Life Coach Nebraska

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 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/.

Three Ways to Become a Better Listener

Be-a-Better-Listener

At some point or another in life, we all want to be heard. When someone really listens to us, we feel appreciated, loved, and inspired. Unfortunately, there are times when we have all felt like no one hears us when we are speaking. In today’s world filled with distractions, it is becoming increasingly challenging to capture someone’s attention for longer than thirty seconds. The good news is that it is possible to become a better listener by following three easy steps.

1.      Put away all distractions and don’t interrupt. No matter how tempting it is, it is important to remember how you feel when you are interrupted while speaking, whether with words or a ringing cell phone. Does it make you want to shut down? Stop talking? Give up expressing your feelings? By putting yourself in the speaker’s shoes, you will remember how valued you feel when someone really listens to you. Actively listening does not mean you have to agree with the speaker. It simply means you are showing respect for a fellow human being and their freedom to voice their views and feelings. Silence your cell phone and stash it in your pocket or purse until the conversation has concluded.

2.      Make eye contact, smile, nod, and take notes if necessary. Show you are interested. If you feel your mind begin to wander, slowly bring yourself back to the present. Keeping eye contact shows the speaker you are focused and interested. Smiling and nodding are also two indicators that you are engaged in the conversation. If you need extra help in paying attention, take notes. Write down highlights of the conversation and then circle key points. Studies have shown that taking notes by hand improves learning and retention. More importantly, it demonstrates to the speaker that you are attentive and care about what they are saying. Finally, try not plan what you will say when they are done speaking.

3.      Repeat what the speaker is saying. Once the speaker has finished, it is okay to ask for clarification to ensure you’ve understood. You might say, “I want to make sure I’ve heard you correctly. You want me to know that …” Leave yourself open to correction as we often hear what we want to hear, not what is actually being said. This technique also leaves the speaker open to hearing what they’ve said and to emphasize a point or rectify an assumption.

Listening is one of the kindest things you can do for another person. By putting ourselves in the speaker’s shoes, we can embrace the skill of really listening—not just to the words, but to the power behind the words. After all, as the wise already know, great leaders always listen more than they talk.

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 - Renee Loftus

Renee Loftus enjoys a teaching moment with her students.

Renee Loftus enjoys a teaching moment with her students.

Mr. Sam was a fourth grade teacher who had more impact on one young student than he ever realized at the time. “He believed in me and made me feel like I could do anything,” says Renee Loftus, now a passionate and devoted teacher herself. Because Renee’s father passed away when she was three, Mr. Sam made sure to include her in all his family events that included picking out a Christmas tree, making homemade pizzas, and going to a haunted house. Most importantly, when she struggled in school, Mr. Sam patiently worked with her until she understood each challenge.

There were other influencers in her life that included her mother who always supported her and provided unconditional love, and a dance teacher who Renee says could look her in the eye and make her feel like she was the only one who mattered. “Micki Pospisil had a huge impact on my life. She believed in me as well,” adds Renee, “and asked me to be her studio helper when I was in seventh grade.”

Renee’s journey led her from Catholic grade school and high school to majoring in Elementary Education at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. While in college, she embraced all her experiences—both good and bad—that led her to realize that every day offers a lesson and a purpose.

During her first year of teaching second grade, Renee discovered that teaching was not just a job, but her passion. After a student lost his father to a heart attack, Renee knew God put her there to guide him and be with him through his grief. Renee states, “When he struggled, we struggled through it together.” She says she forever thinks about this student, and is so grateful that today, he is married and happy.

With a big smile and contagious positive attitude that light up her classroom, Renee has continued on her mission to reach every child in her classroom in every way for the past eighteen years. She delights in filling them with love, and is just as happy as her students when the light bulb of understanding turns on. A typical day begins with a greeting and highlight. “We have a fill your bucket kind of moment,” Renee says. Throughout days packed with differentiated instruction, Renee provides immediate feedback and then steps back to watch her students bloom. She ends each day with a hug, handshake, or a high five for each of her students.

