Fever Watch = Seizure Watch

tim 2So my son is sick again. He is turning 3 in two weeks. He is prone to febrile seizures.

The last time he had an episode was hours before he turned 2 then he had mini-seizures in his sleep. Like two more times. Now he caught a virus from daycare which would normally set other children back 24 hours. Fever and vomiting. For him, having a seizure is a constant threat hanging low over his head. At least for me. His father is stronger than I am.

I am fighting my own demons.

I am constantly watching his monitor. Even at night. It’s a sick obsession. 

I have joined support groups on Facebook that are made up of parents who are struggling with febrile seizures attacking their babies. When I first joined, I read about the sad story of a 3-year-old who was taken from this life by a seizure. It was debilitating. The story and the mother and her advocacy and trying to understand was beyond hopeless. My anxiety increased when I read that story and I started researching even more. There is no known cure nor prevention of febrile seizures. It seems the medical community has just accepted it as a “common event” for children and they “will grow out of it by the age of 5 or 6”.

What?! I can’t sleep out of fear and incapacitating anxiety for 5 or 6 years????

As a mother of a baby who suffers from seizures, I have to confess, there is nothing worse than seeing it happen. The pronounced  shakes, the foaming at the little mouth, the whole-body stiffness, the exhaustion afterwards and he does not even know what is happening. I read other parent’s encounters on Facebook and I write them comments to support them but it’s not good enough. I went to therapy and I paint, knit and even write songs but it’s not therapeutic enough.

We need more research about this. We need to give parents better ways to cope with this. I was told in the Emergency Room by the doctor who finally got around to seeing my son, 5 hours after his seizure- that even Tylenol and Advil and controlling his temperature will not stop a seizure.

So what will?

I wanted to let you know that my son is sick. It’s not a visible illness and it’s not chronic and so many parents tell me to be thankful that it’s not leukemia or a disease that is terminal. Yes. I am grateful. Yes I realize that this may or may not kill him. I know that seizures, on the broad spectrum of what can go wrong are fairly and legitimately unconcerning but…

I STILL HATE THEM!

I hate them every time they occur. Every single second that my son’s body is out of his own control with his eyes rolled up. Every time that he is not “conscious”. I hate their powerful hold over him and over me. I hate how scared I am and how tired he looks afterwards. I hate the fact that he has to get them. I hate not knowing when and how he will get them. I hate not being told that they can be deadly. I simply hate it all.

Despite the fact that they may outgrow the seizures, we will never forget the misery, the worry and the pain of seeing our child this way. Febrile seizures are killing our insides a little bit at a time. There is numbness on the edges of my heart.

I still pray but inside me I am filled with rage and frustration.

I question why certain children get it. Why others don’t? There has to be some research done on precursors- a gene, a chromosome, a virus, a predisposition, something.

There has to be an answer. This is incredibly hard. I can’t explain nor describe the sickening feeling of dread and tight knots in my belly as I watch him on the monitor tonight. It’s like waiting, and knowing, that something really bad will happen.

It’s being ready with clothes on in case you need to go to hospital or call 911. It’s having a packed hospital bag hanging off your stairs banister near the door. It’s having more than 10 bottles of Children’s Tylenol and Advil and Motrin everywhere. It’s the constant, gnawing, persistent and ever-slow tapping on your nerves.  It’s the fervent prayer in the night as you sleep with one eye open while the other watches and counts every rise and fall of the chest. It’s my palm on his chest to check his heartbeat. My heartbeat. We are one and we are connected. I don’t know if I can do this.

If you are reading this and you know how it feels, please know you are not alone. It may be common but that doesn’t make it easier. It may be minor but that doesn’t make it any simpler for us to digest or comprehend. It may be transient or temporary but it is no less traumatizing.

I am left with PTSD as a result of his seizures. I am always anxious and scared to be away from him. I hate the fever/seizure watch with a passion.

I am but a former shadow of myself. I used to be brave and so strong. Now, I am fearful that I will lose one of the sweetest gifts God ever granted me.

