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From Pain to Forgiveness: A Personal Journey

Vicky-DeCoster-life-coach

Forgiveness can be one of the toughest—and most freeing—acts we can perform in life. But finding forgiveness is not as easy as it sounds. I once knew a woman I will call Susan. She suffered greatly regarding her relationship with her mother. The relationship had not been easy ever since she could remember. Her mother suffered from depression and alcoholism, and often took out her anger on Susan throughout her childhood. Sadly, Susan quickly became an expert at covering up what was really going on inside her family home in front of her friends, co-workers, and acquaintances.

After Susan left home at age eighteen, her mother’s downward spiral continued. The relationship was agonizing for Susan. Her mother would call her at all hours of the night, threatening suicide and sobbing into the phone. The reality was that Susan’s mother was simply incapable of living up to her title. Finally after Susan married and had her own children, one day she just didn’t pick up the phone to call her mother. Her mother never called either. There was never an argument or a cross word. Everything just stopped.

As a day turned into two and then many more, Susan focused on creating healthy relationships with her children and raising them the way she wished she had been raised. As time ticked away, Susan found it was easier to be angry with her mother than to be burdened by the sadness that accompanied the loss of what was always an unhealthy relationship. Well-meaning people suggested that Susan forgive her mother. But Susan was not ready. She knew forgiveness was a personal decision. She also realized that she did not make a conscious choice to terminate the relationship and still held out hope that her mother would one day evaluate her behavior and reach out to make amends.

Eighteen years passed. Through family connections, Susan learned her mother had moved to another state where she seemed to finally find happiness. Although the rejection hurt deeply, Susan had come to accept that this was the reality of her life. Then one day last November, Susan received a phone call that her mother had passed away without warning. And with that phone call, all hope was erased for reconciliation or a heartfelt apology. As Susan attempted to grapple with her pain, she set out on a lonely journey of grief. While the heartache came in waves, the anger visited less often. After months passed, Susan finally decided she was ready. She wrote her mother a heartfelt letter. Then she headed to a remote cabin with her husband. One night as dusk was falling and a fire roared in the fire pit outside the cabin, Susan read the letter aloud. She would say later that she felt her mother by her side. In the letter, she told her mother she had forgiven her. That she understood. And that she was sorry that they couldn’t have had the mother/daughter relationship they both deserved. Then she tossed the letter into the fire and let it all go.

Today as Susan looks back, she doesn’t have any regrets. She found a way to forgive and heal in her own way and in her own time. She feels at peace.

I know because Susan is me.

Forgiveness comes in its own time. It also comes with the valuable lesson that our world is full of imperfect people—even family members—who sometimes hurt us deeply. But it is possible to move past the pain and anger and find a place where you feel compassion for the person who has hurt you, just as I did. For years I wished I had a different mother. But now I realize that because of her, I am who I am today. And for that, I am truly grateful.

“True forgiveness is when you can say, 'Thank you for that experience.'" —Oprah Winfrey

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 - Cheryl Wagner

Cheryl designs jewelry while sitting on the floor where she feels most grounded and creative.

Cheryl designs jewelry while sitting on the floor where she feels most grounded and creative.

Cheryl Wagner has always been a self-starter. At age twelve, she created her first piece of jewelry and was inspired to pursue her passion full-time after witnessing the metaphysical healing powers of stones.

Since 1979, Cheryl and her husband, Roger, have owned two barbeque restaurants (Thee Pitts Again): one in Glendale, Arizona, and a seasonal version in Silverton, Colorado, that they share ownership with their son, Chris, and daughter, Megan. Their journey as successful restaurant owners has led them to appear on The Food Network’s show Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives as well as to be featured in many magazines, books, radio, and on other television shows.

Today, Cheryl is focused on leading a more balanced life. Now that her children are grown, she has cut back on long hours spent at her restaurants and is busily creating jewelry that she says makes not only her happy, but also makes her customers smile. It is obvious she loves what she is doing. “When I am creating my jewelry, the day goes by very quickly,” adds Cheryl. There are no typical days when creating wearable art. Some days Cheryl is filling orders; other days she is working in her shop perfecting Search Engine Optimization, uploading new items, tracking stock, and deciding on best prices.

