My Inspiration to Savor the Smiles (and the winner is…)

AUTHOR: | POSTED: August 20, 2012 | COMMENTS: 12 Comments

Carolyn Savage

Saturday night I had a very special evening.  

We attended a fundraiser in honor of an extraordinary person, and the company and the ambiance created an atmosphere of perfection.  The dinner was hosted to help grow a fund in honor of a cherished woman, who I had the good fortune to know.  I first met Missy when I was the principal in her boys’ school.  Soon  after I hired her to teach the children I was entrusted to educate.  Technically I was her boss and she was supposed to learn from me but I learned quickly after starting that job, that great leaders learn from the people they lead.   

When I reflect on  my relationship with  Missy, I consider her a mentor.  She knew more about the benefits of kindness and the gifts of gratitude than anyone I’ve ever met.  When she died suddenly last year, the world lost a bright light, but even after months of being gone, she continues to positively impact my life.

It is Missy that inspires me to savor the smiles. 

These weekly posts are inspired by her.

First Smile..Teens and Toddlers!

This scene played out one evening last week.  It’s a teenage Fantasy Football draft, and it’s become an annual event for our boys and their friends.  I’ll go to my grave not understanding the appeal of Fantasy Football, but it’s not the mystery of the phenomenon that caused me to laugh.  Instead it was the fact that these seven young men, settled into their very grown-up activity amidst what we refer to as our toddler playground.  I’m guessing it’s a scene that doesn’t play out in very many homes. 

I’m often asked what it’s like to mother children at such vastly different stages of life.  I don’t mince words–it’s tough.  I remember one evening going from  two cranky, teething eight month olds, to proof-reading a five page paper about the Life of Bilbo Baggins (from The Hobbit…for ninth grade honors English).  To say I was spent by the time my head hit my pillow, would be an understatement of colossal proportions.  But when I find Ryan playing with Isabella and giggles are coming from both…


 I smile because I know I am lucky!

Second Smile…A Visit from The Discovery Channel

In addition to hosting a fantasy football draft, our family room played stage for the Discovery Channel this week.  Drew was up first and he knocked it out of the park!  By the time he gets to journalism school, he’ll be a seasoned professional at the art of an interview.    The job appeals to him, because as you can see, the formalities of shoes and ties are optional in the field of producing!

The production crew was wonderful and made the interviews as painless as possible.  They spent two days with our family and learned a lot about our journey. We were sorry to see them go, but the producer had a girlfriend to get back to…oh wait, pardon me, a Rockette to get back to! 

The fact that his girlfriend was a Rockette bought him major props in the eyes of my guys! 

Gabe and Ryan…our Discovery Channel team!

The Third Smile…A Great Friend!

My friend Tracy participated in the Discovery Channel interview.  Her role, “Carolyn’s friend” and I couldn’t have cast a more perfect person for the role!   

Every time we agree to do one of these shows, the producers ask if they can inteview a friend who stood by my side.  I’m always hesitant to ask someone to give that much time in front of a camera.  It’s not fun and it’s nerve racking so I’m always nervous to ask!    My sister-in-law, Jo Ann, has already participated in a show, so I asked Tracy if she’d mind, and was thrilled when she agreed.  She texted me five times the night before, obsessing about her wardrobe.

Black pants?  White pants?  Blue top?  Should I wear a skirt?” 

I told her not to worry because she could have appeared in a paper bag and looked great.  You see, she’s as beautiful on the outside as she is in her heart! 

I’m lucky to have such a great friend! 

The Fourth Smile…The First Race!

The boys’ are varsity runners for their high school’s cross country team.  It’s a sport that conjurs deep passions in all of my men.  Their first race was Saturday and Ryan ran a PR!  (personal record).  When the boys passed through the second mile mark, they were running together and it melted my heart.  They are truly inseperable.  They have been since Ryan’s birth.  I love that they are such good friends!

The Fifth Smile…A Reunion!

I retired from my principalship in July 2005, and when I left–I left.  As much as I adored all the people I worked with, I knew all too well that I had to stay away.  It’s a “boundary thing” that happens when an administrator leaves a school.  My replacement needed to establish herself, which required me to disappear.     

But out of sight doesn’t translate to out of mind with my coworkers! 

One of the women that I have missed was the keeper of my sanity.  Vicki was my school secretary, and when we first met, I knew we’d make a great team.  I can’t tell you how many times we ran around the office trying to make the impossible happen, and the occasions where we shut the door and laughed until we cried, were too countless to mention!   She made my job easier, and that’s a lot considering the job, and for that I’ll be eternally grateful!

When I saw her at Missy’s dinner,  I almost burst into tears.  I haven’t spoken with her since Logan was born, but I could feel all of her prayers.  So we huddled in a corner, wine glasses in hand, catching up with lots of laughs and even a few tears.  I’ve missed her.  I’ve missed everyone and I was grateful for the opportunity to reconnect. 

My Biggest Smile…A Lesson In Gratitude


Missy taught me the value of a smile.  It was her greatest accessory, and it was truly the best bling any girl could wear.   I remember one afternoon checking  in on her classroom and marveling at her energy and enthusiam for life.  She died the day after Christmas, from an embolism after surgery.  It was a blindside that I still haven’t come to grips with–and I’m not the only one. 

