April 12, 2014

All Wrapped Up For The Holidays

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We are working diligently on our Stephen T and Vikki Lee show… A bigger undertaking than we originally thought. We did get this clip edited in time to wish everyone an awesome holiday season. Be sure to watch all the way to the end… because I sing!!! (not a good thing) It really is a testament to one stepping out of their comfort zone for a laugh! Thanks Stephen T.

All Wrapped Up for the Holidays SS from Stephen Spurling on Vimeo.

Hands On!!!

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I found some pictures from a project from 15 years ago…. and all these years later I am still hands on! I wanted everyone to know that I do not drive around in a big red truck,  bossing everyone around. I do have a big gray truck,  but it is full of tools I use and yes I still climb ladders. I am crazy about my work! I have always said that I will probably die with a hammer in my hand, but I haven’t missed a thing! Stephen

It is Better To Give Than to Receive..

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Happily, our Holidays are headed our way.. The plethora of activity goes on and on.. We prepare the ambiance, and then we think of what we can do for others.  Southern Smarts pauses to consider all the worlds ministries that need attention, and we are going to jump into the gift of giving.  When we say that to the world, we see that sometimes the world can be a next door neighbor who lost a loved one last year. Sometimes it can be acknowledging a person on the street, and feeling compassion in your heart for what they may have gone through. Always, there is the hope of Santa Clause for needy children. There are meals to be cooked for homeless and hungry. There are donations to be made for enslaved, and persecuted. There is abundant need for refugees, the repressed, rejected, and victims of natural disaster. The list goes on, but it starts with a recognition, and then the unabashed desire to satisfy what touches you. If you want to give yourself a gift, let something outside yourself break your heart, make you mad, and make you cry. Make it forever. Then get attached to your calling. Make it as much a part of your life as the gym, your next vacation, and your next promotion. When you discover the vision, and the passion to give to others, you have given the best present ever to yourself…

 

