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!

Passing the Torch: A Tribute to Dixie Miller

Dixie MillerI was about 24 years old. Out of college just a short while and desperately trying to find my place in this post-academic world called real life. Hood College was sponsoring a women’s conference. It looked interesting so I registered to attend.

The room was filled with women of all ages and places in their professional journey. At 24, I was still rather timid and certainly not at ease at networking events of any kind but attended every session. I clung to every word spoken by the dynamic and very confident women who spoke, urging us to create the life we visualized, to be bold, to not be dissuaded by the proverbial glass ceiling that would surely challenge us on our climb to the top.

[Read more…]

Must Love Shoes: Meet the “Flip Flop” Sponsors

On a suggestion of a friend, we created a new level of involvement for our garden party this year: The Flip Flop! Five fun & fabulous women signed up to show their support. I’d love for you to meet: [Read more…]

Must Love Shoes: Meet our Five “Kitten” Level Sponsors

We’ve reached the next level of Sponsorship which is the “Kitten” level. Five women (and their organizations) are supporting our efforts to provide new shoes to local children in need.

Mimi First, meet Dr. Mimi McLaughlin, owner of McLaughlin Family Chiropractic. I first met Mimi through our affiliation with Toastmasters International. She’s one of the most positive and upbeat women I know and has frequently sent me written notes of encouragement and appreciation for a number of things. Her practice in Walkersville, MD uses a holistic approach to health and wellness and she accomplishes this by offering nutritional counseling, massage therapy, weight loss management and holistic chiropractic methods to her employees and clients. Additionally she regularly hosts health education workshops on common chiropractic related issues such as carpal tunnel, spinal exercises, massage/yoga/stretching, and arthritis to name a few. Thanks Dr. Mimi!


Marlene and me Our second Kitten level sponsor is Marlene Young, a very gifted vocalist who owns Glad Heart Productions. Her tag line is “Music from the heart for the soul” and it couldn’t be more appropriate. She’s produced countless CD’s and is a huge supporter of local charities. Marlene believes that “music is a divine gift from God and as such, it is best used to glorify the Almighty. That is the primary mission of her music.” As someone who owns several from her collection, I can tell you that her voice is a gift and I am grateful that she shares it so willingly. Thanks Marlene!


Terri Perry United Way group shotThe effervescent Terri Perry is the Relationship Cultivator for the United Way of Frederick County. and a big supporter of the Must Love Shoes’s mission. The United Way supports many local nonprofits which improve the quality of life in the areas of Health, Income, and Education. Because a large portion of our children’s shoes go to Frederick area children, the United Way wanted to support this annual effort. Where my goal is to equip children with a new pair of shoes for their first day of school, Terri is busy promoting Stuff the Bus, which will equip them with the supplies they need to make it a great year! Thanks Terri!


Kristi Jacobs woodsKristi Jacobs-Woods has been a Realtor for almost 17 years and is affiliated with Radcliffe Realty Group, a small, easily accessible and responsive agency. In addition to managing a busy client load, Kristi volunteers for the Woman to Woman Mentoring program as an Advisory Board Member, Mentor, and Clutch committee member. Kristi is also an avid soccer player and let’s just say she has been known to play several games after I go to bed! That’s energy! Thanks for your support Kristi!


Heather Bodner postLast, but certainly not least, is Kitten sponsor Heather Bodner of Three Old Souls, a graphic design company and the creator of the “look” behind the “Soles of Love in the Garden” and all of Must Love Shoe’s projects. Every year when I give her the new theme for the charity event she creates something even more spectacular. In my humble opinion, this year’s invitation tops them all! Heather is a full service agency, creating everything from logo, websites, print material, and my personal favorite, specialty projects. Thanks for being part of the family, Heather!


Look for these five amazing woman next Friday night, August 1st and take a few moments to learn more about the life they live in their shoes. Trust me, you’ll be impressed!

Meet “Wedge” Sponsor: The Kitchen Studio

SEE Top Chef 014There is only one thing I like better than food and that’s entertainment. When you meet Christine Van Bloem, owner of The Kitchen Studio, you get both! She is sass and spunk all rolled up into one saucy chef! And coincidentally, The Kitchen Studio is celebrating their 9 year anniversary the night of our garden party charity event where she is a Wedge level sponsor!