Please keep me in your thoughts. And keep him in your thoughts as well.

 

 

 

 

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Momming is Hard…

imagesCAWJ7Y37 But seriously…Momming is hard you guys. I really reflected on it the other day as I swiped up on my Facebook timeline and read all the concerns and questions of moms who really just want to do the best for their baby. It’s a whirlwind of confusion and queries.

I wake up randomly and ask questions like “Did all three of my kids get all the shots they needed?” or “Do we need a Pediatrician instead of a Family Doctor?” or “Why is my almost-three-year-old not potty trained- is it me or him?”

These questions haunt me and it stands to reason that I think many questions of vast varieties haunt every mom out there. So I wanted to address some common questions here with some answers that I think will add levity and humour to the situation:

  1. Am I being a good mom when I leave my kids and go out with my girlfriends? Yes. You need to leave them to miss them and they need to adjust to others responding to their needs. Daddy or grandparents or babysitter can help them just fine. Have your glass of whatever-it-is with you girls because you have earned it!
  2. Is it normal to feel this guilty when leaving my baby at daycare? Yes. What’s not normal is dropping baby off and running away yelling “Start the Car honey, the deed is done!” (Full Disclosure: No one ever does that at our childcare centre but it would be funny). Of course it is normal, oftentimes it is more distressing for the mother than the baby!
  3. Is it normal to look at pictures and videos of my children on a date with my partner? No. Stop that. It’s just so silly when people do this. I am kidding. It is normal but we really should stop doing that. We just left them at home like 10 minutes ago and we haven’t even ordered the appies!
  4. Is it normal to feel guilty going away on vacation while the grandparents watch the children? Yes it is normal. But you should feel guiltier leaving me behind!!! Just take me with you please? I pack easily- I am told I can be pretty compact! Don’t let your guilt override the relaxation you can have when you are away. Recharging your batteries is healthy for you and for your little ones. You’ve left them with people you trust, obviously, and made arrangements for their care. Enjoy your time away because you earned it! Reconnect with your partner or your inner self or your core or someone…you are on vacation so start vacating!
  5. Is it normal to ‘not’ like my kids sometimes? What?! No! You are horrible. What makes you say such a thing. Again, I am totally kidding. There are times where my partner and I want to sell our kids to the highest bidder! It is perfectly normal to intensely wish you could go back to childless days where a mini-version of yourself isn’t standing there with hands-on-hips virtually challenging you in the same tone, and using the same words, you use to manage their behaviour. It’s ok not to like your kids sometimes, it is not ok to not enjoy them at all. That could be signs of depression and that is too depressing to talk about here but we can address it. I struggled with it. Message me if you want to talk about this very serious issue.
  6. Is it normal to cry after your child’s birthday party? Yes. First of all, you’re exhausted because you just planned this red-carpet, TIFF-worthy, themed, magnificently-designed birthday party that Princess Kate would be jealous of. Well, that and your child is aging. There is nothing more bittersweet than having you baby grow up. I am always torn between wanting them to stay the exact same age and being excited to watch the little people then adults they become. I can’t tell you how nostalgic, sad, excited and fearful I feel on the birthdays of my children. I am a wreck. I love them so much, my heart aches. I cried like a baby when my middle child turned five two days ago. Why? I remembered bringing her home as a baby then I condemned myself for bringing home her baby brother 26 months later and not giving her enough attention when she was 2. Wow. Mommy guilt is real y’all!
  7. Is it normal to regret going on vacation with children? Yes. Simply put, we regret taking our children on every family vacation we take. Then we look at pictures with fondness. Apparently, it gets easier but it sucks when you’re in the moment. Either they get sick, or drive you bonkers with their behaviour. You are exhausted at 9 pm and end up falling sloppily asleep because they were so all-over-the-darn-place and that embarrassing shade of red on your cheeks was mistaken for too much sun or too much blush. Verdict: Take your kids on vacation but don’t expect to LOVE every moment. Just like home, there will be fun and there will be fury. It’s all good. Healthy mix. They should create a miniseries on TVO or something: The Fun and the Furious (Parents on vacation with kids).
  8. Is it normal to resent my partner for not being as anxious as me about their development? Yes. But stop it. Face their challenges as they happen not before they do. Then you waste time worrying about things that may not happen and when they do, your defenses are down and you are not strong enough to face them. If your partner seems more relaxed about things, it is to balance you out. It does not help anyone to have both sets of parents stressing over everything when it comes to the children. Make sure you take turns though because it can be pretty exhausting to be the comforter all the time. Our partners need the time to be anxious and worried and they need us to be chill and comforting.
  9. Is it normal to feel jealous when my baby wants my partner more than me? Ummm, the question is, what are you doing standing there watching? Dude, go take a shower or do your nails or wax them eyebrows!! Don’t stand there and nurse the emotions of jealousy? Instead, say something like, “Oh, looks like the baby needs YOU right now! I will give you some bonding time and space. You are an awesome parent. Love you!” And then run. Get your shoes on and GET OUT OF THE HOUSE or head to your room. Go for a walk, a stretch, a nap, a shower, a massage, shopping or even drinking. I don’t know. Whatever turns your crank. Just do it. But yes, it’s normal to be jealous. I wasn’t impressed when I did everything for the baby and they would cry or say “Daddy” as their first word. Now, after three little ones, not so much. I just shrug my shoulder and say “Meh, take’em” and find an alternative activity that brings me joy and peace.
  10. Is it normal to hear yourself be your mother? Yup. You read that correctly. Sometimes I am so keenly aware that my mother’s words, actions, mannerisms have completely invaded my body and mind and I suddenly become my mom. It may not necessarily be a bad thing for some people but for me, I always wanted to be less anxious, more free and less militant with my kids. I. Am. Not. Let’s put it this way, I hold their hands up and down the stairs until they are at least three years of age. I fed them pureed food much later than necessary to avoid choking. I still need to potty train my almost-three-year-old (can you tell this is a sensitive issue for me currently). The other day I caught myself saying, “Like it or not, you will do what I say because I am your mother and that is that!” – Whaaaaaaat?! That was not in any parenting book I ever read and definitely was not a recommended statement befitting of my relaxed-authoritative parenting style! The struggle is real y’all.

