Living Purpose

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.

 

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 – Julie Ricceri, Diana’s Papillion Tea Shop

Julie Ricceri, Owner of Diana’s Papillion Tea Shop

Julie Ricceri, Owner of Diana’s Papillion Tea Shop

When Julie Ricceri won a bag of tea from a Facebook contest hosted by The Papillion Tea Shop in 2016, she had just retired from a thirty-two-year career as a special education teacher. Married for thirty-three years and the mother of an adult daughter, Julie was looking forward to a new chapter without any idea that winning that bag of tea would become a pivotal moment in her life.

When Julie visited the tea shop to pick up her bag of tea, she chatted with an employee who was resigning. Julie, who was seeking work a few days a week, was eventually hired by Diana, the owner of the tea shop. Diana had cancer and needed someone to manage the shop while she received treatments. As a friendship between the two women developed, Diana confided in Julie that she wanted someone to take over the shop if the cancer ever became untreatable, perhaps five to ten years down the road. While Julie and Diana contemplated partnering together in the business, Diana traveled to Florida over Christmas. When she returned, she was too ill to work. Julie adds, “She was only able to make it in one more time before she passed away.” Her death left her grief-stricken husband, Des, with the overwhelming task of managing the shop as well as Diana’s affairs. After Julie agreed to stay on and run the business, she asked him to consider renaming the shop, Diana’s Papillion Tea Shop. He agreed and a year later, Julie purchased the shop from him.

Although Julie has always loved tea, she only drank unflavored green tea for its immune boosting power. Once she started working at the tea shop, she began learning about the health benefits of all teas. Today she definitely considers herself a tea aficionado who is passionate about the advantages of drinking a variety of teas cultivated from around the world.

Diana’s Tea Shop, Papillion, NE

Diana’s Tea Shop, Papillion, NE

While owning a business was daunting at first, Julie was inspired by Diana who she says had the imagination and unique abilities to open the shop. Diana’s husband, Des, offered great advice: enjoy every moment. “He didn’t want me to feel guilty about taking over the shop,” Julie adds. Before she tackles anything new, Julie always asks herself, “Would Diana like this? Is this something she would do?” Today, Julie has transformed into a confident entrepreneur who is slowly adding her own unique touches to the shop. Recently she added more tables and a cozy sitting area—a decision that has been very popular with her devoted customers. Her biggest challenge has been determining how much inventory to purchase and finding a balance between the demands of entrepreneurship and her need for occasional downtime. Her biggest surprise is how many of her customers have become her friends. “It really is a blessing,” she says, “I have a whole new set of people in my life that I would not have ever known had I not won that bag of tea!”

Julie’s husband, Ben, is her biggest supporter. He helps her with the books, cleans the shop, and assists with preparations for special events. Her daughter, Nina, also provides encouragement along the way. Finally, Diana’s family always expresses their gratitude to her for keeping the shop open.

Every day, Julie opens the shop at 10:00 a.m., ensures the tea is ready for sampling, stocks the shelves, checks on orders, answers customers’ questions, makes drinks, and chats with the customers. When asked what one word best describes her life today, Julie answered, “Full.” By pursuing her passion, Julie has gained a sense of satisfaction that comes with loving what she does. Although she never expected to be an entrepreneur, Julie has settled quite nicely into her new role and openly embraces everything that goes along with it. When she greets her customers warmly and offers them a place to decompress and enjoy a cup of flavorful tea, there is no question that Julie has found her home.

 Diana would be so proud.

 For more about Julie and the tea shop, visit www.dianaspapillionteashop.com or her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/papillionteashop/.

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 I Became a Life Coach

Vicky on a hike in the Beartooth Mountain Range, Montana, 2018

Vicky on a hike in the Beartooth Mountain Range, Montana, 2018

It’s a question I’m often asked: Why did you become a life coach? I am often reluctant to answer because as a life coach, the focus is on my clients, not me. When pressed, my answer is always short and simple: Because I love to help people find answers to their deepest questions about themselves and the world around them. But really it goes much deeper than that for me. Coaching others to achieve fulfillment, inner-peace, and their truth is my destiny. In short, I feel it is what I have been put on this earth to do.

