Shannon Philpott-Sanders

Writing, Reflecting, Teaching, Parenting

A Twist(er) of Fate for Tornado Survivors

mess_logoPublished May 2003 in The Messenger,
The Newspaper of the Belleville Catholic Diocese


The silence was eerie. No one screamed, no one cried and no one spoke. Crowded among 25 people in a frigid meat cooler, Mark Philpott said a prayer.

At that moment, a tornado plummeted through the County Market in Canton, Mo. as the building shook, beams crashed to the ground and winds up to 230 mph caused the walls to cave. No one screamed, no one cried and no one spoke. Mark Philpott kept praying.

Thirty miles away, Joanne Gough was also saying a prayer as another tornado edged closer to the flea market she was working in Rutledge, Mo. A member of Our Lady of Assumption parish, the Fairview Heights resident was with her sister and their 73-year old mother when she noticed large debris falling from the sky.

“It was really something to see,” Gough said. “I just kept saying ‘please don’t let it hit us’.” Continue reading


July 15, 2009 Posted by | Feature Stories, Newspaper Writing | , , | Leave a comment

Adoption Brings a Dozen Bundles of Joy

mess_logoPublished November 2006 in The Messenger,
The Newspaper of the Belleville Catholic Diocese

 The telephone rings, and the front door slams as a teenager enters from school. An 8-year old runs through the kitchen with a superhero costume, complete with a cape. Mom opens her planner to discuss this week’s upcoming schedule. A cell phone rings, and dad asks one of the 12 children to remove a bookbag from the table. It may sound like chaos, but Ken and Mary Besse said it’s more like “organized chaos.”

Though recent movies like “Cheaper By the Dozen” and “Yours, Mine, and Ours” portray fictional families acting out everyday chaos with 12 or more children, the action within this Millstadt, Ill. family’s household is very real. Continue reading

July 15, 2009 Posted by | Feature Stories, Newspaper Writing | , , | Leave a comment

Single Parenting With F-A-I-T-H

mess_logoColumn Published December 2005 in The Messenger,
The Newspaper of the Belleville Catholic Diocese


From the moment my feet hit the floor in the morning, I am in demand. I rush around after a mere six hours of sleep to pack bookbags, lunches – not just for my two children, but also for myself. After a frenzied breakfast of dry cereal in a plastic bag (the breakfast of choice for my son and daughter), I drop each one at school and rush to school myself where I stand on my feet teaching college students how to write for four hours.

Next, I’m off to work at the newspaper – a whirlwind in itself with relentless deadlines and ever-changing story lists. Then, I’m back in the car, picking the kids up from school, thinking about how or where I’m going to get dinner before dance lessons or PSR. Our evenings consist of homework, laundry and baths. Once the kids are tucked in bed, I rush to grade papers, write stories and clean the house. By the time I get in bed, I’m exhausted, and at times, beaten from the stress of daily life.

As a single mother, it is sometimes difficult to see faith within my daily routine, much less life. I’ve been through the stress of separation and divorce. It would be much easier to delve into what is wrong in life, rather than let faith adjust my focus to what is right in life.

Faith doesn’t change my experiences, but it changes the meaning of my experiences. It’s difficult to see it and live it amid the routines that leave us breathless, overwhelmed and beaten. Ironically though, no matter how tired I am at the end of the day, I know that I’m not really beaten because I have faith.

  • Family and friends who love and support me
  • Appreciation for the gifts I have been given
  • Ingenuity and strength to endure life’s challenges
  • Time for laughter and tears
  • Hope, for the present and the future

Faith supports me through the hectic schedule I keep. Faith doesn’t allow me the time to dwell on what is not right in my life. Rather, it strengthens me to focus on what is right, allowing me to see the good in what I strive to do. It is in the eyes of my students when they understand a concept in class or in the kind words of a reader who enjoyed one of my stories.

photo16Faith lets me see the beauty in my children. It’s clear in my daughter’s voice as she tells me, “I want to be like you when I grow up.” It’s clear in my son’s eyes when he says “I love you” out of the blue. It’s evident in our “good night” songs and our morning cuddles. It’s in the silly songs we sing in the car and the knock-knock jokes we tell on the way to school.

Faith supports me through the challenges of single parenting – financially, emotionally and spiritually. It helps me cope when the children leave to spend time with their father, when I have to kiss them goodbye for the weekend, but even more so, it’s there when they return on a Sunday evening with open arms and adventurous stories to share.

Without faith, I would just be going through the motions of life oblivious to the precious moments that surround me and God’s gifts that are present in every minute of every day – at home, in the car, at school, even at the office when I’m looking for inspiration to write a story, or a column just like this one.

