Life Coaching

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

Living Their Passion – Lukas Rix and Mark Kanitz

Nebraska entrepreneurs, Lukas Rix and Mark Kanitz

Nebraska entrepreneurs, Lukas Rix and Mark Kanitz

Lukas Rix believes in leaving things better than how he found them and is always looking for ways to engage the world to do the same. Born and raised in small Nebraska towns, he attended college at Wayne State where he studied Business Marketing and Management. Always a hard worker, Lukas’s passion for entrepreneurship started at a young age as he created a business mowing lawns while working at his mother’s hair salon, the local grocery store, bar, and mini-mart. While still in high school, he founded the first Rustic Treasures in Lyons, Nebraska, with his aunt.

Mark Kanitz has been accustomed to change his entire life. As his father’s pastoral career took the family from small towns in Nebraska to Fort Wayne, Indiana, and eventually to a town of just over one hundred people in South Dakota, Mark learned the value of thriftiness that included garage sale’ing. But it was not until the classically trained organist traveled to Europe that he began to embrace the diversity of different cultures. As their lives intertwined through love and eventually marriage, Lukas and Mark embraced their common interest in thriftiness by opening their first thrift boutique, Rustic Treasures, in Wayne, Nebraska, in May 2012. Since then, the business has been growing, not just in sales but also in square footage.

Boutique thrift store, Rustic Treasures, in Wayne, NE

Boutique thrift store, Rustic Treasures, in Wayne, NE

Mark says the best advice they received in establishing their business in a town of just five thousand residents was to treat their out-of-town shoppers with great care. “Because our customers have made the commitment to drive long distances to come to our stores, we work hard to make them feel welcome,” he adds. A typical day for the entrepreneurs includes diverse challenges such as negotiating an extended lease, spending thousands of dollars on new inventory, or deciding creative ways to display items. Because they face both five dollar and five thousand dollar decisions on a daily basis, Mark and Lukas have learned to choose their battles.

A look at the interior of Rustic Treasures

A look at the interior of Rustic Treasures

Mark and Lukas agree that their one constant challenge is their need for more space to display their unique goods. They accept consignment thrift items that range from small Hummel figurines to large furniture pieces. “We focus on using creativity to display items,” Mark says, “We never know what’s coming in our store next, so we need to spread things out.” The owners found a new way to handle that challenge by opening the 1912 Emporium, a retail décor store that also carries antiques, as well as Prairie in Bloom, an offshoot of 1912 Emporium, in Omaha.

The enthusiastic entrepreneurs’ support comes from each other and people in the community who have rallied behind them and their successes to date. Their favorite part of owning a business is the freedom that comes with each new day to move with the market at a pace big box stores cannot. Because Lukas and Mark must currently live and work in two different communities in order to remain successful, they strive to stay positive and focused on their goals as both business owners and partners in life.

Through all their entrepreneurial adventures, Mark and Lukas have learned that good help is hard to find. Because of that, they focus on treating their employees well. Together, and separately, each says they have gained much from pursuing their passion. “Even on those days when we don’t make a lot in sales, we are both happy because we are doing what we love. You don’t have as much burnout with your job if you have a ‘fire in the belly’ for it,” says Mark.

Mark and Lukas advise anyone wanting to pursue their passion to find a way to do it that’s financially sustainable and to always pay attention to what your customers want. “Start small and let it grow organically,” Mark adds, “We’ve seen too many people try to do it all out of the gate and then fail. Stick to what you’re good at.”

Lukas is a born entrepreneur who always wanted to own a business. Mark would never have had the guts to pursue his passion without him. Now that they’re both fully immersed in the thrift boutique store business, they can’t imagine their lives any other way.

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 Change Is So Hard

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The call for change often comes when we least expect it. Sometimes it comes in the form of a whisper so soft that we have to strain to hear it. Other times it comes in the form of a roar we cannot ignore. But when that little voice in our head becomes so loud that we cannot ignore it anymore, the potential for change suddenly becomes a reality we must courageously face.

Yet oftentimes as exciting as change can be, many of us resist it because, quite frankly, it can also be terrifying. In fact, the idea of change can sometimes be so daunting that it has the power to immediately transport us right back to a time when we had to face a super scary change, like the first day of kindergarten when we felt like we might lose our breakfast right on top of our brand new shoes. Yikes. The cold, harsh reality is that when we step outside our comfort zones, it is an uncomfortable place to be at first. As author and research professor Brené Brown states, “You can choose courage or you can choose comfort, but you cannot choose both.”

Change is an inevitable part of life. It comes in many forms whether it is something we embrace like new love or something we abhor like an unanticipated job loss. Sometimes change makes us want to curl up in the fetal position and shut out the world. Other times change lightens our load and makes us feel like leaping with joy. Sometimes it is fun just to talk about change. What if I moved to Europe and lived off my savings for a year? What if I started my own business and escaped the corporate nightmare I’ve been enduring for entirely too long? What if I bungee-jumped off a bridge with a Go-Pro attached to my helmet? It is while talking about change in its most initial stages that we realize we are craving something new. But what is it really and how do we find a way to move forward from here?

Will Craig, author of Living the Hero’s Journey, says that the quickest way—and perhaps the only way—to discover our true destiny is to truly know ourselves. In order to push through the fear, identify a clear path, effectively make decisions, and take action, we must first be able to identify and understand not only our strengths and passions, but also our weaknesses and limitations. We must also be prepared to answer introspective questions that dig deep and force us to look within for the answers.

It is incredibly important that while on this journey through life to be honest with yourself about the possibility of change. In the end, is it is you who is living your journey: not your spouse, not your parents, not your children, not your friends, and not your next-door neighbor. You, and only you, hold the key to unlock and walk through the door of change or throw the key away and stay where you are for now. No matter what, take the time to work through each decision with help from an accountability partner who does not have an agenda, but instead, is capable of guiding you to becoming the best version of you.

Change is powerful. It is scary. It is an action-packed roller coaster ride through the unknown. Change is what fuels our journey through life, keeps us from being stagnant, and ultimately transforms us into the people we were meant to be.

Change is hard. Find a way. Your destiny is waiting.

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 – 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.