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Perspective & Advice for Those Facing Insurmountable Odds

Throughout our journey with Voyage, the one thing we have learned over and over is that hidden within every challenge is a blessing or opportunity. It’s up to us to determine whether a challenge we face will be a step back or the catalyst for a step forward.

We had the honor of connecting with some of the city’s brightest female leaders and role models and we asked them our question of the month: What is the best advice you have for someone who feels like they are facing insurmountable odds.

Below, you’ll find their advice and links and other info so you can learn more about them, their work and how to connect with them. We’ll be interviewing many of these amazing women in the coming weeks, stay tuned.

C.J. Oldenkamp – Wife, Mama, Blogger & Happiness Enthusiast

Everything is temporary. Some problems can seem more intense and stressful than they need to be. Focus on the things you can control and let go of the things you can’t. Happiness is an absolute mindset that needs to be chosen every single day. Don’t disregard the problems that arise, but don’t let them control your life!

Jessica Polzin- Muralist/ Sign Painter/ Fashion Designer/ Makeup Artist

I love a good challenge. It gives one the chance to see how they can lead themselves- through their thoughts and actions- to a solution. When something seems unsolvable, whether it be in your own life, or in your professional, I think it’s important not to look at the challenge as (always) negative. The challenge might help you learn a new way of thinking or acting that will benefit you in the future. Break the challenge down- break it into parts that ARE solvable and don’t convince yourself it’s impossible. When you trust your own ability to solve something, when you convince yourself that if you look at something in a different perspective- that there is a solution, when you are diligent and you work your ass off,  and you’re creative, you CAN figure it out. Don’t be mad at the world for challenging you, rise above the frustration and make yourself a stronger person in the process.

Ashlee – Owner and Designer at Denver Chair Lady, Denver’s Interior Design Based Upholstery Service

Just Keep Swimming! I do what the drunks do, take it day by day, and even moment to moment! Don’t ever give up on yourself and honor your dreams! I know these sayings are somewhat cliche, but it really works! When all else fails throw yourself into your work and or go on vacation 🙂 Some of my greatest victories in life are born from my failures like a phoenix.

Paige Sparkman – Graphic Designer, Social Media Marketer

In my very humble opinion, all challenges feel insurmountable when you don’t believe in yourself. Last night, getting all of my laundry folded and put away felt like an impossible challenge. 1 year ago, as I write this, I was working a nightmare job, I cried on my way to work each day and felt that I was undervalued and disrespected. I hadn’t ever had a clear career path, and being forced to leave university early meant that my desire to work as a graphic designer/artist was out of reach. At a low point in my life opportunities started to surface and I started working with a business coach, creating YouTube videos, taking a couple of small non-profit design jobs, and eventually gaining some confidence in my craft. A few months later I was presented an opportunity with a chiropractic office as a graphic designer. I walked into the interview and immediately felt like I was in a room with people who believed in me, valued me and didn’t mind my lack of professional experience in the field. On that day, before I was officially offered the position, I gave notice to my nightmare job. Shortly thereafter I started E. Paige Sparkman LLC, talk about a challenge for a college dropout without an ounce of business sense. Daily, I look at myself and wonder how that insecure and lost woman managed to hustle herself to a new life. Remember when you wanted what you currently have, and appreciate all of small steps that got you there.

Taylor Ethridge – Owner & Photographer for Taylor Nicole Photography

I guess my advice to someone facing a challenge that feels insurmountable would be to first figure out why you want it. If you know your ‘why’ then it’s easy to keep going when things get harder. If you aren’t focused on why you’re doing something you can get lost when the ‘how’ looks so crazy. Also to look at the challenge from every angle and define your end goal and then add as many in-between or baby steps as needed to be able to visualize yourself getting there.

Denver Realtor®

One of my favorite quotes is “Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.” so my advice would be to stop second guessing yourself and start putting in the work to achieve your goals.

Shanee Wily – Creative with a Kid. Dancer and Photographer!

