Jennifer Gerlock crushes on Julie Gaver in this 2016 interview at Pursuit Of It All.
Meet Feisty. My “boyfriend” gave him to me for our first Valentines Day together in 1975.
Feisty went with me to college.
After college, I married that boyfriend.
So Feisty moved in with us at our new home.
When our first son was born, he loved Feisty.
When our second son was born, he loved Feisty too.
They both loved the stuffing out of him.
Feisty even became the “centerpiece” for many baby showers I gave for friends and family after the boys were too old for him.
Eventually Feisty moved to the attic where he lived so long I forgot about him……Until today when I was clearing the attic.
Some people say that THINGS don’t matter.
But I disagree.
Some things remind us of a life well lived.
Some things remind us that we had so much love at times we were bursting at the seams.
Those things are meant to be with us forever.
Thanks, Feisty, for such a beautiful, happy, poignant reminder of our family’s journey together.
I was working in my front gardens just now when something beautiful happened. A neighbor, walking her dog, stopped along the sidewalk to say hello. As we chatted, she commented on how much she has enjoyed my flowers and porch decorations during the years she has lived on Main Street.
“My great granddaughters call your house the Princess House,” she said. Sensing my confusion, she continued, “They think your flowers are so pretty and ever since the one night they saw the women in their beautiful dresses walking up the street to your house with all the magical twinkling lights, they have called you the lady in the Princess House.”
She went on to say that since then, in the evenings when I turn on all the lights (which Ron Layman of The King of Christmas so graciously lets me enjoy until October), the young girls continue to gush about the beautiful Princess House.
I am thrilled to be moving and to have this opportunity to once again explore my creativity, but as my neighbor continued up the street, I had to come inside. And I cried. For the first time since we made the decision to move.
Next year is an important birthday for me, and I find myself already reflecting on so many pivotal moments from my life over the past sixty years. I wonder if my contribution has been signficant. I wonder what my legacy has been thus far.
Was I a good daughter, sister, wife, mother, friend?
Did I make my profession better?
But then I realized….perhaps it’s much simpler than that.
Perhaps we are all here during this brief time simply to create beauty. In some way. In our own way.
Perhaps my “legacy” will be that some day a grown woman will drive by this house long after I’m gone and say…..
“I remember when I was a little girl, there was a lady who lived in that house who knew real princesses…..and I called her home The Princess House.”
And that is legacy enough for me!
Still writing new songs.
Still pursuing her passion.
Still owning that stage!
Unlike so many women her age (and younger), she’s not spending her years obsessing about the latest cosmetic procedure or fountain of youth secret because she knows the real secret.
Do what you love.
Never stop creating.
Embrace who you are. Right now. Always.
I have a new role model and I intend to
Give you something to talk about!
A single sunflower had shot up right in the middle of my hydrangea garden.
What????? I didn’t plant that!!!!!
How did it get there? It doesn’t belong!!!!
But like a proud, brazen, audacious woman marching into a good-‘ole-boy’s-boardroom, she demanded, not only to be noticed, but to be taken seriously!
Who gets to decide where we “belong,” anyway?
Go Sunflower! Go Sunflower! Go Sunflower! Go!
Sometimes they are subtle gestures – holding the door at the post office, or waving another driver ahead so they can merge into traffic. Often the gesture is grand – delivering a homemade meal for a family who just lost a loved one, or mowing the lawn for a neighbor recovering from surgery.
We are very quick to believe that our world has become increasingly unkind and selfish, yet random acts of kindness happen every day.
This week my church, Middletown United Methodist Church is participating in a Kindness Scavenger Hunt. The brainchild of one of our student members, Evan Ruderman, the effort requires that teams of 4 complete a number of acts of kindness in order to score points. The ultimate goal: to raise funds for Middletown Valley People Helping People and to increase positivity in our community.
My team consists of MUMC Pastor Sarah Dorrance, myself, and two of my dear friends, Lara Shepherd, and Angie Dredden. Throughout the week we have been working independently performing various acts of kindness but tonight was our first opportunity to work together as a team. What fun we had!
Here is what I know:
1) Kindness does as much for the giver as the receiver. I found myself feeling happier and happier as the night wore on.
2) The more acts of kindness you perform, the more you want to continue. I was sad for our evening of activity to end.
