Living Her Passion – Kim Shaw, Photo Artist

Kim Shaw working on a photo art creation.

Kim Shaw working on a photo art creation.

Creativity is in Kim Shaw’s blood. Ever since she was a little girl, she has enjoyed taking photographs, drawing, and painting. As she matured and ventured out on her own, she was encouraged to find a career that offered stability and a predictable salary. While married, working in a variety of corporate roles and as a nanny, and raising her daughter, Brianne, Kim began photographing weddings, portraits, and even school photos. As her job as a nanny took her around the world, Kim captured beautiful scenes and landscapes from many of her trips. Later after learning her great-grandfather was a photographer and digging through his vintage images, Kim began contemplating how she could enhance and restore those images and ultimately transform them into artwork. “A photograph is frozen in time,” Kim says, “I want to know what they were going through in their lives at that very moment.”

Everything changed in 2010 when divorce set Kim on a path of healing where she eventually met with a life coach who guided her to explore new mediums that included acrylic painting on photographs. After taking a couple of classes and receiving a gentle push from a friend, Kim began painting—first for family who asked her to paint as gifts and then for a gallery owner who asked her to paint in her gallery “live” on Saturdays. It wasn’t long before her business, PhotoArt by Kim, was founded and she was on her way to pursuing her passion.

Kim’s award-winning artwork.

Kim’s award-winning artwork.

Kim’s photo painting process begins with an image in any condition. “If it’s not in digital form, I’ll scan it digitally and then print it on canvas,” she adds. “Then I prepare the surface of the canvas with a matte medium and begin painting with acrylic, following either her intuition or the customer’s guidance.” Kim says that most of her commissions are inspired by the clients, as they generally have a vision of what they want. After the painting has dried, each piece is varnished with UVA protective coating.

Kim’s art niche is in gift giving. Her clients possess vintage and classic images from every walk of life—grandpa and his first car; grandma in her twenties, the father a customer never met; a family homestead in the 1950s, and beloved pets. Since 2012, Kim has completed over 50 commissions. Her customers find her at art shows and other events where they enjoy viewing her completed pieces and hearing all the stories surrounding her artwork. “I’ve found that most people want to meet the artist before they invest in artwork,” she adds. Her favorite part of creating art is seeing the reactions of her clients when they see their artwork for the first time. “Usually we cry together because the photo image means so much to them. When they see where I was able to take the photograph, it becomes a healing experience.”

Her parents are her biggest supporters. Her mother, who is in her late seventies, is now taking oil painting classes for the first time in her life. Kim proclaims she has gained complete fulfillment by pursuing her passion. “The joy I have when a client cries over their completed artwork is very spiritual,” she adds. Today Kim keeps busy with a new creative group she has formed and with exploring other mediums like abstract painting. Her advice to anyone wanting to pursue their passion is, “If you love it, then do it! Love is your fuel. Be your own customer first.”

Kim with a happy client.

Kim with a happy client.

Angel Haze once said, “True artistic expression lies in conveying emotion.” Kim Shaw offers her customers the inspirational gift of artfully recapturing moments in the lives of their ancestors, their friends, and themselves and providing them with a keepsake that draws emotions to the surface and keeps those moments alive for the next generation to appreciate. Through the pursuit of her artistic passions that provide others with so much happiness, Kim is leaving a legacy that will last long beyond her time here on Earth.

For more about her artwork or to reach out to Kim about a commission piece, visit https://www.facebook.com/photoartbykim/.

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.

 

Who Are You Surrounding Yourself With?

Helena.Lopes

Some people call it a tribe. Others call it a support system or board of directors. No matter what you title it, we all need a trustworthy and loyal group of people surrounding us who unconditionally care for us; listen intently when we share ideas, thoughts, and feelings; keep our secrets; and believe that we can achieve our dreams, even when we are feeling uncertain about our path forward.

So what are some of the main characteristics of a true supporter?

