Living Her Passion - Dawn Beckler, Kurinji Gifts

Dawn Beckler and a few of the handmade journals

Dawn Beckler and a few of the handmade journals

As a little girl, Dawn Beckler became accustomed to change. While growing up within a military and then missionary family, she lived in many different places that included the Philippines where she spent most of her childhood. While embracing and loving what she never thought of anything but a normal life, Dawn learned to appreciate different people and cultures. After attending college in the United States, marrying her husband, Scott, and teaching second grade for five years, Dawn decided to stay home with her three children without any idea that eventually her life’s journey would lead her in a direction she never imagined.

After Dawn’s brother and his family moved to India to work with an organization that rescues girls from sex trafficking, they formed a friendship with Priya, the general manager of Love Calcutta Arts. Dawn, who became intrigued with Priya’s work with the female victims of sex trafficking, soon fell in love with the beautiful products they were creating that carried a meaningful message of hope. When her brother and sister-in-law presented Dawn with the idea of partnering with Priya, she was excited. Still unsure whether to proceed, Dawn took several weeks to pray, listen, and search within her soul for the answers. In 2018, Dawn took the plunge and began the process of founding the nonprofit, Kurinji Gifts.

Handcrafting one of the beautiful journals

Handcrafting one of the beautiful journals

The name was inspired by the Kurinji, a small flower native only to India that blooms en masse once every twelve years. “The flower is a reminder that God truly makes everything beautiful in its time,” says Dawn. The mission of Kurinji Gifts is to enrich the women’s lives by providing a way to sell handmade journals, pocket journals, blankets, and cards that, in turn, provide them with a fresh start, a renewed sense of dignity and worth, and a freedom that otherwise could not have been imagined.

Each daughter of Calcutta carefully crafts the journals by hand using recycled materials. The hand-bound pages are made with reclaimed cotton fabrics and woolen blankets. The journals are covered with three layers of vintage sari material, the traditional garment of Indian women. Included inside each journal is a handwritten note to the recipient, presented in her native language of Bengali. The cards are handmade with layers of recycled paper or sari scraps and accentuated with beadwork. The blankets are hand-stitched with two layers of vintage sari material, embellished with a running kantha stitch. They are reversible, each side unique and beautiful.

Dawn says her biggest support group has been her brother and sister-in-law, whose advice and help has been invaluable, as well as her husband and family. “Their prayers and belief in me have been such an encouragement,” she adds. Her initial challenges were deciding on a name, creating a logo, building the web site, and filling out the paperwork for a 501(c)(3). Now nearly a year later, Dawn says her favorite part of running a nonprofit is knowing that God brought her to this point and gifted her with the blessing of making a real difference in lives. No two days are alike for Dawn these days. In addition to raising her children and running Kurinji Gifts, she also works two days a week as a school receptionist and occasionally substitute teaches.

Cuddle Blanket - Cotton Sari

Cuddle Blanket - Cotton Sari

Throughout the last year, Dawn has learned to trust that she is in the right place at the right time, and thoroughly enjoys helping others understand the mission behind Kurinji Gifts. Dawn has inspiring advice for anyone wanting to pursue their passion in life, “Don’t give up. Don’t believe the naysayers. Choose carefully and wisely who you listen to. Don’t wait to live until something better happens or comes along. Your life is today. Live it!”

For more about Kurinji Gifts and its important mission or to order any of its products, visit https://kurinjigifts.org/.

Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Coach based in Omaha, Nebraska, who specializes in helping her clients both locally and nationwide to 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 Important Life Lessons I Learned from My First Job

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I had just turned sixteen when I accepted a job as a server at Coco’s Famous Hamburgers restaurant. The now defunct restaurant chain had a loyal following of customers who wanted not just delicious food, but also outstanding service. Unfortunately, I was a tremendously shy teenager, not necessarily a good attribute for someone who had to greet hundreds of hungry strangers as part of her job duties.

Needless to say, my foray into waitressing was rough. Once my arms and hands were shaking so bad from nerves that I inadvertently dropped four plates of famous hamburgers right into the laps of four ravenous guests. Once I slipped on a puddle of water and fell, with a large sundae in each hand, straight onto the hard floor in front of a waiting line of customers. Fortunately I was desperate enough for money so I could put gas into my 1973 Chevrolet Bel-Air that I persevered through my first few weeks, all while managing to avoid being fired.

