reveal is reserved for a series of chills that takes over your body as the realization of the impact of a chance meeting in a pool in Mexico would change your life forever as you sit at a service to say goodbye, you almost always come to connect the dots eventually.

Will’s gravity pulled us in as we enjoyed a vacation in Cabo.  Between a water spout and hurricane like conditions, we bonded with the Pooveys and spent most of our holiday finding ways to entertain ourselves indoors through endless hours of card games, business ideas and burning pizzas.  When we all found out we lived only miles away from one another we knew we would be life long friends.  And so it was; vacations, concerts and visits to one another’s homes for parties. During this time of our initial friend courtship, I was also trying to get pregnant. We had been unsuccessful, until April 2009 on the exact day that my grandfather passed over to be with my grandma.

http://mynewfavoriteday.com/2011/04/06/a-question-of-fate-yes-i-think-is/

If you have already read the post above, or if you don’t have time, in short, I believe my grandparents had a role in the very special delivery of Q & E and of course Baby M.

My grandparents we married on October 5. Will’s Birthday is October 5.

http://mynewfavoriteday.com/2011/10/05/do-you-still-have-or-remember-your-grandparents-what-do-they-mean-to-you/

As I sat in Will’s memorial and stared at that date, chills spread throughout my body.  Somehow it was linked.  KSP and I never meet people on vacation. After years of travel, Will and K were our first resort friends.  We made time, invested time to spend with them and they with us. Will’s brightness and K’s spirit kept us coming back for more.

That night in 2009 for Will’s 39th birthday, I almost didn’t go, I was tired and working late. I was pregnant.  But it was Will. I wanted to go.

48 hours later I gave birth to Q & E.  What I once saw as the most traumatic things in my life (and some days it creeps up and haunts me), I now see as a blessing in most ways.

Had Q and E not been born so early, we would not have tracked E’s progress.

We would not have had such amazing access to doctors, and resources.

We wouldn’t have known she was delayed.

We might have waited even longer to have her genetics test.

We wouldn’t know she had Angelman Syndrome.

So today, on what would be Will’s 44th birthday, I know why we he came into our life. Why he flashed so briefly, but with such strong light and presence he will stay with us in our lives and our family, forever. Why his memorial program will go in Q’s memory box so he can one day explain the significance of what I always thought was a chance meeting to his sisters and his own children.

Will, you are missed, and we are and always will be connected.  Thank you for the many gifts you shared with us and even from afar we can feel you still burning brightly so that we will remember to aspire to the same success you achieved in your too short of time here with us.  You are the epitome of ‘mynewfavoriteday,’ the ability to find a moment of joy and share that despite what swirls around you. I may not have totally understood that then, but I do so understand it now. You are truly a Supernova in a galaxy of stars.

Happy Birthday dear friend.

Will

And to my beloved Grandma and Grandpa, take care of our Will.  Happy Anniversary.

Much love,

Shannon

 Source:  Cover image from http://www.sci-news.com

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July 22, 2014

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Mia First bday

The unexpected can become the greatest gift. Baby M turns 1!

The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new. ~Rajneesh

If I could have known. If I could have planned. If I could have said, “it’s not the right time.” I would have never known, could never have planned, and would never have said…for she is the greatest gift.

She is the purest form of the deepest gratitude and love. She holds her own space, her own gift for bringing light and love and healing to my heart. I watch in awe as she naturally does what Q and E had to work hard to do. Each movement, acknowledgement, giggle, twinkle, brings incredible amounts of joy. Of the what it feels like the first time. The first word, tooth, stand, game, kiss, hug, and step all create something so much larger than I knew existed.

She is enchanting to everyone she encounters. She giggles with her brother and teaches and engages her sister in a way we could have only hoped for. For me, and our family completes the us in a way we didn’t know or think was necessary, and she is a gift.

