Friday, April 14, 2017

Badass Women: Valerie


Happy Friday! I hope you're all having a beautiful week, and that you have a fun Easter weekend planned.

Today I am thrilled to share a new post in the Badass Women series featuring my lovely friend Valerie. Val is an incredible woman, entrepreneur, business owner, wife, dog mama, and coffee expert, among many other things ;) 

Valerie has a badass willingness to follow her dreams and build community, and one of her latest projects is an awesome Kickstarter campaign to expand her local Michigan business located in the Upper Peninsula, Keweenaw Coffee Works. She and her husband Nate started the coffee micro-roastery in 2013 and have since been making a huge impact on their community through sustainably produced coffee and charity projects. 

I've known Val since my Chicago days, back when we both worked for the same multimedia company, and have watched her growth and success over the years. I am proud of her for her courage, and grateful for her love and support. Val is one of those people who is constantly lifting those around her up, and making the world a better place. Without further ado, here is her story...


Badass Women: Valerie

What sorts of things do you do to connect in with your inner goddess / warrior woman badass energy?

Yoga is big and is something I am officially reconnecting with after some time way from my practice. I feel stronger, more aligned with purpose when I take time to slow down and do something that is just for me.

Listening to music - preferably something international. I like listening to music where I don’t understand the language. I get lost in the words in a way that I can’t if I know all the lyrics. The singers voice becomes more of an instrument. I like not knowing everything. It’s like the singer has a secret they can’t tell me. There’s magic in that, not knowing and feeling like it’s OK to not know.

I have a few mantras I like to repeat to myself when I need to refocus my energy. I like to listen to Debbie Ford, Dr. Wayne Dyer, Oprah, Deepak to name a few.

Dancing. Nothing beats an all out jam session with some MJ or Beastie Boys! Bring it on!

Being sassy with my sister! There’s nothing better than being the “best at sippin’ on some bubbles” with the sassiest gal I know.


What has shaped your journey to this point in your life?
Whoa! That’s a big question with lots of answers.

I would say the biggest thing that has shaped my life to this point has been travel and living abroad. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to several countries in Europe, Central America, the Caribbean and the South Pacific and Australia. 

 Meeting people where they are, in their homes - on their journeys. There is no better way to learn about the world - your neighbors and fellow humans - than traveling. I think travel really humbles you in a way that opens you up to being more empathetic vs just sympathetic.  
You can feel someone else’s struggles, and joys, if you see them first hand. You can feel compassion for someone that might not be a part of your tribe, your inner circle. You are able to stop and think more like them. You can understand their perspective more if you have taken the time to visit their home, taste their food, walk their streets, smell their smells, see their sights.

I slept on the ground in Milan, Italy with the homeless and I’ve eaten 16 course meals prepared by world renowned chefs. And of those two polar opposite experiences, the greatest, deepest and truest moment I’ve experienced didn’t take place while I was deciding which fork to use. Finding your humanity doesn’t have to happen being homeless, and it can most certainly happen over a great meal - but for me, sleeping under the stars with those people in Milan brought me to the truest, most humble moment I’ve experienced. 

 It taught me how to ask for help. How to be gracious to those in need. How to love unconditionally. How to survive. How to be a badass. 


What practices help you stay grounded and help you rejuvenate?
My morning coffee ritual….big surprise right?! The grinding of the beans, the smells, the steam from the warmed water - stirring. pouring. sipping. It’s the thing I look forward to most in my day. My coffee ritual. The warm mug inside my hands, always gives me a little chill, a little tingle down my spin. I love that. Rituals should make all your senses vibrate in celebration.

I also enjoy my daily Truth Bomb, from Ms. Danielle Laporte. (P.S. Her new book is in pre-order!) Sorta sets the tone for the day, like a little internal hug from the universe.


What would you tell a woman who needs help tapping in to her inner strength?
You’ve got this, sister! Like for real! It’s true.

We tell ourselves lies everyday that prevent us from connecting with our creative inner goddess. We whisper things like -

This is impossible.

I don’t have the skills to do this.

I haven’t done this before, therefore I just can’t do it.

I’m not creative or talented enough.

I’m not GOOD enough.

How arrogant it must seem for me to do this!


