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Sunday, November 13, 2016

Her Name Is Nina!

Nina, my three year-old has developed a strong sense of identity.  There have been a number of instances where in my determination to not call her one of her siblings' names, I have called her "Sweetheart," "Honey" or even "Sweetie," to which she has replied, "My name is not Sweetie.  My name is Nina."  Initially, I chuckled at her cuteness and figured it was a one time occurrence.  But she has remained consistent.  Whether it is a family member or a cashier at a store who has made the mistake of calling her anything other than Nina, she has been quick to offer clarification.

I was born with the name Shatanese over 4 decades ago.  My mom always told me my name came from an Egyptian queen.  I never researched this information and have chosen to live with a sense of mystery surrounding the origin of my name.

Image result for souvenirs with namesThroughout my life, I have often been asked, "What does your name mean?"  Or, "What is the origin?"  These types of questions hinted at a feeling of being different but not always in a positive light.  Sharing that my name had something to do with an Egyptian queen seemed to make it more palatable to be uniquely named.  I have also received the question, "Do you have something shorter I can call you?," which further fostered my sense of alienation.  Imagine my feeling as a child visiting a carnival or souvenir gift shop and earnestly searching for my name among the other names.  I would see Ann, Eve, Betsy, Dawn, and Jessica.  But not Shatanese...EVER.  Did that mean I did not exist?  Of course, I now understand marketing campaigns and the pupose of appealing to certain audiences but as a child marketing meant nothing to me.

I think college is an excellent time for many to discover who they are and what is important to them as an individual.  Early during my college career, I can remember not wanting to be different or set apart.  I instead wanted to blend in.  I no longer wanted to sound "unique."  I did not feel like correcting the repeated mis-pronunciations any longer.  It was at that time, I began referring to myself as my childhood nickname.  Over the next few years, I used my nickname to formally introduce myself.  The probing questions no longer came and the requests for something shorter stopped altogether but my identity and sense of worth were impacted.

As I approached my junior year in college, something changed.  I no longer wanted to fit in.  I wanted my uniqueness to return.  I wanted me.  I began introducing myself as Shatanese again.  Unfortunately, the impact of temporarily changing my identity was long-lasting.  To this day, after 20 plus years, there are still people who refer to me as my childhood name, a name that was for the large majority of my life reserved only for very close family.  I still cringe inside at times when I encounter someone who knew me "way back when" and they refer to me by my nickname.  It is a reminder of a form of escape that I experienced long ago.  It is not, however, worth the effort, and perhaps awkwardness to tell them now after all these years not to call me by that name.

At times as an adult, when I introduce myself, I still receive requests for something shorter.  I have become a master at phonetics and illustrating that my name can be broken down into three syllables.  I also show my name in written format as I know some people are visual learners.  If all else fails, I encourage them to simply call me "Mrs. Reese."

So, I should not be surprised when my three-year old asserts her own sense of being and reminds me as well as others that her name is Nina.  I admire her sense of identity at such a young age.  I am awed by her ability to politely, innoncently demand respect.  I am working diligently to honor her request (I need some memory vitamins!).  Her name is Nina and my name is Shatanese.

 #HerNameIsNina  #NinaSophia

Monday, October 3, 2016

Are You Awesome?

I have a secret.  I have never told myself that I am awesome.  Hard to believe?   I was conversing recently with friends and family when the topic of self-esteem came up.

"What exactly is self-esteem and how do you tell someone how to increase it or obtain it if they do not have it?" I asked.

"It's a state of mind," my husband responded.

"It's what you tell yourself every day" our close friend chimed in.

She continued by saying, "Self-esteem is telling yourself that you are awesome on a regular basis."

Telling myself I am awesome regularly?  Hmmmm....I had to think for a moment.  I realized I have never viewed myself as awesome.  I mean, of course, I have viewed things that I have done as pretty good but not necessarily rising to the level of awesome.  Could this explain why high self-esteem for me has felt at times as an elusive characteristic that only others possessed?

Intrigued, I looked up the definition of awesome and discovered descriptors such as

 extremely impressive or daunting; inspiring great admiration, apprehension, or fear.  I saw synonyms such as: breathtaking, awe-inspiring, magnificent, wonderful, amazing, stunning, staggering, imposing, stirring, impressive; formidable, mind-boggling, mind-blowing, jaw-dropping, and excellent.  You get the idea.

Viewing myself as magnificent, amazing or even jaw-dropping sounded, well, as a matter a fact, awesome.  What is interesting to me is that I have willingly showered others with this level of praise.  Whether it was something my husband had done for me or an accomplishment the kids had obtained in school or even a task a teammate had completed, I have easily and without hesitation said, "You are AWESOME!"

I am a firm believer that self-esteem and confidence go hand in hand.  I also believe that our words have the ability to build up or tear down our own sense of well-being as well as those around us.  This is not simply a good idea, it's Biblical.  Proverbs 18:21 states "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit."
Furthermore, Ephesians 4:29 indicates, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."