Andi Bartruff

Seeing the Calm in the Storms

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 When one door closes, yeah yeah, I hear ya, another one opens. Some times it may take a while but it will open. What’s the definition of awhile? I don’t know for you, but for me, a few months. You may be tugging on the knob and nothing’s happening but hang in there, it might just mean you’re at the wrong door.
The last door that closed for me was on June 28th of this year. I stepped away from the optical industry that I have known and breathed since 1992. My role as a Licensed Optician in today’s medical world had started to alter my personality and not in a way that I was happy about. I’ve always kept a couple of extra passions in my back pocket, so by July 4th, I had 60 items up for auction on eBay and some cleaning gigs lined up.
For the past few months, the 14 months that I spent in New Orleans volunteering for Hurricane Katrina has been frequently popping up in my mind. Thoughts of how some of the survivors I met were doing and hoping they were still cheering on their great city.
I wonder what happened to the elderly man who lost everything he owned, except for the lawn chair he was sitting in, when I handed him a free home-cooked hot meal. I have told a few of my closest friends that I have not had that day-to-day feeling like you’re really making a difference in the lives of the less fortunate as I felt back then. It’s not that I wish a hurricane on anyone, I just dig life-changing stuff.
In May of this year I visited New Orleans with a dear friend of mine and we played tourists. We kept a non-stop agenda for the few days we were there. The Jazz Festival was amazing and I hung out in the Gospel Tent most of the day. As I people watched, I was reminded that the locals really have a genuine love for their city and what it has to offer. Great music, incredible food, bone chilling music and a laid back swag that you can’t find anywhere else.
To make a full recovery from the devastation that Katrina landed on New Orleans will never happen. You wouldn’t have recognized that though if you had witnessed the determination I saw in those people after the storm. I wish I would have kept a journal during those 14 months I was there, I guess I did but just not on paper. I didn’t know from day-to-day what I would do or who I might meet. Each night I went to bed though, I knew I helped someone, even if only to get a grin or giggle from my jokes about Katrina being a home wrecker that levied assets.
Humor is a wonderful thing to be blessed with. If all else fails, just make yourself laugh. You should practice laughing every single day. No excuses. Fake it til you belly ache it.
For the past two months, the ad that I placed on Craigslist, which was similar to the one I used for Katrina work, has found me several safe, life-changing, organizing gigs. Of course, I couldn’t have done all of the work without the help of my best gig friend, Susan. We are polar opposites but challenge us to do a home project and we are on it. After years of experience in our own different ways, Susan said we should call ourselves, Girls Gone Organized and so it is.
Susan, who has been in the optical industry Monday through Friday for 33 years, is a good sport to play optical on some weekends. She and I helped set up the Dream Center Clinic’s charitable vision program in 2009. Twice a month we would climb aboard a big, orange RV that was remodeled into a mobile eye care clinic. Free eye exams and eyeglasses were provided to the medically underserved residents of North Charleston. Patients would camp out, meaning they would arrive at 5:00 am, since it was first come, first served. Susan and I felt like we were being chased by the paparazzi when we pulled in the parking lot around 10:00 am, which was the time the clinic opened.
Donations began to pour in and the vision clinic has been able to serve thousand of eye care patients. Once again, I experienced those great life-changing feelings of helping others. In the past year, I have not been an active volunteer for the vision clinic. It’s a door that’s partially closed for me to prepare for the next door to open.
During my May trip to New Orleans I visited the New Orleans Dream Center and met with the Executive Director, Diane Amos. Diane gave me a tour and introduced me to medical professionals that were serving patients that day. Something was missing. Out of all the professions that were represented there that day, there were no eye care providers. My wheels were spinning and I had a glimpse of that life-changing feeling.
In December 2001, I made the decision as a business owner to call it quits. For 10 years, I owned and operated an optical franchise with a close friend of mine from high school. Many nights I would leave work and by the end of the night be suffering from double vision. I guess that’s to be expected when your tolerance for alcohol exceeds 12 beers a day. The experience of going belly up had a dual meaning for me. I filed bankruptcy and got sober all within two weeks of closing the business down. Through the years of being in the optical industry I have accrued quite a few eyeglass frames as well as inherited some.
Next month I will be celebrating 50 years on planet earth. It’s just a number to me, possibly the half way mark through life. My grandmother lived to be 101.5 years old so maybe I will do the same. My birthday wish is not complicated. I simply want to be a part of a life-changing vision experience. I want to donate and deliver 1,000 eyeglass frames to the New Orleans Dream Center. I want to stay in New Orleans as long as it takes to help them recruit the optical volunteers and vendors that are needed to share this vision. I promise to write in my journal this time and keep you up to date with the many doors this will open.
Girls Gone Organized
Ginny Johnson, Purge Consoler

Fetch Sit and Stay. An Entrepreneur and Her Story.

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Welcome aboard the flight path that is my life. During this trip, you might want to pull down your window shade, fasten your seatbelt or occasionally don your oxygen mask! I am almost 50 years old and am reinventing my life. Having lost both parents too early, battling thyroid cancer, filing bankruptcy and losing my house, this path has been both difficult and challenging. I have embraced the hard times; though, and am now putting the pieces back together and running a successful small business called FetchSitandStay, 1st Class Concierge.  I am the face of many in the year 2013. I am an entrepreneur.

 

After my career as a commercial flight attendant came to an end, I moved on to private flying. I adored the ability to “make it my own.” I wore many hats and had so much responsibility and I thrived in that environment. I was able to unleash my need to be creative as I planned my international flights, set up executive meetings, developed menus, stocked the aircraft and prepared amazing culinary delights at 40,000 feet. But then one day; with absolutely no notice, I was ushered into the office, told they were ‘downsizing’ and asked for my badges, keys and credit cards. That was it. It was over.

 

After sending out hundreds of resumes, it seemed my time as a corporate flight attendant had come to an end. After dealing with the initial shock of yet another huge loss in my life, I knew that I had to do something better. I decided to take everything that I loved about that world and try to create a business where I could do it all at ground level. And so, I became FetchSitandStay, 1st Class Concierge. I wanted to be a personal assistant to busy executives and extra hands for the moms who had to juggle activities with children in three different schools. I got my Realtor’s license so I could assist my friends who didn’t have time to put a for sale sign up at a new listing. I got my Certified Nursing Assistant License so I could offer senior care. I took some cooking classes to fill another need for private chef services. I took event planning courses so I could help with Charlotte’s posh party scene. I also started walking dogs.

