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What Matters Warren

New tricks by Warren County’s Amazing Grace, the world’s smartest mule

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WHAT MATTERS WARREN: Amazing Grace, the world’s smartest mule, knows people’s ages without being told! Be amazed yourself every first and third Saturday at the Amazing Grace Gospel Barn (4796 Reliance Road Front Royal, Virginia) at 7pm for worship and entertainment by the beloved animal who has the mind of a human!

Grace (the world’s smartest mule) has amazing new tricks that has her owner, Steve Foster, more shocked than he’s ever been with her unbelievable skills! Grace can now guess the age of a person without being told! In this video you can see as she guesses my age. My daughter and I witnessed this myself, there is no trickery involved… it is truly the most unbelievable thing I have ever seen with my own two eyes. She also has new card tricks!

Fast forward to minute 4 of this video to witness us in awe as she guessed my age, or watch the entire 10 minute show and shake your head in disbelief!

Amazing Grace’s biography featured on IMDb:

Grace is a mule out of a quarter horse mare owned by Steve Foster. She regularly performs for a wide variety of audiences. Grace has been broke to ride, pull a buggy; she jumps and also performs many amazing tricks, including painting and basketball. She has won many halter classes, jumping competitions, trail classes and much more. Grace also won the National Title “America’s Ultimate Horse Idol” 2008 competition in Richmond, VA. Grace was also on the NBC Today Show. She will be on The History Channel Feb. 2011 on “Only In America with Larry the Cable Guy”. Grace’s greatest accomplishment thus far is her role in the movie “Get Low” with Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, Bill Murray and Lucas Black. Robert Duvall said at a recent gathering with Grace “She is the smartest mule in America!”. Grace resides with her mule cousin, Missy and her human companion, Steve Foster in Middletown, VA.


A WHAT MATTERS INITIATIVE

Are you or your group in need of a free video that could be created to help market your cause or event?

Beth’s WHAT MATTERS Warren/Town Tip videos post on Facebook and YouTube. They are also shared with Royal Examiner online (most are distributed in their daily email blast to thousands of local residents). Sign up for Royal Examiner Email Alerts HERE and check out the “WHAT MATTERS Warren” tab under “Features.”

Visit www.whatmattersw2.com “Community” section to request a TOWN TIP or WHAT MATTERS WARREN BETHvid.

Learn more Beth’s nonprofit,  WHAT MATTERS, a 501 (c) (3), at www.whatmattersw2.com out the “Community” section to request a TOWN TIP or WHAT MATTERS WARREN BETHvid or contact her at 540-671-6145 or beth@whatmattersw2.com.


About WHAT MATTERS:

WHAT MATTERS is a 501(c)(3) that she started this year to enable people to have the benefit of a tax deduction for their donations through her fundraising matches.

Here is the Current Match Campaign for the children of Bunyade school project.

WHAT MATTERS has ZERO overhead as 100% of the expenses are funded by her real estate business (THANK YOU CLIENTS AND SUPPORTERS for making that possible!).  Every cent donated goes to the cause.

WHAT MATTERS is a 501(c)(3) that focuses on local and global outreach to help spread the word, support and raise funds for causes that matter. If you’d like to get involved, or travel to Africa with her on a future trip to work with the children of Light up Life Foundations, please visit www.whatmattersw2.com.

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Real Estate

Part 1 of 7: Practical real estate tips for quarantined homeowners, buyers, sellers and realtors

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This 7 part series is accompanied by BETHvids featuring tips regarding buying, selling and the real estate industry in general.

This is the first of Beth Medved Waller’s video series offering tips for people to enhance their “real estate health” while they are stuck indoors to protect their own health.  In the seven-part series, she’ll be advising homeowners, buyers (both active home seekers and those thinking of buying soon), sellers (those with active real estate listings and with properties preparing to hit the market this spring) and Realtors (agents already in business as well as people who are considering becoming a licensed practitioner).  She’ll share suggestions about what each party can do to make their time at home productive from a real estate perspective. A four part article is also being published with her timely tips by “Real Estate Agent Magazine.

