Thursday, September 6, 2012


Fall is the season in our house that holds deep significance.  Each leaf that falls from the tree is a meaning of life evolving, and how time passes.  With each Season comes brilliance, energy and hope for what it holds.  For me, September is a heartfelt time.  Interestingly enough, it resonates with other friends whom are close to us, and many school friends.  This past week on the playground, 12 different friends have asked how Makenzie's health is doing.  Trying to sound strong while being real, I share, "She is doing great and shows no symptoms of even having Type 1 Diabetes yet.  We take it as it comes and for now, she is a walking miracle. She rocks her 1/3 pancreas like it's nobody's business".

But honestly, I look at the Fall date of September 23rd as a marker. September 23rd, 2010, is when I rushed Makenzie to the hospital. It is a date that forever changed my entire families life. It's a date when my oldest daughter didn't recognize me at all.  It is when I looked at her big eyes, trying to stare into her soul, and thought her soul was being lifted away from me.

Flag catching, 9.20.2010
I had been in Portland for the Power MOB business conference from September 21-23rd. Honestly, it was an excuse to visit my heart city and be with some of my best girlfriends.  Rarely do I get away without the kids. While in Portland, Makenzie had fallen ill with stomach flu on September 22nd.  Keeping in constant touch with Jack and my Mom, they said to stay in Portland and enjoy myself.  As the day progressed, Jack shared she wasn't feeling better and after going to the pediatrician, they agreed she'd stay home the next day.  I asked my Mom if I should take an earlier flight. She said enjoy my morning and she'd be with Makenzie. The next morning, I attempted to "enjoy the time" while running the Leif Erickson trails with my dear friend, Sheri.  However, my gut wasn't feeling right.  It was heavy and I had an inkling something was off.  Upon calling Mom at the airport, she said Makenzie seemed dehydrated and that when I got home we should have her checked up again.  The less than two hour flight felt like ten hours.  Even with my Mom saying Makenzie just seemed dehydrated, my Mother instinct was on overload.  It was like I was being guided by airplane controllers waving their lights signaling, "All factors point towards your daughter being really sick. Be ready to run off the plane to take care of her".

My Dad picked me up from the airport, and as he pulled in front of my house I booked it inside to see Makenzie. My Mom looked at me and said, "Erin she isn't doing well and still can't keep things down. She just started the mouth bubbles after the last time we talked. I think she is sicker than stomach flu." Her eyes were as big as saucers, little face was foaming at the mouth, skin pale, body warm but extremities cold and she had no recognition of me.  Her mother. The woman who carried her for 9 months and nurtured her every day since birth. I held her and said nervously to my own Mom, "She isn't good Mom. She seems like it could be more than dehydration. I think we should go to Children's Hospital to give her fluids".  As my Dad drove the car, I said out loud with a focused tone I didn't know I possessed, "It has to be dehydration. I left 2 days ago with a dynamic 6 year old who was swimming alongside me, and now she seems so weak.  She must need to just keep her fluids down."  I had no idea how hard her strong little body had been working to fight off all the demons of broken down organs. Calling the pediatrician en route, I was rubbing Makenzie's hand hoping she'd recognize me. She didn't.

Hospital Life - 9.23.2010-12.16.2010
When we arrived at Children's Hospital Oakland, the nurses took Makenzie's vitals. While doing so, she shook like mad and had a seizure.  That seizure rushed us to the ER into a myriad of medical mayhem.  Makenzie was taken from my arms, laid on the table, and tubes started going in and out of her.  I maintained my calm, praying in my heart and mind to my God...Please let her be strong.  What is going on God, please let my Miracle be strong. Let her know we love her and let her please hear our voices.  I continued to talk to Makenzie as her eyes wandered through the faces above her, not knowing what was going on, but so out of her own body that she couldn't wince in pain.  My Dad had joined in the room than and stood behind me.  He rubbed my back with his big hands attempting to provide comfort, doing this while I rubbed Bug's legs simultaneously, hoping my touch could heal her body too.