 

I have been involved in animal rescue for years and have done fostering, transportation, donating, networking and fundraising. I have helped build a fence for a dog who had only known a chain. I have taken newborn kittens from one city to another so they would have a chance at a happy life with a willing rescue group. I have donated time and money and have tirelessly posted unwanted animals on social media networks to spread the word of their availability. I hosted a huge fundraiser recently and was able to give $500 each to 3 deserving local rescue groups. Animals are my passion and based on the calls I get, this is where the needs are in my community. Pets are like children and most people want to make sure their pets are well-cared for even in hard economic times. For many, boarding is not an option and FetchSitandStay is the answer. What makes our company different, is that we stay in your home while you are away and not just from 9pm-6am like most. We are there, keeping your babies comfortable in their own environments, giving them the ability to stay in their normal routines and giving them lots of love and attention. We also offer daily visits and mid-day potty breaks and dog walks.

 

As my friends know, I have a hard time wrapping anything up and giving it an ending. My life is like that. It’s an on-going story of take-offs, cruises at altitude and sometimes rough landings. But I always land on my feet and start running again. Only now, I usually have a dog attached.

Stephanie Wade

 

www.fetchsitandstay.com

 

 

 

 

Southern Smarts Commitment to Entrepreneurs

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It is with great pride we begin this new path here at Southern Smarts. As many of you know the major focus of Southern Smarts is “simple living for simpler times’. Unless one has been living under a rock, we have recognized the economy has been sluggish at best. Millions of people have found their lives changed forever and most look for exciting and innovative ways to recover.  An important segment of society that has been hit particularly hard is the 40-65 year old range. Through Corporate downsizing, and changing opportunities we are finding ourselves in the unique position of reinvention. companies no longer recruit in a traditional way. Older hiring practices have become obsolete. How can a group of educated, hardworking, and sensical potential employees become the work force of the future? How can this group highlight their skills, and share their many talents? Ultimately, how can this important group blow through many superficial barriers, and do what they do best?

This unique group has inspired Southern Smarts to focus on the “New Entrepreneurs”. These folks are taking their lives in new directions by starting new businesses and giving opportunities to themselves and others. It takes courage to switch gears anytime in life, let alone towards midlife. Many of us had planned, focused, and worked hard for many years to reach success and secure our futures, and we can do it again!

In the future, we will highlight people who have become a little older, and a lot wiser. They have faced huge challenges, and transformed them into something personally and economically rewarding.  We would love to hear your stories, and hope you enjoy all we have to share.

Southern Smarts will now be featuring a new Entrepreneur every two weeks that are making a difference and creating new lives for themselves and their communities. We certainly hope their stories will help promote their businesses and give hope to those that are trying to embark on their own path.

We encourage all our readers to please let us know if they or someone they know would like to be featured . We are so excited to be starting this new path and look forward to hearing from all of you. You may visit our FB page and comment or send us a private message regarding a featured entrepreneur. Stay tuned to hear about Stephanie Wade, our first featured entrepreneur.

Have a fantastic Day!

Steven Chaberek, Southern Smarts.

Art in the Heart

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        Art is a wonderfully subjective thing. I have visited many world renowned museums.  I pondered the Mona Lisa, wished to twirl after a Lautrec,
and spotted a Seurat, { no pun intended}.. But art really is about the heart. It does not have to go in a portfolio, and it does not have to impress the guest. It does not even necessarily need a frame. It just needs to go where you can see it, feel it, and love it, and let it well, make you happy.
 We have a treasured painting from a dear friend of our rescue dog Cooper. Let me start out by saying our friend is quite talented, but she knows us, she knows our dog, and she transferred the two elements into a fabulous portrait that is absolutely, one of our treasures. Another local artist we have highlighted , has taken her vibrant personality, intelligence, and love of the outdoors, and painted that onto her canvas.  I just want to put the joy I see in her art, and all her wonderful color under my pillow, and let it soak in…
Paintings can fill up a wall, or they can fill up your soul. You do not have to stand on a marble floor in a long gallery to fall in love. Find a local artist , it might even be a friend, and share their passion. Encourage them and make them share their gift with you. Proudly put their work on your wall or under your pillow.. and when you look at it and know it was from them, it will guaranteed, touch your heart.
Laine Neese is an avid golfer, philanthropist, and artist in Burlington ,NC. More of her paintings can be viewed at her website, http://lainefranis.blogspot.com/2011/07/pet-portraints.html.
Bett Huggins is a nurse anesthetist, and  artist . Her work can be seen at Ellen Taylor Gallery at The Vista, in Columbia, SC.
Andi Bartruff writer/contributing editor