3) When you perform acts of kindness, it is like releasing happy pheromones into the environment. People smile, talk with you, and offer to take your picture. (Could it possibly be because we were dressed in our make-shift tee-shirts with our team name? #keepingitkind)
Please join us! How can you spread kindness in your corner of the world? Let’s be the hands and feet of God in a world that so desperately needs it. In the words of Mother Theresa:
“We can do no great things in this world. Only small things with great love.”
“Nothing can dim the light that shines from within.” Maya Angelou
It’s with a grateful heart that I write this last blog post before tomorrow evening’s 6th Annual “Soles of Love in the Garden.” Tonight, as I reflect on what is required to host this gathering in my home, I’m keenly aware that it takes a community of people with the heart and sole for the cause. The following people have also donated all or part of their services to make our evening a beautiful night.
Meet Ron Layman, the King of Christmas. He and Roberto, his assistant, transform my backyard into a magical wonderland which is not truly apparent until the sun sets. Every year, there is a moment in the evening (close to 8 pm) when the sun is setting, my guests have settled in, and I get my first real glance around the yard. The lights twinkle in the bushes, the arbors are bedazzled with shimmer, and I get this relaxed, peaceful feeling because of their creation. (Plus the fact that Kelly Beach and her crew just finished lighting close to fifty candles!)
Ron’s King of Christmas business provides artful light displays during all times of the year but his specialty is Christmas. I hope you’ll take a minute to check out his website and consider letting him work his magic on your home. Thanks Ron!
My brother John Kuhn, has served as the official photographer for every Soles of Love in the Garden since its inception. Although photography is not his full time profession, my “little brother” has been passionate about photography for more than 40 years and sells many of his works in galleries and through his website John Kuhn Photography. He works on commercial photography projects, shoot events, enters juried photo competitions, and really enjoys doing his own work, with a focus on landscapes, nautical scenes, and fine art nature photography.
John is truly the man of the evening on Soles night, as my regular guests look forward to John capturing their moments of the evening. For me, the biggest compliment comes when I notice John’s photographs becoming my friend’s new Facebook profile picture. I look forward to seeing the evening through John’s lens tomorrow night.
John’s hope is that our childen will grow to know appreciation… to take in and appreciate the beauty that is around you and especially who is around you. Love you, John!
And that brings me to food! Cheri Thompson of The Savory Spoon became part of Team Soles in 2012 and my party’s cred went through the roof (or should I say the sky?) immediately after. Cheri’s food gets rave reviews every year and I look forward to the after-party when I get to sample the goodies I’ve been hearing about all night long.
I always look forward to the moment I tell Cheri the theme for the party. She gets a certain gleam in her eye and you just know the creative wheel is already turning, as she begins to craft a menu and decorations that are the perfect complement to the theme. I can’t wait to see what she has planned for tomorrow (although I’ve already heard a few hints) and I know it’s going to be amazing.
Our guests will be leaving with a special favor tomorrow night, thanks to the generosity of ML Carroll Poore, of Canapes Catering. ML has been busy baking in the kitchen today so each woman will have a special “Soles of Love in the Garden” cookie to take home. If you’ve never had one of Canape’s artfully designed and super-yummy cakes or cookies….well……what are you waiting for?
Their cookies make the perfect (edible) momento for any special event and I learned this, first hand, when ML’s bakers made cookie favors for my “Hons with Guns” event earlier this year. So stay tuned and a big thank you to ML who, quite frankly, had a lot of other things she could have been doing this week, but she gave back instead.
I saved Kelly Beach of Vicarious Travel for last because we spent this afternoon together and my heart is especially full. Kelly spent a hot, sweaty afternoon setting up tents, hauling tables, discussing traffic flow, and all the little nuances of what needs to happen tomorrow night. Having Kelly as my Soles party handler enables me to stop obsessing about the details during the evening and just breathe, relax, and enjoy the culmination of months of planning, planting, and promoting. In addition to the pre-party set up, we eat ice cream, catch up on each other’s news, and even stole a few minutes in the girl cave today.
As soon as tomorrow is over, Kelly and I will be turning our thoughts to our Italy retreat on September 17th. Kelly, through her business, Vicarious Travel, helps her clients reconnect with the sweet serenity of the simple life. The reason I selected Kelly as my official Must Love Shoes travel host is because her long, personal experience travelling to this beautiful country provides our ladies with a more authentic travel experience than other travel hosts. If you’ve ever wanted to experience life under the Tuscan sun, Kelly is the perfect choice to make that happen.
