Living Purpose

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.

 



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/.

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.

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.

 

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.

 

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.

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.

 

Living His Passion - Jason Gilbreath, Reclaimed Enterprises

Jason Gilbreath, Founder and Owner of Reclaimed Enterprises

Jason Gilbreath, Founder and Owner of Reclaimed Enterprises

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

What We Can All Learn from a Lifelong Adventurer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Living Her Passion – Julie Ricceri, Diana’s Papillion Tea Shop

Julie Ricceri, Owner of Diana’s Papillion Tea Shop

Julie Ricceri, Owner of Diana’s Papillion Tea Shop

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

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

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

Diana’s Tea Shop, Papillion, NE

Diana’s Tea Shop, Papillion, NE

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

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

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

 Diana would be so proud.

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

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