Sheran Memories

Crafting a Remarkable Life

Goliath story

June 21, 2018
by Jennifer

Goliath Must Fall

My friends, I have been doing a lot of internal work lately.

I have been really working on my mindset, my thinking, the internal beliefs that result in my actions, good or bad. I will write more about that later but in the course of my brain makeover, I realize I have a number of giants that are taunting me.

When my neighbor invited me to a bible study at her home studying the ancient story of David and Goliath – Goliath Must Fall by Louis Giglio – I knew it was meant to be.

We just began the study this week and it has been a long time since I have taken time out for me to get David Challenges Goliathcloser to God, in general, or with a group of women. I’m excited for what God has in store as he helps me truly embrace that he has conquered my giants.

We all have giants in our lives that keep us from living the life God has intended for us. These giants may be beliefs, fears, insecurities, or circumstances that lead us to use behaviors to escape or fight the giants in our own strength. We may numb ourselves with an overabundance of food, alcohol, sex, exercise, shopping, collecting, volunteering, Netflix watching instead of challenging the thinking head on and telling it a different story. Jesus has conquered the devils that taunt us. His grace is sufficient. If God is for us, who can be against us?

“For I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity, not disaster. Plans to bring a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

Pelican Point Review

April 30, 2018
by Jennifer

Irene Hannon Takes Us Back Hope Harbor for the Story of Pelican Point

I have been doing a lot of reading lately and I was excited to get the next novel in the Hope Harbor series by Irene Hannon.

Hannon brings us to this quaint little seaside town, which has this propensity to heal hurt hearts. Each novel introduces new characters who come to Hope Harbor after experiencing some loss or hurt and reacquaints us with old friends such as the two town ministers, Charlie the wise artist and Taco truck man.

In Pelican Point, Hannon introduces us to two main storylines. One has Army doctor Ben Garrison returning home to take care of his grandfather’s affairs and me is surprised with an unexpected inheritance and an unexpected romantic interest in Marci Weber, a local reporter recovering from the wounds of her own past relationships. The second storyline is of a young newly married couple facing a crisis after Greg loses his leg from an IUD blast. Hannon develops strong characters and has us rooting for them to find the peace and love they are seeking.

I also appreciate that Hannon develops strong romantic scenes without getting too graphic. The characters have a deep longing and a deep respect. I wouldn’t be afraid for my teenager to read these romances because they are the type of relationship I would wish for her.

I can’t wait to read the next novel in the Hope Harbor series.


Journey to Health with PCOS

April 11, 2018
by Jennifer

Road to Optimal Health with PCOS

I have written before about my struggle with PCOS and I have to say, I’m not much further along on my journey than I was then. It is very much a head game and although I made progress in the early part of 2017, a series of events in the latter part of the year turned my focus and I gained any I lost and then some.

Still, I journey on, knowing I must get it under control for my health and well-being.

PCOS Journey

So, I am going to regularly blog about my efforts to follow a PCOS diet and health regimen, which includes a low carb/low sugar diet, plenty of rest, stress reduction and aerobic exercise. I will share my struggles, challenges, and strategies to overcome, succeed or fail.

Currently, I am doing Weight Watchers and I get a lot of support from the weekly meetings. We have the best meeting in my town. We share a lot of tips and recipes and even have a monthly clothing swap and do Zumba every once in a while. Having a group to cheer you on and lift you up is very important. Being accountable to someone is also important, so I want this blog to serve as an accountability factor for me.

The new WW program is focused on low-fat protein, fruits, and vegetables, which is good for me. I need to follow a food plan that is high protein and fat, low carb and low sugar. I plan to use the points for my fat and then basically follow Keto in my food choices. Keto has shown to be successful for people with PCOS. So I am doing a PCOS/Keto version of Weight Watchers.

There are a number of foods that those with PCOS are recommended to avoid. I will start cutting most of these from my diet, especially those that don’t fit with Keto.

If you would like to follow my journey or join along with me, follow me on Facebook. I will post more frequently on my Sheran Memories page on Facebook and do a weekly blog here. I’d love to encourage you in your journey and swap strategies and tips for success.

Here is to never giving up and becoming our best selves for optimal living.

Beneath The Surface Review Header

March 29, 2018
by Jennifer

What I am Reading: Beneath the Surface Review

Beneath The Surface Review

First Novel in a new crime series does not disappoint

So, one of my 2018 goals is to read 24 books. While I plan on at least half of them be educational to help me grow in business or other areas of my life, I also plan to work in a good dose of titles that are purely for pleasure and relaxation. My favorite genre of books, TV or movies is crime investigations and mysteries.  I think it comes from the love I had for Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books in my youth.

