Taking Time to Be Grateful

By Shannon Boatwright

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As we enter Fall, life seems to be going nonstop.  I find myself exhausted all too often – actually, on a daily basis. The work I do as a teacher is rewarding, so most of the time, the exhaustion is worth it. But the days when the weight of work that has to be done is too much. Sometimes it feels like a constant race, and I can’t ever seem to get in the lead and stay there.

As I write this, I am actually in a precious moment of taking the time to slow down and be grateful. After a long, hard and busy week, when my mind, body, and soul are ready for a much-needed break and some actual real sleep, my duties as a mother kicked in. There was no Saturday sleeping-in because both my children had a 7AM cross country practice. So, after yet another restless night of attempted sleep when my brain won’t shut down and the worry of not waking up in time to get my kids where they need to go, 6AM came all too quickly. But I got up, got the kids out the door, and we made it on time. I was able to drop them off and come back home before having to be back out to pick them up at 9AM. As I drove home, the beautiful sky caught my attention. Seeing the sunrise made me take a moment to appreciate being up early and being a part of this quiet morning. As I parked in the driveway and caught a glimpse of the sky over the gorgeous lake, I knew I needed to enjoy this moment. I fixed my cup of coffee and parked my tired rear end on the back porch. Just sitting, listening to the birds and the sounds of the morning is truly lovely.  As I sat there, being a witness to the environment around me transitioning from night to the morning was priceless. And the most beautiful part of it all is that it made me think of all the things that I have to be grateful for. To be alive and well, to be loved. Life is not perfect and there are certainly a lot of things I wish I could change, but taking the time to just sit, to just be, to witness the world around me, to watch and hear nature in all its glory. Well, that is a blessing and very much worthy of being incredibly grateful for.

So, no matter how busy life gets, take the time to be a part of and a witness to, the world around you. Let nature amaze you – notice it, appreciate the simple, yet amazing beauty around you. It is so refreshing! I am ever grateful that I took this time to count my blessings and to be a part of the world around me.

While We Have Time, Let Us Do Good The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Run in Columbia, SC

by Shannon Boatwright

image 1I had the honor of being a part of this most incredible event on September 20th, 2019.  My aunt Susan Vaughan McPherson, who is the Director of Public Policy & Military Affairs at the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, works with the Tunnel to Towers Foundation and helped to organize this event. She invited my family and me to participate last year, but due to a hurricane, they, unfortunately, had to cancel the event. So, this year, we really looked forward to being a part of this special event. And when I say special, goodness do I ever mean it! To understand the impact of this event, you really must be there in person.

A little info on the meaningful purpose behind this event…

The info below is taken from the Tunnel to Towers website.

image 4“Firefighter Stephen Gerard Siller was the youngest of seven children born to Mae and George Siller. At the age of eight, Stephen lost his father, and a year and a half later his mother passed away, leaving him an orphan to be raised by his older siblings. For a while, Stephen went through a period of struggle, but thanks to the love of his siblings, and the values instilled in him by his parents, he grew up to be an extraordinary individual and dedicated firefighter. More than most, he knew that time was precious and accomplished much in his 34 years.

On September 11, 2001, Stephen, who was assigned to Brooklyn’s Squad 1, had just finished his shift and was on his way to play golf with his brothers when he got word over his scanner of a plane hitting the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Upon hearing the news, Stephen called his wife Sally and asked her to tell his brothers he would catch up with them later. He returned to Squad 1 to get his gear.

Stephen drove his truck to the entrance of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, but it had already been closed for security purposes. Determined to carry out his duty, he strapped 60 lbs. of gear to his back and raced on foot through the tunnel to the Twin Towers, where he lost his life while saving others.

Stephen had everything to live for: a great wife, five wonderful children, a devoted extended family, and friends. Stephen’s parents were lay Franciscans and he grew up under the guiding philosophy of St. Francis of Assisi, whose encouraging and inspirational phrase, “while we have time, let us do good,” were words that Stephen lived by. Stephen’s life and heroic death serve as a reminder to us all to live life to the fullest and to spend our time here on earth doing good – this is his legacy.”

My daughter, Mina, who is on the cross-country team at her high school, ran the Tunnel to Towers for the first time this year. She ended up doing an amazing job, coming in 64th out of 1278 people total who ran and 11th out of all the women who ran, placing 2nd in her division. She had the priceless opportunity to run alongside our firemen and first responders. Words really cannot describe how inspiring and motivating it is to run for such a great cause and in memory of so many precious people.  To recognize and applaud the people who fight for our country and help to keep us safe, to run alongside and cheer on all the first responders, military and fellow supporters, well, to say it fills the heart is an understatement. Let’s just say, we plan to be a part of this truly special event every year and I encourage you all to do the same!

Stephen Livingston, Lexington Fire Department, Station 2, congratulating Mina, my daughter, on placing in her division.

