On Real Estate And Indiana: An Interview With Ben Jones

For many people it is the biggest transaction of their life – buying a house. Homeownership is also a huge part of the still-alive-and-well American dream, though it may seem out of reach to many in these days of higher interest rates and even higher housing costs. For me, maybe due to my obvious fear of commitment in my younger years, I was not so interested in the idea of owning my own house – until I did. Now, I can honestly say that buying my first house was the best thing I have done for my financial health since paying off my huge amount of credit card debt in my thirties.

I recently had the opportunity to interview third generation real estate expert Ben Jones. Ben has been featured in the last 12 annual special editions of Indianapolis Star as one of the top 3% of Real Estate Agents in Indiana. He has built his business through hard work and a true commitment to his clients. He has an excellent reputation in Central Indiana which clearly shows because most of his business now comes through referrals. He refers to the process as being “like a snowball” – he started with a couple of clients, then they referred him, and those referrals turned into other referrals. His business is now thriving, with sales ranging from mansions, farms, barns, and investor flips. When it comes to real estate, Ben sees it all.

Ben runs a team of eight agents with Compass. He describes his management style as leading by example. He is hands-off with daily tasks- he does not micromanage. He treats his team the way he would like to be treated. He says that rarely does a day go by that he is not talking with or helping one of his team members through something they have going on with a transaction.

For those wanting to get into real estate as a career, Ben has three key pieces of advice. First, be prepared to fail, when first starting out. It took Ben five or six years to become what he would consider “successful”. Second, be persistent and consistent in your day-to-day process. He considers himself a process person.

He has a process on how he lays out his day, works on tasks, how he communicates with and keeps in touch with clients, etc. If he does that, he says his goals tend to get accomplished. 

Third, Ben recommends having six months of income stashed away. In fact, Ben has a mindset of thinking six months ahead.

I was curious about the current state of the real estate market, so I asked him a few questions surrounding real estate in his local area of Indiana. My interview follows:

What is the price range of the real estate you sell?  Do you sell solely in Indiana at this time?

I get this question quite a bit. I sell in all price points. Last month I helped first time buyers close on a $240k house but also got a $4.5 million dollar listing under contract. I enjoy working with people in different stages of life and think they deserve the best representation regardless of price. 

Do you show any rentals?  If so, what are the rental prices in your area generally?

I don’t really show rentals. A decent three bedroom, two bath rental is probably around $2500+ a month.

How do you see the real estate market right now? How do you see it going in the next five or ten years?

The market needs inventory. Hopefully in five years we will have more inventory and rates will have come down a bit so first time homebuyers can get into the market. 

Have you noticed many people wanting to move to Indiana right now?

Yes. We have seen an influx of people from Chicago as they don’t want to pay the higher property taxes that Illinois has. Indiana was also a little more ‘open’ compared to other states during the pandemic, which helped fuel people here. 

In this time, when a lot of people aren’t doing well financially, who are the people you see buying right now?

People with strong and steady jobs and equity in their current home that they can tap for a down payment. 

In your experience, who is choosing to rent these days, versus buying?

First time home buyers that cannot find the right first time home. 

For our younger readers, who may feel that buying a home is out of reach to them, what is your advice?

Talk with your trusted lender to run numbers to see if you qualify for buying a home. You are paying a mortgage whether you rent or buy. If you rent you’re paying your landlord’s mortgage. If you buy you’re paying your own. 

What does a brand new first time buyer need to know most about purchasing their first property?’

There are some ‘hidden costs’ to homeownership. When something breaks, it’s on the homeowner to remedy it. You can’t call the apartment complex or landlord to come fix it. 

Tell me some things you love about Indiana.

The Purdue and IU Rivalry. It makes things fun when they play each other in football and basketball. 

The Indianapolis 500. It’s the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. People travel from all over the world to go to it. If you’ve never been, add it to your bucket list. 

The people. Good Midwestern people who overall are very nice, cordial, caring, and respectful. 

Ben Jones embodies the Midwestern characteristics he mentions. You can see it in the fact that his former clients, even years after purchasing a home through him, still come to him for guidance and advice regarding home repairs and projects on which they are embarking.

You can find out more about Ben Jones at https://buywithben.com/.

This article was originally published on OpsLens.

Ocean Health, Shelly Beach, and Roombas for the Ocean!

As many of you know, I recently became a referral agent for RanMarine Technology. These are the people who created the WasteShark, the TenderShark, and the soon-to-be-available MegaShark. Now, as many of you also know, I am a horrible salesperson. But, not to worry, I am simply a referral agent, which means if you are interested in buying, leasing, or pursuing sponsorship opportunities for one of these products, you simply have to let me know and I will get you in touch with the person who makes the magic happen – I get a commission, and the world gains another plastic and biomass gobbling robot to help clean our waterways! It’s a win-win! Where I live, it would be a great addition to the canals, but ….  seems I cannot get anyone interested just yet.

If you haven’t heard about these fantastic inventions, I have downloadable brochures here.

I’ve also written a couple of articles about the WasteShark:

A New Hero In The Battle Against Ocean Pollution: The WasteShark

An Accidental Environmentalist

And here, you can see a video of how these sharks work:

My elementary-grade chapter book series, The Adventures of Shelly Beach, aims to teach children about ocean life and the accompanying subject of ocean health, without being preachy. Book #2 in the series will be out soon, by the way.

I don’t think there could be a better partnership than the one between Shelly Beach and RanMarine’s WasteShark!

Feel free to contact me if you are interested in learning more. [email protected]

Keep Going: An Interview With Stacey Sparks-Huff

I had seen too much, yet somehow still had not seen enough. They were calling me back to Washington, D.C., yet I knew I belonged where I was. The truth was, I had never liked any job I had ever had and this one was no different. My one desire was to be my own boss, to live on my own terms. So, what did I do? I decided to make a change.

I quit. I resigned from the Central Intelligence Agency.

But even though my resume was a virtual black hole, having worked undercover for the CIA for the previous eight years, this was just the beginning of my true calling.

It began there, I became an entrepreneur.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Stacey Sparks-Huff, entrepreneur and creator of Mr. Crumbles’ Delectables. Stacey was one of those kids who just didn’t know what she wanted to do when she grew up. In her own words, she fumbled through life taking various jobs that were very unfulfilling, and getting fired from most of them. Yet she always had an entrepreneurial spirit. While she was working these jobs, her mind was always busy creating ideas, inventions, and stories. She was always thinking of ways that she could be her own boss.

