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Free Information Workshop

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When:
January 30, 2019 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
2019-01-30T18:00:00-05:00
2019-01-30T20:00:00-05:00
Where:
Shenandoah Senior Living
103 Lee Burke Road | Front Royal
VA 22630
Cost:
Free
Contact:
Shenandoah Senior Living
540-635-7923

Shenandoah Senior Living invites you to attend a Free Information Workshop on January 30 at 6pm.

We have experts in the field of:

  • Skilled Nursing
  • Veterans Aid and Attendance
  • Home Health Care
  • Eldercare Law
  • Hospice

The above representatives will be at our community at 103 Lee Burke Road, Front Royal, to answer your questions about any or all of the above benefits you or your loved one may be entitled to!

PLEASE RSVP TO:  540-635-7923 | REFRESHMENTS WILL BE SERVED

Local Government

Local pro-militia group vows to support, protect

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on

When:
January 30, 2019 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
2019-01-30T18:00:00-05:00
2019-01-30T20:00:00-05:00
Where:
Shenandoah Senior Living
103 Lee Burke Road | Front Royal
VA 22630
Cost:
Free
Contact:
Shenandoah Senior Living
540-635-7923

A band of local 2nd Amendment advocates concerned about the Commonwealth’s proposed gun safety laws returned to state their cause during the Warren County Board of Supervisors (BOS) February 18 meeting.

“A few weeks ago, I actually delivered a resolution to you all,” said Sam Haun of Front Royal, Va., during the general public comment period of the BOS meeting. “I’m not going to beat a dead horse and ask you to pick it back up, however, there is a group locally that has been operating out of Warren County and we’re trying to maintain 100 percent transparency for everybody.”

In fact, Haun brought that proposed resolution — which seeks “Promoting the Order of Militia Within Warren County” — to BOS members during their January 7 meeting, saying it is a Constitutional right for Warren County citizens to have a militia. The BOS to date has not acted on the resolution.

Sam Haun said on Tuesday night that his group’s intention is to support local law enforcement and first responders in helping residents during any mass casualty events or natural disasters.

“We’ve even gone so far as to meet with the local sheriff’s department, the town police department and we’re making arrangements now with the local fire department and EMS for additional training for all the members,” said Haun.

At the same time, Haun told the supervisors that he wanted to keep them in the loop about what his group is doing as it progresses.

“The way that things are going, we don’t want to pick up a bad name, so every few weeks, once we’ve accomplished something, we’ll come back and let you know exactly what’s going on,” he said. “That way, you feel a little bit better because you know what we’re doing, and it keeps us in the public view.”

Paul Aldrich, a Front Royal resident who said he handles communications for the pro-militia group, also spoke during the general public comment period of the BOS meeting and presented an ordinance for their consideration.

Specifically, the proposed ordinance relates to State Senate Bill 35, which would grant local governments the authority to ban the possession of firearms in public spaces during events that require a permit, like protests. The Virginia Senate in December 2019 passed the bill, 21-19, along with a party-line vote and the measure is under consideration by the Virginia House of Delegates.

After traveling on February 17 to Richmond, Va., to hear debates on the proposed legislation and to speak with district representatives, Aldrich told the supervisors that he was putting forth what he called “a simple proposed ordinance” that would “handle Senate Bill 35.”

Aldrich said the ordinance states: “The County shall not exercise any ordinance pursuant to Virginia 15.2-915 Section E and Section F.”

“That literally eliminates [the] bill even being an issue here” in Warren County, he said.

Board Chairman Walter Mabe, who represents the Shenandoah District, asked that Aldrich provide them with a copy of the proposed ordinance, which Aldrich agreed to email.
“Our goal is to improve the community, bring the community together, and protect it at the same time,” Aldrich said about the pro-militia group.

For example, during recent flooding in Tazewell County, Va., Aldrich said guys from their group were dispatched to bring supplies — including water, blankets and food — to needy residents. A second group went down on February 17 with more supplies to help out, he said.

At that point during the comment period, Chairman Mabe said he had a question.