So, what was my problem?  What had I been telling myself?  Had I conditioned myself to celebrate others while holding myself to some other much higher standard?

Awareness is the first step resolving an issue.  Holding myself to a standard that may be higher than necessary is definitely an issue.  I have decided to employ some different self-affirmations:

I can do it.  Although, I can't do it all at once.  How many times have I unknowingly beat myself up because I have tried to do this and tried to do that but eventually spread myself too thin?  Realizing everything does not have to be done right at this moment is freedom.

It's OK to cry.  Managing emotional health is absolutely important and to maintain a healthy self-esteem and a high level of confidence, crying may be just what the doctor ordered.

It's OK to rest.  Sometimes sitting down and doing nothing is the best thing that can be done.

And more importantly....I am AWESOME!

Are you?

Shatanese Reese is a freelance blogger and author of a future book who resides in Atlanta, GA with her husband and their six children. She enjoys walks on the beach and colorful sunrises. Shatanese’s goal is to find the extraordinary in every day moments. Follow Shatanese on YouTube, FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, and Periscope.

I'm Not Striving for Perfection, I Just Don't Want to Make Any Mistakes!

I have heard the word "perfectionist" used at times to describe me.  I have repeatedly denied these claims as I do not ascribe to being a perfectionist.  I do not wake up each day and say to myself, "I am going to be perfect today."  I do, however, detest making a mistake.  What I did not realize is that I was creating a nearly impossible existence for myself and possibly for others around me, such as my children.

What drives the need to avoid making a mistake?  Perhaps growing up as a performance-driven, people-pleasing child had something to do with it.  Achieving and doing well in school was something I could control.  I was involved in numerous clubs and attempted to be the best at everything.  Now as an adult, that same drive has manifested itself as a type-A personality who is seen as a perfectionist.

A dear friend encouraged me to "STOP striving and start enjoying His blessings and His love."

"He is NOT judging your performance," my friend continued.

"He loves you…period."

God is not judging my performance.  He loves me.  Period.  And that is the key.  I am not here to please others.  I am here to please God.  Additionally, despite what my behavior implies, God does not have a notebook where he is checking off each accomplishment I achieve.  I am enough.  Just as I am, even if I do not accomplish another feat.  While at times I may forget this, I can always access one of my favorite scriptures, Psalms 46:10, which reminds me to, "Be still and know that I am God."

It also occurred to me that by not enjoying my blessings my focus was askew.  I was choosing to focus on what I thought I needed and not what I had in the moment.  I was not being content, which in turn grieved God's heart.

The same friend who reminded me that God is not judging me also shared a video with me by the artist Jadon Lavik.  Essentially, the song, What If states I belong to God despite what I do.  For someone who is accustomed to running like the Energizer Bunny, knowing I do not have to perform or please is very comforting.  

If you find yourself striving for perfection, know that God accepts and loves you unconditionally.  It is OK to simply be still.

Shatanese Reese is a freelance blogger and author of a future book who resides in Atlanta, GA with her husband and their six children. She enjoys walks on the beach and colorful sunrises. Shatanese’s goal is to find the extraordinary in every day moments. Follow Shatanese on YouTube, FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, and Periscope.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Being In the Moment-The Sounds of Cancer and Healing Like a Fighter

"The results from your tissue analysis have returned.  Your right breast and lymph nodes were clear.  The other masses near the cancerous tissue were benign.  Mrs. Reese, your pathology report is all clear!"

It took a moment for the words to sink in.  My pathology report was clear!  Really?  No radiation or chemotherapy is needed?  Praise God!  It all still seemed so surreal and happened so quickly.  From discovering a mysterious lump in one breast to undergoing a double mastectomy to receiving an all clear report-WOW!  A miracle had just occurred!  Thank you, Lord!  Now my focus could shift fully to healing.

Previous life experiences have shown me that healing is a process.  It is full of ups and downs, twists and turns, expectations and disappointment.  There is pain and relief, progress and delay.  There are moments of peace as well as some exceptionally difficult moments.  I do not know if I thought this experience would be any different, however, through this healing process, I discovered the sounds of cancer which in turn are the sounds of healing like a fighter.

During my second week of recovery, in an effort to relieve my husband from the driving he had undertaken as a result of my diagnosis and recovery, I drove our eldest son to his high school which is 35 minutes away from our home.  This was my first time driving since the surgery and I soon realized that I had attempted too much too soon.  With each turn, the pain I felt in my breasts, which seemed like sharp razors, increased.

As I made my way home, I began to weep as I thought about the pain I was feeling and the entire process of losing my breasts to surgery because of cancer.  Sitting at a traffic light, I sat in that moment.  I turned the steering wheel and my muscles contracted, my chest seemed to constrict further.  The pain crept through my body as if I had been captured by a boa constrictor who was slowly squeezing out my breath by wrapping itself fully around my weakened body.

