When in doubt…wear RED.

February 1st. As I wake up and check my Facebook news feed, I see posts of many of my beautiful friends smiling brightly in their red lipsticked selfies, in red shirts, red dresses, and bright red heels. Many for themselves…others for loved ones. And still others for those they don’t even know. Why?

Today is the American Heart Association’s National Wear Red Day to kick off Heart month. ♥️ The nation is coming together to raise awareness about cardiovascular and heart disease in order to save lives. It’s an awesome movement that raises the much needed funds to eliminate heart disease and stroke. I figured it would be the perfect time to share with you why this day is important to me and our family…

Meet Riley. My son.

Riley Matthew

Our story is long and difficult. Emotional and heartwrenching. And unfortunately doesn’t have a happy ending. Riley was admitted into the hospital on a cold October afternoon and never came home. You see, after a healthy and thriving 3 1/2 months of life, our son’s heart was failing. Riley needed a new heart. And our lives were changed forever. 

He was placed on ECMO (day Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation), which provides prolonged cardiac and respiratory support to those whose heart is unable to provide perfusion to sustain life. In layman’s terms? Our son’s heart was tired. It was enlarged, beating erratically, and way too fast. It wasn’t strong enough anymore to support his little body. Out of NOWHERE, Riley was dying.

He was placed on a heart transplant list the day after he was admitted. Our heads were spinning. It didn’t even seem possible. How could this have happened to our baby boy? He was growing…thriving, and then overnight he wasn’t. To add more anguish to what was an already impossible situation, we now had to play the waiting game…but what we were waiting for seemed implausible. We literally were waiting for another infant to pass away so Riley could have their heart for a chance to live. What we were praying for meant another mom and dad’s devastation. This plagued us and yet it was the only way he could survive. That and the fact that we couldn’t fix it. We couldn’t “make it all better”, kiss it away, or comfort him until it passed. After all, isn’t that a mommy’s job? It was all out of our hands…and we hated it.

To make a very long story short, sadly, nothing was able to fix it. Our son passed away on November 11, 2004. I have no recollection of Thanksgiving that year or even Christmas. I was numb. I CAN however, still remember very vividly until this day, the first snow we had that winter. Normally, I get giddy about the first fluffy snow of the season…it’s beautiful and serene and gets me into the spirit of Christmas. This time, as I looked out the window to see the grass covered in a thick layer of snow, I panicked. I immediately went into hysterical crying…uncontrollable and irrational tears…”Riley is cold! He’s cold!”, I screamed. “He shouldn’t be in the ground! He should be in my arms…I HAVE to warm him up! I HAVE to hold him!”

That first year without him was beyond tough. But God provided me healing in the form of two precious girls. Hannah Grace, Riley’s twin sister kept me going on a daily basis. She needed me in every way possible and her smiles and monthly milestones were my motivation to heal myself from the inside out. She was a living breathing reminder of her brother and without her, I’m quite sure I would have faded off into a dark space far beyond emotional recovery.

And then in April of 2005, just 5 short months after our loss…I miraculously became pregnant with our Hailey Noel (her name is a combination of Hannah and Riley’s btw…HA + ILEY). 🙂 This little blessing from God was a true miracle. After 5 years of infertility and treatments (Hannah and Riley were our in vitro babies), Hailey came to us naturally. And if we weren’t already convinced that this pregnancy was a true gift from God, at our first obgyn appointment, we learned that she was due on Christmas Day. At exactly 18 months apart, the girls have grown up virtually the best of friends. And while there could NEVER be a replacement for Riley, Hailey sure did put a light back into our lives that we thought would never shine again.

The HEART. /hart/ Noun.

It has a myriad of definitions if you open your dictionary. It is not only the muscular organ that pumps blood through the circulatory system…it is also regarded as the centre of a person’s thoughts and emotions. Especially love or compassion. It stands for courage or enthusiasm, and portrays one’s mood or feeling. And in ALL of these examples, it also refers to the innermost part of something.

