In My Sister’s Shoes

In My Sister’s Shoes

I have the honor each and every day of filling my sisters’ shoes, both physically and metaphorically. When she died 4+ years ago I inherited her tennis shoes, and for a while they sat up on a shelf in our boys’ room. That is until I needed new shoes and decided that she would much rather me wear hers than for them to collect dust and be a reminder that she is no longer wearing them. So. I snagged them. They are a smidge big, but super comfortable. And I couldn’t love them more. Metaphorically, her shoes are also a little big, but I know that I was made to wear them. And life is… as good as it can be… in these shoes.

Throughout my childhood and even today, it was/is not uncommon for the age gap between my sisters and I to get brought up. I usually get the “Wow! 10 and 14 years older?! Were you an accident?!” reaction.  And even though I know that my parents never considered me to be an accident, I also know that they weren’t exactly planning on me either. Accident or not, I am certain that God had big plans for me. And it wasn’t until something REALLY bad happened that I was able to see and even understand the bigger picture.

Without sounding like a broken record, I feel obligated to lay down my back story incase you happen to be new here. On July 27, 2014, my sister Shannon was shot and killed by her ex-husband, who then turned the gun on himself and died, too. This horrific and unthinkable act of violence took place in my parent’s home… in front of their two sons and my mom and dad. Six days prior to losing Shannon and David, we lost our cousin Zachary to a drug overdose. I gave the eulogy at my beloved baby cousin’s funeral and hugged Shannon goodbye for what would be the last time on July 24th. I never expected that losing my sister… my best friend… would provide ways for me to live a better, more fulfilling life, but it has. Because she died, I have found a new purpose for living. I know now that anything can happen in the blink of an eye, and that is why I spend all of my “spare time” helping to build a company that spreads kindness in her honor.

Sometimes I feel guilty for finding so many reasons to be happy in spite of not being able to share my happiness with Shannon. She was, as I mentioned above, my BEST friend. But she was so much more than that. She was my #1 fan, my biggest supporter, a 2nd mother, and my sister. In the early days of losing her I didn’t think I would ever be able to smile again, let alone raise her boys and my kids and look at the glass half full (which was an inside joke between she and I) and be the version of her little “Co Co Puff” she loved so dearly. But I have made the choice that I have no choice. I am now “mother” to her sons, Connor and Danny, and to my 3 babies. I often wonder and ponder and question and second guess parenting decisions based on what I think she might have done. The most painful grief finds me when I least expect it to, and more often than not, it’s when she is the ONLY person who would know what to say or do to make everything better, but I can’t turn to her. But on a “normal” day to day basis, I don’t have time to stop and think about what I lost, because the truth is I have gained SO MUCH. And also. I am really, really busy. (HA!)

We say that happiness lies in perspective, and I believe this to be so true. I have discovered that just because I find reasons to be grateful in the wake of Shannon’s absence doesn’t mean that I miss her any less. I have to make a conscious effort to be kind every day and live my life in a “pair of shoes” that are a little big for me, but that I love because they were hers and because I was MADE to wear them. Shannon’s boys are MY boys now, and I don’t know what I’d do without them.

Today is Shannon’s birthday. My mom went over the river, through the woods, to every party supply store and clear to a rainbow to make our birthdays special growing up. This is perhaps why her birthday stings so much. She would be 45, and that is hard for me to swallow. I literally am having a hard time swallowing without choking back tears and missing her reaction to the super thoughtful and creative cards I made for her every year on her birthday. But I feel proud knowing that she would be proud of everything I am doing as a mother, a wife, a daughter, a daughter-in-law, a sister, a friend and a kindness pusher. And because I was HER biggest fan… that means more to me than anything.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Shannon. You are in our hearts and on our minds always. I love you more than diet coke, which is why I gave it up just to prove that since you didn’t get to have it anymore, I didn’t need it either. Now send me that sign. I could really use it today.Untitled-9

iloveyoutwotimes.blogspot.com — For those of you who would like to take a trip down Shannon’s memory lane, I am sharing her blog. It didn’t reach many people back in the day, and so this is my way of letting people in on the magic of who she was, and who she will forever be in all of our hearts. She was always looking on the bright side. She was always finding things to be grateful for. And her heart was so filled with love it seems unfair that her bright light was put out so soon. But not TOO soon. Because I believe it was her time. And I believe that she is with me every single day. Which is why I strive to live “Every Day Kind”… to make her proud.

