Inspirational Advice

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 – Candy Zollicoffer

Candy Zollicoffer

Candy Zollicoffer

While growing up in Brewton, Alabama, Candy Zollicoffer first learned to serve others from her grandmother. Grandma Lenestine served in her church, in her community, and often hosted others in need in her home. Candy remembers that her grandmother and other female matriarchs in her family were always ready to take a phone call, pray for others, and share what they had (even if it was their last). “The value of serving others is something I have carried with me throughout my life,” says Candy. “You don’t have to be wealthy to serve without expectations.”

As the oldest of five, Candy’s childhood was challenging. She and her family moved to Omaha, Nebraska, during the summer of her fifteenth birthday. The transition was hard on Candy as she had to adapt from a high school of just a few hundred to two thousand students while experiencing a trauma that summer that temporarily silenced her voice and ability to find joy. Thankfully, Candy eventually found her tribe and graduated from high school. From there, she attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln on a scholarship where she majored in biochemistry. After switching her major and campus location, Candy graduated from the University of Nebraska Omaha in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in Nonprofit Administration. Since then, she has continued to develop her skills through different programs offered by UNO and The Nonprofit Association of the Midlands.

After stints at several nonprofits and a church, Candy ultimately landed a role as Development Assistant at Abide, a local nonprofit that has been investing in and revitalizing the neighbors and neighborhoods of North Omaha for over thirty years. Today she works as the Partnership Coordinator tasked with connecting with businesses and churches interested in revitalizing the community. She not only engages employees and church members with service projects, but also raises funds for Abide’s programs and projects.

Candy says the most gratifying thing about her work is the opportunity to connect people with opportunities that positively impact her community. She also enjoys helping people change the narrative they hear or tell themselves about North Omaha. “The most important thing everyone in Omaha needs to know about the inner-city is that it is a rich community filled with incredible leaders who are using their gifts to impact the community and city overall. We are proud of our community and love doing life together!” she adds.

Candy with members of Westwood Church and two Abide Lighthouse Leaders after handing out 50 Valentine’s Day boxes for the Love in the Neighborhood campaign.

Candy with members of Westwood Church and two Abide Lighthouse Leaders after handing out 50 Valentine’s Day boxes for the Love in the Neighborhood campaign.

Today Candy describes her life as purposeful. The best piece of advice she ever received related to pursuing her passion in life was to acknowledge the things that break her heart because it is those things that ultimately empower her to take purposeful action to make life-changing impact every day. Candy says that although she has gained much from pursuing her passion, it is gaining her voice back that makes her most proud. “I am passionate about empowering people to speak their truth, especially women and youth. For so long, I allowed myself to be silenced so that others would be more comfortable. Today I am speaking my truth so that I may bring hope and healing to those who are ready to listen.”

Candy advises those wanting to pursue more gratifying work to talk to people who know you well and are willing to be honest with you. She credits her husband, Wes, her best friend, Jennifer, her father, her supervisor, and the entire team at Abide for affirming her endeavors. “These relationships are rooted in honesty, transparency, and love,” Candy states. “I can share anything with them without fear that the relationship will suffer. They see me, listen to me, and are able to speak life into me. When they share what I cannot see, I feel empowered to make clear decisions that change the trajectory of my life for the better.”

John Bunyan once said, “You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” Every day, Candy Zollicoffer makes it her mission to fulfill that quote. Yet in hearing her story, it soon becomes evident that in exuberantly serving her community, Candy’s community has given back to her in so many ways, making her rich in life experiences and joy beyond her wildest dreams.

For more about Abide, its mission, and how you can help, visit https://www.abideomaha.org/.

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

 

What Five Things Do YOU Need To Be Happy?

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For the past few months, many have been jumping on the bandwagon of organization thanks to the Netflix show, Tidying Up, where Japanese organization expert Marie Kondo helps ordinary people clean up the clutter in their lives and keep only the items that spark joy. It’s a movement toward positive change that highlights the importance of looking within, deciding what we want, and then taking action to make it happen.