A true supporter has your best interest in mind. This person asks you the right kinds of questions when you are contemplating change in your life. They may ask you honest, introspective questions like, “What are you getting out of this decision?” or “What is going to make you truly happy right now?” They do not think of themselves and what they are going to receive personally from your decision. In short, they are placing your happiness above their own.

A true supporter is not envious of your success. The people in your inner circle should be your biggest cheerleaders. When the rest of the world is booing, they should be rooting you on from the sidelines. A true supporter believes in you, in your talents, and in making the kinds of adjustments in your life that instigate positive change. When everyone else says, “Good luck with that,” a true supporter says, “What can I do to help?” or “Let me make a phone call.” And when you do achieve what you believe to be success, a true supporter is not afraid to let you and everyone they know how great you are.

A true supporter speaks the truth in a gentle, nonconfrontational way. This person knows that deep inside, you want the truth. But you don’t want to receive the truth in a way that is hurtful, brash, or self-serving. You want the truth delivered with a calmness that is encouraging yet honest. This person often speaks the truth while offering other options to consider that do not leave you wanting more, but instead believing that you can still achieve your goals, just in a different way.

A true supporter forgives you for your missteps. A true supporter believes that in forgiving others, they set themselves free. This person forgives you for sometimes speaking from pain, guilt, grief, or anger while reminding you that we are all imperfect. A true supporter releases resentment and replaces it with understanding. This person never holds a grudge and encourages others in your inner circle to follow their lead.

A true supporter helps you see a way forward. When we become immersed in the messiness of daily life, it can sometimes be difficult to see a way out. A true supporter reminds us that tomorrow is a new day filled with fresh opportunities to become better versions of ourselves. This person not only helps you move forward, but also provides support every step of the way, especially when you are feeling afraid, lost, or alone.

Surrounding yourself with a positive, supportive inner circle is the best thing you can do for you. Always remember that you deserve it. And then pay it forward and be that person for someone else. 

“It doesn't matter how many people you meet in your life; you just need the real ones who accept you for who you are and help you become who you should be.” ― Roy T. Bennett

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 - Jason Gilbreath, Reclaimed Enterprises

Jason Gilbreath, Founder and Owner of Reclaimed Enterprises

Jason Gilbreath, Founder and Owner of Reclaimed Enterprises

Jason Gilbreath was living a full life nearly five years ago. He had been working for First National Bank of Omaha for ten years in leadership roles where he was provided tremendous opportunities to learn and challenge himself. While he and his wife, Jenny, raised their four children, Jason served on boards, coached Little League, and spent as much time as possible with family and friends. Still, Jason dreamed of one day opening his own business.

As a home remodeling project led Jason to build a table with reclaimed wood in his garage, he began brainstorming about starting a business that would provide the same kind of wood to others on a larger scale that would positively impact the community by sourcing sustainable materials, performing value-added processing, and ultimately providing high quality reclaimed products. In July 2014 when a bank reorganization led Jason to contemplate a new beginning, he could no longer ignore his long-held dream of starting his own business. And so, Reclaimed Enterprises was born.

Jason said the best piece of advice he received when starting his business was to “Keep moving, fail fast, and find focus.” Through trial and error and several business model transformations, Jason admits that the process of creating and understanding his brand was painful, stressful, and even discouraging at times. He adds, “We just kept moving to find our place. Now we have expertise, focus, good partners, and a business we are proud of. We are getting closer every day to where we want to be.”

Today, Reclaimed Enterprises is focused on facilitating the use of locally reclaimed materials in design and furniture products to reduce blight and divert waste in Omaha and the surrounding area. His past work has included deconstruction projects for establishments like Habitat for Humanity and leaders at Creighton University who asked for his help promoting the reuse of flooring from the original on-campus gymnasium built in 1915. “Most of our early sales were driven by custom designs and builds,” says Jason. “We are now working to expand our sales channels and footprint while continuing to demonstrate our expertise and consistently provide high quality materials and products.”