I have taken two of my client leadership teams to TKS for her Corporate Culinary Team building session and they are both still raving about how much fun they had. I’ve seen firsthand that when it comes to handling a crowd of he-men in the kitchen, she ain’t scared! No one entertains a crowd like Christine and I’ve seen some of the best! And her instructor staff are super supportive, sweet, and can handle an oven like no one’s business! In other words, the know their stuff… or in this case… cookies, which were served warm at the conclusion of one of the team building sessions I attended :) [Read more…]

Meet “Wedge” Sponsor: Mary McCormack, Nerium Brand Partner

Mary McCormick photo

There are two ways to eliminate wrinkles. Both of them require knowing Mary McCormack, a Wedge Sponsor for this year’s garden party charity event on August 1st.

The first way is to hire her to handle your bookkeeping, a business she has had for many years called Sage Small Business Services. With Mary handling your day-to-day bookkeeping, you can stop worrying about numbers and focus on doing what you do best: running your business!

The second wrinkle zapper is through her “after hours” business as a Nerium Brand Partner. Nerium offers many skin care products including a Night Cream, Day Cream, and Firming Lotion, which Mary personally uses with much success. She tells me the company’s mission and philosophy helped to convince her to get involved in the company. They promote Happiness! Their mission is to make people better and they demonstrate that in many ways, by giving back to research, paying customers with free product for referrals, and by actively supporting Big Brothers, Big Sisters of America and the Success for Teens Foundation.

According to Mary, the products are formulated to improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, discoloration, uneven skin texture, enlarged pores, and aging or loose skin. The NeriumFirm product helps to improve the appearance of cellulite and dimpling. Interested in hearing more about how to get involved as a consumer or a business partner? Look for Mary the night of the party. She’ll be the one with the gorgeous skin!!!

Thanks for supporting “Soles of Love in the Garden” Mary and good luck in your newest venture!

Nerium ad

Meet “Wedge” Sponsor: Frederick County Bank

mary barry2

Question: What is pint-sized, perky, and always professional?

Answer: Mary Barry, Business Development Officer and one of Frederick County Bank’s most recognizable faces!

FCB prides themselves on being a “true community bank with personal connections to the ones we serve.” I’ve seen first-hand the personal connections Mary has formed with her FCB clients on numerous occasions when we’ve been out and about in Frederick. It’s like being with the Mayor! She knows everyone and you know immediately that she is well liked and respected by the clients she serves.

Slated to be co-chair for The 2015 Catoctin Affair, Mary, like many of her colleagues at FCB, donates countless hours to community service and projects that improve the quality of life in Frederick County. Most recently, she was named as a Paul Harris Fellow, one of the highest forms of recognition from the Carroll Creek Rotary, for her commitment to the community and her profession.

Frederick County Bank is a full-service commercial bank with headquarters in downtown Frederick. Founded in 2001, the bank holds over $330 million in assets and supports five bank centers within the Frederick County community. True community banking for both personal and business clients.

Thanks to Frederick County Bank for their support providing new shoes to local children in need. Look for Mary at the registration table the night of the party! My fellow Gemini friend will be wearing green and you can bet she’ll be perky!

Frederick County Bank

Meet “Wedge” Sponsor: Dental Health Services Orthodontics


One of the many things that impress me most about Belinda McKee is that in spite of the fact that this will be the first “Soles” event she can actually attend, she has donated shoes every year. That’s the kind of person she is. Every year she’d show up on my doorstep, impeccably dressed, sporting the most beautiful and genuine smile, holding a brightly colored gift bag with shoes. Her schedule always conflicted with the date I had selected for the event but she wanted to help the cause. I love her for that!

This year she is helping out in a big way because Dental Health Services Orthodontics, where she serves as Business Manager, is a “Wedge” level sponsor this year. AND…. (insert my cartwheel and BIG happy face!) she is coming to the event!

I’ve known Belinda for many years through my church but am embarrassed to say I didn’t know much about the place she spends much of her time. The dental practice’s orthodontist, Dr. Leila Nezakatgoo (Dr. Neza to her patients) graduated at the top of her class, having schooled at Boston University’s dental school and receiving specialty training from Howard University. Her specialty practice is in Orthodontics for children and adults and the office is certified for Invisalign.

All of the office staff are certified orthodontic technicians with a combined 30+ years of experience. They are so professional and patient satisfaction oriented and participate with all dental insurances with no interest financing! (I wish I had known about them when I had my orthodontics experience!)

How ironic that Belinda McKee is in the smile business because just being around her brings one to anyone’s face! Look for her at this year’s party!

