Cheryl Cran is a career and leadership coach and the founder and CEO of Next Mapping.
She reports that many of her clients are sorting through questions that have a new urgency in the face of the pandemic. “For a lot of people, it accelerated things. They began investigating their work life. Everyone’s values shifted. There was the fear of death and fear of not having control over life. That’s getting people to evaluate questions like: ‘Do I want a long commute every day? How much money is enough money? How much work is too much work?’”
She’s asking herself the same questions. “Just like everyone else I was very afraid for my business. A big part of my work is traveling. I had financial fears.”
While Cran was struggling to adapt professionally, her husband was dealing with health issues related to a January 2019 hernia operation. “It was a lesson for me in helplessness. My work is about making things happen, getting things done, and having courage to help my clients change. When my husband had these complications, I never felt so helpless in my life.”
Cran was grappling with another crisis as well. Her daughter gave birth in January 2020, and the baby needed to undergo open heart surgery to fix a congenital heart valve issue. Confronting the potential loss of both her grandson and her husband triggered past issues of abandonment—growing up her parents had multiple marriages. Her stepfather was an alcoholic and abusive; her dad died when she was 20 years old.
“I don’t see trauma as negative,” Cran says. “I see it as a message from our soul to get real with ourselves.” Watching for such signs, she realized her family’s future required living in a new place. “I knew my daughter and son-in-law were irrevocably changed. They wanted to live in the country, and I don’t have to travel now. What needs to change? And I knew for my husband that a change from the city to the country would help his health.”
“When I’m doing something difficult, I may say to the universe, ‘Show me a sign.’ I’ll specify the sign. So, in this instance I said, ‘If we’re supposed to make this move, show me a heron.’ In literally a week, I see herons. I was reading a magazine and saw another heron. The day we moved we saw another one.”
In a few months, Cran had to sell a home and buy another, living through renovations during a pandemic. “I ended up with a health challenge myself. Both my husband and I can’t believe we landed here. I’m not making it sound easy because it was challenging. But it was really about trusting.”
Cran took a huge leap of faith to get to the other side. In her case, the other side is rural British Columbia. She says her family is healthy and her business improved and grew by 50 percent. “We are in the middle of nature. We are growing food. My daughter is gardening. My grandkids are eating fruit fresh from the vines. Everyone is thriving.” The most surprising result of making these changes, she says, is, “I’m way less stressed. I have way more freedom to commune with my spirituality and there’s a lot of goodness that’s come out of that.”
“My family has a background of domestic violence and substance abuse,” says Rodi Bragg.
“When I graduated high school, I thought I would travel the world. I considered money evil and thought I could be a hippie and travel and live out of a tent. But I realized this isn’t what I thought it was.”
Bragg ended up homeless and unemployed. A bad decision would, eventually, help her find her calling. On a hot day in her hometown of Paso Robles, California, she stole a bottle of water. A police officer threw her onto the burning hot asphalt and held her there, and her face and arms were scarred as a result.
When she traveled to Austin, Texas, things began to change for Bragg. “I didn’t have a place to sleep. A woman I had met had been murdered in the same neighborhood I was squatting in. I was a few blocks away and the man who killed her had also been assaulting women. That made me realize that I was putting myself in danger.” A friend’s family offered her a chance to live and work on their ranch. For the first time she had enough stability to get a job, and she ended up working at a health food store. It was her first long-term job. While working there she experimented with different products to help with her own scars, and she became passionate about skincare.
“I was reading about lavender oil and shea butter. I decided I could make my own stuff. I read blogs on making my own skincare products. And was giving samples to friends and family and they were all enjoying it and asking if this was my new business. In 2012, I decided to pursue it as a side business,” she says.
Bragg would eventually work for a cosmetics lab making skincare products for other companies while doing her skincare business on the side. But in November 2020, when her friends invited her to move onto their organic farm in Washington, she entertained the idea of turning her hobby into a full-time career. She was also getting signs that it was time to quit her day job.
“There was one point early on that I missed a month and half of work because I had a cough,” Bragg recalls.
Incidentally, she eventually got tested for COVID-19 and the test was negative. Regardless, the time forced her to focus on her skincare business. “I was making income from Etsy. I felt the universe was saying to focus on my own business.” Bragg says there were other signs as well. “Why am I getting emotional about my day job when I’m getting positive feedback from my business? That encouraged me.”
Bragg definitely feels that skincare is part of her life’s purpose. “I’m feeling a lot more secure even if things may not seem as stable. There are definitely more risks involved being an entrepreneur. But I’ve experienced the bottom, and I’m not going to live like that again.”
Bragg still deals with fear and self-doubt, but she knows she’s doing what she’s meant to do. “Making skincare products was healing for me physically. I also needed the plants and botanicals and aromatherapy and self-care to heal on the inside. ... Part of it is taking care of myself by using things that feel and smell good. That’s coming from a line of women who really didn’t take care of themselves and even prided themselves on not taking care of themselves. It’s empowering to make something from your hands and help someone else.”