Happy 70th Birthday Superman / #10

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Tomorrow will mark exactly 3 months to the date since Daddy called me bright + early on a Saturday morning telling me the biggest influence on my life had gone to be with the Lord. Today, Uncle Terry would have turned 70. All I have to say is the Big Man better be taking special care of him up there + making sure he gets his new pair of shoes today – I have all of the faith in the world that He is. Buying a new pair of shoes on his birthday was always his annual tradition. If you do not know me or my family, breaking traditions does not happen in our family.

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Our first picture together in September ’93

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Our final picture together in December ’16

#10

Today, I followed through a huge decision. It may not seem like a big deal to any of you but it definitely is to me because I never thought I would have enough courage to ever do it… I got a tattoo. I know what you are probably thinking – “cool Shan… why do you feel the need to share about this?” Well, because I am very much like my parents + I was not much of a tattoo girl. Do not get me wrong, I do not judge anyone for having them… hell, I am right there with ya now haha… I 100% support anyone who has them because surely, there is meaning behind it. There is meaning behind everything. The night before I left for college, I created a bucket list for myself [+ only for myself to see] – #10 is “to get a small but meaningful tattoo (sorry Mom & Dad).” This item was on the shaky side because I was unsure if I would ever be able to find something meaningful enough to permanently ink on my body. But I did.

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Erik at Great Lakes Tattoo did such an awesome job – I absolutely love it.

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The Back Story

Uncle Ter was the one no one ever had to be concerned about – he was the healthiest member of the Brady family + took good care of not only himself, but all of us… his whole life. As I said in my Father’s Day post about my Daddy, Uncle Terry was the heart of this family + he constantly put everyone in front of him. He attended my sporting events, birthday parties, milestone events within my church + education – I chose him to be my Confirmation sponsor, + he was at my high school graduation… he was always there. We always spent Halloween + Christmas Eve with him + Aunt Sandy’s house. Thenceforward, August 11, 2015 arrived + it will forever be a dark day for me – the day he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. My whole entire world flipped upside down. This was the biggest emotional break I ever experienced – I highly considered not going back to Penn State for my final year, I temporarily lost faith in my religion, + I desperately wanted to shut myself out from the rest of the world. I could not understand why something so terrible could happen to someone so selfless + healthy. What did this mean for the rest of us? When I saw him the day after his diagnosis, tears were shed but he told me not to worry, that he trusted in the Lord to help him + all of us through this, + that he was not going down without a fight. For the 21 months that followed, I watched him fight like hell to live each day to the fullest + make the best of everything going on. He held on much longer than any of us [including his doctors] knew was possible… then he went peacefully with his unfailing faith. It was his unfailing faith that restored my own faith.

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Uncle Ter giving me quality advice on my High School Graduation Night – June 2012

Why the Doves?

Doves symbolize optimism with their spirituality. Beyond their sorrowful song is a message of life, hope, renewal, + peace. Following Uncle Terry’s funeral mass, we released a total of 12 doves from Mt. Washington + watched them circle around Pittsburgh before flying free. Jack + Aunt Sandy released the first one representing Uncle Terry. We proceeded to release the 11 remaining doves that represented each remaining family member in hopes of following in his footsteps one day. I chose to get one dove following the other with the lead dove representing Uncle Terry + the following dove representing me following his lead + continue to live a life filled with everlasting happiness + unconditional love with the ones who matter to me most, just as he did.

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Aunt Sandy + Little Jack releasing the first dove representing Uncle Terry – May 2017

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Releasing the other 11 doves – May 2017

Why on the Right Shoulder/Upper Back?

Uncle Terry was [+ always will be] my Godfather + my Confirmation sponsor. For those of you who do not know, the role of a Confirmation sponsor is to continue to help the candidate along the road of Christian life, to safeguard + develop the grace given at Baptism + now sealed with the Holy Spirit. When I received my Confirmation, he placed his right hand on my right shoulder. I purposely wanted the doves in the very spot he placed his hand as he guided me through the sacrament.

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My Baptism – December ’93

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My Confirmation – April ’09

I love + miss you more as each precious day passes by. You always had my back when you were here + now I know you will always have my back forever. Happy Birthday to you in heaven, Superman! xoxo

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23 Life Lessons Daddy Taught Me by 23

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In this generation, we go through life seeking advice and inspiration from the rich and famous – like Beyonce, Tina Fey, Taylor Swift, etc. They are smart, beautiful, and have wonderful things to say – this is not meant to take away from them. On the flip side, sometimes we forget about those who inhabit our everyday lives. Family members and friends who work full time and sacrificing everything they can to support the ones they love. It does not take money or 30 million Instagram followers to be a positive influence or to change the world.

