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!


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


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


  • 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 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!

This Week’s Meals Brought to You by … Pinterest?

By:  Crissie Miller Kirby

Okay, if you read my first blog of the New Year, you know that I want to become more organized this year.  And I want to be more organized in every sense of the word.  Mealtimes, included.  Let me say, I enjoy cooking, but struggle with finding meals that will accommodate the picky palates of my 3 and 6-year-old.  I also want something that does not always consist of French fries, chicken nuggets, or hamburgers.  I have a whole shelf in my kitchen cabinets devoted to cook books, and, surprisingly, they are all together and well organized.  But, honestly, I just don’t have the time to comb through the array of Southern Living yearbooks, or 15 different church cookbooks, or even the clever Crock-Pot recipe books, looking for something to eat.  I also don’t want to spend hours scouring my local Bi-Lo or Wal-Mart grocery section for some random ingredient I will use only once in my lifetime.

Enter Pinterest.  Yes, I said Pinterest.

Years ago, I made an attempt, feeble as it was, to take recipes and put them in a three ring binder.  Epic fail.  Although I’m sure I still have the binder somewhere with the plethora of cut out and ripped out recipes from various magazines and coupon sections, it fell by the wayside.  Good idea, but I guess I got too busy or too overwhelmed or what have you.  Who knows?  Sorry, back to Pinterest.  I got “invited” to join several weeks ago and have begun searching for recipes ever since.  After I had about 7 or 8 dinner meal ideas, I decided I would plan our evening meals solely from recipes gleaned from Pinterest and see how it worked.  The first thing that excited me about this new online tool was that it allows me to have a virtual notebook of sorts for different recipes.  Here was an online version of what I had tried to do years ago.  YAY!

When I chose the recipes I wanted to try, I simply went to the respective sites, copied the ingredient lists into a word document, and printed it out.  I then did a quick look-see in my kitchen cabinets to see if I had any of the ingredients already and crossed those off my list.  List in hand, I headed to the grocery store.  I won’t detail what it cost me, but I have to say that I did have a $13 bag of cat food and a few other items that were un-recipe related (you know, essentials, like hair spray!)

That night I placed 6 chicken breasts in the crock pot to cook overnight to be used for different recipes.  The smell the next morning was great!  I took out some of the chicken, leaving the rest for the first day’s meal – Crockpot chicken and rice.  All said and done, it was pretty good and even my boys ate it, which is always a huge plus.  Over the course of the week, I prepared a Crockpot hobo stew, ham and cheese crescent rolls (my boys’ favorite), peanut butter pretzel candy, and my personal favorite, poppy seed chicken.

All in all, it was a great experiment.  I learned a few tough lessons that week – most importantly, for one adult and 2 children, all of these recipes made WAY too much food, so, unfortunately, there was more waste than I had desired.  I also learned that I loved cooking every night for myself and my boys – I think we had all grown tired of fast food and even home cooked staple meals; we needed to shake things up a little.  I have allowed life to get in the way the last week or so and have not repeated the experiment again, but plan on doing it again soon.

Have you discovered Pinterest?  I’d love to hear how others are using Pinterest to make even a small difference in your life.

Happiness is a Great Sandwich

By: Elizabeth Webber Akre

They say that food brings people together.  That’s true in so many ways.  When someone is sick, we make soup.  If someone passes away, we deliver food to the family.  Summer holidays almost require barbeque.  In my family, if someone other than my Aunt Jennie brings sweet potatoes, there is a Thanksgiving mutiny.  Foods comfort, they nourish and nurture us and they are part of our traditions.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of having lunch with my friend Laura.  We met “virtually.”  She writes an awesome blog called  She is a self-proclaimed non-cook, so she blogs about her restaurant adventures.  I began reading her blog about a year ago and when the first Food Truck Food Court was planned, we decided to meet face-to-face and get to know each other.  This time around, we decided to meet somewhere that would allow us to talk more.  One place she had not been to yet is MoMo’s Bistro.  Since they recently began serving lunch, that’s where we decided to meet.

The lunch menu was very interesting and there were several items that jumped out at me.  But, in the end, I chose the French dip sandwich.  I know, I know.  This doesn’t sound interesting at all.  French dips are everywhere…from a chain restaurant like Applebee’s all the way to the old fashioned Woolworth’s lunch counter.  But, this was different.  What first caught my eye was that it is made with pot roast.  Who doesn’t like fall-apart-tender pot roast?  And, the menu further enticed me with the description of melted gruyere cheese.  You don’t often find that in your typical French dip.

So, the sandwich arrived and my first reaction was “Whoa, this is huge!”  Definitely taking a box home.  Let me tell you…this was no ordinary French dip.  It was served on a soft, delicious hoagie roll, which was the perfect cradle for that awesome pot roast.  The gruyere was melted and added a really nice flavor boost.  But, the jus was the star here!  This wasn’t a cup of warmed up beef broth.  This was real jus!  It was simply delicious.  Highly flavorful and elevated the sandwich tremendously.  I don’t think I’ll be able to order a French dip anywhere else now.

MoMo’s offers an exciting and ramped up lunch menu.  Call some friends and get together for this yummy sandwich, fish tacos, lobster quesadillas or chicken Caesar salad. You’ll thank me!


By:  Katie Austin

Have you ever wanted to find out the answer to a question and reached out to Google, Bing or one of the many search options available on the worldwide web?   I love to google items and see what results are returned!   The internet is an open door so if I need to know the answer, it’s just a google search away.  It has become so popular that the art of “googling” has its own definition.  What I encounter often is when to google and how to avoid over-googling.  We have all tried to self-diagnose ourselves at one time or another by searching the internet for answers.  I am completely guilty of googling the many online medical resources to see if I can figure out what is wrong with me.   During one search session, I found myself leafing through two books and browsing the internet at the same time, googling every key word combination I could think of, which left me with 10 separate windows open on my computer screen.  I reached a new level of multi-tasking and it was only adding to my anxiety level!

You see, at the time, I had this unidentified “thing” inside of me and it had taken residency in my left breast.  I didn’t remember inviting it and I wanted find out what “it” was so that I could send it packing!  I was bracing myself for what I didn’t know and trying to gather everything I could to make sure I was prepared for anything.  I quickly reached information overload and had to turn my computer off.  There were only so many discussion boards, websites and everything in between that I read and now panic attacks, aided by many cups of coffee, started to set in.  I soon realized that I did not know what I was searching for so the results I was bringing back only sent me in new directions (felt like I was going in circles).  I didn’t know enough about what “it” was so I realized that my first step was to make an appointment with a specialist.  Then I would know what “it” was and then I could google it to learn more about “it”.

What did I learn from all of this internet searching?  I needed to find a balance between what I would google and how much time to spend googling it.  I ended up finding out that Monday two years ago that “it” was Stage 2 breast cancer and after completing my treatments, I am now in remission (Yay!).  I continue to google related items to keep up-to-date on the type of cancer I had and how to keep “it” from coming back as the internet is a great source of information.  The Every Woman blog is a great example of that!   In the end, I found a balance that works for me and I leave the diagnosis part to the experts.  They have done a great job treating me so far and I am confident they will continue to do so!

On a side note, my googling did provide me with several website links for “motivational quotes” and one quote in particular jumped out at me.  It is this one quote that I would read periodically that empowered me to conquer my fears, preparing me for the road I traveled every day in fighting my breast cancer:

“It is impossible to win the race unless you venture to run, impossible to win the victory unless you dare to battle.”

It is amazing how one quote can give you strength to move forward, even if it means walking into the unknown.  I hope that this quote gives you strength and I am glad that you have found your way through the internet to our Every Woman family!