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In light of a conversation we had about all the choices we have daily, we CHOSE to whip up a little freebie to encourage kindness in every day situations. We want to make sure you don’t miss out on downloading, printing, and doing good needs anywhere and everywhere. So click on the image below and be intentional about doing things in and out of your comfort zone where humanity is concerned. You might be surprised by how much doing for others will do for YOU. Download your FREEBIE here!

While you’re performing your acts of kindness, don’t forget to document and share to inspire others! Tag @everydaykind and use hashtag #everydaykind

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Love, Peace, EVERYKIND

CHOICE
noun
  • 1. an act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities.

Take a moment to think about all the endless choices we make every single day. We choose what time to wake up, what to do when we wake up, what to drink and consume after we’re awake, and so on and so forth. It’s often easy to overlook all of the choices we make because they are a constant part of our lives.  However, one thing we should REALLY start paying attention to is our choice to BE KIND: to choose love, to choose peace and to treat everyone as equals. We are presented with situations and opportunities all day long, but often times we are too busy to pay attention to what a difference a small act can make. We have the choice to hold the door for a struggling mom, to ask how someone is doing, to offer a helping hand. We also have the choice to act out of anger in situations that bring out the worst in us. Choosing kindness is not always easy, but when we understand that the ability to choose how we handle the weather that ruined our pretty picnic is in our hands, we might remember to pack an umbrella more often.

A few weeks ago we were working on a design for “follow your heart” and we really liked it, but something just wasn’t quite working.  Then we were talking about perspective, and mindset and what else…. how we have the ability to choose kind. And then…. we took the design for what we HAD been working on, plugged in the concept to the word “choose”, texted screen shots back and forth for about 10 minutes with revisions/suggestions/”try this” until….BAM. CHOOSE love, peace and EVERYKIND was born! This is typically how our design process works since we are long distance and collaborate on everything, but this time, we were EXTRA pumped. Any time we can combine fun colors, cute graphics and a powerful message, we feel ready to change the world. We posted the design as a graphic because patience is not always our strong suit, and were blown away by how many comments and DM’s we got about putting it on a shirt!

When we say that we couldn’t do all of this without you, we mean it. Your input is invaluable to us, and it helps us avoid shying away from things just because we aren’t 100% sure that they are perfect. You bring out the best in what we have to offer as business partners, business owners, designers and creators. So… thank you. This tee will be available for adults on a grey crew neck and v-neck tee THIS FRIDAY (9/28)! Stay tuned!

Choose Adult T-Shirt _ Everykind

When I’m losing my mother tasking mind…

When I’m losing my mother tasking mind…

Back to school is my least favorite time of year! I am mourning the end of my favorite season and basically on a fast track to my kids leaving me for college…in 12ish years. I don’t like one bit of it; as shown by the pile of school forms on my counter that have yet to be filled out. (I’ve been in denial, what can I say) I also decided that this week we should REALLY, OFFICIALLY start/finish potty training the little one, and let me tell you, after having the easiest time with my first, I mistakenly thought it would be a breeze. I should have known my stubborn little man would make it as painful as possible on me. These factors followed by a not so fun work week and an awful forecast for our last fun summer weekend left me losing my mothertasking mind. I felt my Apple watch buzz and looked down and it said, “BREATHE”! And because Apple somehow knows everything about you at all times, I trusted the recommendation and took a deep breath. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh.

Breathing should be easy because we do it all day, every day. I mean, it’s what keeps us alive and all right? What I didn’t know is how important breathing can really be mentally and emotionally. When I first started yoga, I went for the exercise part of it. I was pleasantly surprised when I found that breathing was such a huge part of it and left me feeling so good mentally, as well as physically. When we breathe unconsciously it is controlled by the medulla oblongata. (I never thought I would use those words after 7th grade science class.) However, when we consciously breathe we stimulate the cerebral cortex and more evolved areas of our brain which have a relaxing/balancing effect on our emotions. Who would have thought?! Maybe I should have paid more attention in science class. Well, in and just after yoga class I felt great and wanted that feeling all the time. I started practicing in other scenarios and it truly resets me! It lets all my other thoughts, stresses and distractions pass by and keeps me present and finding calm when I am at my most frazzled.