As a professional writer for many years, I have become accustomed to questioning life and people around me. In doing so, I have learned that we all have a compelling story to tell. For decades, I had been informally guiding others through major decisions and obstacles when I decided to pursue a certification in life coaching. As my children matured and entered college and the world beyond, I knew it was time for me to follow my own dream. As I stepped outside my comfort zone and began an intensive training course, I was reintroduced to my love of engaging in the kind of deep conversations that instigate introspective reflection and inspire positive change.

To say I am a goal-driven person is an understatement. Setting goals drove me to write five books by the time I was forty-five; become a solo entrepreneur; ride a bike 150 miles in two days with a team; run through the notorious runner’s wall and finish many 10k races; and hike down the side of a mountain during a blizzard. Setting goals is how I made it through all the challenging times when my inner-strength was tested in more ways than I ever imagined. None of us are exempt from tragedy, loss, or heartache—and I am no exception. When I coach my clients to set goals and then hold them accountable to achieve them, it is not just because I have been trained to do that as a coach. It is because I’ve lived it and witnessed the positive results of goal setting first-hand.

Through all my life experiences, I have learned that there are two things most of us require to be happy: perseverance and a purpose. Finding the strength to persevere through the hard times is how I’ve survived all these years and created the life I want for myself. Realizing my purpose is what gets me out of bed every day and makes me look forward to every moment as an opportunity to illustrate to others all they can achieve after creating a clear plan and then taking action.

It brings me great joy when I guide a client out of the darkness and into the light to embrace what they thought was previously impossible. I have been known to jump up and down when I hear a client has stepped outside their comfort zone to achieve a dream, a goal, or a life-changing realization. One thing I have learned throughout the process of working with a variety of clients is that the size of the dream does not matter. What matters is the joy that comes with realizing they deserve everything they want and need in life.

Finally, being a life coach is much more to me than just guiding someone to achieve goals. Being a life coach reinforces my personal mission to share kindness and love with everyone who walks beside me on my path through life. Together we learn. Together we celebrate. Together we brainstorm. Together we are reminded that no matter what our challenges, we are never alone.

 “Taking personal accountability is a beautiful thing because it gives us complete control of our destinies.” ―Heather Schuck

If you are interested in learning more about how life coaching can help you achieve your goals and dreams, reach out to Vicky via the contact page.

 

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 – Kevin Kinzley, Kinzley Photography

Kevin Kinzley, Kinzley Photography, Red Lodge, Montana

Kevin Kinzley, Kinzley Photography, Red Lodge, Montana

Even at a young age, Kevin Kinzley enjoyed looking at photographs. At age fourteen, he was first inspired to own a gallery after walking into Tom Mangelsen’s gallery in Omaha, Nebraska, and realized what a career in photography could look like. Yet it was not until his sophomore year of high school that his true passion for photography began taking flight. As he learned to roll his own film and process and develop prints, Kevin discovered that he was happiest in the dark room and while capturing landscapes and wildlife. But as his journey led him to attend Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming, to study photography, Kevin slowly began to feel unsure about his path and eventually returned home to Rapid City, South Dakota, where he soon met his future wife, Jessica.

After a short stint as a ski bum at Crested Butte, Colorado, Kevin married Jessica. In the fall of 2009, they both returned to Northwest College where he re-enrolled in the photographic communications program and she pursued a nursing degree. After graduating in 2013, Kevin’s wife landed a nursing position at the hospital in Red Lodge, Montana—an area the couple had frequented through college to backpack, camp, and fish in the Beartooth Mountain range. “It was only fitting that Red Lodge would become the place we would start our careers and family,” adds Kevin.

Kevin was finally able to fulfill his long-held dream when he opened his gallery on the main street in Red Lodge in October 2016. Enthusiastically supported by his parents, wife, and others, today Kevin enjoys the ability to create and take action on his own ideas and thoughts on a daily basis. “Owning a business comes with a lot of sacrifice and discipline, but I know at the end of the day, I am creating something really great for my family,” says Kevin. A typical day starts early as he balances daddy and entrepreneurial duties. Some days, he brings his young daughter to work with him before she goes off to school. Once she is settled at school, he edits photographs, completes paperwork, and greets customers from around the world who visit his gallery. He says there are always jobs to work on, prints to order, or building maintenance items to check off his list. Because Red Lodge is essentially the base camp to the Beartooth Mountain range and Yellowstone and draws visitors from afar, Kevin states that he has shipped his prints as far as South Korea.

