Living Purpose

Living His Passion – Ben Evers

 Ben Evers, Farm Focused

Ben Evers, Farm Focused

When Ben Evers was young, his parents purchased property outside Plattsmouth, Nebraska, with the intent of creating a horse farm. Little did he know at the time that the move would be the single most impactful change in his life. As life on the farm presented him with daily opportunities to perform chores, creatively solve problems, work with his hands, and develop a variety of skills, Ben grew up understanding the value of fulfilling work that instills pride. Additionally, he watched his mother walk away from a corporate job to start her own business. As her company developed and grew, Ben was by her side, helping whenever and however he could. Despite his desire to pursue other interests that included playing sports and riding a dirt bike, Ben never forgot the valuable life lessons he learned during his childhood.

After graduating from the University of Nebraska with a degree in Business Management and marrying his wife, Morgan, Ben pursued a career in retail management that took him from big box stores to a family-owned automotive collision repair shop and finally to a major auto parts supplier where he progressively moved up the ladder to become a district manager who oversaw over 200 employees. In 2015 after deciding that fulfillment was more important to him than chasing the dollar, Ben moved with his wife and their three children back to Nebraska with the intent of starting a business and getting back to his roots. A few months later, Farm Focused was founded near the horse farm where Ben first learned to embrace the country life and the value of hard work.

Driven by his love of working with farmers and a respect for agriculture, Ben started the business based on the idea of bringing efficiencies to local growers through soil additives at planting time that ultimately allow the grower to use less inputs (synthetic fertilizers and fungicides) and increase the health of the soil. Additionally, Ben focused his business on improving efficiencies of the diesel engine, the heartbeat of the farm. As the business grew, Ben added another sector to his brand by creating lifestyle apparel items that he originally created as thank you gifts and marketing collateral. Before long, a demand for his apparel helped him discover that there are surprises in every business. Ben states that he eventually realized that Farm Focused is not just a company that helps farmers, but also a relatable brand that people want to be a part of, no matter where they live or work. Since creating a great logo, Ben has built the line from one t-shirt to 10 separate designs in both unisex and female cuts, seven hat designs, and has even branded socks. Ben adds, “The growth of this side of the business has happened very rapidly. Today we are at a point where we are ready to take it to the next level.”

The farmers that Ben deals directly with on a daily basis all primarily grow corn and soybeans. He states that one of their biggest challenges is the current state of the commodity market. Unfortunately as smaller acre farmers start to fall off and massive yield farmers continue to produce higher yields than ever before, an increase in supply is outrunning the demand. Because of this, there are many progressive growers who are looking for better ways. That is where Farm Focused steps in to help.

A typical day at Farm Focused involves office business as well as time working on a diesel engine, walking fields conducting comparison analyses between treated and untreated soil, or staffing a booth or space at a county fair or other event. The company continues to evolve and change as Ben learns more about the industry and identifies opportunities to bring further products and services under its umbrella.

Ben openly welcomes the personal growth he has experienced over the last few years. “I have seen a different side of life and I am a happier and more content person today. Professionally, I have gained new perspectives that have allowed me to look at things a little differently.” He advises those who want to pursue their passion to build self-confidence first and then decide that you are going to make it, no matter what unexpected obstacles pop up on the path to living a dream.

John D. Rockefeller once said, Don't be afraid to give up the good to go for the great." Three years ago, Ben Evers did just that when he stepped outside his comfort zone, listened to his heart, walked away from a corporate job, and jumped into building a business that would not only provide him with fulfillment, but also support his family. As he walks the fields and searches for innovative ways to help those who provide the world with food, there is no question that Ben is putting his all into going for the great. Rockefeller would be proud.

For more about Ben and his business, visit http://www.farmfocused.com/.

Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Coach who specializes in helping her clients move past obstacles, create a plan for happiness, and cross the bridge of transition to find a new and fulfilling direction in life. To read more about her and her practice, visit her at crossthebridgecoaching.com.

Living Her Passion – Hannah Olson Nodskov

 Hannah Olson Nodskov

Hannah Olson Nodskov

Hannah Olson Nodskov has been passionate about fashion and entrepreneurship ever since she was a little girl who loved sketching outfits, drawing realistic figures, and creating a small flip-flop business with her mother. But it wasn’t until she was a junior in high school that Hannah decided to stop complaining about a lack of trendy clothes that fit her curvy body and taught herself to sew using Pinterest, YouTube, and Google. It wasn’t long before she was designing outfits that caught the attention of other plus-size teenagers and women.