Throughout the next three years, I learned many valuable lessons that I carried forward into my career and life. Decades later, I still benefit from the below lessons that taught me much more about myself and life in general than I ever imagined:

  1. Practice makes perfect. At first, I admit I wasn’t a great server. In fact, I was pretty darn bad. I made mistakes, dropped plates, and delivered food to the wrong table. Yet through it all, there was one thing I knew for sure: I could do that job if I just focused on being better, one day at a time. So I did and then one day, everything just clicked. I delivered piping hot food to the right tables, cranked out delicious malts from the malt machine, and kept my footing even on the wettest of floors

  2. Never give up. There were times, especially in the beginning, when giving up was an attractive option. Being a server is one of the hardest, least appreciated professions. Still, I persevered through the bad days, all while keeping my focus on the good days. I learned new ways of doing things, kept looking forward, and developed great friendships with my co-workers. There was one thing I knew for sure: Quitting wasn’t an option because I was transforming my weaknesses into strengths every day.

  3. Failure is part of success. I’ll never forget the night that a foursome came into the restaurant. They had a plane to catch and were in a hurry. They all ordered fried chicken, a dish that took 40 minutes to cook. I notified them of the wait. What I didn’t realize is that I had inadvertently left the ticket in my pocket and hadn’t submitted it to the cook. An hour later, the customers were livid, late for their plane, and I was in trouble. From that point forward, I always double-checked my pocket to ensure I hadn’t forgotten to submit an order. As I navigated through that failure and many later failures, there was one thing I knew for sure: We all make mistakes. What is important is to learn from them.

  4. There are more good people than bad in the world. Being a teenager comes with lots of insecurities. Although I waited on a few customers who were angry and rude, I waited on many more who were kind and thoughtful. One morning, I waited on two guests who were quiet yet respectful. I didn’t think I did anything extraordinary. Yet when the guests finished their meal, they left me—a pretty dorky teenager at the time—a generous tip along with a handwritten note that said, “They say that the eyes are the window to the soul. If that is true, then you must have a beautiful soul.” That note touched me so much that I still have it today. From that moment on, there was one thing I knew for sure: It only takes a minute to positively impact someone’s life with kind words or a thoughtful gesture.

  5. A smile goes a long way. A smile is a powerful tool. As a server, I held that power every time I put on my uniform and showed up for work. We all have bad days where we want to throw in the towel and live on a deserted island. Still, it doesn’t seem fair to transfer that momentary unhappiness onto a random stranger, does it? Throughout all the hundreds of days that I greeted and helped strangers fill their empty stomachs, there was one thing I knew for sure: Smiling provided happiness not just for me, but for everyone who crossed my path.

In reflecting on our first jobs and every job we have held since then, it can be enlightening to think about what important lessons we learned from each experience. In our lifetimes, some professional roles will be challenging, others will be easy, and some may prompt us to question every decision we have ever made. But if we focus on taking the positive lessons with us—the kind that help us grow professionally and personally—then it allows us to move forward and become better employees, managers, or entrepreneurs in the future.

Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Coach based in Omaha, Nebraska, who specializes in helping her clients both locally and nationwide to 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 - Scott Papek

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I’m excited to turn the microphone around and profile Scott Papek of Papek Media. Scott is a passionate problem solver with over 20 years in the media business, including radio, music, and television, and in selling marketing and travel photography. Today, he’s host of the popular podcast, Fyigt For It, where he profiles guests who have overcome adversity to attain success. To listen to my interview with Scott and learn about his path to achieving his dreams, click below:

For more about Scott and his work, visit https://scottpapek.com/ and https://www.papekphotography.com/.

Who Inspires You Every Day?

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Sometimes in life, the simplest everyday acts are what inspire us the most.

He has no idea he inspires me. The neighbor who lives four doors up the hill from me has special challenges. Every morning for the past twenty years, he has diligently laced his sneakers, bundled up if it’s freezing, and headed out his door for exercise. He is disciplined, determined, and reliable. No matter what the weather, he perseveres.