The somber reality of those thoughts then led to thoughts about how much I was missing my daughter who is away at college which in turn became thoughts of inadequacies in my roles at work, as a mom and in my marriage.  I felt overwhelmed with emotions, pain and fatigue.  I questioned why this diagnosis had happened to me.  I questioned my purpose in life.  I questioned everything.

In an effort to change the atmosphere, I switched the radio channel.  Almost on cue, my daughter's favorite song came on the radio.  As I listened to the words, the tears flowed effortlessly.

"I've been thinking too much.  Help me," were the words the pop artist belted throughout my car's stereo system.

At that moment, I felt totally alone.  Even though I was in bumper to bumper traffic and was surrounded by other parents, spouses, employees, and survivors, I felt completely and utterly alone.  "Help me!" is what I wanted to scream out the window at my fellow commuters.  Instead, I inched my car along with the masses, allowing the tears to simply fall, weeping with no audience.

By the time I returned home, my eyes were like the animated character, Garfield the Cat.  Or better yet, my eyes looked like those of a heavy-weight fighter who had just lost a round.  They were nearly swollen shut from crying, wiping away tears and more crying.

"What in the world happened?!?" my husband exclaimed in shock as I entered the house.

Without a word, I grabbed a pain killer, took a sip of water and turned towards the bedroom.  Under the blankets I went, clearly in need of some rest.

The following days were full of nothing.  I was committed to not making the same mistake I had made a few days prior and made it a point to remain in a low energy state.

 Later that week, we went in for my follow up appointment with the breast reconstruction doctor and I was looking forward to having my drain tubes removed. No such luck. My body had not yet fully begun to absorb the fluid produced by the surgery, therefore the tubes had to remain in place for at least another week (which became two more weeks). The tubes had to be drained at least three times a day, carefully handled so as to not rip off skin at the insertion site, stripped and output recorded. Because of their location, I was unable to turn on either side while sleeping or in a restful state.  They were truly a pain in my side-literally!

On our way home from the doctor's office, I was processing in my head the issue about the tubes and in all honesty, felt a great deal of disappointment. I was staring out the window, chin in hand, shoulders slumped, watching the world slowly pass by.  I lifted my gaze a bit and saw Kennesaw Mountain, in all its grandeur. I have always marveled at Kennesaw Mountain because of the beautiful views one can enjoy once the summit is reached.

It occurred to me that I am currently facing a mountain in my life. At that moment I realized I could focus on how big the mountain is and how long it is going to take me to get to the top along with all the minor stops along the way or, I could choose to enjoy the journey with my focus solely on the view at the top.

The mountain served as a reminder of what God had already done in my life with this experience.  I was not ashamed of the tears I had shed earlier that week or even the disappointment I felt just a few moments before.  Those were all very real feelings and a part of my process.  They represented the sounds, for me, of cancer and healing.  I was thankful for the reminder to focus on those things that are pure and noble.  I was thankful that God met me right where I am.

I choose to focus on the mountaintop and I will continue to heal like a fighter.

Shatanese Reese is a freelance blogger and author of a future book who resides in Atlanta, GA with her husband and their six children. She enjoys walks on the beach and colorful sunrises. Shatanese’s goal is to find the extraordinary in every day moments. Follow Shatanese on YouTube, FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, and Periscope.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

They Say I Have Cancer, But I Say Cancer Does Not Have Me.

I was lying in my bed when my fingers came across an unfamiliar mass.

"Honey, does this feel weird to you?"

My husband's fingers carefully searched the area.

"You probably need to contact the Doctor first thing on Monday morning," he said in a concerned tone.

After the initial breast exam, I was scheduled for a detailed mammogram and an ultrasound.

"And...stop breathing...".

This phrase was repeated several times as the tech took pictures of my carefully placed breast.  She returned to my side to re-position it.  She was so close to me that a strand of her hair became caught in my lipstick, helpless, much like I felt at that moment.

My left breast, a piece of my anatomy that had served in a variety of capacities throughout my life, was under inspection.  It had nourished six children, enticed during intimate moments and offered support to beautifully flowing dresses.  Now it was being squished, stretched, pulled, prodded and pushed.

"And stop breathing," the tech said again.  As I held my breath, I wondered what fate awaited me.

"Mrs. Reese, your results are abnormal.  We need you to return for a biopsy."

While the breast advocate explained the procedure, my mind wandered.

What if it is the worse case scenario?  What if I have a limited amount of time left?  What would I want to do with my time?  Will the kids remember me?  Will my husband find me attractive if I begin to look sickly.  What will people say about my life?

"Mrs. Reese, do you have any questions?  Mrs. Reese...?"

The nurse's voice penetrated my thoughts and brought me back to this new, sobering reality.

" understand."