Ok. So what did we learn from all this everybody?

We are not perfect but we are perfect for our kids. Think about that. You are perfect for your child. Your child was created for you and you are everything your child needs. You are sufficient and magnificent with all your flaws and all your imperfections. You are perfectly imperfect and just what your child needs. With your love and patience, your crazy-mommy moments and your tender touch, your baby is blessed by you.

So stay fierce. Just be who you are. Everything you doubt doing is amazing. Your effort is clear to all of us and please just do what is right for your child. Don’t listen to others’ experience because no one else has your baby!

Peace and love y’all.

SMartignani

I may forget

Last night I woke up suddenly because I was scared. I was scared that time is passing so quickly and that my little babies are growing up too fast. I feared losing time with them and missing them as they are now. This fear sent me into a frenzy as I left the warmth of my bed to go check on my babies. My 6 year-old was sound asleep in her new room because she was “upgraded” from sharing a bunk bed with her sister to a “private suite”. She wanted privacy and she is only 6! I almost bawled when I saw my eldest and first-born curled up in her big bed with a stuffed penguin (whom she still thinks is an owl) held tightly in her embrace. I am not sure why but an overwhelming sense of sadness came over me because I still remembered bringing her home when she was a week old. All 4 lbs 11 oz. and fiesty with some screeching screams and beautiful features. She was perfection as I held her in the crook of my arms. Now she is contemplating big things like what she wants for Christmas and which chapter book she will need to borrow from the library next. She is correcting my French and saying things like “Mommy, I can do it by myself- I am a big girl now!” Oh be still my heart. Be still.