Part 1: Top 5 real estate tips for homeowners with no immediate plans of moving

  1. Turn being cooped up inside into an opportunity that will pay off in the future whenever it’s time to sell your home.  Start a folder of home improvements you’ve made throughout the years and use it as a place to log annual maintenance, record replacement costs and keep track of ages of heating/air conditioning units, your roof, and other important systems/utilities in your house.  You can even keep booklets, receipts and other handy information in a convenient location inside the binder.
  2. Start that long-overdue de-cluttering – focus on your main level first (the garage/basement area is less important to keep organized than your kitchen, main living areas and master bath/closet areas). If it’s hard to get rid of even unused items, put them in a box and move them to the basement–if you haven’t gone into the box in 6 months, it’s likely safe to donate the box to be enjoyed by someone who will be blessed by your “hand-me-downs.”
  3. Start an online folder to store seasonal photos of your home. It can also be home to “before/after” photos if you complete improvements a future buyer would appreciate to have documented.  Go one step farther and set reminders on your calendar to take quality digital (cell phone is fine) photos of your home during different seasonsUpload onto your online album shots that showcase views in the winter, lovely sunsets or sunrises, fall foliage and flowers blooming in the warmer months.
  4. Take a slow and intentional walk around the outside and throughout the inside of your home and make a list of major and minor maintenance projects you’ve been putting off. Now’s the time to make a plan and budget for completing them (or to check some off the list if you have the skills to earn some sweat equity).  So many people wait until they sell to invest the time and money into improvements they wish they prioritized sooner to enjoy the benefits of the updates before handing the keys over to the buyer, who is sure to appreciate your investment in curb appeal and upkeep.
  5. Bite the bullet and begin pricing out big ticket items on your “to do” or “dream” list.  Contact your trusted Realtor to brainstorm about the potential return on costly improvements. Calling on an expert for guidance can ensure you make an educated decision about your monetary investment vs. projected future impact on market value.  Be ready to share photos or video clips with your agent so they can visualize your situation and be better equipped to educate you about the potential return on your updates.

Stay tuned for more BETHvids and corresponding articles made for buyers, sellers and Realtors for additional tips to implement while stuck indoors. Follow her real estate and WHAT MATTERS postings on the Royal Examiner under the Features Tab, “What Matters Warren.”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Beth Medved Waller is a self-proclaimed “Pretend Reporter (creating video interviews/articles to promote causes or events), Pretend Philanthropist (see whatmattersw2.com to learn about her initiatives) & a Pretend Singer/Songwriter” (hear her song at dollardreamdownload.com).  She’s also a real life mother of two teens, founder of a 501(c)(3) nonprofit named WHAT MATTERS and a top producing real estate broker who has been recognized locally, regionally and nationally for her various real and pretend titles.

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Real Estate

Local real estate industry reaction to COVID-19 crisis; new video series to help sellers, buyers and homeowners

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Realtors, buyers, sellers, and homeowners, in general, are understandably curious about the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the local real estate market. Local industry expert Beth Medved Waller (a top-producing associate broker in Warren County) interviewed countless agents about the state of their business and hopes to shed a light on the pulse of the local real estate market from multiple agents and perspectives. “It’s my obligation as well as my honor to inform my community about the state of the real estate industry in light of the current state of our world,” says Waller who’s been a top producing Realtor since 2005.

Watch this video for her general commentary about the local real estate climate amid threats of the virus spreading through the Shenandoah Valley:

Stay tuned for Beth’s video series (launching through Royal Examiner next week) offering tips for people to enhance their “real estate health” while they are stuck indoors to protect their own health. In the seven-part series, she’ll be advising homeowners, buyers (both active home seekers and those thinking of buying soon), sellers (those with active real estate listings and with properties preparing to hit the market this spring) and Realtors (agents already in business as well as people who are considering becoming a licensed practitioner). She’ll share suggestions about what each party can do to make their time at home productive from a real estate perspective. A four-part article is also being published with her timely tips by “Real Estate Agent Magazine.”

A Bright MLS analysis by Waller on 3/25/2020 indicated that Warren County inventory levels are approximately 100 units below 2019 stats with 178 active listings, 6 coming soon, 14 temporarily off the market and 8 withdrawn within the last two weeks. Since Friday the 13th (when COVID precautions tightened), 28 listings went under contract/pending for a total of 110 in the category. Many recent listings posting have been new constructions and vacant homes obviously have extra appeal in today’s market.