So, that’s a wrap for another year of Soles. All that’s left now is the party!
I’m thrilled to announce that we have a new in-kind sponsor this year who graciously came forward to volunteer! Welcome Valley Graphic Service! They are donating the printing of our program booklet designed by my intern Emily Nelson and I can’t wait for you to see it!
Because Valley Graphic Service is new to the Soles of Love team, I wanted to spend a little extra time introducing you to this very civic-minded organization!
The more I learn about this company, the more the word family comes to mind. First, my friend, Robin Jones’ father and brother own the organization! Robin’s dad has been in the printing industry since before I was born! (How’s that for a long time?) 🙂 The reach of his legacy is great — all of his children and nephews followed suit and work in the industry.
The company has been in operation for over 25 years and are proud of the fact that even after purchasing Printing Services, another local printing company, Valley Graphic Service continues to employ all their original employees.
Family is not only a big part of their corporate culture but the way they treat their customers as well. Striving to be a trusted, experienced, quality printing company provides their clientele with the assurance that when VGS handles their project, it’s done right! (Now can you see why I’m so excited to have them on the Soles team?) They are the only large, sheetfed printer in Frederick County and are the printer-of-choice for other printing companies needing larger run print projects!
Their commitment to family reaches well into the community. They have served many of the area nonprofits-Religious Coalition, Sons of Thunder, Mission of Mercy, MSD Foundation, Frederick Pride, CareNet, Maryland Ensemble, All Saint’s Episcopal Church, Church of Transfiguration, Youth for Christ, YMCA, to name a few. Soles of Love is honored to now be included among this impactful list of organizations.
Robin hopes that our children’s shoes are filled with:
Endurance – Practice Patience when obstacles arise. Listen and Learn with your Heart.
Sounds like a beautiful soul to me!
One of the reasons Summer is such a great season is because we can put away the serious shoes and wear our flip flops! Flip flops are fun, sassy, and super-cool. Wearing them just makes you feel better!
The same can be said for the twenty women who signed up as “Flip Flop” Sponsors for this year’s Soles of Love in the Garden party. It’s an honor to recognize these women who demonstrated their support for this cause! If you see them, please make a point of thanking them for helping me to make this night possible:
Marilyn Bagel, Events & Multimedia Scriptwriter
Lori Benedetto, CPR & First Aid Training
Mimi Galanis, McLaughlin Family Chiropractic
Tonya Hatosy-Stier, Arbonne
Kristi Jacobs Woods- Radcliffe Realty
Rhonda McLaughlin, Big Picture Media Group
Teresa Mena, Throwing Left Handed Scholarship Fund
Cookie Redding, Likes I Love
Edith Wennick, Merrilly Lynch Wealth Management
Thanks to all of you!!!
It’s Garden Party week and I’m thrilled to announce that we had four Kitten Level Sponsors this year. Meet Alex Uphold of State Farm Insurance; LuLaRoe Richelle Lamarr, Fashion Consultant; Linda Morgan of Support Unlimited, Inc. and my friends at Sweet Clover Barn!
Meet Alex Uphold of State Farm Insurance! Alex and I met through the Woman to Woman Mentoring Program and I was impressed with her from the moment we met. She and her office staff are also serving as a shoebox sponsor and when I stopped by their offices to deliver the box, they were such a fun group, I wanted to stay! (How cute is their picture?)
Alex and her team offer auto and home home insurance, but their specialty is life insurance and financial services. Their team of five offer a unique insurance experience by taking the time to really explain coverage, making sure policyholders know what their risks are and how they can help manage them. They make things easy! (And in this crazy world of ours, doesn’t easy sound just wonderful?)
Alex wants to fill our children’s shoes with confidence! Having confidence in themselves to make the right decisions, follow their own path, and know that they are worth it.
LuLaRoe Richelle Lamarr, Fashion Consultant is our next Kitten Sponsor. You have to be living under a rock to not have heard of the latest craze in fashion wear! LuLaRoe is a fast-growing company centered around making women feel beautiful, comfortable and fashionable. They only run a select number of pieces in each print they design, so everything is limited edition.