Whatever YOUR definition of “heart” may be, can you consider using it today to make a difference? Not only by proudly wearing the brightest red you possibly can today, but by donating to Go Red For Women. Your gift will continue to support lifesaving research, education and health impact initiatives to help eradicate heart disease. You have read my story and now know firsthand how heart disease can change the course of a life. If you didn’t previously think that this was a cause near and dear to you, maybe reading about my son Riley changes your viewpoint a bit. Maybe, it made you stop and think about how in the blink of an eye life can change…including your child’s, your spouse’s, your parent’s, or your own.

My last few minutes with my son.

Your donation can help. Follow the link to make a change. Happy Friday. #wearredandgive

www.goredforwomen.org/en/get-involved/give/wear-red-and-give/

Hugs,

Shannon

P.S. Louisville residents, consider attending the annual Heart Ball on February 9, 2019 at the Louisville Marriott downtown for a night of amazing auction items, an incredible dinner, drinks, and dancing. Helping to raise money for heart disease and stroke. Click below for more information!

https://ahalouisville.ejoinme.org/MyEvents/20182019LouisvilleHeartBall/tabid/993202/Default.aspx/

Lashes, and lashes, and LASHES…oh my!!!

For years I have been obsessed with finding the latest and greatest mascara. Mascara was kind of a necessity in my world as I have very light colored lashes. But I needed one that didn’t run or smudge when I worked out and made my lashes look lush and long without making them look like big black spider legs. I would ask my sister, my mom, and my girlfriends for their opinions, recommendations, and what worked best for them.

Now don’t get me wrong, I found a few products that I really liked, but trust me when I say there is NOTHING like waking up in the morning with fluffy beautiful dark lashes even before you have brushed your teeth or touched your makeup bag! HOW you ask? Well, I can’t wait to tell you!

You see I have a secret weapon…it’s called The Lash Lounge. And this beautiful spot…and I do mean BEAUTIFUL (wait until you see it!), gives me the “superpower” of waking up with bright eyes and the gift of NO MORE MASCARA! And they do this all while giving me a snuggly blanket, a bed to lay down on, and headphones with my choice of music. Sounds pretty fantastic right?? Well, it most definitely IS! Let me give you the deets!

Every 3 weeks or so I go visit the lash experts at The Lash Lounge in Chenoweth Square…for my LASH EXTENSIONS! Now I’ll admit, I had no idea such a thing existed until their grand opening several months ago but boy am I glad I know now! I seriously look forward to my appointments as I decadently get to have a very rare mid afternoon “lash nap” as they call them in the biz! During the application process you are required to close your eyes…ummm, OKAY! You don’t have to tell me twice! Off to dream land it is! The best part? I wake up to lush lashes that look like my own only BETTER!

Shhhh…lash nap in progress. 😉

You most likely have some questions about the process as I know I did. Here are a few bits of information that I can answer for you from my personal experience, before making your first appointment.

  • Does is hurt? Absolutely NOT. In no way, shape, or form is getting lash extensions painful.
  • Can I still wear eye makeup with my new lashes? Absolutely! You simply need to make sure that the products you are using are oil free…mascara, eyeliner, eyeshadows, as well as makeup removers. The great thing is, with your new extensions, you won’t feel the NEED to wear some of these products anymore! Your lashes will steal the show!
  • Will they ruin my natural lashes? If you play by the rules, absolutely NOT. Do not pull the extensions out yourself. They are as easy to remove (professionally) as they are to put on. Plus, they will eventually fall out on their own with the natural shedding of your lashes.
  • Do I HAVE to come in every 2-3 weeks? I’m not sure I have the time. The answer to that is no. However, this is the recommended amount of time to keep your lashes looking their very BEST. Taking good care of them by using oil free products and keeping them clean, may help to stretch the time out in between visits every now and again.
  • I want my lashes to look very natural. Will extensions make them look like I have fake lashes on? Absolutely NOT. Lash extensions look far different than strip lashes. Every experience at The Lash Lounge is customizable so along with your personal lash expert, you will choose the length, the amount of curl, and the material that best suites you (think mink or silk), your eye shape, and your desired look…from naturally gorgeous (classic) to va-va-voom glam (volume). The choice is absolutely YOURS!
  • Before my mink lashes in the morning and after my mink lashes ANY TIME OF THE DAY!