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To give you all a bit of motivation, let me introduce you to my dad, Dan Brady. My dad works 6 days a week – he is a telecommunications technician, a Pepsi employee, a family man, and one of the most genuine individuals I have ever met. I may seem biased and you are probably right, but anyone who knows him will tell you the same thing. This post will never do him justice, but it is a small thank you and a snippet of just how lucky I am to be able to call him “Daddy.”

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1. School comes first.

Dad cracked the whip, figuratively speaking, immediately with this one. He always emphasized that schoolwork is always the #1 priority over anything else and that we could achieve anything we want with it.

2. Do the best you can.

Life is not always going to go the way you want it to and this is such a simple sentence but so important to remember.

3. Do as I say not as I do.

My dad has been a smoker for 30+ years. He was surrounded by it growing up. Nowadays the dangers of tobacco use are highly advertised – on TV, internet, doctors’ offices, etc. He told my brothers and I to never start smoking because it is so difficult to quit. This is why I want to go into a profession related to health because it is the most important thing — you are nothing without your health.

4. If you think you are doing the right thing; that is all that matters.

I had my share of nightmares during all four years of college with roommates, schoolwork, extracurricular activities – the whole nine yards. Many disagreements took place and things don’t always work out the way I wanted them to so I called Daddy and he always reminded me of this.

5. Utilize your resources.

While job searching before I graduated from Penn State, I had a few meltdowns and scary thoughts that I would never find employment. For as important as nutrition is for survival and living a longer life, the job market is dicey. Daddy told me to reach out to my cousins and friends who work for stellar companies and seek advice.

6. Do what you need to do.

Moving to Chicago was not by any means an easy task – the majority of my family is in Pittsburgh and I hope to end up back there in a few years long term. I miss my family every day but I really enjoy the Midwest lifestyle.

7. The meaning of respect, both giving and receiving.

Daddy was born and raised to treat everyone the way you want to be treated and that is with respect. He and my mom brought my brothers and me up no differently. He says you can tell a lot about a person’s character based on how he or she respects his or her loved ones and elders.

8. Save your money.

Sometimes we want what we want, exactly when we want it. We are the generation that yearns for instant results, but dad instilled patience. My dad taught me the meaning and value of the phrase “save your money,” because that is what he learned to do.

9. Family is everything.

When Uncle Terry passed away three weeks ago, Daddy, Pat, and I were doing a little bit of reflection on our tough loss. Uncle Terry was the heart of the Brady family and he taught my dad more than most people learn in a lifetime. The most valuable lesson he taught us was the importance of family and how important the love of family is. Daddy passed that on to us and very grateful he did because I would be nothing without my family.

10. Pittsburgh >

Yes, I have a Pittsburgh team clothing section in my closet, a Terrible Towel on my bathroom door, a Penguins towel on my bedroom door, a picture of PNC Park, an aerial view of Pittsburgh above my bedroom door, etc. You guys out here in Chicago think I am a little excessive with my passion for Pittsburgh right? I owe it all to my daddy. You can take the girl out of the Burgh but you cannot take the Burgh out of the girl.

11. Tomorrow is not promised.

Daddy has lived through it all. He has experienced love and loss countless numbers of times. Gummy always used to say this and Daddy passed it on to us. Do not take anyone or anything for granted because you never know what could happen. Live every day like it is your last.

12. How a gentleman should act and how a lady should expect to be treated.

My daddy is very old-fashioned. He expects any guy who hopes to spend any part of their life with me to come up to the door when they pick me up, not send me a text telling me they are here… hold the door for me, pull my chair out, etc. No exceptions.

13. Do not sweat the small stuff.

This phrase was said very often as I became a young adult; when I got a bad grade, got rejected from a college or got a great job offer. To many of us, situations seem only amazing or awful. My dad never jumped to extremes and spent time and effort teaching me that I could do the same. He taught me to relax; everything will be alright.

14. Independence and responsibility go hand in hand.

When I moved to Chicago on my own, it was a huge wake up call and I suddenly had a lot more responsibilities than when I did in college – apartment searching, paying bills on time, figuring out commutes, budgeting money, etc. I could go on and on. Dad warned me about that and I am thankful he did.

15. Be thankful for what you have.

There is always going to be one person out there who has a lot more than you and another person who has a lot less than you. It is important to remember to be grateful for everything you have right in front of you.

16. Finish everything you start.

My senior year of track in high school was awful. The winter was brutal, I came in last place in every race, and I felt like I did not belong. I wanted to quit mid-season so bad but Dad did not let me – he said I was not a quitter in sports or in anything in my life. I only had a few more weeks to go and he encouraged me to stick it out. I was glad he did because that little lesson right there had a bigger impact on me later on.