To this day, Renee is still in contact with Mr. Sam. He was one of the first ones she told when she landed her first teaching job and, ironically, she is now teaching in the classroom next-door to the room that meant so much to her as a fourth grader. Additionally, she still takes dance lessons from Micki Pospisil. Life has truly brought her full circle so she can build her students up just as Mr. Sam and Micki Pospisil did for her.

Her best advice for someone wanting to pursue their passion in life is to stay humble. “No one knows it all,” she says. “Learn, grow, build each other up, communicate, and stay positive even when others want to bring you down. Smile and be you!”

As William Arthur Ward once said, “The great teacher inspires.” Every morning that Renee Loftus walks into her classroom, she does just that with the understanding that one day, her example may prompt another young student to look up to her and realize that teaching is their passion too.

Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Transitions 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 Steps to Enhance a Relationship

Why do some marriages survive a lifetime when others fail after just a few months? Although it is a question many experts are still struggling to answer, many happy couples swear their success comes through constant communication, the ability to adapt to life changes together, and realistic expectations of their partner.

Although none of us are perfect, many of us presume our partner or spouse can read our minds, will act the way we want them to act, and always know the right thing to say. But in reality, these types of expectations are just not plausible. The happiest couples know that relationships need to be tended to like gardens. They do not take each other for granted, are steadfastly committed to their relationship, and respect each other’s individuality and dreams.

So what can you do today to enhance your own relationship, starting today?

1.      Listen more than you talk. 

This exercise may be one of the hardest things you’ve ever done in your lifetime. During a conversation with our partner, we may have their best intentions in mind when interrupting during a disagreement, story, or even a heartfelt apology to interject our own opinion. But it is often more effective to sit back and really listen to what our partner is saying. The after-effects of listening more than we talk are often life-changing. In the end, we all want someone to listen and then make an attempt to understand us. We are all complex beings who crave the gift of unconditional love, especially from the one we have pledged to walk through life with forever. The next time your partner initiates a conversation, just quietly listen. What you hear may be more illuminating than you ever imagined.

2.      Identify each other’s wonderful attributes. 

Often, we get caught up in talking about all the things that annoy us most about our partner. Yet at one time, we were attracted to our partners because of all their wonderful attributes, not their faults. Schedule a time when you can both sit down together, uninterrupted, and create a list of ten things you love about your partner. Do not show your list to your partner until you are both done. Then read your list aloud and watch how the mood in the room completely transforms. When you are done sharing, hang your partner’s list somewhere where you can see it on a daily basis (like a bathroom mirror). Finally, use the list as a reference and make a point of complimenting or encouraging your partner at least once a day. When you say things like, “I love how you kiss me goodnight,” or “I so appreciate you doing the dishes after dinner tonight,” or “You are so good at comforting our kids when they are sad,” you bring the kind of positive energy to your relationship that will sustain you through the most challenging of times.

3.      Plan adventures

Experiencing adventure together creates a bond like no other. Adventure can mean different things to different people. To some, it may mean climbing Mount Everest. To others, it might mean traveling the country via two-lane highways. To another, it may mean taking a class to learn to make chateaubriand for two. A great way to identify future adventures is for each partner or spouse to create a vision board that outlines all their interests (snowboarding, hiking, cooking, running) as well as the places they would like to visit one day (England, the Rocky Mountains, a gourmet restaurant in France, or the Caribbean). Once you have your vision boards created, each of you should then identify the first adventure you would like to experience with your partner. Toss a coin to determine where you will go first and then, follow through with the plan. While on your adventure, take photos that capture the fun. Display the photos on your desk at work or at home as a gentle reminder of all the reasons why you love your partner and why fate brought you together in the first place.

It’s true: making your relationship successful does take time and energy. But the rewards for your efforts are worth more than anything else in this world.

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 - Laura Sykora

Photo by Becky Kelly

Photo by Becky Kelly

It was 2009 when Laura Sykora first realized she was missing something in her life. Her mother-in-law was in the midst of completing her second year of chemotherapy for lymphoma and her father-in-law had just been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. “My personal life was filled with many moving parts that were both life-changing and stressful,” Laura elaborates. “Although I had a wonderful job, I was still unfortunately left at the end of each day feeling unfulfilled and questioning my life’s purpose.” To top it off, Laura had just undergone a long year of unsuccessful attempts at becoming pregnant. This chain of events led to a wake-up call that changed Laura’s life forever.