– Shannon Philpott

July 15, 2009 Posted by | Newspaper Writing, Opinion | , , | Leave a comment

Okawville Farmer: A Mentor For the Poor, Hungry in Times of Need


Published October 2003 in The Messenger,
The Newspaper of the Belleville Catholic Diocese


Norbert Zinck has already begun to travel in later life as most retired folks do; but the 69-year-old Okawville farmer has yet to retire.

In between manning more than 300 acres on his family farm, Zinck, a member of St. Barbara’s in Okawville, travels near and far to give of himself.

As a volunteer for the United States Agency for Development, Zinck’s missions have led him to Mexico, Armenia, Macedonia, Azerbaijan and Rwanda to educate farmers in these underdeveloped countries. Continue reading

July 15, 2009 Posted by | Feature Stories, Newspaper Writing | , , , | Leave a comment

SEO: To Be A Kid Again

Keyword Article for October 2008

 The truth hurts. I found this out first hand this week. After four hours chasing three eight-year olds through the City

Fairy Bronze Garden Statue

Fairy Bronze Garden Statue

Museum, I realized that I’m not a kid anymore. Even though I kept up and climbed through the tunnels, slid down countless slides, and navigated through mazes, the truth is that I was exhausted, cynical, and feeling like the elder I never wanted to be.

So, I began to wonder if age downplays the simple joys of life. It is perfectly normal to change priorities and expectations, but does our sense of adventure have to die down as we get closer to the grave?

This beautiful museum decorated with fairy statues, wall art, and handmade climbing apparatuses that put me in awe as a child, only left me feeling old, worn out, and crabby. Did I appreciate the beauty of each fairy statue? No. I was too worried about my left knee giving out and planning a trip later in the day to the chiropractor. Did I look forward to the 10-story winding slides? No. I kept wondering if my bottom would recover quickly when I finally landed on a secure structure.

What is it in society that conditions us to dread the kid-like adventures that we used to live for? Is it the constant news reports of disease, ailments, and obesity that have made us too cautious? Is it the cynical view of childhood wonderlands, fairy statues, and magic wands that have forced us to grow up too fast and furious?

In a health conscious world, our attempts to regain youth are too far and few between and I’m beginning to understand why. There is a constant force to age us. For instance, in an attempt to increase my energy and enjoy an activity with my kids, we powered up the Wii console the day after the field trip that left me in grueling emotional and physical pain. One step on the Wii fitness scale and a short balance test later resulted that physically, I’m 15 years older than the age on my birth certificate. This reality check was a confirmation that maybe I can’t be a kid anymore. The days of visiting my grandparent’s garden fairy statues and pretending to be a part of the magic are long gone. The innocent youthful hopes are slowly crushed and put to rest.

How in the world can we, as a society, feel young again when every attempt to be a kid is crushed or discouraged? Our fairy statues are simply grown up statues with “expected” norms and protocols to follow. Family responsibilities, bills, jobs, money woes, and “normal” adult activities await us, leading us to middle age and worse yet.

Even though I may tire easily and age unnecessarily according to Wii Fit’s criteria, if getting old means I have to follow the straight and narrow, cautious trail of those that are leading the race to the grave, then count me out. I want to be a kid again.

Plaza Fountains is an independently owned commercial fountain consulting firm and distributor of residential and commercial garden fountains.

– Shannon Philpott

July 15, 2009 Posted by | SEO Copywriting | , , | Leave a comment

Don’t be a Visual Showroom Only: Showcase the Text, Too

checkEver think about what attracts consumers to a website? More often than not, it is photos, multimedia elements such as video, audio, and flash effects, and colorful graphics. But, after the glory of these components wear off in a mere 30 seconds, most consumers move on if the copy doesn’t measure up.

Graphics and multimedia elements grab attention, but the text is what holds the consumer. This is a common mistake that website builders make. They put more emphasis on the visuals and then slap a few paragraphs of poorly written copy around it. Big Mistake! The text is the core of the site – it guides the reader, it offers explanations, descriptions, and most importantly, informs the site visitor.  A web site must be a resource first and a sales showroom second which means that web site builders must invest the time and money into powerful copy. Continue reading

July 15, 2009 Posted by | Blog, SEO Copywriting, Teaching | , , , | 1 Comment

All Consumers Want is Colorful Love this Valentine’s Day

PRESS RELEASE: (PRWEB) February 6, 2007

In a world where commercialized expressions of love surround the month of February, consumers now have heart_515a natural way to express random acts of kindness. Ideas for gifts have included chocolate and jewelry in the past, but now lovebirds are looking for colorful keepsakes to present messages of joy, hope and faith for a peaceful future.