During the days leading up to the procedure, I experienced sporadic periods of crying.  I spent a great deal of energy, however, keeping my mind on Christ and channeling positive thoughts and vibes.

Overall, the biopsy was not painful.  It certainly did not compare to child labor experiences, that's for sure!  The popping noise the biopsy tool made was unbelievably annoying.

"I'm going to remove some tissue in 3....2....1, POP!," the doctor said.  

The sound was similar to the noise elongated Bar-B-Que lighters make.  All the while, I had the song, "Good, Good Father," playing in my mind as a few tears made their way down the side of my face.

"Mrs. Reese, your tissue will be sent off for analysis and we should have your results by next Tuesday."

It was Thursday.  On Saturday, I received the call.

"Mrs. Reese, your results have returned.  I tried to reach you on Friday but did not want to leave a message.  They are not what we had hoped."

My heart immediately sank and my palms became sweaty as I reached for my husband's leg who was seated next to me on the couch.

"I have you on speaker phone so my husband can hear the news as well."

"The mass is cancerous.  Thankfully, it is in stage one and it is measuring at a small amount.  The type of cancer you have is called invasive mammary carcinoma.  It is appearing both in your ducts and in your lobes."

I looked at my husband as he sat up to hear the doctor more clearly.

"We have you scheduled to come in on Tuesday to speak with the Doctor during a consult.  I want to stress that the focus should be on the size and the fact that it is a low grade."

Once the call ended, my hubby turned to me and asked, "First, how do you feel and then what do you think?"

"There are a number of emotions right now.  Relief.  Concern.  Amazement.  Disbelief.  My life has changed forever."

Our senses were on high alert as we waited for our visit with the surgeon.  When we arrived, we knew we were in good hands when the attending nurse introduced herself to us as "Grace."  We hear you, Lord!

The consultation went better than expected and the doctor offered some comfort in an otherwise very unsettling situation.  We asked a number of questions and gained a greater understanding of my case.  We were again told to focus on the fact that it was caught early and the mass is very small.

Surgery and treatment will be scheduled soon.  My cancer survivor journey has begun.

Cancer does not have me!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Celebrating Josiah

It has been a wonderful year getting to know our son, Josiah, despite his rocky beginning.

We went in for our detailed anatomy appointment at 19 weeks, full of cheer and excitement, as we anticipated learning the gender of our sixth child.  We'd been through this type of visit numerous times before but due to the amount of time the tech spent on the area of the heart, I knew something was not quite right.

The call came in while I was at work.  "Mrs. Reese, we discovered some abnormalities with your baby's heart.  We need you to come in for more testing."  I was immediately struck with fear and a sinking feeling became evident in my stomach.  I hung up the phone and went to a co-worker's office and sought prayer.  Tears flowed as we grasped hands asking God to intervene with His peace.

The trip to the doctor's office was a somber one.  "There is a hole in your son's heart which needs to be repaired.  We will need to conduct an amniocentesis to be certain of the cause."  I reached for my husband's hand as the tears slowly rolled down my cheeks.  I had never had an amniocentesis conducted for any of my other pregnancies but chose to focus on remaining calm.  The testing revealed there were a few issues with our son's heart...and something else.

"Mr. and Mrs. Reese, there is a 99% chance that your son has Down Syndrome and we won't truly know the concerns and limitations of his heart until he is born."

The words fell from the doctor's lips and onto the floor, splattering like a rotted tomato.  It was difficult to focus on the rest of the words that were floating into the air.  I kept rubbing my stomach and praying over our unborn child.  "God...please..."

Over the next few weeks, we prayed, we researched, we talked, we cried and we prayed some more.  We knew it was important to enlist the support of family and friends so we slowly began the process of sharing what we had been told with those who were close to us.  I remember not wanting to accept what the doctor had said and was clinging to the hope that there was a 1% chance that our baby boy was going to be just fine.

On May 8th, 2015, I went in for a routine maternity check-up and was told to get to the hospital because there was fluid around our son's heart.  The doctor wanted to begin the process of delivery before we were forced to make some hasty decisions.  I checked in late that evening, Friday night, and began the wait for Josiah.

Unfortunately, my body was not quite ready to release Josiah and the wait turned out to be much longer than we had ever anticipated.  We thought he was going to be born on the 10th which happened to be Mother's Day but that was not the case.  They tried a number of different techniques to get my body to respond to the induction process but nothing seemed to be working.  His heart rate dipped twice and we were informed that if it dipped again, he would have to be taken via C-section.

His heart rate dipped again and the room suddenly became a flurry of hospital staff, whisking around me and my husband to prepare us for delivery.  Our five children and my mom were there, as was tradition, and I could see the look of alarm on their faces as I was being wheeled out of the room and they were being ushered to a sitting area.  This was not the way it was supposed to be!  I could see Steve's face, slightly tear-streaked, as I was rushed past him to OR.

