inspirational advice

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.

 

How Do You Want To Be Remembered?

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

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

  •  What do I consider my successes in life?

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

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

  • What do I see as my place or purpose?

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Living Her Passion – 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/.

Five Ways to Work through Life’s Challenges

Photo by Koushik Chowdavarapu

Photo by Koushik Chowdavarapu

Life has a way of throwing challenges our way when we least expect them. One day we’re motoring along on our journey through life without major bumps in the road. But then when we least expect it, life throws a curve in the road that sends us in a direction we never anticipated. Oftentimes, an unexpected turn of events causes us to wonder if we are expected to overcome obstacle alone.

Navigating through challenges is like driving in a snowstorm. Even though you are a cautious driver, your car suddenly hits a patch of ice and, in just a few seconds, lands in a ditch. As you assess the situation, you realize you are the only car on the road. Suddenly you begin to panic. You have two choices: to attempt to shovel yourself out or to call for help. It’s hard to know what to do.

Unfortunately we will all face our own snowstorm at one point or another in life—and the same two choices. So, how do we know when to shovel ourselves out of a situation or ask for help? Here are five ways to work through a challenge and determine whether you need help from an expert:

1.      Assess the situation objectively. If your car is stuck in a ditch during a snowstorm, you’re going to get out and look at how bad it is, right? Then you’re going to determine if you can shovel your way out or if you need a tow truck. When assessing the situation, view the challenge as a stranger would. What is the worst possible outcome? Can I solve this challenge on my own and remain safe? What are the ways I can solve this challenge?

2.      Try a few solutions on your own first. Stay calm and go into problem solving mode. Mentally go over solutions or list them out on paper. Work through the problem one step at a time, just like a math student would. Select one of the options and try it. If it doesn’t work, try another. If your problem is not solved within a comfortable timeframe, then it is time to try another option.

3.      Be open. When seeking help from an outside source, you must first be honest with yourself and then with them. By showing your true self and communicating candidly, you are allowing the person who is trying to help see the entire picture, not just the movie trailer. Be open to ideas and solutions. Be willing to walk down a new path to find the answers.

4.      Learn from the challenge. What is your positive takeaway from this challenge? Could you have prevented it from happening? If so, how? If the challenge was unpreventable, determine one lesson you can extract from the experience that will help you become a better person. Remember, in every experience—good or bad—there is something to learn.

5.      Look forward, not back. It is easy to continually reflect on our most challenging moments, especially when they were negative. But when we are always looking back, it doesn’t allow us to see the beauty in front of us. Chalk up your challenge to a valuable life lesson and, as quickly as you can, do your best to move on.

Working through life’s challenges can be … well … challenging. Following these five steps will help guide you out of the snowstorm and to embracing the message behind the challenge, realizing a newfound resilience, and finding your way back to the road that leads to achieving all your goals.

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.

 

Use Your Unique Gifts to Find Purpose

Everyone is born with an innate talent that makes them unique. Some people have the ability to be empathetic listeners. A few can listen to a song just once and then play it on the piano. Some can lead a company to achieve previously unimaginable success. Others can perform miracles in the operating room with tiny surgical instruments. Some have the talent for weaving a compelling tale that makes readers weep, laugh, or both. Truth be known, we are all gifted.

Imagine what would happen to the world if parents made it their mission to help their children identify their unique gifts and then find a way to utilize them to attain their purpose in life. No matter what your age, it is never too late to uncover your innate talents and then adjust your life accordingly. So, how does one identify a unique talent?

The easiest way to identify your innate talent is to think about what you are doing when you feel happiest in life – when you never look at the clock, never think about what you will have for dinner, and ignore your buzzing phone. For one person, it might be building a bookcase in the garage. For another, it may be swirling around a ballroom with a dance partner. For others, it might be singing opera, taking photographs, or designing a room in a home. For someone else, it may be helping others through a crisis. For another, it may be leading a team at work to surpass goals.

Once you have identified your innate talent, now it is time to create a plan to incorporate more of it into your life—and perhaps even parlay that talent into a career. Could you start a business where you design and build bookcases on demand for clients or stage homes before they are put on the market? Is it possible to network with the director of a nonprofit and find a way to work with those affected by natural disasters? Do you have the means to open your own studio to teach ballroom dancing, join an opera company, or begin a photography business?

To incorporate positive change into your life, transform your thinking and focus on using your gifts to attain personal fulfillment. As Howard Thurman once said, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

 Life is short. It’s time for you to come alive. The world 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 - 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.