I silently slip out of her room and unlock the door to the second bedroom that holds two more precious pieces of my heart. The middle daughter, filled with affection and sunshine is sleeping in the top bunk and her wild, curly hair has invaded almost the entire pillow. You can barely see her cherubic face as she nestles deeper into her covers. She senses my presence as I longingly stare at her only seeing the baby that stopped breathing three times and almost slipped from my grasp. At that moment, I was just so grateful and thankful that she survived the ordeals faced only at 8 hours old! She is now a spirited little 4 year-old who knows exactly what to do and say to get what she wants. Her sense of humour is outrageous and her thirst for life is out of this world. She is so emotionally in-tuned to her environment and she can sense tension, joy, worry, fear and sadness miles away. She is the only one of the three that melts into my arms and whispers “It’s ok mommy, I love you all day long all the way to heaven and back.” Her sweet voice and demeanour make me so sentimental because I feel like I lost out on some of her babyhood and toddler-hood because I had my third and last baby. He took the attention away from her and I regret not knowing where I spent my time. I don’t even remember her as a toddler because she was so quiet and content.

Then I quietly kneel next to my youngest. At two years of age, he is the prince of my universe. The light at the end of every day and the reason my entire existence becomes wholly meaningful. My son is a ball of energy with intensity much too high for a toddler. He is intelligent, persistent yet obedient. Naturally curious with an incredible fervor for life. To say I adore him is an immense understatement. I hang on to his every word, smile, breath and action. I nuzzle, cuddle, snuggle, tickle, sniff and kiss him every opportunity I get. I make him laugh then I hear him say “Shtop-Shtop mommeee. My face. My body.”

Be still my heart. Be still. When did he make the distinction between us? We were one soul attached at the hip. He used to cry when I would release him and now he is his own entity? He is ordering me to stop kissing him?

I can’t tell you how much I pray that he stays young. That he just stops growing. That time can just stand still. I love all three so much, it hurts. It literally…hurts.

Today when I asked my eldest to hold my hand when we were crossing the parking lot, I felt her tiny palm slip into mine and I almost cried. I realized that her palm won’t stay so tiny one day and that she will be out with friends and away from me. I almost crumbled right there on the spot. How can I just let my heart wander out there in the world without me? How will she survive without my watchful gaze or gentle redirection? (sometimes not so gentle). How will my baby girl just be making decisions that can impact her life and mine?

Be still my heart.

I want to warn you now if you are expecting, nothing hurts more than watching them grow up.

The labour pains, the c-sections, the sicknesses, the NICU, the worry, the guilt, the lack of sleep, the excruciating anxiety of whether you are doing this mothering thing right or not- NOTHING is more painful than blinking only to see your baby a 6-year-old!

I pray that they remain healthy. I pray that I can savour each stage of their lives in turn with as much passion and focus as I have allocated to my career, my marriage and my faith.

I hope that they know when they are grown that I never wanted them to grow- not because I am selfish but because I am much too afraid of letting go.

Thank you for listening. God bless.

Puilt *Parent Guilt

1909559_5032225223_5452_nListen… both moms and dads suffer from guilt all the time when it comes to their kids. Sometimes it is a neurosis that far exceeds what is to be considered normal, wreaking havoc with the psychology of the brain and the dynamics of the family. Sometimes, the impact of puilt is so strong that it begins to fray at the edges of the natural internal joy granted through childbirth.

Slowly but surely, parents are so deeply entrenched in their feelings of remorse and regret that they often live a double-life filled with external demonstration of contentment warring with an internal battle of sadness, self-hate and isolation.

But I am not hear to bear the grim news that puilt is incurable, untreatable and often invisible when experienced by individuals- I am her to tell you that ALL THIS- all of it- NO QUALIFICATIONS, JUSTIFICATIONS, EXCEPTIONS, DEGREES or INTENSITY of puilt IS NORMAL.