His support group includes his wife, Jenny, as well as a group of loyal family, friends, partners, vendors, and customers who Jason says help the company grow and become better every day. His favorite part of owning a business is helping others and winning together. His biggest unforeseen challenges have included warranty and employee issues as well as Mother Nature’s unpredictable disposition. Jason candidly describes a typical day as, “Wake up. Try to take care of yourself and your loved ones a bit. Look at short-term items to complete. Sell. Sell. Sell. Take a call. Fix a problem. Get help. Get something done. Do something different. Take a breath. Think about the future. Get some sleep. Repeat.”

The one thing he can do today that he couldn’t a year ago is see a path to long-term success. “It may change,” he adds, “but it is much clearer than it once was.” He has learned many lessons along the way that include asking for help sooner than he thinks he needs it and finding a thought partner he can trust who is beside him through every battle. Through the pursuit of his passion, Jason has gained the sense of accomplishment that comes with building something from nothing that has value to others. Today he is grateful for everything that has come his way, everything he has worked for, and everything that awaits him in his future.

His advice to others who want to pursue their dreams is practical. “Spend time finding those who value your passion before you pursue it. Those people may include customers, partners, vendors, employees, friends, family, and trusted advisers. If you build it, they won’t always come, so find out where they are and what they want from you. Then go and build that.”

Mother Teresa once said, “I only feel angry when I see waste. When I see people throwing away things we could use.” Through his eyes and a creative vision, Jason saw a way to take the Earth’s waste and transform it into beautiful pieces that help keep our land pristine for future generations. Through his impact, Jason Gilbreath is making a difference, one piece of wood at a time.

For more information on Jason and Reclaimed Enterprises, visit http://www.reclaimedenterprises.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.

 

What We Can All Learn from a Lifelong Adventurer

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I first met Dr. John Davis in 2001 when I was assigned to write a feature story about him and his siblings after they traveled across Nebraska on a tour that had been on their family’s bucket list for many years. John and his brother, Herb, wanted to take their sister, Petie, a long-time Boston resident, back to their family ranch in Cody, Nebraska, while also touring the rest of the Sand Hills. As I profiled John and his siblings, I soon learned he was the author of Too Tough to Die, a fictional account of life in a small town in the Nebraska Sand Hills, inspired by the town of Cody. John and I had a love of writing in common—and as it turned out, we were more alike than not in many more ways.

After the article was published in the Omaha newspaper, John offered to take me to lunch to thank me. I was thrilled to meet him in person. By the time our paths crossed, he was in his late seventies and I was in my late thirties. As we conversed over lunch, I learned that John graduated from Yale, served in the Navy as a captain of a ship during World War II, practiced general surgery for years with his father, and owned a golf course/tennis center. He was madly in love with his wife of fifty-plus years, and adored his children and grandchildren. He was an avid horseman, golfer, tennis player, painter, and hunter. But more than that, John was an adventurer. We were kindred spirits.

As our friendship developed, John and I stayed in contact through emails, a letter every year on my birthday, and an annual lunch. When his brother (and best friend) passed away, John told me how much he missed him. When his beloved wife died, he grieved once again. After he eventually found love with another wonderful woman, he proudly introduced her to me. As we grew to become close friends, we exchanged lively stories of our adventures. I told him of the time I backpacked down the side of a mountain in a blizzard, helped rescue a man who collapsed on a Minnesota trail, and bravely confronted my fears of grizzly bears while hiking in Montana. As he aged, he continued to ride horses, hunt, and golf. He often delighted in proudly announcing, “I’m the oldest person on the golf course!” In Nebraska, John looked forward to hunting season as much as he did when he was a boy. While wintering at his home in California, John loved four-wheeling in his Hummer. One day a few years ago, I received a letter from John confessing a terrible mistake. He and three friends had gone four-wheeling in his Hummer in the desert. After a wrong turn led John, who was by now in his early 90s, to realize they were lost, he and his friends huddled together on the cold desert floor all night in an effort to keep warm. When the sun rose, a rescue helicopter arrived to save the group. Finally after much persuasion, he reluctantly agreed to trade in the Hummer for a more practical mode of transportation. Still, he golfed and joyfully reminisced about his past adventures whenever he had the chance.

