I’m Backkkkk…..!!!

Hi everybody!!!

So first things first…Truth be told, I wasn’t intending on being “gone” at all. However, life happens and eventually that’s exactly where I “went”. To live life.

The good.

The bad.

And the ugly too.

The end of the school year arrived fast and furious for the girls which meant one thing…Summer was here! Truly my favorite time of the year. No morning alarm clocks, no homework before bed, no carpool traffic, or on the fly late dinners after practice. More time to spend as a family…late movie nights, weekend trips to the lake, cookouts, ice cream dates and swimming til our fingers pruned. Life is just better in the summer months.

More relaxed. More fun. Less hectic. Well…kinda?

The second of week of summer break came quickly out the gates with church camp, lacrosse leagues, lacrosse camp, and youth group. Endless sleepovers with friends and…THIS.

“Mom, can I go to Fill in the blank? With Fill in the blank and Fill in the blank? I need $ for Fill in the blank…OH! And do you mind picking up Fill in the blank and bringing her home afterwards? Sigh.

(Those of you who are in my shoes can probably “fill in MY blank”!!!) LOL! Add in a birthday party or two and well, summer is over.

If you have young teenagers, you are know EXACTLY what I am speaking of. They are just coming into their own. They’ve made their friend groups, know their likes and dislikes (or at least they BELIEVE they do…while we as their parents believe it changes like the wind). They want to go everywhere and anywhere (yet can’t drive). Thank you Jesus. They have more energy than you EVER remember having in your lifetime and yet somehow can’t seem to stay awake in church or a family gathering. And did I fail to mention, that school must not teach the value of a dollar, because money appears to be no object for anything they want to do or purchase?

But here’s the thing.

As I see it, 18 years is all we have. To GIVE them all we have. And by that, I don’t mean our money, or our leniency, or even our complacency (giving in to their every desire). I mean our time, our love, our attention, and our guidance…

TRUE QUALITY TIME, LOVE, ATTENTION and GUIDANCE.

Sometimes it’s tough (let’s face it…more often than not). Patience is tested. They speak their minds more freely (Oh my GOODNESS, are yours speaking their minds yet??!?!). They think they know all there is to know about… well, all there is to know. They make faces when you’re not looking (or when they think you aren’t anyway), and they push the envelope sometimes (or most of the time).

Guess what that means? Or what I have slowly learned it means…

Moms and Dads, we are doing our job. Our babies are becoming more independent. And while it stings a bit, we are providing the tools for them to be strong, successful, intelligent, brave, caring, loving, young adults and grown ups. As parents we get one shot at this thing called parenthood. We are the chosen lucky ones sooooooooo….

…that’s where I went for a few months. I was attempting to help build wings for my girls. Making memories with them and preparing MYSELF to allow the wings we were building together to SOAR. I was soaking in every free moment with my husband…the love of my life and my best friend…because free moments with work schedules are rare these days. I was enjoying family time with my in-laws and my momma because we are THEIR children and as our parents they mean the world. Time with them is precious and should be treated as such.That all being said, as summer is almost over, fall is quickly approaching, school has been in session for several weeks, and 2019 is closing in 4 short months, I promise I am going to pick up my blog posts as much as possible. It has been so wonderful to hear from so many of you that you were actually missing my posts! Thank you very much for your support…

While I have been busy helping to try and build wings for my girls, you all have helped to build MINE. I am beyond grateful and appreciate you more than you know.

Excited to be “back”!

Hugs,

Shannon

Why my momma is a bada$$…

My Momma. This is the name I have affectionately called her for years…whether it’s to her liking or not I’m not sure. BUT, I suspect just from knowing her for the, oh…I don’t know, last 47 years, if she in fact DIDN’T like it she would most likely tell me. Not right away of course. It would be a week long internal conversation…a struggle if you will. Of not wanting to offend me, hurt my feelings, or start an argument while at the same time saying to herself, “well, I really dislike it so I just need to tell her and be honest. Because that’s the right thing to do.” Ha. Yep. That’s my momma!

Lucky for me in this particular case, I think she’s perfectly okay with her given title. She knows it comes from a place of love and respect. Something that she values deeply and knows can unfortunately be fleeting at times when it comes to a relationship between a child and their mother. As children grow and mature, differences of opinion happen. Inconsistencies happen. Trust issues happen. Emotions happen. Drastic changes in location, lifestyles, beliefs, and interests happen.

LIFE happens.

It happened to me too in my past relationship with my momma. While I was away at college. Twelve hours from home attending Duke University. I wasn’t under her thumb or the large intimidating thumb of my father’s. I was 18, 19, 20 years old and really finding out who I was. ME. Who I was and what I thought I wanted for my life. Discovering new things, different people, traveling, and all with no curfew. I was on my own. And in many ways discovering life outside of the small town where I grew up was a lot. Not for me really, but for my parents. There was a period…a longer stretch of time then I would have liked…that my momma and I didn’t communicate at all. My life was so different then it was when I was shooting baskets with my dad in the backyard after talking to my high school boyfriend on the phone (who my parents knew well), eating dinner as a family, doing homework, and going to bed. They were watching me make decisions that were out of their control. I was growing up. And communication between my mom and I became virtually non existent.

It was hard. It was sad. And it was painful.

For BOTH of us. Not just me.

See, I know that NOW. Then? I was just angry at my mom for her “decision” that she made to what I felt at the time was shutting me out. When in all reality, she was probably having one of her “internal conversations”…not wanting to offend me, hurt my feelings, or start an argument while at the same time saying to herself, “well, I really dislike this so I just need to tell her and be honest. Because that’s the right thing to do.” Except in this particular case, I was in many respects a grown woman. And unfortunately, it lasted several months. 😦 Months that we can’t get back as mother and daughter. Yet months that I, as the mother of two teenage girls now myself have learned so much from. I look now as a grown woman and have more understanding. And she looks now as the mother of a 40 something (yes, me…shhhhhh), and as a Nana of many and has more understanding as well.

See, we grew…my momma and I. From this experience alone our relationship grew. That’s just how God works. Was it easy? Oh my LORD no. Was it part of my life experience that I will never regret, change, or take back? YEP.