Did you hear me? Yes. Normal. Your love for your kids makes you want to shake the heavens and crush the earth to give them what they need. Your inherent need to protect them drives you insane with doubt and thoughts (mixed with vivid imaginings in my case) of the various ways your children will be harmed. Every time I hear a story of a child being hit by a car, diagnosed with a chronic illness or abducted- I see my child’s face. Despite the sheer madness of it all- this is normal. You were made to love them beyond reason.

This sums up the “beyond reason” portion.

IMG_0879I know we have all asked ourselves at one point or another these questions: “Do I do enough?” “Are they happy?” “Am I working too much?” “Are they angry because I get angry?” “Are they yelling because I yell?” “Should I have spent more time in the car talking with them than on the phone?” “Am I horrible because they ate McDonald’s three days this week?” “Are my parenting skills destructive?” “Am I too protective?” “Are they developing abnormally because of me?” “Should I have exercised more so they can be healthier?” “Am I horrible if I don’t have technology? “Why are they so selfish- am I spoiling them?” “Did I eat too much when I was pregnant with her?” “Does he have seizures because I can’t stay up all night to watch him breathe?”

Puilt makes it evidently clear that we are responsible for these little lives that God made for us and we are forever filled with it.

But as I was in the ambulance with my toddler and puilt is ransacking my every pore and penetrating my every cell, the paramedic looked at me and said “I was in your house and I saw the crosses, I know you are religious.” I nodded hesitantly while secretly praying that this will not initiate a discourse on the theoretical epistemology of spirituality. Then he proceeded to say to me “When my baby had seizures, I was terrified and I am a paramedic. I get it. This is tough but your son is not yours.” Pause. Really awkward though because this was either a classic Star Wars confession of “Sylvia, I am his father” or an immense recognition of guilt “I switched our kids at birth” type of thing.

It was neither.

He looked at me and said, confidently, poignantly and almost sadly “God loans us these beautiful tiny beings so we can love and adore them but ultimately they are not ours, they are His.”

What?!

Let that sink in. The gravity of what he is saying. It angered me but in some strange way, it also brought me comfort.

God gives us our children with the full knowledge and complete expectation that we will mess it up somewhere along the way. He knows our limitations and our strengths, cause’ ahem, He created us. So why do we take it upon ourselves to believe or live our lives as if we are in control? How can we honestly say we could change anything or everything if we don’t have an ounce of control over their health (from a chronic illness perspective)?

So what does this mean for us in regards to puilt?

I don’t know- maybe it means that we need to relax a bit and know that the Maker will take care of His creation. Maybe you should only feel puilt about what you can control? Maybe we should…wait for it…surrender our children to the will of God.

This means we try our best. We love and cuddle, treat and snuggle, feed and discipline, clean and pray for them but at the end of the day- we are just taking care of them for God. We are grooming them for Heaven. We are teaching them values and ethics that they can utilize to become the best versions of themselves possible.

We are trainers working with a most beautiful creation.

So how am I dealing with the seizures and the puilt and the anger and resentment? I am getting through it day by day. I don’t feel guilty about feeling puilt because I know that the One who made me knows me so I have nothing to feel ashamed about.

Whether you are a mom and dad, adoptive or foster parent, single parent or blended family- remember this- the One who made you knew you before He decided if you should, could, would have a child. Whether it is natural, adopted or fostered- love them like they are the Almighty’s and let Him take care of them.

Blessings,

Smartignani

Number Three!

TimbitSo our number three arrived last Thursday, November 5th and I couldn’t be more thrilled that HE IS OUT OF MY BODY. I am also thrilled that HE is a HE! We have two precious, beautiful girls and we really wanted a boy and so here we are.

This pregnancy, similar to my other two, was very high-risk. I am not sure why my body fights gestational activities but truthfully, I don’t think anything gorgeous comes easy. I am sure everyone experiences their pregnancies differently and I admire and envy mommies who can just go to the hospital and slip one of these babies out… me- not so much!