A GREAT Local Artist and Friend

     

Rob grew up in Waynesboro, VA where he learned to love the outdoors. He attended and graduated from the Art Institute of Atlanta in 1985 with a degree in Visual Communications.

After college, Rob moved to Charlotte, NC and worked for several advertising agencies before joining one of the nations largest banking companies – eventually earned a creative director’s position. His career with the bank spanned 13 years, 3 corporate name changes and countless mergers.
Today, Rob makes his home in Charlotte, NC with his wife Heather, his children Morgan, John and their golden retrievers, Annie and Sophie.
If you don’t find him in the garden planting something colorful or on the lake fishing, he’s probably in his studio trying to put images to paper or canvas.

Where can you see more?
To view additional work, visit The Sleepy Poet where I maintain a permanent display.
 The Sleepy Poet was originally in Charlotte’s Southend but in March of 2008 moved to a larger location at 4450 South Blvd, near Woodlawn Rd. Along with my paintings, I have a large selection of bookends, books and furniture dating from the late 1800′s to mid-1900′s. If you have a day to spend looking for vintage or antique items this is the place to start. Look for me on isle 9 or ask someone at the front desk for assistance locating vendor BWD.           bluewater-design.com
    

Aprons by Deborah…

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    This is a friend of mine that used her own creative abilities to start her own business. Deborah loves what she does, so she does it well . In Deborah’s own words…

I’ve always loved to create things whether it’s sewing, cooking, decorating or scrapbooking. While working on a Christmas present for my son I found a cute piece of fabric with cats on it.  I immediately thought of my friend Shirley and her cat. I knew I wanted to make an apron but didn’t have a definite pattern in mind.

At home I realized that the apron I wear the most is one that belonged to my great-grandmother. It is made from an old flour sack and the printing is still visible on the back side of the apron. I love it because of its history but also because it is comfortable. I can wear it for hours and even forget I have it on.

From there my small business was born. I love working with fun and bright fabrics, anything that makes me smile. A lot of my aprons are not just traditional “food” prints but anything from polka dots to paisley. I love creating something new so I keep experimenting with new ideas and am hoping to begin a line from recycled fabrics like vintage tablecloths. I have a few mother/daughter sets and some holiday theme aprons.

It’s not too late to place an order for Christmas. You can contact me via email at debm617@hotmail.com. Aprons are $16 each with $2 shipping and fabric samples can be viewed on my Facebook page using the following link.

http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1513817725437.2067583.1234242448&type=1&l=9aff27bce8

Create Jobs for the USA.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yes!!!  This morning I came across this and could not wait to share it with you all!

Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks and Opportunity Finance Network are working together

to create and sustain jobs in underserved communities. They specialize in bringing low-cost

loans to small business startups, assist them in business planning, and get them to the point

of hiring new employees. To say I was shocked that a titan of corporate america see’s a direction

and is willing to put his money where his mouth is was an understatement. Before posting to this

blog,  I checked out a couple of interviews Mr. Schultz did and found him to be a breath

of fresh air. He seems to have a tremendous amount of knowledge and ideas on how to bring America back

to prosperity.

Starbucks is donating the first 5 million dollars and as of Nov 1, 2012 we all can donate, just $5.00.

We think this is a great idea, and will be donating ourselves. Check out the link provided. We look forward

bringing you more stories like this!! Lets bring back the great USA! We all can make a difference.   S. Chaberek

http://www.createjobsforusa.org/