“Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work.” –C.S Lewis
Shana is a warm, loud, loving and sassy 34-year-old mother of four, a wife and an ophthalmic technician. In the eye clinic, I had the pleasure of working side by side with her for years. Shana brings a realness and slight irreverence to all that she does. In between taking wonderful care of patients, she would sprinkle in her opinions on everything from football to fashion while sharing the amazing dinner she had planned for her lucky family that evening. To me, she embodies joy, a sense of fearlessness and a commitment to being herself. I learned so much from Shana and am thrilled she agreed to share her glimpse of spirit!
Hi Shana! You have this uncanny ability to connect with people and improve their day. When did that start for you?
I grew up in a military family and we moved quite a bit. As a kid, I got teased all the time for talking too loud and too much and for having an annoying voice. I was kind of loud! In ninth or tenth grade I was struggling with self-confidence and I remember one night in bed just replaying a particularly bad day over and over in my head. I was beating myself up and had been trying so hard to be quieter or different than I was.
That night, I had this amazing epiphany. I was given this voice and the ideas and opinions that go with it! If God was blessings all the little babies in heaven, he simply didn’t say that I would be the quiet one who fit in a pretty little box. God made many wonderful shy babies and I was not one of them! Really understanding that freed me. Rather than trying push myself down, I embraced my voice and claimed it. I like to say that I am an acquired taste.
After I claimed my voice, my self-confidence improved and I began to notice that I have this ability to communicate empathy to others and to listen in a way that shifts their mood. When someone isn’t being treated fairly, I feel the need to support him or her. Often it is enough to say to that Mom in the grocery store check out line with the screaming toddler, “It is ok. Today is just a bad day. That doesn’t make it a bad life.” Just being there for someone in that way with a little warmth and humor is all it takes to make that shift.
What brings you joy Shana?
Sunshine for sure and then simple things; happiness that cannot be purchased like making a good meal for my family, snuggle time with my husband and kids, a clean house and taking a bath at the end of some very long days!
What does spirit mean to you Shana and where do you find it?
Spirit to me is a knowing-a belief in a higher being as well as trusting there is a purpose to all things. When I am feeling weak or lost, I find it hard to be calm and meditate. I don’t know how to do that exactly. Instead, I am great at talking it out with God, often in my kitchen. I have been known to ask and answer myself out loud. It is as if there is an angel beside me. I talk it out and ask for strength and to find my center. Don’t get me wrong, I love the chaos that is my life but sometimes I just need me some calm.
How does being a mother feed your spirit?
I always knew I wanted babies. That is all I ever wanted from a very young age. My kids bring me joy and a sense of purpose. I love being their mama! I love working outside of the home but also embrace being kind of old fashioned too- wearing an apron and baking the best chocolate chip cookies on the block.
I found out I was unexpectedly pregnant with our fourth child at the worst time of my life. We had just put down our beloved dog of many years and my brother Ric was involved in a horrific motorcycle accident. We were unsure if he would survive and all of the sudden I find out I was pregnant again! Honestly, I freaked out. We had taken measures so this truly was a surprise and I was so stressed out. Then I was feeling terribly guilty at how freaked out I was. I knew we were given this baby for a reason but in the beginning I just could not see it.
Soon, I was filled with this clarity and knowing, (which for me is spirit) that she was supposed to be a part of our family. These days, I absolutely know why Bri was sent to us. At age 3, she is a loving, peaceful reminder of the simple things. When she kisses you, she grabs your whole face. She is goofy and everybody’s baby. It was as if she knew she was going to complete our family even before I had gotten the memo.
Motherhood, and I suppose life too is messy like that. I believe that each of us is meant to have angels in our life- human angels sent to help guide and teach us. People show up at the right time and offer us the perfect lesson. We can also be those human angels for others. It may be a lifelong family relationship or the briefest encounter that we have with someone else. We may never know how we touch someone else. That is part of why I choose to show up to the clinic with the intention of trying to make someone else’s day.
They say that cooking is love made visible. How is food love for you?
I know we are not supposed to eat our feelings but honestly, I just love people thru my kitchen! I was always amazed at how a woman grows a baby in her womb and then is automatically able to feed that child. There is something so magical about that. Cooking and taking care of someone is an extension of that for me. Making meals for my family is this great blessing for me. I love it when my kids ask me to make my “famous” pumpkin bread or when my son’s friends line up at our door to get his mom’s “awesome” cookies. It is not even that they are that amazing, they are just the tollhouse recipe but they are warm and made with love. I will feed any kid- not just my own!
What advice would you offer to someone having a rough day?
Well, first, take a step back and drop out of your mind into your heart. Then take three deep breaths and find that place inside where you can know that whatever the situation, you have the strength not only to deal with it but to learn from it and eventually see the blessing that it is. That may look like meditation for you or a crazy conversation you have with yourself in your own kitchen while making dinner!
If that fails, take a “mommy timeout” and lock yourself in the bathroom to take a bath. Most problems become a little easier when you add bubbles.
Recipe Bonus: Shana’s “famous” pumpkin bread!
I must say a few things about this pumpkin bread. Years ago, while I was a nanny for an AMAZING family with 5 kids under age 7, I met a family friend of theirs, Mrs.Snowman. She frequently made this bread for their family and she blessed me with her recipie in 2001. I have been sharing it with others just as she did with me so many years ago! So although though my neighborhood knows it’s as “Corey’s mom’s pumpkin bread”, it really belongs to Mrs. Snowman.
With that being said, you cannot pay TOO much attention to the calories of the ingredients as it may cause you to fall overt Make it with LOVE and NO calories will be added.
Notes: I have substituted the oil with applesauce and it just makes it heavier; coconut oil does change the taste slightly and Stevia could be used but I haven’t tried it yet …
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup 100% pure pumpkin
3 cups sugar
3 cups flour
2/3 cup water
1 cup veg oil
2tsp baking soda
Oven 350 degrees
I combine dry ingredients in large bowl
Combine wet ingredients in a smaller one , once wet ones are blended well I add wet to dry, mix well, place in bread pan and bake for 50-60 minutes. This recipe makes two loaves although I always multiply recipie ×3 and that makes 6 good size loaves at a time. I have a pretty big family and once word gets out that I’m baking nothing lasts too long. Ps…it freezes quite well too- enjoy!