Confessions of an Inspired Wining "Widower"

My wife, Michelle, is one of the six amazing women who formed Inspired Wining. I have to admit, when I first heard that their monthly gatherings would include charitable goals and projects, I thought to myself: “Yeah, right. I’m fine with you getting together with your friends once a month. You don’t have to pretend that there’s anything more to it than wine-drinking and the occasional man-bashing session.”

Boy, was I wrong! What these women have accomplished is incredible. Not only have they forged deep and lasting friendships while having a lot of fun together, they have worked tirelessly to raise money and awareness in the fight against Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and to inspire other women to unite for a common charitable purpose. 

All of the Inspired Winers lead extremely busy lives with kids, jobs, and Church and volunteer activities, but they nevertheless find the time and energy to make a significant contribution to a worthy cause. What a great example for their children! And, frankly, what a great example for their husbands. To paraphrase Jack Nicholson in “As Good as it Gets,” you make us want to be better men.

[As an aside, I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I’ve seen “As Good as it Gets.” Of course, that movie did have a few good scenes with Helen Hunt in her prime, but I digress . . . .]

So, I hope I can speak for the other “Widowers” (Bobby, John, Kevin, and Scott) when I say: Ladies, all of your time with Inspired Wining has been worth it, and we support you 100%. If that means some extra “Mr. Mom” time for us, that’s fine, and that’s good for us and for the kids anyway.

Know these things to be true: You make a difference for PPMD. You inspire each other, you inspire other women, you inspire your children, and you inspire us. We are proud of you.

P.S. Maybe the guys will get together sooner or later and form a similar group of our own. Although, I’m not sure Inspired Bourboning has quite the same ring to it.

Stu Gauffreau is General Counsel for a software company and a Colonel in the Army Reserve. He enjoys spending time with Michelle and their two children and the occasional half-jog/half-limp around the neighborhood.



Yesterday, Inspired Wining got some great publicity in the Huffington Post thanks to supporter, Sheila Moeschen of HerSelf First.  I have to admit that I was on a high from the unexpected accolades and the hopes that Sheila's lauding will yield some new fans and supporters and will help us continue to grow and reach women all across the country.

My oldest son, Owen quickly sobered me up tonight when he asked if you could die from Duchenne.

I was watching a video about Charley's Fund, another organization who funds research for DMD.  Owen walked up and asked what I was watching.  After I told him it was a video about Duchenne, he blasts me with his question and I was totally unprepared.

I answered yes, you can die from Duchenne and explained as best I could why this was so.  Then, he asked if Matthew was going to die.  I think I said “Maybe.”  Owen said he hoped not.

Maybe?  Maybe?  I couldn't do any better than that?  I have been waiting for Owen to ask about Matthew's condition for years and finally it happens and I botch it.  This was not how I envisioned this going.  We were to be looking eye to eye, not at a computer screen.  My daughter was not supposed to be screaming for me in the background.  This was such an important moment and I come up with “Maybe.”

So he leaves, I cry and a few minutes later track him down in the bathroom and remind him that the races that we host every year are helping make Matthew better.  He nods eagerly and escapes.  After reading in bed, I ask Owen if he has any questions about Duchenne and he is quick to say no.  I lost my moment.

Right now, I feel broken.  Not only because I didn't react the way I had always planned, but because on the heels of a wave of a lot of positive movement, including Matthew's first participation in a clinical trial, a recent Inspired Wining launch in Charlotte and the new publicity, I am reminded that this isn't just about momentum and progress.  It is most of all about that little boy in the next room who has all of our hearts and is fighting the greatest fight there is and he doesn't even know it.

Ironically, I welcome this ache.  It is life-saving and healthy to be hopeful, but a little shot of reality is good, too.  I certainly never forgot the reason for all of our efforts, but I am refocused.  I imagine that just like in all parts of life, the scales will tip from time to time.  The cause will come calling again, but right now, I am going to concentrate on the peace that resonates from the three amazing creatures that sleep soundly down the hall.

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. 


The cause of friendship

Inspired Wining is delighted to welcome guest blogger, Michelle C. Davis, this week. Michelle recently started an Inspired Wining group in December. 
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"Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one.'" C.S. Lewis

Several years ago, I was fortunate to be a part of a dinner club that was forming among brand new friends.  During those first few months, we all began to reveal our inner selves to each other -- and our passion for wine, food & life!  