“The group that you’re trying to get together, I understand that, and I understand you working with the sheriff,” said Mabe. “Are you working with other groups that are within the area that are trying to do exactly what it is that you’re trying to do?”

Earlier in the day on Tuesday, Mabe said he had spoken with another group that said it had never heard of Haun’s and Aldrich’s group. “I believe there has to be an effort put forth so that everybody knows what everybody is doing,” he said.

Aldrich agreed.

Mabe continued: “If I would want a militia — and I don’t like the word militia, everybody knows that, because it denotes a bad connotation — again, I would like to know who’s in charge, who’s funding it, who’s vetting it, and the 2,800 other questions I have about this very thing.”

Mabe also said that if the County were to “put people out there, they’ve got to be safe and we’ve got to protect the people who, honestly, don’t want a militia. If we don’t do that, we’re behind the curve.”

Additionally, according to the BOS chairman, communications must be key.

“I can’t emphasize enough how much you have to be involved with everybody so that you’re not confusing everybody,” he said.

Aldrich agreed and said his group has proposed an April volunteer day to the Town in which “we’re going to bring the volunteer community together,” including law enforcement from both the County and Town, 4-H, Boy Scouts, the fire department, and search and rescue, among others, so that everyone can share what they do and for their pro-militia group to recruit potential participants.

Haun added that he’s contacted other groups and plans to bring them together for a February 28 meeting, though he didn’t provide details. And he said he’s spoken with the sheriff about possibly running background checks locally rather than having to send potential members down to Richmond for them.

“If we bring the community together, we’re better off across the board, in my opinion,” said Aldrich.

“I believe this county is doing better,” Mabe said, “and it’s because of the new board and I believe we’re doing the right things. We have a request from the people who come in front of us to do the right thing, as well.

“The connotation that you’re putting forward is a tough situation and we have to get past that,” he added. “I don’t want to approve anything that I’m going to have to pay for that’s going to scare people.”

“And we wouldn’t ask you to pay for something that’s going to scare people,” Haun responded.

Similar to the pro-militia group’s stated goal, Mabe said he also wants to help the community and he also wants to remain involved. “And I’m happy to talk with you anytime, anytime. Just let me know,” he told them.

Watch the general public comment period of the Warren County Board of Supervisors’ February 18 meeting at the end of the meeting on this Royal Examiner video.

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EDA in Focus

Town, County, EDA join forces with commercial realty community

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on

When:
January 30, 2019 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
2019-01-30T18:00:00-05:00
2019-01-30T20:00:00-05:00
Where:
Shenandoah Senior Living
103 Lee Burke Road | Front Royal
VA 22630
Cost:
Free
Contact:
Shenandoah Senior Living
540-635-7923

EDA Board Vice-Chairman Jeff Browne launches the joint Town-County-EDA Commercial Property Open House with local commercial realtor representatives. Photos by Roger Bianchini, Royal Examiner.

At 8 a.m. Wednesday morning, February 19, members of the local real estate brokers community gathered at the Kendrick Lane Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development office for a “Commercial Property Open House.

After some breakfast snacks provided by the EDA through the Shenandoah Valley Golf Club’s catering service and a briefing by EDA Executive Director Doug Parsons on economic incentives available locally and through the state economic development partnership, the group representing 10 realty companies, accompanied by EDA, Town and County officials began the tour close by.

First to be viewed of 28 properties were two vacant offices in the EDA office complex at 400 Kendrick Lane. Then it was on to the Town Trolley for a foray into the adjacent Royal Phoenix Business Park’s 117 vacant acres before heading into the Route 522/340 North Commercial and Industrial Corridor.

Above, tour started close to home as realtors view one of the vacant office spaces at the EDA’s Kendrick Ln. complex in old American Viscose/FMC/Avtex Admin building; and then it was on the trolley to view 27 more available commercial properties around the town and county.

Royal Examiner caught up with Parsons and Administrative Assistant Gretchen Henderson shortly after noon following the Open House tour’s conclusion back in Front Royal. In fact, Parsons noted that of the 28 EDA overseen properties on the tour, all but seven were in the town limits.