So let’s get to it. I mean seriously. The title of this entry after all IS “Why my momma is a Bada$$”. So let me tell ya’ll!

Let’s begin with fact one. She raised 3 girls (ummmm…I have 2 teenage girls myself and if this isn’t a reason to be labeled a “bad a$$” all on it’s own I don’t know what is! LOL!) Two of which, (my older sister and I), she raised all on her own for a period of time after my biological father and her divorced. Fact #2 of my momma’s “badassery”.

Going back before she was a married and divorced grown woman, my momma was the youngest sister of five. Sadly, one of her sisters passed away when she was young. I myself, have two sisters. Alive and well. I can’t imagine this. And while I have buried a son myself, my momma watched her parents bury her sister and dealt with all of the after effects that come along with that. Losing a child changes a parent. (Trust me, I know). Losing a sibling while watching your parents change from losing their daughter? I can’t even fathom. “Badassery fact #3”.

My mom remarried to the absolute love of her life when my older sister and I were very young…to my tall, handsome, basketball obsessed father who CHOSE us to be his own. He adopted us out of pure love and together they had my little sister out of the same. She had one big happy family again…which is ALL my momma has EVER wanted. Happiness in her family. And because she opened her heart to love again and put her faith and trust in God as she always has…she received it. She didn’t let herself become bitter or scorned. She reopened her heart. For her AND for her daughters. And because of that, my sisters and I grew up with a dad that loved us and a mom that was happy. And I got another sister. 🙂 Thank you mom. ❤️ Momma “badassery fact #4”.

My dad’s career path was a tough one. He was in the transportation business and for some reason as we grew up, one company would be bought by another company over and over and over. With that, came transfers to different cities, new job titles, lots of traveling, and unfortunately relocation. 😦 There were months where my dad would begin work in the new city he was transferred to while my mom was home, trying to get our home ready to sell, looking for new homes via realtor in the new city, and just being downright lonely. She would just be beginning to establish new roots, new friends, a new career path, get our home decorated just as she loved it, and…bam. My dad would be transferred and she would have to start all over. This not only affected her but my younger sister as well. Changing schools is tough when you are young. It was a hard time for all. And yet, looking at it now, as a wife of a man that works 12-14 hour shifts and is away a lot, I can only say this. My mom is stronger than me any day.

“BADASSERY FACT #5”.

My dad passed away in September of 2016. This was after several years of illness with dementia and ultimately Alzheimer’s. And while the road prior to his passing was filled with hurt, misunderstandings, emotions, tears, regret, guilt, anger, and frustration, the love in my mother’s heart for this man…my dad…is still apparent to this day. At least to the ones that love her the most.

But my momma is tougher than she will ever know. And while I may have gotten frustrated with her at times in the past for what I called “being an ostrich” (burying her head in the sand), and allowing the pain to stifle her life…times are sure a changing.

I have watched her grow, thrive, and LIVE these past few years. She travels, lives in a beautiful home on her own, has made new friends in a new city, become part of a church community, has joined a bible study, volunteers for a women’s safe house, sings in an INCREDIBLE acapella choir that has traveling competitions around the U.S., goes to her granddaughter’s games and her daughter’s (ME! 🙂 ) runway shows. She loves to shop, laugh, dresses beautifully and looks like she is 60 at 75. Why?

Because she ALWAYS looks up.

BECAUSE SHE HAS FAITH.

Because she has NEVER NOT prayed.

BECAUSE EVEN WHEN SHE IS HURTING, SUFFERING, ANGRY, OR DOESN’T UNDERSTAND THE HARDSHIPS IN THIS LIFE, SHE GIVES IT TO GOD.

And THAT is her most important and final “Badassery fact”.

She has lived in Louisville 5 miles down the road from my family for 5 years now. Oftentimes, her schedule is busier than mine. Since she has been here she has been through blood clots in her lungs (twice 😦 ), a major car accident, the loss of my dad, no contact with my older sister and her children, and the death of extremely close friends. And where is she right now?

In another city. At a choir competition with a group of talented, incredible women that love her for the AMAZING woman that she is. At 75 years young my momma is embracing this life for all it’s worth.

And THAT is why she is a complete and utter BAD A$$ in my eyes. Hey momma…I pray that when I am 75, if God blesses me with those years, I can be HALF of the woman that you are. You are inspiring, stunningly beautiful, have a heart of gold, honest (sometimes to the point that I want to zip your non aging lips lol), and I as your daughter couldn’t be prouder of who you are and all you have done for your family.

Now sing your heart out you bad a$$ woman you!! I can’t wait to watch you tomorrow and I couldn’t love you more! Cheers to YOU!!!!!!

Hugs,

Shannon

P.S. To my readers…if you haven’t told your momma you love them today, do it RIGHT NOW. ❤️

Lonely or Alone? Is there a difference?

I’m fortunate and very blessed because of my husband Bart to be a stay at home mom. He’s old school….but in a beautifully supportive way that makes me feel like I can conquer the world. He gives me the freedom to explore my true wants and desires in life while at the same time being my biggest fan. It is rare and priceless and I am beyond blessed to have that kind of love from him. He’s my heart. 💓

But that’s just it. He’s my heart. I cherish time spent with him…at our home on the couch or on the rare occasion we get to go out on the town together. My husband works incredibly hard for his family. 12-14 hours 6 days a week in fact. There are days that I don’t get to see him at all (which are obviously the most difficult), but typically we get to be together 2 hours or so a day.

TWO HOURS. 😔

Most of which is spent with him eating, shaving and showering for the day, and me getting his clothes ironed and ready. It’s absolutely exhausting for him and absolutely depressing for me. He’s beyond tired. And the girls and I are beyond sad.

I.

Miss.

My.

Husband.

The truth is, oftentimes, I catch myself saying that I’m “lonely”. But, in all honesty, I don’t believe that’s actually the case. I have a ton of wonderful friends in my life, two amazing little girls, two sweet fur babies, and an incredible mom that are with me or that I can call at a moment’s notice. I have caring, loving, fun people in my life that love me back.

No. I am definitely not “lonely”.

