Spring cleaning

I recently spent a weekend cleaning out my grandparents’ home in preparation for their move to an assisted living facility.  Spending hours going through boxes containing more than 30 years of Hallmark cards, newspaper articles and letters will have an effect on you.

For some, this exercise would make them more likely to keep and store every keepsake.  But for me, it had the opposite result.  While it was lovely to see many of my grandparents’ long packed away mementos, it was the memories of the events associated with those items that were truly important.

This realization caused me to make a pledge to myself (and my future grandchildren) that I would not put my family in the same position of riffling through all of my relics 40 years from now.  This is easier said than done because I am one of those women who likes to keep things.  Between school art projects that my kids have created, special toys, favorite books, and clothes that “still fit” and I might “need again someday” - I have a basement full of stuff.  And that doesn’t include all of the extra stuff in my closets. While I am not close to being a candidate for a “Hoarders” type of intervention, I recognize that I keep way more stuff than I should.

De-cluttering our homes helps
to de-clutter our minds and souls as well.
While I was considering how I was going to accomplish this paring down of stuff, I came across the “100 Things De-cluttering Challenge,” and I was intrigued. Basically, the challenge is to set aside one Saturday morning every other month to get rid of 100 things in your home.  This can be anything from sorting through your desk and tossing 100 pieces of paper to donating 100 pieces of clothing.  As long as 100 things have left your home, your mission is accomplished.  

While I originally didn’t think I would be able to find 100 things that could leave our house, I was pleasantly surprised (and horrified) to find that I likely have 1,000 things that can easily be disposed.  My first “100 Things” attempt resulted in a huge garbage bag full of old papers to throw away and a big stack of clothing to be donated.

So my fellow Inspired Winers, I invite you to join me on my next spring cleaning “100 Things Challenge.”  Go through your unused items and, if possible, donate the gently used items to a charity that will use and appreciate them.  While clothing is the easiest to donate, you can also find animal shelters that will happily take your old towels, women and children’s shelters that will take toys that are in good condition, and nursing homes that would love your old DVD movies and board games.  You will benefit from having a less cluttered home, and the recipients will be blessed with something to enrich their lives.

You and your grandchildren will be glad you did!

Michelle Gauffreau is a customer service consultant for Broadcast1Source and  a founding member of Inspired Wining. She is also a wife, a mother of two and an active volunteer in her community.


Injection of hope

It is amazing how quickly my moods can swing.  One minute I am crying on the phone to my husband, wracked with fear and ten minutes later I am feeling in control and rather elated.  The irony is that the same event caused these two very different reactions.

I just returned from a three day visit with Matthew to Cincinnati, where he sees a team of specialists on an annual basis at an MD clinic.  An added reason for the trip is that Bobby and I enrolled him in a clinical trial for a growth hormone study for linear growth and potential muscle strengthening for boys with DMD.

Matthew was selected to be in the test group. 

Of course, I knew that there was a 50/50 chance of this and in my heart of hearts was prepared for this, but if I have to be honest, I was hoping that he would be in the control group.  I am not particularly proud of this.  I knew I should be wanting to provide my child with all the opportunities possible for better physical health, but the idea of putting a needle in my innocent boy, every day for 6 months, seemed to steer me away from the big picture.  

So after the “shock” that should not have been a shock and after my moment of weakness, we headed to see the nurse who was to show me how to wield a needle.  I should not have been surprised when Matthew showed more curiosity about the process than concern about the potential pain.  He let me poke him (over and over, in fact) and as I learned the procedure, suddenly two things occurred to me.

One – I am not the patient.  This is not all about me and if my child, the actual patient, is not concerned, than I need to be strong for him and get the job done.

Two – Finally!  After years of feeling helpless in the wake of my son's diagnosis, I can actually be part of the treatment process.  I can personally give him what may result in added strength.

We agreed to have Matthew participate in this study because we wanted to help further research.  This trip reminded me of how humbling it is to know that there are people out there who have a passion for   helping boys like Matthew and have made a career out of this passion.  I feel nothing but great fortune for the opportunities that have been placed before us.  Hope abounds and life is good!

Allison Wood Greiner is a high school French teacher, a founding member of Inspired Wining, and mother to three children, including Matthew, who has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. 


