Welcome Friends!

I’m thrilled you’ve decided to visit the “Must Love Shoes” blog—our little corner of the world filled with articles created especially for you! I love sharing with my friends, but the real fun begins when the conversation flows!

Meaningful discussion involves an exchange of ideas. Is your story inspirational for women? Do you have advice for women that you’ve found helpful? Don’t be bashful! Add your comments to any of the articles below, because, after all ladies, this is our private place to share!

Must Love Shoes Event Sponsors 2015-2016

Must Love Shoes is proud to host the fifth annual Soles of Love in the Garden charity event on Friday, August 7, 2015.

Sponsors are an important and vital part of making this event even more successful as we continue to provide new shoes for children in need, locally and across the world. The benefits of being a sponsor are numerous and they last throughout the year. Want to be part of this influential, dynamic community of women? Click here for more information or email

Sponsorship Opportunities

A special thank you to the following sponsors for their support during this 2015-2016 season. They represent a special group of businesses who know that “it’s not about the shoes but what you do in them” that really matters!

Thank you for making a difference!



JEM Garden Center, LLC
Stauffer Funeral Homes, P.A.
Support Unlimited, Inc.


Glad Heart Productions
Kristi Jacobs Woods – Radcliffe Realty
Mountain Memories of Thorpewood
The Kitchen Studio Cooking School
“The Shoe Fashionista”
Vintage Sign Company
Joan Wicks, The Banner School
Barbara’s Villa at Beach Walk, North Myrtle Beach

Flip Flop

Lori Benedetto – CPR & First Aid Training
Terry Drankiewicz
The Ermi Group
Mjach Fitness
Leesa Ruderman
Leslie Schultz
Fran Simons – & Coco
Sam Swann – Pro Mortgage
Susan Vernicek – Identity Magazine
Edith Wennick – Merrill Lynch Wealth Management


Digital Bard
The King of Christmas
The Savory Spoon
Vicarious Travel

Meet Wedge Sponsor: Stauffer Funeral Homes


“To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul.”  Simone Weil

It’s impossible to talk about deep roots in our community without mentioning Wedge Sponsor Stauffer Funeral Homes.  Located in six communities, this full service, family owned business also offers an onsite crematory.

They understand that when establishing roots in any community, one must plant firmly.

And that happens by giving back.


Courtney is everywhere there is a worthy cause to support or funds to raise, whether it be the Catoctin Affair, which she co-chairs, or GenConnect, to name a few. Her family never tires of well-doing and for that, our community is a better place to live.

When you spend time with Courtney, there is sure to much laughter. I think that’s what I love about her most. Because like “being rooted,” a good belly laugh is also good for the soul. Thanks for supporting our “Soles”.


Meet Wedge Sponsor: Support Unlimited, Inc.

Linda Morgan

Things that support:

Parents support children. Spouses support each other. Nonprofits support the needs of our community. Spending supports our economy. Our legs support our bodies. A foundation supports a building. Cheerleaders support their team.

We can’t live without support. Everybody. Everything. Everywhere we look, someone or something is supporting another. We’re not in this world alone. We all need someone/something to lift us up.

To make us better. Stronger. More efficient.

And for the past twenty five years Linda Morgan of Support Unlimited Inc. has been doing just that –

Making small businesses and start-ups in the Frederick, Washington and Baltimore areas feel supported.

Entrepreneurs start businesses, not because they are great financial managers. They start companies because they are passionate about their own product or service. That’s why we need people like Linda Morgan!

When I hear the words “bookkeeping, cash flow management, monthly reconciliation, I glaze over and all I hear is an adult in a Charlie Brown cartoon saying, “blah blah blah blah.”  

And I know I’m not alone!

And so, in the words of Jerry Maguire and on behalf of all the small businesses out there…..

You complete us!

(I’ve always wanted to write that!  Grinning!)