Thanks Belinda!

Dental Health Orthodontics

Meet Platform Sponsor: Middletown Valley Bank

MVB mud

What do John Deere, Rolex, Channel No. 5, and Middletown Valley Bank have in common?

They were all built with quality in mind and have endured the test of time!

When most people reach the ripe ‘ole age of 100, they look a little worn for wear. But MVB has exceeded the century mark and instead, developed a more exuberant spirit, greater sense of enthusiasm for serving their customer, and continue to prove that change is a lifelong opportunity for companies to become vibrant and engaged members of the community. That’s what being a community bank really means.

And I should know.

They are not only major sponsors of my local charity event, but I am a client.

AND they are a client of mine.

That’s what I call the trifecta of good luck!

New leadership! New attitude! A new brand and image that captures the transformation taking place within the organization.

And it shows on the outside!

To be honest, I’ve always felt that most banks pretty much say the same thing: Knowledgeable, mobile banking apps, highly competitive rates, overdraft protection…. you get the point.

To me, what sets MVB apart is the way they make you feel.

In the past six months, I received two handwritten notes in the mail.

On the day my Mother-in-law died, my husband called to say Hospice said she would likely pass that night. He tearfully informed me to finish my errands and hurry home so we could be with her to say our goodbyes. My heart was broken. It would be the first time I experienced Death so personally.

That errand I had to run before heading home was the banking.

The employees at my branch have always been professional, knowledgeable, and all of those things bank tout. But on that day, on the very day I lost one of the most important people in my life, Katie was doing what Katie does best.

Being kind.



Showing interest in me.

She didn’t even know what was happening in my life at that moment.

But that made all the difference.

These are the things that endure the test of time.

Middletown Valley Bank. Putting the spirit of community back into Community Banking.

Thanks to BJ Goetz and the gang for supporting Soles of Love in the Garden, 2014.


Meet “Platform” Sponsor Milano Salon and Spa


The irony about Laila Shouhayib of Milano Salon & Spa becoming a Platform Sponsor for the upcoming charity event is that we’ve only actually met face-to-face once or twice. And it was in a group setting. Laila was a mentor for the Woman to Woman Program in Frederick and I am one of their frequent presenters. We became Facebook friends immediately after and I am looking forward to the day when we become Face-to-Face friends.

Here’s what I know about her already: She has a big heart for giving back. The fact that she found time to be a Mentor while managing a busy Salon speaks volumes to that. And without ever attending any of my previous garden charity events, she sent me a very generous contribution to be a top-level sponsor and included such heart-felt encouragement. “I believe in what you’re doing and want to support you in any way I can.” Her faith and confidence in me inspires me to do more.

I know that she is an old soul…..that she loves Art…..Good Art….and her family….that she cares very deeply about a lot of things….that she goes above and beyond to make a client happy.

I was to have a photo shoot last week at 7 AM. (sigh) I was not having luck finding a hair & make-up person to meet me at 5:30 am to help me look presentable for photos. I emailed Laila, even though I had never personally been to her salon. Within the hour she had made arrangements not only for one of her staff to make the magic happen but also offered a “dress rehearsal” so I would feel confident with the results and her employee would be able to get the job done for me in the allotted time. The photo shoot got rescheduled but I’m looking forward to being able to enjoy the Milano experience.

Laila opened the Salon and Spa in October, 2008 in the Villages of Urbana. It’s exclusively an Aveda salon. That means that everything they use is from their product line, which is made from 99% plant extract. Aveda’s business philosophy is “Act Responsibly.” Sounds like their companies have similar souls and it sounds like Milano Salon and Spa is perfect for our “Soles” of Love in the Garden.

Her Facebook post said it best one day:

“With grace in your heart and a flower in your hair.”

Thank you Laila!


Must Love Shoes: Meet “Platform” Sponsor VillageWorks

Beth Schillaci book

Beth Schillaci, owner of VillageWorks Communications has been an important member of the “Must Love Shoes” team since it began in 2009. Her most recent effort has been to convert SHOES into e-books. Yes, I succumbed to societal pressure although I stand by my resolve to not personally own a Kindle. :) I think of it as just trying to play well with others. Beth is the one making all of this happen. And she is also a Platform Sponsor for this year’s charity event so I am especially loving her right now.