Boosted by encouragement from friends and family, she debuted Hannah Caroline Couture a year later with a self-produced show in her high school auditorium. After twenty-five friends modeled outfits and other friends stepped in to DJ, emcee, and photograph the event, orders for her custom garments began pouring in. As her interest in business and fashion led her to pursue a business degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Hannah began to feel the love from Omaha’s vibrant, helpful startup community. In 2014, Hannah won a business plan competition at her college that she says pushed her out of her comfort zone to create a unique business plan, present it to a large audience, and then manage the subsequent press coverage.

After attending Full Figured Fashion Week in 2015 where she showcased her designs in the same runway show as such mega brands as Lane Bryant, the door opened for Hannah to transform her hobby business into a sustainable business that grew from a few local orders throughout the year to multiple orders per month from women nationwide as well as in other countries.

 Hannah on the runway with one of her models at Full Figured Fashion Week, 2018

Hannah on the runway with one of her models at Full Figured Fashion Week, 2018

Although she currently designs for women of all sizes, Hannah especially focuses her designs and ready-made collections for plus-size women using a larger standard production size than the industry uses. She is passionate about serving a niche of women who struggle with shopping for fashionable clothes that fit well, are comfortable, and take into consideration factors like bigger arms, large busts, nonstandard hourglass shapes, and differently proportioned shapes. “I believe my ability to understand these factors is crucial to the success of my business,” Hannah adds. She draws inspiration for her designs from architecture, interesting juxtapositions, and most often, the fabrics and materials themselves. Her business role model is Christian Siriano, one of the most successful winners of the television show, Project Runway and a vocal supporter of and designer for plus-size women.

Since inception, Hannah Caroline Couture has matured into offering what brings her the most joy: designing evening and bridal wear for the plus-size woman. During the day, Hannah works full-time in her dream role as Marketing Manager at a local sports technology startup, ScoreVision. At night and on weekends, she sews orders, plans social media posts, manages business finances, orders materials, and packs and ships orders to her loyal clientele.

Hannah says her favorite part about owning a business is the opportunity to make a difference in her customers’ lives and the opportunities that have opened up to her because of her business that include learning new skills and traveling to exciting places. Her challenges include balancing her perfectionism tendencies with personal relationships, a social life, and a solid self-care routine. Hannah states that the best piece of advice she ever received is to continuously gather feedback and never stop doing so. “Every time I want to expand or pivot my business, I make sure to ask for feedback from my target market(s) before investing time and resources in the idea,” she adds. “Paying customers guide businesses down the paths they’re supposed to follow.”

Being an entrepreneur has allowed Hannah to gain confidence in herself and her purpose. She advises other entrepreneurs to work on finding the balance between passion, ideas, and solving the problems of a target market. Hannah states, “Passion for something is great, but when things get tough, it isn’t always enough. Having a sustainable market is the best way to enable yourself to continue pursuing your passion.”

Renowned fashion photographer Bill Cunningham once said, “Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life.” Every time Hannah Olson Nodskov sits in front of her sketch pad or sewing machine, she focuses on bringing light, hope, and love through creative designs that help her customers remember that we are all beautiful, no matter what our size or shape.

For more about Hannah Caroline Couture, visit https://hccdesign.co/.

Living Her Passion – Chelsey Erpelding

 Chelsey Erpelding in her garden.

Chelsey Erpelding in her garden.

Chelsey Erpelding was a busy mother of two little ones, Edith and Bette, when she first began receiving Reiki, a Japanese technique that uses touch to activate the natural healing processes of the body and restore physical and emotional well-being. From that point on, Chelsey, who had become frustrated with the lack of support for mothers post-birth, was hooked on the nourishing effects of Reiki. Six months later, she began training to become a Reiki Master. It wasn’t long before her passion for healing, gardening, and creating natural products led her to open an online shop, Other Magic, LLC.

Chelsey, who holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in public health, always yearned to own a business. But it wasn’t until her path led her to healing work that Chelsey discovered her true passion. After her love of vegetable gardening inspired her to grow more herbs and medicinal plants and contemplate how she could incorporate them into her healing work, Chelsey’s backyard transformed into an organic oasis for roses, mint, lemon balm, yarrow, bee balm, valerian, lavender, sage, thyme, red raspberries, blueberries, goldenrod, anise hyssop, chamomile, and other flowers and vegetables.