”My most active properties are my vacant listings, but I did have a showing this weekend on one of my occupied homes and am expecting an offer. The agent and buyers wore gloves and my seller felt comfortable, although the same seller declined an earlier showing this week when the agent informed me that her buyers had just returned from overseas (and were within the recommended 14-day quarantine).” Beth added, “Showings on my listings have drastically slowed since Friday the 13th, but I’m encouraged by the buyer and agent calls I’ve received since Thursday. I listed a vacant home on Friday and have had 5 showings already, which is less than normal, but much better than I feared. I’ve only ratified one contract in three weeks, but have renewed hope that as we navigate our new ‘normal’ buyer activity will increase. I expect to start seeing virtual showings more and more and anticipate having offers from buyers who haven’t physically toured that will include the ‘sights unseen’ and new ‘COVID-19’ addendums.” Closing delays have already occurred for Waller due to lender slow-downs from appraisal backlogs and government tax transcript delays. How the market will be affected as the virus spreads more heavily through the valley remains to be seen, but “business as usual” is a thing of the past for the foreseeable future.

According to Executive Order 53, all professional service business (including real estate) may remain open as long as an emphasis is placed on honoring the under 10 gathering mandates, teleworking as much as feasible, meeting with clients virtually when possible, avoiding hosting in-person open houses, engaging in social distancing, limiting the numbers of houses buyers tour and embracing enhanced sanitizing practices.

Cindy Greenya, President of the Blue Ridge Association of Realtors, offered a positive outlook for the industry:

“All of us are walking into an unknown time. Realtors and the Association are trying to figure out how to adapt and change. We are still very low on inventory, houses are still selling and our affiliates and members are working on adjusting the way they do business as well. People still need to buy and sell houses, people are still moving. Now is just a time for us to adjust and change, and at some point in the future life will go back to normal, we just don’t know when that will be.” She added that she’s still seeing showings, especially on vacant property, but she has heard from colleagues that slowdowns are happening and deals are falling through. She’s been blessed to date with showing activity but is anxious to see what happens when her many upcoming listings hit the market. So far, she’s encouraging her sellers to not delay and to get on the market as planned since buyers are seeking additional homes inventory and interest rates are at an all-time low. She also emphasizes the importance for real estate professionals to keep in close communication with their clients and to invest time to keep abreast of the FAQs and COVID-19 releases being published by Virginia REALTORS at www.virginiarealtors.org/coronavirus.

Sharon Cales of Remax in Front Royal (a top producing Realtor for three decades and partner with Ken and Donna Evans of frontroyalagents.com) has the following commentary to share with the community:

My biggest concerns are for the welfare of our clients and their families. While our job is to sell real estate we are still obligated by our code of ethics to keep “the best interest of the client” at the forefront. Knowing that there may be a silent killer on the doorstep makes it more difficult than ever before. As an industry, we are being told to disinfect the surfaces, stop hand to face contact and keep washing our hands. My concern is that this is not enough. Some still appear to think this is a hoax or overkill, REALTORs included. Those of us who have friends still recovering know better. Showing vacant properties is a much easier process. While I still have concerns, I can indeed disinfect and do what is suggested by the CDC. However, the necessary items they suggest using are in VERY short supply and in most cases impossible to get. Occupied properties are where my largest concerns lie. There is no way for us to know what the homeowners are doing to protect their environment or what the buyers or sellers may have been exposed to. This is an environment that is an accident looking for a place to happen. We have the ability to either take the virus into an otherwise safe environment or bring it out with us into the world. Not a safe situation for anyone.

While the government has named us essential, it is my belief that the guidelines should be refined. We still need to process existing cases and get buyers and sellers to the closing table while taking the necessary precautions set forth by the CDC. However, it is my opinion that showings should be limited to vacant homes. In the event showings on occupied properties is essential, the buyers and sellers both should agree to sign off on an authorization form stating both parties understand the possible ramifications. I’m sure some brokers might be OK with that. However, this does still not address the possible infection for the REALTOR. Some Brokers and companies have already made statements concerning their policies. Most have not and it’s business almost as usual. Since we are an industry based on commission income and the future of the market is uncertain, many REALTORS are going to be willing to take the risks I’m afraid.

Sharon Cales on Current Buyer/Seller Traffic:

My showings are way down also. I’d say it’s a reduction of 85% or so. I have had a few calls but several canceled after scheduling and hearing the daily news updates. I do have a couple touring this weekend. However, I am only showing vacant properties. The phones are VERY quiet and although I am continuing to touch base with buyers and sellers, the return calls are not coming in. People seem to be very concerned. Last week, nobody knew anybody affected, but now everybody seems to know somebody being tested or positive for the virus. Listings are almost down to nothing also. Sellers don’t seem to know which way to go. I have ratified 3 contracts, but all have been on vacant properties.