Photo by Kevin Kinzley (Big Horn Mountains, Lost Twin Lakes, Cloud Peak Wilderness, Wyoming)

Photo by Kevin Kinzley (Big Horn Mountains, Lost Twin Lakes, Cloud Peak Wilderness, Wyoming)

During his photography travels, Kevin has encountered a variety of wildlife including wolves, eagles, elk, birds, bison, owls, and even geckos in Hawaii. Living so close to Yellowstone and the Big Horn Mountain range the past nine years has provided Kevin with wonderful opportunities to capture creatures in their native habitats. “It’s always fascinating to witness and document their interactions without disturbing them,” he adds.

Kevin shares that he has learned much during his journey as an entrepreneur. “Pursuing my passion has taught me to look at the bigger picture and see all the reasons why I am doing this. At the end of the day, I love what I do. I am blessed that I get to pursue something I really enjoy.”

He offers great advice for someone interested in pursuing their passion in life. “Never walk away from your dreams because someone tells you it’s impossible. Find that support system that is going to build you up and be there when you fall short. Always have the ability to believe in yourself and know that although there are going to be bumps, they are all worth it in the end.”

Marc Riboud once said, “Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second.” Ever since he was a teenager gazing at Tom Mangelsen’s photographs in a gallery in Omaha, Kevin has been molding his life around his desire to capture the world around him and share it with others. Even when he tried to walk away, his passion for his craft called him back home to where he belongs—in a gallery in Red Lodge, Montana, where his photographs inspire others to stop, breathe in the fresh mountain air, and remember to live fully and with intention.

For more about Kevin and his gallery, visit http://kinzleyphotography.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.

Living His Passion - Eric Moses

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Eric Moses experienced a childhood filled with challenges. At age four, his brother passed away after an asthma attack, leaving Eric as the only child in his already small family. That event was more than enough for anyone to handle, let alone a young boy, but Eric was forced to face another challenge when his mother suffered a brain aneurysm when he was eleven. Although she thankfully survived, her life—and his—would never be the same.

While continuing on his unique coming-of-age journey, Eric played sports, which he believes helped to keep his head above water. He made friends, excelled in basketball, and built his self-confidence. Looking back, Eric says his true inspiration was his grandmother. She was always laughing, making him food, and allowing herself to be the safety net he needed whenever he started to feel down. Later, his father filled the same role, becoming Eric’s idol more and more as he came to understand and appreciate his father’s unwavering leadership and unconditional love during a time of great loss and beyond.

As Eric entered his teenage years, he battled addictions that caused him to let his family down, lose many friends, and also his sense of identity. Thanks to a newfound interest in the sport of boxing, Eric was able to not only fight and win within the ring, but also fight and win the battle within himself to conquer his addiction. Through it all, he learned a valuable lesson: always be prepared for change.

As he continued to transform his life, Eric’s mentors helped him find his way into college. He originally thought he wanted to be a teacher, then a geologist, and finally he joined the university’s English program where he discovered he could write about anything and not be judged for it. But as he entered his final year of college, Eric had absolutely no idea what he wanted to do. He says, “I think my desire to complete college showed me that I could try for anything and everything in life.” It was that desire that led him to graduate and help found Free Wheel Media, a one-stop-shop web site for the least-biased online news available. “We went from writing our own articles to aggregating articles, and then back to writing articles. It’s been a nonstop of testing to see what works, but we’re finally happy with what we provide the public,” Eric adds. “We help them stay informed, not brainwashed.”

Fueled by perseverance, his passion for sports, and a strong determination to find his sweet spot in life, Eric applied three times at his dream company—Hudl—that provides tools for coaches and athletes to review game footage and improve team play. On the third attempt, he attained his first interview and eventually landed a much-coveted role in sales. Although the role was out of his comfort zone, Eric settled in quickly by focusing on making his clients happy.

Today, Eric is fulfilled realizing how his life has come full circle. Through his love for sports, he landed a role at his dream company. Through his love for writing and editing, he founded an innovative web site that provides unbiased news to a large audience. He says, “Sometimes you get the worst news possible. Sometimes the easy way out seems exactly that: the easy way out. Fighting through my troubles and letting myself be open to change has really made me the person I am today. The most valuable thing in life is to never give up.”