It’s true that by releasing our burdens of the unnecessary “things” we often surround ourselves with (and mistakenly believe that we need), we are better able to focus on finding joy in the every day. When I was younger, I had a friend whose mother grew up on a farm in the middle of America during the early part of the twentieth century, miles away from any town. All she had to play with on a hot summer day while sitting under the one shade tree near their house was a ragged doll. At the time, my friend and I were horrified. How could she possibly have been happy with just that one scruffy doll to keep her occupied? My friend’s mother, who still leads a simple life well into her nineties, firmly stated to us then that she was completely happy having less than more while growing up. Although many years have passed since then, I have never forgotten that story or her valuable message that living simply is perhaps the key to living happily ever after.

Today, I’d like to challenge you to consider this introspective question:

If you lived somewhere that provided all of the basic necessities like loved ones, a bathroom, comfortable furniture, a few dishes, food, and drink, what five things would you need in order to be happy?

If you close your eyes, what pops into your head as the things you cannot live without? For me, it is a good pair of hiking boots, a plethora of books, a computer or a pad that allows me a place to write, a method to play music, and a camera. The total value of all five things is probably around $1,000. I can confidently guarantee you that if I was surrounded by just these five items and nothing else in life, I would be gloriously happy no matter what my challenges or obstacles. But why?

Hiking boots provide me a comfortable way to step into nature and enjoy the wilderness, books offer me a way to escape into imaginary worlds that allow me to contemplate possibilities, a computer or a pad of paper invite me to continue to pursue my passion of writing and sharing stories with others, a method to play music allows me the chance to feel bonded with others around the world who also adore a great song, and a camera provides me with a way to capture an experience and reflect on it whenever I want. In short, all the items I have listed provide me with one major thing I need no matter what: peace.

Once you have identified the five things you need in life, write them down along with an explanation as to why. After your list and explanations are compiled, reflect on how you feel now about your life from this day forward. In a general sense, creating this list should help you feel more relaxed and at peace about your future.

It’s a tough reality to accept when we suddenly realize there are no guarantees in life. But when we compile a list of the five things we really need in order to be happy on a daily basis, it allows us a safe place to take a deep breath, calm ourselves down, and understand that no matter what happens down the road, we are going to be okay.

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.

Why Change Is So Hard

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The call for change often comes when we least expect it. Sometimes it comes in the form of a whisper so soft that we have to strain to hear it. Other times it comes in the form of a roar we cannot ignore. But when that little voice in our head becomes so loud that we cannot ignore it anymore, the potential for change suddenly becomes a reality we must courageously face.

Yet oftentimes as exciting as change can be, many of us resist it because, quite frankly, it can also be terrifying. In fact, the idea of change can sometimes be so daunting that it has the power to immediately transport us right back to a time when we had to face a super scary change, like the first day of kindergarten when we felt like we might lose our breakfast right on top of our brand new shoes. Yikes. The cold, harsh reality is that when we step outside our comfort zones, it is an uncomfortable place to be at first. As author and research professor Brené Brown states, “You can choose courage or you can choose comfort, but you cannot choose both.”

Change is an inevitable part of life. It comes in many forms whether it is something we embrace like new love or something we abhor like an unanticipated job loss. Sometimes change makes us want to curl up in the fetal position and shut out the world. Other times change lightens our load and makes us feel like leaping with joy. Sometimes it is fun just to talk about change. What if I moved to Europe and lived off my savings for a year? What if I started my own business and escaped the corporate nightmare I’ve been enduring for entirely too long? What if I bungee-jumped off a bridge with a Go-Pro attached to my helmet? It is while talking about change in its most initial stages that we realize we are craving something new. But what is it really and how do we find a way to move forward from here?

Will Craig, author of Living the Hero’s Journey, says that the quickest way—and perhaps the only way—to discover our true destiny is to truly know ourselves. In order to push through the fear, identify a clear path, effectively make decisions, and take action, we must first be able to identify and understand not only our strengths and passions, but also our weaknesses and limitations. We must also be prepared to answer introspective questions that dig deep and force us to look within for the answers.

It is incredibly important that while on this journey through life to be honest with yourself about the possibility of change. In the end, is it is you who is living your journey: not your spouse, not your parents, not your children, not your friends, and not your next-door neighbor. You, and only you, hold the key to unlock and walk through the door of change or throw the key away and stay where you are for now. No matter what, take the time to work through each decision with help from an accountability partner who does not have an agenda, but instead, is capable of guiding you to becoming the best version of you.

