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

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:

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

Five Secrets to Surviving Adversity


In the award-winning memoir, The Distance Between Us, Reyna Grande shines a light on how it is possible to overcome a tumultuous childhood and ultimately achieve success in life. Reyna, who was transported across borders and between homes as a child, shares poignant details of her early life that reveal how she not only survived abandonment, heartache, and seemingly insurmountable obstacles that accompanied her childhood, but also persevered to become an acclaimed writer. Despite her challenges, Reyna allowed herself to dream and accepted guidance from a trusted mentor who taught her to believe in herself and her abilities. Most importantly, Reyna did not allow herself to be labeled as a victim. Instead, she proudly wore the title of survivor—and still does to this day.

It is no secret that life is hard. It seems that just when everything seems to be going swimmingly, adversity strikes, leaving us wondering what we did to deserve our challenges. Although it is easier to slip into the “why me” mode while attempting to claw our way out of the darkness, there are ways to survive adversity and come out of it stronger and more empathetic toward our fellow man. So what are a few secrets to surviving hardship in life?

  1. Break up time into tiny pieces. When we think we cannot make it through another day, try to focus on making it through the next hour. If that seems daunting, turn your attention to surviving the next five minutes. When that seems impossible, focus on persevering through the next minute.
  2. Lower expectations of yourself. While facing challenges in life, treat yourself like you would treat a friend enduring the same experience. Be kind to yourself. It is okay if the laundry sits in the hamper for a few days or if dinner consists of peanut butter sandwiches for a week. You don’t have to be “super” anything for the time being.
  3. Practice positive self-talk. Rather than telling yourself, “Everything will be okay,” try this instead, “Everything is okay.” Because it is okay. No matter what. Repeating this phrase over and over again retrains your mind to believe that in time, life will go on.
  4. Think of yourself as a tiny speck in an enormous universe. Take a walk in nature. Stop and really look at the clouds, the sun, and the huge sky. You, just like everyone else around you, have a unique purpose in life. Embrace the thought that in time, everything will happen just as it is supposed to in your life. Trust in the process and the universe’s plan for you.
  5. Be present. Stay in the here and now. Whenever your mind starts to create dismal scenarios for the future, gently bring it back to the present. It may be helpful to wear a special bracelet you can touch throughout the day as a reminder to stay in the here and now if your thoughts turn more worrisome than comforting. As Carrie ten Boom once said, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.”

The next time you face adversity, think of Reyna Grande. Despite her challenges, she became the first in her family to graduate from college, to earn a master’s degree, and ultimately to write several celebrated books. Her journey has not been easy, but neither is anyone else’s. You are never alone. No matter what comes your way in the future, keep dreaming, loving, and believing in yourself.

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

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


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

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

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