But I have a personal reason why I’m happy that Support Unlimited, Inc. is a sponsor and first time attendee at Soles of Love in the Garden this year.

I want to get to know her better!  

I like her. We often share the same “space.”  Attend the same events. Enjoy the same people. And so look for the photo of us at next week’s party. Because we’re gonna be hanging out!


Thanks for your support Linda. It’s what you do and I’m happy to know you!







Meet Wedge Sponsor JEM Garden Center

Italy 2014 iphone pics 279Gem.  noun. Something prized, especially for great beauty or perfection. A highly prized or well-beloved person

Although the spelling is a bit different, it captures Wedge Sponsor JEM Garden Center and my dear friend, owner Jenny Morgan.

JEM Garden Center is a woman-owned business with over 40 years of contract landscaping, garden center sales and operations. Her husband, Pat Ellis, also plays a key role in providing a wide range of services as well as offering four seasons of blooming color whenever you just feel that you need a little more beauty in your life.

My relationship with Jenny is one I hold close to my heart. I chose this picture of her because I snapped it during our “Must Love Shoes” women’s retreat in rural Italy last year. During that trip she shared a glimpse of the JEM Garden Center dream and it’s been a honor to watch her create that reality.  When I see this picture, I remember her enthusiasm and excitement over becoming an entrepreneur and we were blessed to meet many Italian women with that same passion and drive for their businesses.

My yard is more beautiful this summer because of the good work of JEM Garden Center. Early this spring, I hired one of their dream teams to work alongside me in preparing the gardens you will see at the party. They weeded. (Boy! Did they weed!)  They edged. They mulched. Their hard work saved me hours and allowed me to focus on the creative aspects of gardening I enjoy most.

Stop by to see them on the corner in Middletown. Their team is phenomenal. They are true gems and quickly becoming a highly prized member of the business community.



Soles of Love in the Garden: Meet Platform Sponsor Trinity Salon and Spa

Trinity SalonWhen I think about some of my favorite movies, they all took place in a very special kind of hair salon.

Steel Magnolias

Beauty Shop

Legally Blonde

The kind of salon where full service was more than a precision cut and highlights.

They were salons where patrons were much more than patrons.

They were family.

Trinity Salon and Spa in Middletown, owned by Tina Delauter and Valerie Mascaro, is that kind of salon. Their staff of nineteen agree that women today have so many pressures and demands thrust upon them, so they work hard to create a “safe place” for their “family” to hang out.

At Trinity, the menu of services include a wide range of hair and spa experiencs served with a side order of encouragement, laughter, and unconditional support.

According to Tina and Valerie, opening the salon was a dream come true and their name reflects their deep faith and hope in all that God has planned for them.

And love.

Because all things grow better with love.

Which makes them a perfect partner for our Soles of Love in the Garden mission.

Look for the Trinity Salon & Spa girls on August 7th.

Who knows?  Maybe I’ll even show them my “bend and snap!”






Soles of Love in the Garden: Meet Platform Sponsor Middletown Valley Bank


Photo by Melanie Anderson
Photo by Melanie Anderson

. adverb.  Completely, wholly, without exception.

Exceptional.  adjective.  Superior, unusually excellent.

Today’s word-of-the-day is actually two words and ironically describes the mission and service expectation that Platform Sponsor Middletown Valley Bank has for every interaction with their customers.

I know because I am one.

And this past year, MVB took the absolutely exceptional experience to an entirely new level. Next week we will be finishing the bank’s first leadership development training series provided by yours truly. Over the past six months the leadership team has been honing their skills designed to make them more effective and dynamic influencers in the organization and the community. What a blast we have had together! Learning is fun when you have “students” with the right attitude.

And MVB has the right attitude!

They have an attitude for business and a mind for change!

Currently the Myersville office is undergoing renovations to change their branch to reflect their progressive new look and feel.

AND……. drum roll please…..

