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

alexandra.gorn.photo

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.

 

Living His Passion - Eric Moses

Eric.Moses

Eric Moses experienced a childhood filled with challenges. At age four, his brother passed away after an asthma attack, leaving Eric as the only child in his already small family. That event was more than enough for anyone to handle, let alone a young boy, but Eric was forced to face another challenge when his mother suffered a brain aneurysm when he was eleven. Although she thankfully survived, her life—and his—would never be the same.

While continuing on his unique coming-of-age journey, Eric played sports, which he believes helped to keep his head above water. He made friends, excelled in basketball, and built his self-confidence. Looking back, Eric says his true inspiration was his grandmother. She was always laughing, making him food, and allowing herself to be the safety net he needed whenever he started to feel down. Later, his father filled the same role, becoming Eric’s idol more and more as he came to understand and appreciate his father’s unwavering leadership and unconditional love during a time of great loss and beyond.

As Eric entered his teenage years, he battled addictions that caused him to let his family down, lose many friends, and also his sense of identity. Thanks to a newfound interest in the sport of boxing, Eric was able to not only fight and win within the ring, but also fight and win the battle within himself to conquer his addiction. Through it all, he learned a valuable lesson: always be prepared for change.

As he continued to transform his life, Eric’s mentors helped him find his way into college. He originally thought he wanted to be a teacher, then a geologist, and finally he joined the university’s English program where he discovered he could write about anything and not be judged for it. But as he entered his final year of college, Eric had absolutely no idea what he wanted to do. He says, “I think my desire to complete college showed me that I could try for anything and everything in life.” It was that desire that led him to graduate and help found Free Wheel Media, a one-stop-shop web site for the least-biased online news available. “We went from writing our own articles to aggregating articles, and then back to writing articles. It’s been a nonstop of testing to see what works, but we’re finally happy with what we provide the public,” Eric adds. “We help them stay informed, not brainwashed.”

Fueled by perseverance, his passion for sports, and a strong determination to find his sweet spot in life, Eric applied three times at his dream company—Hudl—that provides tools for coaches and athletes to review game footage and improve team play. On the third attempt, he attained his first interview and eventually landed a much-coveted role in sales. Although the role was out of his comfort zone, Eric settled in quickly by focusing on making his clients happy.

Today, Eric is fulfilled realizing how his life has come full circle. Through his love for sports, he landed a role at his dream company. Through his love for writing and editing, he founded an innovative web site that provides unbiased news to a large audience. He says, “Sometimes you get the worst news possible. Sometimes the easy way out seems exactly that: the easy way out. Fighting through my troubles and letting myself be open to change has really made me the person I am today. The most valuable thing in life is to never give up.”

Eric’s boxing coach, Wilfred Davis, offers sage advice. “Keep your chin down but your eyes up. Don’t let anyone knock you out, but always be prepared for a good punch to the nose. With those eyes up, you might be able to avoid that punch to the nose. With the chin down, you won’t get knocked out if you can’t evade it.” He takes his coach’s profound words to heart not just in the ring, but in life.

Eric has been through much in his young life, yet his story to date is living proof that whatever life throws at him, he can handle it through his strong belief in himself, his abilities, and a determination to focus on the small things that provide the greatest happiness every day.

Despite suffering heartbreaking loss and unimaginable setbacks, Eric is living proof that it is possible to persevere through challenges by always preparing for change, fighting through the darkness, and never giving up.

For more about Free Wheel Media, visit https://freewheelus.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.

 

How to Open Your Mind to the Possibilities

 Photo by  Anton Darius

Photo by Anton Darius

Our mind is a powerful piece of machinery that can work in our favor—and also work against us. When imagining all the possibilities in life, sometimes it is easier to shut down than it is to ask “What if …?” While analyzing opportunities or possibilities, it can be helpful to break each decision down and write down all the pros and cons. Additionally, it is important to be completely honest with yourself during this assessment. You don’t have to show your list to anyone. This is just for you. For example, your question and list might look something like this:

What if I sold my house?

Pros

I would gain freedom from yard work, house repairs, and hefty property taxes.

I would have more time to pursue my passions.

I could invest the profit from the sale for retirement.

Cons

I would lose a solid investment that generally increases in value with each year.

I would lose a significant tax deduction.

I would lose space for my dog to run.

I would lose great neighbors who know me and look out for me.

Now it is time to sit back and evaluate the pros and cons. Are there more pros than cons or the opposite? Are your pros stronger than your cons? Are your pros and cons realistic (R) or are they fear-based (F)? Write an R or an F next to each pro and con. Do you have more Rs or Fs? Finally, ask yourself one last important question:

Am I making this decision for me or to make someone else happy?

