Maria Wendt – Founder & Influencer, Maria Wendt, Inc.

Maria Wendt helps female entrepreneurs get clients online. She is on a mission to help women leave their soul-sucking 9-5s and get paid doing what they love. She lives in Wilmington, DE with her husband and an enormous collection of books. You can find her (and a bunch of great free resources) at www.mariawendt.com.

Tell us about one of the toughest periods of your life.

One of the toughest periods of my life was when my grandfather passed away. I was extremely close to him and he passed away just a few months before my wedding. I took his passing really hard and slipped into depression. It was extremely hard for me to motivate myself to work and I found myself asking, “What is the point of all of this?” It really caused me to question a lot of my goals and my desire to be in business. If we are being totally honest, I almost quit my business and got a “real job” because the idea of hiding away in a cubicle was extremely attractive in the moment.

I got through it by leaning on my support system. My husband, sister, and my entrepreneur friends all refused to allow me to quit. “You’ve come too far. Don’t quit now. You’ll regret giving up on your dreams.”

And deep down, I knew they were right.

Even though in the moment I wanted to close up my business and settle for a corporate job, I couldn’t bring myself to give up on my dream. I had worked too hard for too long to quit now.

These days, I am doing much better. I have a thriving business teaching women how to get clients online. I just hired my 7th team member. I am happy and fulfilled – and so glad I persevered through that challenging time!

What books helped you through it?

I am an avid reader so it’s hard to choose! I find that the book The Big Leap was extremely helpful. In it, it speaks about how we tend to self-sabotage right before we hit a new level of our lives. I know this was the case for me. I could see into the future and I knew my business was about to blow up and it really scared me. The Big Leap helped me realize this was normal and it gave me tools to push through the fears and overwhelm.

Christy Velasquez – Founder & President, Orangewood Lane

I’m a chef from Los Angeles, California and moved to Lyon, France and started Orangewood Lane, which focuses on sustainable food tours and corporate events for international tourists and businesses.

Tell us about one of the toughest periods of your life.

It was about two years ago when I lost my boyfriend of twelve years. We met when we were both young. I was 19 and he was 23 and we shared a life together along with our two adopted dogs. When he passed, my world was turned upside down and everything I knew disappeared in an instant. It was a traumatic, debilitating, and life-changing event to experience at 31 years old.

The first year of his passing was the hardest. The milestones, as I like to call them, were the toughest to get through: birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays. They’re all events I was hoping to sleep through and just waiting for the clock to strike midnight. That first year was also a wave of sadness, depression, confusion, and just a downward spiral of my life. I knew I needed to change things drastically to get out of this negative space I was digging myself into. I decided to take a chance and travel to France. I quit my professional job, packed my things, and traveled. I had my eat, pray, love moment and it changed my life. I slowly started to see what my life could be after such a great loss. I started seeing myself as my own person. There was my life before the loss of my partner and then there was my life after. I had the opportunity to change and recreate my life as I saw it. It was a blank canvas and I had the paintbrush. After a year of being on the road, I decided to settle in Lyon, France and started my own food tour business. I think about the past two years and how my life has changed. I think about what my life would have been if I didn’t lose my partner, but I also look at my life now and appreciate so much more of what I have and what I’m building.

Grief is a journey we experience after a great loss and it’s a different journey for everyone who experiences it. I know my grief will never truly disappear and I don’t want it to disappear. It’s a part of me. It’s a reminder of who I am and what my journey has been.