My latest crime mystery is the first in a new series by Lynn H. Blackburn, Beneath the Surface – Dive Team Investigations. What is really cool is that Lynn is a Christian author and she weaves in the role of faith when facing fear and uncertainty as the characters grapple with faith and fear. The book is a romantic suspense with just enough balance between the two. While I was left rooting for the budding romance between the two main characters, Leigh and Ryan, I was captivated by the mystery the Dive team investigators were trying to solve. This was not a novel with an obvious suspect. It kept you wondering until the end and was an unexpected surprise.

I am looking forward to the next mystery the Dive Team Investigators have to solve and I hope we hear what happens next for Leigh and Ryan.

March 21, 2018
by Jennifer

How I Celebrate World Down Syndrome Day

Happy World Down Syndrome Day! 3/21 signifies the three copies of the 21st chromosome that make my little man so darn perfect! World Down Syndrome Day is celebrated around the world and is even recognized by the United Nations. I celebrate it as a day of advocacy, awareness, and appreciation.

World Down Syndrome Day Advocacy My day began with advocacy at the GA Capital where I met with other families and self-advocates who are part of the Down Syndrome Association of Atlanta. We were greeted that morning by House Representative Scott Hilton and a Representative from Athens. Scott showed us a sneak peek at a declaration signed by Gov.Deal declaring it Down Syndrome Day in Georgia. We then scurried across the street to the Capitol building to be ready for a photo op with the Governor. I was able to shake Governor Deal’s hand and thank him for the support. Afterward, we were ushered to the gallery of the House chamber to hear Scott present the declaration on the House floor.

Later, I attended a “3/21 Over 21 event” where I was very moved by the presentations of three young adults with Down syndrome. One has been married for 14 years, has a job at a local hospital and lives a fulfilling life; another young man lives in his own apartment with a roommate, has had the same job for 20 years and is very active in the community; and another young man is graduating from college with a degree in exercise science and wants to be a trainer. They each gave me so much hope and anticipation for Joey’s future. It was truly amazing. Joey Sheran EDSD

To know my Joey is to love him. He has changed me in so many ways and is every day making me a more accepting, patient, and hopeful person. He is a light of joy in our family and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Happy World Down Syndrome Day!

See previous posts about World Down Syndrome Day!

Celebrating Our Son on World Down Syndrome Day

Equal Rights for Persons with Disabilities is No Walk in the Park

World Down Syndrome Day: Our Hopes for Joey

World Down Syndrome Day: A Mom’s Perspective

Three Things I’d Like You to Know About Down Syndrome

December 4, 2017
by Jennifer
1 Comment

Starting New Traditions with a Family Honor Plate

When I was growing up, on special occasions like a birthday, First Communion or getting a good grade on a test, the person of honor was given his or her dinner served on a shiny red plate that had the words “You Are Special Today” on it in white script lettering. We always loved getting the honor of having the “Special Plate.” When my brothers and I got married, my mom got each of us a “Special Plate” to continue with our families.

Family Honor Plate

My daughter shows off the Family Honor Plate.

So, I was very excited when I had the opportunity to review a different version of that plate – the Family Honor Plate. The concept combines doing a family craft, building a tradition that uplifts, and teaching children virtues. The kit comes with everything you need to decorate your own Family Honor Plate, by hand painting and then baking your plate to set the paint. It was very easy but also a lot of fun to design our plate.  In my next post, I will share a video of how we decorated our plate.

Family Honor plate

Here is an example of one family’s plate. The writing in the center is on each plate and you decorate the outside rim.

Next, we will put the plate into action by talking about character traits (fruits of the Spirit) and celebrating good choices when we see them. Unfortunately, we are sort of in camping mode at my house as we are undergoing a kitchen renovation. We are in the drywall phase and have no flooring, cabinets or appliances at the moment. So we mostly are eating on paper plates right now. But as we get our new kitchen set up and return to a normal eating schedule. I plan to incorporate the Family Honor Plate into our nightly mealtime. I am already thinking of the perfect spot to display the plate so we can use it as an anchor and guide for our daily behavior, starting with me and my husband!

I am a firm believer that when you focus on and recognize the good, you get more of it. How fun would it be if instead of looking for ways to tattle or for pointing out where others fall short, we look out for good choices and attitudes in the members of our family each day? When the person of the day is given the plate, they are told of the specific choices they made and the virtues and character those choices showed. It is also important to make the connection between the choice they made and how the child’s action made everyone involved feel, so they understand and connect with the power and beauty in positively impacting others.

