The Success of Unfulfilled Dreams

By: Summer Brons

I originally wrote this post in February of 2011 for a very short-lived personal blog. I often go back and re-read it when I’m feeling mixed up about my choices in life, so I thought I’d share it here now since February has rolled around once again.

“Now that,” I said, motioning to one of the TVs hanging on the wall at a frequented watering hole, shot of Goldschlager in hand, “is the perfect example of a failed dream.”  I downed my shot and set the plastic cup on the bar.  My boyfriend gave me a quizzical look, glanced at the highlight reels of parading dogs from the previous night’s competition and inquired as to how a dog show represents failure.

The last couple of days have given way to the famous Westminster Kennel Club dog show that takes place each February at Madison Square Garden. It’s an intense, glamorous show with a great deal of history and a cult-like following from both fans and competitors on the American Kennel Club show circuit. As with many events, dog shows are best appreciated if you’re able to personally relate. Dog people are, by and large, a quirky bunch; although I suppose you ought to be if you intend to spend the majority of your weekends traveling around multiple states to campaign your dog with the goal of becoming a Westminster hopeful. Several humorous books have been written on the subject, pick one up sometime if you’d ever like a behind-the-scenes look at the world of canine competition.

Bernese Mountain Dog

I used to show dogs back when I was in middle school, thanks to an English teacher who noticed me reading an AKC rulebook in class between assignments and called me up to his desk to tell me all about how he and his wife bred and showed Bernese Mountain Dogs, and would I like to come along to a show with them one day? Yes, in fact, I would like that, and like it I did. I began showing one of their young females, Peggy, in both breed competition and junior handling classes throughout Oregon and Washington. Turns out, I wasn’t too shabby for an awkward seventh-grader and started attending more shows, meeting more people and allowing myself to start dreaming a little bigger.  Beyond youthful visions of one day perhaps earning a living as a professional handler, competing at Westminster was most certainly at the top of my list of goals.

But then, as it often inconveniently seems to, reality stepped up to rain on my parade. Between health problems for my teacher and financial strain for my family, eventually it wasn’t so feasible to fund my dog habit, particularly when I was too young to enter the workforce and bear a bit of the load. The dog shows had to be shelved for a while and suddenly the years began to fly by.  One thing has a funny way of leading to another and, often, that chain does not involve circling back around to revisit glassy-eyed childhood aspirations.

That 12-year-old girl happily prancing around the ring with a big black dog certainly had no idea that 14 years later she’d be standing in a dimly-lit bar across the country, clutching a cup of booze and a pool cue while watching clips of the dog show she once thought she’d make it to.

“That’s terrible.” My boyfriend, Thomas, declares. I agree, on principle of disappointment over lost ambitions, but then I shrug and try to briefly think what I’d be doing with my life now if I had kept showing dogs throughout the years. Would I have ended up in South Carolina? Would I still be in the process of actively pursuing a writing career, something I’ve dreamed of far longer than I ever dreamed of Westminster?  Would I have developed such fierce affection for turkey bacon and rice cakes?

Who knows. Bottom line – I’ll never know what might have become of me in the dog world, but the point is that none of us ever really know what would have happened if we’d made different decisions or followed alternate opportunities. The only thing we have is the reality of where we are now and the open doors before us that we either opt to explore or refuse to walk through. Honestly, I really don’t even miss showing dogs anymore and I haven’t for quite some time. Westminster each year is mostly a distant pang of, “That could have been me once” more so than it is a, “Why, oh why isn’t that me?!” and quite frankly, I think we can all stand to benefit from those types of pangs from time to time. Gentle reminders to stay alert and focused, to remember what our goals are and follow our passions even as they shift with the changing tides of daily life. Thus, is America’s most famous dog show really a “failed” dream of mine?  No, it isn’t.

That being said, here’s my tip for the day: stop wasting energy complaining about the past, use it to make something happen for tomorrow.

A Reason, A Season or A Lifetime

By:  Katie Austin

As many of you know, I am a collector of good quotes and poems.  It is many of these well written creations that motivated me through my breast cancer battle, keeping me moving forward when I wanted to give up.   One of my all time favorite poems talks about how people come into your life for a reason, season or a lifetime.

A Reason, A Season, or A Lifetime

People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.  When you figure out which one it is, you will know what to do for each person.

When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed.   They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally, or spiritually. They may seem like a godsend, and they are!  They are there for the reason you need them to be.

Then, without any wrong doing on your part, or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end.  Sometimes they die.  Sometimes they walk away.  Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand.  What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled, their work is done.  The prayer you sent up has been answered.  And now, it is time to move on.