She took a chance and started her first business – Lypo-Palooza. She developed her own cellulite treatment capsule and skin cream, not by going to school for chemistry, but by having the drive to figure things out. She painstakingly researched natural herbs that could help rid the body of toxins that may be trapped in fat cells and once she figured out which herbs were the most beneficial for the treatment of cellulite, she started formulating until she believed she had the right combination. She then took her ideas to a lab and worked with experts in the herbal supplement field. After about a year, she had it formulated perfectly and her product was used by celebrities as well as featured in national magazines. Stacey didn’t stop there. She also created an egg substitute. This time she didn’t have to get any help from food scientists, instead she basically turned her kitchen into a test kitchen until she perfected it.

Stacey also started one of the first plus-sized bridal shops in the country and later started the first online plus-sized bridal boutique. She had realized during a stint as a bridal consultant that most of her brides were over a size twelve and couldn’t fit into any of the sample bridal gowns. Stacey couldn’t stand to see these brides feel so defeated, so she set out to change that. This endeavor was one of her biggest and best accomplishments- she made so many brides happy and still keeps in touch with many of them today.

Stacey’s last business just prior to Mr. Crumbles’ Delectables was Simple VGN., a vegan baking mix company that she created with her son. They came up with the idea, landed an investor, and had Walmart interested in putting their product in six hundred stores right off the bat. Unfortunately, this business was impacted by COVID. Then Stacey’s mother passed away suddenly. Stacey resigned from the company and was experiencing tremendous grief.

Persuaded by her husband, Stacey reluctantly picked herself up off of the floor and began baking. Out of her deep sadness and loss sprung her newest endeavor- Mr. Crumbles’ Delectables. Begun as a hobby to help her heal, it quickly turned into a business when her husband would take some of her baked goods to work with him. People soon began placing orders and Mr. Crumbles was born!

Stacey Sparks-Huff is a true innovator. I was curious about her view on life, and how other budding entrepreneurs could learn from her experience. My interview follows:

You started your latest company, Mr. Crumbles, as a “hobby” after the passing of your mother. Describe a little bit about this journey. How did you basically get yourself out of mourning and on to feeling better? Do you have any tips for others who are experiencing loss to help them get motivated and feel better?

 Yes, Mr. Crumbles’ started out as a hobby to help me heal from my mother’s passing and it turned into an unexpected business. My husband encouraged me to start baking as a hobby and he would take some of my baked goods to work with him. Well, people started placing orders and it quickly turned into a business! My advice to anyone experiencing loss or grief is to let yourself feel it and go through the process. It comes in waves, but on the days you are feeling “ok”, try to get up and do something that makes you happy or something that comforts you. To be honest, when my husband suggested I start baking, I didn’t want to. I didn’t even want to get out of bed, take a bath, or put makeup on. Everything felt like a chore. I had to force myself at first but as the days went on, I started to feel better. I hope that this can help someone out there that may be struggling.

You mention the importance of finding a mentor. For our youngest readers, or really anyone just starting out in a field, how do you go about finding a mentor? How would you advise someone just starting out on how to find a mentor?

Yes, find yourself a mentor! As I had mentioned before, LinkedIn is such a valuable resource to find experts in your field and it makes them accessible. My suggestion would be to reach out to someone who has had success in your field and ask them for a brief meeting. Be honest with them about where you are in your journey and ask if they could mentor you. Most of the time, they will offer their time to you or refer you to someone who can. Another resource would be the SBDC in your area (Small Business Development Centers) or other small business organizations in or near your city.

How do you manage to not only run a business but to promote your business or product? How do you go about getting a company like Walgreens interested in your business or product?

My son and I founded Mr. Crumbles together so he handles most of the baking, testing, deliveries, and some R&D. I handle sales and all the boring business stuff (lol) so we make a great team. We all know that when you first start a new business, most business owners have to wear many and maybe all the hats but I don’t recommend doing that for too long. I made that mistake in the past. Don’t get me wrong, I know you need money to hire help but something I see all the time is when people work in their business, not for their business.

I am just now to the point where I can actually hire someone to do our social media marketing, and that’s something that I realized that I am not very good at so we need to hire an expert. Same with bookkeeping and anything else that you are not an expert in.

As far as getting Walgreens or any other retailer interested, I use a few different methods and platforms. RangeMe is a platform for CPGs (Consumer Packaged Goods) and they have free and paid accounts available. I use the free version and with that, I take advantage of the free product submissions to big box retailers. Basically, let’s say that Walmart is looking for vegan cookies, I can submit my brands through RangeMe to Walmart for free. The paid subscription, of course, has many more tools to help leverage your brand with retailers.  I also just signed us with a natural food distributor/broker, so we are now taking that next step to growing our pretty local company to a nationwide brand. Fingers crossed!

How do you find the time to do all of the things required for your business – between developing new flavors to coming up with new products, and actually baking, etc., and also promoting your products/business? How do you specifically find the time and also how do you suggest others can do the same?

Time management can be a very difficult thing for small business owners and entrepreneurs. No two of my days are ever the same so I like to take it day by day and break down my tasks into bite-size pieces. I tend to get overwhelmed with to-do lists so that method works for me. I look at my day/week and decide what is the most important thing to do to help me reach my goal and I do that. Then I go down the list and prioritize using that same mentality. For me, it’s all goal oriented.

Mr. Crumbles is a family business.

How did you get your son interested in your business, enough to be your partner?  So many people have trouble getting their children engaged in something they feel is worthwhile and valuable, and you did it.  How?

Out of all my children, my son, Avery, seems to be the only one who has an entrepreneurial spirit (which is fine with me. Being an entrepreneur is hard). When I built my bridal business, I thought my girls would want to take it over when I retire but neither one of them had any interest so I kept that in mind and I sold my business. My last business was Simple VGN., a vegan baking mix company that Avery and I came up with one day driving around in the car. We brainstormed and decided to try to make something happen and it did. We landed an investor and Walmart wanted to put our product into 600 stores off the bat. That gave Avery the entrepreneurial bug and it’s been there ever since.

How do you suggest to someone who perhaps has a family that does not understand their business but can’t divorce their whole family, how can they either get them to understand better or some tips on how to deal with this type of situation and keep going under these non-supportive circumstances?

I’ve seen this a lot and it always makes me sad. I have been so blessed to have a supportive husband and family but that doesn’t mean they always understand what I’m trying to achieve or accomplish. My suggestion is to surround yourself with like-minded people, who also have big dreams and goals.  Join local networking groups, Facebook groups, or church groups for entrepreneurs. Support doesn’t always have to come from your family and friends. I’ve come to realize that unless you are an entrepreneur it’s hard to understand the mindset of one.