Medical terms, questions, big words, talking above Makenzie's head, whispered conversations amongst the doctors, and a feeling of the unknown.  You could feel the room's nerves, since the medical team had no idea what was going on with Makenzie.  Every few minutes another pediatric specialist came in to do a test they could use to rule out the unknown.  When Jack arrived rushing in from work 30 minutes later, there was still no idea. The next hours felt like years.  Makenzie's body couldn't hold anything in.  It was breaking down. Each organ had decided to fail and not work together.  We are a TEAM, our little family unit, and her little team of a body decided to disagree with....each...organ.

Courage = Embracing Life's Challenges
Guilt began to rise within me.  What if she didn't recognize me again? What if she had gotten an infection to  her brain? What if I hadn't gone away and stayed home with the girls?  What if her body was breaking down and wouldn't come back? What if many what ifs rose up and enveloped my mind. While doing so, my inner voice screamed, "Don't go there Erin. DO NOT allow those thoughts to enter your body".

Beautiful Miracle- 8.16.2012
The pain of watching your helpless child, and not being able to connect with them, is an experience I don't wish upon anyone.  To stand there, praying they can hear your voice to calm them, praying that if it is their last moments in the world they could feel your love cradling their body is a living nightmare.  It is a feeling that now, almost 2 years after it happened, I sometimes still experience.  It is a feeling that doesn't wash away with countless showers, or with therapy sessions. Only with time.  It is one that likes to present itself when you think of the date that forever changed your life.

But it is also a time when you learn miracles do exist! It is a date that I associate with strength and courage, because on that date, we found out on a deeper level what our daughter was made of. It is a date that allowed me to trust my inner Mom voice.  It is a date that cemented Jack's and my partnership as parents, knowing we would not let our daughters down when they needed us most.  It is a date that even with haunting me, reminds me how far Makenzie has come.  

While watching her playing tag on the playground yesterday, pink leggings tight on her round buns, I felt grateful.  Another Mom asked me how she was doing, I said with a smile, "Look at her. She is doing incredible and taking it each day as it comes.  She knows what happened in a more mature level now, but she also is aware of how strong she is and what she is capable of overcoming."   I believe, September 23rd reminds us all of that.

Visit the Believe in ME Foundation to help provide quality childcare for siblings of hospitalized kids.

Almost 2 years ago...

Reading on Caring Bridge brings me back, and allows me to progress forward too.  Interesting how when in ICU there was still so much unknown with Makenzie...and now her future has unknowns too. But she is strong and doing great today! She rocks her 1/3 of a pancreas like nobody's business! 

Written Sep 28, 2010 11:14pm
Green Irish GirlMakenzie Christina Shirey Update- 9/28/10 by Erin Kreitz Shirey on Tuesday, September 28, 2010 at 3:33pm
Wow, who knew that life could change so fast. Makenzie is my hero, she is fighting so hard. She was swimming catching flags at the pool last Monday night and today, Tuesday afternoon, she is full of tubes and had a blood transfusion. Seriously, she kicks ass like no other. I am beyond grateful to be her Mom and have her call me "Mommy" as loud as she can.