This year, I didn’t receive a letter on my birthday. I began having a nagging feeling that something was wrong. Just a few days after Thanksgiving, I learned John had died at the age of ninety-six. He left behind his sister, Petie, his second wife, Marlene, seven grandchildren, fourteen great-grandchildren, and of course, many friends just like me.

John was many things: a loyal friend; a talented horseman, hunter, and writer; a loving husband, father, and grandfather; and the kind of surgeon who, when holding the scalpel, treated every one of his patients like he would a member of his own family. But John was also an adventurer who lived life. He welcomed opportunities to meet new people, step outside his comfort zone, and grow personally—even well into his nineties.

I know Dr. John Davis would be thrilled that I am profiling him once again. But he would be even more thrilled if he knew this profile had somehow encouraged each one of you to pursue adventure, to live life with gusto, and to love each other like there is no tomorrow.

As you look forward into a new year, take John’s enthusiasm for life and pass it on to everyone you come in contact with on a daily basis as well as your children, family, and friends. Age well. Embrace adventure. Pursue your dreams. Climb a mountain. Go four-wheeling. Golf until they have to carry you off the course. Be a good person. Because I promise that when the end comes, none of us will ever regret a life well lived.

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 – Allison Borji

Allison Borji has always considered herself a “creative.” Despite a challenging childhood that sadly included the traumatic loss of her father to suicide when she was just five and her own battle with severe depression, Allison always had a pen in hand and, as a self-professed hopeless romantic, loved writing poetry. After graduating magna cum laude from college with a degree in history, marrying her college sweetheart, and moving around the country as a military spouse, Allison began searching for a hobby that would help her become more reliant on herself and her abilities as she stepped outside her comfort zone.

By researching various types of art techniques and materials that appealed to her, Allison discovered she had a knack for combining colors to create beautiful artwork. As she began painting on a regular basis, Allison quickly realized the therapeutic benefits of creating art. The way the paint swirled and the ink spread on the canvas helped take her mind to a quiet place. After thoroughly studying a variety of mediums, Allison finally settled on fluid acrylic, watercolors, and alcohol inks.

When she begins painting, Allison rarely has a vision in mind of what she wants to create. Instead, she chooses a color palette that reflects her mood or the seasons and guides her to start the process creating abstract art. After reminding herself to let go of control, Allison lets her medium do the deciding. “That helps take the stress out of deciding what to paint,” she adds. Once she creates a piece, she lets it sit overnight and comes back to it after a day or two. Allison finds that extremely useful in helping her create art pieces that she loves. After about a week of assessing the piece, she adds varnish to ensure its longevity and vibrancy. Because of a harsh inner-critic she is always attempting to tame, Allison generally places one out of five pieces on her Etsy site to sell.

An Allison Borji original

An Allison Borji original

When Allison decided to open a shop on Etsy, she received heartfelt advice to “just do it.” Additionally, she was encouraged to take things at her own pace. “I knew if I opened a shop, I would feel pressure to consistently create more art. I have to remind myself daily that I am doing this because I love it, not because I have to,” says Allison. When a customer purchases a piece because they are going through the same emotional challenges as Allison, she is thrilled that her art is supporting their healing process. Her challenges have included learning how to photograph her art and size it properly to fit Etsy’s standards. “The way I see colors and the sheen on a canvas can greatly affect the photo,” Allison states. Another challenge she has battled is turning down commission work. “Learning to say no to commissions is essential to maintaining my love for making art. Because my whole philosophy revolves around ‘therapy through art’, the pressure and deadlines that come with commission work takes away the love I have for the art process,” adds Allison.

Supported by her family, friends, co-workers, and most of all, her husband Omar, Allison has come to realize that it is a gift to have found a passion that helps heal her soul, bring her peace of mind, and help others realize they are not alone. Today, she is better at motivating herself to take risks, growing comfortable with her identity, and becoming bolder in her decision making. Although each year comes with its own set of obstacles, she is learning how to breathe through them, finding humor in many situations, and adapting easier to change. “I am comfortable calling myself a different person than I was ten years ago,” Allison says, “Creating art has provided me a haven and coping mechanism that allows me to reduce the stigma of mental illness while providing hope to anyone battling personal challenges.”