I would love to see the kids competing in kindness, gentleness, and self-control to get the honor plate – even if they have to “fake until they

Table Talk cards

A tool to help us get talking, share stories and share memories!

make it.” If we all showed up every day from a place of love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, what a family culture we would have and how might that impact our community? Our world certainly needs to focus on building up these character traits and how powerful the impact we can have on the world when we operate from a place of love.

I also got a fun flip book of table time discussion cards called, “Let’s Talk.” This is a great tool to get us out of our phones and talking to one another again in real conversation. This tool can help us teach our children how to listen, share, and communicate which is so important for social skills, academic skills, and future career skills. And more importantly, it opens the door for family storytelling that will make lasting connections for your children.

Both the Family Honor Plate and the Let’s Talk book would make great Christmas gifts for your favorite families and is offering a 20% discount on multiple orders at the Online Store!

I’ll be posting a follow up with our completed Family Honor Plate and a video of the unpacking of the kit and the artistic creation.

#Honorplate #Flyby #gifts #family

March 21, 2017
by Jennifer

Celebrating Our Son on World Down Syndrome Day

When my son Joey was born in 2010, we knew very little about Down syndrome (clinically known as Trisomy 21) other than it meant that he has three copies of the 21st chromosome instead of two. We were told by the not so tactful nurse in the NICU that a lot of people would like to adopt a child with Down syndrome. We were told by the cold doctor that broke the news to us seven days after he was born that he may be able to put two words together, We were told he would be dependent on us for his whole life.

But what we soon learned is that he is a gift that brings overwhelming joy and laughter to our lives. Joey is just like any other child. Some developmental milestones take longer for him to master. He walked later and he talked later but soon mastered both. At seven, he can do much more than “put two words together.” He tells us “that’s annoying.” He asks “How was your day mom?” He teases his big sisters and he sings as loud and as often as he can.

One milestone we are still working on is toilet training but there is progress and we will eventually get there too. For the foreseeable future, academics will take a lot of work! He is in his second year of a mainstream Kindergarten that is co-taught with a special ed teacher in the classroom and he has a 1-1 para. He knows many site words, but cannot spell them and has a hard time identifying them in a sentence. His lower muscle tone makes it difficult to write and he gets tired out easily. He will learn to read and write but with a lot of practice!

I also have no doubt that one day he will live with independence. Today, he can dress himself, brush his teeth, cook toast and waffles and butter his own bread. He is the best among my three of putting his stuff away. And he can work a TV remote, iPad or iPod like no one’s business. He loves to help with household tasks like sorting laundry, using the sweeper and cleaning the windows. This morning he helped me make my coffee.

But what I most appreciate about my son is that he understands the simple things in life. He knows when the music moves you, you just have to dance and sing like no one is watching. He understands the power of a smile to brighten someone’s day. He teaches us to celebrate our accomplishments (even the small ones) when he shouts out, “I did it Mom!” And he inspires us that when we struggle with something we are working toward, to shake off the setbacks and keep trying. Most of all he has taught us to accept people for their gifts and abilities and look beyond the surface.

So on 3/21 – World Down Syndrome Day – I am very thankful for the little boy God sent to teach me about love. If you would like to support our journey, please consider a donation to the Down Syndrome Association of Atlanta today!

February 26, 2017
by Jennifer

2017 The Year of Renovation

My word for 2017 is Renovate.

Definition of renovate, renovated; renovating

transitive verb
1: to restore to a former better state (as by cleaning, repairing, or rebuilding)
2: to restore to life, vigor, or activity: revive

I can think of no more appropriate word. I have been taking stock in my life and a number of areas could be restored to new life and vigor.

Revonate our home After four years lease purchasing our 1960s-era home, we finally purchased it at the end of 2016 and are eager to make some major renovations. A lot of the renovations will be DIY, and it will be slow going, but worth the investment.

We have been living in a very cluttered and disorganized environment for a while and those types of surroundings really sap my energy level. I am on a kick to get rid of extra stuff. Truly bring in what is beautiful and pleasing and set up systems of order.

Frankly, every area needs to be touched and my kids and dogs need retraining as it is beginning to feel more like a zoo than a home!