On the Town side, Community Development Director Felicia Hart had taken the point, working with EDA Board Vice-Chairman Jeff Browne to propel the Commercial Property Open House forward. Following Hart’s January 29 termination with several other Town staff and department heads as part of the interim town manager’s Fiscal Year 2021 budget proposal, Browne worked with Interim Town Manager Matt Tederick to see things moved forward on the logistical side.

Planning Director Taryn Logan represented Warren County and Chris Brock, who identified himself as Interim Planning and Zoning Director, was present for Front Royal. Parsons and Henderson acknowledged the contribution of town staff in preparation of a properties’ booklet for the open house and the provision of the trolley for the tour.

As Interim Town Planning & Zoning Director Chris Brock listens at right, Doug Parsons briefs realtors on some economic development financial incentives that might help close some deals.

“Everybody’s working together,” we observed to Parsons of the joint EDA-Town-County driven interaction with local commercial realtors.

“Yes, as always,” the EDA executive director replied.

“Or at least ‘almost’ always,” we suggested of certain litigious efforts of one participating municipal partner. However, Parsons declined to take the bait, preferring to accentuate the positives of the day. So, we asked for his assessment of the day and its impetus.

“The idea behind the event was to bring together the Blue Ridge Association of Realtors members and take them on a tour of 28 properties here in Front Royal and Warren County that we think are good, viable properties for both commercial and industrial development. So, we looked at 21 properties in town and seven outside of town.

“I think we saw a good variety of buildings, vacant ground that could be used for a variety of purposes. I think the realtors appreciated the information, and I think it was a good partnership effort between the Town and the EDA. I want to thank Chris Brock and Alfredo Velasquez for their help in collating and binding the materials. And Chris’s expertise was a big part of the day as he was able to talk to the group about planning and zoning and certain properties in town.

The Open House tour turns off Kelley Drive near the Dominion Power Plant and a Rappahannock Electric Cooperative office/warehouse.

“Taryn Logan was also a very valuable asset to help explain the planning and zoning in the county and some of the history of the properties.

“And a lot of the realtors that were on the tour, they knew a great deal about some of these properties because they’d either bought or sold them before; or had dealt with them in the past, so knew the history. There was a lot of knowledge on the bus which was shared amongst the group and hopefully, it’ll lead to some sales for some of the properties here in town – and out in the county,”
Parsons concluded what he believes was a morning well spent.

Apparently the private sector participants agreed. A sign out sheet was punctuated with “Comments” including “Great Event”, “Good Idea”, “Thank you so much!!”, “Wonderful – very informative” and “Next Year?”

We asked Parsons about his pre-tour briefing on some financial incentives available through the Town, EDA and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP).

“I know a lot of times the real estate community in states across the nation may not be as in tune with the local and state incentives that these job developers’ programs have to offer. So, I was hoping to make them aware of what is out there for them in that regard … Because if you’re a realtor and you are dealing with someone and maybe there’s a ten or twenty thousand dollar gap in being able to close the deal, if you can bring the Virginia Jobs Investment Program incentive to the table, or the tech zone incentive here locally to the table, it could be a deal closer for someone,” Parsons observed.

And deal closings on some commercial properties are what the EDA, its municipal partners, and private sector realtors are all looking to make happen.

There appears to be some action at a portion of this warehouse property as the Commercial Property Open House pulls in.

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Opinion

EDITORIAL: Try looking at it this way

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When:
January 30, 2019 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
2019-01-30T18:00:00-05:00
2019-01-30T20:00:00-05:00
Where:
Shenandoah Senior Living
103 Lee Burke Road | Front Royal
VA 22630
Cost:
Free
Contact:
Shenandoah Senior Living
540-635-7923

We all see things according to what we think is best for our Survival. That’s kind of it. We might be right or we might be wrong. We might have formed our opinions through experience or some other source: reading news, education, church, friends, etc. – the list of our information sources are endless. Also weighing in on our judgment about what is right for our survival is our current environment, urban or rural, our circle of friends, and our ethnic, racial and class status. New experiences can also alter our perception of what is best for our survival. Our view is always subject to change. What we may see as good for us today may not seem so good a year from now.