Beth Schillaci has been helping business with their Marketing efforts for over fifteen years. That was back in the day when the internet was the latest and greatest marketing tool of choice. So we’re not saying my friend Beth is old, but let’s put it this way…. would you rather have a surgeon who’s performed thousands of your procedure….. or five? Exactly! She knows her stuff!

Beth helps organizations grow their business and become more marketing savvy by advising them on issues related to Social Media, Email Marketing, and E-commerce. Helping others define their overall marketing strategy and carving out a niche is how she spends her day. Beth believes that Marketing is Storytelling and knowing which tools best help a business tell their story.

She is the author of the book Your Social Media Roadmap and a frequent speaker on Social Media and related Marketing topics. Look for her niche and storytelling workshop this fall.

A couple of other cool things you should know about this Platform Sponsor. She is the mom to the ever-so-famous Julia who was awarded the Young Entrepreneur of the Year by the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce. She also drives a real Jeep, likes football, and loves craft beer. That makes her the coolest woman around in my husband’s eyes!

Thanks for your support Beth!
Beth Schillaci promo

Must Love Shoes: Meet Stiletto Sponsor “Vicarious Travel”


I have a tiny confession to make. Last year was the first time I actually had fun at my own garden party charity event. The previous years I was so preoccupied with what needed to be done during the course of the evening that I just couldn’t totally relax.

Enter Kelly Beach, Stiletto Sponsor, friend and event planner extraordinaire! Her presence last year made all the difference in the world. At one moment last year I remember thinking “Oh! Are all the candles lit?” As I looked around the yard filled with women, I smiled to see their images already beautifully softened by the magical glow of candlelight. When I thought “Oh! I wonder if the guys need anything at the drink tents?” I see Kelly walk by with supplies and glasses. So let me say this like only a woman would understand. Having Kelly handle your event is like wearing Spanxx. You never looked better! :)

Kelly is a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) and a Certified Meeting Manager(CMM) with over 25 years of meeting, event, and convention experience in the corporate, association, and non-profit worlds. She currently operates independently as an industry consultant, is providing in-kind professional services for the Identity Crisis event for Breast Cancer awareness, and is a mentor for the Woman to Woman Mentoring Program of Frederick.

Most notably, she is the woman who will be serving as our guide for the first “Must Love Shoes Goes to Italy” women’s retreat this fall. She has a spectacular experience planned for us. I am so excited for the 13 women who will be making this maiden voyage with me. They will see a side of Italy you just can’t experience with most travel hosts.

Look for her the night of the party! She’ll be wearing her Emerald Green (May birthday) and making sure I have a fabulous time as the host!

Kelly Italy5

Must Love Shoes: Meet Stiletto Sponsor “The Savory Spoon”


My fourth annual “Soles of Love in the Garden” garden party charity event is fast approaching and I want you to meet the gracious companies and individuals who are helping to make this happen.

Meet Cheri Thompson, owner of The Savory Spoon. After catering last year’s event, she quickly established herself as my official garden party caterer extraordinaire. She’s back this year, not only as the supplier of savory edibles but as a major sponsor.

Cheri’s heart is as big as my appetite…..and that’s ginormous! Her company participates in most of the major fundraisers in the Frederick area and dozens of smaller ones, like mine. Although Cheri claims not to have a “home church”, she believes in tithing. Her church is her community and everyone she meets because the minute you meet her, you feel a sense of kinship with this amazing, soul-filled woman. 10 – 20% goes back into the community. Talk about paying it forward.

If you haven’t been the lucky recipient of Cheri and her staff’s talent, I’ll give you a 30 second commercial:

She was named Start up Entrepreneur of the Year for 2013 by the Frederick Chamber of Commerce. They use fresh, local ingredients and local vendors whenever possible. They customize menus and can accommodate most dietary restrictions such as gluten free, vegan, and diabetic. She has an in-house pastry chef who specializes in custom recipes to suit anyone’s needs. OK…. you had me at pastry! :)

They provide pastries, sandwiches, and salads to Dublin Roasters Coffee Shop where we recently met to talk all things Garden Party! From 10 to 200 people, dinner or just appetizers and desserts, The Savory Spoon’s Facebook page will keep you living vicariously through their great events so make sure you like them.. As for me, I wish they had a LOVE button!

One of the things I love most about Cheri is her interest in making her yummy food and decor match the theme of my parties. She’s already dreaming up fun ways to incorporate our “Birthstones” theme this year. Can’t wait!

Here she is in action at last year’s (white-themed) party!

HM Soles of Love 5