When people come into your life for a SEASON, it is because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn.  They bring you an experience of peace, or make you laugh.  They may teach you something you have never done.  They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy.  Believe it!  It is real!  But, only for a season.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons; things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation.  Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person, and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas in your life.

That’s why it is said that love is blind, but friendship is clairvoyant.

— Author unknown

After I read this poem for the first time, everything made sense.   I especially learned this life lesson about the people in my life when I fought my breast cancer.  There were those that came into my life temporarily that I met along the way that helped to make me smile, keeping my spirits up when I just wanted to crawl into a corner and cry.  Others came into my life that I will cherish their friendship for as long as I live and feel that we will be lifetime friends, forever changed by the cancer we fought together.

This poem says it all and after you read it, you will feel better about those in your life as they are there for a reason, a season or a lifetime.  I hope that you will keep the Every Woman blog family as one of your lifetime friendships!

Julie Smith Turner: I Thank you!

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

Mary Pat Baldauf

Saying thank you is more than good manners.  It is good spirituality.  ~Alfred Painter

This quote has come alive to me this week, thanks to my friend, Julie Smith Turner.

Late last year, Julie started what she calls, “The Thank You Project.”  After encountering a particularly helpful automotive shop employee, she thought about sending a thank you letter to the employee and shop owner.  Then, in her own words, “As I drove, I continued to think of many people I could and should thank — graciously and meaningfully — for how much they help me and those around them.  People need to do more of that, I thought.”

And thus began her “Thank You Project,” where Julie committed to writing and mailing a thank you letter to someone once a week, every week for an entire year.

Julie has been true to her word, and each week, not only writes and sends a thank you letter, but also posts it to her Wordsmith blog and shares it with friends via Facebook.

I’ve been so inspired by her “Thank You Project” that I’ve decided to follow her lead and start my own “Thank You Thursday.”  Every Thursday, I’m going to write a thank you letter, and if I can get it together like Julie, post it on my blog.

I won’t officially start my “Thank You Thursday” until March 1, but already, Julie’s project has changed my life for the better.  I’ve spent the past few days thinking about the many people I want to thank and I realized just how blessed I am.  As I was pulling a weighted sled during a personal training session this morning, I wasn’t thinking how much my calves hurt or how tired I was; instead, I was thinking about who would be the recipient of my very first “Thank You Thursday” letter.  Gratitude is powerful stuff.

In closing, I challenge you to think of someone you need to thank.  Thank them today.  As you go through the hustle and bustle of your day, be cognizant of those who extend a small kindness or do something to make your day a little brighter.  Thank them, too.  And join me in thanking Julie Smith Turner for making us a little more appreciative of the blessings in our lives.

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

By: Roshanda Pratt

I love words.  I know I may sound like a geek.  But truly I love learning.  Most recently, I had a chance to have a photo shoot with my gal pal who is also an awesome natural light photographer.  We spent two hours together in and around downtown Sumter, SC.  I was excited to get the pictures back.  And when I did, my friend, Tansy of “True. Life. Memories” added this design to one of the photos (see below).

She used words, one of my favorite things to describe me.  What a great gift.  I am always of the thought; it is not what I say about myself that counts, but what others say about me.  I was so honored to see the words she chose.  Here is my question to you: (You knew it was coming) What words would people use to describe you?  Have you ever asked? I attended a home going service for a woman I did not know, but knew some of her family members.  It was a blessing to me to hear close friends and relatives speak of a woman who was kind, loving and giving.  They spoke so highly of her I wished I had known her personally.

Just think of the blessing you can give through words.  The old adage goes, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” that could not be any further from the truth. Why? Simply, because some people never get over the hurtful, often times abusive words spoken to them as a child.  Now if hurtful words can have a lasting impact, I believe kind and loving words can do the same.  My friend really captured my personality in these pictures; however, her words have forever made a lasting impression in my life.  After all it was Mark Twain that wrote, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”  Now think on that!

Ro

Be A Heart Hero!

By:  Shannon Shull

The Amazing Mrs. Bouknight

My 8-year-old girl Mina recently participated in Jump Rope for Heart at her school, Batesburg-Leesville Primary.  Thanks to her amazing P.E. teacher, Mrs. Phyllis Bouknight, who is also the coordinator for this fabulous event every year, my Mina truly felt like she helped make a difference. Because of Mrs. Bouknight’s passion for the program, Mina set out with great zeal to raise money for and, as she says, “save lives from heart diseases.”

I was very proud of my girl’s dedication and enthusiasm.  I was most pleased with the fact that she really seemed to understand why she was jumping rope, that she was raising money for a great cause and also keeping her own heart healthy.  That philanthropic spirit is a precious thing.  And the health awareness that goes with it is truly priceless.