Yesterday was a rough day. Makenzie needs oxygen now because her breathing is compromised and her left lung is now full of fluid. She did not like the various options for face masks for breathing and it was a battle. But we figured out how to make it work. In the midst of this, Makenzie had a CT scan to see what is going on in a greater level. Her poor little body is broken inside. Good news is her kidneys, bladder and stomach are looking ok. Bad news is her Pancreatitus is worse than first thought and she has colonitis. She has a case that is severe and the doctor's hadn't seen that bad before...not the news a parent wants to hear. Her blood cell count was low and her body needs to keep the good blood and get rid of the bad. In addition the rest is from the last few hours:
I talked with the specialists today, went over the CT scan and here is the breakdown.
  • Makenzie's pancreas has so much damage that part of the pancreas is almost missing. She needs a lot of time for it to heal.
  • more than 50% chance she will get the fluid filled sack- sore- on the pancreas as it heals and will need surgery to remove it.
  • She has Colonitis too, and it is damaged.
  • The concern is that there could be bacteria floating around in her body that can cause another infection. They are monitoring it closely because of her jeopardized system.
  • She is one tough kid- if we were to be in her shoes we would be so angry and in mush worse shape.
  • She got her catheter taken out because she was peeing so much - YEAH!- and will have to start peeing on her own or in a bed pan "Princess potty"
  • She is doing the breathing "vest" treatments again and did not like it. We decided every time she does treatments she has to have medicine before to calm her nerves.
  • Her left lung and side is full of a lot of fluid. The fluid is getting a little broken up, but she has a long way to go.
  • The influenza strain she was tested for is the concern because of it comprising her healing.
  • WE NEED TO KEEP HER SPIRIT AND DETERMINATION UP! She needs to keep getting frustrated, pissed off, happy, cuddly, sad and ready to make the next step.
  • She is really connecting with the Pulmenoary Specialist, Perry, and nurse Molly. That is key!
I just want to hear her laugh again. I want to take away all of this pain and make her feel good. The doctors said it is not a sprint but a marathon. And I said this will be her PR. They said that it will most likely be 7-14 more days in ER, another blood transfusion in the next while, and our goal is to have her home by Thanksgiving. After the CT scan and everything else, the dates have shifted. I am at a loss, but want to care of Jack and Emerson so much too. It is beyond challenging to be there and know that I have seen E for all of an hour daily the past few days. But I wouldn't be anywhere else and need my baby to get better. She is INCREDIBLE! Bo(college bestie) came by yesterday for a few hours and brought an iPhone full of games, movies, music which was perfect. She asked me to read in bed with her today which was nice.She is getting a strong voice in what she doesn't like, which is my normal Makenzie.
I feel grateful for all she is going through and for being the kid of Type A parents. She has a sense that she will win and get better. She doesn't have an option, and it is her only way to take the time to heal.
On a different note update- thanks SO MUCH for all of the emails and cards. I bring the cards to M an put them on her bulletin board of the ICU. It means the world to us that you are praying and sharing your kind words with us.I just got my computer approved by the medical team and can now write from her room when she is sleeping.It is key because Emerson can't see her until she is out of ICU and we will hopefully be able to Skype. They are sisters who are always together, so this is a a new challenge to have them apart. Emerson is doing incredible though! She is my little monkey!!
If you wanted to connect with anyone, my Mom and Sister, Tina and Robbie, MIL and SIL- Denise and Jen, and friends, Danielle, Colleen, Bo, Sandi and Sheri are the liasons. Emails are Mom-, robbie-, Danielle-, Colleen-, Sandi-, Sheri-, Denise-, Jen- We are not really at our house right now, so if you have a card for Makenzie please send it to my parents.
Thanks so much for your thoughts, kindness and concern for our baby girl. Jack and I appreciate it more than you know.We truly do, we truly do.
Erin, Jack, Makenzie and Emerson

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Third Times the Charm

Where PFPDX,POF,BBC began
I just returned from our third annual trip to the Pacific Northwest. We moved to Alameda 2.5 years ago and since we moved I have driven to Portland and Seattle to visit the week before Hood to Coast.  Jack flies up to join us mid trip. This year was special in that we all feel settled in Alameda. We love and miss Portland tremendously, and it will always have a big part of our hearts and history, but we've grown so much as a family and in creating our home where ever we "are". Cliche, I know, but it's true.

Emerson exploring the Rose Garden
Let's be real honest here...I was very resentful when we moved back to Alameda.  Portland was "our" city. It was a place that Jack and I decided to take leaps and bounds to create a new adventure in.  While living in Playa Del Rey (a small LA Beach City) when Makenzie was 3 months old we flipped a coin between Portland and New Orleans, and Portland won out.  At the time, I remember thinking Portland is a place people settle in and New Orleans was the city with the real "adventure". How wrong I was, but how unknowingly right too. The city was an open book for us, with stories yet to be created and written. We wrote big stories each year, experiencing and creating new adventures each week.  We made friends, got networked in and created our families roots in the city of green tree huggers.  Through our time, the friendships expanded to more of "family" and solidified which evolved to seeing a friend in each neighborhood of the city.  While yes it was rainy in the Winter (Spring and Summer too) it felt good.  Portland just felt, and always will feel, good to my soul.