My office window faces the sidewalk. Sometimes I happen to look up while he’s on the last stretch of his outdoor exercise session. All these years, I have been stopping whatever I am doing and quietly observing him as he heads home. You see, our houses are situated on top of a giant hill—a hill that I have been trying to tackle at the end of my run for the last twenty years—and the same hill that he has conquered every day on his own without a coach, parent, or personal trainer to cheer him on.

His journey to the top of the hill is not easy every day. As the years have progressed, his gait has slowed to a slow and steady pace. Although he leans to one side now, he trudges up the hill with a quiet determination while keeping his focus on his goal of reaching the top of the hill, no matter what it takes. His daily struggle is mesmerizing and always prompts me to reflect on his perseverance despite his challenges and then determine a way I can utilize this inspiration to motivate myself to achieve what I want for my own life, not just that day but every day.

Inspiration is all around us. All we have to do is be aware. Inspiration comes from the child who is overjoyed after solving a math problem without help from the teacher. Inspiration comes from the mother who juggles complicated tasks at work and then comes home to simultaneously care for her aging parents and young children. Inspiration comes from Paralympic athletes who prove over and over again that great things can be achieved despite physical obstacles. Inspiration comes from a senior citizen who has found her purpose in serving others during her final act in life. Inspiration comes from the bus driver who makes a point of smiling at all his passengers as they enter his bus, the server who makes a special point of complimenting all her guests, the CEO who heads a fundraiser for an employee facing hard times, or the ordinary man who, without thinking, runs into a burning building to save those inside from certain death.

My neighbor will probably never know the influence he has had on how I view life. Since I first began observing him from my office window, we have both sprouted a few more gray hairs and learned new things, all while managing to keep ourselves upright and breathing. We have much more in common than not. Through it all, he has taught me that no matter what our challenges, we all have the power to look deep within for the strength to trudge up the hill to reach our goals and pursue the life we were meant to have.

Today, look for the inspiration. I promise it is there, all around you, just waiting to lead you in the right direction.

Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Coach who specializes in helping her clients both in Omaha and nationwide to 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 Their Passion, Dean and Jayne Bredlau

Dean and Jayne Bredlau

Dean and Jayne Bredlau

When Dean Bredlau and Jayne Watts first met in 2014, they focused on growing their relationship with each other and God, not plants. It was not until after they married in September 2015 and settled in Zumbrota, Minnesota, that they noticed their conversations frequently turned to farming. The summer of 2016, Dean took a leap of faith and planted a garden in sandy, hard, and weedy soil on a friend’s farm. Despite having little to show for his efforts other than a few less-than-flavorful vegetables, Dean was enthused about doing more.

Soon, Jayne and Dean began researching and watching “dirty” movies on YouTube on composting, organic growing, soil composition, planting and watering methods, seeds, and seed growing. After several months of experimentation growing microgreens indoors, their urban farm-to-table grower business, My Sweet Greens MN, was born. Jayne, who held a variety of roles at a local newspaper and within a large hotel portfolio, had some flower gardening experience. Dean, who is a QA Technician by day, was equally as inexperienced at growing vegetables. But as they combined his passion for farming with her keen interest in marketing and promotions, their idea began to sprout into a business with strong roots.

While maintaining their full-time jobs, the Bredlaus focused on moving their business forward. Jayne began bringing samples of what would become their two signature blends to the executive chef at her employer for input. One day after asking if they were ready to sell their microgreens, he became their first customer. In August 2018, Jayne resigned from her job to focus on the business full-time.

Microgreens are small vegetable shoots that are grown for eight days in one inch of potting soil and vermiculite. After the shoots are harvested by cutting, the roots and seeds are left in the soil which is repurposed to their market gardens. In comparison, baby leafy greens are grown in soil in the ground for approximately 21 days and are cut from the plant for consumption. The Bredlaus package the microgreens for sale in two-ounce clam shell boxes for retail sales in stores and farmers markets, and also to sell in bulk to restaurants. Customers add microgreens that include sweet pea and sunflower shoots, arugula, broccoli, kale, and cabbage to salads, sandwiches, smoothies, soups, stir-fries, and much more.

