Smarties, I would like to introduce you to a very smart, witty, friendly, down-to-earth Smarty mom, Deni Pifer. The story of how I met Deni a little over 12 years ago makes you wonder about the magic of the world. While living in Myers Park and having not met yet, we both delivered babies in Pineville on the same day. My midwife only delivered at CMC Pineville and Deni’s doctor only went that far north from South Carolina. There was a baby boom that day in the hospital, so Deni and I were transferred to the overflow rooms. We had the chance to officially meet and put it all together once our babies started daycare at the same church back in Myers Park. My daughter and Deni’s son then exchanged a few bites and were sent home with “bite reports.” Needless to say, the Universe said we should know when another. The biting stopped long ago but our friendship continues. Enjoy getting to know Deni!
Smarty mom: Deni Pifer
Hometown? The BIG CITY of Rock Hill, SC
Neighborhood? Myers Park
Married to: Bobby
Kids: Marshall, 12, and Sydney, 10
Alma Mater? BS and MBA from Winthrop University and JD from University of South Carolina
What kind of law do you practice and why?
I handle estate planning which is wills, trusts, powers of attorney etc. as well as estate administration which is helping folks after someone passes away. I went to law school specifically to practice in this area after my mother died from cancer at the young age of 51 and her estate wasn’t as she and my father had thought. I have an ability to really connect to people because I really do care and I’m great at putting together the puzzle on the front end. Hopefully, all our clients have smooth sailing after one of them passes, but we also are very good at cleaning up estate planning messes left to deal with by others.
Did you always know that you wanted to be a lawyer?
Not until my mom died.
If you weren’t a lawyer, what would you be?
A writer of fiction (and still hope to be when I grow up).
When did you discover your interest in writing?
My grandfather was and my father is a storyteller naturally. I think I loved listening to them as I grew up. In the 8th grade, I took a journalism class and my teacher told me I had a knack for writing. I have journaled all my life – in fact I just found my journal from elementary school! It was so fun reading my “real” world concerns of friends and horses and the snake my mom killed in the garden.
How have you further developed your writing skills?
I’ve taken several college courses and other continuing education courses- mostly at Queens. I’d really like to get an MFA but that may have to wait until the kids are a little older.
You lost your mom at a young age. How did losing her impact you?
Her death really forced me to grow up. I’d lived in Rock Hill most of my life, including during college and graduate school. I finally decided to leave and really investigate what I wanted to be and where I wanted to be. I always thought it would be Charleston, but alas that was not my destiny and I’m thrilled to be in Charlotte now.
Do you journal?
As I mentioned earlier, I have all my life. Right now I have three journals going – one to each of my children which I’ve been writing in since I was pregnant with each of them (and we didn’t know the genders) and one which is my space to blow off hot air.
What activities are your children involved with?
My daughter is ALL HORSES ALL THE TIME. I rode and showed Hunters as a child, and she has the bug! It’s fun to live vicariously through her. She’s pretty serious about riding and the shows are out of town and all weekend events. It is good bonding time for us. My son is into the guitar, he has a great singing voice, he’s an excellent swimmer and just finished his first season of cross country. He is also in boy scouts and goes camping once a month. They stay busy though I’d love if we had a weekend with NOTHING on the calendar.
Favorite place to grab a quick and healthy dinner?
I have recently fallen for Viva La Chicken but always love Cowfish (though that’s never quick).
Do you read one book at a time or multiple? Any good reads to recommend?
I usually have several going at once. I just finished the House Girl which was very good. Also, The People We Hate at the Wedding was fun and I’m reading a new book about George Vanderbilt and the Biltmore house. I’ve always been obsessed with the Vanderbilts but in particular that house. I’ve been so many times I can’t count and read everything about the family and the architecture I can find. I also LOVE reading the Serefina series with my daughter since it’s set at the Biltmore. My mother used to love to go and when I was very little she told me I burst out crying and told her I used to live there. It is grandeur and beauty and also sentimental because it was something my mom and I both loved.
Parenting advice for tweens?
I’m just entering that phase but lawd have mercy, my son is giving us the challenge. Mostly to listen – we recently had Alice DeVries come to our church to give us some pointers and one thing she said was don’t come at them with a bat, but rather “on a knee” with humility. I’m trying to do that – but the worst part is when he ignores us. ARGH!
Favorite place to vacation in the winter? In the summer?
My husband LOVES to ski and I like to spa and so far, I think Vail is my favorite winter spot because it offers both! Plus Vail Village is just so darn cute and peaceful. Last summer during our out west adventure, we stayed at a dude ranch near Big Fork, MT, called Flathead Lake Lodge. It was a fantastic experience for all of us and I love Montana’s beauty – oh and Jackson, WY, ANY TIME OF THE YEAR! That place feels comfortable to me regardless of the cold winters. And any non-crowded beach any time of year as well!
Favorite church in Charlotte?
Selwyn Avenue Presbyterian where we’ve been members for 12 years. The PEOPLE in our church are so welcoming and open – it really is a large family. I tear up when I think about all the folks there. It’s a really special place.
How do you balance a being a lawyer, writer, and mom?
Aside from really good wine, I try to work out almost every day – it helps with my sanity. I’m lucky to own my own business and I can make the schedule to a certain extent. Last year, we took a two week vacation out west and I HIGHLY recommend that. It takes a few days to de-stress and a few days before you go back, you start worrying and everyone really needs some time off where they don’t have to worry at all. Next year, we plan to do it again but this time we are headed to Alaska. I like to give myself something to look forward to- it makes one appreciate the work all the more! I also try to take time once a week and organize the week ahead – the kids, their activities, my husband’s golf and tennis, my workouts and of course, work. It’s always a moving target, but I try and sit back and put a plan on paper – old fashioned thick notebook paper with a fantastic pen – I love to write that way too.