(PRWEB) February 6, 2007 – As Valentine’s Day approaches and red, beaming hearts adorn the windows of retailers nationwide, the question remains: “Why is red associated with the holiday of cupid?” Red and pink decorations have been deemed appropriate because these colors produce loving emotional responses, even known to increase heart rates in earnest of newfound happiness. The psychology of color has been known to have an influencing effect on moods, even appetites. What better way to promote happiness than to splash colors with tranquilizing energies everywhere on the most romantic day of the year?

In a society consumed with war, violence and crime, a little bit of mood-altering happiness may be just what cupid ordered. In observance of the upcoming holiday for lovers, one web-based retailer has devoted an entire product line inspired by the psychology of color to promote hope, joy and love, launching appropriately on Valentine’s Day. According to founder Kevin Vidal, “Everyone wants love. Love Electra will remind the purchaser and those who see our products and website that there is a loving way to view life and the world that we live in.”

The online store offers message t-shirts for any happy occasion equipped with clearing energy for healing. After carefully selecting colorful combinations that radiate and trigger positive energies, Vidal’s staff performs energy clearing to remove any negative energies lurking within the material. The practice of energy clearing rids space clearing destructive energies, a key ingredient of Feng Shui.

Products produced by utilizing the psychology of color with energy clearing techniques have become popular among individuals who seek change from the harmful agents looming in society. Vidal said the website strives to promote an atmosphere of love and tranquility with hopes that members will benefit from inspiring articles, daily quotes, blogs, horoscopes, and connections made with love-minded individuals who appreciate American diversity artwork spreading messages of peace and hope. “We believe that there is a market for promoting love and will seize the opportunity to promote that concept as assertively as Ford promotes the F150 truck,” Vidal said.

The psychology of how color effects mood may be subjective, however the romantic quest for happiness is clearly objective in the eyes of consumers rushing out to find the perfect gift on Valentine’s Day.

For more information on love-inspired products, please visit on its Valentine’s Day debut.

Founder Kevin M. Vidal worked in systems consulting for more than 10 years before leaving his lucrative career behind to address the lack of love, faith and hope in a world filled with violence, conflict, war and division. He was inspired to launch and love-inspired products with forums for consumers seeking inspirations guided by love.

– Shannon Philpott

July 15, 2009 Posted by | Press Releases, SEO Copywriting | , , | 1 Comment

Just Say NO to Excessive Weight Gain

mandy1Published in the Fall 2003 issue of “CollegeBound Teen
 College is more than just classes and grades. As if stressing about new courses, friends, and money isn’t enough, you’re also worried about your weight. The frenzied routine of college life, academic pressures, and hectic schedules cause many students to develop poor eating habits, like routinely hitting the fast food drive-through at 2 a.m.
Hence the infamous  Freshman 15 .

Beware, though — it’s not always the Freshman 15. For some, it’s the Freshman 25 or 40! When Loren Gmachl went to the University of Oklahoma (Tulsa, OK), she anticipated the pressures of being away from home. What she didn’t expect was the onset of weight gain. Despite her usual high metabolism and thin frame, Loren packed on 20 pounds her first year. Continue reading

July 15, 2009 Posted by | Magazine Writing | , , , | 1 Comment

“The word that changed my life”

ww_logo       Published 8/12/2003 issue of “Woman’s World”

 Just 15 years old when she was diagnosed with leukemia, Mindy Reed hated how cancer changed everything – the loss of her hair, her friends, her life as she knew it. But in time, Mindy realized that cancer had also changed her in a good way – a way that would lead to a dream …

When I was 15, I knew the words to almost every song on the radio. I knew what shades of lip gloss were cool. I knew which sophomore was going out with a certain football player. But there were other things I knew, too; the way the sun stings the skin above your ears when there’s no hair there. How it hurts your mom more to see you in pain than it hurts yourself. That a single word can change your whole life – especially when that word is cancer.

Yet, what I had no way of knowing was that cancer would transform me in a good way …

Growing up, I had a wonderful family – loving parents and a little brother, Ben. Starting high school, I was so excited. Maybe I’d fall in love!

Beyond that, I didn’t know what I wanted for my future. I thought I had all the time in the world.

Then, around Christmas of my freshman year, I got the flu. “All I wanna do is sleep,” I groaned to my friends when they asked what I was wearing to the holiday dance.

They looked at me like I had two heads – usually, I was the first one out on the floor. But my legs felt as heavy as lead and I kept throwing up.

Worried, Mom took me to the doctor At first, they said it was my thyroid, then anemia. But as winter turned to spring, routine blood work revealed the horrible truth: I had leukemia. Continue reading

July 15, 2009 Posted by | Magazine Writing | , , | Leave a comment