 

 

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Mia and Emma

 

Today, July 22nd, there will be a lot of press about Prince George and his turning 1, but what the world may not know, is there is an princess who quietly slipped into the world on July 22nd, 2013 with such force that she changed all those her have come to meet and know her. Baby Mia Isablle. She has special powers to change the world and instantly changed our family with healing powers we didn’t expect and didn’t know existed in this space and time.

In what has been a crazy 5 years filled with so many emotions and ups and downs, twist and turns we still know how blessed we are…everything that happens or crashes upon us now in the form on news and events is put through the filter of these years and how we have been supported and held up by one another and all of our family and friends.

For each of my minis in their own way, I am a different person. A different mother. A new mother. That woman before, without her minis, seems unfamiliar and unknown, not in a bad or an unhappy way but in a way that would have been entirely different across my entire life, personal and professional. For each child, I am a new person. A better person. Today as we celebrate baby M’s birthday, I am a grateful mother. The past 5 years feel like a lifetime of learning and growing and the past year is the part that I know I was meant to find and experience. From all the fear and the unknown was the path to healing and wholeness. To think that last year at this time, I was sobbing in a car dealership about buying our minivan “Foxy” is so far away from where I am now (expect for the mini van part, although the automatic doors and storage space are remarkable).

We will all go through challenging times, months, and even years, and then, unexpectedly, in a moment in time, we will realize what it is all for…the moment when you understand the gift. It most often seems to come after a time of hardship and sadness, but with eyes wide open to all is not lost, we can see what’s possible and waiting. For us, and me, it’s the love of Q, E, and M…the gift of a complete family puzzle where KSP and I can look into the future and see a place where Q is amazingly smart, caring and empathetic, E is a light that shows us what’s entirely possible in life, and M who gives us the opportunity to know what first times are like free of worry and fear. We are blessed and it is an absolute certainty that Baby M is a huge part of what the future holds in the form of happiness, excitement, joy and of course a little bit of fear due to her lack of the fear!

meandtheminisHappy Birthday to my sweet baby girl, Mia and please join in my “mynewfavoriteday” in my moment of understanding a gift.

xoxo

Shannon

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March 20, 2014

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Trusting your self-trust is the best thing you can do for you.

“Self-trust is the first secret of success, the belief that if you are here the authorities of the universe put you here, and for cause, or with some task strictly appointed you in your constitution, and so long as you work at that you are well and successful.” ~ Swami Kriyananda [J. Donald Walters] (born 1926)

As I type this post, I am not even sure what the title should be.  I am struggling for the exact right point of entry to my own thoughts.  My mind swirls with thoughts and my heart with emotion as I look for the confidence to say what I want to say about trusting yourself, your instincts.  About not letting yourself succumb to “mommy guilt,” or for those that experience any of the other countless descriptions of guilt for any small infraction or perceived slight against someone else or even yourself.

Guilt is a powerful emotion that can make us do things we might not normally do, and prevent us from doing others, but in almost every scenario of guilt, if you stop for a moment and listen, a combination of your head and your heart will tell you what’s right for you.  If you listen you can feel it speaking to you and encouraging you to trust the your inner voice. Some may take this deeper and combine it with faith, others may simply view it as instinct and as usual, I am going to just write what I am feeling and keep my focus on overriding guilt.

For every mother who has gone off to do something for herself fun or work-related, or parent who has taken one child out for special time and left the others at home, you know this feeling. For every child who has not gone to visit a parent as they try to manage their own life as an adult you know this feeling. For every person who has stayed in a relationship longer than they should or not acknowledged one they should have stayed with, it’s all the same. The battle of head/gut and heart and you know this feeling.