Although we all sometimes make decisions based on what is best for our families, it is equally as important to make decisions that fill our happiness tanks and give us a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Is this decision taking you to where you want to be? If not, it’s time to re-evaluate again.

Another example might be this question:

What if I take the job?

Pros

I would gain a 20% increase in annual salary and bonus incentives.

I would gain the kind of skills that I need to pursue my dream job.

I would gain a relationship with a superior who is nurturing, kind, and supportive.

I would be free from a negative culture that does not support the growth of its team members.

I would have regular hours that would allow me more time with my children.

Cons

I will lose three weeks of vacation.

I will lose the feeling of security.

I will lose an office with a door.

When contemplating career changes, it is crucial to your decision-making process to evaluate the role based on facts gathered through research, the culture of the prospective company, the personality and management style of your potential boss, and most of all, the gut feeling you get when you walk in the door for the interview. Trust it. It doesn’t lie.

Other sample questions might be as follows:

What if I move to Los Angeles?

What if I end my marriage?

What if my son goes away to college three states away?

No matter what decision looms in front of you in the future, following this process of opening your mind to the possibilities will lead you to the answer. If it doesn’t, perhaps it’s not the right time for a change.

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 – 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.

Why Practicing Gratitude Makes Us Happier

 Photo by Jessica Castro

Photo by Jessica Castro

Practicing gratitude can be one of the most challenging practices we do on a daily basis, especially when someone cuts us off in traffic, our children are sick, we lose a loved one suddenly, or our boss asks us to work late for the fifth day in a row. Yet as difficult as it can be sometimes, the practice of remembering what we are grateful for has tremendous benefits.

According to a recent study at UC Berkeley, people who wrote gratitude letters reported feeling significantly better mentally several weeks later. Additionally according to another study published in Personality and Individual Differences, participants who practiced gratitude stated they felt healthier and experienced fewer aches and pains. Other reported benefits through a variety of studies include better sleep, less aggressive behavior, improved self-esteem, and enhanced empathy.

In order for a gratitude practice to be successful, it is important to set aside a certain time every day to identify what you are thankful for in your life. The best time to begin practicing this technique might be at bedtime. Place an empty notebook and pen next to your bed. Every night before shutting off the light, close your eyes, place your hand over your heart, slow your breathing, and focus on what matters most to you. Then open your eyes and write this sentence in your gratitude journal:

Today I am grateful for …

Let the words flow. Chances are that what you end up writing will surprise you. In most instances, the things you find you are grateful for will not be material items like cars, boats, or a sparkly new piece of jewelry. Instead, your daily gratitude statements might look more like this:

Today I am grateful for a warm bed.

Today I am grateful for a hug from a friend.

Today I am grateful for my health.

Today I am grateful the laughter of my children.

Today I am grateful for a great conversation with my boss.

Today I am grateful that I had my mother in my life as long as I did before she passed.

Although practicing gratitude through daily journaling is the most effective way to see results, it is important to note that you can practice gratitude wherever you are, whenever you want. You can practice gratitude in the car while at a stoplight. Look at the sky. Quietly reflect on its beauty and then practice gratitude for the gift of nature. You can practice gratitude while in a meeting. Look around at all your co-workers. Find gratitude for all the different personalities because it is the unpredictability of life that keeps you from feeling bored. Practice gratitude while in the grocery store. Look at all the food available at your fingertips. Be thankful as there are many people in the world who do not share the same luxury.

After practicing gratitude every day for several weeks, pay attention to how you are feeling. Seeing results does not provide you a pass to stop the practice. Continue on, no matter where life takes you from here.

By focusing on the simple gifts that life provides us every day, it is possible to transform our thinking into a more positive mindset that promotes fulfillment, happiness, and inner-peace.

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 - Abigail Ervin

 Abigail Ervin creating an original art piece

Abigail Ervin creating an original art piece

Abigail Ervin does not know what she is doing or where she is going. She does not like to sit still or wear shoes. In fact, she does not like peas. Most of the time the only thing she is very certain of is that she likes to make art—and lots of it.

After being born into an artistic family, Abigail spent her childhood first in Tujunga Valley, California, and then in the tiny town of Neligh, Nebraska, where it seemed her desire to create was deep in her genes. Just like many others, Abigail started drawing as a toddler. The only difference is that she never stopped. Later after she graduated from high school and realized she needed to fund her wanderlust to see the world, she began selling her drawings. After funding a large portion of a trip to Africa with her earnings, Abigail happily recognized it was possible to make an income from her art. Since then, she has traveled to England, France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Italy, India, and throughout the United States, gathering life-altering experiences that shine through all her creations.