Allison advises anyone ready to pursue their passion to just do it and don’t look back. “Stay true to yourself. Go with your instincts. Life is fragile and short. We can often get too caught up in what we need to do. Find your passion and make time for it. Life is hard, embracing your passion will only help make it more enjoyable and fulfilling.”

Henri Matisse once said, “Creativity takes courage.” Every day that Allison Borji steps into her art studio and lets inspiration take control, she is proving to herself—and all her customers—that anything is possible if we just trust in the process and believe we can.

An Allison Borji original

An Allison Borji original

To view and/or purchase Allison’s artwork, visit her shop “Ink & Bear It: Abstract Artworks by Allison Borji” at www.etsy.com/shop/inkandbearit.

A Look Back at 2018: Why the Failures Are Just as Important as the Wins

Photo by  Jean Gerber

Photo by Jean Gerber

Although December is generally a very busy month for the majority of us, it is also a great time to step away from the holiday parties, shopping, and buffet table to reflect on everything—the good, bad, and ugly—about the past year. Unfortunately, we often avoid reflecting on the bad and the ugly because, quite frankly, it stings and reminds us of things we’d rather forget.

In a 2018 blog profile, one of my interviewees stated that when she was considering opening her own business, she decided to study businesses that failed. When asked why, she added that she felt it was important to learn why businesses closed their doors, not just why they succeeded. Today her business is thriving because she took the time to face her fears, explore all options, and learn.

Failures are equally as important as successes in teaching life lessons.

Although we’d rather not think or talk about our failures in life, it is valuable to our personal growth to ask ourselves questions at the end of each year that prompt self-reflection and provide an opportunity to learn more about ourselves, what we want, and how we can move forward and transform a negative experience into a positive one.

For example, on September 20, 2018, the Cleveland Browns beat the New York Jets for their first win since December 24, 2016. In less than two years, they managed to turn a series of heartbreaking losses into an unyielding determination to prove their critics wrong.

Lessons extracted from failures can be transformed into positive energy
that fuels the achievement of future goals.

In job interviews, hiring manager sometimes ask candidates to discuss a time when they failed. It can be an agonizing moment in the interview for candidates. After all, we are trained in life to focus only on our successes. But the hiring manager has a reason behind the question. He/she wants to know if you are willing to take risks and, more importantly, if you are willing to learn from your mistakes.

 Failure provides an opportunity to learn from mistakes.

So when thinking about what you have achieved and not achieved in the last year, it is important to ask yourself a well-rounded set of questions that not only explore your wins and losses, but also help you find a direction forward:

What have I accomplished this year that I am most proud of?

What have I done that I wish I could take back?

What is the one constructive criticism I would like to work on and why?

Who in my life is holding me back from pursuing my dreams?

What is the one thing I wish I could have achieved this year that I didn’t?

How committed am I to learning from my mistakes? (Very, not so much, not at all)

How willing am I to take a risk in the next year? (Very, not so much, not at all)

What does failure mean to me?

What does success mean to me?

Once you have formulated and reviewed your answers to all of these questions, take some time to reflect. If you failed, why? Were you committed to your goals? Did someone stand in your way (or did you stand in your own way)? What are three lessons you learned from each failure?

 Reflecting on an entire year can be enlightening in many ways. Although it is scary at first, it is an important step in growing as a person, stepping outside your comfort zone, and learning lessons that you can carry forward into the future to better yourself and the world around you.

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 – Julie Ricceri, Diana’s Papillion Tea Shop

Julie Ricceri, Owner of Diana’s Papillion Tea Shop

Julie Ricceri, Owner of Diana’s Papillion Tea Shop

When Julie Ricceri won a bag of tea from a Facebook contest hosted by The Papillion Tea Shop in 2016, she had just retired from a thirty-two-year career as a special education teacher. Married for thirty-three years and the mother of an adult daughter, Julie was looking forward to a new chapter without any idea that winning that bag of tea would become a pivotal moment in her life.

