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Brenda’s Blog

— Relationships —

Debbie White and Deana Sears, Partners in Southern Charm Builders. Photography by Jennifer Denton.
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When most of us hear the word “homebuilder,” we think of a male-dominated profession, but these hardworking Texas women have built 17 homes in the last two years. Debbie White and Deana Sears are the powerhouse team behind Southern Charm Builders just north of San Antonio.

With no middle men—literally and figuratively—Debbie and Deana build homes for their clients like they hope someone would build a home for them.

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— Relationships —

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When a sudden storm descends it can unravel our lives in a blink. We’re forced to call upon an inner strength we didn’t know we had. If we’re lucky, we take shelter in the arms of family, friends, church and community. Often we’re forced to become our own strength. When James died unexpectedly that Christmas, his family wasn’t there for me, but then he’d predicted that.

“If I go first,” James once told me, “They [his family] won’t be there for you. I’m sorry, but you know how they are.”

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— Relationships —

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My bedroom smells like urine, and there’s a dog that likes getting stuck under my dresser, but I’m deliriously happy. It’s been a long time since I’ve had an eight-week-old puppy and until now… I’ve never had TWO. Everything is something to chew on: the dust ruffle on my bed; the edges of the old mirror that leans against my wall and the terra-cotta pots in the courtyard.

When they’re out of their crates, I feel like it’s Roller Derby time. Girls rushing past me like they’ve got wheels on their feet!

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— Style —

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Throughout history many marriages were more of a business arrangement between families than a marriage of love. If the bride came from wealth, her dress reflected her status, otherwise, most brides wore the best dress they owned. It wasn’t until the marriage of England’s Queen Victoria in 1840, that white wedding dresses came into vogue. Since then styles and traditions have changed. First-time brides no longer feel they have to wear white, and choosing a dress for a second wedding—especially if the bride is a certain age—is often more challenging.

Months before I married James, I hadn’t given my dress much thought until… One morning I awoke with what can best be described as a strong message.

As clear as can be, my little voice said, “Your dress is waiting for you. Go find it. Today.”

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— Life —

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Today I transferred the contents of my safety deposit box to another bank. The contents contained things you might expect to find in a safety deposit box, but it was my diaries and old passport photos that reminded me of one of the scariest, yet most exhilarating times of my life. A lot for a 20-something to endure, much less to write about so matter-of-factly.

“7/2/82: Guido and Little Louie [my names for the men who steal our garbage and override our alarm system] are still with us.”

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— Life —

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When I was unpacking my dishes and cookbooks that had been in storage for 10 years, I took a break to watch Rick Bayless’s PBS series, “Mexico One Plate at a Time.” A chef and restaurateur, Rick specializes in traditional Mexican cuisine. As he talked about the subtle, but complex dishes of Oaxaca, I was reminded of the many meals I’ve eaten in Mexico and Central America over the years.

One meal, in particular, I’ll never forget.

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— Life —

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This week I had jury duty. I know… A lot of people roll their eyes at this often dreaded “penance,” but it’s one of the highest services entitled us as Americans: the right to a jury of our peers. “Our peers… “ Now that’s the scary part. Out of 500 people selected at random for the jury pool—who were pulled from a list of voter and driver registrations—I saw a handful of what I would consider my “peers.” The rest… ?

If I answered honestly, you’d think I was being ugly or exaggerating.

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— Relationships —

Sam at the vet the week before he died. Doesn't he have a beautiful face? When people would ask me what kind of dog he was I would say, 'He's part Beagle and part Walt Disney.' He looked like he could have been in 'Lady and the Tramp.'
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This week I had to put my precious Sam to sleep. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Like me and Molly, Sam survived abuse and unspeakable heartbreak. Each of us were lost until James found us, and together, we became a family.

Sam was with me through breast cancer; losing James; Goldie’s stroke; mother’s death and Molly’s death last month.

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— Essentials —

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Considering my rocky start, it’s a wonder I’ve developed anything that could be considered style. In college my decor was Early Affordable which included bookshelves and an “entertainment center” made from bricks and boards found in an alley. My dining table was a giant wooden spool that once held telephone cables, and the dining chairs were smaller versions of the same spool.

Least you think I’m too matchy-matchy, the smaller spools just happened to be in the same alley.

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— Relationships —

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February 19th kicks off the Fierce 50 Campaign, a group of 50 top women bloggers–over 50–who are collaborating with brands to crush stereotypes about women and age. I’m excited to be part of this amazing group and want to introduce one of my fellow Fierce 50 women, Annette Findling.

Annette helps women create personalized wealth management strategies that give them financial independence. More than anything, Annette wants women to have choices.

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