So I was being followed by Mount Sinai’s Special Pregnancy program for 6 or 7 different conditions including Blood Pressure and Gestational Diabetes. I was also very anxious and ended up on bed rest because of my sciatic pain which rendered me immobile. I wasn’t able to drive to work or to many places actually. Some days, I couldn’t even get out of bed. Apparently the fetus decided to grow behind my placenta (anterior placenta) and his head was right on my backbones!

Anyway, 9 months of pain and immeasurable misery at various stages and TA DA- Little Timothy was finally birthed. I was booked for a third C-section on the 13th but I started experiencing contractions on November 4th so they moved my surgery to the 5th. After being bumped 4 times because there were other cases more urgent than mine, I went in for the surgery that would surely lead me to meet the little angel who was rehearsing his circus  act inside my poor, tiny uterus.

We knew it was a boy and so we were anticipating his arrival in many ways. His sisters were also very involved and his eldest, 4-year-old, would often kiss my belly and tell the baby she loved him. So sweet- right??

A few observations before I continue on the third time around for women with C-Sections- it hurts. I was really anxious because I precisely knew the pain of recovery and everything that would happen. I sweated over the procedure every step of the way and anticipated the motions and process. What I did not anticipate was how difficult or intense the pain will be the third time they cut into the scars. Was it worth it- OF COURSE but would I do it again, I think not.

I was warned by the doctor that if I have another pregnancy, things may not be so easy. *Choking on sarcastic laughter* EASY? When did I ever have an easy pregnancy really?

My third child also terrified me. I had two other babies who were whisked away to the NICU for varying reasons (per my old posts) and I was shaking with the knowledge that this one surely will be taken away too…

My fears were realized soon after Timmy was born with fluid in his lungs. As sure as the sun rises, they whisked him off to the NICU in order to put on the ugly elephant-like machine called C-PAPP to help him regulate his breathing. Once again, I had to be wheeled into the recovery room alone as I watched all the other mommas coming out of their sections with their healthy, little, blanket-wrapped bundles of joy.

I was heart-stricken and heartbroken. I felt so inadequate and started blaming myself for my inability to create perfect babies like everyone else. Postpartum depression starts right then for me…

I was recovering in one of the postpartum rooms and at 3 am, I called the nurse, woke up the husband and had them wheel me to my precious little boy. Sure enough, he had more wires attached to him than a complex robotic machine. He was breathing erratically and poked on his little newborn feet. The IV was attached to his right foot and his left foot had cotton with band aids where they prick him to take blood samples. Even after two other births of babies in NICU, I still wasn’t prepared to see him like that.

I knew that this hospital had a very high level of care. I understood that they needed to intervene as soon as possible to resolve this. I heard them tell my that this is common and will go away. I listened intently and asked informed and educated questions because the same happened with his middle sister. I was wheeled back to my room and that night all I can think about was one thing… I still have not held him yet.

I kept hearing babies on the floor crying and saw daddies walking around to calm their newborns. I stole a glance at my sleeping husband next to me and started to question what he must be thinking. I was wondering if he was starting to feel like me… numb.

Day 2 was no different. Hearing varying stories from varying experts on his recovery time. He needed to be observed for at least another 24 hours but that afternoon, I was able to finally hold him and try to nurse him. I was so excited to feel him next to my skin and see his tiny cherub face with squinting eyes directed towards me. I had forgotten how fragile newborns are and at the moment, I found peace. He opened one eye and looked at me then trustingly sighed and nuzzled closer to my breast.

I was whole then. Complete.

Next day in the afternoon, our little Tim was released to our care in my room. I couldn’t put him down in his cot. I had him sleeping on me and feeding and I just held him tight and kissed him over and over again. I couldn’t get enough of his smell or his warmth.

It is day 7 now and I am still the same way. As I type this, he is sleeping soundly in his playpen. Angelic and peaceful. I can’t thank God enough for his blessed gift to us in the form of our son. The girls adore him. They kiss him and try to hold him. I observe their interaction with him and tears instantly appear in my eyes. I feel so blessed and so much love.