Broker/Owner of Main Street Front Royal’s Exit Premier Realty, Jim Clark (theclarkteamrealty.com), who has been thriving as one of the top producers in Warren County in recent years offers encouragement:

The real estate industry is the most resilient industry in the world. We work in an ever-changing landscape in an ever-changing world, and it changes very quickly sometimes. From economic impacts, legislative requirements, dealing with influxes of foreclosures and short sales, etc, etc. We real estate professional weather the storm, time after time after time. Coronavirus is another storm. It’s a big scary storm. But we are adapting. From virtual showings, video conferencing with clients, and we’re even working on e-closing so clients don’t have to sign their settlement docs in person. We will get through this, just like we have every other time… every other storm. We’ll be stronger and better for it. Because we are all in this together. May God bless and protect us all, and God bless America.

Jim Clark on Current Buyer/Seller Traffic:

I’d say we are down 80% from 2 weeks ago in showings for buyers and of listings, showings on my listings have totally died as well. A few here and there. But it’s really come to a total stop. It’s sad. So many people want to buy and want to sell but they can’t.

A March 23rd Virginia REALTORS Press Release States: Going into March 2020, consumer confidence remained high; however, it is likely these consumer confidence measures will fall this spring. Says Virginia REALTORS® Chief Economist Lisa Sturtevant, Ph.D., “Heading into the spring, local housing markets across Virginia were strong, and February was a good month for the market. While the full impact of COVID-19 is not yet certain, strong economic fundamentals in the Commonwealth can help support a quick recovery. We’ll know much more when March housing market data are available in mid-April.”

Contact a Realtor for updates concerning the local market or reach out to Beth Medved Waller at beth@whatmattersw2.com or 540-671-6145. Check out her column on Royal Examiner for future updates and videos pertaining to the market.

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Community Events

Social solidarity during physical distancing

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An Invitation from Liz Gibbs of SPACE:

Our tagline has never felt more true… we’re in this together. While most of us are practicing physical distancing, we feel that it is more important than ever to also practice social solidarity.

Join us in a Virtual SPACE Gathering this Friday via Zoom from 6-7pm EST. Just like our in-person SPACE gatherings, we will be focused on connecting over our shared humanity and that which unites us.

Bring stories of hope, compassion, generosity, etc. to share with the group. Whether it’s a kind gesture you received from a neighbor, an uplifting story you read on social media, a philosophical insight on our shared experience or a change in perspective this crisis has revealed for you, all stories of hope and solidarity are welcome. Don’t feel like sharing? Just come and listen!

SPACE: We’re In This Together

This virus sucks – there’s no doubt about that. And a lot of what’s happening is out of our control. As with every hardship we face in life that we don’t (consciously) choose – death, heartbreak, health problems, etc. – it’s so important to find perspective. To me, this means we control what we can.

  • We can control our perspective, how we respond and what we pay attention to.
  • We can choose to shift our attention from loneliness to connection.
  • From fear to hope.
  • From judgment to compassion.
  • From scarcity to generosity.

Let us take this opportunity to connect and celebrate the innate kindness, compassion and generosity of our human family during these tough times.

Hope to see you there!

RSVP HERE

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Community Events

“She Kills Monsters” – A Warren County High School production

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A WHAT MATTERS Warren Invitation from the Warren County High School Theatre Department, AKA the Maroon Masques:

All are invited to the Warren County High School Theater on March 5-7th to enjoy the production of “She Kills Monsters,” a play that tells the story of high schooler Agnes Evans as she deals with the death of her younger sister, Tilly. When Agnes stumbles upon Tilly’s Dungeons & Dragons notebook, she finds herself catapulted into a journey of discovery and action-packed adventure in the imaginary world that was her sister’s refuge. In this high-octane dramatic comedy laden with fairies, nasty ogres, and ’90s pop culture, acclaimed playwright Qui Nguyen offers a heart-pounding homage to the “geek and warrior” within us all.

Tickets (Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 6:30 p.m. & Saturday at 2:00 p.m.):

  • Adults – $8
  • Students – $5
  • Tickets can be purchase at the door or online at www.MaroonMasques.com.
  • Or learn more about the event on Facebook.