BUT, I am most definitely “ALONE”.

Now don’t get me wrong…”alone” in many instances isn’t a bad thing. In fact, I have come to feel very comfortable doing a lot of things by myself. I have always enjoyed going shopping solo or even waking up hours before anyone else in our household just so that I can steal a quiet cup of coffee, 30 minutes of reading or a moment with God before the hustle of the day begins. But lately? Alone has been more of a struggle for me.

It has felt TOO quiet. So quiet in fact that it’s loud…

Screaming even.

See him and I are a team. We have been since the day he walked into a restaurant to surprise me while I was on my lunch break and he absolutely stole my heart. We made one another better. We had an attraction to one another that could be seen by anyone who was in the same room with us…we still do.

The sad thing is, these days we are very rarely in the same room. 😔 The girls and I have learned to adapt to the schedule that he has to keep…tiptoeing around the house in the late morning when he has had night shift so that we don’t wake him up, conflicting schedules with my work or the their school, and missed weekend morning lacrosse games because he just returned home from night shift and has to sleep as he has to work again that night. Is it easy?

NO.

ABSOLUTELY NOT.

Not on him for sure. My husband is physically and mentally exhausted. He works endlessly and tirelessly for his family. But it’s not on us either. The girls miss his laughter when he’s teasing one of them and his cheers from the stands during their games. I miss his arms spontaneously wrapping around me while I’m doing dishes or him grilling dinner while we listen to our favorite music and the girls and dogs play in the backyard.

Our family is just BETTER with him around. He’s our backbone…our rock…our hero. He gives his EVERYTHING so that “his girls” have the best of everything this world has to offer. But what he doesn’t realize is this…

To us,

HE is the best of everything this world has to offer. ❤️ And without him around, it doesn’t matter what else we have because we don’t have HIM.

My name is Shannon Lee Burton and…

I.

Miss.

My.

Husband.

I am not lonely, but I do oftentimes feel “ALONE”.

I am trusting and believing that God will guide us through this season of Bart’s long hours, difficult work schedule, and physical and mental exhaustion so that when the warm days of summer begin, this family is grilling, running, playing, laughing, and thoroughly CHERISHING our time together. God please just grant us TIME. Everything else is already present….

You have given us the gift of love. The gift of one another… and for that we are extremely grateful. Please God grant us the gift of TIME. We are not promised tomorrow, so this family wants to live for TODAY.

I love you Bart Daniel. The girls love you too…we sure do miss you. ❤️ And above all else, we are grateful for you.

Xo,

Shannon

If the closed door doesn’t reopen, sometimes ya gotta open it yourself.

Our home.

I can remember the day we bought it like it was yesterday. My husband Bart and I were so excited…this was where we were going to begin our lives together as a family! We made plans to surprise the girls, driving them over to our newly purchased home and telling them that Bart’s good friend Jason had “just bought this great new house and he had wanted us to take a look at it.” It was so much fun to watch the girls “oooo and ahhh” as they walked from room to empty room saying things like, “I would want this room to be mine” and “look how pretty the wood floors are momma!” knowing in our hearts that this was indeed OUR new home! After 15 minutes or so of stringing them along, Bart said, “I think this is a really great house, don’t you girls? So great in fact that I bought it for US!!!”

After the initial shock and confusion wore off, (I mean, we did a darn good job of selling them the story that it was in fact Jason’s new house), the girls couldn’t contain themselves! The shrieks and squeals of joy could be heard a mile away and they turned somersaults and cartwheels on the basement carpet. They flew up the stairs, giddily talking paint colors and bedroom decor. I’ve never seen my husband beam with pride as much as he did that day…he had made a dream come true for all of the girls he loved the most…including our Skylar, as the backyard was glorious! It was truly the perfect day.

Our home isn’t the largest home in the neighborhood but it isn’t the smallest one either. It has four bedrooms and three bathrooms and beautiful dark hardwood floors that I adore (well, at least I adore them when it’s not raining and our two large fur babies aren’t tracking in mud and water every five seconds. 😉 ) The walls are filled with family photos of precious memories, framed wedding vows, and poems of love written to one another…so many that my mother told me we needed a bigger home for more wall space. Our dogs are encouraged to snuggle on our couches with us and sleep with us in our beds at night. We don’t allow TV’s in our bedrooms so that on the rare occurrence that we ARE all home at the same time, (crazy schedules) we spend that time TOGETHER…with family game nights or watching movies in the basement. This home is filled with squeaky cabinets, overstuffed closets, contagious laughter and endless amounts of love.

I am in LOVE with this house. Every single room in it…all but one. The door to it has been closed since May of 2015. Every now and then one of us will open it and put something in there if we don’t know where else to put it. Old Halloween costumes put in the closet, large pieces of luggage that didn’t fit somewhere else, a plastic bin of clothes the girls have outgrown. But whatever it is, it is quickly put in there and the door is rapidly shut again. It is a source of pain. Of what “could have been”…of what “SHOULD have been”. See, when we moved into this new home of ours and the room selection with the girls began, this room was already earmarked. It was already claimed by another little girl…our daughter Sammie Reese. I was 15 weeks pregnant and we couldn’t wait to make this room special for her. We had chosen the colors of her nursery, bought bedding, and a car seat. We were madly in love with her already and couldn’t wait to hold her in our arms.

God, however, unfortunately had other plans. At 17 weeks, at a routine ultrasound our daughter’s heart had stopped beating…and in so many ways, so did ours. After 3 days of induced labor, I delivered our angel on May 24, 2015. We held her in our arms alright…just WAY too soon and for only a few fleeting moments of what was now heartbreak instead of joyous celebration. Upon returning home from the hospital, we closed the door to her room and it remained closed.

Permanently.

The thought of what was “supposed to be” made it too painful for us to open. So we just didn’t. Bart and I were given another opportunity for the door to possibly open in September of 2016 but it was short lived as again, no heartbeat at 9 weeks.

