We had the good fortune of connecting with Tami Kiekhaefer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tami, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Taking risks! Ahh, it usually makes people shutter at the thought of getting out there and being vulnerable. I used to feel that way too. “What if I fail?”, “What if people judge me?”, are thoughts that would crowd my mind. But as I grew more confident in who I am and what I stand for, I began to trust my intentions and slowly, I began to take more risks. Of course, there are two kinds of risks- the impulsive type where you don’t consider outcomes and consequences- I’ve definitely had my share of those! Then there are the calculated risks, where you consider the outcome and decide if it’s a good idea and worth it. Lastly, there are the risks that you just have to take a leap of faith, trust that you have the skills to be successful, and the support you need if it doesn’t work out as planned. These are the lessons that you give you opportunity to grow and become stronger. Leaving my full-time job with health benefits 20 years ago to open my private practice was a huge career risk. I quickly learned that what you put into a goal is what you get out of it. I remember sitting in Geometry class in 10th grade when I decided that my goal was to be a counselor and have a private practice. Maybe it was because I was horrible at math and knew Geometry wasn’t my calling, but whatever hit me that day, I knew it and I stayed the course from then forward. So, when the stars aligned, I gave my notice and hung my shingle! It’s been 20 years now and I still love my job! Every day is different because I work with a variety of people with a variety of issues. Since then, I became certified as a yoga instructor, so I added yoga therapy to my practice. I have also just released an online course called “Preparing For The Jungle, How To Find Healthy, Lasting, Love”, for women. 20 years ago, I never would have dreamed of where my career would take me, but because taking risks is something I had the courage to do, here I am.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I love talking about my business because I love what I do! I have been in private practice as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker for almost 20 years. I now work with people ages 16 and up. The issues I help people with are around anxiety, depression, romantic relationships, domestic violence, grief and trauma. I don’t work from a cookie cutter approach and will always give my clients some type of homework to do outside of the session. I believe that 90% of the progress you make is outside of my office. I also provide yoga therapy where people will bring a mat to the session. We will talk about what is going on and I will put together a yoga sequence, walk them through it to make sure their alignment is correct, draw pictures for them to take home and send them on their way. I have loved offering this unique twist to my practice. Another aspect that I am SO excited about is just getting off the ground. I developed an online course for women- just for the ladies right now, but soon I will have a men’s course and possibly a couple’s course. I talk with hundreds of people a month and I found that so many people are lonely. Lonely alone or lonely in their relationships. I talk with them about feeling more empowered, being able to assert themselves and know what they want and deserve in a romantic relationship. I talk with them about creating and maintaining healthy boundaries, communicating effectively, evaluating past relationships to understand what worked and what didn’t work. I teach people one of the MOST important factors in a healthy relationship- how to manage conflict so you don’t create resentments, which is the biggest relationship killer. So, let me back it up. I mentioned I was divorced. Well, after going through that, I decided that I really needed to get my act together. I never wanted to go through that kind of pain again, so I set out to understand what was absolutely crucial to have a healthy, lasting, loving relationship. After doing the work with myself and helping people in my practice, I started to design a course that people can take so they can learn these important skills and find their happiness. I’ve never seen a program like I have created before! I have a private Facebook Group called Relationship Toolkit for Women, Finding True Love, Not Regrets. From there, the women who sign up for the course will be invited to a VIP Inner Circle where the 7 modules are posted. Following the completion of the 7 modules, they will receive 5 additional weeks of coaching live in the Inner Circle. I will provide additional training, plus support and guidance around their individual situation. A total of 12 weeks of learning, coaching, accountability to stay the course, and support from a community of women in a safe environment. I couldn’t be more excited to have finally launched this after years of data collection and creation! I am a firm believer that nothing comes easy in life! If it were easy, we wouldn’t value the outcomes and our accomplishments wouldn’t be special. The challenges I have endured were mostly on a personal level. I’m sure there were many challenges in my career between difficult clients, dealing with insurances, finding office space, but honestly, these didn’t feel like major upsets, probably due to the support I have and the love I have for my job. However, on a personal note, balancing work and life presented a challenge. When you work for yourself, you are always on call, especially if there is a crisis situation. I have learned to establish boundaries but have asked for understanding and patience with my family when work has to take a front seat. Being a single parent and owning a business presented its challenges as I have had to get creative finding time to do both. I served as the Fundraising Chair on my kids’ PTA at school for 3 years, tried to attend every