SPOTLIGHT – Shawn by Tom Kernaghan

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pastedGraphic.pngI listen intently, the phone hot against my cheekbone, as he revisits key details of his fascinating and nomadic life. Shawn is clearly a man who has lived and learned through some tribulations I have not. Beneath the fluidity of his words lies a calm confidence produced by years of fortifying fights and realized visions.

Growing up with traditional learning challenges, Shawn crashed against the limiting and stigmatizing mold of mainstream education. He was a teenage father. He has travelled the world in search of opportunities. And he has spent years challenging the conventional thinking of a school system for which I, by mere chance, was fairly well suited. Seemingly, we come from different worlds. And yet I can sense a fundamental connection — something in his intention. His voice compels me to find it.

“We are all storytellers. The problem is, most of us aren’t very good at it. The school system encourages and rewards only one way of learning, and it prepares us for a workplace devoid of individuality and full of vacuous clichés. We have lost our way in the world. Stories bring the human being back into focus and help us remember what is important. By expressing our true selves, we connect with others and inspire each other to act toward unifying goals — whether team building, convincing your kids cooperate, wooing a date, or building a more respectful and responsible society. But there is a structure to consistently good and persuasive storytelling.”

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SPOTLIGHT – Sofia Simeonidis by Tom Kernaghan

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“Together we are strong,” “be a helping hand,” and “never lose hope” may not be the sort of words one usually associates with a customer loyalty program, or its operator. But then, Sofia Simeonidis isn’t like most people I’ve met. Her focus, after all, is on our happiness and our financial well-being.

Sofia is an Independent Lyconet Merchant Marketer, which is affiliated with myWorld, a vast network connecting businesses to customers who can earn cashback and use interchangeable loyalty points wherever they shop. It’s about everyone getting the most out of the shopping experience — on both sides of the ‘register’. The program is powerful, but it’s Sofia’s warm personality that really shines as she extols the benefits of living well and shopping smartly.

Sofia served as a treasurer and bookkeeper for the ISCO (Intercultural Society of Central Okanagan), the Kelowna chapter of Toastmasters, and the parental advisory of her children’s school. Her sunny nature is matched by her ability and determination. In the words of one of her local clients, “Sofia displays a level of creativity, wit, and analytical thought unmatched by most. Her research skills are phenomenal, and when Sofia is on task, nothing will stop her from reaching her goal.” Socially, many will know Sofia from her online trail-walk videos, which she begins joyously: “Good morning, world!”

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SPOTLIGHT – Debra Kelly by Tom Kernaghan

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Debra with Flora Farm hearts

Debra Kelly — Storyteller & Motivator

“We’ll figure something out.” 

We say these words all the time, but when Debra Kelly said them at the end of our first chat, to schedule our second one, I sensed they flowed from a hard-earned knowingness that runs deep beneath her friendly and confident demeanour. 

Debra is a storyteller, speaker, and real estate agent who lives here in the Okanagan and in Cabo San Lucas. I can say I’ve never met a person in whom the seemingly disparate aspects of life seem so well integrated into a way of living. Now, that is. Back in 1993, Debra’s purpose, passion, and pleasures had yet to blossom from the soil of pain, fear, and darkness she found herself pushing through as a single mother and expat in Mexico. Her money was dwindling, her hope was flagging, and her determination was screaming — but her aim (especially for killing scorpions) was improving. 

She has a kick-ass memoir for you to read. Having just finished Wait a Year, an Amazon international best seller, I can see where Debra’s confidence comes from: damn, she’s been through it! As a fellow storyteller who loves a cracking good tale about life’s trials, travails, and triumphs, especially one with dark humour, I can say this book will delight you, move you, and leave you wanting more. And I can see how Debra’s story will motivate others to find their voices, set healthy boundaries, and design a better lives for themselves. 

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SPOTLIGHT – Tricia Veltri by Tom Kernaghan

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AwpastedGraphic.pngaken from your past, release yourself from limiting beliefs, and begin a journey toward the happy and healthy life you deserve. The path of healing and self-acceptance can be difficult and painful, but you are not alone. Tricia Veltri, the owner of Core Level Healing Therapy, gets you, and she also gets that taking control of one’s inner world requires a commitment to change and a willingness to work. Tricia holds a master’s degree in counselling, is a registered psychotherapist and certified EMDR(™) practitioner, and she is here to get you beyond your barriers to better relationships — starting with the one you have with yourself.

Tricia specializes in the struggles that keep women imprisoned within — trauma, anxiety, stress, and relationship challenges — and treats her clients the way she would want to be treated: “keep it real” to help you heal. For Tricia, it’s not about meditating on a mountaintop. It’s about fully and skillfully engaging those who are ready to go to the core, root out old patterns, and form new habits. Tricia understands this process on a professional level and on a personal one: she has walked her own road to recovery and reclamation.

I was eager to find out more about Tricia’s work, and her journey. 

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SPOTLIGHT – Barri Harris by Tom Kernaghan

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Are you a toxic manager?

For Barri Harris, transformation coach and founder of The Eureka Project, answering this question begins with a single step toward abiding self-awareness. Barri understands that bridging the seeming chasm between high dysfunction and high performance requires leaders confront their own blind spots and foster trust among their teams. Her vision is brave and inspiring: to create a community where leaders can discuss challenges, share stories, and offer information with a focus on best practices — collectively, to become the “tipping point that ends toxic workplaces” and leads to lasting legacies.

Barri knows a thing or two about workplaces. Guided by the motto “live by design, not by default,” she helps a vast array of organizations embrace and move through difficult transformations as smoothly and effectively as possible. Holding a CMA, an MA in international economics and finance, and several strategic management facilitation certifications, and having excelled as a high-level human performance improvement consultant for 15 years, she can easily recognize the systemic and cultural challenges that hamper workplace progress when people have neither full awareness nor the right tools. Barri also gets why many managers struggle: she has travelled that road herself.