You know the old saying…”When God closes a door, he opens a window”? Well, in our case, our proverbial window was closing rapidly as well. I was an almost 45 year old woman who had suffered through two miscarriages…one very late one. Unfortunately, my age was hurting our chances with every single day that passed. The window was not only closing, it was about to be sealed shut for good. And it hurt like hell. “I love my husband with everything that I am God,” I would pray every night, many nights through tears. “Please, PLEASE let this happen for us. He is such a wonderful daddy to the girls. PLEASE GOD.”

Fast forward to present. It’s March 5th, 2019. I turned 47 four days ago. Our window unfortunately for us never did open…in fact, it sealed permanently shut. And along with that, the door to Sammie’s room remained closed as well.

Until yesterday.

I woke up in the morning and looked over at the man sleeping beside me…the one with his arm wrapped tightly around my waist. He was there…loving me and the girls, caring for us each and every day, giving us his all, fulfilling every promise he had written himself in his wedding vows. HE WAS THERE. In every single way possible. He had just surprised me four days before with a beautiful birthday dinner, flowers, and a card with handwritten words from his heart. We had fought through the pain…the IMMENSE pain of loss…and were still HERE.

TOGETHER.

Was it easy? Not in the least. It’s still not. We both have our days of sadness and tears. We cry for our Sammie. And all that she would have and SHOULD HAVE been…because TOGETHER her daddy and I have something pretty amazing and there is no doubt in our minds that she would have been too. So Monday morning, I felt as his wife, I owed HIM something. AND WE, as her parents, owed Sammie something too. I absolutely knew what I had to do…and with that, I gently kissed his forehead, got out of our bed, made some coffee, took a deep breath and…

OPENED THE DOOR AGAIN.

We may never understand why God chose to close the door of Bart and I having a child together…especially when we love one another so very much. All I DO know and what I have learned is this:

Sometimes, if the closed door doesn’t reopen, you gotta open it for yourself. And that’s just what I did yesterday…not just for me but for Bart, Hannah and Hailey, and most of all for Sammie. The poem Bart wrote to his daughter about her mommy will remain on the wall and this room will now become a place for our family to get healthy. Inside, outside, and all the sides in between. Just like all things, it will be a work in progress. One that will require a new mindset, strength, and a lot of patience. But we will do it just like we have done everything else.

TOGETHER.

The door is now reopened…God was just waiting for us to turn the handle. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for this family. I am now fast falling in love with every square inch of our house…ALL of it. EVERY ROOM. Because we became a true family here, bruised and battered as we may be. And when the day comes, as it inevitably will that we sell this house and move on, I will both smile and cry knowing that THIS HOME made us EXACTLY who we are…

WE ARE THE BURTONS. We hurt hard, we work hard, and more importantly we LOVE hard. We hold one another’s hand when we’re scared, give each other endless hugs when we’re sad, protect each other’s feelings from those that hurt us, and frustrate one another to NO end. Lol. Thank you God for being patient with us. Thank you for giving us one another. Thank you for not letting us close “the door” permanently.

Do YOU have a door that needs to reopen in your life? Just a question…

It just may be time for you to turn that handle and open that door for YOURSELF. And if you need some reinforcement, call me. I will be happy to cheer you on. ❤️

Hugs,

Shannon

Dear me…

In just a few short hours I will have another birthday…turn another year older and let’s hope another year wiser. And as the hours tick away and my 47th birthday gets closer, I just wanted to share some thoughts to me, by me…so I wrote a letter to myself.

Dear me,

You should be excited. Tomorrow is another milestone in your life! You are one of the lucky ones…and while it feels awkward to celebrate yourself and your 47 years in this world tomorrow, shouldn’t you??? I mean, God gave you this GIFT of your life for 17,155 days…why WOULDN’T that be a cause of celebration?

You have had quite a journey…one that is uniquely your own. Some paths have been carved for you, others you carved for yourself. You have loved and been loved, have hurt and been hurt, have lied and been lied to, have been lifted up and kicked down, have disappointed and have been disappointed. Life has definitely not been easy nor particularly hard…at times incredibly painful yet others joyfully abundant.

You have made choices you regret and decisions that make you beam with pride. You have broken hearts and you have had your heart broken. You have cried so hard that you couldn’t breathe and laughed so hysterically that you couldn’t catch your breath. You have gained the titles of daughter, sister, friend, teammate, girlfriend, fiancé, wife, mother, daughter in law, sister in law, aunt, Godmother, cousin, and niece in your 47 years on this earth…that ALONE is pretty special right??

(SOOOOOO, I am pretty sure if you are reading this, many of you are shaking your head and saying “yes, that’s me!” While others are quite possibly still praying for the title of “mother”, “wife”, or maybe even “friend”. 😦 Let’s face it, life is ridiculously tough sometimes. God doesn’t hand us a map or step by step directions to love, life, and success when we are born. Instead, we are given one thing.

A life. Period.

I truly believe that what we DO with that life that God has blessed us with has everything to do with US. And please understand me when I say this…we are NOT all given the easiest of paths. In fact, some of these paths are downright OVERWHELMING and feel IMPOSSIBLE to venture through. Be rest assured in one thing. If you are relying on Him, He is walking WITH YOU and there IS a reason. I say this KNOWING I have struggled with MY path more than once in my almost 47 years. It’s not easy to keep falling. Taking blows left and right. Having doors shut… many of which you know will never reopen. Many of which you may have closed yourself unknowingly. We get in our OWN way…our OWN paths. I have done it to myself a thousand times.)

Okay…sidetracked…lol. Back to my letter to me. 😉

You…YOU, my dear are strong. Stronger than you think. You may not always be the sharpest tool in the shed as it takes you a little longer than most to learn from your past mistakes. But you ARE strong. And you know what? I am proud of you. Even when you screw up, you recognize it pretty quickly and you are not afraid to say “I’m sorry, I was wrong.” And let’s face facts. When you screw up, you do it royally…I mean, you never were one to do things half assed. And when you make a mistake, it’s usually pretty monumental. But you love hard and with all that you have. Even when you don’t always receive that same love in return.

Keep doing that.

Because the more of that we have in this world, the better life will be in the future for your daughters.

