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Why SimplyCMB?

November 13th, 2017

Why SimplyCMB?

I'm often asked why I named my company SimplyCMB. On the surface the answer is really quite...well...simple, with my initials CMB. There is, however, a more personal meaning.

Let's head back to those middle and high school years for a moment. Did you have a friend or classmate that knew exactly what they wanted to be when they grew up? They had a plan, the path to get there, and when the proverbial question was asked, "What do you plan to do after high school?", they never batted an eye. That wasn't me.

I was a good student, had an amazing group of friends, joined in many extracurricular activities, and had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Somewhere in between the expectations of good grades, the pressures of family responsibilities, and all of the challenges that come with growing up...I forgot to see me.

Fast forward two decades. The 40's had arrived, I had a Bachelor's degree and many years of successful marketing experience (where I touched down after missing the mark with optometry), a beautiful home in Northern Michigan (one of four built by my husband and I), a son, a cat, and still no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Somehow I'd successfully navigated 20 years of life with no clear direction.

Enter SimplyCMB.

Despite my lack of of vision, I'd found success through hard work and determination and now had the opportunity to pause for a moment, enjoy time at home with my son, and reflect on life a bit. I finally had the time (and more importantly, the wisdom) to discover me and the things that truly make me happy. I bought a camera and started capturing the beautiful nature and landscapes around me. The more photos I took, the more renewed I felt. And creating my book "The Petoskey And Me" was an opportunity to combine my love of photography and creative writing with the chance to teach my son that you can be successful doing what you love and to stay true to yourself.

So, SimplyCMB stands for...just me. Me letting go of misgivings and pretenses, me accepting myself, me finding my own path and giving it a go.

~C. M. Brenner

The Poppy

October 9th, 2017

The Poppy

Every year when spring arrives, I eagerly await the blooming of a single poppy that grows in my yard. It was here when we purchased the property and it’s the most beautiful poppy I’ve ever seen, with pale pink petals and a deep purple center. I have fervently protected this poppy through all sorts of excavating and construction and I love watching it bloom every year.

This past spring, as we planned for a weekend trip away from home, I busied myself with prepping our home and yard for our time away (I am fastidious about how I leave things at home when I travel). So I cleaned the house, mowed and trimmed the yard, weeded the flower beds, and tended to the newly-planted garden. I also checked on my poppy. It was still a fuzzy, green bud and I was certain we’d be home before it bloomed.

We left on a Friday morning and upon returning home Sunday night, I was stunned to see our yard covered in leaves, sticks, and branches. The grass (that was a lush carpet of green when we left) was brown and dead in many spots. What’s more, most of my flowers had been destroyed. My perfectly manicured yard was a complete disaster. As I walked around to assess the damage, I once again checked on my precious poppy. What I found was a bare stalk with crumpled, brownish-pink petals strewn all over the ground. It had bloomed while we were gone and the storm had ripped it apart. I was devastated.

I stood for a while, staring at my dead poppy, and tears began to form. I was exhausted from traveling, angry that all of my hard work was for naught, and sad about losing one of my most favorite things—something that brightens my spirit every year. I spent the rest of the night and the next day lamenting over my lost poppy.

On the second day, I finally found the energy to begin cleaning up the mess and as I walked by the spot where my poppy used to be, I caught a glimpse of something pink. There, just a few feet away from the dead stalk, was another beautiful pink poppy with a deep purple center, in full brilliant bloom. I’d been so focused on the devastation that I hadn’t noticed another perfect poppy blossom right nearby. I was so blinded by what I thought God had taken away, that I couldn’t see the blessing God had provided. As this realization washed over me and I felt God’s presence with me in the form of a second beautiful pink poppy, the tears formed again, and my spirit was restored.

Matthew 7: 7-8 (NIV)
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

May you always be able to see the open doors of God’s blessings.

Sincerely, Cortney