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Today, their business is bustling. With assistance from two part-time independent vendors and occasionally their children, the Bredlaus package approximately 150 pounds of microgreens per month. In addition to supplying 10 retail stores (including Hy-Vee stores, a local grocery store, three Co-ops, and a handful of restaurants) with their five core microgreen products, the Bredlaus also vend at area summer and winter farmers markets.

Jayne says that running a niche produce business comes with its challenges. In the past three years, she has learned to listen to customers, rely on her grit, network with peers, and most importantly, to never give up. Dean, who has never met a stranger, focuses on utilizing his background in farming and quality assurance in food product manufacturing to extend their outreach into the community and beyond. It is their passion to educate all customers about the benefits of incorporating microgreens into a daily diet. The future looks bright for My Sweet Greens MN, despite the recent news that they will have to change the name of their business by the end of 2020 due to trademark issues.

For anyone contemplating pursuing their passion, Jayne advises they should clearly define the purpose and vision for their dream, and then determine what resources will be needed and who will be impacted and how. Finally, Jayne advises to step in faith, calculate the risk, and evaluate the dream with realistic criteria. Today, Jayne believes that what she does matters—something she could not do even a year ago.

Jayne says that she has always lived to be the best she could be for the people in her life, for her employers, and for the responsibilities she bears in life. Now she is living by the motto, you only live once. “It’s time to chase my dream—to live my passion. I believe each person gets this chance, probably once in life. Take it. Jump. The net will be there. You’ll learn to bounce back, stand up, and trust in what’s truly important.”

Abraham Lincoln said it best. “The greatest fine art of the future will be the making of a comfortable living from a small piece of land.” The Bredlaus are well on their way to living that profound truth every day.

For more about My Sweet Greens MN, visit their web site at https://www.mysweetgreensmn.com/ or find them on Instagram @mysweetgreens__mn and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mysweetgreensmn/.

Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Coach based in Omaha, Nebraska, who specializes in helping her clients both locally and nationwide to 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.

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

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During the early part of 2019, a college admissions scandal involving several wealthy parents stole the headlines for months. These parents, while seemingly attempting to keep up with other parents, bought their way into prestigious and competitive colleges they wanted their children to attend. One of the rumors surrounding this story was that some of the parents attended parties, heard where other parents were sending their children, and then, fueled by the mistaken belief that in order to be accepted by their peers, they would have to do whatever it took—even if it was illegal—to ensure their children could attend the same schools. Imagine the pressure they must have felt to take such desperate measures.

Trying to keep up with others in life is exhausting. While constantly focusing on what others are doing rather than our own journeys, it allows us to escape our reality—good or bad—and turn the attention away from ourselves and what we need to change in order to attain what we want in life.

Race horses are often given blinders to keep their attention on what is ahead when galloping around a racecourse. It has been said that blinders were invented when a preacher placed a wager that his horse could walk both up and down the stairs in his house. The horse walked up the stairs just fine. But when the horse refused to turn around and go back down, the preacher covered the horse’s head. Moments later, the horse headed down the stairs and the preacher won the bet. Turns out, the blinders encouraged the horse to take chances it would not normally take.

From this point forward, imagine you are a racehorse. Put your blinders on and focus on not just the path in front of you, but also the finish line. Take others out of your line of vision and stop being someone you’re not. Give yourself permission to pursue your life, your path, and your destiny.

Find a quiet place to reflect on a few questions. Where do you want to be in five years? How do you plan to get there? What strengths and skills do you have to get to where you want to go? What is your purpose? Then make a plan. Draw a road map. Create a vision board. Develop attainable goals based on your plan. Find someone to hold you accountable to your goals and vision. Make adjustments as necessary along the way. Stay positive. Become your biggest fan. And then, just like the horse long ago, take a chance you would not normally take.

All of us are born with unique skills and talents. What prevents us from pursing those talents is the insecurities that arise when we compare ourselves to others. While mistakenly believing that others have everything we want and more, we become bogged down by goal-stopping statements like, “Life is unfair. Why does Joe get everything he wants?” Think about this. Maybe Joe’s destiny is different from yours. Perhaps you are here for another equally as important reason.