When Julie visited the tea shop to pick up her bag of tea, she chatted with an employee who was resigning. Julie, who was seeking work a few days a week, was eventually hired by Diana, the owner of the tea shop. Diana had cancer and needed someone to manage the shop while she received treatments. As a friendship between the two women developed, Diana confided in Julie that she wanted someone to take over the shop if the cancer ever became untreatable, perhaps five to ten years down the road. While Julie and Diana contemplated partnering together in the business, Diana traveled to Florida over Christmas. When she returned, she was too ill to work. Julie adds, “She was only able to make it in one more time before she passed away.” Her death left her grief-stricken husband, Des, with the overwhelming task of managing the shop as well as Diana’s affairs. After Julie agreed to stay on and run the business, she asked him to consider renaming the shop, Diana’s Papillion Tea Shop. He agreed and a year later, Julie purchased the shop from him.

Although Julie has always loved tea, she only drank unflavored green tea for its immune boosting power. Once she started working at the tea shop, she began learning about the health benefits of all teas. Today she definitely considers herself a tea aficionado who is passionate about the advantages of drinking a variety of teas cultivated from around the world.

Diana’s Tea Shop, Papillion, NE

Diana’s Tea Shop, Papillion, NE

While owning a business was daunting at first, Julie was inspired by Diana who she says had the imagination and unique abilities to open the shop. Diana’s husband, Des, offered great advice: enjoy every moment. “He didn’t want me to feel guilty about taking over the shop,” Julie adds. Before she tackles anything new, Julie always asks herself, “Would Diana like this? Is this something she would do?” Today, Julie has transformed into a confident entrepreneur who is slowly adding her own unique touches to the shop. Recently she added more tables and a cozy sitting area—a decision that has been very popular with her devoted customers. Her biggest challenge has been determining how much inventory to purchase and finding a balance between the demands of entrepreneurship and her need for occasional downtime. Her biggest surprise is how many of her customers have become her friends. “It really is a blessing,” she says, “I have a whole new set of people in my life that I would not have ever known had I not won that bag of tea!”

Julie’s husband, Ben, is her biggest supporter. He helps her with the books, cleans the shop, and assists with preparations for special events. Her daughter, Nina, also provides encouragement along the way. Finally, Diana’s family always expresses their gratitude to her for keeping the shop open.

Every day, Julie opens the shop at 10:00 a.m., ensures the tea is ready for sampling, stocks the shelves, checks on orders, answers customers’ questions, makes drinks, and chats with the customers. When asked what one word best describes her life today, Julie answered, “Full.” By pursuing her passion, Julie has gained a sense of satisfaction that comes with loving what she does. Although she never expected to be an entrepreneur, Julie has settled quite nicely into her new role and openly embraces everything that goes along with it. When she greets her customers warmly and offers them a place to decompress and enjoy a cup of flavorful tea, there is no question that Julie has found her home.

 Diana would be so proud.

 For more about Julie and the tea shop, visit www.dianaspapillionteashop.com or her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/papillionteashop/.

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.

Why I Became a Life Coach

Vicky on a hike in the Beartooth Mountain Range, Montana, 2018

Vicky on a hike in the Beartooth Mountain Range, Montana, 2018

It’s a question I’m often asked: Why did you become a life coach? I am often reluctant to answer because as a life coach, the focus is on my clients, not me. When pressed, my answer is always short and simple: Because I love to help people find answers to their deepest questions about themselves and the world around them. But really it goes much deeper than that for me. Coaching others to achieve fulfillment, inner-peace, and their truth is my destiny. In short, I feel it is what I have been put on this earth to do.

As a professional writer for many years, I have become accustomed to questioning life and people around me. In doing so, I have learned that we all have a compelling story to tell. For decades, I had been informally guiding others through major decisions and obstacles when I decided to pursue a certification in life coaching. As my children matured and entered college and the world beyond, I knew it was time for me to follow my own dream. As I stepped outside my comfort zone and began an intensive training course, I was reintroduced to my love of engaging in the kind of deep conversations that instigate introspective reflection and inspire positive change.