Keep going.

Do you use any motivational tools to keep you going?

My motivational tools come in the form of success stories. I love to read interviews with successful entrepreneurs, listen to podcasts, and watch documentaries. I like to learn about an individual’s struggles and how they overcame them to get where they are today.

What makes you happy and/or content?

I am at my happiest when I am working on my business, and reaching my goals! Then when my work day is over, I get to spend time with my husband, family, and dogs! That’s my perfect day, as simple as it sounds.

You have achieved a lot. What is your number one tip for productivity?

Keep going! I swear, there are days when I feel like I am getting nowhere and I want to give up but don’t. People don’t realize that they give up right before success happens. So if you have a bad day, week, month, or year, just keep going! Even if it’s just doing one single thing a day that can propel you forward, just don’t give up.

Pivoting is the key.

You seem very driven. Have you always been this way, and when was the first time you realized you were as driven and focused as you are?

I have always been driven by results. Even as a child I would put on plays in the backyard and sell tickets (even though I was an introvert). I loved to see people actually buy tickets and show up to something that I created. I love to build something and throw it out there to see what effect it has on the world. If it’s working, I continue to build it. If it’s not, I’m done. I don’t spend a lot of time on things that are not working. I pivot quickly, which I feel is even more important than just seeing something through to the end. I believe that’s why I have been able to accomplish so much in not a lot of time. Pivoting is the key, I think.

How do you stay content and possibly fight off restlessness?

Gosh, this is a tough one because I get restless A LOT. The key for me to fight restlessness is to assure myself that it is normal and it will pass. If I’m having a bad day and nothing is working the way I want it, I decide that I am done for that day and I’ll try again tomorrow. I believe giving yourself the grace to feel a certain way is good as long as you also have the determination to snap yourself out of it. Again, this is also why surrounding yourself with like-minded people can help you along your journey tremendously. These are the people who can help you through the restlessness you may feel from time to time and keep you on the path to success. 

When I resigned from the CIA, I felt very lost and had hit a low point.

But then, I kept going and created the life that I wanted.

Regardless of your struggle, Stacey Sparks-Huff is a stellar example of the importance of persistence in pursuing goals to create the life you want.

If you would like to learn more about Stacey and her newest endeavor, Mr. Crumbles’ Delectables, please visit www.mrcrumblesdelectables.com.

This article was originally published on OpsLens.com.

A World View on News?

I don’t know about you, but I’m kind of sick of not hearing about what is happening across the globe – actual news – and have wondered many times, what can be done? Can a service be created that allows the every day person to access news, without Google’s censorship, in every country, in THEIR languages (not some US talking head’s opinion), so that people can feel aware of what is happening in the world?

The answer is YES! OpsLens Media now offers a subscription service called OpsLens WorldView on our website. For a minimal fee, subscribers have access to:

*70K news sites with 800-900K articles per day

*1.3M blog posts per day from 20M active blogs

*15M messages per day from message boards across the globe from 355K sites

*Collection in all languages. That means you will see the news in ALL languages, and with one click, you can translate the articles into English.

Amazing, right?

We are building this plane while we fly it. We will be adding capabilities and we welcome feedback. I personally would have loved this service when I was applying to the CIA. It would have been nice to have some knowledge in addition to Sacramento tomato crop statistics at that time. I would have been a MUCH better candidate.

Plus, I’ve always been a global thinker. I believe travel and learning about other countries is only beneficial to people. Putting yourself in a completely different environment and living there (if possible) is the BEST learning experience you can have. It’s also the BEST way to learn a new language. This can only help people with perspectives.

Check it out, it’s called OpsLens WorldView. You can choose from 3 very affordable plans and you won’t regret it. Plus you get a 5 day free trial to test it out. Use my code shelly10% to get a discount. It helps my family too, and we appreciate every cent. You may be amazed at how quick kids grow and the cost to simply buy new clothes, let alone groceries (I’m sure you know).

I love to search different locations and then translate the articles from Farsi, Arabic, Tagalog, Urdu, Mandarin, you name it, and see what is REALLY going on in those countries. I’ve always been an anthropology and language geek, (after all , I used to sit and read encyclopedias as a child), but I know that’s not everyone. So, if nothing else, you get a broad view and you can compare it to what you see every day.

Pick your plan here.

Lessons From An Email Ninja: An Interview with Yanna Torry Aspraki

Just the thought of calling a person I don’t know gives me a case of the nerves. There’s something about talking, as opposed to writing that just brings out the shyness in me. Since its creation, email was a godsend for someone like me. Not only did it eliminate the need for jittery, rambling phone calls, the idea that you can send someone something so quickly, without postage, was always fascinating to me. With email, you have the added bonus of having a document of what you sent, so you always know what you said. But how many of us have ever thought about how email actually works? I recently had the opportunity to interview Yanna Torry Aspraki, Deliverability Specialist and CRO of EmailConsul.

She is saving the world one email at a time.

Ms. Aspraki has a unique mission: to democratize and simplify email deliverability so that everyone can communicate effectively via email, regardless of their technical expertise, size of their business, or email lists, and to tackle the growing challenge of email deliverability in today’s complex digital landscape. As time progresses, email deliverability has become increasingly difficult due to constantly evolving spam filters and blocklists. Many senders assume that email marketing is all about creating compelling content, beautiful templates, and growing their email lists unaware of what happens after pressing the send button. It is oftentimes completely left in the hands of the email marketing software provider. Many important factors of getting emails sent and having them land in the inbox are overlooked. As a result, they may inadvertently engage in practices that can harm their email deliverability and reputation. This leads to emails landing in spam and oftentimes nowhere at all. Yanna Torry’s goal is to provide resources and easy-to-use tools that simplify the process of sending emails and ensure that they also reach the intended recipient’s inbox. She explained that we must all understand that email deliverability is an ever-changing world of email and that staying ahead of the curve is essential so that we don’t make decisions based on common misconceptions. That’s why she offers actionable advice, and shares knowledge openly that senders should have access to, real-time analytics and reporting, and guidance to help improve the sender’s deliverability and reputation.

Many of her clients are businesses that strongly feel the effects of bad email deliverability. She explains that if more businesses monitored their deliverability or were aware of how email actually worked, she would have a lot fewer clients, which would be great for the world. In her opinion, all email senders with a list over 1000 subscribers should definitely be monitoring their deliverability. That being said, she is hoping that by working on her personal goal of democratizing and simplifying email and deliverability information, senders out there will minimize the use of deliverability specialists that fix issues instead of monitoring.