"You're going to be Ok," one of the staff whispered to me while patting my arm.  "We do these procedures on a daily basis."  I had delivered all five of my other children vaginally. Needless to say, I was full of mixed emotions.  I was exhausted and now just wanted him here, safely.

It all happened so quickly.  Then he was lifted out of my body and offered for Steve and me to see.  On May 11th, Josiah David Reese made his grand entrance into this world-Finally!

We were told that surgery was not immediately needed on his heart but he had to remain in the NICU after his birth due to the complications experienced during the birthing process.

Leaving the hospital without him was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do even though I knew he was under the best care.  We visited the hospital daily and asked regularly about when he would be released to go home.

We were told he had to be able to breathe on his own, pass the car seat test and gain weight before he could be discharged.  They were initially concerned about his hearing but he eventually passed all testing.  He was in NICU for a total of three weeks.

Subsequent doctor's visits after discharge indicated surgery was imminent but they wanted to give him time to grow.At four months old, Josiah underwent open heart surgery.  Once again, he was in NICU and had to remain in the hospital.  My own heart tore a little when I saw him for the first time after surgery.
He looked so small, helpless and sweet.  My little man.

We soon came to realize that Josiah was a fighter, a "Little Warrior," as his Grandma affectionately calls him.  His smile is contagious and his laugh is so cute!  We cannot imagine our lives without him.

What about the Down Syndrome diagnosis, you ask?  DS is NOT our son.  He has some characteristics that are associated with Down Syndrome and is experiencing delayed growth in certain areas but we are not boxing him in a diagnosis.  Yes, we are certainly remaining informed about his growth and development but we are choosing to focus on his abilities and not limiting him before he even has a chance.

I will admit, I was greatly disheartened when we first received the news.  I did not want to hear it, discuss it or accept it.  In fact, if I am truly honest, Josiah almost was a statistic, a child never born.  I thank God for His grace, peace and mercy.  I would not have been able to live with a decision to abort, even though it was an option freely offered by the doctors.

Each time I look at Josiah, I am humbled by God's selection of us to be Josiah's parents.  He is an active baby, crawling around to keep up with his siblings and grabbing everything!  He is also extremely vocal and enjoys chatting, especially with his Daddy.  He is so busy!!  He is a gift...a gift for our family and for the world.  I love me some Josiah David Reese!

About the Author:

Shatanese Reese is a freelance blogger and author of a future book who resides in Atlanta, GA with her husband and their six children. She enjoys walks on the beach and colorful sunrises. Shatanese’s goal is to find the extraordinary in every day moments. Follow Shatanese on YouTube, FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, and Periscope.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Give it ALL to God

It is the month of May.  Within these past five months, I began a new job, there have been three proms, several track meets, we experienced our first cruise as a family of eight and are nearly finished with the process of building a home from the ground up.  That list of events alone is enough to place a strain on any person.  Oh...and did I mention we are preparing for a high school graduation, a Pre-K promotion event and celebrating three birthdays solely during the month of May?  Yes, I have "Calgon" on speed dial!  These events are all stressors- certainly happy ones, but stressors nonetheless. defines a stressor as an activity, event, or other stimulus that causes stress.  I was beginning to feel the weight of these stressors when my husband told me to give it to God.  Sounds simple enough, right?

How difficult is it to give everything to God?  Are you able to place whatever may be plaguing you at His feet and just leave it?  I have gotten pretty good at leaving my stuff and junk at the feet of the throne.  It's the picking it back up part that gets me in trouble.

God's word tells us to "not to be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7.

Experiencing stress can make anyone take some unhealthy actions to cope, i.e. binge eating or an exploding temper.  What do you do when you feel stressed?  What can you do?  What you should you do?

The first step to any change is recognizing there is a problem.  Usually, my eye begins to twitch and I say to myself, "Ok...something is going on.  My body is trying to tell me that I am experiencing stress.  What is causing me to stress out?"  I then begin to assess each area in my life to determine the source.  Is it a close relationship?  Is it on my job?  Is it an issue with my health?  Is something awry with my finances?  Where is that stressor?  (Can you picture me searching high and low?)

The second step is to identify ways to alleviate the stress, if possible.  It may not be possible to alleviate the stress and finding ways to manage the stress will be more beneficial.  What can you do to chill out?

Could you relax by listening to music, getting a massage or participating in your favorite hobby?  Perhaps you can exercise by taking a walk or doing some cardio.  Talking to trusted loved ones is an option.  I highly recommend writing it all down to get it out of your head.  Anything you can do to minimize and eventually eradicate what is causing you to be anxious is a step in the right direction.

Ultimately, the most important step, is to give it to God.  I have found that my most earnest prayers occur when I simply lie prostrate on the floor and say, " me."  His presence and peace are far more effective than any brand of bubble bath.  Let go of those stressors and give it ALL to God.