Once she developed a style and story, Abigail focused on placing her art in shows and markets while creating new pieces, marketing herself, and learning how to be a successful entrepreneur. Abigail, who openly admits she just fell into this role, is embracing the unknowns that come with being an artist in a competitive world. She says that if she had to pick a message behind her art it would be the same message she follows in her faith: truth, beauty, and goodness. Abigail adds, “The truth is that the world is always moving, changing, and judging us. Still, we’re not as alone as we think we are.”

 An Abigail Ervin original

An Abigail Ervin original

Abigail’s art can be described as both inspiring and honest as she often provides her audience with a glimpse into her heart, her sufferings, her love, and her hope for the future. Her commissions include not only self-portraits but also beautiful artwork for wedding events, greeting cards, booklets, tote bags, and t-shirts. Abigail’s future aspirations include writing and illustrating a children’s book, creating murals, and attending markets outside of the United States. She states, “My eyes have always seen a little bit further than the rest of my body, but I’ve never really seen that as a bad thing.”

Throughout her journey, Abigail has been supported by her family as well as Cameron, the love of her life who has been by her side through thick and thin. She loves interacting with her audience who often tell her that her art is relatable, which she says is a funny coincidence since she spent much of her life feeling she was not relatable. Today, she is gratified knowing that her artwork is helping others around the world who have endured the same struggles as she did in high school and beyond.

Now twenty-three, Abigail is busy juggling art projects and commissions along with a part-time job as a barista at a local coffee shop where she also handles social media and menu design. She states that although she has gained much from pursuing her passion, she is most proud of the confidence she has built to say (and believe), “I can do this.” Abigail advises others to pursue what they love. “If it’s something that makes you feel like you matter and it’s something that’s not hurting you or other people, then what are you waiting for? Something like that can only be good. Nothing ever happens if you don’t actually get up and go.”

Roger Fry once said, “Art is a passion or it is nothing.” When viewing Abigail Ervin’s art, one can see straight into her soul, a compassionate place that has seen its share of pain but now helps others know that they are never alone, and that there is always beauty in the darkness.

To view her portfolio or commission Abigail to create a special piece, visit her at http://abigailervin.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.

Five Small Dietary Changes to Achieve Better Health

It’s a phrase that can be annoying to some and inspiring to others. Either way you choose to view it, it’s true: We are what we eat. With that said, we all can make small changes every day that will take us down a new path to better health.

Below are five facts about diet with included goals that will help you incorporate and stick to small dietary changes that will make big differences in your long-term health:

1.      A reduction in red meats has been linked to a low incidence of stroke and coronary heart disease. Goal: Strive to eat just 4 ounces of lean red meat a week and vegetarian two times a week.

2.      Phosphoric acid (found in diet sodas) can disrupt nutrient absorption which speeds up the aging process, and gives us more wrinkles and a weaker frame. Goal: Strive to replace one diet soda a day with water until you are drinking water the majority of the time.

3.      More than 37 scientific studies show that eating oatmeal daily as part of a low-fat diet may help reduce the risk of heart disease. Goal: Make overnight oatmeal on the stove once a week by combining three cups of boiling water with 1 cup of steel cut oats. Cover and let sit overnight. In the morning, add milk to achieve desired consistency. Heat through and then refrigerate leftovers to eat for the rest of the week.

4.      A Mediterranean diet may help lower risk for certain diseases, improve mood, and boost energy levels. Goal: Make every effort to incorporate walnuts, whole grains, olive oil, fish, beans, blueberries, and low-fat dairy products like Greek yogurt into your diet every day.

5.      Heavy sugar consumption has been linked to an increased risk of depression. Goal: Read labels more often. Check for sugar content in foods that may seem like a healthier option (like yogurt) and compare with other brands. Choose the brand with the least amount of sugar (like plain Greek yogurt). Add a bit of honey and a handful of walnuts to add pizzazz.

It can be a daunting task to think about entirely changing the way we eat. But it is not as daunting to simply pay more attention to what we put into our mouths on a daily basis, practicing positive self-talk when we falter, listening to our bodies and doctors, and not comparing ourselves to anyone else. Once you set your goals, choose an accountability partner who believes in you, supports you, and is willing to help you achieve better health. Because in the end, it is not only good to be proud of who you are, but also of what you eat.

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 – 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/.