January 2017 Art Collector of the Month: Amber Berry



Amber and her husband Chris by their "La Flor #20" in their home in Houma, Louisiana.

Happy New Year!!! I hope 2017 is your best year yet!

And with the new year I want to share with you Amber's inspiring life journey, her ups and downs and what she has learned so far...

I love to get to know my art collectors a little bit more, so every month I will be sharing with you the profile of one of them.

The purpose of these interviews is to provide examples of women who have had the courage to follow their heart, some to become mothers, wives, stay at home moms or wives, professionals or entrepreneurs. They did it by overcoming fear of criticism, failure, or both. Each person measures success according to their own dreams, so it is very personal. There is no dream too big or too small. For the month of January, my art collector is: Amber Berry.

- Age: 37

- Location: Houma, LA

- Marital Status: Happily married to Chris for 11 years with 3 kids.

- Kids: Neal Grace is 9, Cara is 7, and Pierce is 4

1. What is your correct position?

Nurse Practitioner, Co-owner of Twisted Fitness, and Fitness Instructor

2. How did you get to where you are professionally? Is it what you always wanted to do?

I knew early on that I wanted to be a nurse and that I was going to college. The tough part for me to figure out was how to pay for college since my family was not well-off, to say it kindly. I began to show a lot of promise in track and field in high school, and I also had great grades. I was recruited by several colleges to run cross country and track on a scholarship, and I was offered academic scholarships as well. I have always been a goal-oriented, determined person and I knew that this was my chance to achieve my goal and dream of becoming a nurse. So, I pursued my Bachelor's Degree at the University of Central Missouri and worked my tail off to keep my grades up and be successful on the track team. I would not let anything threaten my future nursing career and the opportunity I had been given through the scholarships that helped me pay for college. After becoming a nurse, I began travel nursing and moved all over the country working in different units and gaining experience. After 5 years as a nurse, I found the area of nursing that I truly enjoyed and had a passion for and it was the Intensive Care Unit at a trauma center. This is when I decided to pursue my Master's Degree in Nursing and became an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner through the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center. I began my nurse practitioner career in Memphis, TN and also started teaching a few college nursing courses while I was there. My husband and I moved to Houma, LA not long after I began work as a nurse practitioner and I had a hard time finding the job I wanted. I decided at that time to open my own business as a nurse practitioner and provide house calls, and I also found a job as a nursing instructor at a local college. That business was successful, but was also becoming burdensome with my growing family, so I closed the business and continued to provide house calls for a local hospice company. I continue to work with the college when they need me for courses or to speak at lectures and I also work part time in an emergency room. Throughout the course of pursuing my nursing career, I continued to run and even completed a couple of marathons. When I moved to Houma, it was important for me to find friends and hopefully those friends would share the same passion for fitness and running that I had. That is what led me to a local gym, a fitness class, and to meet two very great friends that share the same passion for fitness and changing lives! The three of us planned, worked, dreamed, and created the first yoga studio in Houma and Twisted Fitness has been open for 3 years now.

3. Did you ever have any doubts that you would accomplish it?

I am a little impulsive, a lot optimistic, a dreamer, a risk-taker, a jump in with both feet kind of person. It honestly never occurs to me that something may fail. I am a dreamer, but I am also a doer! Once the idea is formed, I stop at nothing and work so hard that it can't fail.

4. When you were little, did you have any dreams about who you wanted to be when you grew up? Did any come true?

I am living a life that I could have never imagined. I knew from a very young age that I wanted to be a nurse. I really enjoy being a Nurse Practitioner, and am grateful that I have found a job and profession that has some flexibility to allow me to pursue other interests and to be with my family more. I can honestly say that being a fitness studio owner was not on my radar though. However, I was always an athlete and very much into running. The best part of being on athletic teams for me was the friendships that were built and encouraging others to succeed. I have always taken on a leadership and coaching role in sports and in my nursing career, so I guess owning a fitness studio and instructing there is just the natural progression of those passions. I get to help others, encourage others, coach others, promote a healthy lifestyle in others, develop friendships, and still have a leadership role. I get to exercise for a living, and I can't imagine anything more fun that! So, I did have dreams of helping others, being successful, having great friends, and being a nurse. All of my dreams have come true, but just not in the way I pictured them as a young girl. God has a plan and I am blessed this is the plan he chose for me.

5. Hobbies?

I have several hobbies. I love to play volleyball and recently participated in a sand volleyball league. I love to read and started a book club that allows me socialize with some very fun, intelligent ladies and drink wine! Can wine be a hobby? I love to binge on Netflix and watch my DVR, and am not sure if that qualifies as a hobby either. I volunteer a lot, especially with my children's school and activities. I love to DIY crafts and home projects. I coach a Girls on the Run team and I coached my daughter's volleyball team. I join in with the church choir when I have time and I love to sing karaoke. I really love music and enjoy putting together playlists for my Spin classes. Recently, I began racing in triathlons and completed a full Ironman race in November, 140.6 miles. I guess being a busy body is my real hobby!