17. Always carry cash.

You never know when you are going to need it. I always get anxious that I am going to lose it but daddy says that preparation is half the battle.

18. Behave yourself.

Every time I tell him I am going out with friends to have a couple of cocktails, Daddy always says “behave yourself” …as if I am a troublemaker or something? 😉 He says it every time and I always do… for the most part.

19. Do everything right the first time.

This mostly applies to our work. My daddy is the hardest worker I know. He goes and does everything right and when something is done half-assed, he will go the extra mile to fix it.

20. Always tell the truth.

Sometimes telling the truth may be as painful as pulling off a Band-Aid, but it is always the right thing to do. No matter how much trouble you think you are going to get in by telling the truth, lying is even worse and will get you into even bigger trouble.

21. There is a reason for everything.

As you undergo so many ups and downs throughout your life and in my particular case more downs than ups, Daddy always circles back to this. Something bigger and better than I ever imagined is on the horizon.

22. The best time to find a job is when you already have one.

Story of my life in Chicago – I have been living here for 10 months and I am on job #3 and I love my job right now, though it is not long term. Being around the babes has been such a blessing and saving grace with everything that’s been going on with my Uncle Terry the last few months.

23. You are never too old to call me “Daddy.”

When it comes down to it, I love my dad for everything he’s taught me… and so much more. At every age and every stage, I will always and forever be daddy’s little girl.

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Thank you to my wonderful father and the many fathers out there who have dedicated their lives to raising their beautiful daughters. I would not trade mine for the world. I love you today, tomorrow, and forever, Daddy xoxoxo

I Love My Mom

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“When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say, and she always says it kindly. She keeps an eye on everyone in her household. Her children respect her and call her blessed. Many women do noble things but you surpass them all.” Proverbs 26-29

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The relationship between mother and daughter can be a complicated one, defined by lifelong adoration and brief contempt. We go from revering our mothers, refusing to leave her side, to growing distant and resenting the majority of her advice and warnings. Then we go from missing her, beginning to understand her and empathizing with her, to finally revering her again, longing for her advice and wisdom.

As we leave the nest, happily thinking we are flying away to better things, we cling on to anyone who is remotely kind, realizing that the love of a mother is rare and wonderful. There are not many people out there willing to take you in, flaws and all, and love you unconditionally. There is nothing out there that is going to provide that unconditional, non-judgmental type of love you get from your mother.

Throughout failed relationships, romantic and friendly, I have come to realize that people are not easily reliable in this world. Friends come and go, no matter how strong the bond may be. While friendships are wonderful and necessary, the only stable and consistent love you will ever have in this world is from your mother. She is the only one who will always be there in the middle of the night ready to answer your call. She is the only one who actually cares to hear about every moment of your day.

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She is the one who will pick restaurants, keeping in mind that you do not like Mexican or sushi. She is the only one who actually listens when you talk. People also told me, throughout my days of contempt, that I would one day be best friends with my mother. One day, we would share stories like those mother-daughter scenes in every Julia Roberts movie. I told them they were delusional, and that my relationship was different than those film or novel stories.

However, age brought wisdom and wisdom brought appreciation. That appreciation grew into respect, which blossomed into the most beautiful friendship. As the years passed and those strong friendships I thought would sustain some type of domestic standard began to crumble, I realized a pivotal truth in my life: my mum has always been and always will be my best friend. Since I have been on this planet for 23 years, here are 23 why my mom is #1:

1. She is the first one I call with good news.

2. She is the first one I call with bad news.

3. She will never forget my birthday, and she will be the first to text me when the clock strikes midnight.

4. She will be honest when something does not look good on me.

5. She will tell you when I am being a brat.

6. She will listen to my dramatic stories.

7. She will not judge me if I wear the same outfit three days in a row.

8. She always has good advice, even if it is not what I want to hear.

9. She always has my best interest at heart.

10. She knows what kind of foods I like (and more so in my case, don’t like).

11. She will never stay mad at me or hold a grudge.

12. She will buy me something spontaneously just because she knows I will like it.

13. She will watch movies with me even if she does not like the preview and ends up falling asleep – most likely the latter.