In 2017, she began researching how to infuse her garden plants in oils. Soon she was creating nontoxic products to sell through Other Magic, LLC, that include Rose Oil made with yarrow, rose petals, and rosehips; Face Magic Oil made with chamomile, rose hips, and hibiscus that are all high in Vitamin C and great for skin; Magic Salve created with yarrow and plantain that is tailored to help heal deep dryness, burns, scrapes, and bites; and Lemon Balm made to use as a protective coating for hands and lips. Today she is studying herbalism and is excited to grow new plants and create more natural products to sell in her online shop.

Chelsey’s favorite part of owning a business is that she is doing what she loves. When she is not fulfilling the duties of motherhood or performing Reiki for her loyal clientele, Chelsey is busy harvesting her garden and developing products in her kitchen. She says, “Some products can take weeks to prepare, so some days I am creating and other days I am bottling or shipping.” By pursuing her passion, Chelsey claims she has gained a sense of calm about her life. She adds, “I spent most of my twenties trying to find my purpose. I can now happily say that I am finally doing what I feel I am meant to do. I also know now that finding purpose doesn’t always look like a nine-to-five job. Finding purpose means digging into the things you love.”

Supported by her husband Brent, her family, and an incredible group of female friends who are always cheering her on, Chelsey encourages others to find the courage to put themselves out there and pursue their passion, even if it causes them to feel vulnerable. “Sometimes it takes a while to connect all of the dots when thinking about a passion,” she says, “but stick with it. Spend time with people who inspire you, do the things you love as often as you can, and keep your mind open to creative solutions.”

Vincent Norman Peale once said, “The more you lose yourself in something bigger than yourself, the more energy you will have.” When Chelsey Erpelding uses her hands to heal through touch or to plant medicinal herbs in her garden that will eventually be turned into natural products, there is no question she is investing in something much bigger than herself: helping others find happiness and inner-peace through healing.

For more about Chelsey and her products, visit her at https://www.othermagic.org/.

Living Her Passion - Jean Thares

 Jean Thares, Owner Mainstream Boutique of Northfield

Jean Thares, Owner Mainstream Boutique of Northfield

As a busy Minneapolis mother and wife, Jean Thares always enjoyed her career outside the home that allowed her the flexibility to be there for her family. Still, she recognized the nagging feeling inside that she needed more. After raising her son and daughter, Jean stood at a crossroads, uncertain of where to go next. With help from her husband, she began brainstorming.

A self-professed lover of clothes and unique pieces, Jean had been a long-time loyal customer of Mainstream Boutique, a Minnesota-based women's clothing retailer built to empower, strengthen, and celebrate women through fashion. While researching franchise opportunities, Jean completed several assessments to discover what would make her happy. After each assessment pointed to working with women, Jean decided to take the plunge and open her own Mainstream Boutique.

Jean confesses she was afraid to own a business. “It was definitely easier to keep working for someone else.” While coming to grips with the fact that many new businesses fail, Jean says that weighing the pros and cons became an extremely important part of her research and decision to start a business. She adds, “It’s easy to be inspired by the stories of successful businesses instead of failed businesses. But studying failures is an essential part of the analysis before investing in a business.”

Once Jean made the decision, her opening came together quickly. Four months from the time she decided on the location, signed the franchise and leasing agreements, and hired a contractor to perform the build-out, Jean opened her boutique. Supported by her family and friends as well as other franchise owners, Jean soon realized how much she loved meeting people and helping her clientele find their own unique style and feel good about themselves.

Just like any business, there are challenges that come with the joys. Jean says that hiring and keeping excellent staff is her greatest challenge. “It takes the right person to help a woman find what she looks good in,” she adds. “I have had to adjust my schedule to work nearly every Saturday so I can be there for my customers. Being a present owner, rather than an absent owner, does make a difference to your business, sales, customers, and employees.”

Jean loves the variety that comes with owning a boutique for over two years now. She switches gears a lot between answering emails, posting on social media, working with vendors, directing employees, helping customers, paying bills, and attending networking functions. It is clear she has gained much since opening the boutique. “I’ve grown as a person and have met so many fabulous women. I also have a better understanding and appreciation for challenges in women’s lives.” Although Jean is careful not to focus on the success of the business all the time, she does feel a sense of accomplishment and pride when she looks back and sees how far she’s come as a business owner.