Overall, her mission is to empower businesses and individuals and by simplifying email deliverability knowledge, she strives to ensure that everyone can send emails with ease and confidence, even in the face of evolving spam filters and blocklists or technological changes outside our control.

Yanna Torry explained to me that even though some of the younger generations may use email less frequently for personal communication, opting instead for social media or chat messengers, email remains a critical tool for businesses and professional communication. Studies have shown that the younger generations actually prefer email for brand or business-related communication. Email allows individuals to read the messages on their own time, rather than feeling the pressure to look at them immediately as they might with social media or chat messenger notifications. Email has been around for decades and is a tried-and-true method of communication, it is still the most effective way for businesses to communicate with their customers. Yanna Torry shared some of the benefits of using email over social media or chat messengers:

First, email allows for more personalized and targeted messaging because subscribers have already shared information that is personal to them, creating a foundation for a warmer relationship. People are more likely to follow a brand than they are to share their email address with a brand or business which shows a great commitment of interest on their part. With email, businesses can segment their audience and send tailored messages to specific groups, increasing the likelihood of engagement and conversion. This level of personalization is not as readily available on social media or chat messengers.

Secondly, email has a much higher ROI compared to social media and chat messengers. Studies have shown that email marketing has an average ROI of 42:1, meaning for every $1 spent on email marketing, businesses can expect an average return of $42. Social media and chat messengers, on the other hand, have a lower ROI and can be more difficult to measure as brands have less control over the data they have. Think of Google Ads where you share parameters in order for the system to make decisions versus email where the information and interest is coming directly from the interested party.

Finally, email is less intrusive compared to social media or SMS for example. With email, people can choose when to check their messages and engage at their convenience, whereas other forms of communication can be more demanding and may feel like an invasion of privacy, especially when not done right. While other forms of communication have their rightful place and are necessary to offer a full-rounded marketing experience, email remains a crucial tool for businesses to effectively reach and engage with their customers. The ability to personalize messaging, higher ROI, and its less intrusive nature make email a valuable asset in any communication strategy.

When I talk to experts like Yanna Torry, I like to get some insider tips to share with our audience, in the hopes that this specialized information can help someone out there. To begin, I asked for some best practices for businesses or individuals looking to expand their reach and engagement through email marketing:

  1. Building a targeted email list: It’s important to collect email addresses from people who are interested in your products or services, rather than buying or renting lists. This ensures that your emails are being sent to people who are more likely to engage with your content.
  2. Creating personalized content: Personalized emails have higher open and click-through rates than generic ones. Use customer data to tailor your messaging and content to each recipient.
  3. Optimizing for mobile: Most people check their email on their mobile devices, so it’s important to design your emails to be mobile-friendly. This includes using a responsive design, using a clear and concise subject line, and placing important information above the fold.
  4. Testing and optimizing: Regularly test different elements of your emails, such as subject lines, CTAs, and send times, to optimize your campaigns for better engagement and results.
  5. Following email deliverability best practices: Make sure your emails are getting delivered by following best practices such as using a reputable email service provider, maintain high engagement rates, and cleaning your email list regularly to remove inactive or invalid addresses.

Her number one tip for a business trying to build their email marketing strategy?

Prioritize the subscriber experience.

It’s important to be honest with yourself and understand that not every subscriber needs to receive every message. By respecting their time and inbox, you can build trust and loyalty with your subscribers. To achieve this, it’s crucial to follow email and deliverability best practices, which will help ensure that your messages are delivered to the inbox and not land in spam. By doing so, you can create a strong and effective email marketing strategy that engages your audience and builds lasting relationships.

Email technology is constantly evolving, with new features and capabilities being introduced regularly such as AMP for email. As long as businesses adapt to these changes and follow best practices for email marketing, email will remain a valuable tool for reaching and engaging with audiences.

Email has been around for over four decades, and it remains a crucial communication tool for both personal and business purposes. While social media and chat messengers have gained popularity in recent years, email is still widely used and shows no signs of going away. In fact, according to a recent report, the number of global email users is expected to reach 4.6 billion by 2025. While newer communication channels will continue to emerge, email’s longevity and versatility make it unlikely to become obsolete anytime soon. As long as people use email to communicate and businesses use it to market their products and services, email will remain an essential part of our daily lives.

I am always concerned about censorship, and it is a very hot topic these days. I asked Yanna Torry if she sees any censorship in the email deliverability world, and if there is a way that an email client and/or server can censor someone they basically “don’t like” or don’t agree with?

Her answer made me love email even more:

In the email deliverability world, there is no censorship of information based on acceptability or unacceptability. Unlike on social media or search engines, spam filters operate based on sender reputation and recipient preferences. Therefore, there is no possibility of email clients or servers censoring someone based on their views or opinions. The filtering process is not influenced by monetary factors, and instead is solely based on whether the recipient wants to receive the email or not. So, while there may be concerns about censorship in other areas, email deliverability operates on a different set of principles.

Yanna Torry’s newest endeavor is called Next-Gen Email. She describes it as a community created to help her succeed with her goal to democratize and simplify email deliverability. Deliverability knowledge has been kept under wraps to prevent spammers from accessing the information. However, as time passes, the email industry is becoming more divided, with larger businesses having the resources to succeed while smaller businesses struggle with email misconceptions, leading to their emails being delivered less frequently. Next-Gen Email aims to provide the world with the necessary information to succeed in email marketing and help individuals grow their email-related careers. By creating this group, she hopes to provide others with the opportunities that she had in her career by offering a great email network and access to the right information.

She and her partners have also developed EmailConsul, a deliverability monitoring tool. Email deliverability monitoring information is not commonly known or understood, and this lack of knowledge can lead to poor email marketing decisions. With EmailConsul, they aim to provide senders with the information they need to make better decisions and ensure that best practices are followed when communicating with subscribers. Email can be a powerful tool for communication, but it is essential that senders have the necessary information to use it effectively. EmailConsul is just one way that they are working towards improving the email industry and helping businesses of all sizes succeed in their email marketing efforts.

Yanna Torry is a great example of someone who has a strong work ethic and a never-give-up attitude. She credits getting into martial arts at the age of two and is now a black belt in karate. On top of self-defense and fitness-related reasons, she says that karate helped her develop discipline, confidence, control, and concentration. Karate helped her to set goals and work toward achieving them. In the past, she has opened and operated a karate school with her sister, which allowed her to share her passion for martial arts with others and help them to achieve their goals. Speaking with her, I can see that she truly has a passion for email also, and shares her knowledge freely to help businesses succeed.