Today put your blinders on and find that reason.

Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Coach based in Omaha, Nebraska, who specializes in helping clients both locally and nationwide to 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, Chloe Tran, The Bánh Mì Shop

Chloe Tran

Chloe Tran

While growing up in Saigon, Vietnam, little Chloe Tran was already nurturing her passion for entrepreneurship. After her father purchased a color printer, Chloe began printing colorful posters and stickers of her favorite cartoon characters and selling them to her classmates for a lower price than those sold at local bookstores. Soon, Chloe started following recipes to teach herself to bake. She claims she was sneaky at first, but once her parents discovered she wasn’t trying to destroy the kitchen, they were supportive. While relying on her family’s toaster oven to bake her cakes and pastries, Chloe found inspiration within expensive cookbooks and began documenting and practicing new recipes several times a week. By the time she arrived in middle school, Chloe had graduated to not only selling key chains and stuffed animals from wholesale markets but also her baked goods and homemade crafts. It was then that she realized she had a natural talent for entrepreneurship and started dreaming of owning a business one day.

After moving to Nebraska in 2012 at age seventeen, Chloe decided not to attend culinary school and instead enrolled at the University of Nebraska Omaha where she is currently a senior majoring in Business Entrepreneurship and Management. Although she had planned to work for different food companies to gain experience and save money for her future business, an opportunity came her way while she was just a sophomore in college. After her family decided they wanted to invest in a small restaurant, Chloe stepped in to run the shop specializing in her favorite food and drink: Bánh Mì sandwiches and bubble tea. Today, The Bánh Mì Shop is a bustling business located in Bellevue, Nebraska, that employs around 12 and serves a Vietnamese style sandwich made with a light and crispy Vietnamese baguette, fresh mayonnaise, Vietnamese style hams, pickled carrot and daikon, cucumber, and cilantro. Chloe says, “When I opened the shop, I wanted to make the food and drinks as authentic as possible while serving them in a modern café-style environment. I think my business has attracted many customers because of its inviting set-up.”

Inside The Bánh Mì Shop

Inside The Bánh Mì Shop

As a first-time business owner, Chloe admits that it was very scary at first. “I felt like I was walking through a foggy forest. It was a constant battle to learn what I needed, what I wanted, and what I could afford.” The most frightening aspect of her experience was watching the money her family invested leave her pocket every day, before the doors to the café ever opened. She says the limited financial support motivated her to make the business a success, especially because she didn’t have a backup plan. “Running a business feels like swimming against the current sometimes, especially during our first year,” she adds. Thankfully sound advice to keep moving forward provided her with encouragement during the challenging initial days as an official entrepreneur.

Chloe loves owning a business and the freedom that comes with it. Although the freedom is heavy with responsibilities and hard work, she says that she enjoys choosing how she wants her business to move forward, how she can contribute to the community, how she wants her employees treated, and what kind of leader she wants to be. Her support group includes staff and her boyfriend, Aaron, who has been her left hand because he handles tasks that she considers her weaknesses that allow her to be her own right hand and focus on her strengths.

Chloe has gained much from pursuing her passion. She has overcome her fears and realized that she is capable of contributing much more to the world than she originally believed. Today at age twenty-four, she describes her life as full. Although she knows there is still much to do and learn, she lives every day knowing that she is on the right track to doing her best and fulfilling her purpose.

When asked about the advice she would give someone ready to pursue their passion in life, Chloe quoted Winnie the Pooh, “I always get where I am going by walking away from where I’ve been.” She adds, “The smallest step toward your goal is still a step forward. If you believe in your dream, you can always pursue it. There is no passion better than the other; they simply benefit the world in different ways.”

Well said, Chloe.

For more about The Bánh Mì Shop, visit www.thebanhmis.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thebanhmis.

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.

 

How Do You Want To Be Remembered?

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Chances are you’ve probably heard the quote by Benjamin Franklin, “There are two things certain in life: death and taxes.” Even though we know death is inevitable for all of us, it can still be morbid picturing the end of our life while asking ourselves, When I die, how do I want to be remembered? Yet, asking yourself that question from time-to-time can shine a light on your past, the current state of your life, and where you want to go in the future. In short, asking “How do I want to be remembered?” allows you to look inward, reflect on the experiences that have brought you to where you are now, and then envision how you want the rest of your life to play out.

