What Matters?! Success Stories
Claiming Your Journey
While living in Louisiana in 2011, I was unhappy with my life at just 24. I was dumped by my girlfriend, living at home with my mom, working at a job I hated with a boss that constantly insulted me, and paying down a mountain of student loan debt. I was long overdue for change in my life and I decided to actively take control of my happiness. My solution was simple, yet life changing: to discover what I was passionate about in my life.
This simple vision turned into the foundation for the Claim Your Journey movement. In 2011, I launched a website called Claim Your Journey. Part community, part magazine, part video feed and part movement, Claim Your Journey started out as a blog that I hoped would help get me back in shape. It quickly turned into a fan-driven running news source with thousands of unique visitors a month. We were everywhere, visiting as many races in the state of Louisiana as we could. To generate revenue, we started selling shirts with the simple words “Run Louisiana” across the front. Everywhere we went, people knew who we were and wanted a shirt. We sold them online, out of my truck, or wherever there were people willing to buy them. We started a movement and it's one of the proudest moments of my life. Over the course of two years, Claim Your Journey was successful enough in providing inspiration for people in need in Louisiana through Social Media and Running.
Before passing away from colon cancer in December of 2011, my father told me ”we’re here for a limited time only, choose to be happy. If you can achieve a life you’re happy with, I’ll be proud. Claim Your Jouney.” I chose to take my father’s advice to be happy and quit my first full time job out of college. I was miserable and only worked there for a paycheck. I wasn’t passionate about the work I was doing there. By choosing happiness as my top priority, I opened my life up to some incredible opportunities. Six months later, I was offered a position at Saucony as the Social Media Manager.
I would describe myself as a Journey Claimer. A Journey Claimer is an individual determined to discover their passion, distinguish themselves, and claim their journey in life. I spend my time as the Social Media Manager for Saucony, Storyteller, and the founder of the Journey Claimer community.
Small steps lead to big changes. Kathryn Kemp got a rude awakening regarding the choices she was making about her life. She worked at home for a time-intensive client, becoming more stressed out, more isolated, and more overweight. She Stopped and Asked, “Am I thriving or surviving?” and did not like the answer.
Reaching In, Kathryn decided to start walking 10,000 steps a day. It meant getting out of the house and committing to her health. Soon, she started eating a healthier diet. She made sure to take time each day to look inside and record what went well in her journal. She felt better and stronger.
Kathryn knew that her long-term partner Chris always wanted to move to Cleveland. She loved California, and broke off the relationship a year prior knowing it would be doomed when he decided to leave. One day, she got a call from Chris. “Could you watch my cats while I house-hunt in Cleveland? My house sold in 4 days and I have to move quickly.” Kathryn realized that if she did not reconnect with him, he would simply evaporate. She wanted more than that. She Reached Out to him and asked if she could help him pack boxes as a form of closure.
In the short time it took to pack the boxes, their relationship rekindled as if there were no break. Chris asked Kathryn to marry him and move to Cleveland. She’d always pictured herself as a single, independent woman. California was home. Cleveland was cold and gray. She Reached Out to a few important friends in whom she could confide. The more she talked with them, the more she discovered that she was making the case to move to Cleveland. She then made a Plan to follow her heart.
Kathryn’s house also sold in 4 days, and off to Cleveland she went with a shiny new ring on her finger. Even though the transition from California to Cleveland was bumpy, she found that Acting on her feelings made life so much easier.
Chris is a truly loving husband who supports Kathryn 110%. She lost 50 pounds and found lucrative employment that involves far less stress. Home is a happy, relaxing place full of joyful surprises.
Choosing a Career Leap of Faith
It was the middle of the great recession of 2008. No one in their right mind would ever even consider starting a new interior design business from scratch. That’s exactly what Tom Egan did. A successful architect and designer, Tom had a secure job with one of the premier design firms in Massachusetts. Lately, he had been experiencing a restlessness in his career. It was time for a Stop and Ask moment of truth: “Is this really what I want?”
