I Remember

My beautiful daughter, Eliana Saige

A poem I wrote for my daughter’s first birthday. Happy Birthday, Eliana!

I Remember

I remember the first time I felt you move, when you were nestled up warm and peaceful inside of my womb. The beat of my heart was the first sound you heard, and I protected you from the sound of the mad, rushing world.

I remember the first time you opened your eyes. You looked all around, and you let out your first cry. But then you looked up, and mommy and daddy you saw, and you rested in the look of love in our eyes that said, “You are our all.”

I remember the first time you smiled back at me. Your head was resting on my arm and your hand grasping my finger tightly. In that moment, I knew, you were just assuring me that you knew I was your mom and that you really loved me.

I remember the first time I heard you giggle. It was like the angels broke out into a song that would make any heart warm and tingle.

I remember the first time you took a step. You looked at me with excitement, and you held your breath. But you knew that mommy would not let you fall. So you took my hand and walked confident and tall.

I remember the first time you came into my arms in an embrace. I remember the look of love and affection that was written all over your face. You clasped me so tight, and I held you so close, and it is this memory that I will always cherish the most.

Because in that moment, you looked so at rest when I looked down and you had your ear pressed against my chest. You seemed to remember the sound of my heart from inside. It was there, away from the world, where you did peacefully hide.

Always remember, you are my baby, you are my joy and my pride, and throughout your life’s journey, I will be there for you with my arms open wide.

The Brambly Hedge Series

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I’m obsessed with the Brambly Hedge illustrations. There is just something about the illustrative detail and business that draws you in. The Brambly Hedge series is illustrated by Jill Barklem. She is a British illustrator and writer, who developed a love of art and illustration after an accident that left her incapable of participating in PE or any sports or physical activities in school. Instead, she channeled all her energy and passion into drawing as a child. I love her work. I think it is just so quaint and rustic. It makes me want to read it with my daughter, snuggled up in a cozy cabin while sipping on hot cocoa. Enjoy some of her illustrations below!

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29 Things Winners Do

My husband emailed this to me this morning. I found it inspirational so I thought I would share. I need to work on #11 and #12. “Find inner motivation!”

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29 THINGS WINNERS DO

1. Winners don’t make excuses for their mistakes. They learn and grow.

2. Winners don’t whine when things don’t go their way. They work on figuring it out.

3. Winners don’t copy what other people are doing to be successful. They do their own thing.

4. Winners don’t stay down on the ground when they fall. They come back stronger.

5. Winners don’t shirk from the hard work that success demands. They sweat, fight and bleed.

6. Winners don’t adopt the thinking of the status quo. They think for themselves.

7. Winners don’t ignore their own weaknesses and bad habits. They fix them.

8. Winners don’t pretend they’re perfect. They’re maniacally focused on improving.

9. Winners don’t look down on others who aren’t winners. They push them toward greater achievement.

10. Winners don’t overlook the details that drive better results. They are deliberate about being better.

11. Winners don’t care that other people aren’t encouraging them. They find inner motivation.

12. Winners don’t spend time correcting everyone else’s perceptions about them. They focus on being awesome.

13. Winners don’t run faster than their support team can keep up. They’re team players.

14. Winners don’t let money make them arrogant or take stupid risks. They stay financially disciplined.

15. Winners don’t complain about things that are outside their control. They focus on action.

16. Winners don’t waste their time doing things that don’t matter. They prioritize how they expend their energy.

17. Winners don’t try to be good at everything at the same time. They do one thing well at a time.

18. Winners don’t give up when things get tough. They do the hard things that success demands.

19. Winners don’t listen to the doubters, critics or skeptics. They stay mentally disciplined.

20. Winners don’t participate in mediocre activities. They focus their energy on activities that matter.

21. Winners don’t gossip, gab or talk badly about other people. They’re kind.

22. Winners don’t forget to follow up and follow through on what they have promised. They deliver.

23. Winners don’t think about defeat or success as final. They continue to set bigger goals.

24. Winners don’t blame other people for their own mistakes. They take responsibility for their own lives.

25. Winners don’t become complacent about past success. They push themselves each day.

26. Winners don’t let current chaos distract them from future success. They get things done regardless.

27. Winners don’t put their egos ahead of achieving epic results. They work on staying humble.

28. Winners don’t lose sight of why they’re doing what they’re doing. They stay inspired.

29. Winners don’t think of themselves as anything other than winners. They reject negativity.

When I Wake By Your Side

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A poem I wrote to my husband…

When I Wake by Your Side

When I wake by your side, I feel strength, and I feel pride.
That we woke up with another battle won and all our dreams open wide.
We can face any foe; we can beat any beast.
I feel protected under your wings;
And nothing can harm us now when we are wrapped together in these sheets.

But the morning calls us part, and the days journey begins,
And wild demons and snakes come to lure us in.
They want to kill all that is good. They want to destroy what is pure.
They want to take all our dreams and lock it behind their steel bolted door.

Oh, remember, my love, we have been there before.
I thought they would never let you come back to me. I was almost sure.
But love won that war, and our strength killed that beast.
And again we found refuge wrapped together in these sheets.

Oh, but the next time, will you return or will they keep you captive?
They want to destroy true love, but we will not let them have it.
They are cunning and they are sly,
And they prey on our love
For it is a love that does not frequently come by.

Every morning when I wake by your side, hold me close and hold me tight.
When the morning calls us part, embrace me and listen to secure beat of my heart.
It sings, “Our love will have victory over each battle,
And our strength will win each fight.
And when it is time to go, only you will be the one lying next to me
With your head over my heart.

~Shannon F.

One of the Most Beautiful Letters Ever Written!

This letter below has to be one of the most beautiful letters ever written! It was written by Sullivan Balou, an officer in the Union Army during the Civil War. It is a letter to his wife, Sarah, before he died in the battle of Bull Run. I once played the Ashokan Farewell with an orchestra behind a narrator narrating this letter. It absolutely made me want to cry! If you want to listen to original narration with the Ashokan Farewell in the Ken Burns, PBS documentary on the Civil War click here.

So beautiful! Maybe, sometime, I will post a video of myself playing the Ashokan Farewell on my violin. For now, here is a performance of the song without the narration.

I love it with just the violin, guitar and ukelele! Be sure to read the letter below.

My very dear Sarah: The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days—perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write again, I feel impelled to write a few lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more . . .

I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans on the triumph of the Government and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and sufferings of the Revolution. And I am willing—perfectly willing—to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt . . .

Sarah my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me unresistibly on with all these chains to the battle field.

The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them for so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when, God willing, we might still have lived and loved together, and seen our sons grown up to honorable manhood, around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me—perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar, that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battle field, it will whisper your name. Forgive my many faults and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have often times been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness . . .

But, O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the gladdest days and in the darkest nights . . . always, always, and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath, as the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by. Sarah do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again . . .

Sullivan Ballou was killed a week later at the first Battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861.