 

Please do check out the website https://tunnel2towers.org/ and mark your calendars for next year’s run!

 

 

The Last Thing You Were Truly Grateful for… What Was It???

By Shannon Boatwright

During the holiday season, though we’re consumed with Gift Wishes, massive To-Do lists, and the overwhelming feeling of never feeling like we have the time to do everything we always pledge to do better with the year before, you have to admit, it’s still always the season that wins our hearts.

Awesome Christmas movies, the school, church & other community performances and incredible special holiday events that make us think, make us feel, tug at our heart strings and create something in us that makes our hearts blossom in a way only the holiday season can do. If you have a heart, you know what I’m talking about. Those moments when the lump builds in our throats because a deeper meaning takes hold of us…

…whether it’s when Kevin from the movie “Home Alone” finally reunites with his Mama after successfully, comically pummeling the bad, robber guys…

…or when Buddy the Elf finds his Dad, inspires everyone around him with his joyful innocence, then helps to save Christmas…

…or when Clark finally gets his house lights to twinkle & gets his much deserved bonus…

…or when Cindy Lou Who helps to bring the Grinch to the good side and inspire his heart to grow…

I could go on and on! 🙂

Seriously, you know what I’m talking about… it’s just flat out the season that warms your heart in so many precious ways. Even the cheesy school performances can wet the eyes and fill your heart, no matter how bad the performances may be! It’s the thought and purpose that counts. It’s the coming together to remember the reason for the season. It’s the passion for giving and helping others. It’s that time of the year when you want all your loved ones right at your side. It’s the coming together to celebrate a beautiful season of love, giving and gratefulness.

So… amongst the busyness of the holiday season, what was the last thing you were grateful for? We can all name general things that we’re overwhelmingly thankful for, but without thinking too hard, what’s the last thing that happened to you that made you really stop and think, Oh My Goodness, I’m so thankful for _________.  Whether big or small, allow yourself to think on it. Allow yourself to take a moment during the holiday madness, step away from the commercialism, the shopping and party planning, and just really ponder those priceless moments that have warmed your heart and create a gratefulness in you that stops you in your busy tracks just a bit.

Just a few of my priceless moments…

Candy caneWhen my angel daughter and I get to spend quality time together and leaves me precious notes like the one you see in the picture that she left out for me this past Sunday…whew, talk about being overwhelmed with gratefulness!

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Candy caneWhen my angel son hugs and latches onto me, kissing me on the cheek, not because he wants something, but just because. When his 12-year-old boy self recognizes and compliments my hard work and is sincerely impressed with something I’ve accomplished. Those moments make my heart burst with gratefulness!

 

 

Candy caneWhen my amazing husband randomly comes over to me IMG_3908and sweetly, gently kisses my face and whispers in my ear, “I love you”.  And, the fact that no matter what or when, he can always tell when there is something wrong or if I’m upset or feeling bad. He has this beautiful sensibility and awareness…some sort of magical true love power of knowing me so well. I can even try to hide it, yet the man can always tell and is always ready and willing to listen, love and try to make me feel better. My heart melts with gratefulness!

 

 

I could go on and on and on and on, because it is in those priceless moments that we should feel real gratefulness. And at this time of year, it’s in these moments that we experience the reason for the season. The giving of our love, attention, time, efforts, togetherness and love ultimately can lead to an overwhelming feeling of gratefulness…if we simply take the time to recognize it.

So what was the last thing that happened to you that made you stop in your tracks and truly have a moment that made you say, “My goodness, am I ever grateful!!”

Confetti

By Shannon Boatwright

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Life is crazy. Like, super crazy. It can be overwhelming, full of busy nonsense and before you know it, time has flown by and the buzz of this nonstop life seems to take away your time. In a flash.  Your day is gone. Your kids are grown. You might find yourself saying, what have I done?

Are you spending all your time focused on thinking you won’t be happy until you reach the top? Are your eyes so busy being set on the prize that you forget to live for the now and bring a little happiness into others’ lives?

All the awards, prizes and recognition won’t mean a thing in the end, because love is bigger. Happiness doesn’t come from “the stuff”, it comes from within.

We all know this. We know better. We’ve heard and read these types of words before. But do we make an effort to truly make it happen? Are you going to live your life always waiting for the confetti to fall or are you going to recognize that tomorrow may never come and you should live for right now?

So much in my complicated life lately has reminded me of the importance of NOT waiting for the confetti to fall.  I don’t want to be distracted by the noise of this ridiculous game most people play in this crazy life as they focus only on the hype, instead of the happiness. I want to cherish every precious moment and opportunity that I receive. I want to live, be happy and spread happiness to others.  I’d like to believe that when we genuinely live life and appreciate every moment, we’ll see that recognition and prizes aren’t a requirement and thus when we do receive them, they’re even more greatly treasured.Confetti

Singer/Songwriter Tori Kelly’s song, “Confetti” is beautiful and brilliant. I’m a big fan of hers and while listening to her station on iHeartRadio, this song recently played. It struck me immediately.  I took a screenshot and went straight to iTunes to purchase it.   If you have the time to take a listen, it will brighten your life. Really listen to the words and hopefully they’ll inspire you as they did me. We can always use a lovely reminder to live our lives – to really live our lives. 😉

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjaaZ-0D2CI

Be Rebellious!