In October you will find this absolutely exceptional community bank opening their first Hagerstown branch on the corner of Eastern Blvd and Professional Ct.

Holy Banking Batman!!!

If you are coming to this year’s garden party, look for the MVB ladies. They will be the large group who clearly enjoy each other’s company. You will always feel welcomed and hear laughter among them.

And if you can’t make it to this year’s soiree but would like to donate new shoes for local children in need, stop by their Myersville or Boonsboro branches and drop your donation in the box in their lobby. Yep! They took the extra step and volunteered to offer their clients the opportunity to help our cause.

Because THAT is what absolutely exceptional community bankers do!







Soles of Love in the Garden 2015: Meet Platform Sponsor Milano Salon & Spa

beauty redefined 4 Laila

Serendipitous. adjective. Occurring or discovered by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

This is the word that comes to mind when I think of Laila Shouhayib, current owner of Milano Salon & Spa, and a Platform Sponsor for this year’s garden party.

As I wrote in last year’s blog, Laila and I met, by chance, through the Woman to Woman Mentoring program and we’ve been soul sisters ever since. I’m posting this picture of her holding her (now grown) son because you will meet her again through my newest project, Truly Beautiful, making its debut very soon. Stay tuned!

What makes a salon successful when there are 6-7 other salons in her immediate area?  The secret is in understanding that in the heart of all good customer service lies a basic need for people to feel valued and important. Laila and her staff have a gift for doing that. After last year’s event I experienced that gift first hand.

I was scheduled for a photo shoot at 7 am. (I know… who does that????)  That would mean hair & make-up at 5:30 am which is simply not in my vocabulary. But this girl could NEVER do hair & make-up at that ungodly hour of the morning so finding a professional was the only logical choice. The hair salon I’ve patronized for many years could not accomodate me at that early hour. I reached out to Laila and asked if, by chance, she had someone willing to help me.

Do you remember the scene in The Wizard of Oz when the beautiful good witch, Glenda, waves her sparkly wand and sends Dorothy home?  Believe me when I tell you that Laila must have waved a sparkly wand or did something spectacular because poof!  Raina came to the rescue. She and Laila not only met me at 5:30 for the makeover, but they were cheerful. (Note:  Cheerful and 5:30 AM are an oxymoron in my world.)  While Laila served me hot tea, Raina transformed a tired, stressed woman into a photo-ready professional in time for her 7 am. shoot.

And I will always be grateful.

What happened that morning was not serendipitous. It was a soulful act of intention…..the result of a woman who created a salon where a “mission” meant something. A mission that gave feeling valued and treasured its wings.

And that is why Laila is such a treasure to me.

Maya Angelou once said, “One must know, not just how to accept a gift, but with what grace to share it.”  

It’s my honor and a priviledge to share Laila’s gift….her sponsorship allows me to continue the legacy of “Soles of Love in the Garden.”







My Advice to Young Writers

Young authorsTonight I had the honor of speaking to a group of Frederick County students and their proud parents at “A Celebration of Writing, Storytelling, and Sharing,”  a County-Wide Young Author Celebration sponsored by the State of Maryland, the International Reading Association Council, and the Frederick County Reading Council. What a humbling experience to be before such an impressive and accomplished group of young people.  My comments were as follows:


I’ve always loved to read. I was that kid hiding under the covers with a flashlight past bedtime trying to finish the final chapter of my latest Nancy Drew book. I’ve always believed that a love of reading leads to a love of writing until eventually you realize you simply have a love affair with words. Both become a part of your soul and you just can’t imagine your life without them.

I didn’t  publish my first book until I was 52 and I’m currently working on my third book. The wonderful thing about writing is that it believes in equal opportunity. It doesn’t matter your age, race, culture, or gender. It’s available to us all. The only barrier exists in your mind.

I believe 3 things make you a writer:  Consistency.  Heart. Courage.