What we think is good for our survival, which may also include what we consider thriving economically, certainly reflects in our politics, and our choice of information. So much so, that we may only seek out sources that reflect our preconceived beliefs.

All of this is normal human behavior. The only thing that has changed over the years is the amount of information (24 hours a day) and the variety of sources, some accurate some not.

The reason we make these observations are only this: understand that others that feel differently as to what is best for their survival are not stupid, the enemy or any of a thousand other words we use to demonize and dehumanize others. They are simply saying or voting as they see best for their survival from their perspective. Also, consider this: if we do not seek compromise in a nation as diverse as ours, none of us have a good chance of survival, at least not in a thriving way.

Remember that the three 24-hour news networks all cater to their established viewer and advertising bases to some degree. Seek other sources of respected news that may present an alternative perspective to the one you are used to; and stay away from the blogs that have no editorial oversight, and by all means, seek to understand why others see their survival in a different light than you view your own.

Our differences in some issues have always existed and we have always, except once in our national history, been able to find common ground, or at least mutual livability. While in the short term there is money to be made on fear-mongering, the long-term payoff for us as a nation will come from recognizing the common humanity that people of goodwill all share, regardless of our superficial differences.

We must quickly adapt to, and recognize the latest use of technology that seeks to maximize profits by dividing us, and remember that we are all humans seeking to survive.

Beware those who love to fight. They will drag us all into the pit if we allow them.

Being able to see behind words to the objective truth of any situation that impacts us all must be our goal – our collective survival may depend on it.

Royal Examiner Editorial Staff

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Local Government

Public decries golf course proposal; Warren County supervisors listen

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on

When:
January 30, 2019 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
2019-01-30T18:00:00-05:00
2019-01-30T20:00:00-05:00
Where:
Shenandoah Senior Living
103 Lee Burke Road | Front Royal
VA 22630
Cost:
Free
Contact:
Shenandoah Senior Living
540-635-7923

Local citizens prevailed in forcing members of the Warren County Board of Supervisors (BOS) to postpone action on a proposed golf course management agreement and lease during a public hearing at their February 18 meeting.

Specifically, the BOS postponed action on a proposal submitted by New Direction Golf Management Corp., which would manage and lease the County-owned and -operated Front Royal Golf Club for an annual $100,000 fee over an initial term of 36 months, with payments on the total due monthly, according to Warren County General Services Director Brandy Rosser.

At the end of the three-year term, New Direction also would have the option to extend the agreement and lease for another three-year term, with the annual fee dropping to $70,000 per year.
Many residents, however, denounced the BOS plan as a huge waste of money.

“We already have four other golf courses” in Warren County, said Gary Kushner, a Browntown, Va., resident who spoke during the public hearing on the proposal. “It’s not like we don’t have golfing opportunities in this county.”

Kushner also wasn’t happy about a Warren County plan “to pay somebody to make money off a County property.”

“It just seems crazy to me,” he said. “Normally, when you lease something to somebody you get a return on it. As I understand it, the contractor is going to take the profit out of this. The County’s not going to get anything.”

Kushner suggested that the item not be considered during the Tuesday night meeting and that the BOS conduct further analysis “on whether we want to keep this property at all and save $100,000 and see if the County can get a tax benefit out of it in the future.”

He also suggested that if the BOS does go forward with the proposal, a profit-sharing provision be added to the contract.

Front Royal resident Paul Gabbert agreed with Kushner, adding that the Front Royal Golf Course “will never, ever be a golf course that people from the city would come to play. It will never be a golf course that would take people away from the golf courses that are already here. There is no way. It’s a shame that [the property] has to stay a golf course when it’s not a money-making golf course and it never will be.”

Gabbert also said that while he didn’t know what the BOS could do with the municipal course, he suggested turning it into a large dog park.

