Living Purpose

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.

 

Living Their Passion – Lukas Rix and Mark Kanitz

Nebraska entrepreneurs, Lukas Rix and Mark Kanitz

Nebraska entrepreneurs, Lukas Rix and Mark Kanitz

Lukas Rix believes in leaving things better than how he found them and is always looking for ways to engage the world to do the same. Born and raised in small Nebraska towns, he attended college at Wayne State where he studied Business Marketing and Management. Always a hard worker, Lukas’s passion for entrepreneurship started at a young age as he created a business mowing lawns while working at his mother’s hair salon, the local grocery store, bar, and mini-mart. While still in high school, he founded the first Rustic Treasures in Lyons, Nebraska, with his aunt.

Mark Kanitz has been accustomed to change his entire life. As his father’s pastoral career took the family from small towns in Nebraska to Fort Wayne, Indiana, and eventually to a town of just over one hundred people in South Dakota, Mark learned the value of thriftiness that included garage sale’ing. But it was not until the classically trained organist traveled to Europe that he began to embrace the diversity of different cultures. As their lives intertwined through love and eventually marriage, Lukas and Mark embraced their common interest in thriftiness by opening their first thrift boutique, Rustic Treasures, in Wayne, Nebraska, in May 2012. Since then, the business has been growing, not just in sales but also in square footage.

Boutique thrift store, Rustic Treasures, in Wayne, NE

Boutique thrift store, Rustic Treasures, in Wayne, NE

Mark says the best advice they received in establishing their business in a town of just five thousand residents was to treat their out-of-town shoppers with great care. “Because our customers have made the commitment to drive long distances to come to our stores, we work hard to make them feel welcome,” he adds. A typical day for the entrepreneurs includes diverse challenges such as negotiating an extended lease, spending thousands of dollars on new inventory, or deciding creative ways to display items. Because they face both five dollar and five thousand dollar decisions on a daily basis, Mark and Lukas have learned to choose their battles.

A look at the interior of Rustic Treasures

A look at the interior of Rustic Treasures

Mark and Lukas agree that their one constant challenge is their need for more space to display their unique goods. They accept consignment thrift items that range from small Hummel figurines to large furniture pieces. “We focus on using creativity to display items,” Mark says, “We never know what’s coming in our store next, so we need to spread things out.” The owners found a new way to handle that challenge by opening the 1912 Emporium, a retail décor store that also carries antiques, as well as Prairie in Bloom, an offshoot of 1912 Emporium, in Omaha.

The enthusiastic entrepreneurs’ support comes from each other and people in the community who have rallied behind them and their successes to date. Their favorite part of owning a business is the freedom that comes with each new day to move with the market at a pace big box stores cannot. Because Lukas and Mark must currently live and work in two different communities in order to remain successful, they strive to stay positive and focused on their goals as both business owners and partners in life.

Through all their entrepreneurial adventures, Mark and Lukas have learned that good help is hard to find. Because of that, they focus on treating their employees well. Together, and separately, each says they have gained much from pursuing their passion. “Even on those days when we don’t make a lot in sales, we are both happy because we are doing what we love. You don’t have as much burnout with your job if you have a ‘fire in the belly’ for it,” says Mark.

Mark and Lukas advise anyone wanting to pursue their passion to find a way to do it that’s financially sustainable and to always pay attention to what your customers want. “Start small and let it grow organically,” Mark adds, “We’ve seen too many people try to do it all out of the gate and then fail. Stick to what you’re good at.”

Lukas is a born entrepreneur who always wanted to own a business. Mark would never have had the guts to pursue his passion without him. Now that they’re both fully immersed in the thrift boutique store business, they can’t imagine their lives any other way.

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.

 

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

Eric.Moses

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.