About the Author:

Shatanese Reese is a freelance blogger and author of a future book who resides in Atlanta, GA with her husband and their six children. She enjoys walks on the beach and colorful sunrises. Shatanese’s goal is to find the extraordinary in every day moments. Follow Shatanese on YouTube, FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, and Periscope.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Push the Reset Button

Have you ever felt like you needed to push a "re-set" button for some area in your life?  Recently, my husband and I participated in our walk-through for our new home.  The building superintendent showed us various features of the house and demonstrated how to use each item.  One item we discussed was the GFCI outlet.

A ground-fault circuit interrupter, or GFCI outlet, helps detect abnormal current flow and opens the circuit to prevent a dangerous situation. Essentially, the GFCI outlet trips the breaker when there is too much electricity flow. You are then required to check the circuit breaker, locate the tripped switch and push the reset button.  It occurred to me that sometimes we have to push the reset button in life.

Not long ago, I believed I was on the right track with my career.  I had been moved to a larger office in a prime location, my role had been adjusted to include new responsibilities and I had access to key executives.  I was at the top of my game.  Or so I thought.  Something was not quite right.

As described during our new home walk through, the superintended informed us it is important to assess the situation before taking any action.  Regarding my career, I decided to enlist the services of a professional coach as well as my mentor to assist with assessing my career and current work situation.  I also engaged the assistance of a few close friends for Godly counsel.  This group of individuals guided me through the process of evaluating the pros and cons of where I was and helped me to identify priorities and long-term professional goals.

Throughout this process I was certain to include the impact any changes would have on my family as well as on my health.  Conversely, I had to weigh what the impact would be on my family and my health if I chose not to make any changes.  These actions were equivalent to me checking the circuit breaker to locate the tripped switch.

It was clear that energy was not flowing correctly.  I decided to take steps to make the necessary changes for my career, for my family and for my health.  It was time to push the re-set button.

In our current home we know we cannot fry anything in the deep fryer and use the microwave simultaneously.  Everyone in our home knows this and adjusts their cooking plans accordingly.  This may be the case with your situation.  Perhaps you are aware of certain limitations and therefore only need a slight adjustment.  You may decide, however, that working around a "dysfunction" is not acceptable and that a total overhaul is needed.  If the situation persists, as warned by our superintendent during our walk through, an expert may need to be brought in.

You may be in a relationship where every interaction is contentious.  Your health may be problematic or your finances may be awry.  It is time to push the reset button.

Rely on your internal GFCI outlet and push the reset button to allow the energy flow to resume.

About the Author:

Shatanese Reese is a freelance blogger and author of a future book who resides in Atlanta, GA with her husband and their six children. She enjoys walks on the beach and colorful sunrises. Shatanese’s goal is to find the extraordinary in every day moments. Follow Shatanese on YouTube, FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, and Periscope.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

"Help Please!"-Using Our Words

Several weeks ago, my husband announced he was going to the store and invited anyone who wanted to join him to load up in our SUV.

"I am leaving in the next five minutes," he stated, " and if you are not in the car before I back out of the driveway, you will be right here at this house with your Mama!"

A flurry of noises and activity ensued as kids from all directions within our home were scrambling to make it to the car.  All except for Nina.

Nina had been riding around the downstairs area on her scooter and she had chosen to be a responsible toddler by wearing her helmet.  On any other day, she proudly sported her helmet and was usually the first to don it for scooter-related enjoyment.  At that moment, this helmet was fast becoming the least liked item in the house as it was the only thing standing between her and a trip to the store with her Daddy.

I was upstairs in my bedroom working on laundry, when off in the distance I could hear whimpering that was slowly beginning to escalate.   The muffled sounds of frustration were gradually making their way up the stairs.  Nina came stomping into my room tugging wildly at her helmet.  Her helmet was haphazardly askew on her head and her face was tear-streaked.

As parents, my husband and I work diligently to encourage our children to use their communication skills to effectively articulate their needs and desires instead of acting out or using behaviors that may be in some cases, socially unacceptable.  This moment was no different.

"Nina," I said gently. "Use your words, honey, and say 'Help please.'"

She stood there, looking at me as if I had not spoken to her at all.

She tugged and tugged at her helmet, whimpering louder and stomping her feet incessantly.  She was becoming so worked up that she began the infamous two-year old hyper-ventilating cry which only resulted in her successfully trapping the helmet strap between her nose and upper lip.

My husband, who could hear the commotion, came into the room and looked at Nina while she continued with her tantrum.

"Nina, don't you want to go to the store with Daddy?" he asked, towering near the entrance of the room.  She stood there, motionless for the moment, staring off in the distance and not daring to look up at him.

"Use your words and ask for help so you can leave with me."  No response from Nina.

"OK!" he said and promptly turned on his heels to head down the stairs.

"I am leaving in TWO minutes!" he called up to ceiling.