14. She is the only person I can count on to text me every day.

15. She is the one I can brag to about an accomplishment and express shame for my mistakes, without fearing judgment.

16. She will drop everything to be at my beck and call when I am sick, whether it is a common cold or the flu.

17. She will support my interests and encourage me to stay true to my passions.

18. She is the one who knows when something is wrong, no matter how many times I tell her, “Nothing!”

19. She is the only person who knows my annoying habits and still loves me for them.

20. She never fails to tell me she loves me at least once a day.

21. She is the one who sees there is only one cookie left for the two of us and suddenly claims to be “too full.”

22. She will go above and beyond, through the toughest of conditions, just to make sure I am happy.

23. She is the one who is standing beside me, when everyone else has walked away.

I know everyone says their mom is the best on Mother’s Day, but my mom is truly the best every single day. I count my blessings every day for her and all she does for my brothers and me. All my love to her on her special day xo

[Baby] Brother Dearest

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Today is my baby brother’s 21st birthday… heh?! I have read numerous articles about all types of sibling relationships or the lack thereof. However, one that I hardly see is that of the big sister-little brother bond. As someone who is fortunate enough to have that relationship, I think that it is a damn shame there are not more articles out there. So, instead of sitting around and scrolling through all the other silly Buzzfeed or Cosmo articles, I thought it was time to throw in my two cents on what a blessing the big sister-little brother sibling relationship is in honor of his date of birth.

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Pat and I are two and a half years apart in age, so we have always been pretty close. Naturally, there were those few years that involved constant bickering and him blaming everything on me and somehow never getting in trouble while I took all the heat from mom and dad. To this day, I think he has only been in trouble about three times in his life… real balanced, right? I wish I was exaggerating. Although, he is 21 now so look out Mom & Dad. Bickering set aside, by the time I hit high school, it was smooth sailing. He and I became best friends and have been ever since.

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Having your little brother as your best friend is one of the greatest things that can happen. I could probably write a ten thousand-word article about how wonderful our relationship alone is, but in the interest of time and my little brother (a man of few words), I thought I would keep it short and sweet. So, here are the top ten reasons why having a little brother is literally the best:

1. I can always be myself with him.

This one is a bit obvious. We know each other like the back of our hands, so even if I tried to fake it, he would call me out in a heartbeat and not think twice about it.

2. He will help mend my broken heart in his own way.

I have never been in a long-term official relationship but I have gone on several dates with different guys that I wanted to work out but ended up being heartbroken. Brothers in general will want to help you move on and get over a former lover, but a little brother has his own special spin on it. Since he knows he is younger and you are going to make decisions despite his advice, he will still say it like it is, per usual. When I dated a guy in Chicago for a couple months and got dumped over text out of nowhere, my brother said, “his loss. Who gives a shit about him, he would not have made it through kangaroo court (aka family interrogation) anyway.” Always blunt and to the point. Atta boy.

3. He always has my back.

Through thick and thin, baby brother will always have my back. It does not matter what happens (even if it is my fault/very stupid I am certain he will reiterate), he is always going to be there.

4. I got a permanent partner-in-crime… I am set for life.

Whether said crime involves calling to be picked up in the middle of the night, sneaking around our parents, or just something silly, you best believe we will team up and stir up trouble. We are young.

5. I always have someone in my corner supporting me.

Through all my different endeavors in life, from running to attending Penn State to living in Chicago, my brother has always supported and cheered me on even if he disagrees with my decisions.

6. We have someone we each can give and get advice from.

Not only do I get to distribute life advice to him, but I can get some in return. For him, I may let him know how to handle mum when she is in a bad mood, what it’s like out in the real world (college, career, living in a new city, etc), or maybe even just girl advice. For me, he could let you know what is actually still hip nowadays (you would be very surprised how out of the loop you get when you leave home), some help readjusting to life back home and some limited advice about guys – no one will ever be good enough for me in his eyes.

7. Despite being younger, he is still protective.

Do not get me wrong, I am EXTREMELY [over]protective of my baby brother. You hurt him, I hurt you. That is my job. However, just because he is younger, does not mean he is not protective of you, either. Quite the opposite, actually.

8. He does not sugarcoat anything.

No, for real, he does not. Even if what he says hurts your feelings, he will give it to you straight because he knows you deserve and need to hear the truth, even if it hurts.

9. My mistakes were not a waste; he learned firsthand from them.

Danny and I both had our fair share of slip-ups growing up – it is a part of life. However, instead of looking back and being super embarrassed and/or ashamed, I feel like they were worth it, our little brother got to learn what not to do.

10. I get to watch him grow into the best person to be around.

This is my most favorite reason. I got to watch him grow up in every sense of the word. Right before my eyes, he went from a little boy who I could easily take down if he needed to be taught a lesson to a grown man who I do not stand a chance in a fight with now, maybe a marathon but that is all. Not only that, I have watched him mature. I have seen him accomplish his goals. I have also seen his faults, failures, and weaknesses and how he overcame them. I have gotten a front-row seat to watch this amazing kid grow up. Maybe, just maybe, I got to help him along in the process. What more could you ask for in life?

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There ya have it – 10 reasons why having a little brother is the greatest blessing to me. I am pretty darn blessed that my little brother is awesome too. He will probably never see this, he is not on social media much and it is most likely too wordy and emotional for him, but you know what? It’s here.