Another speaker during the public hearing was Ginger Morrison Winkler of Charlottesville, Va., whose father Lynwood Morrison of Bentonville, Va., built both the local Shenandoah Valley Golf Club and the Bowling Green Country Club. Winkler said that she and her brother, Lynwood L. “Woody” Morrison Jr., continue to own and operate the Bowling Green Country Club.

Ginger Morrison Winkler said, “There are so many holes here in the county attempting to make a go of it and it would be ludicrous for anyone to think that we have not done all of the things” suggested by New Direction to bolster business.

Winkler acknowledged the legal implications associated with the Front Royal Golf Course, the property for which originally was gifted to the County with the stipulation that it remain a golf course. But, she said, “it seems out of control to keep this thing going.”

“I see it as a losing game,” she added.

Lynda McDonough of Linden, Va., also doesn’t think the proposed $100,000 yearly contract with New Direction is a good idea and asked that the BOS table the idea pending further consideration.

“Why can’t we just give it back to the family” who donated it, “and wash our hands of it,” McDonough asked the BOS.

On the other side of the situation was New Direction Golf Management President Mike Byrd, who told the BOS that it has “a wonderful asset in this community and unfortunately, it’s been a little under-utilized.”

In fact, according to data provided last night by Rosser, the Front Royal Golf Club has operated at an average yearly deficit of more than $100,000 from 2014 through 2018.
Nevertheless, Byrd said that New Direction has evaluated the course “very closely and we see that it could fit very nicely in this community, but most importantly, it’s going to be the leader in growing golf in this community.”

While there are plenty of golf holes in Warren County, he said, “what we need are a lot more golfers.”

Byrd thinks that under the leadership of New Direction, that’s exactly the goal that could be accomplished if the company’s submitted proposal is approved.

“We don’t run a golf course, so to speak,” Kenneth Roko said of Warren County. “We don’t have professionals there, we don’t have a big staff, we don’t cater to the golfing community on a regular basis.

Kenneth Roko of Middletown, Va., a member of the County’s Front Royal Golf Club Advisory Committee, said the group has gone through several iterations of what would be the best choice for oversight of the County’s municipal golf course.

“We have part-time staff there and that’s fine and dandy,” he said, “but if we want to make it grow, we really need to have those who do it for a living perform that service.”

Roko said the committee looked at the economic implications of having a management company run the County’s golf course that could reduce expenditures while growing the game for the area.

“New Direction offers a unique approach,” he said. “They use technology, they use social media, and they’re very savvy … they do a good job of attracting people not just from the surrounding area but from” elsewhere, including Northern Virginia.

Roko noted that hiring New Direction also would save the County money when compared to the yearly deficit it’s experienced over the last several years.

Kushner, however, said there’s an option that hasn’t been considered yet: not having a golf course at the 902 Country Club Road location in Front Royal at all.

Interim Warren County Attorney Jason Ham told the BOS that the proposed management and lease agreement between the County and New Direction was tweaked during the last week or so since the January BOS work session when the proposal was first discussed. He said the contract is in an “acceptable position” for action.

After some discussion, North River District Supervisor Delores Oates motioned for the BOS to postpone the item until its March 3 meeting “so that we can delve into it further,” Oates said, adding that she’d also like to better understand the legal implications of the bequeathing of the golf course by reading the will and testament of the donators.

Tony Carter, supervisor representing the Happy Creek District, gave the motion a second with the entire Board of Supervisors, including Oates, Vice Chairwoman Cheryl Cullers, Chairman Walter Mabe and Fork District Supervisor Archie Fox voting unanimously to postpone their review.

In other action on public hearing items, the BOS also postponed action on a requested conditional use permit for a short-term tourist rental at 64 Rocky Lane in Front Royal, which is owned by Brian and Ann M. Conley of Bentonville, Va.

Board Vice Chairwoman Cullers forced the Board’s postponement of action on the Conley’s request explaining that she wanted assurances from a nearby neighbor that he is on board with the property being used as a short-term rental.