Speaking of Hannah and Hailey…WOW! How lucky are YOU? God decided that they would be yours and then put the cherry on top by blessing you with a gorgeous 6’4″ heart of gold that wanted all 3 of you to be HIS. He lives to love you and them. Remember when you thought life as you knew it would never be the same? That you would grow callous to love and live your life with the girls alone after divorce? (The tough path that I was speaking of earlier…P.S. a new path of love was made for their dad as well 🙂 ) Well, God was walking with you the whole time…through all your heartache, mistakes, and misunderstandings…and in His perfect timing He chose your new path. It was no coincidence that it coincided with the path of this new miracle named Bart. Why? Because you trusted and BELIEVED that He would take care of you and the girls…even when you felt you failed. And MAN did He ever!

Is the path that we are currently traveling on as the Burton family easy? No. Not in the least. You and your husband have lost 2 children together. One that you delivered, named, and held in your arms…your daughter Sammie. You have had countless opportunities dangled in your faces only to have the rug swept out from under you. You have suffered lonely nights and days for a job that relentlessly takes away time, rest, laughter, date nights, the girls’ game days, and sometimes sadly your smiles. There have been times when your lack of time together and your loss has caused resentment, anger, irrational emotions, hurt and tears. You know what else it has caused? What else it has shown you?

PURE LOVE.

The kind of love that has no beginning and no end. It is the kind of love that listens even when the words hurt and understands even when things are beyond comprehension. It is a love that only God can grant you and it is special. And it’s not only shared between you and your husband. It belongs to you, your husband and your girls as well. It is precious and rare…and you should NEVER take it for granted. Cherish it and it will last until you take your last breath.

OH. And that’s one more thing you have learned. Your last breath? Yeah. THAT can come at any time. Don’t forget that. Love like there is no tomorrow because you just might not be given one.

Remember when you were little and your mom told you you could be anything that you wanted to be? You still can! You are never too old to chase a dream, start over, or walk a new path. Just remember where you failed and adjust your sails. Remember what you can and can’t control and give the rest to God. Hold tight to those you love and those that love you BACK. Cry when you need to cry, talk when you need to talk, and walk away when you need to walk away.

Happy 47th birthday to you Shannon! For the first time in maybe my lifetime I am going to say this out loud…

I love you.❤️

May this be the best year of your life thus far! Hold tight to your dreams, cherish every day with your children and family, and ALWAYS remember THIS…because no matter what love is ALL that matters.

Corinthians 13:13

Love is patient.

Love is kind.

It does not ENVY, it does not BOAST, it is NOT PROUD.

It does NOT dishonor others.

It is NOT self-seeking.

It is NOT easily angered.

It keeps NO RECORD of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

It ALWAYS protects

ALWAYS trusts

ALWAYS hopes

ALWAYS perseveres.

Here’s to an amazing 47 years of life! May God bless you with many more.

Hugs,

Shannon

And still…we RISE.

“Jolly Green Giant”. “Sasquatch”. “Stretch.” “Amazon.” The last of which I absolutely DESPISED as a teenage girl growing up. I have since come to love and view “Amazon” as a term of strength and beauty. But for some time, I’ll be honest, it would cut me to the core. These were all names I was called as a middle school girl and into high school. I am sure that unfortunately some of these names sound very familiar to many of my fellow tall friends and consequently maybe some of your children as well…

So how do we break the cycle? How do we help our tall daughters (because let’s face it, if we are blessed to have daughters they are most likely going to be tall as well), to feel strong and confident in their own skin? How do we get them to not only accept their tall figures, but EMBRACE them?

Here is one thing I KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt. It begins with YOU. And not in a way that you might think. See, if you’re a mother, I’m quite confident that you are already pouring love into your child…praising her for her accomplishments, telling her she is beautiful from the inside out. But mom…how is your “self talk”? What does your daughter hear from you when you get ready in the morning? What does she hear from you when a stranger makes one of those tall comments we inevitably hear on practically a daily basis?

You see, YOU are their guide. Their resource, their strength in this world of tall. These “lanky loos” as I have affectionately called our now young teenage girls since they were toddlers (who are now 13 and 14, Lord give me that AMAZON strength! Lol), look to US for encouragement. If they see US reacting in a positive way to the looks, the questions, the head turning, and the name calling then, MOMS! They will too! Why? Because they truly won’t know any different. They will feel that their tall is an asset from the very beginning…and knowing what we know NOW…isn’t it?

We might not have had the strength or confidence to do it for ourselves growing up, (although some of you might have had an incredibly awesome mom like I did…see mine in top photo 😉 … that helped you along the way). YOU can, however, be the change NOW. It took me a long time to learn this for myself. But as my daughters quickly grow up from little girls into young ladies, I realize that they not only look up to me physically (although not for much longer I believe!), but they look up to me for guidance and the confidence to handle what is being thrown at them on a daily basis as well. I am their example on how to respond to “how tall are you anyway?” And wise cracks about foot size and being taller than all the boys. They need me to be proud in MY height and my reactions to these types of things so that they can feel proud in THEIRS. And just like that, my young ladies have taught me yet again.

So what’s your “Achilles heel” if you will? We all have one…mine just happened to be my height. Is it your weight, your age, hair loss, your skin? When you see your reflection in your bathroom mirror, a store window or the self checkout camera at Target (ok, ok…we ALL cringe when we see that thing! Lol), but in all seriousness, how is YOUR self talk? Remember this…not only WHO you are talking to (God loves you and made you uniquely YOU!), but remember who else is listening. The little sets of eyes that are seeing your facial expressions as you glance at yourself. If they see and hear you embracing the person that is looking back in your reflection, they will follow suit.

Trust me moms…it matters.

The thing that I once hated the most I know now has provided me opportunities that many women would never have the chance to pursue…from collegiate scholarships to fashion and runway modeling. Don’t get me wrong, I still struggle finding cute, fashionable shoes but as I search, I know the young ladies I’m raising to fill them are going to be three times the women I could ever be…

because they are being raised to be AMAZONS!

Watch out world! Hannah and Hailey are about to take you by storm!

Definition of an Amazon: (n) a strong, statuesque, oftentimes athletic woman. A powerful warrior queen. Strong, brave, and fierce. Beautiful in face and in stature.

