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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!

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

Belinda

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.

Personable.

Smiling.

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.

MVB

Meet “Platform” Sponsor Milano Salon and Spa

Laila

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!

MilanoLogoVertical

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”

VT_Sponsor

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”

SavorySpoon

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

Finding the Extraordinary in my Ordinary Day: Starting Over

Main Street tree 003

The Main Street renovation project continues and today saw the first of many trees being removed to allow space for new, safer sidewalks. The Maple in our front yard was one of the first on the chopping block.

Throughout the day I watch the process with mixed emotions. It was like saying goodbye to an old friend. Our family photos hold countless pictures of our family raking her vibrant golden leaves during the many Autumns we have lived in our home. For the past 34 years we have lived on historic Main Street, our trusty and reliable Maple provided us with shade, beauty, and a connection to the history of our quaint little town.

But now it’s gone. Out with the old. In with the new as I’m sure that when the project is complete, new trees will be planted.

Life is like that too. We must let go of what was in order to open ourselves to the possibility of what may be. It’s not always easy but often necessary. In towns, organizations, and even in our personal lives, we must have the faith and courage to tear things down in order to build something even better.

And so today, I dwell in hope and possibility of what’s to come.

Finding the Extraordinary in my Ordinary Life: Scented Pleasures

Today seemed like a good day to reconnect with my mission of finding the extraordinary in my ordinary life. Making the commitment to share these moments through my blog provides me with the gentle nudging I need to make it happen. Nothing like being accountable in a very public forum to make you good on your word.

I played all day yesterday. That’s what weekends are for, right? But the coming week is a very busy one which required that I put in office time today on probably the most beautiful day of the year, so far.

Needless to say I was feeling a tad sorry for myself. In spite of the fact that the window next to my desk provided me with the perfect appetizer for the spring buffet to come, I was still having a bit of a pity party.

During one of my breaks I decided to invite Spring into my office.

Can you smell them?

Oh Hyacinth, how I love your sweet, intoxicating perfume.

I’m a happy girl again. Simply extraordinary!

hyacinth

Re-fueled and Re-fired! Tips for Filling Your Emotional Tank.

soulI’m a big advocate of self-care. I preach it, train it, coach it, and wholeheartedly believe in it. But I don’t always follow it. I’m human!

Recently, an accumulation of events found me running on empty.I was getting tired, cranky, and Friday, I was even called out for not smiling. Apparently I normally smile a lot and people have become accustomed to it. :)

And so this weekend I devoted my time to self-care. If we are expected to run at full-throttle, we must keep fuel in our tank. If we let our tank get too low, we find ourselves running on (emotional) fumes. And so I applied my 4-F formula to help me get back on track.

Family: Saturday morning my oldest son, Craig, wanted to hang out and go furniture shopping. We didn’t end up buying any furniture but we talked about just about everything. What an amazing young man we raised. I felt proud and renewed of spirit.

Friends: Saturday evening was the 5th Annual Clutch the Future Purse Auction to benefit the Woman to Woman Mentoring Program in Frederick. Objective: Fill a gymnasium full of sassy, super-fun women and let them bid on purse packages and hang out with their friends. Done! A night with my gal pals is always the best medicine!

Clutch2

Faith: I went to church! I’ve been AWOL from my church family this winter. Today, it felt like coming home. Our pastor’s sermon felt like it was created just for me. (Doesn’t everyone feel that way?) I could feel my tank filling with every word of encouragement and every song played.

Fresh Air: Today was the official first day of yard work. While that might not be considered putting fuel in the tank for some, for me, it was heaven! There is something about the fresh air, the sun on my face, the dirt on my hands, and the physicality of just walking my property, dreaming of new ideas for my gardens that left my tank overflowing.

I’m re-fueled! Re-fired! I’m ready to face another busy week!

