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“I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.”
– Henry David Thoreau  
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  Volume No. 14 Issue No. 10 October 2017  

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  Never stop learning
  By Mark Stoller

   Mark Stoller is a nine-year resident of Colorado. He and his wife, Andra, both U.S. Air Force veterans, moved to Falcon in 2007 and are now raising their three teenage daughters in Latigo. They enjoy their home on the prairie with plenty of room for their six adopted dogs, bagpipes & Celtic Festivals and beekeeping. Mark enjoys the privilege of his wife and daughters being his muse for topics, people to meet and places to investigate.
   

   If you bravely step out to do something new, it will take you down paths you never thought possible. Such is the case for my sister-in-law, Suzanne. She moved here from New Jersey in 2011, to teach math in a District 20 school and be “Cool Aunt Suzy” to her nephews and nieces. Six years later, she is not only a heralded teacher, but the successful owner of a Falcon area dog grooming studio called Bath Brush and Beyond.
   
   Success in life can often be traced to the helpful nudging of mentors and respected friends. Suzanne, as an educator, understands the need to be a lifelong learner. Two mentor’s quotes have resonated with her over time, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid to fail?” and “I don’t want to pass from this life without having accomplished something I’ve always wanted to do.”
   
   With that in mind, an advertisement for the National Mill Dog Rescue caught Suzanne’s eye. There was an open house in 2012 to view the shelter and the dogs. Both excited to see what NMDR was about and curious about the potential to volunteer, she found it was a good fit to be involved with something bigger than herself and her daily routine.
   
   Since 2012, Suzanne has adopted two dogs from NMDR, participated in multiple adoption fairs, transported dogs for NMDR and conducted a rescue. NMDR leadership asked Suzanne to go on a rescue to save dogs from a mill in Missouri. With the help of her friend, Robin, they drove out to the property and took control of 22 dogs. In the remaining 10-hour trip home, Suzanne came up with a name for each of the dogs. To no surprise, each dog was named after schools Suzanne knew of in New Jersey, Ohio, and Colorado.
   
   Feeling the urge to keep growing, Suzanne decided learning how to groom dogs would be a good skill. She figured it would be put to good use to reduce the cost of grooming her five dogs, my six dogs and her parents’ two dogs. After graduating an online course and completing 100 hours of mentored grooming, Suzanne was ready to go it alone. Starting out is really scary. Suzanne tells me, “I was told grooming is an art form. I am a math teacher and very left-brain oriented!”
   
   Her concerns have proven unwarranted. With no real business plan, Suzanne’s hope for 10 extra dogs to expand her skills has skyrocketed to more than 100 clients. The business had grown so much in the first year, she stopped working from her family room and had a grooming salon built in the garage. In 2015, she formally opened Bath Brush and Beyond.
   
   Suzanne attributes her success to personalized attention and appointment logistics. She only accepts one family’s dog (s) at each appointment to keep the dog’s stress at a low level. Active listening skills, attention to detail and truly understanding each client’s expectations for the appearance of their pet is her strength. This approach has kept her business growing by word-of-mouth recommendations.
   
   Six years ago, Suzanne would never have guessed she would be both a well-respected math teacher and a successful entrepreneur. Her outlook on life is a great example for us all. What do you wish you could do or learn? Now is the time to seize the initiative and expand your horizon. Never stop learning.
  
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