Luck of the...inspired

This past weekend, I enjoyed St. Patrick’s Day – not with a cold, green beer (though that  would have been tasty), but with time with my son, talking about luck. Louie got me caught up in the spell of the holiday, sitting in a patch of clover together and looking for the four-leafed variety.  We didn’t find one, but we shared a pretty special half hour together on our search. 

All of the talk of leprechauns and lucky charms and the hunt for four-leaf clovers made me ponder the concept of “luck.”

Here is what I think. You can call it a conclusion or maybe even a confession, but I believe that there is no such thing as true luck. If you ask me, it does not exist. 

I came to this belief about 8 years ago when I adopted Louie.  People used to say how lucky we were to have found each other. He was lucky to find such a good mom. I was lucky to have such a precious little boy. You get the idea.  But when you think about it, it wasn’t lucky at all.  It was a conscious decision on the part of his birth mother to choose adoption and to choose me to be his forever mommy.  We didn’t get lucky.  Those were hard decisions for her, but they were her decisions just the same. 

So think about it on a grander scale.  Did the homeless guy on the street “get lucky” when you gave him five bucks at the stoplight?  He may think so, but you made that decision spontaneously to scrounge around in your purse for cash.  Did the soccer team get lucky with their win?  Or did their skills and training allow them to outplay the other team and make a buzzer beater goal?  Was it luck when I went through the McDonald’s drive-thru for a diet coke and the car in front of me paid my ticket?  No, because then I, too, made the decision to pay the ticket for the person in the car coming behind me. When that person got to the window and found out his or her bill had been paid, they may have considered themselves lucky. But luck, it was not.

All of this “luck,” is actually consciously decided (perhaps even divinely inspired), but it has an impact just the same. If anything “luck” is a feeling. What we choose to do for others creates that good feeling in them. We have that kind of power.

St. Paddy’s Day has passed, but I ask you to think about creating some luck for someone you may or may not know.  Embrace a cause, donate to a charity or a church, or simply hold the door for someone.  Your decision to help might just give a little hope to someone who thinks they are “down on their luck.”

After nearly 30 years in the broadcast industry, Lisa Fields is now in charge of a new venture; she runs Broadcast1Source, a small software company specializing in FCC compliance for broadcasters. However, nothing compares to the adventure of raising rambunctious, sweet and charming Louie, her eight-year-old son. Lisa’s home, “Camp Fields,” is always open to small children, stray dogs and wayward adults! With this motto, is there any doubt that Camp Fields is the official headquarters of Wednesday Night Wine and the Inspired Winers? 


Toasting our muses

My father recently retired after a prolific career in a highly successful not-for-profit organization. As I write this, I have a wine glass in my hand, toasting my father’s accomplishments and thinking back to how much he and my grandfather have inspired me. My daughter, Derby, is named in honor of both of them.

Harry Leigh Derby
“Harry” Leigh Derby – my great, great grandfather – lived the American dream. He grew up very poor, but with good values. When the time came, he left home and started a career in chemical sales.  Eventually, he led various chemical companies and became founder and chairman of many, many more. Throughout his career, he served as a Trustee or Chairman on a number of community and corporate boards, opened plants in South America, negotiated labor union disputes, and even served the Roosevelt administration during WWII. His biography reads as a who’s who in American History. Friends with President Hoover and the Rockefeller family, Harry even attended a private party hosted by the Rockefellers on the Hindenburg prior to its fateful voyage.

I was young when my grandfather passed. My memory of him is faint. In fact, I have a greater recollection of his expansive Montclair, NJ, home and of my wonderment at having a chauffeur and an elevator in your home.  

All that said, Harry’s been on my mind lately. I’ve had a chance to reflect on his achievements and success over his long life. In fact, I googled him the other night and found a book he wrote on transportation. He wrote the book in 1916 while he was in college, and it is still available on Amazon today.

Harry Leigh Derby IV
My father, Harry “Leigh” Derby IV, inherited his business acumen from his great grandfather. Dad is also an inspiration to me because he focused his career in the not-for-profit world. Thirty-eight years ago, he established a school in the basement of a church for a handful of individuals with development disabilities. He provided one of the first alternatives to institutionalization of individuals with developmental disabilities (then called mental retardation).