As Q and I sat next to one another on our plane ride back from visiting Aunt D, Uncle T, Special K and Bman, I am grateful I listened to my inner voice and made our reservations for just the two of us to go back  East on our very special trip.  For weeks leading up to our trip, I was sad and anxious. Every time I talked about going, I had a feeling of guilt and a twinge of sadness at leaving E and M behind, most specifically, E.  Like Q, she had never met her cousins.  She had never been to see the snow. I volleyed back and forth with the ” this is good for just Q and me to do together as we don’t get much special time,” and “if E was the same as Q in her abilities,” would I take her?  An unfair and yet ever so predictable question. The vision of Q and E in my mind as they toddled through an airport with their names on their backpacks when I first found out we would be having twins would sneak into my mind and sit there quietly while I processed my feelings and thoughts. And then the reality of the situation would settle over me,  and thankfully, my instincts seem to have a very strong opinion and like a bull in a China shop would bust into my reverie and shout that I cannot not think that way!

I need to reshape the vision to me and Q having a blast as we ride on the plane in eager anticipation. As we hold hands in the airport. As we greet Aunt D and his cousins at the curb.  As I watch Q and Special K rile one another up to the point where we as “adults” have to intervene. Where the 4 of us have a sing a long to Frozen’s “Let it Go” and find out the even 14 year old Bman is super excited about “Frozen.”  Where Q, Special K and Uncle TJ head off to the movies all bundled up and talking like little adults.  These are memories I am not only giving him, but giving me.  I am doing something for us. Something just for him that gives him his place outside of his sisters.

Now, that we are home and settled back into a routine, that trip feels like months ago. Life goes so fast and he is already different from he was on our special trip. My inner voice knew this. That we must take these moments in time and listen to a combination of what our hearts and head tell us.  I am so so so glad I did listen and trusted myself because he has told me that this was what he needed. When I asked him last week if he remembered our trip and if he had fun, he said “yes, mommy.” And, when I asked him what his favorite part was, I expected him to say, playing with Special K, or going to Chuckee Cheese, and instead he melted my mind and heart with his sweet voice saying, “it was being with you mommy.”  Chalk one up for listening and self-trust. Each time I listen I am further reminded of my purpose. The purpose of guiding my minis as they grow as people. The purpose of having them know that I love them beyond the Universe and that I am constantly striving to give them what they need as individuals within our own unique context of family.  Taking this moment of acknowledgement and allowing that to make today “mynewfavoriteday.” I hope you will do the same. No matter what the issue, easy or difficult, there is a reason we have this voice, and while it might not always make perfect sense at the time, eventually when you can piece it all together, it very well may feel as if somehow you had a crystal ball and help reinforce or clarify your own purpose.

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February 14, 2014

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Quinn Valentine

My evolution of Valentine’s Day

Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away. ~ Marcus Aurelius

I remember standing and looking in the mirror when I was 18, 19, 20  years old and thinking, yet another failed Valentine’s Day.  I made jokes, called it D Day instead of V Day.  I wanted the movies, the fairytale, roses, candy, dinners, romantic overtures, that whole deal.  But I was the cool girl you were friends with, and perhaps to dig deeper I most often wanted to date the boys who were not an ideal fit for me.  I dated, I hooked up (sorry mom and dad), but I was also shy and insecure.

20 years later, Valentine’s Day is a totally different experience.  I don’t have time to look in the mirror and what I see is no longer that girl.  I see fine lines brought on by a life well lived and constant hum of stress. But those same lines become deeper when I smile. They fill in my face.  They show me, that they years, Valentine’s Day to Valentine’s Day have brought me joy . Happiness. Smiles.  My life has been full of family and friends, things I enjoy doing, and a career that gives me a place to explore what’s possible.

20 years later, Valentine’s Day is no longer about me. It’s about my Valentine’s.  Last night Q and I sat, as he at 4 years old, needed to make a Valentine for one of his classmates.  We sat at the table with the tiny left handed purple scissors, a piece of pink construction paper and a box of crayons. My insecurity came back. I am not good at crafts, what if whatever we make something ridiculous or Q looks silly or I screw up his Valentine’s Day. But then I remembered we were making this card for another 4 year old, and whatever we made would make her happy. So I folded the paper in half, which as I did it, Q told me, I need to fold the paper in half. He then told me we needed to make a butterfly. Little N would like a butterfly.  The hot pink marker created an easy outline and I held the paper as he navigated the scissors around the outline.  I then asked Q if he wanted to write N’s name on the butterfly. He said yes, and as I spelled her name, he wrote the letter. Big, long , oversized strokes, and then there was her name. Then he wrote his name, and “Happy Valentine’s Day.”