    So are you ready to save some time in the morning and wake up looking bright-eyed and refreshed? The lash experts at The Lash Lounge can’t wait to hear from you! You can call them at (502) 353-1414 to set up your appointment and ask any additional questions or simply click on the link below. Make sure while you’re there to check out their winter special and other services, (pssssttt…they do brows too!). They are conveniently located in the Chenoweth Square shopping center in St. Matthews. For those of you not in the Louisville area, be sure to look for a Lash Lounge near YOU!

    Oh! And to my Louisville subscribers…don’t forget to tell them I sent ya! You just might get a lil discount. 😉

    www.thelashlounge.com/salons/st-matthews/

    Can’t wait to hear all about your lovely lashes!

    Hugs,

    Shannon

    P.S. Scroll down and subscribe today by simply entering your email address…I’m just getting started! SO much great stuff to share with you! You won’t want to miss out!!

    Monday Motivation!

    The first month of the new year is already more than halfway over! Are you still sticking to your fitness and wellness goals for 2019? Or did you start with a bang and are quickly fizzling out? If you need that little extra PUSH to keep going and stay on track, I may just have your answer. And if you had every intention, but haven’t even started yet…NOW is the time!! Who is ready to step it up? Future Fitness and Wellness is giving away 3 customized personal training sessions with me! What do you have to do? Simply scroll down and subscribe! The winner will be randomly selected on Monday, January 28th. How easy is THAT? 🙂

    Oh! And as you’re scrolling, why not read a little more “fitness fabulousness” to get your mind and body ready for 2019?

    Just like anything else you are attempting to accomplish in your life, a healthy, fit lifestyle begins with a PLAN. Whether you have 5 lbs. to lose or 65, whether you are simply trying to gain muscle tone and feel better cardiovascularly or you’re training for a 5K, it’s the day to day baby steps that are going to help you to reach your ultimate goal.

    With that being said, what are YOUR health and wellness goals? What are you trying to accomplish and WHY? What steps are you willing to take to get there? Write these things down. It all begins with a VISION. Think about it…if your goal was to buy your first home, there would be a series of actions that would have to take place before you signed on the dotted line. Deciding your price range, saving money for a down payment, figuring out what home features you want and need, choosing an area of town for your home search, selecting a realtor, and so on.

    The same applies for your fitness goals! And let’s face facts, the decisions you make about your body are some of the most important you’ll ever make. If the home you choose doesn’t suit you, you can choose another one and move. BUT, you only have ONE body! Shouldn’t we be doing all we can to make it the best it can be?

    Oftentimes, knowing what our ultimate goal is is the easy part. It’s the “what do I do to get there” that we struggle with. The small accomplishments that we attain on a daily and weekly basis are incredibly important. They help us to remain focused and every time we reach a milestone, no matter how small, it should be considered a VICTORY! So take a little time. Buy yourself a fitness journal and begin mapping out your goals and timeline. Ask yourself the tough questions and dig deep to answer them. Your physical and emotional health are interwoven…healthy mind, healthy body.

    Step one? COMPLETE! Now…

    LET’S GET MOVING!!! It’s YOUR time!! And don’t forget to put your name in the hat for a chance to win 3 customized personal training sessions (Sorry, Louisville area only), by subscribing today!

    Hugs,

    Shannon

    Oh! And make sure to check out my bio and more information about Future Fitness and Wellness and Kentuckiana Personal Trainers. Just click on the link below. Enjoy!

    Http://www.futurefitnessandwellness.com/

    Just Two Words…

    Have you ever had an encounter with a complete stranger that has totally altered the course of your day? Someone said something or did something that made such an impact that it actually made you truly pause and take inventory of the gifts in your life?

    About a month ago it happened for my husband Bart and I.