Consistency – Write every day. It can just be for 10 minutes if that’s all the time you have but write something every day. It builds discipline. It creates habit. Your brain and creative spirit are like any other muscle in your body and writing every day not only develops them but creates a desire to do more.

Some days I work on my book. Other days I write a blog post. Still other days I simply write a Facebook post about something that’s been on my mind that day. But most days I write in my “Best Part of Day”  book– my approach to Journaling.  I try to capture something positive, fun, or funny that I witnessed that day and record it. For added fun, I often write it like a headline in the newspaper to stimulate my creative thinking. Think of writing like eating – you wouldn’t think of skipping it for a day.  Eventually writing becomes like food for your soul.

Heart –  Write for yourself. Don’t write what you think your parents will like, or your teachers, or even your friends. Write about what’s in here, your heart. Write about what gets you excited. I call that finding your voice!

That’s exactly what I did when I wrote my first book. I wrote for me. I didn’t know if anyone would like it or buy it. I didn’t care. I wrote stories that made ME laugh….made ME cry.  Because of the positive feedback and success from that book, I wrote a second, but this time I felt pressure! What if people don’t like this one as much? What if they don’t think it’s as funny as the first?  I want to write this story but will they appreciate it? Would they rather hear about something else?  I started second guessing myself. I began writing from my head instead of my heart. And it took me a while to turn it around. Fortunately I did.  So always write for you..

Courage –  If you write in a way that is transparent and authentic, it takes courage to put it out there… to let others see who you really are and what you believe. The bottom line is that not everyone will love what you write. Some won’t be able to understand or relate to it. And that’s ok.

It’s been said that what most people fear is not failure, it’s judgment.

In all the years I’ve been writing, the hardest piece I’ve ever written was a blog post this past December. It was on the Tuesday after Christmas, known as Giving Tuesday. This day affords people a chance to make online donations to the nonprofit causes they believe in.

My husband has a disease called Parkinsons. We decided that day to go public with this information in hopes that people would help us raise funds and increase awareness.  I cried the entire time I wrote the blog post. When my husband read it, he did the same. And then I hit the SEND button and we both cried. It took great courage to write what was in our hearts that day but it felt liberating when it went out into the world.

My hope is that you will always be brave.

Three things…. Consistency, Heart, and Courage.

Keep them with you always.

Why Frederick Magazine Should Host the Academy Awards

OscarsI learned today that my blog won third place in Frederick Magazine’s Best of Frederick Awards.

This excites me tremendously because I don’t really think of myself as a blogger.

I relate more to speaker, author, consultant, gardener, Mom, time waster, expert napper. But not blogger.

So the fact that I got third place makes me so happy I could burst!

I credit Frederick Magazine for my UBER-excitement over this third place honor because they have figured out the psychology of how people think.

Unlike the way the Academy Awards program runs, I didn’t even consider I was in the running.

So I didn’t have to feel let down for not winning first.

[Read more…]

What I Did Right in 2014.

Soles of Love 4 profile picI am only hours away from my annual sojourn through my Memory Box, my hidden stash of memorabilia which accumulates during the year.

The sole purpose of my Memory Box is to help me capture the highlights of my year so I don’t spend the evening wishing–

–that I were more organized.

–or patient.

–or thinner.

–or any number of things I think about if I allow my mind to dwell in insecurity rather than accomplishment.

It’s human nature, I guess, to think about what’s wrong, instead of what’s right.  But before I let the box tell me what went right for me this year, I have a few thoughts of my own.

In spite of the fact that 2014 was one of the toughest years of my life, it was also one of the best. Here’s why! [Read more…]

The Only Reason You’ll Ever Need!

Must Love ShoesEvery woman I know puts everyone’s needs before her own. It’s in our DNA. We just can’t help it.

Every woman I know has a “wish list,” a “bucket list,” things they dream of doing…..


When the kids are grown.

When they have more money.

Or time.

Or energy.

I used to be that way.
[Read more…]