Rose Garden Beauty Bug
We were all saddened upon leaving, honestly heartbroken to leave Portland but now, 2.5 years later, we visited with new traditions and roots in Alameda.  When we moved to Alameda, much of my resentment came from growing up in Alameda and feeling that coming home meant I had failed.  It meant I didn't have the ability to get off the "island" and live as the adventurous spirit I feel and define myself as having.  A silly thought and one that's been proven untrue, but we often hold onto notions from our childhood that keep us from being at peace with where we are.  For me it was coming "home" by default (job loss) verses choice.  Yes we made a choice to move to Alameda over other places in the Bay Area.  I had a lovely childhood growing up here, and Jack was always fond of it when visiting my family throughout the years.  Even with appreciating it's charm and being by family, the movie Hope Floats when Birdie moves from Chicago back to the small Southern town she grew up in would play in my mind...every time I ran into an old teacher in the grocery store, my orthodontist while swimming laps, or kids I babysat for who now are taller and look down to say "Hello" to me.  At first I wasn't allowing myself to truly see Alameda for the wonderful city it is, and charm it has.  In the beginning I didn't realize the incredible opportunity my own family had in living close by family while creating fun adventures of our own in the Bay Area.

Some of our favorite "gifts" from Portland!  xoxox to Sheri, Missy, Melica, Rumi, Jen & all the kidlets
Thankfully, those notions evolved and were thrown out the window.   Now, over two years later, it feels good.  This visit to Portland we had comfort, love, laughter, fun, and did a lot...but stepped back to relish being with our friends and doing nothing but laughing in their backyards.  One afternoon we even had a Shirey family afternoon of fun.  After having an afternoon playdate and picnic in our favorite park, the Castle Park, with many dear friends we took Emerson to the Rose Garden.  The girls, along with their friend Lydia, did performances on the stage.  Emerson then ran through the Rose Garden with me to smell every rose, and all of us took in people watching by one of our favorite fountains.  This time, the girls decided to dance, splash and attempt to pocket some change from it which entertained many tourists walking by.  We shared that it would ruin people's wishes, so they had to keep it put or the wish fairies would see...oy vey. We left the Rose Garden and went to our first home, neighborhood and park in NW Portland.  At Wallace Park on NW 25th the Swift Chimney stood tall in a bright blue sky.  Wandering through the "secret" paths, listening to Makenzie share with Emerson what their "favorites" were reminded me that each trip to Portland for Emerson is creating new memories of what the city was to her. Since she was shy of 2 when we moved, she doesn't remember every ounce of Portland as home. Everyone's shared stories of Portland life become her stories of the life she experienced.

Another St. Honore pastry please!
All four of us were swinging high just taking in the afternoon.  Makenzie pointed out a castle house in the NW hills, which made my tummy lump since it was her favorite house to walk by as a toddler and she didn't remember that.  While all of us were swinging in Wallace Park, Jack and I looked at each other and both said, "This feels good.  We could easily moved back sometime, which feels good deep in our core. Especially since our life in Alameda is great too."  We were embracing the happiness roaming through the four of us.  The afternoon continued for the four of us enjoying St. Honore, DragonFly and other favorites.  We drove by our old house in NE Portland and the rose bush we planted was still blooming.  Our hearts felt content, while all of us shared funny stories of our life before.

Time flies and we all evolve and move on, but expect some things to forever be the same.  We visit places we used to live and hold them close to our heart, or sometimes try to leave them far away in the past.  Regardless, the time spent remembering is always sweet to visit, to feel the love of a heart city again.  Portland is our "heart city". It has a big place in our heart, and holds some of our most cherished friends. But this visit to our heart city allowed us to embrace what we love about it while spending time with our forever friends.  We could do this on a deeper level since we feel grateful to now call Alameda our home.  The feeling is good. It feels good to leave Portland after the 3rd Summer visit knowing that each visit back to our heart city allows for new memories to be made and  friendships deepened before we drive back to our home...wherever it may be.
Portland, Oregon - forever our Heart City

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Summer time, and the living is easy

There are 8 more weekdays of Summer Vacation for the Shirey Family.  To say that is has flown by is an understatement.  Summer feels like Christmas Day to me. There are so many plans, so much excitement and build up and then poof! Summer is almost over and you still have things you didn't do...but so much that you did.