Shortly after her father-in-law passed away, Laura and her husband, Ed, had several in-depth conversations about adoption as a means to grow their family. As she simultaneously realized that her passion in life was to serve others for a greater good, Laura became drawn to the process of international adoption. “After talking with friends who had adopted, visiting an adoption agency, and meeting with other adoptive families, Laura says that she and Ed quickly realized that their hearts were being led in a new and exciting direction.

After completing the long process that accompanies international adoption, Laura and Ed brought their son home from Ethiopia in August 2010. After resigning from her job of nearly ten years to stay home with her son, Laura had no idea that the next chapter of her life was waiting in the wings. A few months after the adoption was finalized, Laura walked through an open door to accept a job at the very agency that handled their adoption: Holt International. While her title and duties have changed over the past six years, Laura continues to embrace every day with gratitude for the opportunity to witness so many families joined through the joy of adoption. In 2013, Laura and Ed were blessed through adoption once again when they brought home a daughter from Ethiopia.

Laura considers herself fortunate to have a wonderful support system filled with friends who listen and loyally walk beside her through life, celebrating the joys and supporting her through the sorrows. Last year, her mother-in-law passed away. “During the last month of her life, we had many meaningful conversations,” Laura adds. “Her advice to me was simple and wise. She told me that I would never reach the end of my days and wish they had been filled with more time at work. Her best advice was for me to stay focused on me and the needs of my family.”

Today, Laura loves the life she has created for herself and her family. She works on occasion, counseling families interested in international adoption, and volunteers at her children’s school. Laura says that by pursuing her passion, she has gained a daily sense of freedom and gratefulness. In carrying on the tradition in memory of her mother-in-law, Laura offers one piece of great advice for anyone wishing to pursue their own passion in life. “Don’t make excuses. Life is filled with new chapters and change can be both healthy and exciting. Enjoy the journey!”

To learn more about international adoption, visit https://www.holtinternational.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.

Three Ways to Expand Your Comfort Zone Today

Stagnancy in life can be stifling. When it seems like we are simply treading water and going nowhere, the resulting apathy has the power to rob us of energy and, worse yet, hope. Truth be known, we all feel safer when we are functioning within a comfort zone where we can easily predict our days and even what might happen next.

Photo by Vicky DeCoster

Photo by Vicky DeCoster

Sometimes the possibility of change can seem overwhelming and even frightening. So, how does one find a way to overcome long-held fears, break down the walls that surround a comfort zone, and begin believing that you can achieve your dreams? Here are three ways you can begin expanding your own comfort zone today:

  1. Do one thing you pledged to never do in your lifetime. Whether it is singing karaoke in front of a crowd of strangers or holding a snake, prove to yourself that you can conquer your nervousness and actually do something you never thought was possible. When tackling real change, this exercise will help you to remember all the times when you overcame self-imposed hurdles and lived to tell about it.

  2. Plan an adventure. Have you ever wanted to backpack in the mountains? Run a marathon? Take a class in rock climbing? Learn to deep sea fish? Expanding your comfort zone to include new adventures will not only test your character, tenacity, and drive to work past obstacles, but will also prove that you are capable of resolving daily challenges in innovative and creative ways.

  3. Try something new. Whether your new thing is sampling a plateful of frog legs or ice skating at Rockefeller Center, seek to experience all that life has to offer. Even if you end up pledging in front of the waiter to never eat frog legs again or swearing you'll never lace up a pair of ice skates in your lifetime, these experiences still have the power to transform your mindset to believe that you can walk through fear to test change—even if it turns out that it is not right for you.

When we take one small step at a time to expand our comfort zones—and survive—it is conceivable to teach ourselves that life is an adventure meant to be embraced, loved, and, most importantly, lived to the fullest.

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.