 Mainstream Boutique of Northfield

Mainstream Boutique of Northfield

Her advice for someone who wants to open a business is sound. “Research and try to work in the business before signing any agreements. Decide what you are willing and able to sacrifice in your personal life. Find a good bookkeeper. Partner with people who know how to do things you don’t know how to do.”

Mark Twain once said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” There is no question that Jean Thares is a sailor at heart who waited for the right wind to carry her to achieving her dream. And every day when she walks into her boutique, she inspires other women to do the same.

For more about Mainstream Boutique of Northfield, visit: https://www.facebook.com/mainstreamboutiquenorthfield/

Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Coach who specializes in helping her clients move past obstacles, create a plan for happiness, and cross the bridge of transition to find a new and fulfilling direction in life. To read more about her and her practice, visit her at crossthebridgecoaching.com.

Living His Passion – Caleb Pollard

 Scratchtown Brewing Company partners (L-R): Shay Reilly, Jade Stunkel, Mike Klimek, and Caleb Pollard

Scratchtown Brewing Company partners (L-R): Shay Reilly, Jade Stunkel, Mike Klimek, and Caleb Pollard

When he was a kid growing up outside Nehawka, Nebraska, Caleb Pollard really wanted to be a farmer, just like his dad. But when life took his family in a different direction, Caleb instead attended college, married, and eventually landed roles in the private sector as well as in economic development policy and consultation. Through his work, Caleb interacted regularly with prospective and current small business owners. To witness each of them chase their dreams and work toward goals was incredibly inspirational for Caleb. From that point on, he was hooked on entrepreneurship. In 2008 as career advancement and family led Caleb and his wife, Christine, to the edge of the Eastern Sandhills in Nebraska, he had no idea that a yet-to-be-identified passion was about to begin brewing.

After marveling at the variety of beer in his local bottle shop in the early 2000s, Caleb started home-brewing with a co-worker. His venture into brewing was accidental. Caleb says, “I loved the creativity, independence, and connection to agriculture that was the beer industry.” After traveling extensively and visiting wineries and breweries across the United States, Caleb decided he was ready to pursue a new business venture.

The idea of founding a brewery in Ord, Nebraska, started as any good business does: over beers and a cocktail napkin in 2009. Once he met partners who were as passionate about brewing beer as he was, Caleb knew they had to pursue the opportunity or live a life of regret. Still, he knew that timing was critical and patiently waited for the right opportunity to transform his passion to reality. In 2011, he and his partners formulated their goals and plan of action. In January 2012, they established the company, sought financing, and acquired real estate in downtown Ord. On December 1, 2012, Caleb and his partners broke ground. Ten months later, they opened the doors to Scratchtown Brewing Company. In the summer of 2013, Caleb left his secure job and dived into the business full-time. Inspired by the advice of a former business owner—“You are either all in or you are not. There is no such thing as half-pregnant.”—Caleb accepted that entrepreneurship is not for the uncommitted. He adds, “It was a startling, humbling, and hard lesson to learn.”

Today, Caleb relishes in entrepreneurship that comes with three benefits: creativity is rewarded financially, the buck stops at his desk, and success is derived from a team effort. Whether times are good or challenging, he is thankful for the support he receives, both personally and professionally. “That engagement helps me work through the ups and downs of business ownership,” Caleb states. “Having a solid network of people that help you keep perspective is essential to getting beyond this self-is-my-business mindset.”

Scratchtown Brewing Company has evolved into a solid, profitable business. With a growing payroll and forty percent of the brewery’s business now outside of Ord, Caleb is thrilled to see Scratchtown bring much happiness to his community and beyond. He adds, “To have brand recognition in other states, not just Nebraska, tells me we’re building a reputation based on excellence and good storytelling. That’s exactly what we set out to do.”

Caleb has great advice for anyone wanting to pursue their passion in life. “Make sure your passion will actually make you money and make you happy … you can’t perpetuate a business unless it perpetuates itself.”

Steve Jobs once said, “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.” When one walks into Scratchtown Brewing Company, sits at the bar, and samples one of their delicious beers while conversing with one of the owners, it soon becomes evident that Caleb and his partners are passionate about what they do and that determination fuels their journey every day.

Life has come full circle for Caleb. Now as a business owner who persistently sets and works toward goals, he is successfully chasing his dream—and perhaps in the process, quietly inspiring another young person who has no idea their own passion is brewing.

For more information about Scratchtown Brewing Company, visit http://scratchtown.beer/.

Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Coach who specializes in helping her clients move past obstacles, create a plan for happiness, and cross the bridge of transition to find a new and fulfilling direction in life. To read more about her and her practice, visit her at crossthebridgecoaching.com.

Living His Passion – Evan Ludes

 Evan Ludes while on a storm chase near Red Cloud, Nebraska (July 2015).

Evan Ludes while on a storm chase near Red Cloud, Nebraska (July 2015).

Evan Ludes has always had a keen interest in the weather as far back as he can remember. While a little boy growing up in the heartland, Evan clearly remembers once scrambling to his family’s basement during a tornado warning and later emerging to see an incredibly vibrant rainbow. His connection with the camera began soon after he began capturing photos of various subjects around the house with his mother’s cell phone. But when his parents gifted him with a point-and-shoot camera for his birthday, the sky quickly became his favorite subject. Driven to capture the sky’s incredibly diverse palette of colors and textures, it was not long before young Evan began sharing his photos online and drawing an appreciative audience.

Although he was largely self-taught, Evan also drew inspiration from others photographers like Blair, Nebraska-based, Mike Hollingshead, who is undeniably one of the best weather photographers in the world. But it was not until fellow photographer, Chris Allington, invited Evan along (with his parents’ approval) on a storm chasing adventure that his interest in weather photography was escalated to a new level. His first chase was a high risk event in Oklahoma that quickly became a crash course in what to observe when chasing and photographing weather and thunderstorms. As his life’s journey led him from high school to attend college with a major in graphic design, Evan continued to pursue his passion of capturing one exciting weather event after the other.

Evan says his favorite part about weather photography is the challenge of finding the ideal location to take the best photos and videos. He says, “There are few things more satisfying than blasting towards a storm, setting up in front of it, documenting its most beautiful stages, and re-positioning ahead of it before it overtakes you.” Still, he emphasizes, weather photography and videography requires him to maintain situational awareness to avoid the risk of putting himself in harm’s way. He adds, “You always have to have an escape option to avoid the storm if something changes or goes wrong.”

His two most exciting shoots occurred first in July 2010 in South Dakota as he and a storm chasing crew headed west in an SUV with a glass sunroof for what looked like storm with a typical moderate risk for large hail and a marginal risk of tornados. But as Evan already knows, Mother Nature loves surprising humanity. What Evan and the rest ended up witnessing was the storm structure of a supercell that produced the largest hailstone on record near Vivian, South Dakota—nearly the size of a bowling ball. The second shoot occurred in Mapleton, Iowa, during a tornado outbreak in April 2011. Evan states, “The chase was significantly different than most as it occurred mainly after dark. I’ll never forget standing several miles south of a tornadic supercell, hearing nothing but crickets and grass blowing as lightning illuminated the silhouette of several tornados in the distance.”

 Evan's photograph of the world-record hailstorm in Vivian, South Dakota (July 2010).

Evan's photograph of the world-record hailstorm in Vivian, South Dakota (July 2010).

Evan’s hard work and talents have not gone unrecognized. To date, his work has appeared on most major networks and shows including ABC’s Good Morning America, the CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, NBC’s The Today Show, The Weather Channel, Weather Nation, and several local news stations. His first television debut was when he was just sixteen and interviewed by The Weather Channel’s Carl Parker about his photography. His work has also been featured on a handful of book covers, albums, and most recently, on the cover of Robert Oldshue’s November Storm.

In pursuing his passions of storm chasing and weather photography, Evan has gained a great sense of humility. He says, “There’s nothing that makes you feel smaller than watching the stars above a departing thunderstorm, and there’s no better reality-check than a lightning bolt crashing less than a hundred yards away from you.”

He advises anyone wishing to pursue their own passion in life to seek out others who share that same passion and grow together. Evan adds, “Find someone who motivates you to push the envelope.” He says that if it hadn’t been for other photographers like Chris and Mike, he may never have chased storms, traveled, eventually moved to Rapid City, South Dakota, or met his wife through an online photography forum.

Dorothea Lange once said, “The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” Every time Evan Ludes chases and ultimately captures an exciting weather event, he inspires all of us to take a moment out of our busy lives, look to the sky, and respect its amazing power and beauty.

For more about Evan and his work, visit:

https://www.facebook.com/FramedByNature/

http://www.blurb.com/b/6092519-weather-spotting

http://www.framedbynature.net/

Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Coach who specializes in helping her clients move past obstacles, create a plan for happiness, and cross the bridge of transition to find a new and fulfilling direction in life. To read more about her and her practice, visit her at crossthebridgecoaching.com.