    The two of us had the identical reaction at that moment. And ever since that day, all we have to do is look at one another and say these two words…

    Two simple words that put EVERYTHING back into perspective no matter what the circumstances may be at that particular moment.

    Here’s the backstory…

    Anyone who knows me…who knows US as a couple…knows that when Bart isn’t working, we are together. Wherever that may be. At the grocery store, at the gym, you name it, we are TOGETHER. It’s one of the things we both value in our marriage. However, in this past year, his insanely demanding work schedule (12-14 hour days/6 days a week ya’ll 😦 ), has made our time together incredibly rare. We miss one another and unfortunately, because of that, often times when we finally DO have the much desired time we have been longing for, we sadly end up talking about the time we DON’T have instead of enjoying the rare gift of the time at hand. It’s dumb and we know it but somehow it happens.

    That day was one of those days. His only day off had FINALLY come and we were out running errands TOGETHER. Together being the key word right? But the morning hadn’t really gone our way…we had woken up late so we felt like we wasted half of our day together sleeping (even though he needed the extra zzz’s desperately), and Bart’s thoughts were unfortunately already focused on what he needed to get prepared for the next 6 days of work. We were irritable and down. Not at all what we wanted for our only day with one another. Enter Starbucks…

    And one beautiful angel.

    We were standing in line waiting to order our favorite coffee concoction when a girl who appeared to be in her late teens or early twenties sipping a slushee walked right up to Bart and I,

    “You’re pretty,” she said.

    “Well thank you!” I said, now smiling.

    Then looking at Bart…”She’s pretty.”

    Bart… now smiling: “Yes, she is very pretty.”

    “You’re lucky,” she said, looking at both of us.

    “You’re right. We are lucky. Thank you,” we both replied as we squeezed one another’s hand…now smiling at one another.

    At this point, we had both observed that this young girl had some mental disabilities. Her mother smiled at us from a corner table, watching and listening to her daughter engage with us. We smiled back at her reassuring her we were not crazy people and we were enjoying the conversation. Apparently she was used to her daughter being a “people person” it seemed. 🙂

    She went on to ask Bart a few questions about his shoulder as it was in a brace from a recent surgery. But it was the last two words she said before walking over to her mom that not only changed the course of the day that day, but made such an impact on us. We now only need to say them out loud to one another to redirect an off day…

    Just two words.

    “You’re rich,” she said, as she walked back to her mother and sat down.

    We were speechless as our names were called. We picked up our orders, never unlocking hands. The rest of our day was completely different. A young innocent stranger’s two simple words had changed EVERYTHING for us…had made us stop and realize the true gift we have in one another…

    “You’re rich.”

    Thank you sweet girl. Your family is too.

    Bart and I may not have it all…all the time, all the possessions, all the money…but one thing is for SURE…we are multi millionaires in this thing called love.

    Enjoy your weekend ya’ll. And make it your goal in the next couple of days to change the course of someone’s day for the better. You never know the impact you may have…

    Hugs,

    Shannon

    The Journey Begins

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    Hi!  Thanks for joining me!  I am so excited after years of being fearful to finally take a leap of faith and launch my first blog!  I have so much to talk about from mom life, to wife life, to secrets, suggestions, and silliness in all things from health and wellness to dating your spouse.  I am a strong willed woman of two teenage daughters with an oftentimes uber sensitive heart.  I’ve experienced child loss, the death of a parent, divorce, miscarriage, and so many things in between.  Yet with a whole lotta faith, good friends and family, and a whole lotta prayer, I’m still standing. TALL. 😉

    That being said, NOTHING in our home is small including our love for one another.  I am 6’1”, my husband 6’4”, and our girls 5’8” and 5’10” at 14 and 13 respectively.  We have a 65 lb golden retriever and a 160 lb Newfoundland.  We are large and in charge and we wouldn’t have it any other way! I am fiercely in love with this family and extremely grateful for this life.  I can’t wait to open some new doors!

    I’m excited to hear from you, listen to your ideas, and share.  I hope to build a community of strong women and moms who can all learn from one another.

    Love love LOVE that you’re here,

    Shannon