While the Warren County Planning Commission received a signed letter from neighbors Elwood and Barbara Wines in August 2019, Supervisor Cullers wants to authenticate that Mr. Wines actually signed and understood the document, which says he and his wife understand that the Conley’s cottage is less than the Warren County-required minimum distance of 100 feet, but that they don’t object to the conditional use permit.

“I don’t want to drag this out,” Cullers said, “but I want to be comfortable with it.”

The golf course management agreement and lease public hearing are in this first Royal Examiner video. The second video is the complete Board of Supervisors meeting of February 18, 2020.


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Local News

Lord Fairfax Community College staff members win national award

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on

When:
January 30, 2019 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
2019-01-30T18:00:00-05:00
2019-01-30T20:00:00-05:00
Where:
Shenandoah Senior Living
103 Lee Burke Road | Front Royal
VA 22630
Cost:
Free
Contact:
Shenandoah Senior Living
540-635-7923

LFCC instructional technologist Gannon Nordberg and instructional designer Erin Mills recently received the 2019 Award for Outstanding Support for Faculty or Students from the Instructional Technology Council (ITC). The award was presented during the ITC’s 2020 Annual Conference – eLearning.

Congratulations to Gannon Nordberg and Erin Mills as they receive the 2019 Award for Outstanding Support for Faculty or Students. Photo courtesy of LFCC

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What Matters Warren

Announcing the “Ignite What Matters” book series lead by Beth Medved Waller

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on

When:
January 30, 2019 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
2019-01-30T18:00:00-05:00
2019-01-30T20:00:00-05:00
Where:
Shenandoah Senior Living
103 Lee Burke Road | Front Royal
VA 22630
Cost:
Free
Contact:
Shenandoah Senior Living
540-635-7923

On the evening of February 18, 2015, at Wolf Trap (as Beth Medved Waller sat with long-time best friends on the front row at an Edwin McCain concert), her friend Stacey slipped Edwin (who is best known for his hit 90’s songs “I’ll Be” and “I Could Not Ask for More”) a note and asked him to play Beth’s favorite song, called “What Matters.” He did. Beth cried hysterically. And the idea for WHAT MATTERS was born.

After the concert, the local Realtor and avid volunteer began to name her philanthropic endeavors and videos “WHAT MATTERS Initiatives.” The Edwin “What Matters” song lyrics profess, “What matters is your heart,” and after that night, she started following hers. Little did she know this time 5 years ago that her heart would lead her all the way to Africa and that she’d eventually form a 501(c)(3) nonprofit named after the song she heard played live in February 2015.

She certainly had no idea that exactly five years later she’d be announcing a new book series called “Ignite What Matters,” as the first of her many upcoming global fundraising platforms. “I’ve designed each book to infuse a minimum of $35,000 into nonprofits, and I feel so blessed to have created a project that combines my passion of story-telling, writing, fundraising and spreading awareness about worthwhile causes,” said Beth of the new book series. She added, “I’m honored to be partnering with publisher JB Owen and the fabulous Ignite team. I’ve already worked with when I wrote about these last five years in an Ignite series book that launched in November and I’m a huge fan of their phenomenal publishing platform.”

Below is a portion from Beth’s chapter in the compilation book, “Ignite your life for Conscious Leaders.” Stay tuned for news of the brand new “Ignite What Matters” upcoming book projects that will each highlight 35 people who will share stories about how they too have ignited what matters in their own lives. Learn more at www.igniteyou.life (click on the Ignite What Matters upcoming books).

Listen to the song that inspired it all: What Matters, by Ewin McCain.


“Running Away from The American Dream—with a Soundtrack”
(An excerpt from the Amazon best-seller, “Ignite your Life for Conscious Leaders”)

In early 2015, I booked an evening out with my best friends from high school and college. All three of us are busy mothers and we hadn’t made time to get together for ages. When they said they could come with me to an Edwin McCain concert scheduled for the next month, I quickly logged online and booked our tickets.