Living His Passion - Mark Ervin

 Mark Ervin hard at work in his home office.

Mark Ervin hard at work in his home office.

Mark Ervin first became passionate about art and drawing when he was five years old. He remembers lying on the floor of the bedroom he shared with three of his older brothers and watching his brother Bill copy, not trace, a profoundly authentic recreation of panels from his Peanuts paperback book. After grabbing a pencil and paper, Mark didn’t draw cartoons, but instead the back view of a Camaro and Mustang racing on a track. At that moment, Mark’s fiery passion for cars, racing, and drawing was born.

Years later, Mark decided he wanted to be a syndicated cartoonist and cartoon satirist and had already developed a five-year plan to learn the craft in a highly creative environment and then bring it home to Nebraska to become a freelance illustrator. On the last day of visiting his sister in Los Angeles in the spring of 1989, Mark and his wife, Jennifer, stumbled onto the California Institute of the Arts, a school founded by the Walt Disney Company that focuses on developing fully rounded artists, animators, and filmmakers. After meeting with the dean and showing his portfolio, Mark was accepted. That winter, just before semester break, The Simpsons premiered on the FOX network. By April, the studio was calling and inviting students to test for positions on the show. Mark quickly jumped at the opportunity.

After passing several challenging tests, Mark landed a gig as a background artist and quickly began working on proving himself to the director as he set up the scenes for the character animators. During the first hiatus, Mark worked as a character animator on the first season of Rugrats, and worked as a storyboard artist on their second season. In 1992, he returned to The Simpsons and worked as a character layout artist, drawing and animating up to twenty scenes a week. In 1994, he was asked to assist directing a show and in 1999, he was promoted to director. One year later, he hired on at another studio to direct episodes of Futurama where he remained until July 2001 when he and his family decided to return to his wife’s hometown of Neligh, Nebraska. Mark says, “I was ready to leave my 80-hour-a-week job and be closer to family again.” The Simpsons hired him as a freelancer until 2012 when studio budget cuts prompted them to release all artists working remotely.

During his final years with The Simpsons and beyond, Mark began rendering cars again. “I missed it and knew I had learned a lot of skills as well as a different approach on how to not just draw cars, but also to tell a story with the car as a main character,” adds Mark. As an automotive artist, he has created a brand, built clientele through social media, and developed a reputation for creating stories that contain memories and details that tell more about the car’s owner than the car itself. Today when Mark is not drawing cars, he is storyboarding for an animated show being developed for Netflix. His current goals as an artist are to one day publish two books in development, create calendars and coloring books, and write and illustrate a children’s book.

 A Mark Ervin original, "Dart in the Dark"

A Mark Ervin original, "Dart in the Dark"

Mark’s biggest supporters are his large family and his closest friends. Pursuing his passion has provided him the opportunity to use his God-given talent to enrich, entertain, and mentor others with similar dreams. His advice to anyone interested in pursuing their passion is simple yet profound. “We do what we love for ourselves, but what we do influences others. We have a huge responsibility to make sure that what we do is edifying to others.” As an artist, Mark believes no one has to shock in order to be relevant. “There are far more people out there who appreciate the beautiful than there are those who enjoy the edgy. Artists should explore the edgy, but pursue the beautiful.”

Through his art, faith, and love for his family, Mark is a shining example of the message Lailah Gifty Akita once shared, “Find your purpose and passionately live it.” Every time Mark creates art and shares it with the world, he is an inspiration to others to do the same.

For more about Mark and to view his work, visit:

http://blog.hemmings.com/index.php/2015/04/28/mark-ervin/

http://markervin327.wix.com/-art-n-motion

https://www.facebook.com/MarkErvinArtNMotion/timeline

 Another Mark Ervin original, "61 Special"

Another Mark Ervin original, "61 Special"

Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Coach who specializes in helping her clients move past obstacles, create a plan for happiness, and cross the bridge of transition to find a new and fulfilling direction in life. To read more about her and her practice, visit her at crossthebridgecoaching.com.

 

Living His Passion - Miles Moore

 Miles stands next to his plane with his dogs by his side.

Miles stands next to his plane with his dogs by his side.