Richelle loves working for the company and tells me that they are passionate about giving and making a difference in people’s lives.That could explain why she is one of my newest sponsors to the Soles of Love project! Richelle is also a talented photographer and holds a special place in my heart because she and my son went to preschool together many years ago and I still remember the sweet redheaded girl in his class.
Richelle wants to fill our children’s shoes with compassion– so that they always remember to consider others and build strong and positive communities!
Linda Morgan, owner of Support Unlimited, Inc. is who I want to be when I grow up! She runs a business (like I do) but seems to have truly found the secret to carving out maximum time in her life for making a huge impact on our community. Currently President of the Frederick Chamber board, you will always find Linda around town supporting a number of causes! When you hear Linda’s infectious laugh, you know a fun time is in store!
Linda’s company manages the books for primarily small business owners. In addition, she works with the senior population– many whom have never written a check and suddenly need to pay bills. She often acts as an intermediary between children and their parents and assists families through these life transitions. She’s been in busines for 27 years and has always maintained a home office until two years ago! One of the things she’s most proud of is that all three of her children (now 27, 25 and 22) were raised “on her lap while she worked” and grew to be amazing independent financially responsible young adults!
Linda would also fill the children’s shoes with confidence— “knowing that they are and will always be enough and can do anything they dream of. There are no limits that aren’t self-imposed.”
Rounding out the Kitten Sponsors is one of my favorite hangouts Sweet Clover Barn. Owned by Cassie Bustamante and Sarah Zullo, this dynamic duo and their team of creative vendors create a unique “happy place” every month for people looking to create a home that is not like every other.
As a huge fan of Sweet Clover, I can attest that they are full of local creative talent. They have some of the most eclectic vintage finds in the area with the service mentality of Nordstrom. On many occasions the ladies of Sweet Clover have been known to help customers put together just the right look, assembling an assortment of items in such a way, one would never think of it themselves.
Their wish for our kids? While these shoes will nurture your soles, our dream is that you follow your passion, and do that thing in life that nurtures your soul. Keep stepping one foot in front of the other, and remember to always create your own happiness, while sharing it to those around you.
I’ve been a fan of Putman Plumbing long before they signed on as a brand new Wedge Sponsor for our Soles of Love in the Garden project. I’m taking it back old school for a minute with a quick walk down memory lane. Marlena and her husband, Pat, the owners of Putman Plumbing went to Middletown High School with my husband Dan and me. Our children went to school together and were band kids! That means that we were band parents together and those years bring back some of my fondest memories.
Fast forward to the present time. We have been customers of Putman Plumbing for many years. In addition to doing excellent work (with a service-personality), their son, Scott, even showed up to work on our pipes one year wearing a pink bowtie. Does your plumber do that? Mine does when they want to raise awareness during Breast Cancer Awareness month! That’s the kind of company (and people) they are! They are also the only plumbers in the area courageous enough to wear white shirts with their booties. Yep! They are one-of-a-kind and that’s why they were the only plumber we wanted working on our major renovation of Meadow Branch Farm.
They are celebrating 28 years of being in the business. A second generation company, (with the potential for a third generation) because there are six grandchildren growing up with the same value system of a strong work ethic and commitment to family and community. Look for their new location at 9 Boileau Drive in Middletown in September! I know it will be a beautiful place to visit because I run into Marlena during my vintage barn jaunts and she is purchasing some very cool things for the offices!
At Putman, clients are treated like friends of the family, and that kindness extends fully into the community-at-large, sponsoring groups such as Bettie Jane’s Cancer Foundation, the Buddy Walk, and Folds of Honor,. It’s an honor for Soles of Love to also be included as a benefactor of their grace and generosity. Speaking of grace……
When I asked Marlena how she would fill the shoes of our children in need, she responded beautifully and then quoted one of my favorite women of faith:
Grace to change a situation. “Look for what is right in life and people instead of what’s wrong. Anybody can find the wrong, but it takes the astute to discern the right, the good, and the worthy”. Patsy Clairmont
Marlena will not be able to attend next Friday night’s gathering but thanks to Putman Plumbing, her “sole” will be.
Speaking of a woman with soul, Melissa Lentz is back again as a sponsor! Entrepreneur, Real Estate Agent, Zumba Maven, all-round cool chick, she is everyone’s girl crush! Seriously, this woman lives by the adage, “Life is too deep for words so instead of describing it…. let’s just live it.”