Yanna Torry Aspraki, an email deliverability guru and black belt in karate, describes herself as an “Email Geek”.

I would describe her as an “Email Ninja”.

If you would like to learn more about Yanna Torry Aspraki and EmailConsul, please visit https://emailconsul.com/ and https://yannatorry.com/.

This article was originally published on OpsLens.com.

It’s Who You Know: An Interview With Liz Capants

I remember when I graduated from the University of California, Davis with a degree in international relations. I would inevitably run into some recently graduated engineering student who would ask me, while I was ringing them up at the local record store, what degree I had graduated with. People in Davis, and even in Sacramento, used to look at me as if I had two heads when I would tell them that my degree was in international relations- they had no idea what it was. Through a friend’s referral, I soon found my way into an office job working for a company that tracked legislation for all fifty states. They were absolutely thrilled that I had a college degree, it made no difference what the degree was in. I didn’t get the job through the usual application process. I got the job through someone who knew me, through networking. In fact, looking back, I have never gotten a job purely based on a standard application and interview process – they have always come through someone who knew me and decided to help me.

Years later, I was hired into the Central Intelligence Agency. I had been applying for at least seven years. Do you know what finally got me in that very elusive door? I was referred by a retired CIA officer with whom I had become friends. Through a chat with one of his friends, my long-coveted job came through. I would have never gotten in based on my application and interview alone. That is called networking.

Networking is important. It truly is who you know.

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Liz Capants, a top leader among women in business and a networking guru. Ms. Capants is the president and founder of Global Executive Search, EBC Associates, and the Erudites Networking Group. She founded EBC Associates more than ten years ago and grew the small business into a globally recognized executive recruitment agency. Her background was in marketing and business development in the publishing and financial industries. She had worked for another search firm prior to launching her own practice and, along with a partner at the time, she felt she wanted to develop a more human-centric recruiting model.

EBC Associates was born. A global specialized executive search, business consulting, and referral networking services firm has grown into a global network of affiliate partnerships to drive growth. Erudites Networking Group was formed as a subsidiary. The two provide four areas of focus: human capital and executive search services, career coaching and branding, referral networking, and social impact and community give-back to support non-profits. Liz’ business is a unique model. EBC Associates works with direct mandates provided by employers, they then execute on those positions, as well as provide human resources consulting and advisory services. Erudites Networking Group supports job seekers that may not align with her direct searches, where she provides a community and resources specific to the job search process.

The typical client size for EBC Associates is mid-market, anywhere from $5 million plus. The industries that use their services vary. Liz has worked with organizations in management consulting, e-commerce, fintech, construction, nonprofit, and advertising agencies, to name a few examples.

When she was first starting out, Liz explained that she had put all of her eggs in one basket, she had two clients that gave her the majority of her business. When things changed for those clients (leadership changes, etc.) she realized she needed to diversify her portfolio. This is where networking came in.

Even in today’s increasingly remote work-from-home environment, no man or woman is an island. Networking is one of the most crucial skills you can master to help your career and business thrive. Even if you are one of those people who loves the flexibility that working remotely affords, it’s still important to expand your community by incorporating some form of networking into your schedule. You never know where your professional network will lead you.

Liz leads an Execs in Transition Networking group and a Young Erudites group for early stage career individuals. Her goal for both groups is to provide a holistic approach to job searching – incorporating networking, branding, and consulting opportunities to broaden the process to finding work. These communities have grown organically as a forum to advise and consult one another.

Today, Liz Capants’ business is fueled by referrals and word of mouth from previous clients; her business is generated through the network she has built. She is a perfect example of the importance of networking.

If you would like to learn more about Liz Capants, EBC Associates, and Erudites Networking Group, please visit www.ebcassociates.net and www.eruditesgroup.com.

This article was originally published on OpsLens.com.

Mastering Your Inner Game: An Interview with Ailish Keating

Life is Too Short to Stay Stuck or Hidden. 

Ailish Keating perhaps knows this better than anyone. About seven years ago, she developed a large lump in her breast that seemed to appear overnight.  She had been going through a very a stressful period at that time.  In addition to the stress, she was aware she had a lot of repressed emotions that likely also contributed to the appearance of the lump. Fortunately she possessed the self-awareness to realize what had caused it. Over the next few weeks she was able to reverse it by addressing her internal struggle, releasing the emotions using some healing methods she was familiar with as well as changing her diet and actions. Within a couple of weeks, the lump went from the size of a golf ball to the size of a small marble and continued to diminish. But that wasn’t the end of the lump.

About four years ago, she found herself in the middle of a similar set of conditions where she was under an enormous amount of stress, and the condition returned. This time, it did not matter what she did; nothing changed its direction. She was living in Maine and traveling back and forth to New York City for treatments when COVID arrived. Flights were soon canceled and she was unable to travel to appointments. Her condition worsened over the two months that followed. By the time she was able to be seen by a medical professional, her diagnosis was triple negative breast cancer with two to six months to live. It had metastasized and she was very weak. She then went on various chemotherapies which would work for about three weeks and then stop working. Eventually, after the third chemo was not working, the US doctors suggested that she return to Ireland as her condition was not improving. She returned to Ireland and due to COVID-inspired delays and required quarantines, there was an approximately two month delay between appointments from the period of July to September. Somehow, during this delay between treatments, she had started to improve. Ms. Keating was practicing holistic therapies on the side, and they were working. In case you were wondering, Ailish Keating is still alive.

Pretty inspiring, right?

I had the privilege of interviewing Ms. Keating, to find out where she is in her life now – a life that was declared over a few years ago. 

Ailish now dedicates her life to helping others master their “inner game” to achieve healthy relationships, wealth, and happiness. She wants to help people discover why they are here, their authentic self, and uncover and achieve their highest potential. She believes that once someone does the inner work required, not only do they have improved finances, but relationships and life in general also start to improve. She says it is all an inner game.

By the inner game, she means mastering emotions, thoughts, memories and thinking – one’s entire vibration. This impacts how one shows up in life and also what happens to you and how you respond to what happens. As you get more skilled, you can handle situations and people with greater ease. It is not that things don’t happen, it is that you have increased skill sets to handle life and you master your response, your choices, and your reactions.

This shift allows opportunities and invites success into your life. You become more naturally confident and more congruent with who you are. Then the world outside of you changes to match who you are on the inside – it is an inside job.            

“I don’t know you yet, but I know this: the world needs your gifts right now – you are here to transform lives and I am here to help you do that.”