There are many benefits to owning a small business. Cheryl loves working at home, when she wants and how often she wants. She finds support through a variety of community groups on Facebook and Etsy. Her jewelry creating process is unique and includes reading the stones, blessing the jewelry, and performing Reiki (hands-on healing) on all pieces before shipping them to customers. She says, “All stones have esoteric properties and customers often request a certain type of stone to help them attain healing. For example, rose quartz symbolizes, among other things, unconditional love or self-love.” Cheryl includes the Reiki symbol, Cho Ku Rei, on all her jewelry that works for the highest good of all.

In addition to owning her restaurants and jewelry business, Cheryl stays busy as a hospice volunteer. “I love it!” she states. “I’ve met so many people and learned so much about life and living. Life is very precious.” In the busy life she has created for herself, she wears many other hats that include serving as an ordained minister, analyzing handwriting, and performing angel readings.

By enthusiastically pursuing her passion, Cheryl has gained confidence in herself and found a balance that has allowed her to be creative and help others at the same time. She advises others who want to do the same to just “Go for it! Know that you have to work at it. But if it is really your passion, then it shouldn’t feel like work anyway.”

Henri Matisse once said, “Creativity takes courage,” In her pursuit of a simpler, quieter life, Cheryl Wagner has proven that finding the courage within to bravely blaze her own creative path is the secret to finding true happiness.

To view and/or order Cheryl’s fabulous jewelry, click here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/makemesmilejewelry

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 - Robert Lopez

Robert Lopez in front of In front of St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City (Rome).

Robert Lopez in front of In front of St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City (Rome).

Robert Lopez’s dream to become a travel agent first took flight when he was just twelve. While walking to school in Los Angeles, Robert’s path took him around a corner and past the travel agency, Ships N’ Trips. Enthralled with the possibility of traveling to all the places advertised in the agency’s window, Robert eventually met an agent who showed him how to use a computer and told him all about life as a travel agent. Although he also considered a career as a chef, it seemed Robert’s destiny was already laid out for him when he decided to attend travel school and eventually accepted a job in reservations at United Airlines. Even as Robert began what would become a lengthy and successful career in the travel industry, he dreamed of opening his own business.

Robert says it was his father who ultimately inspired him to work for himself, rather than for someone else. The right opportunity finally presented itself twenty years after Robert started his first job at United Airlines. Although Robert was hesitant at first, he decided to take the plunge in memory of his father who always encouraged him to persevere through his challenges.

Today, Robert proudly owns Freedom Travel agency—a place where he connects travelers with unforgettable experiences. A typical day begins at around 6:00 a.m. when Robert checks the weather forecast and news around the country to see if there are any delays ahead for his clients. Then he responds to emails, answers questions through his social media accounts, plans vacations and business trips, and handles all the other aspects of running a busy office such as balancing books, creating email blasts, and networking with potential clients. Before calling it a day, he once again checks news and weather. Robert, who has traveled to nearly twenty-five countries that include Amsterdam, Jamaica, El Salvador, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and Hong Kong, relies on his own experiences to counsel his clients on the best places to visit and stay.

When Robert took the leap of faith to start his own business, he received one piece of advice he never forgot: to always be himself. It’s a goal he pledges to achieve daily. Since becoming an entrepreneur, Robert has worked hard to build his clientele, gained insight into all he is capable of accomplishing, brought balance into his life, and discovered his own sense of spirituality.

Robert advises anyone wanting to pursue their passion in life to make it a reality. “If it’s something you love to do and makes you happy inside—like it almost completes you—then don’t ever let the fire burn out. It may not happen early in life, but be sure to keep stoking the fire and seeking fulfillment.” Robert adds that owning a successful business is not just for him, but created and built upon every day in celebration of his father who taught him that all things are possible through hard work and a belief in himself.

All these years after he first walked past a travel agency in Los Angeles as a curious twelve-year-old boy, Robert is living proof that finding our passion in life is not as hard as we think. Sometimes it is just right around the corner. We just have to be intuitive enough to recognize it.