Eric’s boxing coach, Wilfred Davis, offers sage advice. “Keep your chin down but your eyes up. Don’t let anyone knock you out, but always be prepared for a good punch to the nose. With those eyes up, you might be able to avoid that punch to the nose. With the chin down, you won’t get knocked out if you can’t evade it.” He takes his coach’s profound words to heart not just in the ring, but in life.

Eric has been through much in his young life, yet his story to date is living proof that whatever life throws at him, he can handle it through his strong belief in himself, his abilities, and a determination to focus on the small things that provide the greatest happiness every day.

Despite suffering heartbreaking loss and unimaginable setbacks, Eric is living proof that it is possible to persevere through challenges by always preparing for change, fighting through the darkness, and never giving up.

For more about Free Wheel Media, visit https://freewheelus.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.

 

Living His Passion – Ben Evers

Ben Evers, Farm Focused

Ben Evers, Farm Focused

When Ben Evers was young, his parents purchased property outside Plattsmouth, Nebraska, with the intent of creating a horse farm. Little did he know at the time that the move would be the single most impactful change in his life. As life on the farm presented him with daily opportunities to perform chores, creatively solve problems, work with his hands, and develop a variety of skills, Ben grew up understanding the value of fulfilling work that instills pride. Additionally, he watched his mother walk away from a corporate job to start her own business. As her company developed and grew, Ben was by her side, helping whenever and however he could. Despite his desire to pursue other interests that included playing sports and riding a dirt bike, Ben never forgot the valuable life lessons he learned during his childhood.

After graduating from the University of Nebraska with a degree in Business Management and marrying his wife, Morgan, Ben pursued a career in retail management that took him from big box stores to a family-owned automotive collision repair shop and finally to a major auto parts supplier where he progressively moved up the ladder to become a district manager who oversaw over 200 employees. In 2015 after deciding that fulfillment was more important to him than chasing the dollar, Ben moved with his wife and their three children back to Nebraska with the intent of starting a business and getting back to his roots. A few months later, Farm Focused was founded near the horse farm where Ben first learned to embrace the country life and the value of hard work.

Driven by his love of working with farmers and a respect for agriculture, Ben started the business based on the idea of bringing efficiencies to local growers through soil additives at planting time that ultimately allow the grower to use less inputs (synthetic fertilizers and fungicides) and increase the health of the soil. Additionally, Ben focused his business on improving efficiencies of the diesel engine, the heartbeat of the farm. As the business grew, Ben added another sector to his brand by creating lifestyle apparel items that he originally created as thank you gifts and marketing collateral. Before long, a demand for his apparel helped him discover that there are surprises in every business. Ben states that he eventually realized that Farm Focused is not just a company that helps farmers, but also a relatable brand that people want to be a part of, no matter where they live or work. Since creating a great logo, Ben has built the line from one t-shirt to 10 separate designs in both unisex and female cuts, seven hat designs, and has even branded socks. Ben adds, “The growth of this side of the business has happened very rapidly. Today we are at a point where we are ready to take it to the next level.”

The farmers that Ben deals directly with on a daily basis all primarily grow corn and soybeans. He states that one of their biggest challenges is the current state of the commodity market. Unfortunately as smaller acre farmers start to fall off and massive yield farmers continue to produce higher yields than ever before, an increase in supply is outrunning the demand. Because of this, there are many progressive growers who are looking for better ways. That is where Farm Focused steps in to help.

A typical day at Farm Focused involves office business as well as time working on a diesel engine, walking fields conducting comparison analyses between treated and untreated soil, or staffing a booth or space at a county fair or other event. The company continues to evolve and change as Ben learns more about the industry and identifies opportunities to bring further products and services under its umbrella.

Ben openly welcomes the personal growth he has experienced over the last few years. “I have seen a different side of life and I am a happier and more content person today. Professionally, I have gained new perspectives that have allowed me to look at things a little differently.” He advises those who want to pursue their passion to build self-confidence first and then decide that you are going to make it, no matter what unexpected obstacles pop up on the path to living a dream.