Ailish Keating is a Rapid Transformational Therapy (RTT) Practitioner and a holistic coach who helps entrepreneurs and executives Master the Inner Game to achieve healthy relationships, wealth and happiness and so they don’t burn out. Ailish is trained in RTT, Hypnotherapy, Access Bars, Yoga and meditation.  She has developed a proprietary technique called Emotional Alchemy™, which allows her clients to process high levels of emotions and trauma, achieving powerful results in a short amount of time.

I asked Ailish to explain what Rapid Transformational Therapy (RTT) is, and how it works:

Rapid Transformational Therapy® (RTT®) is a complete solution-based treatment that combines the most beneficial principles of Hypnotherapy, Psychotherapy, NLP, and Neuroscience. In short, RTT can deliver extraordinary change from physical, emotional, and psychological pain by reframing our core beliefs, values, habits, and emotions deep in the subconscious. By rapidly rewiring the brain’s neural pathways, RTT® replaces our outdated belief systems and negative behavior patterns. New life-affirming beliefs are formed, and the transformational process begins. In as little as 1-3 sessions, some lifelong issues can be resolved.

A session is typically 1.5-2 hours, after some initial investigative work between the practitioner and client, the client is placed in hypnosis. This simply serves to allow the conscious mind, which is the gatekeeper, to step aside so that the subconscious mind can answer questions. The client’s subconscious mind will present events from the past that contributed to the current issue/problem. These past events are then cleared from mental and emotional triggers. The problematic beliefs and values, many of which they have carried with them since childhood, are rewired and reframed using suggestions and reframing.

Often, these have been so deeply buried in their subconscious that they are unaware of them; by giving the client the potential to alter the way they think and put an end to self-sabotaging tendencies, the client can positively approach life and move forward. This technique allows a client to release the memory of the event responsible for the traumatic response. It can be used for a variety of issues such as stopping smoking, overcoming anxiety, improving memory and concentration, and clearing traumatic events from the past.

For example, one of her clients, at fifty-one years of age, had a fear of deep water and would panic if she was in water above her waist. She wanted to set a better example for her teenage son as she had found, during every family vacation, she would not go in the water and swim with her husband or child, which had a negative impact on what should have been a happy occasion. She wanted to swim in the deep end of the pool, she wanted to enjoy her time with her family, but something consistently held her back. During her RTT session, it surfaced that she had witnessed her sister almost drowning when she was a child. When that happened, she had promised herself that she would not be put in that position again. A week after the session she was back, swimming in the ocean, and shortly after that, swimming in the deep end of the pool. Swimming is now enjoyable for her and her family; the fear of deep water is completely gone.

In Ailish’s sessions she also uses a proprietary technique called Emotional Alchemy™. I asked her what this is:

Much like memories, emotions that have not been expressed are stored in the body; these stuck emotions then impede our ability to be fully present and can also be easily triggered.  As a protective mechanism, these emotions stack one on top of another.  In a session with my clients, I guide them through the process of feeling and releasing each emotion without judgment, and also to achieve a place of full acceptance of each emotion that surfaces. This acceptance then allows the client to go deep inside and clear and release emotional wounds that have been kept in place from a young age.  

My process of Emotional Alchemy allows the client to process what can be a backlog of emotions in a single session. What is important to understand is that emotions are chemicals in the body and these chemicals impact our vibration. So if you are attempting to achieve a positive outcome but you have a lot of negative emotions – fear, anger, resentment, etc. stored in the body, these emotions that are stored will impede you from achieving a different outcome, regardless of mindset or actions. Once these emotions are released, someone is standing on neutral ground and it is a very powerful place to create from.

I asked her what she finds is the most common fear her patients face?

Shame is often an underlying emotion that shows up, and fear around that. Fear also shows up indirectly through anxiety. While fear is an emotional reaction to a specific, real danger, anxiety is an excessive and unfocused fear that may be triggered by a variety of stimuli. Anxiety caused by stress may persist long after the trigger is removed or arise with no trigger at all.

Have you seen people’s fears change over the years of doing this kind of work, and if so, how?

A lot of fear can be overcome once you start doing the work. So the focus is on getting started. Once someone has overcome the resistance around starting whatever it is, then the focus switches to something else. Most fear and anxiety is associated with an earlier event, once we can clear and reprogram the earlier event that issue is resolved and the client can either move on or something else will show up to work on.

Through the work that I do, it is relatively simple to eliminate fears and anxieties. After they are eliminated, there needs to be positive actions to seal in a new experience. The ego likes the status quo. New actions and situations trigger the ego’s need to feel safe.  Once the ego/personality can learn that it is safe to do a new action and that this new thing won’t ‘get you killed,’ then the ego can be trained to respond positively in these scenarios with some positive experiences.

A lot of things that people consider fear are really just the discomfort around doing something new. These sensations in the body were probably first experienced when the client was a child, so it is very natural to want to move away from them. As an adult, once you can start to identify the sensations and triggers and look at them with an ‘adult’ mind, you can really help yourself move beyond them.

Her number one tip for dealing with anxiety or fear: 

Visualizing a positive outcome before you leave the house. For example, if you are going for a new job interview – before you leave the house, visualize yourself arriving back home after the interview looking happy and calling up a friend to tell them how well it went. Somehow in that process, and I tell all my clients to use it, the outcome of the interviews is usually very favorable.  Keeping an eye on the rate of breath is very helpful also, slightly longer exhales than inhales can assist in keeping the mind calm.

Her number one tip for dealing with depression:

It really depends on the person; however, good sleep, adequate sunlight and grounding should all be a part of everyone’s life. Grounding is the practice of walking barefoot on the natural ground – such as grass, sand, etc. or for example, lying in a park for 20-30 minutes at a time. The direct physical connection to the earth calms the mind. Grounding offers many health benefits, including improved sleep, reduced inflammation, improved tissue and cell repair, enhanced blood flow, increased heart rate variability, and improved electrical activity in the brain. In addition, walking barefoot on the ground releases endorphins and it is free and available to almost everyone. 

Good gut health is also essential for healthy serotonin levels. Once you have these things working for you (sleep, sunlight, grounding and diet), then you are naturally in a better place to deal with whatever mental and emotional issues are present and causing the depression.

I asked Ailish what her biggest challenge in life has been:

My biggest challenge in life has been trusting myself to find my path. A lot of what I have done in life has been different from many family members and friends and pretty much all of my college friends. Particularly, when I was younger, I found there was a lack of good role models and mentors in the field that I am currently in.

What brought you from Ireland to the US? Where are you based now and why did you choose that location over the other?