baseball, football, tennis basketball and golf competition. I have to say there were some late nights and watching a game from left field so I could multitask, but we made it work! Another major medical challenge I endured was Sept 2015. I took the BRACA genetic test on a whim and learned that I had an 87% chance of getting breast cancer and a 44% chance of getting ovarian cancer. It wasn’t a tough decision to take the necessary steps I needed to take. I had my ovaries removed and a double mastectomy and reconstruction. That was quite the process and recovery. Again, so grateful for the support I had to make it through that! But when life throws you curveballs, you have to change your stance so hit the ball out of the park! Here I am 5 years later, and I always tell my kids that they will never lose their mom to breast or ovarian cancer. That was definitely the hardest thing I have been through in my life, aside from sharing custody of my kids, making me question my endurance, my strength, my ability to make it through the hour. The lessons I have learned along the way include learning to have short-term, realistic goals. Taking too much on at once only leads to incompletion of tasks and feeling overwhelmed. When I find myself in this hamster wheel, I know it takes a hit on my confidence and I start questioning everything, so slowing down and regaining my focus. I have also learned that being flexible is critical to being successful. I’m a planner, I like to have control over what is going on in my business, and probably in my life too. But you can only control so much and a well thought out plan can turn upside down in a moment. Being flexible and learning to roll with life’s uncertainty is key to my stability. These are a few lessons I have learned. I know there are many more out there as I believe we are all a work in progress!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I am so fortunate to live in Colorado where there a million things to do. Being an outside girl, I would definitely be in the mountains. Camping, or glamping as I am now in my late 40’s, is the way to go. Waking up to fresh coffee, stepping outside with a view of the forest and a river. We’d spend the week fly fishing, doing yoga, taking some hikes and drives, searching for wildlife, moose, elk, bears, horseback riding. We’d pour some wine and sit by the river, then grill chicken, kabobs and finish it off with s’mores. We recently went to the Grand Tetons and I couldn’t get enough of those mountains. WOW! I hear that here in Colorado, Ouray has amazing peaks, I have NEVER been there- yet! I also love supporting small businesses so I love little towns and walking down their Mainstreet, doing a little shopping. So that is something we would also participate in. Get me a quiet camping spot, in the mountains, by a river, with people I love, and I am SET! Pretty easy!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I definitely would not be where I am today with out the support of my loved ones! My parents are divorced and remarried which allowed two more amazing people into my life. They offer guidance, constructive criticism, and love. My kids are now teenagers and the wisdom they offer blows my mind. Especially the moral support. When I am wondering if the efforts I put out there in trying something new in my career are worth it, both of my kids give me pep talks about things not coming easily, and keeping the motivation flowing and being patient with myself. WHAT??!! Who are these kids?? I am such a proud parent to call these guys mine! I got divorced when they were in 3rd and 5th grade. It about killed me giving up time with my kids. We have made it through. I learned to be a more present parent and valued the quality of time over quantity of time. I am so grateful for the support from friends and family and community I received to help us all through that crazy period of time. The teachers at my kids’ school were amazing! The extra hugs, the lunch time talks, the emails of reassurance to me about how they were managing their home falling apart- I will be forever thankful. It really does take a village and I have the best one in town! I am also extremely grateful to my finance, Jim. He came along out of the blue and showed me a feeling of love, excitement, connection and safety that I haven’t felt before. He encourages me to think outside the box, supports my wild ideas and lets me just be myself. Granted, he lets me know his opinion, which of course, we have our differences. But these differences actually bring up closer because we allow each other to be our authentic selves. I’m not sure where I’d be, emotionally, with out Jim in my life. He came in, embraced my kids, and has truly been a miracle. I talk to my kids about privilege. I want them to know that we are privileged. I want them to never take for granted the cards they were dealt and to pay it forward in some way, every day. Whether it is holding a door, donating to a cause they believe in, offering a shoulder to a friend, giving water and snacks to the homeless, a smile and saying hello to t a stranger. Whatever that looks like in a day I don’t ever want them to take for granted the love, support, guidance we have in our lives. I want them to work hard and set goals for themselves. I want them to know that the world doesn’t owe them anything. I want them to have compassion for every person, even the ones that do them wrong, because everyone has struggles and we owe it to be kind. Sometimes kindness means creating space from toxic people, but that is what you do, not reciprocate that toxicity. My brother and my sister-in-law have been amazing in offering business advice and helping me with branding. And of course my friends who offer endless encouragement! So yes, my level of gratitude extends to many levels from my immediate family, to friends to my community.
Other: For the ladies interested in joining my Facebook group, they can click https://www.facebook.com/groups/relationshiptoolkit/