October, 10, 2010. Dana and Shane were married in Pirates’ Alley in New Orleans, LA surrounded by a handful of their closest friends and family. A year prior on Halloween 2009 they had officially got engaged on the beach in St. Augustine, FL watching the sunset and celebrated taking a ghost tour of America’s Oldest City. They met that same summer, only months after Dana had moved back to her hometown of Starke, FL after fulfilling her career dreams while in Louisiana for six years.
Dana and Shane met on the social networking site, My Space in the spring of 2008. Shane sent her a friend request. They spent a few weeks chatting and texting, and then decided to meet for a movie. Both were from Starke, just a few years apart in age, but had not really crossed paths in high school. Shane was divorced, with two children. Dana, a career-long single girl, didn’t typically date men with kids, but she had moved home to meet someone and settle down, and apparently, Shane had potential right out of the gate. By their second date, at Sonny’s – the hot spot lunch spot in Starke -they were attracted to each other and were making a strong connection – physically, mentally and emotionally. However, it was on that date that their relationship and lives would both change. Shane got a text and was visibly upset by the news. After an uncomfortable lunch, he finally shared the message and his story.
Shane told Dana he was homeless. He had been couch surfing with friends the best he could, in between sleeping in his car, but had just received news that he couldn’t stay at his current place any longer. Shane had lost his most recent job in early 2008, as a truck driver, and had struggled to find work. He had run out of money and had to leave his apartment a few months prior and was now out of options.
Dana was in shock, and a bit at a loss. She knee-jerked reacted and bluntly asked if there was anything she could do – not really knowing what she was offering, but Shane said no. He needed to figure it out and didn’t want to bring her into his problems. He apologized for even trying to hint at a relationship and then he left. Dana assumed she may never hear from him again after they parted ways that day.
But it was all Dana could think about. Here she was living in a three bedroom house alone, and this man was homeless…..a nice guy who just hit bad luck…..was sleeping in his car in the Florida heat in the Wal-Mart parking lot. Well Dana has never been much for sitting back and watching, so within the week, she texted Shane and asked him to come back over for dinner. Then she made him a proposition. He could move into the spare bedroom and help out around the house – living in an old farmhouse, there was a long ‘honey-do’ list that never got tackled. Dana was traveling and working in Tampa part-time, so she was gone often and Shane could stay and take care of the place and look for a job. Dana would also help him look for a job. And most importantly for Shane, he could spend some time with his kids. They could come over and have a place to see their Dad, which hadn’t been the case during recent months. For now, they both agreed they would remain just friends, until Shane was back on his feet and then they could decide what they may want to do.
Naively, and having never been without a job in a down-sliding economy, Dana took on the task of finding Shane a job like it would be easy. With her writing and business skills,surely she could land him a job back in retail management. The job postings were few and far between, and dozens of resumes went out without a call or even rejection letter. It was tough on both of them – Shane continuing to feel discouraged and Dana refusing to feel defeated.
Dana and Shane also discussed his past and his issues with his past on a regular basis. Shane was raised by a single mother, the youngest child by 15+ years. His Dad abandoned him and his mother before he was born, and he only met his Dad for the first time when he was 16. Shane then lost his mother in 2001 – a devastating blow, which was then followed by his divorce in 2004. This was all coupled by losing his best friend, who went to prison in 1998. Shane struggled with leaning on others for fear of loosing them, with plenty of good reason.
During the summer months, Dana was home more and Shane continued to work around the house – fixing the front steps, building a new back porch, keeping up with the 5 acres of land. He also had his kids over quite a bit, and Dana got to know them as well. Well, you can well imagine that by the end of the summer, they had both developed feelings for each other, and despite ‘the rules’ they had agreed to, began a formal relationship.
While it may be more obvious that Shane gained stability and support from this new relationship, what is less obvious is the life lesson and thought-process shift that Dana gained. Dana, self-admittedly, had not always been a nurturing, empathetic person. She definitely had not been a sympathetic person in the past. Dana had been rather selfish in her adult life, living for herself and bypassing anyone outside of her immediate path in life. Shane changed her perspective and broke down a wall she had been building for 10+ years. Shane taught Dana compassion, understanding and selflessness. And they both taught each other how to love.
The rest is far from history and they are still working towards a happy ending. Fast forward three years to the present and you will have skipped over Dana losing her job in a layoff, Dana being hospitalized from stress and anxiety, two years of infertility struggles, Shane never finding work, Dana taking a job at a non-profit (with a 25% pay cut), a bankruptcy from the layoff/medical bills/being out of work, family health issues and the death of Grandma Marzloff, Dana leaving her recent job after a year due to medical problems created by that workplace and now Dana needing surgery. Did you catch all that?!?!
Dana and Shane launched their own business in December 2009, as a way for Shane to build his skills and have another focus. The business, Purdy Little Things, was founded on Dana’s creative and Shane’s workmanship skills, with a strong focus on customer service. Over the past three years, the business has grown and evolved to include new products, and as of August 2012, is now Dana and Shane’s full-time focus and income. Truly a business built on love and one that continues with a love for each other and the customers they serve.
On this, their second anniversary, Dana and Shane share their story to provide inspiration and hope to anyone struggling and wanting to pursue their passions and dreams. Shane went from sleeping in his car in a Wal-Mart parking lot to owning his own business with his soulmate by his side. Dana went from slaving in the corporate world, with a chip on her shoulder and a hole in her heart to co-owning a business with the man of her dreams. Life is not easy, but it is easier when you have someone by your side that supports you, loves you and has faith. Dana and Shane believe without a doubt that God brought them together to save each other from their own personal struggles, and God continues to help lead them through changes in their lives. As it has been said, the brightest stars are seen in the darkest of nights.
Dana and Shane celebrate by giving you this glimpse into their far-from-perfect love story……and hope you take a moment to reflect on your own story and how sharing it could be someone’s bright star tonight.