The story closes here… for now. Despite it all, I am so happy now. Exhausted and in pain but overjoyed at our little family unit. I wish all moms out there and those inspired to become moms all the best in their journey towards parenting.

We will surely be going through a similar experience soon since we already discussed the eventual adoption of more little ones to our family. I am doing some research now which I will report on in my blog if my readers wanted to adopt as well. I can learn and you can learn with me!

Ok, I have to go now and feed my little one. I will be writing an entire blog next time on the miseries of breastfeeding since this is my first time successfully nursing.

Until next time,

Smartignani

New Year`s Resolutions

happy-new-year-2014-hd-wallpapers-1 Every year coming to a close is a reminder that we were ‘gifted’ with a new beginning. Many people have lost loved ones in 2014 and struggled through pain and personal battles that we cannot see or understand. In the same year, many others have reached the pinnacle of their careers, met their soul mates, married, became pregnant or birthed a child. Many children found a home whether with a foster family or through adoption. As for me… there are many challenges- some health related and some familial while others are professional. Any way you look at it, a year is a LONG time for things to happen and much of what we anticipate and fear can happen at any moment. So my post today is about gratitude and resilience.

Ever wondered how a person can go on after being struck by a horrible accident or injury? Ever wondered how people can smile through personal storms and battles? I have and I realized that resiliency is an inherent capacity to withstand all the bad and anticipate all the good.

I am suddenly aware of all the things and poeple in my life that are mortal and transient. Parents ail, children grow, jobs change, money is gained and lost, climates shift, friends grow farther away or closer together, circumstances evolve and my story is being written each and every day I breathe. My faith in God and His love does not fade nor weakens because in all of this I believe that there is a higher purpose for our lives and how we choose to live them.

I want to leave an impact, a legacy when I cease to exist. I always tell my husband that I would like to be “remembered well” when I die. But how does that happen exactly?

Here, I have compiled 10 new resolutions I will endeavour to accomplish in 2015. No matter what happens, I have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

A-Prayer-For-You1) I will pray more, praise more, worship more. I will realize the frailty of life and how in a blink of an eye it can all cease to be. I will recognize my mere existence on earth and treat it as a journey. I will be grateful for every breath given to me and every morning I wake up- I will be revitalized. I will ensure that my constancy is in the knowledge that nothing else is constant. I will fill my heart and soul with gratitude to the point of bursting so that all can see how amazing it is to be alive.

imagesCAWJ7Y372) I will love unconditionally. This task is challenging due to its magnitude. This one resolution is one of my life’s missions. In order to truly love others you must forfeit your own self-worth and the perceptions you constructed based on your years lived here on earth. You must release all prejudice and choose to see people for who they are not what they are trying to be. To love unconditionally means to sacrifice criticism for encouragement and deliberately blind yourself from context and circumstance. Nothing matters and nothing should affect your love for others. I aspire to have love as my new drug to which I will become hopelessly addicted- no boundaries, no limits, no reservations. Period.

family3) I will see my husband and children again. I will yell less and smile more. I will make an effort to enjoy cleaning up the mess my three-year-old makes instead of chastising her for it. I will let my infant feed her hair and roll in the play-doh if that is her heart’s desire. I will listen more to my husband’s whispered words at night before bed and take a special interest in how he says what he feels not only what he is saying. I will see my husband and children for the blessings they are to me and I will share with them the wonders of God. I will love them unconditionally.

Chrysanthemum4) I will see nature. I will make more of an effort to count the stars and appreciate the sunshine. I will build snowmen and sand castles. I will listen for the waves and the rustle in the trees. I will smell the flowers and curiously observe the bees gathering honey. I will enjoy the sensation of being outside, in the outdoors and truly take in what our world is providing us. Beautiful blessings of nature. I will enjoy the silence more and ‘Be Still’.