So when your newborn won’t stop crying, you’re in an argument with your significant other, your toddler is pushing every button of yours, everything at work seems to go wrong, you’re stuck in awful traffic, etc…use all these opportunities to take a moment and just BREATHE! In through your nose and out through your mouth. Let your lungs fill up and let the slightest bit of calm wash over you so you can refocus on the situation with a clear head! It seems so simple, but we know it’s not. We’ve all been there when anger takes control and we look back regretting how we reacted to certain situations. We yelled at our kids, we misjudged a driver on the highway, we wasted a good date night with our spouse because “being right” was more important than being nice. It happens all the time, which is why we think this reminder is SO important. Sometimes it just takes a little (or a lot of) practice! Just breathe. I promise we’ll all feel better after!

xo, CB

BREATHE_EverykindBREATHE Sweatshirt – Everykind

The World Is Changed By Your Example, Not By Your Opinion – Paulo Coello

The World Is Changed By Your Example, Not By Your Opinion – Paulo Coello

Do you remember the old saying, “Actions Speak Louder Than Words”? Well, it couldn’t be more true, still today! We live in this wonderful world where we can speak, learn & grow without limitations. We have the power to make a difference & change things for the better. However, one thing we have learned is that our opinions don’t change anything, actions do. Our actions are what create and set an example for others.

There are so many platforms from which we can voice our opinions today that it makes it hard to utilize them for fun. Social media, what was thought to be a fun place for photos, stories & socialization has turned into a space filled with opinions & arguments. Opinions on politics, parenting, and whether the dress is blue or white. We definitely like to use our first amendment rights! But voicing our opinions is not going to make the world a better place. Going out & making a difference will. Our actions of spreading kindness, donating our time, helping others, etc…will truly change the world!

We can set an example for so many others by practicing what we preach. We have little (and big) eyes constantly watching what we do. Telling them that we believe in being kind to others may go in one ear and out the other. But if we show them our kindness towards others they will watch and they will follow our example. We should give them something to believe in and strive towards. Our example paves the way for so many others just as our role models did for us. What did your favorite role models do to inspire you?

We have such precious time in life to be happy, make a difference & enjoy ourselves so we suggest we don’t waste it trying to be “right” with our opinions, but rather by setting an example and by being the best versions of ourselves we possibly can! Thank you Paulo Coello for this beautiful quote! We couldn’t imagine not spreading it everywhere for the world to see!

Now let’s get out there & show the world what we’re made of!

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Photo by Ryan Dempsey Photo
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The World is Change by your Example, Not By Your Opinion Tee – Mama Said Tees

Throw A Little Love

Throw A Little Love

Much of our happiness is dependent upon how others treat us; how they make us feel. In most cases, people treat us the way we treat others. We learned about the golden rule when we were tiny children, yet it seems like the older we get, the more we need to remind ourselves that such a rule exists. Like… hold the phone. Treating others with love and compassion and respect is an option? And if we choose to treat people kindly, it will make us be AND feel better? How cool is that? Other’s feelings and consequently our OWN feelings are literally at our fingertips (and in our hearts).

Another thing that seems to happen the older we get is the more meaning we find in simple things, such as movies we have seen a dozen times. There is a line in a song from Frozen that has really made us stop and sing (because we love to sing) and think: “People Make Bad Choices If They’re Mad or Scared or Stressed. Throw a Little Love Their Way and You’ll Bring Out Their Best!” The whole song is just SO. GOOD. But that line. Just those 23 little words make so much sense to the mind of someone who wants to be happy and make others happy as well.

We have been talking about doing some version of a rainbow tee for a really really really long time. We keep thinking of awesome ways to incorporate one, but have not been sold until we decided that we wanted to design a shirt with that line from that song from Frozen. And thus, our THROW A LITTLE LOVE tee was born. And if we do say so ourselves, it is pretty special. We believe that rainbows represent so many things, and our hope is that on top of the message being a really good one, the design will mean something different to everyone. Everyone is different, after all. Different is normal. Let’s continue to redefine what “normal” means by respecting that every color of the rainbow lends to its overall beauty. 🌈❤️✌🏼

Throw A Little Love Their Way Children's Tee _ Mama Said Tees
Throw A Little Love Children’s Tee – Mama Said Tees