Miles Moore first began nurturing an interest in flying when he was a boy. His father, a World War II pilot who flew a B29 bomber in the Pacific Rim, captured Miles’ attention early-on with his fascinating stories about flying airplanes. As Miles grew up in Omaha and learned about entrepreneurship through managing a paper route for the Omaha World-Herald, he had no idea that he was already building the foundation to carry out two future dreams: one as a business owner and the second as a pilot.

Following graduation from Iowa State where he majored in Finance, Miles moved to Chicago where he began a career as a financial advisor. After raising children and building his own firm, Moore Financial, Miles and his wife, Joanne, moved from Chicago to Steamboat Springs, Colorado, in 2014 to pursue their lifestyle interests. For Miles, the move meant more opportunities to ski, hike, and ultimately continue the journey to attain his private pilot certificate.

Miles says that earning a pilot certificate is both a demanding and rewarding process. Only forty percent of registered student pilots complete the certificate. The training process, which typically takes about one year, consists of completing curriculum related to aerodynamics, regulations, airport procedures, navigation, flight planning, etc.) and hands-on flight training. Students must also pass both a FAA written exam and a flight test/check-ride with an FAA examiner. Once the certificate is obtained, pilots frequently work to complete advanced ratings such as Instrument Rating, Multi-engine rating, Commercial Rating, and Certified Flight Instructor.

Ask any pilot what they like most about flying and they will probably say it is both challenging and fun. Miles is no exception. He adds, “There are limitless learning opportunities and it opens a world of possibilities. For me, the independence and flexibility that comes with flying is a huge draw.”

Miles began researching how to purchase a plane after his first flight lesson. After determining which models would deliver the performance necessary for a demanding mountain/high altitude environment plus provide the speed and capacity appropriate for regional business and personal travel, he purchased a turbo-charged, six-seat Beechcraft Bonanza in February 2017. His plan is to fly the plane for three years, further advance his skills, and then purchase a jet-engine-powered Piper Meridian.

 Miles pilots his plane above the clouds.

Miles pilots his plane above the clouds.

Miles credits his father’s influence for instilling his spirit of adventure and passion for aviation. When he hangs up his entrepreneurial hat one day, he plans to serve as a flight instructor so he can inspire other adults and teach them how to fly.

Flying provides a great outlet for Miles as he receives great satisfaction from setting and accomplishing goals. He advises anyone who wants to pursue their passion in life to create a written plan with action steps and deadlines. He adds, “Recognize that change is challenging for everyone and generally only happens when you’re uncomfortable. When the pain of not pursuing your passion and goals exceeds the pain associated with change, you know you’re ready to move forward.”

Miles’ passion for flying is a testament to an inspiring quote from Leonardo da Vinci, “Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”

There is no question that when Miles steps into his airplane, pulls back the throttle, and soars into the sky, he is relishing in every bit of the freedom his father valiantly fought for some seventy years ago. And from somewhere even higher in the sky, his father is smiling down on him.

Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Coach who specializes in helping her clients move past obstacles, create a plan for happiness, and cross the bridge of transition to find a new and fulfilling direction in life. To read more about her and her practice, visit her at crossthebridgecoaching.com.

Living Her Passion - Cheryl Wagner

 Cheryl designs jewelry while sitting on the floor where she feels most grounded and creative.

Cheryl designs jewelry while sitting on the floor where she feels most grounded and creative.

Cheryl Wagner has always been a self-starter. At age twelve, she created her first piece of jewelry and was inspired to pursue her passion full-time after witnessing the metaphysical healing powers of stones.

Since 1979, Cheryl and her husband, Roger, have owned two barbeque restaurants (Thee Pitts Again): one in Glendale, Arizona, and a seasonal version in Silverton, Colorado, that they share ownership with their son, Chris, and daughter, Megan. Their journey as successful restaurant owners has led them to appear on The Food Network’s show Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives as well as to be featured in many magazines, books, radio, and on other television shows.

Today, Cheryl is focused on leading a more balanced life. Now that her children are grown, she has cut back on long hours spent at her restaurants and is busily creating jewelry that she says makes not only her happy, but also makes her customers smile. It is obvious she loves what she is doing. “When I am creating my jewelry, the day goes by very quickly,” adds Cheryl. There are no typical days when creating wearable art. Some days Cheryl is filling orders; other days she is working in her shop perfecting Search Engine Optimization, uploading new items, tracking stock, and deciding on best prices.