6. What are you passionate about?

If I am involved in it then I am passionate about it. I truly only do things that I enjoy, that I feel can make a difference, and that I can honestly give 100% of my energy to.

7. Give us three instances that were particularly hard in your life?

I had a stroke at birth that left me paralyzed on my right side and in physical therapy until I was 3 years old. This was not the hard part for me because I obviously don't remember any of it, but I imagine it was pretty rough on my parents. The hard part for me came as I got older and began having seizures that resulted from scar tissue from the stroke. I have been seizure-free for 20 years now, which is such a blessing. Growing up with a seizure disorder, taking medication, being poked and prodded, and having to worry about when I could have another seizure was difficult on me as a child and teenager.

After the birth of my second child, I had a period of anxiety and depression that was so out of character for me. I am pretty upbeat and optimistic by nature and I found myself overly worried, anxious, tearful, and overwhelmed. I wasn't myself and couldn't figure out how to get out the "rut" I was in. I was in a new town and so far away from any of my family. Also, I have always been the problem-solver in my family and relationships. I was the person that people came to for advice and help, but I have never been one to ask others to help me with personal issues. I try to warrior through things, tough, stubborn, and independent. Thank God my husband noticed a change in me and was not afraid to say something. We got some help and I took anti-depressants for a while until I felt like I could safely start to wean and see how I was feeling and coping. I am feeling myself and even felt perfectly healthy after my third child.

The loss of my grandfather was a really difficult time for me, as well. I was so close to my grandparents growing up. I would spend summers in Tennessee with them all the way through college. I even spent my spring break visiting my grandparents. My grandparents helped me go to college the summer before my senior year of high school and I chose a college that was only 30 minutes away from them, so I could visit them on the weekends. When I began travel nursing, I chose to work in Memphis so that I could spend more time with them and make my grandfather's retirement ceremony. These people were so influential to me throughout my life. I would visit my grandparent's house because it was a place of peace and love when my home was not. My grandfather was one of the most amazing men I have ever known. He became ill not long after he retired and continued to decline, yet no one could figure out what was wrong with him. I would visit him in the hospital and then go home to read all of my medical books to see if I could figure out was making him so sick. I was completing my Master's degree, getting married, and losing this man all at the same time. My grandfather was a preacher and was able to perform my marriage ceremony despite being so weak he wasn't sure he could even stand up. He passed away 6 weeks after my oldest daughter was born. He was able to meet and even hold his first great grandchild. This time was one of the most difficult yet most precious times I have experienced.

8. Do you now believe that they were life lessons for you? And if so, what were they?

There is a lesson to be learned in everything. I learn from the good, the bad, and the status quo times. I learned determination and hard work from the way my parents treated me after the stroke. They never let it cross their mind that I would be anything but great. They pushed me to succeed and never give up. I learned that we don't know what struggles people are going through and I also learned empathy from experiencing those seizures and all that came with being treated for a seizure disorder. It made me a better nurse. It also helped me learn that I don't really care what others think of me. I learned that sometimes you do get by with a little help from friends and that asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but one of strength. I developed a stronger faith in God through my anxiety. Through the loss of my grandfather, I learned to appreciate every moment. I learned to tell people you love them and really show it. I am so grateful for the last year with my grandpa and all that I was able to tell him and experience with him before he was gone.

9. Mention three events that have been the happiest in your life so far?

The happiest times in my life are pretty normal. Getting married to my husband and knowing this was the person God had always planned for me was the happiest moment of my life. Having my 3 children is definitely on the list of the best events in my life. Opening a business with 2 of my best friends and seeing the difference it makes in people's lives has been one of the most rewarding things in my life. The friends I have made since opening Twisted and the people who come through our doors are blessings!

10. Have you discovered your mission in life? If so, please share.

I think my mission is always changing or morphing as I continue on my journey. I just want to inspire people and touch their lives in a positive way. I want to know I made people smile, I taught them something, or I made their life better in some way by being in it.

11. Provide your three top values in life? Example: honesty, passion, etc.

Love genuinely

My top 3 values are honesty, determination, and courage. I hope people who get to know me and see me living this crazy, but amazingly fun life can see these traits in me.

12. What plans do you have for the future? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In 5 years, I will have a teenager, so this whole section may be not applicable. I could be losing my mind somewhere. I hope I am doing exactly what I am doing right now. I hope I am still coaching and teaching. I hope Twisted is still going strong. I hope that I am a better wife, mom, friend, instructor, nurse, and person. I hope I am helping others, traveling, and still going on adventures. 5 years goes by so fast. I hope I can look back on this questionnaire in 5 years and be proud of how I have treated people, I hope I have met new people, I hope I have been courageous. I also hope I have paid off some more debt.

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