Change is powerful. It is scary. It is an action-packed roller coaster ride through the unknown. Change is what fuels our journey through life, keeps us from being stagnant, and ultimately transforms us into the people we were meant to be.

Change is hard. Find a way. Your destiny 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 – Kim Shaw, Photo Artist

Kim Shaw working on a photo art creation.

Kim Shaw working on a photo art creation.

Creativity is in Kim Shaw’s blood. Ever since she was a little girl, she has enjoyed taking photographs, drawing, and painting. As she matured and ventured out on her own, she was encouraged to find a career that offered stability and a predictable salary. While married, working in a variety of corporate roles and as a nanny, and raising her daughter, Brianne, Kim began photographing weddings, portraits, and even school photos. As her job as a nanny took her around the world, Kim captured beautiful scenes and landscapes from many of her trips. Later after learning her great-grandfather was a photographer and digging through his vintage images, Kim began contemplating how she could enhance and restore those images and ultimately transform them into artwork. “A photograph is frozen in time,” Kim says, “I want to know what they were going through in their lives at that very moment.”

Everything changed in 2010 when divorce set Kim on a path of healing where she eventually met with a life coach who guided her to explore new mediums that included acrylic painting on photographs. After taking a couple of classes and receiving a gentle push from a friend, Kim began painting—first for family who asked her to paint as gifts and then for a gallery owner who asked her to paint in her gallery “live” on Saturdays. It wasn’t long before her business, PhotoArt by Kim, was founded and she was on her way to pursuing her passion.

Kim’s award-winning artwork.

Kim’s award-winning artwork.

Kim’s photo painting process begins with an image in any condition. “If it’s not in digital form, I’ll scan it digitally and then print it on canvas,” she adds. “Then I prepare the surface of the canvas with a matte medium and begin painting with acrylic, following either her intuition or the customer’s guidance.” Kim says that most of her commissions are inspired by the clients, as they generally have a vision of what they want. After the painting has dried, each piece is varnished with UVA protective coating.

Kim’s art niche is in gift giving. Her clients possess vintage and classic images from every walk of life—grandpa and his first car; grandma in her twenties, the father a customer never met; a family homestead in the 1950s, and beloved pets. Since 2012, Kim has completed over 50 commissions. Her customers find her at art shows and other events where they enjoy viewing her completed pieces and hearing all the stories surrounding her artwork. “I’ve found that most people want to meet the artist before they invest in artwork,” she adds. Her favorite part of creating art is seeing the reactions of her clients when they see their artwork for the first time. “Usually we cry together because the photo image means so much to them. When they see where I was able to take the photograph, it becomes a healing experience.”

Her parents are her biggest supporters. Her mother, who is in her late seventies, is now taking oil painting classes for the first time in her life. Kim proclaims she has gained complete fulfillment by pursuing her passion. “The joy I have when a client cries over their completed artwork is very spiritual,” she adds. Today Kim keeps busy with a new creative group she has formed and with exploring other mediums like abstract painting. Her advice to anyone wanting to pursue their passion is, “If you love it, then do it! Love is your fuel. Be your own customer first.”

Kim with a happy client.

Kim with a happy client.

Angel Haze once said, “True artistic expression lies in conveying emotion.” Kim Shaw offers her customers the inspirational gift of artfully recapturing moments in the lives of their ancestors, their friends, and themselves and providing them with a keepsake that draws emotions to the surface and keeps those moments alive for the next generation to appreciate. Through the pursuit of her artistic passions that provide others with so much happiness, Kim is leaving a legacy that will last long beyond her time here on Earth.

For more about her artwork or to reach out to Kim about a commission piece, visit https://www.facebook.com/photoartbykim/.

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

 

Who Are You Surrounding Yourself With?

Helena.Lopes

Some people call it a tribe. Others call it a support system or board of directors. No matter what you title it, we all need a trustworthy and loyal group of people surrounding us who unconditionally care for us; listen intently when we share ideas, thoughts, and feelings; keep our secrets; and believe that we can achieve our dreams, even when we are feeling uncertain about our path forward.

So what are some of the main characteristics of a true supporter?

A true supporter has your best interest in mind. This person asks you the right kinds of questions when you are contemplating change in your life. They may ask you honest, introspective questions like, “What are you getting out of this decision?” or “What is going to make you truly happy right now?” They do not think of themselves and what they are going to receive personally from your decision. In short, they are placing your happiness above their own.