I watched and processed in disbelief.  Where is my baby? Who is the boy wearing glasses writing his name as articulate  the letters  for him to write.

The purity of the experience of making someone else happy. Of watching my little boy embrace the meaning of celebrating his love for his friends was yet another reminder that when we can focus the lens elsewhere and start to see and think about bringing joy to others, it can bring even more joy to ourselves.  Time is fleeting, next year will be different and there will be many times I marvel at progress, but always with the sweet sadness of watching my minis grow or becoming their own people. So Valentine’s Day is here and today I don’t worry about flowers, or candy, but I think about carving out special moments with those that I love, KSP, Q, E, and M, to show that I love them, to do something that will bring them joy and make today all of our ‘newfavoriteday.’

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January 22, 2014

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Unknown-3

The path to possibility is paved with small steps (E’s walking debut).

“There is always one unexpected moment in life when a door opens up to let the future in.” ~ Graham Green

In many ways this happens to me every single day.  Some days it is a welcome breeze blowing through to clear out the cobwebs, and some days it is more like a typhoon compressed into just a single fleeting thought. A thought that then sits heavy on my heart and waits for the visions of what might be to subside.  But those times are fewer than the other times, most times.  The times that  the feeling is similar to that of fresh crisp air that nips into your lungs on a fall day. The feeling of rolling the window down as you drive on a backroad after being inside too long on a cool spring day while the sun shines in and your favorite song rises through the speakers.

The moments that drive these realizations are just that moments; yet somehow they are so packed with emotion I can feel them for days, months and even a year later.  It’s moments like E really walking, really showing that she will walk at some point on December 19, 2013 that move me even now beyond any boundaries I may have thought existed for the purest of joys.

This is when I see what’s truly possible. What the human spirit can do.  How sometimes the moments you would never let yourself imagine can happen right before your eyes.  How even though you have logged countless hours and watched the smallest moments as huge milestones, you find yourself in awe as you watch it all come together.  You peek through the door.  You see the future. Not the fearful future that is scary with the unknown, but the open hopeful future paved with possibility.  How whatever “can’ts” you have heard become “maybes” and “cans.” It is the most beautiful of recognitions and it can happen every day.

The smallest of things can bring the same awakening.  When Q yells at me from the doorway, “Mommy! Kiss and Hug!” even though we have already hugged goodbye twice. When baby M turns her head at the sound of my voice entering a room and gives me a huge smile as she wriggles to try to get to me.  Little tiny moments in each day.  If I didn’t know better I might let them pass, not giving them a second thought, but E has changed all of that. She has broadened my view, my perspective and my world. She has taught me that the seemingly smallest things can change everything and can be just the moment that opens the door to not only to let the future in but to remind me that each day can and should be ‘mynewfavoriteday.’

Cover image shared from http://www.barimed.com/universityofmiami

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November 26, 2013

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Shared from finer minds.com

How to be Thankful…stop, look, listen.

The past, I think, has helped me appreciate the present – and I don’t want to spoil any of it by fretting about the future. – Audrey Hepburn

I cannot be a hypocrite.  I cannot say I am always perfect at being present.  I can say I try very hard to remember to be here, right now. I can feel my fingers as they click on the keys.  My nails, slightly too long to be completely comfortable, absorb the impact with each click.  Max the toddler cat sits next to me and I can hear the low rumble of his purr as his own nails click over and over into the blanket that lays across my lap. Baby M lies peacefully in her bouncy seat just across the threshold of the doorway to the dining room so she won’t be disturbed by “We’re the Millers” on-demand movie I am watching.  I try to stay present, as to not let my mind get too far ahead of me as I type this post. How I will get across what I want to say without over simplifying things? I can only speak from my own experience, but being that I am incredibly grateful and aware of just what that means in the deepest parts of me, I can at least try to relay that, so that, some part of what I say might come resonate with some one who is having a hard time finding gratitude in what can be a challenging time of year.