Over the past 38 years , Lifespan has grown into an agency supporting thousands of clients across North Carolina with employment, education and enrichment opportunities. In short, Lifespan works to enhance the abilities of individuals with development disabilities from infants to adults. Dad and Lifespan have integrated preschools with normal and special needs students, created employment programs, and developed creative schools offering cooking, horticultural, drama and computer instruction – just to name a few. Lifespan has also consulted with many other organizations and its curricula and programs  have been adopted by both nationally and globally.

In honor of Dad’s retirement, Lifespan named one of their flagship schools after him. I am so inspired standing before The Leigh Derby School and reading the plaque that adorns his name.  

Sources of inspiration are vital to all of us. Find a spark in your career, your friends, or your very own family tree.Share your story. Leave a comment and tell us who inspires you…

Tiffany is a  North Carolina native, wife, mother of 2 wild and crazy kids, and an entrepreneur. She loves her family, a delicious glass of red wine, girl time and the occasional spa treatment. As an enthusiastic member of Wednesday Night Whine, she rarely misses a “meeting” unless she’s traveling for business. She is the President and CEO of Intellect Resources a recruiting and consulting firm specializing in the healthcare IT industry. 


"The Way" of Inspired Wining

My husband and I watched a movie a few weeks ago that just won’t seem to let go of me. It’s a film called “The Way” starring Martin Sheen and written and directed by his son, Emilio Estevez. “The Way” tells the inspirational story of a man’s trek along the Camino de Santiago (also known as The Way of St. James), a collection of centuries-old pilgrimage routes across Europe.

Tom (played by Sheen) did not set out to make the pilgrimage. In fact, when his son (played by Estevez, of course) asks him to come along, he considers the weeks-long trek impractical at best.  

“Most people don’t have the luxury of just leaving it all behind,” Tom says.

But then he finds that he must go. When Daniel succumbs to a fatal accident in the Pyrenees, Tom’s mission quickly becomes to honor his son's desire to finish the journey. He carries Daniel with him, sprinkling his ashes over landmarks along the 800-kilometer route.  

I have to thank fellow winer Tiffany Crenshaw for making the recommendation during our Girls Weekend/Movie Marathon in February. (Although little did she know that Estevez is a man after the Inspired Winers’ hearts – a winemaker under the label Casa Dumetz.) Tiffany saw something special in the preview. Something she knew our group would appreciate because of the bonds we share – as parents, as women who value inspiration, and as friends on our own journey, a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

“The Way” has gorgeous cinematography, a beautifully composed soundtrack, and a satisfying blend of heart wrenching and amusing moments captured through the interactions of Tom and the unlikely friends he meets. (Not to mention, lots of wine drinking!) As you can imagine, a movie like this offers plenty of connections to our own lives. The metaphors abound.

This trip that once seemed absurd to Tom ultimately becomes profoundly meaningful. Can’t we all relate to resisting a journey we know we have to take? And aren’t we often pleasantly surprised by the rich experience, the camaraderie, the support we find when we open ourselves up to the journey?

I think about the trek my fellow Inspired Winer, Allison, is on right now in honor of her own son. She’s going the distance for Matthew. Fighting for his quality of life and trying to imagine what the road is like for him. Doing everything she can to lengthen the time he has to be mobile, active and healthy, as every young man should be. I also think about my walk with her. Sometimes I feel I am doing so little, that my efforts are mere footsteps compared to what lies ahead. But then I remember the value of simply “being there” to help my friend navigate, to scale the mountains and shoulder the weight when she needs a break.

That’s what Wednesday Night Wine is for. It’s a time out for tired moms and friends who might otherwise let too much time go by without seeing one another. And on a larger level, that’s what Inspired Wining is for. Helping other women navigate the challenges and opportunities of fundraising for the causes that mean the most to them. Perpetuating our own cause as Wednesday Night Winers – the fight against DMD to make the way easier for boys like Matthew.

At the end of "The Way," Tom discovers the difference between "the life we live and the life we choose.” The movie is a beautiful and touching reminder that even when we are handed challenges, like learning a child is afflicted with a very troubling disease, we can still choose our lives by the way we live them. We choose to create something positive out of the bad news. We choose to celebrate the good news. We choose our friends. We choose to have faith.

And we choose to believe in our own human ability to make the world better.