A true supporter is not envious of your success. The people in your inner circle should be your biggest cheerleaders. When the rest of the world is booing, they should be rooting you on from the sidelines. A true supporter believes in you, in your talents, and in making the kinds of adjustments in your life that instigate positive change. When everyone else says, “Good luck with that,” a true supporter says, “What can I do to help?” or “Let me make a phone call.” And when you do achieve what you believe to be success, a true supporter is not afraid to let you and everyone they know how great you are.

A true supporter speaks the truth in a gentle, nonconfrontational way. This person knows that deep inside, you want the truth. But you don’t want to receive the truth in a way that is hurtful, brash, or self-serving. You want the truth delivered with a calmness that is encouraging yet honest. This person often speaks the truth while offering other options to consider that do not leave you wanting more, but instead believing that you can still achieve your goals, just in a different way.

A true supporter forgives you for your missteps. A true supporter believes that in forgiving others, they set themselves free. This person forgives you for sometimes speaking from pain, guilt, grief, or anger while reminding you that we are all imperfect. A true supporter releases resentment and replaces it with understanding. This person never holds a grudge and encourages others in your inner circle to follow their lead.

A true supporter helps you see a way forward. When we become immersed in the messiness of daily life, it can sometimes be difficult to see a way out. A true supporter reminds us that tomorrow is a new day filled with fresh opportunities to become better versions of ourselves. This person not only helps you move forward, but also provides support every step of the way, especially when you are feeling afraid, lost, or alone.

Surrounding yourself with a positive, supportive inner circle is the best thing you can do for you. Always remember that you deserve it. And then pay it forward and be that person for someone else. 

“It doesn't matter how many people you meet in your life; you just need the real ones who accept you for who you are and help you become who you should be.” ― Roy T. Bennett

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

Living His Passion - Jason Gilbreath, Reclaimed Enterprises

Jason Gilbreath, Founder and Owner of Reclaimed Enterprises

Jason Gilbreath, Founder and Owner of Reclaimed Enterprises

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

What We Can All Learn from a Lifelong Adventurer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Living Her Passion – Allison Borji

Allison Borji has always considered herself a “creative.” Despite a challenging childhood that sadly included the traumatic loss of her father to suicide when she was just five and her own battle with severe depression, Allison always had a pen in hand and, as a self-professed hopeless romantic, loved writing poetry. After graduating magna cum laude from college with a degree in history, marrying her college sweetheart, and moving around the country as a military spouse, Allison began searching for a hobby that would help her become more reliant on herself and her abilities as she stepped outside her comfort zone.

By researching various types of art techniques and materials that appealed to her, Allison discovered she had a knack for combining colors to create beautiful artwork. As she began painting on a regular basis, Allison quickly realized the therapeutic benefits of creating art. The way the paint swirled and the ink spread on the canvas helped take her mind to a quiet place. After thoroughly studying a variety of mediums, Allison finally settled on fluid acrylic, watercolors, and alcohol inks.

When she begins painting, Allison rarely has a vision in mind of what she wants to create. Instead, she chooses a color palette that reflects her mood or the seasons and guides her to start the process creating abstract art. After reminding herself to let go of control, Allison lets her medium do the deciding. “That helps take the stress out of deciding what to paint,” she adds. Once she creates a piece, she lets it sit overnight and comes back to it after a day or two. Allison finds that extremely useful in helping her create art pieces that she loves. After about a week of assessing the piece, she adds varnish to ensure its longevity and vibrancy. Because of a harsh inner-critic she is always attempting to tame, Allison generally places one out of five pieces on her Etsy site to sell.

An Allison Borji original

An Allison Borji original

When Allison decided to open a shop on Etsy, she received heartfelt advice to “just do it.” Additionally, she was encouraged to take things at her own pace. “I knew if I opened a shop, I would feel pressure to consistently create more art. I have to remind myself daily that I am doing this because I love it, not because I have to,” says Allison. When a customer purchases a piece because they are going through the same emotional challenges as Allison, she is thrilled that her art is supporting their healing process. Her challenges have included learning how to photograph her art and size it properly to fit Etsy’s standards. “The way I see colors and the sheen on a canvas can greatly affect the photo,” Allison states. Another challenge she has battled is turning down commission work. “Learning to say no to commissions is essential to maintaining my love for making art. Because my whole philosophy revolves around ‘therapy through art’, the pressure and deadlines that come with commission work takes away the love I have for the art process,” adds Allison.