I started blogging 2 and 1/2 years ago because I was losing my grip on on how to be thankful. I was becoming overwhelmed by sadness, fear, uncertainty, guilt, but still hanging on with unparalleled love.  ‘Mynewfavoriteday’ started exactly there, that day, that moment was my ground zero. I had to light my path with gratitude, the ability to find something each day, to make it ‘anewfavoriteday.’

Finding gratitude is like crossing the street.  You have to be incredibly aware of what’s happening around you.  What’s happening down the street. Are there any cars coming, how fast are they driving?  What do you know about that particular crossing environment?  Do people speed through? Do they pretend to stop? How many lanes? Would you make it across one lane of a 4 lane road and risk the secondary lane not seeing you and speeding through.  Before you even step foot in that cross walk, you must stop, look and listen.  You are entirely present: your life depends on it.  Gratitude is no different.  Your life, enjoying it and knowing why, is equally as precious.

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Being present is like crossing the street

Now, for me, blogging is like crossing the street. I see things differently.  I am able to calibrate what is happening, how it is happening, what I am feeling in the moment for the partial reason that I might want to write about it one day and need to be able to re-architect the moment for anyone reading my post. The other reason is that it is now more habitual to just be aware. Before this, I had no experience, I just started doing and it just started happening, but I had to decide.

This is not an expertise that is developed over time. It can start right now.  The first thing to do is ‘stop.’  Stop whatever you are doing.  Feel what that feels like.  What does your body feel like. Are your lungs expanding in and out? Can you feel your heart beat?  Your eyelashes as you blink?  The air as your inhale?  This, and this alone, is reason to be grateful. You are here, alive.  If you are totally healthy, be grateful, you do not know the difference.  If you have been sick in the past, you know the reasons to be grateful, now remember them.

The next step is to ‘look’ around you. Many of us do this from a different vantage point. What do they have that I don’t?  Are they the proverbial Joneses?  But there is a very different way to look at this.  Last week in the mini’s weekly music class there was a mother there with her 3 year old son.  She smiled as she watched her little boy dance around, interact with the teachers, and play the instruments. Her big eyes filled with love as they contrasted with her olive skin and her headscarf concealing what was clearly baldness brought on from the ravages of chemotherapy.  As I focused on my own minis and enabling specifically E’s enjoyment, monitoring M’s first exposure, and encouraging Q’s interactions, I could not shake her from my heart.  What she must think. What she must feel. What she must fear. What she must hope. What she must value. What she must love.  She sees things in each and every moment.  Moments she treasures. Moments she hopes he will remember.  Moments; the true definition of being present.

By nature steps are linear, but like crossing the street, in gratitude, we can do some of these at the same time.  Taking in your environment, you look around, you listen, and you feel.  If you are in tune, then you process and internalize what’s happening with you and to you.  When you listen, something different happens.  I believe  that sound can be directly connected to emotion. Listening to music can change a mood or trigger memories.  Listening to words can transport us.  Listening to laughter can bring us joy. Listening to cries can bring us sympathy.  Listening makes you present.  If someone is telling you a story, are you really listening or are you crafting your response?  Can you truly hear what someone is saying, what might be behind the words?  Can you hear the birds? The cars on the street? The sound of a baby breathing?  If you really listen, you can be grateful for all of these sounds.  For the world around you.