To learn more about Freedom Travel or to book your next travel adventure, visit http://www.freedomtravel.biz/.

 

Living Her Passion – Allie Mulberry

Allie Mulberry with her sisters, Bo and Rachel, as they interview a guest on their radio show, Mulberry Lane.

Allie Mulberry with her sisters, Bo and Rachel, as they interview a guest on their radio show, Mulberry Lane.

Allie Mulberry grew up in a house filled with music, believing that everyone else in the world broke out into song at random moments of the day just as she did. Her mother was a jazz vocalist who supported an artistic upbringing. Her father’s continual message to Allie and her three older sisters as they matured was simple but impactful: “You can do anything in life if you work hard for it.”

While she was in middle school, Allie wrote her first song, “Am I Forever Forgotten?” about a love gone wrong. Soon after, she and her sisters formed the group Mulberry Lane and began singing at coffeehouses, recording their own music, and creating their first album, “Don’t Cry ‘til You Get to the Car.” After the album landed a coveted spot on a national chart, the phone rang at their house one day. On the other end was an executive from MCA Records who asked the sisters to fly out to Los Angeles so he could hear them perform. After a bidding war ensued between MCA, Interscope, Atlantic Records, and Hollywood Records, Allie and her sisters ultimately signed with MCA, moved to Los Angeles to record their debut album, “Run Your Own Race,” and achieved a top 25 Billboard hit with their song, “Harmless.” As a subsequent tour led them through the United States, Europe, and Japan, and to appearances on such television shows as Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, and Regis Live, Allie says that they all learned a great deal. But just as their song, “Just One Breath” landed on a Kevin Costner film soundtrack, MCA folded into Geffen and canceled the release of their next album.

After a great deal of soul searching, Mulberry Lane eventually released two holiday albums and a live album, and filmed a PBS holiday special. After turning down an offer to star in a television reality show, Allie reveals that she and her sisters made a mutual decision in 2012 to put privacy and family first, and pursue the idea of hosting a weekly radio show. Allie discloses, “The more we thought about it, the more it morphed into an idea of what it is now: an interactive show that interviews artists about the creative process.”

Today, Allie and two of her sisters own, craft, produce, edit, and choose their guests for The Mulberry Lane Show. The goal of their show is to inspire people to keep their creative passion alive. Their guests comprise an eclectic mix of artists and creative influencers that, to date, have included Melissa Etheridge, Ann Wilson (Heart), Jewel, Jillian Michaels, Larry the Cable Guy, DMC of Run DMC, Counting Crows, The Beach Boys, Salt-N-Pepa, The Property Brothers, and Kenny Loggins. The Mulberry sisters also highlight local and regional guests from the arts community. Allie says that she is always inspired by messages from listeners who enjoy their deep creative questions that address not just the paint colors, but also the framework and foundation of an artist.

Allie’s support group continues to be her sisters who speak with her daily, her parents who provide words of encouragement whenever needed, and her husband, David, who has always generously supported her creative passions. She is the busy mother of a first grader, Luke, and Clover, a preschooler they adopted from China in 2016. Allie lives her days by the mantra that family and love can, and always will, move mountains.

Allie believes that having a passion and following it has always given her an inner sense of self-worth. She advises anyone who wants to pursue their passion in life to be themselves above anything else. It is truly inspiring wisdom from a woman who so loved music as a little girl that she created a life around it.

To read more about Mulberry Lane or to listen to their show, visit http://www.mulberrylane.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.

Release Your Need to Be Right

Photo by Vicky DeCoster

Photo by Vicky DeCoster

There are times when it’s important to be right like when taking away the keys from an impaired driver or performing CPR to save a life. But in today’s divided world, the need to be right is often ruling many conversations and discussions, either in person or online. Expending all our energy in an attempt to sway someone to believe the way we do can be exhausting and frequently limits us in listening to and accepting the views of others. So is it really possible to release our need to be right all the time?