Nina began pulling and tugging at her helmet once again, this time standing on her tippy-toes as if that would help her remove this most difficult obstacle.

Just then, our 18 year old daughter came into the room, kneeling down near Nina and placing her own face very close to our exasperated two year old's face.

"Sweetheart," Amali began while wiping away a few of Nina's tears with a tissue.  "Just say, 'Help please.'"

Nina turned from Amali and walked to the bedroom window just in time to see her father leaving with the other kids to head to the store.

She tried to remove the helmet on her own again but the clasp was simply too tough for her small fingers.  Her goal of leaving with her father was so close, and yet, she refused to ask for help, even though she had said these same words countless times before.

What was so different about this time?  As I watched Nina struggle, I was reminded of times in my life when I had been just like her, refusing to ask for help even though I truly needed it and my goal was within reach.  Whether I was struggling with a work project or dealing with a personal situation, pride, defiance and the unwillingness to admit defeat were driving my behavior and thus driving me further from where I wanted to be.

We all face challenges and at times, try to handle everything about that challenge on our own strength when clearly we are struggling.  Meanwhile, God is near us, waiting for us to simply say, "Help please."  He is nearby, waiting for us to relinquish our pride and our defiance and to invite Him into our situation.  He is waiting for us to use our words so He can fight the battle for us.

Nina had made her way to the couch downstairs where she had fallen asleep with the helmet still securely fastened to her head.  The look of exhaustion was evident all over her sleeping expression.

She now readily says, "Help please," whenever she is facing a challenge she cannot handle.

If you are facing something today, it is absolutely OK to use your words and ask for help.

About the Author:

Shatanese Reese is a freelance blogger and author of a future book who resides in Atlanta, GA with her husband and their six children. She enjoys walks on the beach and colorful sunrises. Shatanese’s goal is to find the extraordinary in every day moments. Follow Shatanese on YouTube, FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, and Periscope.

Monday, February 8, 2016

It's nearly Valentine's Day! Do you speak a foreign language?

Valentine's Day is right around the corner! This is a perfect time to conduct a self-assessment. Do you speak a foreign language?

Actually, I am not talking about a foreign language in the sense you might think. I am talking about the language of love. Five languages to be exact.

Early in our marriage, my husband and I had numerous conversations about how we expressed love for each other and whether or not we were truly doing all that we could to effectively meet each other's needs. Of course, we each felt we were doing exactly what was needed and held strong in our beliefs that the other was not listening to what we were saying. As you can imagine, those conversations did not go very far. It was not until we read "The Five Love Languages. How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate" by Gary Chapman that the blinders began to come off.

This book truly opened our eyes. Not only did we discover that we were not speaking the correct language, we learned that all we had to do was pay attention to cues given by each other in order to learn how to speak a different language. The language our spouse understood.

We also learned a great deal about ourselves. In most cases, people will communicate love to others in the way they would like to receive it. It is very similar to the old adage, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." This holds true when you talk about expressing love. While the book is intended for your relationship with your mate, I believe it can be applied to all key relationships, including your children.

What are the five love languages, you ask? Allow me to demonstrate each one by sharing a little about our children.

Quality Time
It became apparent very early on that our oldest daughter truly enjoys the ability to express herself verbally. When she was younger, she would share these very detailed and lengthy stories which seemed to never end until at times, I am embarrassed to admit, I would tell her to instead write them down in a journal (yes, I know-horrible mom!). It was not until I realized she was sharing the stories to elongate our time together, that I gave in to hearing the "novels" she attempted to express. She wanted quality time.

Quality time requires an intentional effort to be fully present and engaged in what the other person is doing and saying. Our pastor has often said that the way you spell love for most children is T-I-M-E. Our oldest wanted us to simply BE with her and listen to what was on her heart.

As a human resources professional, a part of my job requires attending career fairs where I meet candidates to learn about their skills and share details about my company in a face to face setting. While at these fairs, I enjoy visiting other employer's booths to see what types of marketing materials they have displayed on their tables. I usually pick up what I determine to be "really cool" so that I can have ideas for future products. These products usually find their way home with me where I make a big production of handing out each item to my family. Well, little did I know that I was creating a monster. Perhaps not a monster, but a very dangerous precedent. For awhile there, any time I would return home, our third child would meet me at the door and ask, "Did you bring anything for me?"

Initially, it was cute but the cuteness wore off very quickly as the greeting turned into a search and seizure experience as soon as I set foot into the house! Once I realized his love language was gifts, I was able to better manage his expectations and to ultimately meet his need.

Acts of Service
My husband was stretched out on our bed one evening while we were preparing to watch a movie. He made a comment about needing to give more attention to his feet when all of a sudden, our fourth child sprung into action. Before we knew it, she had grabbed the lotion and was rubbing her father's feet as an act of love. There have been countless times where either Mr. Reese or I have been preparing a special dish in the kitchen and she has willingly offered her assistance. "Mommy, may I help you?" is what she says on a regular basis. Her love language is acts of service.