To say I am a goal-driven person is an understatement. Setting goals drove me to write five books by the time I was forty-five; become a solo entrepreneur; ride a bike 150 miles in two days with a team; run through the notorious runner’s wall and finish many 10k races; and hike down the side of a mountain during a blizzard. Setting goals is how I made it through all the challenging times when my inner-strength was tested in more ways than I ever imagined. None of us are exempt from tragedy, loss, or heartache—and I am no exception. When I coach my clients to set goals and then hold them accountable to achieve them, it is not just because I have been trained to do that as a coach. It is because I’ve lived it and witnessed the positive results of goal setting first-hand.

Through all my life experiences, I have learned that there are two things most of us require to be happy: perseverance and a purpose. Finding the strength to persevere through the hard times is how I’ve survived all these years and created the life I want for myself. Realizing my purpose is what gets me out of bed every day and makes me look forward to every moment as an opportunity to illustrate to others all they can achieve after creating a clear plan and then taking action.

It brings me great joy when I guide a client out of the darkness and into the light to embrace what they thought was previously impossible. I have been known to jump up and down when I hear a client has stepped outside their comfort zone to achieve a dream, a goal, or a life-changing realization. One thing I have learned throughout the process of working with a variety of clients is that the size of the dream does not matter. What matters is the joy that comes with realizing they deserve everything they want and need in life.

Finally, being a life coach is much more to me than just guiding someone to achieve goals. Being a life coach reinforces my personal mission to share kindness and love with everyone who walks beside me on my path through life. Together we learn. Together we celebrate. Together we brainstorm. Together we are reminded that no matter what our challenges, we are never alone.

 “Taking personal accountability is a beautiful thing because it gives us complete control of our destinies.” ―Heather Schuck

If you are interested in learning more about how life coaching can help you achieve your goals and dreams, reach out to Vicky via the contact page.

 

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 – Kevin Kinzley, Kinzley Photography

Kevin Kinzley, Kinzley Photography, Red Lodge, Montana

Kevin Kinzley, Kinzley Photography, Red Lodge, Montana

Even at a young age, Kevin Kinzley enjoyed looking at photographs. At age fourteen, he was first inspired to own a gallery after walking into Tom Mangelsen’s gallery in Omaha, Nebraska, and realized what a career in photography could look like. Yet it was not until his sophomore year of high school that his true passion for photography began taking flight. As he learned to roll his own film and process and develop prints, Kevin discovered that he was happiest in the dark room and while capturing landscapes and wildlife. But as his journey led him to attend Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming, to study photography, Kevin slowly began to feel unsure about his path and eventually returned home to Rapid City, South Dakota, where he soon met his future wife, Jessica.

After a short stint as a ski bum at Crested Butte, Colorado, Kevin married Jessica. In the fall of 2009, they both returned to Northwest College where he re-enrolled in the photographic communications program and she pursued a nursing degree. After graduating in 2013, Kevin’s wife landed a nursing position at the hospital in Red Lodge, Montana—an area the couple had frequented through college to backpack, camp, and fish in the Beartooth Mountain range. “It was only fitting that Red Lodge would become the place we would start our careers and family,” adds Kevin.

Kevin was finally able to fulfill his long-held dream when he opened his gallery on the main street in Red Lodge in October 2016. Enthusiastically supported by his parents, wife, and others, today Kevin enjoys the ability to create and take action on his own ideas and thoughts on a daily basis. “Owning a business comes with a lot of sacrifice and discipline, but I know at the end of the day, I am creating something really great for my family,” says Kevin. A typical day starts early as he balances daddy and entrepreneurial duties. Some days, he brings his young daughter to work with him before she goes off to school. Once she is settled at school, he edits photographs, completes paperwork, and greets customers from around the world who visit his gallery. He says there are always jobs to work on, prints to order, or building maintenance items to check off his list. Because Red Lodge is essentially the base camp to the Beartooth Mountain range and Yellowstone and draws visitors from afar, Kevin states that he has shipped his prints as far as South Korea.