When he truly Reached In, Tom realized that it was time to break out on his own. He discovered that What Mattered?! to him was to create a design firm that reflected his personal vision, not someone else’s. He continued to Reach In, actively taming his natural fears through daily reflection. He Reached Out to friends and colleagues for encouragement. Those who cheered him on he regularly spoke with. He gave the naysayers a back seat in his life. While he realized they meant well, he knew he needed buoys, not weights, if he were to pursue What Matters?! In the course of Reaching Out, he joined forces with a kindred spirit who would ultimately become his business partner. Why go it alone?
After nearly a year of Stopping and Asking, Reaching In and Reaching Out, he put together a Plan to move forward with his dream. Tom then Acted, leaving his firm and co-founding Evolve Residential during the worst financial time in recent history. Since then he has continued actively using the 5 practices and mindset of the What Matters?! Approach, as he has navigated the challenges of starting a business. Five years later, Evolve Residential is one of the most successful design firms in Boston and was recently featured in Architectural Digest. Life gets better when you dare to choose.
After spending a lifetime battling her weight, Lisa decided it was time to take matters into her own hands. Counting calories, traditional weight loss plans and personal trainers had not helped. She Stopped and Asked herself what was holding her back and whether or not all of these attempts at health had actually worked. They hadn’t.
Her weight was at an all-time high. She was experiencing joint and back pain. Her cholesterol and blood pressure were through the roof. Her weight was holding her back from the things she wanted to do. Travel had become difficult. In short, she was miserable, and everyone around her knew it.
She Reached In, and evaluated how she felt about herself and what she could do to improve her feelings of self-worth. She spent time identifying the positive things about herself that were not dependent on her weight. Finally, she spent time unraveling the things she had told herself about her worth that she based upon her appearance.
After spending time thinking about the potential next steps, she Reached Out and talked to people in similar positions. After months of research, she Planned by investigating the pros and cons of her options. She started following a medically monitored low-calorie diet. She lost 2 pounds in 2 months and became discouraged.
Finally, she met with a bariatric surgeon. “You know what your problem is?” he asked. She sighed. “You’re not 7 feet tall.” They both laughed, and she knew this was the right decision to upon which to Act. She began the long and arduous process: doctors’ appointments, medical approvals, and attending group workshops in an attempt to prepare her for the surgery and life afterwards.
When she was wheeled into the operating room, she was confident that this would be one of her best decisions. Despite her fears, she chose to Act. In the last two years, she has lost over 100 pounds, 7 dress sizes, and more inches than she can count.
She can now be found running 5Ks, traveling frequently, writing about her experiences, and motivating others to determine What Matters?!
Choosing Not to Give Up
Approximately 5 years after learning that Ted had Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD), a genetic disease that causes decreased kidney function, Ted started dialysis. When Carol, his wife of nearly 50 years, Stopped and Asked, she knew that, in reality, Ted required a renal transplant to live and that she needed to be Ted’s advocate.
As Carol researched the long road to this goal, she realized that, statistically, it was unlikely that Ted would live long enough to receive a kidney from the national registry. Reaching In, she summoned all her strength and energy and decided to attack this need from many angles. She must find him a kidney.
Carol Reached Out, sending emails and contacting anyone and everyone she thought might be able to help get the word out. Many friends and family members came forward to get tested to see if they were a match to donate a kidney. Carol told everyone she met when asked, “How is Ted doing?” One day while on lunch break from work, she met an acquaintance who suggested a donor website. Carol then made a Plan. She registered on to the website, wrote a biography of Ted and monitored the site diligently at all hours of the day and night.
For months Carol Acted, tirelessly checking out legitimate, and not so legitimate, would-be donors. It was a tedious labor of love and all done over email. Some had no idea what transplant involved and some meant well but weren’t an appropriate match, and on and on it went. Carol’s prayers and persistence were answered when a donor indicated that he would like to donate a kidney to Ted, and upon testing, proved to be a match. He had read about Ted’s character, accomplishments and good work in the community and was certain that by donating a kidney to him, he would be able to continue his good work and live for many more years. It was the day they had been waiting for.
The successful renal transplant took place six years ago and Ted, Carol and their entire family remain forever grateful to Ted’s donor. Having a second chance at life allowed Ted to continue his good work, attend family life cycle events, enjoy his grandchildren, attend his son’s wedding and this past year celebrate a 50th anniversary with his wife, Carol. Together, this husband and wife chose not to give up.