Renovating our home for this year means:

  • New floors, baseboards, doors, paint and furnishings in rec room. It will include a craft/homework area and a TV/Game area and possibly a Murphy bed for guests.
  • New floors,  baseboards, doors, trim, paint, bedding and some decor for my teenager’s room.
  • Finish laundry room redo with a new doggie door and pet area.
  • Possible new bathroom for downstairs.
  • Fix sagging floors above crawl space/below the main level.
  • All new flooring, baseboards, trim and paint in the main level.
  • New kitchen and opening the wall between kitchen and dining.
  • Adding in windows and replacing the front door.

There is a lot more to do, but I hope we can tackle the above this year. We are in the rec room phase right now.

Along with the actual renovation is a lot of purging and reorganizing. Redoing our main level has me analyzing how we live and what we might need to help reduce clutter such as a better-organized landing spot for shoes, backpacks, and coats, as well as a designated closet for brooms and mops.

Personal Renovation is also high on my priority list this year. As I approach my mid-forties, I realize that I look and feel much older than I should. The weight challenge is still a big issue (no pun intended), while I think my mindset has become healthier in the past year, my waistline has not. This is the year I will tackle this beast! I must become gazelle-like focused on winning the weight loss battle. And to win, I am looking beyond the scale and just what and how I eat. I am paying attention to overall wellness. I want to revive my overall appearance through skin care and attention to wardrobe and daily physical activity. I am prioritizing rest, renewal of spirit, and personal time, as well as making efforts to reduce stress. Which leads me to the next renovation…my schedule.

Renovating my schedule is a challenge I will face this year. It is challenging because I like to say “yes” to new opportunities and I like to volunteer and be involved in things. However, now is not the time in my life for a lot of extras that don’t directly involve my family, my relationships or my work. My children and husband need more of me, I need more time for friends, hobbies, and interests and to continue to do well in my career, I need to remain a high performer. I  sometimes have to remind myself that high performing does not mean doing everything. So, I am learning to say no and to remove certain obligations that keep me on a screen or away from my family.

Renovating our environment. I am hoping the newly organized home and revised schedule will help us to renovate the tone and cadence of our home life. Perhaps influenced by the times, the tone has been negative of late around our home. Children bickering constantly, harsh words, raised voices, and overall stressful vibes in the air. The day to day weekly routine is about survival and getting things done. We have little to no time of just enjoying being together as a family. My kids need nurturing, training and more attention. My relationship with my spouse could use some nurturing too.

We have a lot of work to do ahead to rebuild and restore peace and vigor to our life. It will take a lot of work and prioritization. It is a lot to balance – actual renovation, health, exercise, time, relationships. It will require us to stay in focus and say “no” to things that won’t help us get to our goals. But it is the year of renovation and we will embrace it!

May 25, 2016
by Jennifer
1 Comment

My PCOS Journey

I am a pretty strong person. When things go wrong, I quickly go in to fight and fix it mode. I also am a high achiever, driven, type A person who strives to overcome weaknesses and meet challenges head on. One of my biggest challenges is Policystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), a chronic condition which affects many women. It is treatable but not curable. It’s symptoms include irregular menstruation, infertility, pearl-like cysts covering the ovaries, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, hormonal imbalance, abnormal hair growth, inability to lose weight, inflammation, acne and skin tags, anxiety and depression.

It can lead to diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.Many with PCOS also have thyroid issues, Hashimoto’s, gluten and dairy intolerance.

My PCOS journey

When I was a young I showed the signs of extreme hunger, a large appetite, extreme mood swings, anxiety, acne and early puberty. I began dieting at age nine and was a lifetime member of Weight Watchers in 7th grade. I was always self conscious about my weight and became fanatical about counting calories and exercising. I would eat a can of spinach as my after school snack, work out two hours a day and even bring my own Weight Watchers frozen pizza to a slumber party while the others had Dominoes.

A regimen of dieting from a young age and being very active in many sports enabled me to keep the weight off. But I still never saw myself as skinny. Looking back at pictures, I was actually in great shape! But I fought for it. I gained a little in the college years, but was still healthy, exercising, and watching my diet like a hawk. The mood swings and anxiety did increase during my college years with the stress of school and relationships.

With discipline, dieting and a lot of exercise, I was able to maintain a healthy weight until I got pregnant with my first child. During the pregnancy, I gained 45 pounds in the first two trimesters and then had her ten weeks early as a preemie in September 2001.

It took a few years for that weight to come off and seven years for me to have another child. During that time, I had a miscarriage. After my miscarriage, I was diagnosed with PCOS. I finally had a reason why I could look at food and immediately gain 5-8 pounds in a weekend, but it would take every ounce of preparation and discipline, and several months, to drop that same weekend weight gain. It explained why I was hungry all of the time and had troubles with acne and abnormal hair growth.

