Tuesday, July 26, 2016

52 Weeks of Gratitude Challenge: Week 29

There she was...this beautiful, tiny, screaming spawn of Satan.


She had colic. She cried for nine months straight, which if I might say so, ripped my heart right out of my chest. After some grand failures in my life, namely my treacherous divorce, the one thing I had left to succeed at was motherhood. And I knew I'd be good at it. I have God on my side. I will not make the mistakes my parents made. I will correct them, in fact. My children will know love, emotional support, companionship, and they will see their parents work as a team through "better or worse", with "angels as witnesses". My children would be worth more than jewels and bring my all the joy my black heart needed. They would tie me and my husband together, give us meaning, and allow us to always be friends. While having kids has done those things, it also has brought me quite a surprise myriad of emotions: pain, anxiety, heartache, and yes failure. And my oldest is only 2!!!

I did not foresee a lot of these problems. What is colic, you ask? What is reflux, you ask?
They are a death sentence for a mother's pain tolerance.
My PPD was bad. I did not anticipate this. My joyous miracle of life was overshadowed by a darkness I couldn't control. It was stealing from me this remarkable moment. It was...weird. I mean, there is no other way to describe it. Other than...of course...me learning that this was only the start of God's test for me. He knows how to break me, in the "breaking a horse" sense. Being a good mother is on the TIPPY TOP of my priority list, and He was going to allow me MANY bumps in the road.

Here's the thing: the birth of my children is undoubtedly the answer to my week 29 prompt of the 52 Weeks of Gratitude Challenge. Favorite memory. But I particularly love the birth of my oldest, my daughter, because it was in that moment that I truly became, and fulfilled my divine calling by being, a mother.

My water broke about 8pm.
Contractions progressed to every four minutes on the dot within the hour.
I had been at the hospital all night and was only dilated to a three. 
This was my most exciting moment. Adrenaline courses through me--as well as pain, pain, pain. I sobbed when they brought in the epidural needle. I am terrified of needles. I was shaking so badly...and I am not easily shaken by fear. Alas, the pain ebbed....for the next few hours, anyway. I was stuck at 9cm. Going nowhere. My contractions were slowing. They gave me pitocin, but...nada.

My doctor gave me two options as I approached my 24 hour mark: You have 3 hours left. You can start pushing, or you will have to have a C-section.
He left to let me and my husband discuss it. Once again, I started crying. I am terrified of surgical procedures, blood, cutting, complications. My birth plan was "No C-Section unless I am dying!" My doctor returned.

I said, "I want to push."

I pushed for an agonizing 3 hours. This confused many people since I was not progressing beforehand--nonetheless, the pushing forced my body to a 10. After an hour, my baby wouldn't drop. I didn't know the gender at this point, as I wanted it to be a surprise. So we called it Baby. I pushed another half hour. Baby was posterior. My doctor could feel the head! He turned the baby and I continued pushing. Pushing, pushing, eye bulging pushing! It hurt so bad I literally thought, "I am going to go blind. My eyes are going to explode."

Eventually, my doctor recommended I use foreceps to assist. I declined. I pushed and pushed. The baby started to descend. The last half hour I was overcome with adrenaline. My epidural had long worn off for the most part, but I was self-anesthetized. As soon as the baby's head came out, my doctor grabbed hold and helped pull. I tore, a fourth degree tear. (That's the worst tear--google it so I don't have to go Rated R)

But there it--SHE--was!! I had a daughter! 
Oh my world changed.
My doctor later said if I hadn't been so strong I never would've been able to push her out. Thank you, situps!!!
I didn't have that feeling some moms do, the instant that blue, slimy, squealing baby is placed on their chest. It was this blooming sensation of LOOOOVE. It was this realization that my task was only just beginning. My journey had begun. My divine calling accepted. A child! MY child. My earthly child, a spirit from God that was gifted to me, now my responsibility. Everything changed. And I am forever grateful. 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

52 Weeks of Gratitude Challenge: Week 28

Why, how fast did week 28 go by??? Phew... Tomorrow begins week 29! I'm not sure whether this 52 week challenge was a great idea, now that I'm realizing how rapidly 2016 is flying by...:) But I AM grateful it has been a reminder to have gratitude in my heart.

Unrelated to the prompt this week, I have some vegetables to harvest from my garden! I'm so excited. Gardening is super fun to me, not to mention rewarding. And the veggies taste soooo much better when homegrown! Anyway, I cut up a cucumber and some yellow grape tomatoes. My daughter devoured the cucumber, but disliked the tomatoes. More for me?? Evil laugh...

On to the prompt for this week, week 28 of the 52 weeks of gratitude challenge: Your past.

Geez, I'm not sure where to even begin. My past has shaped me so much. It has also made me angry a lot, but as I grow older I come to understand the scripture "and all things shall work together for your good." My past has shaped me and molded me. I call it my "boot camp." It has made me the woman I am today, so how could I possibly regret it? Strained childhood, broken relationships, abuse ending in a divorce, several years of wallowing and drinking heavily, some physical injuries and ailments, becoming a mother. These are the BIG moments in my past that I am grateful for. They are going to help guide me in the rest of my journey. I truly believe I am going to succeed as a mother and pretty much anything else I want, as long as I submit my will to God and stay humble. 

I read a quote today I love: Successful people aren't gifted. They just work really hard and succeed on purpose." 

Week 28, let's do this!
                                   
                                                              Author Brittany Shannon

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Fighting Anxiety

Fighting anxiety is, to me, almost an oxymoron.
Anxiety consumes me.

Hard as I try, I am one of the most stressed people I know. And on top of that, I am aware of how blessed I am, in my home, in my country, in the world. This leaves me laden down with immense guilt. I want to 
live a happier life...and I want to have inner peace.