This Summer I chose not to stress.  Yes there are times when I did over logistics with work, and not having set childcare, but I chose to step back and not worry about what didn't get done come the beginning of the School year.  As a family, it was to be a fun easy Summer. No rush to get anywhere, and no exhaustion from being away from home every weekend, verses sleeping in and enjoying wonderful days in the Bay Area.  I see that happening everywhere, when kids are booked every day throughout Summer that they didn't get lazy mornings to sleep in and wear PJ's on bicycles.  Mind you, I know it is work logistics for many families, but even a week of staycation can give you that easy Summer vibe.

1,2,3 jump! 
We did it though. Each girl had a few special weeks of camp they adored.  They sang songs, learned archery, did ballet, made new friends, and developed mentorships with new favorite camp counselors. They both rode their bikes daily, developing strong muscles in their legs and confidence in their skill. They stayed in pajamas 'till noon, somedays wearing them to play all day.  They felt relaxed and I felt lighter.

We created and Adventure Box and in it we all got to add what we wanted to do. From Stand Up Paddleboarding, Monterey Bay Aquarium, bike riding to San Francisco, Trail Running dates, see Brave, road trip to Portland, Tahoe, and much more.  Each week we would pick from the box and add it to the calendar.  Thus, at Summer's end, every adventure we wanted to conquer was brought to fruition.  We always look forward to finishing with our cherished trip to Portland and Seattle, finishing the trip at the Oregon Coast with Hood to Coast. The best way to make the last moments of Summer linger on.

Norah and Emerson at Tenderfoot Camp

Camp Kids- Makenzie, Cami, Romey

Emerson riding strong
Even if I love Summer, right and left I hear Moms saying they can't wait for school to start so they can have their days back.  Honestly, I am the opposite(mostly).  I am relishing the days with the girls.  I want each Summer day to extend by a few hours for more time on our bikes, more time doing underwater tea parties, more time racing across the pool, more time just "being".  I know that my own Summer Time with them is getting shorter and shorter, as they get older and older.  They're gradually going to have more desires to be with their friends, verses hanging with their Mom doing CannonBalls at the pool.  I don't want to face that reality so I hold on. I have put aside many work projects and feel "ok" with it. I allowed myself to be ok with not completing my entire Summer "To Do" list, since I was  honoring my Mom "To Do" list.

Makenzie riding strong- Bridge is up!

I let myself "be" with both girls.  I have the images imprinted in my mind of their smiles, Lego castles, Barbie scenarios, strong running bodies, bubble butts in swimsuits, tan lines, swimmer's bleached out hair, ice cream faces, sleeping heads on my chest and hands intertwined with mine as we walked everywhere.  I will catch up when school starts, cram in my own work, and be fine with the Summer days of past. I hope you enjoyed Summer as much as I did, and have images etched in your mind that make you appreciate simply "being" as the season changes again all to soon.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

One word...Gratitude

In my networking group the Lucky Ladies, we had a life coach join us on Thursday to help with goal mapping. It's interesting because throughout the morning hours leading to the meeting, I felt my thoughts becoming a bit unintentionally snubbish. A feeling similar to, "I know what we are going to do. I do SMART goal training with my clients in Power Fitness PDX all the time and have worked with life coaches before".  But when walking through the door, I pushed that feeling aside and made myself be open to any and every feeling I would experience in the 90 minutes.  The timing was perfect too becauseI had an epiphany the night before, and wanted to see if it would meld with what I was about to learn.