So how do you begin contemplating the answer to such an introspective inquiry? First, sit in the moment. Focus on being present and removing all distractions. This time is just for you. Here are a few sample questions that may help begin the process:

  •  What do I consider my successes in life?

  • What are some of my failures and what did they teach me?

  • What have been some of my most influential experiences to date?

  • What do I see as my place or purpose?

  • What one piece of advice would I give my children and/or grandchildren to take into the future?

Maybe you want to be remembered for your volunteer work helping the less fortunate. Perhaps you want to be remembered for your professional successes. Maybe you want to be remembered as a motivational speaker who inspired others with your story of perseverance through challenges. Perhaps you want to be remembered as a father who was always there for his children. Maybe you want to be known as the sister that everyone could count on, even those not connected to you genetically. Perhaps you want to be known as the person who made everyone laugh, even in their darkest moments. Maybe you want to be known as a mentor who provided encouragement to youth needing to believe in possibilities. Perhaps you want to be known as a politician who worked for all people, not just your constituents. Maybe you want to be remembered as the physician who stops his busy day for a moment to hold the hand of a patient having difficulty handling bad news.

Once you decide how you would like to be remembered, write it down. Length is not important. Be as concise or as lengthy as you feel necessary. This is just one example of a remembrance statement:

I want to be remembered as a kind friend, wife, mother, and trusted guide who provided hope to anyone who needed it, listened more than I talked, and helped others find humor in every situation. I want to be remembered for my ability to connect with everyone who crossed my path—for making them feel welcome and reminding them that we are all just doing our best and that it’s okay to make mistakes. Most of all, I want to be remembered as someone who loved, learned, and left the Earth a better place in the process.

It’s okay if the answer to this all-important question changes as you grow and develop personally. Life is always evolving and transforming, so why shouldn’t you? Once you have formulated your statement, hang it somewhere where you can view it on a daily basis. The power behind this statement will help guide you through the present moment and into a clearer future to become all you were meant to be.

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 – Candy Zollicoffer

Candy Zollicoffer

Candy Zollicoffer

While growing up in Brewton, Alabama, Candy Zollicoffer first learned to serve others from her grandmother. Grandma Lenestine served in her church, in her community, and often hosted others in need in her home. Candy remembers that her grandmother and other female matriarchs in her family were always ready to take a phone call, pray for others, and share what they had (even if it was their last). “The value of serving others is something I have carried with me throughout my life,” says Candy. “You don’t have to be wealthy to serve without expectations.”

As the oldest of five, Candy’s childhood was challenging. She and her family moved to Omaha, Nebraska, during the summer of her fifteenth birthday. The transition was hard on Candy as she had to adapt from a high school of just a few hundred to two thousand students while experiencing a trauma that summer that temporarily silenced her voice and ability to find joy. Thankfully, Candy eventually found her tribe and graduated from high school. From there, she attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln on a scholarship where she majored in biochemistry. After switching her major and campus location, Candy graduated from the University of Nebraska Omaha in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in Nonprofit Administration. Since then, she has continued to develop her skills through different programs offered by UNO and The Nonprofit Association of the Midlands.

After stints at several nonprofits and a church, Candy ultimately landed a role as Development Assistant at Abide, a local nonprofit that has been investing in and revitalizing the neighbors and neighborhoods of North Omaha for over thirty years. Today she works as the Partnership Coordinator tasked with connecting with businesses and churches interested in revitalizing the community. She not only engages employees and church members with service projects, but also raises funds for Abide’s programs and projects.

Candy says the most gratifying thing about her work is the opportunity to connect people with opportunities that positively impact her community. She also enjoys helping people change the narrative they hear or tell themselves about North Omaha. “The most important thing everyone in Omaha needs to know about the inner-city is that it is a rich community filled with incredible leaders who are using their gifts to impact the community and city overall. We are proud of our community and love doing life together!” she adds.

Candy with members of Westwood Church and two Abide Lighthouse Leaders after handing out 50 Valentine’s Day boxes for the Love in the Neighborhood campaign.