About Maroon Masques (from their website):

Warren County High School has a long history in theatre. Our name, the Maroon Masques, comes from our school colors, Maroon, as well as the universal symbol of theatre, drama masks. The Maroon Masques have been around since the early days of the opening of the Warren County High School. A standard theatrical season at Warren County High School starts with a fall one act play that is taking to competition at the Virginia High School League theatre festival, as well as the Virginia Theatre Association annual conference. In the fall semester, we also typically perform a class play in the Theatre I class. In the spring, we perform a musical, and full length plays by Theatre II and Advanced Theatre classes. Other Drama club activities include participation in the National Shakespeare competition, a monologue-off, end of the year awards and picnic.

We have won many district, conference, regional championships and even a state title in 1989 in the Virginia High School League one act competitions. We have received awards at the Virginia Theatre Association conference. We take field trips to the American Shakespeare Center as well as other local theatres in the DC area. We prepare students for theatre at the college level. All students are welcome to join the drama club and be a part of our rich tradition.

Theatre Director: Mr. Chris Whitney

Mr. Whitney has received his BFA in Theatre, with a concentration in acting from Howard University. He has been honored to teach at Warren County High School for 12 years, which also happens to be his alma mater. In that time, he has had the pleasure of working with many talented students in over 50 productions. He has acted and directed professionally, but being a teacher comes first. He truly believes that there is a role or job for everyone in a production. Theatre should be inclusive and anyone can enjoy it. There is a reason why this art form is over a thousand years old and is still very relevant today.

Please feel free to email Mr. Whitney at cwhitney@wcps.k12.va.us or call his office phone at 540-635-4244 ext. 44148

Warren County High School – 155 Westminster Dr. Front Royal, VA 22630

  • You can also like us on Facebook: WCHS Theatre
  • Follow us on Instagram: Warrencountytheatre
  • Follow us on Twitter: @WCHSTheatre3

WHAT MATTERS INITIATIVE

Are you or your group in need of a free video that could be created to help market your cause or event? Beth’s WHAT MATTERS Warren videos post on Facebook and YouTube.

Learn more Beth’s nonprofit, WHAT MATTERS, a 501 (c) (3), at www.whatmattersw2.com – check out the “Community” section to request a TOWN TIP or WHAT MATTERS WARREN BETHvid or contact her at 540-671-6145 or beth@whatmattersw2.com.


About WHAT MATTERS:

WHAT MATTERS is a 501(c)(3) that focuses on local and global outreach to help spread the word, support and raise funds for causes that matter (primarily through Facebook). WHAT MATTERS has ZERO overhead as 100% of the expenses are funded by Beth’s real estate business thanks to her clients and supporters. Every cent raised goes to the cause she’s promoting and most are matched by Beth. If you’d like to get involved, or travel to Africa with her on a future trip to work with the children of Light up Life Foundations, please visit www.whatmattersw2.com.

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Community Events

Lenten Praise and Worship at Front Royal United Methodist Church

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WHAT MATTERS Warren: Need a revival of your new year’s resolution? An excuse to have a fresh start and embrace a new habit (or give up one you’d love to do without)? Welcome to the period of Lent, which runs from Wednesday, February 26, to Thursday, April 9th. Identified as the period between Ash Wednesday and Easter, it encourages the active remembrance of the 40 days and nights Jesus spent in the wilderness. Not religious? The symbolic importance of Lent can be recognized by anyone as a wonderful time to choose to make needed changes to pave the way for a better life throughout the next 40 days and beyond!

Thanks to Allyson Gillispie for her inspiring idea to provide an informal gathering filled with music and praise (and a 5 minute inspirational message) to honor the first Lent of the new decade. Join her and others at Front Royal United Methodist Church at 1 West Main Street, in Front Royal, at 6pm on each Friday of Lent for fellowship, reflection, inspiration and joyful singing:

ALL are invited to LENTEN PRAISE AND WORSHIP:

  • DATE: February 28, March 6, March 13, March 20, March 27 and April 3
  • TIME: 6:00pm
  • LOCATION: Front Royal United Methodist Church Sanctuary | 1 West Main Street


WHAT MATTERS INITIATIVE

Are you or your group in need of a free video that could be created to help market your cause or event? Beth’s WHAT MATTERS Warren videos post on Facebook and YouTube.