By: Shannon Boatwright

I am so often inspired by awesome quotes and posts. I recently came across a post on Instagram by #Girlboss…

“In a society that profits from your self-doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act.”

be rebelliousYes! Bravo! Boom! Man, do I ever like this one. And goodness did I ever need it. Us humans are guilty of continuously thinking about, pointing out, picking out our flaws and all the things we wish we could change about ourselves. It’s way too easy to tear ourselves down, rather than simply focus on all our amazing, beautiful, and unique qualities. I personally am a master at picking out and focusing on my own flaws – or I should say, on what I think my flaws are. And I’m willing to bet most of you are pros at it too.

And let’s face it, society certainly profits off of our self-doubt! I won’t even bother going into the endless things in our everyday worlds that trigger insecurities, fear, self-doubt…you name it, it’s out there at every turn, ready to make a play on all our downfalls. For me, entering my 40s and constantly, consistently feeling overwhelmed, overworked, overstressed, underpaid, under-slept, exhausted, old….ugh…see, there I go, spending way too much time focusing on the negative! Why!?? Because it’s too darn easy!

So, here I go – GirlBoss has inspired me on many occasions and now, I choose to let this latest post of inspiration be my new mantra. Boom! Bam! And Bravo! I choose to LIKE MYSELF.

Goodness knows we could all use more moments of rebellion. I mean that in a good way of course! But come on, how backwards is it that in today’s world we have to label “liking ourselves” as an act of rebellion? UGH!!! ARGHH!!! And, UGHH again!

I accept the rebellious challenge and choose to like myself.

(Try saying that out loud….

Go ahead, say it out loud, I dare you.)

“I LIKE MYSELF!”

I personally choose to do my very best to focus on my pros, rather than my cons; my qualities, rather than what I think are my flaws; my blessings, rather than my hardships. I choose to be rebellious and not conform to society’s nonsense and let it tear me down. I choose to act with a rebel heart, accept myself and celebrate all of my fabulousness!

Will you do it? Can you be rebellious? 🙂

Make a Note to Yourself

By: Shannon Elizabeth Boatwright

“Note to self:

None of us are getting out of here alive, so please stop treating yourself like an after thought. Eat the delicious food. Walk in the sunshine. Jump in the ocean. Say the truth that you’re carrying in your heart like a hidden treasure. Be silly. Be kind. Be weird. There’s no time for anything else.”

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I came across this fabulous “Note to self” on Facebook. I seem to come across inspiring, mind blowing quotes sometimes on a daily basis and have a collection of them as screenshots on my phone. A lot of them I share; some of them I keep for myself.

This one above is one I definitely shared. It’s actually one I’d like to add to and enhance with more positive notes about being your self and living for yourself. Along with walking in the sunshine and jumping in the ocean, I would add to dance, sing and be joyful and full of thanks every moment you can. I could seriously base an entire inspirational speech on this simple note to self!

The harsh truth is there – indeed, none of us are getting out of here alive and when you really stop to think about it, there is NO time for anything else, accept to live our lives to the fullest. And in order to do that, we absolutely must stop thinking of ourselves as an after thought. You know we’re all guilty of it to varying degrees. It’s our harsh reality in this day and age. In today’s society it’s a constant battle of ‘keeping up with the Jones’, working to live, yet forgetting to truly LIVE. We spend a majority of our time working to pay the bills, not spending quality time with our families and friends, not spending time on ourselves, but working to survive in this world and keep our heads above water.

It’s sad to think we have to be reminded to actually live our lives instead of just survive them. But we all get wrapped up and overwhelmed with our To-Do Lists and the requirements of making it in this world. Like I’ve heard mentioned before, I don’t know of anyone on their death bed that said, “Gosh, I wish I had worked more and spent less time having fun.” So, let’s all write a note to ourselves! Make it real, make it personal and tell yourself to live it up, make the most of this short life we’ve been granted to live. Don’t just simply survive, actually live your precious life! Make a list of all the things, activities, people and places that make you happy and go live it! Make it happen!

Oh, I can dish out this positive, inspirational stuff left and right, but YES I need these daily, priceless reminders to actually act on it! Easier said than done, they say. So maybe if we keep up these reminders and notes to self, we can actually engage in making our lives truly meaningful and full of happiness!

There’s no time like right now to create great things in your life. So go write that note to yourself! Read it, Believe it, Live it!