April 24, 2017  |  Civic Engagement Entrepreneurship Financial Health HealthUpTogether Fund

Nicole Gunn

Three countries, two suitcases, and one love lead me to my perfect trifecta. The epitome of my zodiac sign, Leo the fire sign, I have struggled for years as I buried my flaming spirit.

Twelve years ago I embarked on a new journey. I moved to my third country with two suitcases in hand to be with the one true love of my life. Being a wife to a hard-working husband and mother of two rambunctious boys, I have always sought to immerse myself in the community that can help in shaping my family. Meeting an FII member who introduced me to FII, gave me the opportunity to explore, not only deeper-routed community-building opportunities, but also launched my personal journey of rediscovering the dormant fiery qualities that lied within me. My success in launching my dream salon within a year of being involved with FII lead me to believe that there was more to the FII concept that I originally thought.

Watching my friend’s journey with FII encouraged me. All of a sudden, my dreams didn’t seem too far-fetched. My natural reaction was to immediately think of life’s responsibilities — and put aside my dreams but beneath the surface my flame remained ignited, but stifled. So that I could provide for my family, I was employed as an administrator at a higher education institute. The job was horrific — I spent my days encouraging young adults to pursue a higher education at a cost I knew was unjust for most to repay, and I didn’t like it.

Testing the waters, I decided to embark on my dream of entrepreneurship. I became a travel agent with Evolution Travel. I worked both jobs for a few months, quickly realizing that being a travel agent was the fuel to ignite the dormant spark. To explore this further, I took initiative to seek mentorship and guidance from David McCovy, Founder of Evolution Travel. When he told me, “Nicole you have options. If you have a dream and are willing to work hard for it, nothing and nobody can stop you but yourself,”if resonated. It opened up my eyes to what could come out of being a business owner. I had to leave my old mindset behind. I took a leap of faith and resigned from my full-time job.

With an entrepreneur mindset and support from my husband and faith, I have completed my first year in business. Although it has not brought in the same income, I have proven to myself that I am capable, and that I need to maintain a level of resilience to achieve long-term success.

In addition to opening my own business, I have also been able to accomplish one of my original goals of living a healthier lifestyle. My highest weight was 256 pounds. I gained weight over nine years and with my pregnancies. The more my weight increased, the more significant health issues arose, such as gestational diabetes. After the birth of my second son, I was diagnosed as a type two diabetic. This was my wakeup call.

I applied for FII’s health match and family time resources. With these resources, I was able to make my health and family a priority, and would be held accountable to provide proof of my accomplishments. Through the health match, I consulted a personal trainer. This was a great jump-start and has grown to my love of fitness. I also focused on my nutrition — which led me to start the Herbal Life Program. Herbal Life is a nutrition program that teaches you weight management, portion control, and healthily food and snacks options. This, combined with remaining active, has led to a total weight loss of 47 pounds. This is one of the first things I have started and stuck with. My commitment has been undeterred. I feel good from my head to my toe, and have built the confidence I was lacking. It has helped me to build the best version of myself. My children and husband have seen my determination and are extremely proud of me.

Through the family time resource I have managed the challenges of raising millennials who are often tied to their technology toys. Although I take full responsibility for enabling this behavior by providing them with I-pads, I also realized I needed to rectify it. Being raised in a family-oriented environment, I wanted to re-instill these values in my family. The FII resource allowed me to plan a biking trip and a family obstacle course. This eventually led to my family’s investment in family bi-weekly outings, which also incorporate physical activities and support my health initiatives.

Everyone has a spark. Testing the waters to find your fuel despite ones’ insecurities is necessary to ignite your flame. Anyone can have his or her own trifecta.

I would like everyone to know there are options and you can live a life that you enjoy. Don’t get stuck in the rut of a job just to pay bills. Your life means more than just that. Take care of your health and family, and most importantly, have faith.

I feel good from my head to my toe, and have built the confidence I was lacking. It has helped me to build the best version of myself. My children and husband have seen my determination and are extremely proud of me.

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