You want to call me or one of our daughters an Amazon? You go right ahead. 😉

Hugs,

Shannon

P.S. Thanks mom. ❤️

One day can change someone’s life…or YOURS.

February 13th, 2019.

A few days before, I had asked my mom if she would like to go to dinner with me…be my “Balentine” as we always affectionately said in our household growing up.

Dad.

Dad asked all of us girls…he had 4 of them including mom…to be his “Balentine” every Valentine’s Day. It was sweet and endearing and one of the wonderful things I remember about him and always will. So, on this particular Valentine’s week, with dad being gone for his 3rd heart day (time goes so fast) 😦 , I made reservations at one of my favorite restaurants on a “Wine Down Wednesday” and picked my mom up to be my date for the evening. We shared some wine, some yummy food, talked and laughed. We had our waitress take a photo of us to cheers to our evening celebrating our night together. I never said a word, but most definitely saw my Dad’s favorite 3 stone diamond ring on her finger (I love you mom), as she clinked her glass with mine.

He was with us…

After dropping her off at home, I sent the photo of us to my husband who was working that evening. As he opened his text message and looked at the photo of mom and I, his coworker who wasn’t typically even on that particular shift was standing right next to him. Bart looked at the photo and turned to his buddy…”look at my mother in law,” he said. “Isn’t she beautiful? She’s 75 years old and is full of life. I so wish that we knew of someone that she could just spend some time with. She is awesome. You don’t happen to know of anyone that has recently been widowed do you?”

In his mind he’s thinking what a long shot this most likely is…

And then his buddy says this. “Actually, it’s sounds crazy but yes I do! He helps run the gym where I work out. He’s an incredible guy. He’s in his 70’s…everyone calls him Coach. I was just talking to him the other day and asked him how he was doing. He said he was sad…missed his wife and was kind of having a hard time. He used to coach women’s basketball at Western Kentucky University and is still extremely active.”

Bart relays all of this information to me via text as him and his coworker are chatting about “Coach”. As he does so, I begin to piece some things together…the time line of his college coaching career and my college basketball recruitment years. And then the text comes through…

“Yep! His name is Steve Small, look him up!” he responds.

HOLY COW. Steve Small? I KNOW Steve Small. Steve Small, I believe, knows ME.

Thirty years ago Steve Small recruited me to go to Western Kentucky University to play women’s basketball. THIRTY years ago. Bart and I are in absolute amazement as we discuss the commonalities over the phone on his break.

“Do you really know who he is?”

“Absolutely! I have recruiting letters from him in a storage bin in our garage! Such a small world.” Unbelievable, I think to myself. Were my mom and him meant to meet?

Side bar to tell you a tiny bit about me. I don’t believe in coincidences. I believe that we receive signs everyday… all the time. God directs our paths and oftentimes these paths connect in ways we will never understand. Certain people are meant to come into our lives for a season, others for a lifetime. And sometimes God indirectly leads us to people that need us. Or… maybe, just maybe He leads us to people WE need and never even knew it.

Side bar over. Please hang with me as this is kind of a long story, but trust me when I say, worth the read and will most definitely do a heart good. ❤️

As Bart’s work break comes to an end and I hang up the phone, I immediately head to the garage. I KNOW I have letters from Steve Small. I KNOW I do. But I also know I have 3 huge storage bins full of old letters. Needle in a haystack as they say right? I shift through the stack to get to the bottom bins…my high school and college memorabilia, etc.

And then I open the first one.

The first one of three and what is on top? NO. WAY. SERIOUSLY? WHAT IS ON TOP?

Of all the bins, of all the letters, the top ones are from Western. Could these be from Steve??? I literally look up and begin to smile and laugh. I mean, there’s just NO WAY right? Grabbing the stack of letters, I quickly come inside to see if this could possibly be true. And then I open the first letter.

Without reading the content, I glance quickly down to the bottom to read the signature. Sure enough, this letter is from Steve Small! I begin to get choked up. Wow. Just. WOW.

I scan back up to read the content and then the tears begin to flow…I read about God giving us a new beginning everyday. I read about positive attitudes and taking one day at a time. I read about finding the rainbow after the rain. And then I read a poem that has been written by Steve himself and sent to ME as his recruit THIRTY YEARS AGO. As I catch my breath, I began to think that this was way more than just a situation for my mom and Steve to meet. As I said before, I don’t believe in coincidences. This letter was on top of the first bin I opened for a reason. This letter was the first letter I opened from Western for a reason. And maybe it truly didn’t have anything to do with my mom and him meeting at all. In fact, maybe it was way more than that…

The next morning, I got up and was on my way to get Valentine surprises for my daughters and husband as it was February 14th. As I pulled out of our driveway, my purse fell off of the passenger’s seat dumping onto the floor (a typical occurrence for me honestly lol). But what fell out wasn’t typical. I had put the letter from Steve in my purse…and there it was. On my floorboard.

Okay God. I’m listening. And on my way…

Instead of driving to get candy and cards for my family, I was on my way to a gym that I never been to before to see a man I hadn’t seen in 30 years to hand him a letter he probably forgot ever existed. Why?

Because it was Valentine’s Day. And for Steve Small? The first Valentine’s Day in 40 years without his wife. After reading the words he wrote to me so many years before, in my heart of hearts I felt like he needed to read his very own words on this day. So I headed to him to hand deliver the letter I had discovered the night before. It was a risk…but one definitely worth taking.

I pulled in nervous and excited. With the letter in hand, I walked straight up to the front only to discover that it was a gym that required a membership card to unlock the door. I waited for someone to notice me standing there. To open the door and let me in…for 5 minutes nothing happened. I began to think maybe I wasn’t supposed to do this. Maybe I shouldn’t be here. I turned to walk towards my car as the door opened and I heard “Hi! Can I help you?”

“Oh, yes. Thank you! Is Steve Small here by chance?”

“Actually he’s not today. He is visiting his daughters for Valentine’s Day but he’s usually here. Can I help you with something?”

