how do you define success?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Everyone has a "life plan". You know what I'm talking about.

Some plan to be married before they are 25, first kid before they are 27, another one before they are 30. Some plan to move to NYC by the time they are 22, begin a successful career at 23 and make their first 100K by the time they are 25.

Everyone is different, but usually everyone has a plan.

My plan was to graduate from college and find a job. Check. Then marry my best friend. Check.

The idea to take the biggest leap of faith of my life and start my own business in the middle of a recession with people looking at you like you have lost your ever-loving mind was never quite part of my "plan", so to speak.

I've talked about my business, Sugar, on this blog post and shared more info about what I do. But why did I do it? Why did I take that huge leap of faith? Why did I leave a perfectly good job, making decent money, only to be broke for years months, living off ramen noodles, working 60+ work weeks and moving in with my mom?

Well, it has a lot to do with this guy here.

Drew Newell: my husband's first cousin who was killed tragically by a drunk driver in November 07'. I shared his story here. Drew was one of those who took a semester off from school at App State to move to Colorado and snowboard. Just snowboard (and make a dollar or two waiting tables). Something he loved to do. You'd always ask Drew what he was doing and he'd reply, "aaaah...just livin' the dream". After the accident family and friends made blue bracelets with his initials and that motto: "Living the dream".

The sudden loss of such a vivacious young man who loved and lived life to the fullest, truly made me take a step back and think about what I wanted to do with my life. We all learned right then and there that life was indeed too short. I hated my current job and to me, money didn't mean a thing. I'd rather be poor and happy than rich and miserable. So with all that in mind, my head began spinning and what do you know? A few months later in April 2008 I opened a women's apparel boutique, making my far fetched dream come true. [I like how I make it sound like a piece of cake. Ha! Trust me, it wasn't that "sweet"] But I get to "shop" for a living and serve sweet customers from all over the country. Yes, I love what I do and I still have to pinch myself from time to time.

This past December, our local Chamber of Commerce told me they were nominating me for SC Young Entrepeneur of the Year for 2012. Flattered? Yes. Prepared? No. There I was 30+ weeks prego, miserable and trying to scrounge up some info to send in for the nomination. Did not think for a second I would win. After all, young entrepeneurs are taking over right now. So many talented, brilliant young small business owners in this state.

Well a few weeks after Cade was born, they called to tell me I had won. Not only for the state of SC but for the entire Southeast region. I picked my chin up off the floor and I felt honored. It was a great surprise.
I love this quote by Joyce Meyer
"Thank God for every opportunity you are given; He could have given them to someone else"

But when I thought about this award, I asked myself "Does this mean I'm successful? Does this recognition for years of hard work and dedication define success?" Sure, it was beyond wonderful to receive that recognition, but the answer is no. I'll say it over and over again; to me success doesn't mean prestigious awards or even monetary success. Success is being able to do what you love, day in and day out. Having a career where I'm my own boss, I've provided a job for myself, I am able to help others and I love every minute of it. That's success.

So no matter how you define success, I just want you to know it's ok to dream BIG. Even if you're from a small town and graduated with a senior class of only 49 students. [Yes, that really happened] Whether your dream is to make 500K on Wall Street or headline a show in Vegas. Whether you want to open your own Etsy shop or learn to sew. Whether your dream is to volunteer full time or be a stay at home mom. It's all about LOVING what you do because let's face it: life is too short.

There's no time like the present and you'll never want to look back, regretting that you didn't give it a try. Scared of failure? I. was. terrified. I would have been surprised if my business would have lasted 6 months in the middle of a recession, but I will say that you end up surprising yourself with what you can do once you are put in the hot seat. With determination, hard work/sacrifices, and a LOT of faith and prayers, we somehow made it. [My favorite verse is Phil 4:13 and if you look closely, you'll find that on the bottom of every Sugar's receipt] Now I am able to sit back for a bit and enjoy this time with my new baby. Something I never thought I'd be able to do.

My plan was to become successful then begin my next rewarding job - becoming a mom. Lord decided to bless me with both at the same time and I couldn't be more grateful.

"For I know the plans for you" declares the Lord. "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." - Jeremiah 29:11

Here's a snippet of the article in the Index Journal, but trust me: this isn't me "tooting my own horn". This is merely to inspire others, if anything, and I want to say CONGRATS to ALL of the winners in our little town of Greenwood, SC. So proud of our little town for doing big things.

So if you've read all this jibber jabber, I'll leave you with a picture.

I love my store. I always joke it was "my first baby".

But in all honesty, this little guy is my greatest accomplishment...

Keep "livin the dream" folks!


  1. Hey lady! CONGRATS! I am so excited for you. You have done such an amazing job with your store and I am so happy to hear that others are taking notice. I have a crazy story to tell you about the items I purchased online. I am debating blogging about it... And by the way, you sweet baby boy is absolutely adorable.

  2. you deserve this award more than anyone i know. i'm so proud of you.

    *gave you a teeny tiny shout out on my blog today*

  3. Congratulations! Not only to you get the satisfaction from being truly happy with your work, but now you have the recognition for it. And you little boy's smile is just the cutest!

  4. ahh sandi, such a great post, i almost cried! thank you for sharing and encouraging others to live their dreams, too! i'm going to share this with several friends. and love the picture of cade at the end, he is too cute! CONGRATS AGAIN!!!


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