There are many benefits to owning a small business. Cheryl loves working at home, when she wants and how often she wants. She finds support through a variety of community groups on Facebook and Etsy. Her jewelry creating process is unique and includes reading the stones, blessing the jewelry, and performing Reiki (hands-on healing) on all pieces before shipping them to customers. She says, “All stones have esoteric properties and customers often request a certain type of stone to help them attain healing. For example, rose quartz symbolizes, among other things, unconditional love or self-love.” Cheryl includes the Reiki symbol, Cho Ku Rei, on all her jewelry that works for the highest good of all.

In addition to owning her restaurants and jewelry business, Cheryl stays busy as a hospice volunteer. “I love it!” she states. “I’ve met so many people and learned so much about life and living. Life is very precious.” In the busy life she has created for herself, she wears many other hats that include serving as an ordained minister, analyzing handwriting, and performing angel readings.

By enthusiastically pursuing her passion, Cheryl has gained confidence in herself and found a balance that has allowed her to be creative and help others at the same time. She advises others who want to do the same to just “Go for it! Know that you have to work at it. But if it is really your passion, then it shouldn’t feel like work anyway.”

Henri Matisse once said, “Creativity takes courage,” In her pursuit of a simpler, quieter life, Cheryl Wagner has proven that finding the courage within to bravely blaze her own creative path is the secret to finding true happiness.

To view and/or order Cheryl’s fabulous jewelry, click here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/makemesmilejewelry

Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Coach who specializes in helping her clients move past obstacles, create a plan for happiness, and cross the bridge of transition to find a new and fulfilling direction in life. To read more about her and her practice, visit her at crossthebridgecoaching.com.

Five Secrets to Surviving Adversity

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In the award-winning memoir, The Distance Between Us, Reyna Grande shines a light on how it is possible to overcome a tumultuous childhood and ultimately achieve success in life. Reyna, who was transported across borders and between homes as a child, shares poignant details of her early life that reveal how she not only survived abandonment, heartache, and seemingly insurmountable obstacles that accompanied her childhood, but also persevered to become an acclaimed writer. Despite her challenges, Reyna allowed herself to dream and accepted guidance from a trusted mentor who taught her to believe in herself and her abilities. Most importantly, Reyna did not allow herself to be labeled as a victim. Instead, she proudly wore the title of survivor—and still does to this day.

It is no secret that life is hard. It seems that just when everything seems to be going swimmingly, adversity strikes, leaving us wondering what we did to deserve our challenges. Although it is easier to slip into the “why me” mode while attempting to claw our way out of the darkness, there are ways to survive adversity and come out of it stronger and more empathetic toward our fellow man. So what are a few secrets to surviving hardship in life?

  1. Break up time into tiny pieces. When we think we cannot make it through another day, try to focus on making it through the next hour. If that seems daunting, turn your attention to surviving the next five minutes. When that seems impossible, focus on persevering through the next minute.
  2. Lower expectations of yourself. While facing challenges in life, treat yourself like you would treat a friend enduring the same experience. Be kind to yourself. It is okay if the laundry sits in the hamper for a few days or if dinner consists of peanut butter sandwiches for a week. You don’t have to be “super” anything for the time being.
  3. Practice positive self-talk. Rather than telling yourself, “Everything will be okay,” try this instead, “Everything is okay.” Because it is okay. No matter what. Repeating this phrase over and over again retrains your mind to believe that in time, life will go on.
  4. Think of yourself as a tiny speck in an enormous universe. Take a walk in nature. Stop and really look at the clouds, the sun, and the huge sky. You, just like everyone else around you, have a unique purpose in life. Embrace the thought that in time, everything will happen just as it is supposed to in your life. Trust in the process and the universe’s plan for you.
  5. Be present. Stay in the here and now. Whenever your mind starts to create dismal scenarios for the future, gently bring it back to the present. It may be helpful to wear a special bracelet you can touch throughout the day as a reminder to stay in the here and now if your thoughts turn more worrisome than comforting. As Carrie ten Boom once said, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.”

The next time you face adversity, think of Reyna Grande. Despite her challenges, she became the first in her family to graduate from college, to earn a master’s degree, and ultimately to write several celebrated books. Her journey has not been easy, but neither is anyone else’s. You are never alone. No matter what comes your way in the future, keep dreaming, loving, and believing in yourself.

Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Coach who specializes in helping her clients move past obstacles, create a plan for happiness, and cross the bridge of transition to find a new and fulfilling direction in life. To read more about her and her practice, visit her at crossthebridgecoaching.com.