This week is Thanksgiving.  4 years ago, I sat at our Thanksgiving table and cried as my Q and E were in the hospital and we had taken a few short yet very long hours to have dinner with family.  I cried out of trauma for what we had been through, the fear of what was happening and that they might not make it, the hope for the future, and the boundless presence of love I  now knew but could not imagine losing in any form.  I cannot let go of that, I will not let go of that.  It grounds me. It lets me know that this Thanksgiving, is amazing.  The past helps me appreciate, feel, love the present. I will try not to fret about the future, but I will and then I will use being thankful as a way to bring me back to the present. This Thanksgiving, the present is exceptional.  This Thanksgiving I am grateful for family, friends, life, love, fortified, perseverance, support, and everything that falls from those pillars.  The hardest days are still supported by these pillars which I can only find through being present and grateful and it’s these pillars, presence and moments that make each day ‘anewfavoriteday.’ Happy Thanksgiving and cheers to being Thankful.

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November 25, 2013

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My Minivan Mid-Life Identity Crisis…

The value of identity of course is that so often with it comes purpose. ~Richard Grant

This particular post is one I have been wanting to write for ages, but perhaps acknowledging my own insecurities and inadequacies here in writing was even a bit much for me. Yet, I know I am not alone, so I will write this and expose myself to potential criticism, but at least I can honestly see the ridiculousness in all of its purity and subsequently acknowledge the purpose of what I am about to share with you.

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Here she is…Foxy in all of her glory…

I BOUGHT A MINI VAN. Yes it’s true. A silver, 2012 Town and Country. The doors open automatically, it starts from my key FOB and the seats completely collapse into the floor. BUT, YES, I, SHANNON PRUITT, officially own a minivan.

 I am pausing for those that know me to allow for their squeals of laughter to subside….any family member or friend that I have said these words to in the last 4 months has had this exact reaction.

Now, I realize some of you may be insulted by the identity crisis that avalanched upon me in the Chrysler dealership on that hot summer day, 37 weeks and 5 days pregnant at 39 years old, but please allow me to explain. The honest truth starts with the fact that I never thought I would buy a minivan. That I would find some other way to accomodate the unexpected baby M, and our 3 year old, soon to be four year old twins who would all be in car seats. I scoured car websites, and went over the interior images with the analysis of a forensics specialist discecting a crime scene. I zeroed in on every possible seat configuration. Yes, it was possible to get 3 car seats in the back of some of the cars, but with no cargo space and most car backseats needing to be collapsed to access the often “faux illusion of a 3rd row,” the image of Q having to try to crawl through the trunk everytime we went somewhere as a family either put me into fits of disbelieving laughter or horrendous guilt over my clear issues around what would likely be the invevitable…owning a mini van.

On that hot day in July, just 7 days before Baby M graced us with her amazing presence in this world, I sat with Q, E, KSP and my dad haggling over interest rates. At the same time, I tried to rationalize and understand why I was having so many emotions about what is clearly such a trivial and silly experience. Not too mention, I do know that we are so fortunate to be able to buy a minivan to accomodate our growing family, but I was in a different state, my own form of a mid-life identity crisis. It occured to me, it all came down to my “mom pie-chart.” Normally, this pie chart is happily filled with mom of 3 amazing minis, wife, family, friends, career, but suddenly all I could see was a silver town and country mini van, my recently acquired Costco membership and a pair of mom jeans barreling at me threatening to make their way onto my person. Perhaps part of it was that I didn’t have a lot of clarity of what was happening around my job, or as I call it, my hiding place. Not a hiding place from anything or anyone but a hiding place for my sanity. A place and something to focus my mind and channel my energy into that keeps the rest of me afloat. A place that I don’t get swallowed up by the unknown of the future.

For context, almost daily, I have a conversation about the future and the implications of everything we do today. A future for which I have no handbook. A future that involves supplemental trusts and trust executors and potential life long care for my now 4 year old daughter. And an unknown of what Q will be like when he grows up and will he, or now Baby M, ever want to or be capable of taking on that responsibility. How to protect her and keep her safe and make sure she is treated and loved just as KSP or I would if we would be with her forever.

So, with no clarity on my clients, a new baby due anyday and 2 minis who have their own distinct roles and needs within our family, I melted down in the shiny floored, new car smelling, overly air-conditioned car dealership. The minivan was a metaphor for fear of not having a way to compartmentalize. For fear of losing myself and subsequently being unable to do what I need to do to face the unknown each day. Now, that’s a lot of pressure to put on one car…pretty sure I won’t be pitched to do any Chrysler commercial creative anytime soon.