1451377_10153467659090224_180124569_n5) I will be a good example to others. Integrity, honesty, positivity and respect- all traits that I truly admire in others. I will be a beacon to those who are not willing or able to uphold values. I will speak out when there is wrongdoing and I will be courageous to stand up to peers, friends and my superiors when these basic human ethics are not demonstrated. I will keep in mind that I am far from perfect and exchange judgement for encouragement. I will give more to those in need and stop my car to help the person on the road whose car has stalled. I will stop and ask a stranger who is crying if they need anything from me. I will assist others when they feel alone. All the time. No exceptions.

1463376_10153501465515224_1660866369_n6) I will see silver lining. Everyone struggles. Bad things happen to good people. You can’t avoid some sicknesses, accidents, tragedies or pains. How I choose to react to bad things is what matters. I will choose to be more positive and see the silver lining. I will work on my patience and endurance. I will attempt to see the big picture and appreciate that everything happening is part of a bigger plan that will make me stronger, more powerful and more resilient. I will selectively ‘like’ and read the updates and stories that inspire me on the various social media sites where we are constantly bombarded. I will stop over-analyzing, over-calculating and overthinking everything. I will just be in the moment and smile at what’s to come.

comparison_wise7) I will stop comparing myself to others. There is nothing more time-consuming and fruitless that spending time comparing yourself to others. There are a multitude of individuals who inhabit our planet and they are all at varying degrees of wealth, fitness, love, success and so on. Constant reminders on Facebook and Twitter of what we don’t have does not help in my pursuit of personal fulfillment. I will no longer envy or betray the blessings I have been given in exchange for petty concern and frivolous anger. I will be inspiring to others without boasting my blessings. I will congratulate more, empathize more and bless more. I will demote my base feelings of jealousy and elevate my humanity. I will appreciate by praise those who give of themselves, those who serve and those who are living their lives with humility and impact. Instead of wanting to be as wealthy or as successful as others, I will only seek to be the best I can be without comparison or compromise. (Thank you fellow wordpress blogger tom.basson for your article on this and the photo: http://tombasson.wordpress.com/2013/01/14/why-comparing-is-stupid-and-how-to-stop/)

laughing8) I will laugh. Not just the giggle or fake laugh that we demonstrate when our superiors say something funny… laughing as in my belly hurting. I will locate the people who I can share laughter with and just put that on the menu. I will play more board games that would make me laugh and I will read more auto-correct fails. I will find new ways each day to share a laugh with my children or husband because at the end of the journey, you remember the stories that end with “we laughed and laughed until our bellies ached…”

10645270_10154814270765224_4395918206427828164_n9) I will be present…in the present. Nothing is more frightful than the inability to recall memories. Memories only become so because you remember the present. People who are struck with amnesia are afraid and lost because they can’t remember who they are or who the people they loved are either. So being present in the present is a blessing and a gift. We cannot move forward into the future without knowing where we are right now. The past is the past and it’s a great lesson in history. Now is amazing because we can still re-write history. We can make a change effective immediately. We can give of ourselves now. I want to stop looking at the future because I don’t know what tomorrow brings. I want to live now, laugh now and love now. I will put away my phone at home and when my daughter says “Mommy, look, see?” – I will not reply with “Eh, hmmmm, ok dear, that’s great” – no, I will ask questions and be sincere and say “Wow… what is that? Can you explain it to me? Do you like it? Well done. You are so smart!”

1909559_5032225223_5452_n10) I will make time for quiet reflection. Life is busy. Incredibly, unforgivingly, incessantly busy. I have learned that peaceful moments where I can contemplate, reflect and reassess can afford me the ability to make sound decisions and impeccable choices. I can regret less because I have given matters clear thought before proceeding. I am the most impulsive person you would ever know… so this resolution will be very tough for me. I will need to implement it though if I have any hope of making the other 9 come true.

Happy New Year to all of you. May 2015 bring you wholesome joy, endless blessings and a year of wondrous discovery and limitless hope.

Until Next Time,

Smartignani

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