I asked if I could come in to leave Steve a note and drop off the letter and he said absolutely. As I was writing the note to him, I began to tell this man that I learned was the owner of the gym the story of how I knew Steve. Touched and amazed he asked if I would mind if he called him just to see if there was a possibility he was home. He went on to say he literally lived 5 minutes away and would most definitely want to see me and hear the story of why I was there. Turns out, Steve was indeed home and upon hearing from the owner that there was someone at the gym that he may want to meet, he was on his way.

As he walked in, did he recognize me? Absolutely not. Did I recognize him? Yep. Upon saying my maiden name, introducing myself and telling him where I grew up did he know who I was? Sure did. His next words…”What in the world are ya doing here?”

My words? “I’m here to see you sir.” 🙂

He asked me to come sit down and chat. And then I began to tell him the story of why and how I came to be there…

How a picture of my mom and I sent to my husband at work led to his coworker talking about him and the loss of his wife. How me piecing information together led to me looking through recruiting letters and discovering a letter from him from 30 years ago… and how I felt like he needed to read the words that he himself wrote in this letter to ME so many years before…ESPECIALLY on Valentine’s Day. And then, I handed him the letter.

HIS letter. Written to me. 30 years, 5 months, and 5 days before. His words. His poem. I had held on to it this long. And now, I had the opportunity to hand it back to him face to face on a day that he truly may have needed it.

My heart was full.

And his eyes were full of welled up tears. As were mine.

We chatted for about an hour. About our families, children, basketball, life, and loss. We laughed. Expressed sadness and joy. And smiled. A bunch. 🙂

We exchanged contact information and as I got up to leave we both expressed our gratitude for the moment. It was the most genuine and real moment I have experienced in a long time.

“I love you for doing this for me” he said….I truly do. You didn’t just change my day today, you changed my life. I needed this. Thank you.” He then gave me the biggest hug. Little does he know what he did for ME that day. With the stories of basketball, his quotes, and his spirit Mr. Steve Small reminded me so much of my dad.

So thank YOU Steve. Your hug felt like it came straight Heaven. Straight from my dad.

It’s truly amazing how God works y’all. I set out that day to make a man who was hurting feel better. I took a risk…going to surprise a virtual stranger with a letter he most likely didn’t even remember writing. I mean 30 years is a LONG time. But I did it anyway. And in return, I received WAY more that I could have POSSIBLY given. I will NEVER forget February 14, 2019. My only regret was not getting a photo with him that day. But I have a feeling I will see him again…at least I hope so. And I will be sure to get one then.

Thank you Steve for being the wonderful man you are… to SO many.

Moral of this long but feel good story? Take a risk. Step out of your daily routine, busy life, whatever the case may be to make a difference in someone else’s life.

It may just change YOURS. It most definitely did mine.

Oh! And that poem he wrote that he included in that letter to me all those years ago? I will just share a small piece of it…the last few lines because I love them so much…

Thanks Coach! ❤️

Hugs,

Shannon

The Kentucky Derby…the fashion, the fillies, the fun…and the philanthropy!!

The first Saturday in May is quickly approaching which only means one thing in the state of Kentucky…

The Kentucky Derby!

It is a bucket list event for many and a yearly tradition for even more. The Run for the Roses as the race has been affectionately nicknamed due to the garland of more than 400 real red roses the winner is given, is the first leg of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing. It is followed by the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes. Twenty horses and jockeys enter the Derby…and as many as 150, 000 fans pack into Churchill Downs to see the famous race.

What’s just as exciting as the the Derby itself is the list of incredible events and activities leading up to it! As a model during this time of year, there is access to ENDLESS opportunities…from television appearances focused on Derby fashion and trends, to dozens of runway and fashion shows showcasing looks for all of the upcoming Derby galas and parties. And of course all of the gorgeous hats, fascinators, dresses, and suits for Derby and Oaks! The months of March and April are chock full of these events…so if you are a model in the city of Louisville at this time, break out those heels and your best smile because you will be BUSY!

I was lucky enough to be asked to participate in several of the runway shows last year. Turns out, I’ve been asked to walk again this year! I thought it might be fun to give a little taste of the 2018 shows in time to peak your interest and give you plenty of time to purchase your tickets for the 2019 shows which are coming quickly! All of these events benefit different wonderful charities and feature many of today’s up and coming local designers, as well as incredibly talented seasoned designers and stylists. This, combined with local boutiques and stores create awesome runway shows that won’t soon be forgotten. Here are just a few that I was a part of this past Derby season and am looking forward to participating in again in the next few months:

Down With Derby Fashion Show & Charity Auction

Thursday, March 21, 2019, 6:30 p.m.

The Gillespie

421 West Market Street, Louisville, KY 40202

This incredible 2018 Derby fashion show, featured gorgeous fashions by local Louisville and online boutique Nic and Kat, owned by Louisville’s own Nicole Volz, as well as hats and fascinators by Denise Yates. All proceeds were donated to Down Syndrome of Louisville. Models with Down Syndrome strutted their stuff along with professional models wearing this Derby’s season’s hottest trends. This was the 2nd annual fashion show for this cause and it was WONDERFUL! Please join us in 2019 for an evening of fun, style, and dancing at this year’s show including a charity auction! The funds raised by this event will support our award winning and nationally recognized Lifelong Learning Programs which focus on the educational and social growth of individuals with Down Syndrome. The fashion show will include style selections for women, men, and children in sizes XS-3X. You don’t want to miss it! To purchase your tickets, donate, or sponsor, go to www.downwithderby.com/

Here are a few photos from the 2018 event:

The Style Icon Derby Fashion Experience

Saturday, March 23, 2019, 7 pm

The Kentucky Center for African American Heritage

1701 W. Muhammad Ali Blvd.

Louisville, KY 40203

In 2018, this diverse and entertaining fashion show benefitting Fund for the Arts showcased gorgeous Derby looks for everyone from males, to females, to children and as always was a ton of fun! Produced by local stylist Andre Wilson of Style Icon, LLC, the show has everything from giveaways, to shopping, to vocal and dance entertainment, to an incredible runway show featuring models of every size, shape, color, and age reminding us all that beauty is indeed in each and every one of us. The children in their Derby best are always a huge hit and in pure Andre fashion, the show finale is always a surprise! For 3 years, his finale was to gain excitement for the real rose dress that is worn on the Derby red carpet and at Unbridled Eve by yours truly! Amy Streeter of Susan’s Florist and Andre collaborated on the dress for the last 5 years. With Amy designing the dress in 2018, Andre, with the help of talented seamstress Maddie Callen created a finale piece for last year’s runway show that definitely made the crowd pay attention…with a 15 foot cape and covered in roses, you couldn’t get much more “Derby-esque”! What’s in store for his 2019 show? Buy your tickets and stay tuned…

This year’s show will proudly benefit the Unbridled Charitable Foundation, Inc.