Learn more Beth’s nonprofit, WHAT MATTERS, a 501 (c) (3), at www.whatmattersw2.com – check out the “Community” section to request a TOWN TIP or WHAT MATTERS WARREN BETHvid or contact her at 540-671-6145 or beth@whatmattersw2.com.


About WHAT MATTERS:

WHAT MATTERS is a 501(c)(3) that focuses on local and global outreach to help spread the word, support and raise funds for causes that matter (primarily through Facebook). WHAT MATTERS has ZERO overhead as 100% of the expenses are funded by Beth’s real estate business thanks to her clients and supporters. Every cent raised goes to the cause she’s promoting and most are matched by Beth. If you’d like to get involved, or travel to Africa with her on a future trip to work with the children of Light up Life Foundations, please visit www.whatmattersw2.com.

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What Matters Warren

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

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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

Apr
2
Thu
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Apr 2 @ 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, March 18 and Thursday, March 19: Our stories, songs, and craft this week will be about friends! Come to story time and see your friends,[...]
12:00 pm LFCC work from home training @ ONLINE
LFCC work from home training @ ONLINE
Apr 2 @ 12:00 pm – 12:30 pm
LFCC work from home training @ ONLINE
LFCC Workforce Solutions recognizes the challenges companies are facing as most workers are forced to temporarily work from home. That’s why it has developed this FREE live webinar “5 Ways to Support Employees During this[...]
6:00 pm FRCS Spring Musical: Thoroughly ... @ Front Royal Christian School
FRCS Spring Musical: Thoroughly ... @ Front Royal Christian School
Apr 2 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
FRCS Spring Musical: Thoroughly Modern Millie @ Front Royal Christian School
3 exciting shows: APRIL 2 – 6pm, April 3 – 7pm, April 4 – 6pm. Bring the family! Filled with fun flappers and a villainess that audiences will love to hate, Thoroughly Modern Millie JR.[...]
Apr
3
Fri
6:00 pm Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Apr 3 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
6:00 pm FRCS Spring Musical: Thoroughly ... @ Front Royal Christian School
FRCS Spring Musical: Thoroughly ... @ Front Royal Christian School
Apr 3 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
FRCS Spring Musical: Thoroughly Modern Millie @ Front Royal Christian School
3 exciting shows: APRIL 2 – 6pm, April 3 – 7pm, April 4 – 6pm. Bring the family! Filled with fun flappers and a villainess that audiences will love to hate, Thoroughly Modern Millie JR.[...]
Apr
4
Sat
8:00 am Troop 53 Annual Mulch Sale @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire and Rescue
Troop 53 Annual Mulch Sale @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire and Rescue
Apr 4 @ 8:00 am – 1:00 pm
Troop 53 Annual Mulch Sale @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire and Rescue
Spring is approaching, and Troop 53 is preparing for their annual mulch fundraiser. The funds raised will help support troop activities and send our Boy Scouts to summer camp, where they learn valuable skills in[...]
6:00 pm FRCS Spring Musical: Thoroughly ... @ Front Royal Christian School
FRCS Spring Musical: Thoroughly ... @ Front Royal Christian School
Apr 4 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
FRCS Spring Musical: Thoroughly Modern Millie @ Front Royal Christian School
3 exciting shows: APRIL 2 – 6pm, April 3 – 7pm, April 4 – 6pm. Bring the family! Filled with fun flappers and a villainess that audiences will love to hate, Thoroughly Modern Millie JR.[...]
Apr
7
Tue
10:00 am Focus on Health Employment & Edu... @ LFCC | Science and Health Professions Building
Focus on Health Employment & Edu... @ LFCC | Science and Health Professions Building
Apr 7 @ 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Focus on Health Employment & Education Fair @ LFCC | Science and Health Professions Building
Two sessions: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. Different vendors at each session. Held in the Science and Health Professions Building at LFCC’s Middletown Campus. Contact Taylor Luther for more[...]
4:30 pm Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Apr 7 @ 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Children will explore popular books and book series through S.T.E.M. activities, games, food, and more! Tuesday, March 17 –  Children will explore popular books and book series through S.T.E.M. activities, games, food, and more! This[...]
Apr
8
Wed
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Apr 8 @ 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, March 18 and Thursday, March 19: Our stories, songs, and craft this week will be about friends! Come to story time and see your friends,[...]