I was prescribed Metformin, a drug to treat diabetes, that is effective in many with PCOS in regulating testosterone levels and reducing other symptoms. I found a low carb, low sugar, low fat, low calorie weight loss program called Quick Weight Loss and over six to eight months lost 45 pounds! I was in the best shape I had been since I got married and my symptoms decreased. With the help of fertility medications, I finally found out I was pregnant again in December of 2007.

During this pregnancy, I gained 65 pounds! It just seemed to pour on. I also had severe edema. After my daughter was born, they gave me a powerful diuretic to address the edema and I lost 20 pounds in one day! But sadly, I did not lose the other 45 pounds before getting pregnant again in November 2009. I only gained about 20 pounds during my third pregnancy and after my baby boy was born in July 2010, I was able to drop a little weight, but the excess 30 or so pounds I was carrying would not budge.

So for the past six years, I have tried everything to get the weight off. I have seen trainers and nutritionists. I have bought books, supplements, shakes and systems. I’d lose 20 on a very restrictive diet and gain it right back to what seemed to be a set point. Then the set point jumped up another ten pounds, and in the past few months it has jumped another ten pounds! I’m now 50 lbs overweight and it won’t budge.

During the past 90 days, I participated in a challenge. I tracked and turned in my food log, focused on a set number of calories and activity based on my basal metabolic rate. I tracked my food with My Fitness Pal. Each day, the app said I should be losing and each day the scale didn’t budge or worse, it went up. Two dietitians said I needed to eat more! BUT when I added 200-300 calories, I gained.

I exercise several times a week and my body has only gotten bigger and more jiggly, especially in the tummy. I am always hungry and always craving foods. This is due to hormonal imbalance, insulin resistance and issues with Grehlin and Leptin (hormones that regulate hunger and fullness)

My skin has changed recently too, with more acne and skin tags and even the texture has changed. I am tired and fatigued. My body aches and I feel like I’m nine months pregnant. I hate having these weaknesses!

It is not as simple as eat less, move more. It doesn’t work people!!!!! And I’m sick of crazy fad, restrictive diets, and spending money on crazy schemes. I want a real solution. I just don’t know how to sort through all the information and clutter to make a practical plan. I mean I have been dieting since I was nine and read all the books. I feel like I have a PHD in dieting, but I still haven’t been able to make it work for me.

I recently went to the doctor and the ironic thing is that he said I actually need to reduce my caloric intake,  not increase it as the  nutritionists said. Crazy as it seems, people with PCOS can be extremely resistant to weight loss.  He said that it would require 20% less calories than the average person trying to lose weight to get the same results. And the Glycemic load, sugar and carbs will have a significant effect on my ability to lose.

I must eat whole foods that are primarily veggies and lean proteins, and have a low Gylcemic load. Many people with PCOS are sensitive to gluten and dairy, so I need to eliminate these foods. The discipline and will power and planning it takes for nutrition to be spot on is overwhelming.

I also must reduce stress and get more sleep (working mom of three, with three dogs and a child with a disability who keeps me on high alert, makes it difficult to relax or sleep). I am trying to be more realistic with schedules and commitments to reduce stress in our crazy lives. I am trying to listen when my body says rest, which is very hard for this Type A person to do. Being still is not a strength of mine. I like to always be accomplishing something.

Summer is here and I dread going to the pool, in worse shape than I was last year. I am not the person inside that I look like outside. I want the woman on the inside to get out!!!!

I know to manage this I must almost become fanatical again. Planning meals and packing food wherever I go to ensure the right nutrients, getting enough sleep and the right kind of exercise, taking vitamins and minerals every day and not giving in to temptations for sugary things. It means I must be different and always have a plan or alternative food ready for situations where I cannot control the food available, such as business meetings and travel.

It won’t be easy, in fact, when I was first diagnosed and working on my eating and nutrition, I was very serious about controlling my environment and temptations. An employee was getting married and the team had a party for him at a pizza place. Knowing the options would be few, and the temptation would be large, I declined to come. That decision had professional implications I would later regret. However, if I was an alcoholic, no one would blame me for not attending a party at a bar. It takes self advocacy for others to realize the seriousness of the condition and its challenges.

It is a real and daily challenge I face. It’s my biggest struggle. It totally sucks. And it is important I get on top of my health for my kids. They depend on me. It is a journey that I will likely be on for life.