Fears of judgment began to chip away as I let down my wall and began to really share “me.” Much to my surprise, no one really cared if my house was not 100% presentable or if I gave my kids a bath while they stood naked in a tub not filled with bubbles & toys. We also didn’t care that the culinary experience at one of our homes was a simple (but delicious) homemade pizza! 

What we learned about each other during these times together was that while life is happening, you need to share it with others around you, and when you do, true friendships form. Friendships that last forever!

Recently, I discovered another opportunity for a new circle of friends to come together.  Last summer I joined Inspired Wining with one other friend. We were already in a Bible Tasting ~ Wine Study group together. Out of this group of individuals, several of us decided we particularly enjoyed the Wine Study and that we should continue getting together once a month. Viola! Our Inspired Wining group was born. We've officially been meeting since December. 

In the short period of time since December, we've shared birthdays, deaths, life's ups and downs….AND OF COURSE WINE!

Although we haven’t found a particular philanthropic cause yet, without a doubt we have been inspired to join together in the cause of Friendship

Cheers to my Inspired Wining friends & to those of you thinking about forming your own group!
 ~ Michelle

Michelle C. Davis is currently enjoying a career at Greensboro College as a Senior Development Officer.  This role exemplifies her love for relationships and the ability to share her "gift of gab" with people who have a great cause in common.  Having two teenagers on the cusp of entering the world of higher education, Michelle has an appreciation for support of the college community.  


Making memories

Sitting in the parking lot at our kids’ elementary school in January, it dawned on me that we had only 7 more school years until our oldest would be finished with high school. Holy Cow! How could this be? Had Y2K really been 12 years ago? Was middle school really a few months away?

Well, of course, being the sentimental nut-job that I am, I came home professing to my husband that we needed to take some trips as a family, see the world, make some family memories- just the five of us.

Luckily, John was on board and I set out to plan the best educational Spring Break family trip ever. For months, I agonized over where we should go and what we should do. I read websites, bought books and read blogs. I asked friends and strangers about their ideas on where we should go. I spent hours doing comparison-shopping for hotels, for our tickets and our meals.

Finally, the decision was made that we would go to Williamsburg, Virginia. We would visit Colonial Williamsburg, Historic Jamestown, Virginia Living Museum, and The Mariner Museum and, of course, spend a day at Busch Gardens.

We recently returned from our trip, and we had a blast! I will spare you the nitty gritty details of our adventure. But what I really wanted to share, was what our kids told us at dinner as we sat around the table discussing our trip and reminiscing about our week away.

Question #1- “ What was your most favorite part of our trip to Williamsburg?” All three said- unanimously- “STAYING IN A HOTEL!” There was then much discussion about how thin the TV’s were, how the soap smelled fabulous, how cool it was to have microwave popcorn while watching a movie in the fold out bed, how great it was to have cereal from the individual serving boxes, and how awesome it was that they had gotten to have 4 consecutive days of Shirley Temples in the lobby at the manager’s reception. 

Question #2-“What did you learn on this trip that you didn’t know before?”
“There were rumors of cannibalism during the ‘Starving Time’ at Jamestown!” exclaimed Jackson (11 yrs old).
"JR – the skeleton in the Historic Jamestown Museum - died from a bullet wound to the knee!” declared Avery (daughter, 9 years old).
“That lady’s skull we saw in the box--- she died with only 5 teeth!” shared Charlotte (daughter, 5 years old).

Question #3-“ What was the funniest part of our trip?”
“Watching you (Mom) get drenched on the Roman Rapids at Busch Gardens,” shared Jackson with a smile on his face.
"Seeing Char terrified at the top of Da Vinci’s Cradle,” snickered Avery.
 And last, my personal favorite, “Locking Jackson up in the jail cell!” smiled Charlotte.

Summary: Memories can be made anywhere. Obviously, traveling to the unknown can be great fun and educational. However, an occasional hotel room with Mom and Dad, a spooky Scooby Doo DVD to watch, maybe an indoor pool, snacks and some Shirley Temples is really all it takes to make great memories.

Alexis Williams may not be a good housekeeper and she’s even worse at being the tooth fairy. But she loves laughing, traveling, spending time with family and being a part of a community that makes a difference. Alexis is officially Inspired Wining's “go-to girl” for just about everything from developing community partnerships to securing our venues for Inspired Wining on Location events. A wife, mother of 3, a church and school volunteer, Alexis is the sharp-witted sweetheart of the group.