Supported by her family, friends, co-workers, and most of all, her husband Omar, Allison has come to realize that it is a gift to have found a passion that helps heal her soul, bring her peace of mind, and help others realize they are not alone. Today, she is better at motivating herself to take risks, growing comfortable with her identity, and becoming bolder in her decision making. Although each year comes with its own set of obstacles, she is learning how to breathe through them, finding humor in many situations, and adapting easier to change. “I am comfortable calling myself a different person than I was ten years ago,” Allison says, “Creating art has provided me a haven and coping mechanism that allows me to reduce the stigma of mental illness while providing hope to anyone battling personal challenges.”

Allison advises anyone ready to pursue their passion to just do it and don’t look back. “Stay true to yourself. Go with your instincts. Life is fragile and short. We can often get too caught up in what we need to do. Find your passion and make time for it. Life is hard, embracing your passion will only help make it more enjoyable and fulfilling.”

Henri Matisse once said, “Creativity takes courage.” Every day that Allison Borji steps into her art studio and lets inspiration take control, she is proving to herself—and all her customers—that anything is possible if we just trust in the process and believe we can.

An Allison Borji original

An Allison Borji original

To view and/or purchase Allison’s artwork, visit her shop “Ink & Bear It: Abstract Artworks by Allison Borji” at www.etsy.com/shop/inkandbearit.

A Look Back at 2018: Why the Failures Are Just as Important as the Wins

Photo by  Jean Gerber

Photo by Jean Gerber

Although December is generally a very busy month for the majority of us, it is also a great time to step away from the holiday parties, shopping, and buffet table to reflect on everything—the good, bad, and ugly—about the past year. Unfortunately, we often avoid reflecting on the bad and the ugly because, quite frankly, it stings and reminds us of things we’d rather forget.

In a 2018 blog profile, one of my interviewees stated that when she was considering opening her own business, she decided to study businesses that failed. When asked why, she added that she felt it was important to learn why businesses closed their doors, not just why they succeeded. Today her business is thriving because she took the time to face her fears, explore all options, and learn.

Failures are equally as important as successes in teaching life lessons.

Although we’d rather not think or talk about our failures in life, it is valuable to our personal growth to ask ourselves questions at the end of each year that prompt self-reflection and provide an opportunity to learn more about ourselves, what we want, and how we can move forward and transform a negative experience into a positive one.

For example, on September 20, 2018, the Cleveland Browns beat the New York Jets for their first win since December 24, 2016. In less than two years, they managed to turn a series of heartbreaking losses into an unyielding determination to prove their critics wrong.

Lessons extracted from failures can be transformed into positive energy
that fuels the achievement of future goals.

In job interviews, hiring manager sometimes ask candidates to discuss a time when they failed. It can be an agonizing moment in the interview for candidates. After all, we are trained in life to focus only on our successes. But the hiring manager has a reason behind the question. He/she wants to know if you are willing to take risks and, more importantly, if you are willing to learn from your mistakes.

 Failure provides an opportunity to learn from mistakes.

So when thinking about what you have achieved and not achieved in the last year, it is important to ask yourself a well-rounded set of questions that not only explore your wins and losses, but also help you find a direction forward:

What have I accomplished this year that I am most proud of?

What have I done that I wish I could take back?

What is the one constructive criticism I would like to work on and why?

Who in my life is holding me back from pursuing my dreams?

What is the one thing I wish I could have achieved this year that I didn’t?

How committed am I to learning from my mistakes? (Very, not so much, not at all)

How willing am I to take a risk in the next year? (Very, not so much, not at all)

What does failure mean to me?

What does success mean to me?

Once you have formulated and reviewed your answers to all of these questions, take some time to reflect. If you failed, why? Were you committed to your goals? Did someone stand in your way (or did you stand in your own way)? What are three lessons you learned from each failure?

 Reflecting on an entire year can be enlightening in many ways. Although it is scary at first, it is an important step in growing as a person, stepping outside your comfort zone, and learning lessons that you can carry forward into the future to better yourself and the world around you.

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.