Our oldest son's love language is touch. He regularly requests hugs from everyone in the family and is quick to offer one if you look like you could use one. It seems as if he has no concept of personal space and can be found squeezing in between family members on an already full couch. He is not rude about it all. That's just how he conveys love. For a long time, it was difficult for me to speak his language. Once I made a decision to let go of the past (check out my blog, "Dear Trusted is the day"), I was able to be the mom that he needs me to be and the mom God intended for me to be.
The gift of touch is a beautiful thing.

Words of Affirmation
Our youngest daughter, loves to bring us her newest art creation or her version of homework. She will say, "See Mommy!" with all of the pride in the world. There are times when we can hear her struggling as she attempts to dress herself after a bath. That distress is quickly replaced with excitement as she says, "I did it! I did it!" Each time she accomplishes a new feat, we are quick to tell her, "Good job, Nina!" or, "I knew you could do it!"

Words of affirmation are extremely important to each of our children but we can see Nina thrives on hearing positive reinforcement.

Not sure which love language is important to the ones you love? There are two ways you can find out.

First, pay attention. What have they done recently for you or for others which can be perceived as an effort to make you feel special? Did they purchase a gift for you even though it was not a special occasion? Did they wash the dishes or clean out the car without prompting? Are they the one who usually has positive things to say about how someone accomplished a task? Are they known as the "hugger" in your family? In most cases, they are doing for others what they would like to receive.

The second way to learn how someone likes to be loved is to simply ask them. Ask them to think of ten things that make them feel special. If you hear them talking about going to the movies, going out to eat and/or going to the park, there is a strong chance they enjoy quality time most. If they talk about receiving gift cards, going shopping and seeing the UPS truck with deliveries, most likely gifts is what will make them smile. You may certainly hear a combination of these languages but one language will usually be more pronounced than the others.

So, as we approach Valentine's Day and every day beyond, consider assessing your ability to speak a different language.

If you are truly serious about loving others, you will become adept at loving them on their terms. They will be pleased to see you have been listening. Have fun!

About the Author:

Shatanese Reese is a freelance blogger who resides in Atlanta, GA with her husband and their six children. She enjoys walks on the beach and colorful sunrises. Shatanese’s goal is to find the extraordinary in every day moments. Follow Shatanese on YouTube, FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, and Periscope.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Dear Trusted is the day.

Dear Trusted Adult,

Today is the day that I let it all go.

Today is the day that I release the shame that has been prevalent in my life as a result of the choices you made nearly 30 years ago. I am releasing the shame which has been like a large immovable anchor tethered to a small balloon, weighing it down, never allowing it to take flight and float freely.

I release the shame that has at times washed over me like crashing waves on a stormy beach, causing me to feel as if I was drowning, unable to breathe.

Today is the day I no longer look at all males suspiciously as they interact with my children. I will no longer stand on the sideline questioning their motivation and expressions of love. Don't get me wrong, I will continue to be discerning but I will no longer project my own limiting fears onto my children.

I will no longer be afraid of the bumps in the night and the shadows that cast their faint, dark images into my bedroom. Today is the day that I release it all. I let go of the thoughts in my head which told me I was not worth fighting for. The thoughts that told me I was not worth protecting. The thoughts that told me I was not worth saving and that I was never enough. I release them.

I release the feelings of being tainted, damaged and used, no longer pure. Today, I forgive myself for all of my past failed relationships and my attempts to find love in all the wrong places.

Today is the day that I give myself without hesitation to my children. I will surrender to their frequent requests for hugs, tickle time and innocent touches which have until today, threatened to evoke distant yet uncomfortable memories. I will fight against triggers and flashbacks and choose to live in the present.

Effective today, I will willingly give in to their earnest yearnings for a mother's love, genuine love from a trusted adult.

Today is the day that I tell that beautiful little girl in the past that it is OK to come out of her protective space and to accept the love from those around her. Today is the day that I tell her she is unique, special and important. Today is the day that I embrace her, caress her head and tell her that she can relax because she is safe.

Dear trusted adult, today is the day that I forgive you. This letter is a gift as it marks the day that I release you. You were a trusted adult, someone who was entrusted to care for me. I realize now the flaw was in you and not in me.

In all honesty, this letter is a gift to myself because today is the day I am finally free.

**Our past can absolutely impact our present and our future. If you or someone you love is struggling with matters from the past, please seek professional and spiritual help. Life is too short to live it carrying burdens which can ultimately be released through prayer, counseling and forgiveness.**

About the Author:

Shatanese Reese is a freelance blogger who resides in Atlanta, GA with her husband and their six children. She enjoys walks on the beach and colorful sunrises. Shatanese’s goal is to find the extraordinary in every day moments. Follow Shatanese on FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, and Periscope.