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SPOTLIGHT – Odette Baumgartner by Tom Kernaghan

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Beauty is skin deeply. For Odette Baumgartner, the owner of Odette’s Skincare & Medi Spa, the beauty we bring to the world goes deeper than we may think. It requires a holistic approach of ongoing care from the outside and sustained health on the inside. Odette’s spas — one in Kelowna, the other in Lake Country — specialize in Endermologie® and LumiLift® and provide a comprehension array of non-invasive treatments for the many skin conditions that can arise due to dietary, hormonal, and energy imbalances. 

Odette and her team of certified, talented, and compassionate professionals provide everything from laser to lymphatic drainage, from micro-needling to microscopy, from BOTOX® to blood analysis, and so much more. With 27 years of experience, they know that the stress and strain of our lives can show on the surface in the form of rashes, blemishes, spots, sags, and wrinkles. While Odette takes your skin seriously, her website is sprinkled with a series of playfully encouraging quotations, like “Youth is the gift of nature, but age is a work of art” and “As soon as you feel too old to do a thing, do it.” Both are fitting examples, as the philosophy underpinning her work is “pushing back on assumptions about beauty and aging.”

Another clear perspective of Odette’s spas is that being oneself and living one’s best life is foundational to beauty and health, so I was curious to learn more about Odette’s life and the healing work she and her team do. 

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SPOTLIGHT – Carla Dawes by Tom Kernaghan

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Paddleboarding may be the perfect metaphor for Carla Dawes’ work. An emotional freedom and success coach, certified EFT (tapping) practitioner, and a
licensed desire map facilitator who has studied psychology and meditation, Carla guides women through their choppy waters by creating “a compass for the soul.” Through retreats, workshops, and coaching sessions, she reignites the curiosity and courage they need to find clarity, break free of limiting patterns, and strengthen their relationships. At her retreats, she may even get you up on a paddleboard (she is a certified instructor), where you discover the figurative and literal importance of personal power and balance. 

Carla is also the founder of Rising into Resilience, a coaching and wellness resource for the spouses and caregivers of trauma survivors, through which she helps her clients navigate the challenges of dealing with loved ones whose PTSD has overtaken their own lives and those of their family members. Through this service, she helps families heal, rise, and move forward with clearer understanding, nervous system regulation, healthier boundaries, and loving acceptance.  

Having first met Carla at a BWB event, I already knew there is something quickly steadying about her presence and her ability to see one’s inner strength and potential when they are feeling vulnerable or less-than. So I was thrilled to connect with her again and find out more about her life and her work. 

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SPOTLIGHT – Mona Niebergall by Tom Kernaghan

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If you don’t have your health, what do you have? Many of us have heard this question, but how often do we stop to consider what it really means? 

For Mona Niebergall, the owner of Stepping Stones Homeopathy, health equals abundance, a harmony of being and vitality that lets us live life to the fullest. For Mona, the power and possibility we often associate with physical well-being flows through all spheres of our lives: emotional, mental, and spiritual; she treats the person as a whole (and she treats animals as well). Her focus and ultimate purpose for her clients is that they attain freedom from all limitations in life — from allergies to anxieties — and her services reflect this broad perspective.

Mona has practiced homeopathy for over 10 years, having studied at Luminous Homeopathic College in Vancouver and the Devonshire School of England. Offering intuitive guidance and a vast array of vibrational modalities, she can help you shift your mind-body connection into an inner alignment that extends outward as well. Mona’s motto is, “Be kind to each other because we are all connected on some level.” Not surprisingly, she has a love for nature, gardening, travel, music, and biographies. She is fascinated by life and others’ lives. 

So, I was curious to learn more about hers!  

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SPOTLIGHT – Tara Pilling by Tom Kernaghan

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Tara Pilling leans into our conversation, fully present. As we chat, she listens and watches with the attention of a seasoned pro who values a person’s unique essence and talents so that she might help them maximize and realize their potential. The experience is engaging and heartfelt, for it is clear to me that Tara, a veteran lifestyle coach and “peak performance mindset consultant,” knows that we are a community of marvellous individuals seeking meaningful paths to well-being and abundance — and she wants each of us live the life we want. 

Tara also understands that our potential is often not met because of barriers, gaps, and blindspots, having surmounted many personal and professional challenges throughout her own life. We all have barriers, and her work is to help you see them, understand them, and then commit to overcoming them, so that you can create a new life based on updated beliefs about yourself. Tara has lots of tools in her kit for this, having travelled widely, studied extensively, and worked with a vast array of clients from around the world.

While Tara offers a variety of modalities — healing arts, yoga, Ayurveda, and the proven principles of human potential expert Bob Proctor — she builds her business on the fundamental truth that reaching our highest goals of success and self-leadership requires self-awareness, a clear mindset, positive focus, accountability, and a new system of daily habits and practices that work. I was thrilled to sit down with her and  learn more about what has worked for her and how it can work for you. 

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SPOTLIGHT – Crystal Jensen by Tom Kernaghan

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How much can you know about yourself if you have never played in the dirt? For Crystal Jensen, this is more than a rhetorical question, it is a personal call to action. Crystal, an early childhood educator and the founder of Mindful Expressions, wants children to feel free to discover themselves and create possibilities through play and exploration in nature.

Having spent many moments of her own childhood playing outside and finding her truth, Crystal understands the freedom in knowing who you are and having the independence and confidence to share it with the world. She also understands the crucial importance of guiding children through their early years in a way the builds their sense of self, healthy boundaries, and a voice within a group. 

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