Have you ever mapped a goal before? Professionally or personally? It is one of the most rewarding and also challenging experiences if you truly dive into the "why".  Some of the professional goals I have aren't concurrent with my personal goals; they haven't been blending well and I've been trying to figure out how to keep my own internal peace.  With goals you want to think of the What, Why and your value system and as you create your action plan to make the goals happen.  It's easy for me to think "I want to create my own fitness studio" and "I want to create a line of workout DVD's", since they are goals that has popped into my head off and on over the last 15 years.  Some parts of them seem incredibly rewarding, but other aspects such as being the key command person, are daunting.  With contemplating my own goals, I wrote down everything I want to accomplish through July 2013.  Goals ranging from fitness writing, set childcare specific hours, bookkeeper for business,  to family vacation days every month.  One challenge of being an entrepreneur is your mind continues to think of new ideas, but when also a Mom who is the primary caretaker with a limited childcare budget, it can get tricky.  So I mapped, thought, dove deep into what I truly want out of my personal and professional life this next year.  And continued to think of one word- gratitude.

After goal mapping, we went through a Value Assessment. It is a list of 51 words ranging from Abundance and Accomplishment to Trust and Wisdom.  The objective is to see if your personal and professional value words meld together, creating a symbiotic balance to achieve your goals. For me, the word that continued to be my top was Gratitude.  And it resonated as the group shared what their words were, discussing means to find a blend of words to grow goals from.

I started writing on a sheet how and why I am grateful and the gratitude I have for my family, life, work, balance, etc.  The epiphany from the night before popped to the front of my brain like a movie on repeat...and it was this: 

Like many Moms, I have been struggling with how to blend my childcare hours with professional hours. This Summer we don't have childcare.  The kids are in a few camps, but mostly it's "Camp of Mom" while this Mom, moi, is working on a couple big business projects.  During this time I have been creating art projects, swim time, cannon ball challenges, play dates, adventure days, etc. I have also been fielding the sibling fights, Emerson tantrums of figuring out what being 4.5 years old is, and managing Shirey house domestic peace. I know some days my planned work time won't happen, which creates heavy anxiety. Because I put aside 60 minutes to work and write, doesn't mean Emerson and Makenzie have that same plan for their creative Lego time. When that happens, work is put aside, I play Legos and we go to the park.  We do this because I also don't want to miss a moment of partaking in their daily lives. 

I know, hard to have it both ways, but I have been struggling to figure out how I can. Having lost so much time of Emerson and Makenzie's fun daily life when both were sick, and knowing how fast time flies with them being little, I don't want the feeling 5 years from now aching for them to be little again.  I don't want to feel guilty that I didn't spend enough time playing Barbie's, listening to their creative songs, engaging in conversations when walking hand in hand, teaching them about health and living brightly. I already fee; this on some days when I am working, and I know I will feel like that deeper and deeper each year they age.  Every night as I look at their sweet sleeping faces, I remember their little rosebud mouths and chubby cheeks when tiny babies. 

My nontraditional schedule allows me a lot of playing with these two monkeys
Wednesday was a day when the work- balance wasn't in balance. No balance at all. The entire day while Makenzie was at camp, from 9:00-3:15, Emerson was flipping my 90/10 rule and was 90 % a pickle, and 10% fantastic.  When she was finally fine in the afternoon, it was after I had lost my windows for computer time to do bookkeeping and work.  Jack arrived home, I rushed to teach the evening TRX class. When I returned 90 minutes later, Jack and the girls were getting ready for a bike ride. Girls smiling, Jack asked me to run with him. I waivered with going upstairs to work for an hour, or run with my family. Running won and we set off to run to frozen yogurt.  Perfect Summer night, kids happy, and entire family is active.  We got to frozen yogurt and Jack and I took turns racing laps around the block, attempting to beat our times each lap.  The girls eating frozen yogurt while cheering us along. Emerson decided to join us for a couple laps.  I ran along side her, watching her strong body, determined face and visible joy. She said to me, "Mommy, I can do this. I am doing a sport with you.  It's like the See Jane Run race. I am fast like you."  Eyes welled with tears at how incredible she is. The words hit me again as if I was looking at a ginormous billboard spelling out, "YOU, be grateful and full of gratitude".  Earlier in the day my goal was to stay calm with E's meltdowns, get a couple work To Do's done, and feel good at day's end.  

Yet, at that moment, I felt incredibly grateful and full of gratitude.