There was a time about nine months ago, when I desperately sought comfort and peace. And I received it. I wrote about it for those of you interested in the summarized version. Scroll back a few posts to the blog How I Met God. It was during a most desperate prayer, on the worst day of my life since my divorce at 21, that I felt the comfort of the Holy Spirit.

Now, since then, I have gone up and down with feelings of comfort. Sometimes I can bear the burdens placed on my shoulders and other times I am overcome with grief. I distinctly remember that night I prayed fervently for the stillness, the quiet, soft, cloak of the Spirit of God to just-momentarily-help me survive the bedlam I was in. 

Today, I am suffering from a great deal of pain. I have counted my blessings and tried to remain positive. But I also thought, Hey, why not blog about the Spirit in an effort to invite it? I desire the comfort of the Holy Spirit and, for those of you who aren't familiar with its presence, I'll tell you what it feels like to me.

Close your eyes. 


(open them to read)

Imagine yourself describing the sun to a deaf person. Would you take them outside at noonday, let them feel the prickle of sunshine on their skin, see the reddish flare on the backs of their eyelids, and feel the sheen of perspiration on their neck from heat? What does it LOOK like? How does it brighten the world? What does the world look like without it? Now, stand inside of an enclosed area, like a tent. There are no windows, yet you can sense the sun outside. If is still hot and bright, and you KNOW it is there even though you aren't directly looking at it.

To me, the Holy Spirit is similar. It is something you aren't looking at. The way you feel it is different from someone else, and the sensations can be so subtle, or multiple sensations combined. They will each have a varied effect on your body. Regardless, once you've felt it and seen in, you cannot deny its existence. 

To me, the Spirit FEELS like the waves of the ocean. 

Close your eyes.


(Open to read)

Imagine yourself on a beach. You lay back in the sand, sunshine tingling your skin, and you pull out your phone to call someone who has never been the the coast. They have never seen the sea. They have never heard with their own ears the lull of waves rolling, crashing, retreating. They ask you to describe it to them.

The Holy Spirit is a constant. It is soft, quiet, but easily distinguishable. There is nothing else like it. As it grows near, the volume grows slightly. It increases in a roll, a hum, a buzz that you can feel within you. It crashes and slithers over the surface, spreading, covering you in a thin layer. And it retreats in the same manner, lethargically withdrawing but only so far. It might even take something with it, put into the great unknown. You can still hear it, see it, and the feeling of it on your skin stays moist long after. Once you've dried, and you wish to feel it again, the waves of comfort approach a second time. Calmly, repeatedly, methodically. It's persistence and undeniability stand as a reminder, that this is your most peaceful place. No matter what, these waves will keep on rolling up onto shore. Sometimes in large currents, sometimes in mild swells hardly visible, but the hit the sand just the same. They roar in a humble, mellow song over, and over, and you cannot help but be entranced by it.  You may walk away from the ocean, you may find yourself deep inland, or in a dry, barren desert, but one day you will feel the sea call to you. And you will follow your feet back to the water. 


Thursday, July 14, 2016

52 Weeks of Gratitude

52 Weeks of Gratitude Weeks 24, 25, 26, 27


Holy Moly... Okay. I swore I wouldn't slack but I have! I've continued to write the prompts down on my chalk wall, but I've forgotten to post them here. 

So here they are, weeks 24, 25, 26, and 27 of the 52 weeks of gratitude:

24: book. I chose the Guide to Literary Agents 2016. Although I've read a lot of this information time and time again, the section on "Literary Agent's biggest pet peeves" was hilarious and eye-opening. I def made some changes to my book just after reading it.

25: education. Who isn't grateful for education? I'm especially grateful for the music courses I took in college. Even though I didn't complete my BS in music, I have always been a music zealot and those classes taught me more about the language of music than ever before. 

26: Someone you met. I remember being 17, sitting in a small studio in Manhattan. I was visiting New York for my drill team's national dance competition. On a day activity, we went to one of the Broadway rehearsal studios and met with a guy who was cast in Wicked. He sang Defying Gravity right there, accapella, on a folding chair. I'm pretty sure everyone thought I was crazy, because I sobbed. I had never seen the play OR heard that song. But that moment changed me. And I am grateful for it.

27: favorite part of your city. This one is hard. I've been on a lot of hikes this summer and have really enjoyed how they all look down across the entire city. Picking one would be unfair. So I'll go with Pizza Hut. I love pizza.:) 

That's it for my update on the 52 weeks of gratitude challenge! Sigh....I'll try to be better but man...summer has got a hold of me;)

@AuthorBrittanyShannon

Monday, July 11, 2016

**GIVEAWAY**

For those of you who haven't heard yet,
I'm doing a giveaway for the FIRST ever signed copy of
OG
the first novel in my series, Conquest of Canaan
which will launch August 5th, 2016.

Because of my volunteer work and my passion for the ARP, I would LOVE to inspire people by centralizing this book giveaway around people's stories of Addiction Recovery.

Details:

Follow my Instagram @AuthorBrittanyShannon
and share your story of addiction (whether your own or the experience of a loved one) in the comment section of my INSTAGRAM giveaway post. All entries will be pooled together and one random winner selected. Please understand that sharing stories of trial and triumph is meant to support and UPLIFT one another.
Keep names anonymous and details focused on the RECOVERY aspect.

THANKS FRIENDS!

Headshots!



So, I got my headshots taken today!
The wonderful @Mos.pics.and.vids Took them for me,
and now I have to face the battle of picking my favorite one for
the inside back cover flap for my book!
EEEE....
Anyone and everyone wanna help me make this decision? Here are the ones trying to pick between:


1


2

3
4

5

6

7



PICK ONE AND VOTE BELOW!
(7's totally gonna win)
;)