Much to my dismay, about a week later, I received a phone call saying that the ticketing company couldn’t secure tickets and to call them for a refund. I was so disheartened that I couldn’t bring myself to return their call nor to tell my friends our evening was canceled. Weeks went by, and an unforgettable moment occurred when I was about to walk in to pick up my kids from my parents’ house. After a stressful day, I found myself in need of spiritual affirmation, and I pleaded for a sign that the major changes I was contemplating in my life would lead me in the right direction. Within seconds, my phone rang. “We’re calling to tell you that we’re over-nighting tickets for the Edwin McCain concert. You’ve been upgraded to front row center.”

I don’t know how or why that upgrade happened, but getting that phone call was an unforgettable moment. To this day, recalling that miraculous sign still brings tears to my eyes. But those tears are nothing compared to the sobbing I did when, on the night of the concert as I sat in the front row, on 2/18/2015 (EXACTLY 5 YEARS AGO TONIGHT), my friend slipped Edwin a note (which I now have on my wall) asking him to play “What Matters.” She knew that with everything going on in my life, I needed to hear my favorite song.

It’s impossible to describe what happened in my heart as I heard the lyrics being sung specifically for ME. I sobbed like I have never sobbed before or since. I was awestruck. The artists who wrote and performed the song that had been such an inspiration to me were playing it live, just feet away from me — FOR me. It was that experience that validated the profound truth that the “ask and you shall receive” and “anything is possible” verses can truly be realized. As the song finished and I wiped my eyes, I made a vow to stop “choking on a lifetime of never taking a chance,” as the song lyrics encouraged.

For more than a decade prior to that night at Wolf Trap when I heard the song live for the first time, I felt an uncanny comfort playing “What Matters” to remind me that, one day, I’d not awaken wishing I tried, as the lyrics encouraged. In hindsight as I look back on those years, I was trying too hard to reach some level of accomplishment that always had me longing for more. I had amassed, by anyone’s definition, the American Dream — complete with the boy, girl, dog, church-going family, positions of leadership in my community and blessings too numerous to count. I was debt- and mortgage-free (with large retirement accounts and college funds for the children), had a pontoon boat that we enjoyed taking out a handful of times each year, and I had a bright financial future with a thriving real estate team.

But I was wasting away inside. What looked like perfect to everyone else wasn’t right for me. Month after month, I’d sit on my therapist’s couch and weep while uttering the same frustrating question, “Why am I so miserable when my life is so perfect?” As time passed, my self-loathing increased as I punished myself for not feeling happiness or fulfillment, even when I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I had more blessings than most. I felt like a fraud, living a life that didn’t belong to me. But even on my most stressful day with responsibilities spinning out of control, playing “What Matters” brought an absolute assurance that, one day, things would be different.

Since that monumental winter of 2015, I’ve been on a journey to discover my passion and purpose in life. It’s a transformation fueled by taking chances, discovering new ways to make a difference and unlocking one dream after another. What’s the secret to my newfound lease on life the past five years? It’s this: through the sweet sounds of music, I found my way back to myself.

I discovered that in trading my abundant American dream for my heart’s dream of nonprofit passion projects, I was blessed with even greater prosperity in all areas of my life. I’ve closed a thriving real estate brokerage to have more time for my mission. I created a 501(C)(3) nonprofit named WHAT MATTERS (after Edwin’s song, of course) and have formed initiatives from scholarships and interest-free loans… to a community meeting space and nonprofit center… to video interviews to promote causes and events. I’m now a thriving co-parent instead of an incompatible spouse and my travel has metamorphosed into frequent flights across the globe, including ten mission trips in less than two years. My passion for providing support to children in Africa (including the construction of a Ugandan primary school named after my hometown) is another long story with a soundtrack of its own.

Now, I live with my heart as my guide; and there’s even a song to prove it. I wrote the lyrics for a song of my own while at a recording studio in the ghettos of Kampala, Uganda. The song “What Matters is Your Heart” is my nonprofit’s theme song and is also the basis of the first of my global nonprofit fundraising endeavors centered around music.