Grateful I was given this opportunity to be in the moment and let go of everything but being with her running.
Grateful for a family that has so much fun together.  
Grateful for two daughters who only know how to feel strong, active, adventurous, eager for happiness, and full of love. 
Grateful for a husband who works hard and supports my goals and dreams in the health and fitness industry, encouraging me along the way to go for projects I initially thought were out of my reach.  
Grateful for the ability to feel OK with having less money, but more time with the kids. 
Grateful that my business has me working in the morning before anyone is awake and I get to appreciate the sunrise daily.
Grateful for a schedule that allows me to walk Makenzie to school daily.
Grateful for Jack and I emptying out ideas of what we "should" be doing, and creating what we want to be doing.
Grateful for laughter filled moments with friends as we laugh about everything and anything.
Grateful for my own parents and siblings who are close by and love my family as much as I do.
Grateful for the opportunity to do what I love daily in health and fitness, helping people reach outside of their comfort zone and owning their strength and even stronger bodies. 
Grateful to know I need to live in the Moment.
Grateful to have the feeling that if something doesn't get done for work because of a kiddo factor, it is OK and will be good because my kids will always win over work. 

Thus, when going over the values assessment at the Lucky Ladies meeting, the strongest word resonating with my gut was Gratitude.  Realizing that allowed me to throw out a couple old goals that I honestly, don't want.  Yep, I actually decided to toss a few that have traveled years with me, out the window. The DVD goal would pull me away from my family to much right now, and I realized wouldn't have me feel grateful, but most likely more stressed.  One of my new goals is to create quality mini videos similar to the fitness challenge I did.  Goal shift is acceptable because I am happy on various levels and immediately feel less stress.  I am trying to eliminate stresses, not create them, which is what some bigger professional goals would be at this moment. So I shared. I shared with the group how I am grateful.  I am grateful for some big professional goals that are coming to fruition, and for the grateful list I created to keep me focused to what is me.  As I shared, I felt lighter.  I felt excited. I felt joyous. I felt OK with throwing out a couple old goals.  Most of all I felt Grateful.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


When I first had Makenzie, the breath was knocked out of me. Literally, it was, but figuratively too.  We rushed to UCLA after dropping off our taxes, were “tskked tssskked” by a delivery nurse and my Mother in Law, who were both there waiting for us at check in. Already in trouble yet I hadn’t even had my baby yet.  We were nervously rushing ...only to wait for the doctor and nurses, who were fighting over my care.  They were still fighting when I was sitting with needles in my spine for the epidural.  Ah, nothing like that sort of uncomfort with needles in your back.  And then, for whatever reason, my body decided to respond poorly to the epidural and it felt like elephants were walking on my chest. They were stomping away and I couldn’t breath, while feeling like a big gorilla waiting on the operating table.  Jack and my Mom weren’t allowed in the room due to the complications, and my nerves were heightened.  All I could think was, “Please get Makenzie out safely and then worry about me”. Gratefully the anaesthesiologist was able to work some magic to stabilize me, Jack was able to join me with Mom watching, and Makenzie was welcomed to the world on April 12th, 2004 at 5:51 pm.  When the nurse showed her to us, and Jack brought her over to meet me, my breath was taken away for the best reasons. The reasons of complete awe and intense gratitude.

Sisters - April 2009 Ages 1 & 5
Emerson’s delivery was comical, and almost a tell tale sign of her little personality.  I had been determined to have a VBAC (vaginal birth after Cesarean) but my body wasn’t on the same plan. The day before our back up C-Section date our doctor, Dr. Hamilton, Jack and I decided the C-Section was the safest option for my body and our little baby. The following day, Friday, January 25, 2008, would be Emerson's birth date.  5:00 am Friday morning Jack and I arrive on a freezing cold Winter day to Emanuel Hospital ... only to find out we were at the wrong hospital! Who goes to the wrong hospital to deliver their kiddo…well the Shirey’s and Dr. Hamilton all did! Emanuel was the hospital for our VBAC, since it was high risk, but we were delivering via C-Section.