That list above... it's ALL LIES! Like, Total Crap!

The truth is you are talented enough. You are creative, because we are ALL creative. There is no arrogance in living up to your highest potential - whatever that means for YOU. You don’t need permission from anyone to be authentically you.

Everything is possible, because you can figure it out because you DO have the skills. You have the intuition to figure out maybe you need to visit a quick tutorial on You Tube, or maybe you need to enroll in a class, or maybe you need to outsource (it’s ok to outsource) or maybe you just simply need to ask for help. Ask someone you trust what your next step should be. And let their voice guide you to the answer you are seeking. Chances are you already know what to do, you just need a little nudge.

Never give up on yourself. You are a work in progress. We are all a work in progress.

And trust me, you aren’t going to want to be your own personal cheerleader every day. You’re gonna have down days and it’s totally OK. Some days you won’t look at your planner when you are supposed to, and you will spend the entire day fumbling about. It’s OK. It’s totally normal. Successful people have down days too (even though they might not tell you that). You’ve Got This, SISTER!


Who are your role models? Any badass women who have inspired you, and in what way?
This could be a really long love letter! I am lucky enough to be surrounded by total rockstars, real life super-women who are out there making a difference in their community, spreading love, challenging stereotypes, changing the system, not taking any shit! I’m inspired by badass women who tell me like it is, not just what I want to hear. Women who aren’t afraid to take risks or put themselves out there. Women who aren’t afraid to try something new. These women teach me that I too can be a badass woman! I too have courage and strength. I don’t need celebrities to look up to - although they are nice and I have a few on my list - but I’ve got my own tribe right here.

A little shout out here to my tribe.

Mini - (We’ve nickname my mother Mini!) You’ve taught me how to swear and how to never take shit from anyone and that I can literally do whatever I want.

Sis - You continue to teach me how to challenge myself and always remind me to try new things and to be adventurous. Also, how to enjoy champagne when I have forgotten.

Sarah F and Terry S - You two badasses always tell me like it is, not just what I want to hear. You have been supportive from day one since we got here. I continue to be inspired by both your strength and generosity! Your mentorship has been invaluable.

My Chi-town Gals - Sherry, Sheila and Angela - Gorgeous inside and out! Always taking risks, challenging stereotypes and knowing when to call BS. Strength within and without.

Jen C - Your generosity continues to teach me and Nate how to be better people.

And to the numerous other women out there who are breaking the mold, challenging their path, living free, taking risks, crushing goals, leading others - Nell, Jan, Natalie, Erica, Shelly, Krystal, Marquisha, Leah, Laura, Katie Jo, Lina - I’m gobsmacked by your awesomeness, and your strength. I am lucky to call you friends and family. Thank you for inspiring me to be a better person, to never give up and in so many other ways you might not even realize. 


Any badass plans for the year, or goals you're working toward?
We just launched our Kickstarter campaign and it is live through April 23, 2017! This was huge for me because I had to overcome a lot of personal opinions that I held about myself, my capabilities and shortcomings. What I realized was that most things we tell ourselves, the things that really hold our true selves back, aren’t true.

And so, I created some videos, even though “I wasn’t good enough” to create them. That was the lie I told myself, that held me back for over a year. Totally ridiculous, right?

Our campaign is going to help our business and our community grow! We believe we are part of something special happening in our small town, Calumet. There is a momentum, a humming energy that is bringing our little town back to life, and it is exciting. I hope you might check out our campaign and videos, get inspired about your own project and maybe even back our campaign. But - even if becoming our Kickstarter backer isn’t for you - I hope it inspires you to go after your own goals and crush them like the badass you really are! 

Kickstarter Campaign Link: http://bit.ly/keweenawcoffee

Link to Our Vimeo Page: https://vimeo.com/keweenawcoffeeworks

With Peace and Love. 

May we all remain Alive in the Fire. 

Thanks to Ms. Rachel. I feel I am in good company. XO


A big thank you to you, Val, for sharing such inspiring words!

As always, if you are a badass woman ready to share her story, or know one, feel free to email me at aliveinthefire at gmail dot com to connect. Namaste.

All photos in this post courtesy of Valerie. Wedding photo by Brockit Inc.

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