My little Mina is a Heart Hero indeed and as her mother, I plan to be a Heart Hero for her too by doing my best to always be a positive, heart healthy example in her life.

What is Jump Rope For Heart?

  • It’s an American Heart Association event.
  • Kids with special hearts are helped by the money raised.
  •  Kids have fun jumping rope and learning about their heart and how to keep it healthy.

Below is some very valuable information from the American Heart Association that I feel is very much worth reading –

Mina - Ready to Jump!

Did you know that childhood obesity is the No. 1 health concern among parents in the United States, topping drug abuse and smoking? Among children today, obesity is causing a broad range of health problems that previously weren’t seen until adulthood. If current trends continue, today’s kids could be the first generation to live shorter lives than their parents. Parents and caregivers are essential decision makers when it comes to the nutrition, physical activity and health needs of their children.  As a parent, you want the best for your child.  Every parent does.  And The American Heart Association can help.

Help your child develop healthy habits early in life that will bring lifelong benefits. As you gain practical tips on helping your kids eat nutritious meals and enjoy a physically active lifestyle, be sure to apply these same behaviors to your own life. The best way to lead your child to a healthy lifestyle is to set a positive example yourself!

I personally feel that the best way to lead anyone to a healthy lifestyle is to be a positive example yourself! What do you do in your daily life to be heart healthy?

Here’s to being a Heart Hero!

Mina with her friends Amy & Harley - ready to start jumping!

Enjoy the Silence

By:  Brady Evans

There’s a person that passes me on the two lane highway I take to work every single morning.  I am quite sure I go the speed limit, so the person is really going pretty fast to get ahead of me.  What’s weird is that I work with this person and she arrives in the parking lot at work exactly 30 seconds before I do.  Many times we even walk into the building together.  What’s the deal with passing me on the two lane road if we’re going to end up in the same place at the same time?

I think we get so caught up in rushing, that we don’t even realize that we’re doing it.  Everyone is rushing in, out, and around the grocery store.  Commercials advertise short checkout lines on the radio.  What’s an extra 2 minutes?  Enjoy the wait time.  You’re probably just rushing off to another chore anyway.

This recipe has some wait time to it, too.  It takes about 3 minutes to assemble and 30 minutes to bake.  My suggestion for what to do with your time while the tenderloin bakes away?  Chill out.  Don’t do laundry.  Don’t stress over dust.  Enjoy the silence.

Peppercorn Crusted Pork Tenderloin

Ingredients

  • 2-3 Tbsp peppercorns, crushed with a mortar and pestle
  • 2-3 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 lb pork tenderloin

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350*
  • Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and place tenderloin in the center
  • Spread dijon mustard on top and sides of tenderloin
  • Press crushed pepper into the meat
  • Bake for 30 minutes
  • Let rest 10 minutes before slicing

Stepping Out Of My Comfort Zone – Part 1

By:  Staci Rutherford

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” ~ Neale Donald Walsch

I found this quote months ago and it made me stop and think about where I am in my life, and where I want to be.  I have many goals that I want to accomplish, but often struggle with determining what to do first.  My time management and procrastination issues often leave me wondering how I will get it all done.  I follow a group of bloggers who are my source of motivation, because they are living a life doing what they love.  I have already established my love of handbags, and nothing would make me happier than turning my passion into a profitable business and life-long career.  Since my last post, I finally made the first move.

Before I share my exciting news, I must acknowledge two dynamic women who have come into my life believing in my vision, and challenging me to take the next step – Roshanda Pratt and Alicia Zeigler.  After several conversations about my short term and long term plans, both Roshanda and Alicia have offered advice and resources that have given me the confidence to market what I have to offer beyond my handbag blog.  Roshanda, a fellow Every Woman Blogger, is also a media consultant with R.E.P. Communications Network.  She took the time to help me focus on developing my ideas into something tangible.  While donating a handbag to a pre-Columbia Style Week event, I met Alicia, the founder of FFS Model & Talent Agency, Columbia Fashion Alliance, Columbia Style Week and the new editor of Wink Magazine, Columbia’s premiere fashion magazine.  We immediately clicked, and she too gave great advice that has been instrumental in my stepping out of my comfort zone.

After a few days contemplating whether it was the right time, I decided to follow my heart and rent a studio space at the Tapp’s Art Center located downtown on Main Street. “Studio 26” is the new home the HandbagReport.com office and showroom!  It will be an extension of my blog – a place to connect with others who love handbags.  I plan on having monthly purse parties, designer trunk shows, themed events and more.  I am excited to share this journey with you as my life is just beginning!