When I was younger growing up in the west of Ireland, New York always seemed like the capital of the US, even though obviously DC is. After college in Ireland, I had the opportunity to do my Masters through Cornell at IMHI/ESSEC and spent some time at Cornell in Ithaca, New York. After I graduated, I received my green card and I had contacts in the city, so it was easy for me to start in NY. I worked there for over eighteen years and then in Maine for an additional eight years thereafter.

I moved back to Ireland in 2020 as I was sick at the time. As a single parent, it was the correct choice for me.  It took me over a year to settle back into Ireland.  Now that I am here, I am growing my business and my life here. There are advantages to both locations, and I see them both as home. It is fabulous to be in Ireland and Europe for so many reasons also.

What are the biggest differences you see between life in the US and life in Ireland?

Possibility and Potential are the words that always come to mind for me with the US. It is such a big country and has so many different landscapes. People do not generally judge a person for whatever they choose to pursue, so for example, someone who is fifty-five could start out on a new career and no one would think that was unusual at all. The opinions of the people and everything there are generally very diverse. Sometimes the places lack the character of Irish towns and villages though.

Connection is the word that comes to me for Ireland, and connection and community traditionally have been very important in Ireland. However, there is a sense of sameness in Ireland and a somewhat lack of diversity in opinion more so than in culture. The political landscape in Ireland is very mono; there is very little diversity in political opinions. The landscape in Ireland is so beautiful and intimate and there are sacred places everywhere, wells, ring forts and ancient sites, so it is a place of wonderment also.

If Ailish Keating’s biggest fear in life has been of having an ineffective, non-impactful life, I would say she has nothing to fear.

You can connect with Ailish Keating at ailish.com as well as on most of the regular social media platforms. Most of her work is directly one-on-one and custom tailored to each individual and the results they wish to achieve.  

This article was originally published on OpsLens.com.

Life Lessons From A Combat Marine: An Interview with Natalie Shand-Spellman

Staring blankly at the computer screen, I wondered for the umpteenth time how to explain that Jennifer Garner doesn’t really work at CIA Headquarters, that her character doesn’t actually exist, and whether there couldn’t possibly be a better use of my time as an intelligence officer than answering a flood of emails from individuals clearly lacking a true grasp of reality. At twenty-nine years old, I could have most certainly used Ms. Natalie Shand-Spellman’s purpose-cising technique.

Ms. Spellman is the author of the book Drop Stress Like a Hot Potato: Transformative Stress Workbook with Life Coaching for Busy Women.

Coach Nat, as she is known, describes the book as an illustrative, transformative, life-coaching, mental health, and stress management workbook. It is for individuals who feel broken, overwhelmed, lost, confused, grief-stricken, lonely, hopeless, and helpless. In the beautifully designed book with therapeutic colors, Coach Nat guides readers through a unique stress transformation and a mental re-framing journey that will improve their mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being. Also, readers will learn the strategies to discover themselves, master their emotions, manage life, overcome negative thoughts, improve their mental health, and experience growth in all areas of their life. At the end of the book, readers will know how to live their best life in harmony and balance while performing at peak levels.

Coach Nat knows something about performing at peak levels – she served in the United States Marine Corps. I asked her to tell me a story about her time in the Marines and a specific experience that shaped her personally. She went on to describe her experience in Marine Corps boot camp:

When I first got to boot camp, I was the weakest because I had difficulty assimilating to the grueling boot camp training. I struggled with the required skill training to advance in the boot camp program, and I also moved at a slower pace than my peers. My leaders wanted to teach me a lesson, so they masterminded a plan to put me in charge of the entire platoon. They assigned me this leadership position during the Crucible, which was the most intense and final test before earning the United States Marine title. It was hard work, and I had to pivot from the weakest link to one of strength. I had to quickly learn how to motivate my peers when it was tough and challenging. I dug deeper into my mental fortitude and discovered my dormant strengths. I tapped into those strengths and quickly learned to turn my other weaknesses into power. That experience taught me that I was stronger physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually than I had previously thought.

She went on to lead a small military troop in Iraq.

Natalie’s current work and her new book were shaped by this military experience. She talks about dealing with lost identity, brokenness, emotional turmoil, and ill health due to stress. I asked her to tell me more about the “lost identity”:

I dealt with a quarter-life crisis after returning home from Iraq. I once led a small military troop and had a promising military career. I had a vital mission to protect the freedom of the United States and was purpose-oriented with great patriotism to serve my country. I had excellent camaraderie amongst other Marines because we all shared the same core beliefs and values. We were sacrificial and willing to put our lives on the line for our country. On returning home, that military state of believing, being, and living was non-existent since others around me did not share my military core values and beliefs. I also felt like a fish out of water because my civilian friends and family could not truly relate to or understand my struggles. My family, as well as society, expected me to assimilate back into a culture I had left behind years prior.

Furthermore, it was more complicated because I was dealing with PTSD unbeknownst to me, and my environment significantly triggered me. I suffered in silence because no one around me understood my struggles. While I functioned superficially, I felt lost because I was no longer a leader with a purpose and a mission but rather a young woman who was once again struggling to find herself in a world where she felt misunderstood.

With today’s youth so seemingly lost, I asked Natalie about why she joined the military in her youth, and if she would recommend it to today’s youth:

The United States Army initially recruited me. I was guaranteed a two-year contract and a $50,000 sign-on bonus. Weeks later, I met the Marine Corps recruiter on my college campus who looked sharp and dignified in his official military uniform, unlike the Army recruiter. The Marine recruiter was highly skilled and sold me the Marine Corps dream with no bonus; it was also a four-year contract, not two years. The Marine Corps dream package promised intangible leadership traits like honor, courage, and commitment. Those were the skills I needed, so I forwent the bonus from the Army for the title of US Marine. I wanted strength and courage to be the best.

I believe today’s youth can benefit from some essential life skills and intangible leadership traits that the military offers. Those traits include discipline, integrity, honor, courage, commitment, perseverance, passion, and mental fortitude, which are high-performing skills for great success. Additionally, when you serve in the military, you tend to mature quicker and be more equipped to handle life’s challenges.

Military service can benefit anyone who chooses that path to success and patriotism, but if you’re not ready to join the military, Coach Nat has created something called Boot Camp for Life. Boot Camp for Life is a proprietary approach to life coaching that she developed to incorporate her military, clinical, and life coaching skills to provide a unique, transformational, intense, and result-driven experience for clients in her coaching program. This program aims to create a shortcut for individuals who want those life skills, traits, maturity, and high-level tools to handle life optimally without enduring the grueling training of the military. This way, there is hope that one can achieve purpose and mission-driven results in their life in a shorter period rather than spending years in military service.