Photo by Kevin Kinzley (Big Horn Mountains, Lost Twin Lakes, Cloud Peak Wilderness, Wyoming)

Photo by Kevin Kinzley (Big Horn Mountains, Lost Twin Lakes, Cloud Peak Wilderness, Wyoming)

During his photography travels, Kevin has encountered a variety of wildlife including wolves, eagles, elk, birds, bison, owls, and even geckos in Hawaii. Living so close to Yellowstone and the Big Horn Mountain range the past nine years has provided Kevin with wonderful opportunities to capture creatures in their native habitats. “It’s always fascinating to witness and document their interactions without disturbing them,” he adds.

Kevin shares that he has learned much during his journey as an entrepreneur. “Pursuing my passion has taught me to look at the bigger picture and see all the reasons why I am doing this. At the end of the day, I love what I do. I am blessed that I get to pursue something I really enjoy.”

He offers great advice for someone interested in pursuing their passion in life. “Never walk away from your dreams because someone tells you it’s impossible. Find that support system that is going to build you up and be there when you fall short. Always have the ability to believe in yourself and know that although there are going to be bumps, they are all worth it in the end.”

Marc Riboud once said, “Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second.” Ever since he was a teenager gazing at Tom Mangelsen’s photographs in a gallery in Omaha, Kevin has been molding his life around his desire to capture the world around him and share it with others. Even when he tried to walk away, his passion for his craft called him back home to where he belongs—in a gallery in Red Lodge, Montana, where his photographs inspire others to stop, breathe in the fresh mountain air, and remember to live fully and with intention.

For more about Kevin and his gallery, visit http://kinzleyphotography.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.

Three Ways to Overcome Fear

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I know one thing we all have in common. We all wish that we could live our lives without fear—ever. From the moment we are born, our parents—while doing their best to encourage us to live independently—are also constantly reminding us of the dangers around us. “Be careful!” they say as we hop on a bicycle for the first time. “Don’t talk to strangers!” they announce as we walk to school. “Drive safe!” they yell as we slip behind the wheel with a new driver’s license in hand. “Lock the door!” they say when they leave us at home alone while they go out for dinner.

As we mature into adulthood, we understand all the reasons why we need to be safe behind the wheel. We know why we need to be wary of strangers. We know why we need to lock our doors. But do we really know how to face the everyday fears that often prevent us from stepping outside our comfort zones and living the life we know we deserve?

Following the three easy steps below can help us move through fear and become the best version of ourselves:

  1. Acknowledge fear. It may sound strange, but it is therapeutic to welcome fear when it knocks on your door. Greet it and invite it in. Close your eyes. Feel your heart racing. Feel your palms sweating. Then begin to breathe deeply. While breathing in, silently count to three. Then exhale through your mouth while counting to ten. When you feel calmer, you are ready to begin the second step.

  2. Take action. Fear grows best in an environment cultivated by paralysis. It is your job to overcome the paralysis by taking action steps that lead you in the direction you want to go. Find a piece of paper and begin by answering this question: “What is the best thing that will happen if I conquer this fear?” Once you have written down your answer, log three action steps underneath the answer. What can you do today that will take you one step closer to conquering this fear? Remember, these actions do not have to be overwhelming. Baby steps will also get you to the same destination.

  3. Focus on your long-term goals. On the same piece of paper, write down this statement and fill in the blank: “In five years, I want to be ____. Be as descriptive and lengthy as you want. Close your eyes again, but this time, picture the future. Really see yourself. What are you doing? Are you happy? Who is around you? Open your eyes and write down three specific goals that will lead you to what you just described in the statement above. Now welcome confidence as it knocks on your door. Greet it and invite it in. Feel the pride and excitement that comes with knowing your journey from this point forward will be fueled with confidence not fear.

By transforming fear into action steps, we become freer to pursue our goals and dreams. You are not perfect. None of us are. Fear is a natural emotion we all feel at one time or another. The good news is that you hold the key to conquering it.

 “One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises,

is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do.”

Henry Ford

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.