Her brain child, Mjach Designs was founded in 2003 armed only with a dream, a computer and a lot of support from mentors and friends. They quickly grew into an award-winning, MBE/WBE, marketing, communications, and design firm, specializing in customer service, branding, advertising, and market research.
But what does that have to do with Zumba? Mjach Fitness is the health and wellness division. They are in the business of inspiring, supporting, and helping people to be held to their highest dreams and the life they most want to live. (Add that it’s so kick-ass FUN to Zumba with the Mjach Fitness team and it sounds like a win-win for everyone!)
Like so many of my “Women of Sole” tribe, Melissa and her team ascribe by a “People First” mentality and it is the thread that weaves through the tapestry of her life. Caring deeply about building community and giving back connects the Mjach Companies to so many organizations in Frederick County. It’s an honor for Soles of Love to be considered one of her recipients.
Our children’s shoes are (metaphorically) quickly becoming filled with so many useful tools for a full and successful life. Melissa’s “gift” would certainly equip our young people with an important life skill as well…..
Resilience- Having the ability to understand that life has plenty of setbacks and you can overcome anything you choose to. Remember to not turn mistakes into catastrophes. Instead, look at a more positive picture and realize any failures are a form of feedback and an opportunity to learn. Resilience is the ineffable quality that allows you to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Resilience is a blessing and offers an outlook to enable you to change course and continue on track.
Thank you, Melissa, for your wisdom, friendship, and for being a true-blue friend of Soles.
“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
― Pablo Picasso
As the Wedge Sponsor Honor Roll continues, it seems fitting that I pair these next two Sponsors together. What would the world be without both Art and Music?
Stroll through any gardener’s back yard or find your zen in the middle of a hectic day by strolling through a garden center, and you will agree that “gardening is the slowest of the performing arts.” But it is perhaps the most luxurious because it heightens all of the senses–sight, smell, touch.
Wedge Sponsor Jenny Morgan, owner of JEM Garden Center on Main Street in Middletown understands. Jenny, her husband, Pat, and their committed landscape team have almost single-handedly improved the curb appeal of the downtown Middletown intersection. In addition to offering landscaping services, JEM Garden Center carries the most beautiful hanging baskets in Middletown! (And I should know- you will see a sampling at the party!)
I loved Jenny’s response to my question about what she would fill our children’s shoes with, if given the chance:
If I could fill the shoes given to our children with one gift, it would be strong will power; so, they would always be able to say “no thank you” to short-term temptations to be successful in accomplishing their long-term goals.
I wish the children receiving these shoes to have a positive outlook on life. It will get them through even the toughest of times.”
And what is music if not the most perfect art form? Marlene Young of Glad Heart Productions brings new meaning to the word perfect because she’s been a sponsor almost every year since the inception of Soles of Love in the Garden. It is that level of support, commitment, and love of the cause that makes this dream a reality. Marlene captured the essence of Soles when she responded to my question!
“If I could fill the shoes given to the children with “one gift”, it would be a glad heart, because I believe a glad heart is key to everything else. It is a glad heart that makes us recognize the good in the world and to look beyond hardship to believe that out of the ashes of adversity can rise a brighter tomorrow. A glad heart is a thankful one that sees every day as a gift and a renewed opportunity to learn, grow, create, contribute, and bless others.
A glad heart sees self and others as unique creations, each special and holding powerful potential to make a positive difference in the community and world around them.”
Marlene Young’s passions are many. Music that has the ability to stir the soul; serving as President of Delaplaine Foundation Inc. and Vice President of Great Southern Enterprises, Inc. which enable her to support the community in a myriad of ways.
She has recorded and released seven vocal albums/CD’s since 2002 under her label Glad Heart Productions in collaboration with Catoctin Mountain Recording and Commodore Recording Studio. These recordings include both original arrangements of classic holiday and gospel songs as well as original songs she has written. Personally, Marlene’s music helps me usher in the Christmas season and welcome a glad heart into my holidays!
How appropriate that her production company’s tagline is “music from the heart for the soul” as we collect soles for our local children in need! Proceeds from the sales of her music support so many other nonprofit organizations such as the Religious Coalition for Emergency Human Needs, United Way of Frederick and Washington County, Women’s Giving Circle, Hospice, Mission of Mercy and many more. Soles of Love in the Garden is once again honored to be part of this impactful list of groups making a difference in our communities.