Driving home that day in my new mini van I felt the tectonic shift in the plates of my heart, the realization that we were about to have a baby, that our lives were going to again change. That the minivan was going to carry our new family of 5 into the future.

Precious Cargo

Precious Cargo

4 months later, with hormonal clarity (and in full disclosure a car for my daily running around), the silver minivan has a name and a place in our family. Her name, Foxy the legend, given to her by a good friend whose first response, like so many when they found out that I bought a minivan, “You bought a minivan!” Is derived from her silver sassy appearance and she is legendary for the way she was purchased and more than that, that she safely carries around our most precious angels. She enables us to go places with our loved ones that we could not do in another type of car. She is let’s Q be king of the car and watch over Baby M and gives us updates on her status. She lets little E see the world around her through big windows so she can happily babble away in the seat next to Baby M. She is a welcome part of my mom pie chart. She will be full of laughter and love and will motor us into the future unknown where no matter what we do we will do with the purpose of reminding ourselves why that day is ‘anewfavoriteday.’

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October 18, 2013

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The Wondertwins turn 4!

“When the most important things in our life happen we quite often do not know , at the moment, what is going on.” C.S. Lewis

Four years ago this morning truer words could not have been spoken. I had really no idea what was going on other than my babies had just arrived and it was all surreal.  This morning, I remember it like it is that morning, 7:10 am and Q arrived, 2 lbs 15 oz, not breathing, not crying, just silence.  Then E, all  2 lbs 8 oz of her, at 7:12 am, only whispers.  Flashes of blue scrubs from the corner of my weary eyes, and a quick picture with each next to my tear streaked and exhaust

E and Q meet for the first time at 5 weeks old...

E and Q reunite for the first time at 5 weeks old…

ed face and they were gone.  It was the one of the two best days of my life and it was by far away the most important day of my life and yet I had no idea at the time.

Today, is Q and Es’ 4th Birthday.  Yes, the appropriately named Wondertwins are 4. I keep saying it because I can hardly believe it myself.

Since that day 4 years ago, time has flown yet the moments with both Q and E stand still like pictures and movies in mind.  Their smiles and giggles tickle my ears and warm my heart.  I can feel their joy and pain.  Their fear and their fortitude.  I take moments to snuggle them and appreciate them every single day (even the rough ones:)).  I remember what they have shown me about strength, compassion, perseverance, empathy, joy, and love.   I know that they have made me a much better person in the journey of my own life.

Their arrival was the most important day in my life because it changed me forever.  It has challenged me beyond anything I could have imagined while giving me the greatest fulfillment in the smallest of moments.  Moments that would have likely been lost on me had everything not been the way that is has been.  Moments, I would have not known to appreciate.  Moments to wonder at all of our many blessings and moments to realize just how precious every moment our time is together.

I often think this blog is my love letter to my children.  The one that they will one day read and realize how much I am truly grateful for them. The love letter that even if they cannot read, when Q or M reads it to E, she will feel the love that radiates from the words that I write.  As we embark upon a new year of their life, we will watch as they grow and change and meet new milestones big and small, but we will grow and change with them. Their birthday marks a new year for a new appreciation for what’s to come and a reminder to continue to be grateful for all of those moments that we are so very very very fortunate to have.

Happy Birthday Q and E. You are my precious Angels and thank you for giving me this journey. While I may not have totally understood just how many ways today was important 4 years ago, I certainly do today.  Today is ‘mynewfavoriteday.’ I hope you will join me in wishing my little miracles happy birthday and take a moment to feel the joy and gratitude that fills my entire being and let it be a lens through which to view your own gifts.

Forever and ever...

Forever and ever…

“I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I am living, my babies you’ll be.”

Happy Happy Birthday.

Love always,

Mama

Quote from the book, “I’ll Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch and Sheila McGraw

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