John D. Rockefeller once said, Don't be afraid to give up the good to go for the great." Three years ago, Ben Evers did just that when he stepped outside his comfort zone, listened to his heart, walked away from a corporate job, and jumped into building a business that would not only provide him with fulfillment, but also support his family. As he walks the fields and searches for innovative ways to help those who provide the world with food, there is no question that Ben is putting his all into going for the great. Rockefeller would be proud.

For more about Ben and his business, visit http://www.farmfocused.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.

Living Her Passion – Hannah Olson Nodskov

Hannah Olson Nodskov

Hannah Olson Nodskov

Hannah Olson Nodskov has been passionate about fashion and entrepreneurship ever since she was a little girl who loved sketching outfits, drawing realistic figures, and creating a small flip-flop business with her mother. But it wasn’t until she was a junior in high school that Hannah decided to stop complaining about a lack of trendy clothes that fit her curvy body and taught herself to sew using Pinterest, YouTube, and Google. It wasn’t long before she was designing outfits that caught the attention of other plus-size teenagers and women.

Boosted by encouragement from friends and family, she debuted Hannah Caroline Couture a year later with a self-produced show in her high school auditorium. After twenty-five friends modeled outfits and other friends stepped in to DJ, emcee, and photograph the event, orders for her custom garments began pouring in. As her interest in business and fashion led her to pursue a business degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Hannah began to feel the love from Omaha’s vibrant, helpful startup community. In 2014, Hannah won a business plan competition at her college that she says pushed her out of her comfort zone to create a unique business plan, present it to a large audience, and then manage the subsequent press coverage.

After attending Full Figured Fashion Week in 2015 where she showcased her designs in the same runway show as such mega brands as Lane Bryant, the door opened for Hannah to transform her hobby business into a sustainable business that grew from a few local orders throughout the year to multiple orders per month from women nationwide as well as in other countries.

Hannah on the runway with one of her models at Full Figured Fashion Week, 2018

Hannah on the runway with one of her models at Full Figured Fashion Week, 2018

Although she currently designs for women of all sizes, Hannah especially focuses her designs and ready-made collections for plus-size women using a larger standard production size than the industry uses. She is passionate about serving a niche of women who struggle with shopping for fashionable clothes that fit well, are comfortable, and take into consideration factors like bigger arms, large busts, nonstandard hourglass shapes, and differently proportioned shapes. “I believe my ability to understand these factors is crucial to the success of my business,” Hannah adds. She draws inspiration for her designs from architecture, interesting juxtapositions, and most often, the fabrics and materials themselves. Her business role model is Christian Siriano, one of the most successful winners of the television show, Project Runway and a vocal supporter of and designer for plus-size women.

Since inception, Hannah Caroline Couture has matured into offering what brings her the most joy: designing evening and bridal wear for the plus-size woman. During the day, Hannah works full-time in her dream role as Marketing Manager at a local sports technology startup, ScoreVision. At night and on weekends, she sews orders, plans social media posts, manages business finances, orders materials, and packs and ships orders to her loyal clientele.

Hannah says her favorite part about owning a business is the opportunity to make a difference in her customers’ lives and the opportunities that have opened up to her because of her business that include learning new skills and traveling to exciting places. Her challenges include balancing her perfectionism tendencies with personal relationships, a social life, and a solid self-care routine. Hannah states that the best piece of advice she ever received is to continuously gather feedback and never stop doing so. “Every time I want to expand or pivot my business, I make sure to ask for feedback from my target market(s) before investing time and resources in the idea,” she adds. “Paying customers guide businesses down the paths they’re supposed to follow.”

Being an entrepreneur has allowed Hannah to gain confidence in herself and her purpose. She advises other entrepreneurs to work on finding the balance between passion, ideas, and solving the problems of a target market. Hannah states, “Passion for something is great, but when things get tough, it isn’t always enough. Having a sustainable market is the best way to enable yourself to continue pursuing your passion.”

Renowned fashion photographer Bill Cunningham once said, “Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life.” Every time Hannah Olson Nodskov sits in front of her sketch pad or sewing machine, she focuses on bringing light, hope, and love through creative designs that help her customers remember that we are all beautiful, no matter what our size or shape.

For more about Hannah Caroline Couture, visit https://hccdesign.co/.

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/.