Candy with members of Westwood Church and two Abide Lighthouse Leaders after handing out 50 Valentine’s Day boxes for the Love in the Neighborhood campaign.

Today Candy describes her life as purposeful. The best piece of advice she ever received related to pursuing her passion in life was to acknowledge the things that break her heart because it is those things that ultimately empower her to take purposeful action to make life-changing impact every day. Candy says that although she has gained much from pursuing her passion, it is gaining her voice back that makes her most proud. “I am passionate about empowering people to speak their truth, especially women and youth. For so long, I allowed myself to be silenced so that others would be more comfortable. Today I am speaking my truth so that I may bring hope and healing to those who are ready to listen.”

Candy advises those wanting to pursue more gratifying work to talk to people who know you well and are willing to be honest with you. She credits her husband, Wes, her best friend, Jennifer, her father, her supervisor, and the entire team at Abide for affirming her endeavors. “These relationships are rooted in honesty, transparency, and love,” Candy states. “I can share anything with them without fear that the relationship will suffer. They see me, listen to me, and are able to speak life into me. When they share what I cannot see, I feel empowered to make clear decisions that change the trajectory of my life for the better.”

John Bunyan once said, “You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” Every day, Candy Zollicoffer makes it her mission to fulfill that quote. Yet in hearing her story, it soon becomes evident that in exuberantly serving her community, Candy’s community has given back to her in so many ways, making her rich in life experiences and joy beyond her wildest dreams.

For more about Abide, its mission, and how you can help, visit https://www.abideomaha.org/.

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 Five Things Do YOU Need To Be Happy?

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For the past few months, many have been jumping on the bandwagon of organization thanks to the Netflix show, Tidying Up, where Japanese organization expert Marie Kondo helps ordinary people clean up the clutter in their lives and keep only the items that spark joy. It’s a movement toward positive change that highlights the importance of looking within, deciding what we want, and then taking action to make it happen.

It’s true that by releasing our burdens of the unnecessary “things” we often surround ourselves with (and mistakenly believe that we need), we are better able to focus on finding joy in the every day. When I was younger, I had a friend whose mother grew up on a farm in the middle of America during the early part of the twentieth century, miles away from any town. All she had to play with on a hot summer day while sitting under the one shade tree near their house was a ragged doll. At the time, my friend and I were horrified. How could she possibly have been happy with just that one scruffy doll to keep her occupied? My friend’s mother, who still leads a simple life well into her nineties, firmly stated to us then that she was completely happy having less than more while growing up. Although many years have passed since then, I have never forgotten that story or her valuable message that living simply is perhaps the key to living happily ever after.

Today, I’d like to challenge you to consider this introspective question:

If you lived somewhere that provided all of the basic necessities like loved ones, a bathroom, comfortable furniture, a few dishes, food, and drink, what five things would you need in order to be happy?

If you close your eyes, what pops into your head as the things you cannot live without? For me, it is a good pair of hiking boots, a plethora of books, a computer or a pad that allows me a place to write, a method to play music, and a camera. The total value of all five things is probably around $1,000. I can confidently guarantee you that if I was surrounded by just these five items and nothing else in life, I would be gloriously happy no matter what my challenges or obstacles. But why?

Hiking boots provide me a comfortable way to step into nature and enjoy the wilderness, books offer me a way to escape into imaginary worlds that allow me to contemplate possibilities, a computer or a pad of paper invite me to continue to pursue my passion of writing and sharing stories with others, a method to play music allows me the chance to feel bonded with others around the world who also adore a great song, and a camera provides me with a way to capture an experience and reflect on it whenever I want. In short, all the items I have listed provide me with one major thing I need no matter what: peace.

Once you have identified the five things you need in life, write them down along with an explanation as to why. After your list and explanations are compiled, reflect on how you feel now about your life from this day forward. In a general sense, creating this list should help you feel more relaxed and at peace about your future.

It’s a tough reality to accept when we suddenly realize there are no guarantees in life. But when we compile a list of the five things we really need in order to be happy on a daily basis, it allows us a safe place to take a deep breath, calm ourselves down, and understand that no matter what happens down the road, we are going to be okay.

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.