Laughter ensues, all the Providence Portland nurses tease how this has never happened.  No stress, just laughs, and excitement.  We’re in the operating room and the team's started playing Bob Marley followed by Boys to Men. While splayed out being ready to have surgery begin, the music made me reminisce of Bishop O’Dowd High School dances. Jack and Dr. Hamilton are discussing my prenatal core routine since he was complimenting my abs as dissecting them, another random funny that was a great one for a pregnant Mama.  Within minutes, at 8:10 am, Emerson arrives and brought immediate joy and laughter.  Complete and utter sweet joy and jubulience.

Two different deliveries. Two very different daughters, requiring two very different patient levels.  Whew, patience.  People tell you that you need a lot of calm with your “patience voice” when you have children. However, nobody ever said the supply has to be endless, non-stop, and full of butterflies and candy coated kindness when it wants to sound like a fire breathing dragon.  This week has been a week with the fire breathing dinosaur eager to chomp on the butterflies and let loose. It has been a week repeating the mantra, “Keep calm and carry on”. It has also been a week that’s created dream like and blissful memories within the craziness. 

Emerson, Age 4.5, Lake Tahoe 7.14.12
Our daughters are different, very different.  The way they act, respond, express, digress, and encourage is wildly and wonderfully different.  That being said, I have to constantly remind myself of their unique ways of dealing with anything bothersome.  I love how different they are.  I admire them for being who they are without any pretense, and incredible pride.  When age 4.5 years Emerson is having meltdown after meltdown in levels neither Jack or I remember happening with Makenzie, we have to bite our tongues and calm E down in means requiring more pixie patience dust to add to the patience bucket.  And while the meltdowns were fewer and far between before, for whatever reason the past 6 weeks they have been intense when they happen, and unbreakable.  We've been figuring out what her triggers are, and I know I have to almost set my own clock every 90 minutes for Emerson to eat and drink her water in order to keep up her energy just like a puppy dog.

Here is the pickle...she is DELIGHTFUL when she is not mad.  Purely magic, funny, vibrant, and love filled. She fills my love tank to the brim with kisses, cuddles, laughs, sweet words, funny moments and time that I want to go on forever.   That is the 85-90% of the time, it truly is.  

Similar to the eating rule of 90/10 I tell my clients.  90 % of the time eat good clean food and 10-15% of the time you can enjoy the treats of life.  For Emerson, 90% of the time  
she is brilliantly clean and effortless love in true from.
10% of the time she makes me want to grab a bottle of wine, take a straw 
and drink the bottle in one sitting. 
Makenzie, age 8, Lake Tahoe 7.14.12
And while we are figuring Emerson at age 4.5, we are attempting to learn our first child's navigation in life.  She is a protector by nature, a talker, compassionate, a storyteller, silly, mature beyond years in some ways and also has the traditional first born traits.  With Emerson we worry about tantrums, with Makenzie we try to channel her back, word wise, so everyone has a turn to talk.  She has the best stories to tell, confidence to talk to anyone and everyone, and the ability to shift conversation and keep it alive.  But with that gift comes the challenge of when to reign it in.  With missing almost all of first grade and being around so many adults, her ability to converse with eye contact challenges many of today's teens.  It also means she is incredibly determined, with the words to support her desires, to get her "way" within the family. With her conversational skills come brilliant one liners that make a parent proud, but not when they are attempting to be stern in discipline.  It is a tricky line to walk, because confidence is what you want your children to have more than anything.  We want Makenzie to keep her confidence in who she is, while also respecting that other people have stories to tell and opinions about various events too.   

So I am learning as a parent, along with Jack, how to deal with each moment of challenge.  Different deliveries, very different daughters.  When I want to talk like a fire breathing dragon, I hold back and think of what I can learn out of the moment. Honestly, parenting is easier said than done as we all know.  What is it I can evolve from in this endless moment of screaming, hitting, yelling, hair pulling and tears?  Are these the moments prepping us for when they are teenagers? Emerson might punch a wall and Makenzie might talk back like a sailor? I hope not! I hope they will be perfect and delightful all the time...but they won't. Nor will I.  I will be the 90/10 rule myself.  I know that in the 10% of time, the time when I want to slam the door with frustration and lace up to pound the pavement for a solo run, I am a great parent to my two very dynamic daughters.  With that, I know it will all be OK... 90% of the time.