Natalie Shand-Spellman is a great example of the crucial skill she credits the military with having given her- perseverance.

You can find more about Coach Nat at natalieshand.com.

This article was originally published on OpsLens.

My New Year’s Gift To You

What is manifestation?

If you look it up, here is the definition:


noun: manifestation; plural noun: manifestations

  1. an event, action, or object that clearly shows or embodies something, especially a theory or an abstract idea.

Another more common way to describe it, in today’s world is: The word ‘manifestation’ means to create something or turn something from an idea into a reality. In psychology, manifestation generally means using our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs to bring something to our physical reality.

What if you could do something for just 15 minutes each day that would help you manifest what you wanted in your life?

Back in October of 2022, I stumbled upon something that, admittedly, I was very skeptical of at first. But I tried it, and it actually WORKS. It’s called the God Frequency.

The God Frequency is a 15 minute soundtrack that changes your thinking patterns. It uses a specific sound wave therapy method called binaural beats to retune the brain’s thinking pattern. Binaural beats have been linked to increased concentration and alertness, as well as problem solving and improved memory.

Sounds a bit kooky, right? But, if it could possibly help you it’s worth a try, isn’t it?

Here’s what happened to me within the first 4 weeks of listening to the God Frequency each day:

One of my writing clients began offering more writing jobs.

A brand new customer bought out my ENTIRE Etsy shop.

I was published in a prominent international magazine, which then brought on a referral agent agreement with a great company.

I received money from a long-forgotten class action suit.

I found some cash in the bottom of an old purse.

I received some random small amounts of money from different companies that I have purchased items from in the past, and a large discount on a product I wanted to buy for my kids.

Some online surveys came to me from out of the blue and paid me for about 5 minutes of my time.

I received ANOTHER amount of money from a long-ago class action suit.

I received not only one of my expensive makeup products – but SIX of them as a gift.

And the surprise “manifestations” just keep coming the longer I’ve been listening to it.

Everyone can use some good luck. My hope is that you try this – what do you have to lose?

Give it a try. Consider it my New Year’s gift to you.

Powerful Mind Powerful Soul: An Interview with Sheila Vaske

There it is, in the pit of my stomach.  A creeping feeling, perhaps best described as a feeling of dread, has crept over me each day from as early as I can remember.  As an adult it made the simple process of getting out the door every day to go to work an uneasy experience.  I fought through the feeling day by day and forced myself to do what I had to do to make a living.  Contradicting this feeling, I’ve always had an ability to accomplish goals that most would not have the courage to execute.  At twenty-five I moved myself, alone, across the country and established my own home and career, purely out of determination.  I’ve traveled all over the globe for months at a time, alone, sometimes staying in foreign countries where I did not speak a bit of the language.  I never stayed in a position or situation I didn’t like; I always had some innate courage that has pushed me to live what has turned out to be a very full life.  Yet this feeling of dread has been my constant companion and has even grown progressively worse since 2020.

I’ve become curious to see if other people have this feeling.  If they are familiar with the feeling, how do they combat it?  In my quest to find solutions I recently had the opportunity to interview Sheila Vaske, author of Powerful Mind Powerful Soul.  Ms. Vaske was, among other things, the creator of her own jewelry line, V’Enza.  She describes her jewelry business as being like one of her children.  She was truly guided spiritually to create the line; every piece was birthed by her, and she gave it everything she had.  Her mission and purpose of the business was to inspire and heal as many people as she could through her creations.  Unfortunately, due to many unfavorable circumstances, Ms. Vaske was forced to let the business go.  As the jewelry line was just at the point of scaling into a national brand, the COVID shut downs began.  All of the national contracts that were about to come to fruition came to a halt and Ms. Vaske lost everything.  She describes this time as one of the first in her life that she grieved.  She felt so much pain and became very angry.  She was angry about what she had lost and even angrier about what had happened to the world.  She recognized that an ugly divide had arisen and created hatred.  It took a huge toll on her physical and mental health. 

Ms. Vaske was no stranger to health problems.  At age eleven, she was diagnosed with scleroderma and told she had five years to live.  Coincidentally enough, my grandmother died of scleroderma.  If you’re not familiar with this very rare disease, the way it has been described to me is that your body turns into scar tissue from the inside out.  It is very painful, making even the slightest touch excruciating.  As an infant, I met my grandmother as she was dying in her early fifties.  It is extremely rare for a child to have this disease, and Ms. Vaske lost about eighty percent of function in her right hand and arm.  She describes the look of her arm as being as if it had been burned in a fire.  As expected, this brought on a lot of insecurities as an adolescent. 

The turning point for Ms. Vaske was when her ninth grade health teacher spoke of the power of the mind.  He said, “Whatever you give attention to has power over you”.  Ms. Vaske, who had become a case study at Boston Children’s Hospital, made the decision then and there.  She stopped all medications.  She stopped going to the hospital and visiting doctors and simply made up her mind that she would no longer give the disease her attention.  She would not feel sorry for herself and she would not let it control her. 

At that point, her mind took control and changed the trajectory of her life.  She began doing everything she could to regain her health and that included function in her hand and arm.  Within months, she had regained function of both.  People began noticing her arm not because it looked strange, but because it looked amazing.  They would compliment, instead of cringe, at the appearance of her arm.  This miraculous recovery made her realize the power of our minds.

In today’s world, where so many are struggling with depression and anxiety, I asked Ms. Vaske what her top tip would be for getting through it.  Her answer did not surprise me. 

Take time out from social media and all media in general.  Turn off the television, video games and even movies.  Get off of your phone and take ten minutes each day to reflect on you.  Pretend you live in a bubble and create your own personal space.  Make that bubble beautiful.  Stop following the crowds and pave your own personal way.  What is good for one person may not be the answer for all.  Create your light and spread it everywhere you go. 

If you share my constant companion, this feeling of dread, realize you are not alone.  The goal is not only to manage this feeling, but to get rid of it.  Stop consuming the toxins that are coming at you from all angles and face yourself.  Our young people today are the most at risk.  As Ms. Vaske so rightly points out, many of them do not use senses any more.  Of the five senses, the youth of today perhaps use one or two.  They have lost touch with their intuition because everything is done, said, and felt for them.  They are the ones who truly need the older generations’ help.  Suicides, depression, and anxiety are the real pandemic.  We can be the teachers and achieve change by example.  Perhaps this is the remedy that can at least placate my constant companion.  Maybe it can be yours too.

This article was originally published on OpsLens.