I’m an everyday girl from a small town in Virginia who, through music, heard the song of my heart. What is YOUR heart trying to tell you? Make a decision TODAY to start listening and watch your life transform as you see proof that anything is possible and that it’s always working out, even when it isn’t. As my own lyrics declare, “What matters is your heart…let it lead the way.”

Visit www.whatmattersw2.com for more about the book and other WHAT MATTERS Initiatives.

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Upcoming Events

Feb
20
Thu
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 20 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, February 19 and Thursday, February 20: Come in for some great stories, songs, and a craft about our feathered friends, Birds!  Siblings welcome. Wednesday, February[...]
3:00 pm Cancer Care Center Ribbon Cuttin... @ Fauquier Health Center for Cancer Care
Cancer Care Center Ribbon Cuttin... @ Fauquier Health Center for Cancer Care
Feb 20 @ 3:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Cancer Care Center Ribbon Cutting and Open House @ Fauquier Health Center for Cancer Care
Fauquier Health will celebrate the opening of its new freestanding Center for Cancer Care with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and community open house this week. The new 25,640-square-foot center and equipment upgrades were made possible by[...]
Feb
21
Fri
9:00 am Entrepreneurship Workshop @ Luray-Page County Center
Entrepreneurship Workshop @ Luray-Page County Center
Feb 21 @ 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Entrepreneurship Workshop @ Luray-Page County Center
Are you considering independent, corporate, or social entrepreneurship, or being groomed to take over a family business? Then, this workshop is for you! Topics to be covered: Characteristics of a Successful Entrepreneur The Importance of[...]
Feb
22
Sat
10:00 am Beginner Crochet: Dishcloths @ Strokes of Creativity
Beginner Crochet: Dishcloths @ Strokes of Creativity
Feb 22 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Beginner Crochet: Dishcloths @ Strokes of Creativity
Beginner Crochet: Dishcloths In this beginner level class, you will learn some basic crochet stitches and pattern reading to make pretty dishcloths for your home. Instruction will be for right-handed crochet. Please pre-register!
11:00 am Art Stars @ Samuels Public Library
Art Stars @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 22 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Art Stars @ Samuels Public Library
Art Stars is a special needs art discovery program. This program is for ages 8 and up. Registration begins January 22. Participants should have a caregiver or attendant present in the program.
12:30 pm Crochet Workshop @ Strokes of Creativity
Crochet Workshop @ Strokes of Creativity
Feb 22 @ 12:30 pm – 2:30 pm
Crochet Workshop @ Strokes of Creativity
Crochet Workshop Do you have a crochet project you need a little help with? Already bought the supplies, but need help reading the pattern? All skill levels are invited to this Bring Your Own Project[...]
1:00 pm Discover love, adopt at Petco @ Petco
Discover love, adopt at Petco @ Petco
Feb 22 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Discover love, adopt at Petco @ Petco
Stop by Petco located at 2580 S Pleasant Valley Rd. on Saturday, February 22, between 1 and 4 PM. Meet the amazing Petco adoption team from the SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke, learn more about[...]
1:00 pm Moving Mindfully: Finding and ke... @ Ruby Yoga
Moving Mindfully: Finding and ke... @ Ruby Yoga
Feb 22 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Moving Mindfully: Finding and keeping your footing @ Ruby Yoga
Join Ruby Yoga and Deborah Romero of Optimal Posture LLC for a series of workshops on moving more mindfully through life using the principles of yoga and the Alexander Technique. Slated for Saturday, Jan. 25,[...]
2:00 pm Magic Show @ Samuels Public Library
Magic Show @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 22 @ 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Magic Show @ Samuels Public Library
Local magician Kevin Owens will entertain the whole family with his amazing magic show, which always includes audience participation and lots of laughter!
2:00 pm Paint a Wine Bottle @ Strokes of Creativity
Paint a Wine Bottle @ Strokes of Creativity
Feb 22 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Paint a Wine Bottle @ Strokes of Creativity
Come paint a wine bottle with Dottie Knob. Dottie will guide you step by step as you create a wonderful up-cycled piece for your home, office, or to give as a gift! This is an[...]