Finding Inspiration

St. Patrick's Day Cardinal

It’s Monday, March 17th. St. Patrick’s Day. A gentle snow is falling and has been all night long. I awoke this morning with a sense of calm instead of my usual-of-late “Oh my GOD! It’s snowing AGAIN!” I’m not sure why. I guess on some level I know that Mother Nature is sending me this one last gift to savor the slow. And so I abide her wishes.

I rescheduled my gym workout until later in the week, brewed a cup of peach flavored hot tea and retreated back in bed with a stack of books, a notebook, a pen, and my trusty iPad (of course).

This may sound silly but one of the times I feel most creative is in bed….during that twilight pause between sound slumber and the start of the day when I dream of infinite possibilities for my life and work. Today I’m going to harness that feeling by working with my pillows propped high, my grandmother’s quilt pulled high over my lap and the blinds wide open to remind me of this stolen opportunity.

The week ahead promises to be a busy one filled with trainings and meetings. But first on my agenda is to produce a description, outline and learning objectives for a presentation I’m giving in June.

I’ll let you in on a little secret, I struggle to define a presentation I won’t give until June so definitively this early in the game but I must. The organization needs to apply for the needed credits for their participants. It is not uncommon, in fact most often the norm, that my best work also comes during the twilight before a presentation… the week before… the night before even. I have on many occasions during my career rewritten an entire speech after waking up in the middle of the night before the big event only to find the new speech to be EXACTLY what I had been hoping for. (And yielded just the right reaction from the audience it was intended for!) But it needed time to arrive, to percolate, to enter my conscious during that creative twilight phase when I’m not trying to force it, rather let the words come to me, unplanned.

But at this moment, surrounded by warmth, seclusion, comfort, snow, tea, and all the things that seduce my creative spirit into awakening, I begin the process. And as I glanced out my window in search of just the right word, I spied a ruby against Nature’s pearl. A Cardinal! My inspiration!

It’s time for work!

The REAL “Shop Around the Corner”

Julie and Lucas
“She was not just selling books. She was helping people become whoever they were going to turn out to be. When you read a book as a child, it becomes a part of your identity.”

You’ve Got Mail

One of my all-time favorite movies is “You’ve Got Mail.” Not because I LOVE Meg Ryan (although I do). Not because I LOVE Tom Hanks and the chemistry those two have together.(Think “Sleepless in Seattle.) I LOVE “You’ve Got Mail” because I LOVED the Shop Around the Corner.

I have many “fantasy careers” and one of them is to own Kathleen Kelly’s (aka Meg Ryan’s) Shop Around the Corner. A quaint, cozy little book store with lots of vintage appeal,filled with books, gifts & accessories, and all things literary. A shop with a charming store front window with white Christmas lights, decorated in a way that says “Come and stay awhile. Explore. We’re so happy you’re here.” The UN-big-box-store filled with discounts and short on service.

Enter Julie Cade.

Julie and her husband, Lucas, (her real-life Tom Hanks) own a lovely version of my “Shop Around the Corner” in Gettysburg, PA. It’s called Pages of the Past and it’s right around the corner in the center of town at 13 Baltimore Street.

When you meet Julie you’ll agree that she is the real life version of Kathleen Kelly. Blonde, classic, beautiful in a non-threatening way that makes you wish you were already best friends. And she has the personality to match my fictional movie crush!

Must Love Shoes is proud to present a fun “girl’s night out” at Pages of the Past on Thursday night, February 6th from 6-9 pm. Julie is graciously offering refreshments and free foot massages in exchange for your donation of a pair (or several) of new children’s shoes to be donated locally. In addition, I’ll be firing up the stories in my speech called “These Boots Were Made for Walking” and we promise you a fun night of laughter, connection, and fellowship.

You simply MUST come see my REAL “Shop Around the Corner!” RSVP to attend before February 1st because seating will be limited. Contact Julie Cade at (717) 334-0572 or infopagesofpast@centurylink.net.

Hope to see you there!