As I’ve learned from my own journey, grief is a part of our time here on Earth and suffering is something nobody escapes.  It’s up to us how we channel it and that’s where the challenge lies.  It can eat us alive, driving a mom– like me–to the edges of darkness, but it can also force a choice that can change our lives for the better. 

Missy’s death has been a a catalyst for me this year.  It’s one of three early winter events that forced me to change the focus of my writing.  I still can’t completely articulate how I feel about her loss, but I’m working on it by allowing her memory to inspire me.  Her joyful attitude was contagious, and it’s because of her that I’m forever savoring my smiles.   

Her smile is her legacy, and I’m grateful for that!   

Give Away Winner


I’m pleased to announce that Marion is the winner of  the Hobby Lobby gift card.  All of the comments were so funny that I couldn’t choose, so MK drew Marion’s name out of a hat!  Her comment was…

Marion | August 15th, 2012 10:47 pm   edit

Craziest craft experience = me learning to knit just so I could make our kids mittens which didn’t fit and had holes in them where I had dropped stitches. I was driven to this knitting insanity out of guilty while watching my niece wearing the jumpers her mother had knit for her (so I thought I would be a “good mother” and have a go). In the end I didn’t tell anyone I made the mittens because they looked like something I found in a dumpster. Our daughter loved using one of hers as a sleeping bag for her barbie though. In my ‘knitting box’ I have multiple colours of wool which have been in there for over 5yrs because I got so excited during my “good mother” fantasy that I bought them all.


Marion, email me your address and I’ll get the gift card to you in the mail so you can let the “crafting begin”!  (Are you still knitting?)

Stay tuned for Wednesday’s post about our next give away! 

And remember to smile!  I am! 



12 Comments on “ My Inspiration to Savor the Smiles (and the winner is…) ”

  • Marion | August 20th, 2012 9:49 am

    Hi Caroline, this is Marion (the winner of the gift card). I wanted to share my crazy crafting experience so badly that I didn’t realise there was a prize on offer. As I am in Australia I think it’s only fair for you to do a redraw so someone else can enjoy buying products to inspire their inner knitter. Thankyou for sharing all of the smiles, Missy is my kind of person, make the most of everyday, smile and hope someone else’s day is brighter.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  • Marion | August 20th, 2012 9:52 am

    Thankyou again for sharing here, you make me smile, cry and laugh every time. Wish I could give you a hug xoxo

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • Carolyn Savage | August 21st, 2012 7:55 am

    Thanks, Marion! You know how grateful I am for your continued readership! Perhaps, some day, we’ll make it ‘down under’ for a visit! XOXO

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • Carolyn Savage | August 20th, 2012 3:10 pm

    You got it Marion! I wiill redraw once MK is home from soccer! (I can’t do it without her! It’s her new job!)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  • Elise Buchhop | August 20th, 2012 6:10 pm

    Missy is such an inspiration to do all that is good and kind. It is neat to see how she has inspired you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • Carolyn Savage | August 21st, 2012 7:55 am

    Thanks, Elise! I love hearing from all of you! The entire staff continues to hold a special place in my heart!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • Allie | August 20th, 2012 11:17 pm

    Great pics! Your son does look like a pro in front of the camera, too cute! Can’t wait to see the interview! I also love the draft picture…All those boys, I have a feeling those days will be in my future:)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • Carolyn Savage | August 21st, 2012 7:56 am

    Oh, Allie…just you wait! You have a lot of boy/man fun in your future! Thanks for reading and commenting!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • Marion | August 22nd, 2012 11:49 am

    How wonderful that Miss MK is doing the redraw and that she is a soccer player (I played and coached soccer for years and love it so much). Goooo MK the lovely assistant keep up the great work 🙂

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  • Gayle Burrer | August 22nd, 2012 8:20 pm

    Thanks for such kind words about such a great lady, my sister in law, Missy! We miss her so very much! I love the fact that your blog was about Smiles; Missy sure had a smile that would light up a room, didn’t she? After she died, we were able to access her laptop (with the help of her boys) and her screen saver was the animated character Little Miss Sunshine. Can you believe it? How perfect!! Anyway, thanks for yet another reminder of what a wonderful person she was! We are truly all blessed for being a part of her life.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • Carolyn Savage | August 23rd, 2012 8:59 am

    HI Gayle, I’m not surprised at all that Missy’s screensaver was Little Miss Sunshine. She was sunshine personified.

    I want you to know that Missy, Andy, Matt, Jon and all of you are in my prayers every single day. I think a lot about the boys and am praying like crazy for peace for them. I know Missy is walking beside them every step of the way.

    You are right! We are all blessed to have known her.


    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • Downgrading a Meltdown to a Moment through Proper Perspective | Mama On The Fly | December 3rd, 2012 5:40 pm

    […] many of you know, our family shot a program for Discovery Channel this past summer.  Sean and I give great consideration to participating in programs like this.  Shooting is time […]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

Your Comments are Welcome!

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.