There is no question we all want to be heard. Our opinions, thoughts, and feelings are important. But it is equally as important to stop talking and listen during a conversation with loved ones or strangers on the subway or a Facebook friend. Truth be known, we are not all alike in how we view the world around us. Our perspectives are different and that’s a good thing. When we listen to and honor the opinions of others—even when we disagree—we not only open ourselves to new possibilities, but also to new ways of thinking. Simply put, letting go of our need to be right expands our knowledge of the world around us.

In breaking old habits such as the need to be right, it is sometimes helpful to utilize these three tips:

Take a deep breath. During a passionate or heated conversation, it is easy to become defensive when believing, “I must convince this person to think exactly how I do.” Instead of using all your energy to sway the person to your side, instead take a deep breath to remind yourself that it is okay if we all view a situation a little differently.

Really listen. Instead of thinking about what to say next to defend your own views, really listen to the other party (or parties) in the conversation. Everyone offers a unique perspective. Even if you passionately disagree, listen anyway. Remember, we are all in this world to learn. If you are always talking over others, how will you learn?

Express gratitude. Thank them for expressing their opinion. You might say, “I appreciate your opinion. I may not always agree with you, but I enjoy that we can have a respectful conversation with each other.” It is a blessing often taken for granted that we live in a country where we are free to express our opinions.

Releasing your need to be right comes with the possibility of viewing your life—and those around you—in a new way. It is really okay if they do not think the same way you do. Think about it. How many times have you actually changed someone’s mind when they firmly believed they are right? When you let go of your need to be right, you allow yourself to be free. Your opinions belong to no one else but you. And that feels pretty darn good.

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

Five Easy Steps to Implementing Self-Care into Your Life

Photo by Vicky DeCoster

Photo by Vicky DeCoster

In a busy and competitive world, it is sometimes easy to place self-care on the back burner. We spend long hours at the office, drive our kids to soccer practice, care for our aging parents, and eat meals on-the-go. With “to-do” lists a mile long, we mistakenly believe there is not a free moment left in the day to focus on ourselves. Thankfully, there is good news. There are simple things you can begin doing today to create and implement a self-care routine that allows you to take a breath, focus on your own happiness, and ultimately find the good in every day.

Take a 20-minute walk outdoors. Being out in nature boosts your immune system while providing a gentle reminder that life, just like nature, changes often and, in the process, creates beauty. By turning your focus to the color of the trees, the warm sun, and the blue sky, you give your busy mind a much-needed rest and allow yourself to just be. Walks can be scheduled on your calendar, just like meetings. Appointments with yourself are just as important as appointments with clients, your boss, or a friend.

Find one thing to be grateful for every day. Whether it is clean water, a warm bed, or a car that starts on a cold winter morning, it is important to recognize the simple things in life we take for granted that so many others wish they could have. Every night before bed, make a mental note of what you are grateful for. This exercise takes only a few moments and will provide you with the kind of fresh perspective that leads to unlimited happiness.

Say no. You don’t have to be everything to everyone. Your colleagues will still like you if you occasionally turn down an invitation for after-work drinks. Your family will still love you if you say no to doing laundry on Sundays. Your friends will still want to be your friends even if you have to reschedule a lunch. It’s okay not to be so busy that you just run from one place to the next without focusing on the here and now.

Meditate. Meditating does not have to include sitting cross-legged on the floor, burning candles, or listening to New Age music. Meditating can occur while you’re on the treadmill, on your lunch hour, or while you’re lying in your bed at night. The process of meditating means that for a short period of time, you are allowing your mind to rest. Simply repeating peace-invoking words in your head like “love” or “joy” can provide serenity to even the most stressed of souls. Meditation lowers blood pressure, heart rates, and can even help promote creative thinking.

Practice empathy and forgiveness … for yourself.  Implementing positive self-talk is a valuable component of a daily self-care routine. Learn to forgive yourself for your mistakes. We are here on earth for two reasons: to love and learn. Talk to yourself empathetically like a friend would. Tell yourself that it’s okay if you make mistakes, that you’re not perfect, and that life will go on, just as it always has. None of us are flawless. Don’t expect yourself to be either. Remember it is just as important to treat yourself as well as you treat others around you.

Implementing a self-care routine is an important part of achieving a happy and fulfilling life. You are worth it. Start today. I promise you won’t regret it.

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.