Tickets go on sale on Friday. Link to come.

Here are a few photos from the 2018 event:

GRAFFITI – Louisville BeSpoke Fashion Show

Friday, April 12, 2019, 6 pm

Speed Art Museum

2035 S. 3rd Street

Louisville, KY 40208

Louisville Bespoke partnered with Blessings in a Backpack in 2018 for an incredible Spring fashion event. In addition to the highly-curated fashion show and shopping experience, local designers made specially designed backpacks to be auctioned off with proceeds going to Blessings in a Backpack. The gorgeous Speed Art Museum was the venue, as art and fashion are intricately mixed. Yamilca Rodriguez, founder of Louisville Bespoke put on a beautiful event for a wonderful cause! The 2019 show will be the 3rd annual featuring some of the very best fashion designers, models, makeup artists, and hairstyles of Louisville. Tickets includes a signature drink, appetizers, and a deluxe swag bag. To purchase your ticket, go to www.eventbrite.com/e/louisville-bespoke-fashion-show-spring-2019-tickets-54044566754?aff=allevents/

Here are a few photos from the 2018 event:

KMAC Couture

Saturday, April 20, 2019, 8:30 pm

KMAC Museum

715 W. Main Street

Louisville, KY 40202

KMAC Couture is a wearable art runway show presented by the KMAC Museum of Louisville. This event offered a unique way to experience the museum by featuring artists, costumers, designers, and milliners and the extraordinary presentation of original couture pieces of wearable art and conceptual fashion designs.

Main Street in downtown Louisville became our runway…our 176 foot long runway! The 2018 show was crazy, fun, and the closest thing I have ever felt to New York fashion week! Some incredibly creative and talented artists were featured, including my own….Ms. Sheila Ferguson of Jealousy Jane Couture created a stunning piece I was lucky enough to be chosen to wear that she titled “butterfly whimsy”…I am sure from the photo you can tell why!

All of the proceeds of this event go to support the educational and exhibition programming of the museum throughout the year. It is the signature fundraiser for the KMAC Museum. The 2019 show will include a pre-show cocktail hour, the couture runway show, and an after party immediately following. It is unlike anything you’ve ever seen…you can purchase you tickets for the show and/or the after party at www.kmacmuseum.org/kmac-couture/

Here are a few photos from the 2018 event:

I am truly honored to get to walk the runway again in 2019 for all four of these AMAZING shows. If you haven’t been to any one of them, click on the links, purchase your tickets today and have a wonderful night out in our great city getting a jump start on YOUR Derby look for an awesome cause! You truly can’t go wrong!

My thoughts? Catch them ALL if you can! Hope to see you there!!!

Hugs,

Shannon

…and then, there He is.

…and you think to yourself, where has HE been??? Has He heard me? Every night before bed? Before every meal? Randomly throughout my Monday afternoon because I was about to pull my hair out? Has He heard me ask for strength when I was weak or patience when I seemed to have none left? And what about when my dad became ill with dementia and Alzheimer’s or when I miscarried our daughter Sam at 19 weeks. Where was He then? And if He was there, why did He allow these things to happen?

Trust me when I say, I have had my share of angry moments with God. Where my faith has been tested to my absolute limit and I cry in frustration, “why God WHY? If I am your daughter and you are my Heavenly Father, then why didn’t you protect me from these things? Why did you bless us with a healthy pregnancy to begin with if it was only going to be taken away from us?” These are the questions that I think we all ask ourselves when we are facing a tough season in our lives. We want to know what we are supposed to be learning, how we are supposed to be changing as a result, and how we are supposed to grow after these types of heartbreak. The answer is not that simple…

The truth is, we may never know.

But God does.

He has already carved our path in this life. It will walk you through glorious high peaks and painful low valleys. You will have to maneuver through stumbling blocks along the way…some self-inflicted and others placed there by God Himself to help you grow in some way. There will be times in your life when you feel like you are walking on your path alone…in the dark…without a flashlight…or a map.

There will be other times when you feel like your path is lined with silver and gold, illuminated by the sun and a soft warm breeze is leading you in the right direction.

Still others when you’re standing still. Stuck in one place…waiting for a clear path to reveal itself.

What’s tough to understand is that, in all of these scenarios, He IS there. He has been there the entire time. He didn’t “just show up”…although at times it may feel this way. He was helping you grow in your faith, listening to your prayers and needs all the while. Unfortunately, we don’t always get the answer to the prayers that we are searching for and as a result, we can end up feeling deserted, angry, or disheartened. I know I have. But here’s the thing…

I believe that God understands when we have anger or frustration about occurrences in our lives that we don’t understand. At least I pray that He does as I have most definitely had my share of heated, angry, yelling sessions into the sky! But I truly believe that in time, in HIS time, all things are revealed for His purpose. It certainly doesn’t mean that it doesn’t painfully hurt in the process. It is what we do with this pain that changes the course of our lives and possibly others. He IS listening…the question is, are YOU?

See, every morning we have the choice to make a positive difference in the life of another. We have a choice to make our own lives better even when we are hurting. I’m not saying it’s always the easy choice…in fact, it’s quite difficult. But, bitterness breeds…and it’s ugly and toxic. So instead, close your eyes and take a deep breath. Ask God for strength and guidance. And when your heart is ready, take your first step. He will be there, map or no map, highest of peaks, and lowest of valleys.

Keep praying…keep moving forward. He’s there.

I promise. ♥️

Hugs,

Shannon