Never compare your struggle to someone else’s. Focus on what you need to thrive. Fall back to level up. It’s you against you. Search for what makes you happy and thrive in it.
@snaps_of _shanee

Emilie Luckett – Fiber Artist and Art Historian

My best advise for those who are taking on difficult challenges is to take everything with baby steps. On top of being a working fiber artist, I am also a college student at the end of my junior year and work a part time job. It’s easy to feel like your drowning in responsibilities and your surrounded by things you need to do. Life is hard! So it’s important that you break down a task into tiny parts. It is much easier to take on a handful of small goals than a big one all at once. I also highly recommend planning backwards and doing at least one thing every day that pushes you closer to tackling your challenge. Things can get overwhelming, but people are capable of so much more than they think! Break it down, and make those overwhelming tasks manageable!

Melanie Jannicelli Shutt – Wedding Planner

My advice would be to realize your own strength and push yourself as far as you can . My brain surgery and rehab has made me a stronger more grateful person.

Amanda Foley – Mother, Blogger, and Coffee Lover

Rock bottom teaches you lessons that mountain tops never will.

Siera Capesius: Owner Modevo Fitness – Personal Trainer/Nutritionist

Whatever your challenge maybe when you feel like it is too big to take on this is when you will want to either ask for help or do research on how to fix the problem you are stressing about. It is usually when we feel inferior or have lack of knowledge that the problem only gets worse. Attack the challenge in a timely matter and solve it with help of others!


Kristin Allison – Audiobook Narrator and Photographer

Ask for help. Sometimes it’s as simple as that. Also, for me, I have to work to get out of my head and stop overthinking (by pausing, meditating, etc.) and just start taking the steps.


Yvonne Matthews – Holistic Nutritionist, Herbalist & Wellness Advisor

I think some of us believe that overwhelm happens as a result of lack of preparation or some perfectionistic personality traits. No matter where it come from here’s what I do and it works! First, I put down the caffeine – this increases our fight or flight response which causes our cortisol to rise and can contribute to more anxiety. Then I boil some water and swap my cup of joe out for a cup of tulsi (aka holy basil) and lemon balm herbal tea. They both taste good and will calm the nervous system and uplift you. Next, I write down ALL the things in my head, all the things I think I need to do, should do and more. All of it. In no order. Just get it out. I call this a brain dump. It’s super helpful. Lastly, I always ask myself “what’s the one thing I can do now?” Then don’t think about it. Just do that one thing. When that’s done, ask yourself the same question and keep going! I’m a huge fan of small steps adding up to amazing things! This is proof that theory works.

Haley Hughes MS, RD, CDE, CF-L1 Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator and CrossFit Coach

My best advice is to sit down and make a S.M.A.R.T goal if you are facing big challenges. Really assess your strategy to overcoming barriers and make sure you have the support you need. Your goals need to be attainable and something you actually WANT to do. I have to do this weekly with my business challenges and reassess regularly whether my plan is working. It’s okay to make changes to your strategy as long as you are taking steps to get to the end goal and overcome the challenge! Grit and perseverance are my mantas for overcoming challenges. Hard work pays off when you find your passion and there will always be challenges when you are setting higher goals for yourself!
Facebook: RDRx Nutrition

Marlene Caraballo – Writer and Midlife Blogger

My advice for someone facing a challenge that seems overwhelming is to begin by figuring out your self-limiting beliefs. Uncover what it is in your mindset that is making you believe you can’t and examine those thoughts more closely. Usually, it’s our own limiting beliefs that stop us from overcoming challenges rather than true obstacles. Find ways to shift your mindset and anything is possible.

Whitney Shook – Nutrition Therapist & Blogger

Life is going to throw so much at you. At the end of the day, even in the moments you feel swallowed up by your circumstances, you are so very capable of moving through this experience.

Kat Haggerty – Fitness Instructor, Business Owner and Entrepreneur

Find reassurance and support from your people. I firmly believe it takes a tribe so leaning on those who are there for us helps us realize that we can do anything has such a huge effect on how we see challenges. Even the smallest “I support you” from a friend can take us so far!

Karen Rylander- Certified Nutrition Consultant & Better Beauty Advocate

Forget about the future. Focus on what you can control right now. What can you do today, this hour, this minute, that leads you to your goal. Small steps make a seemingly insurmountable challenge obtainable.

Jill Canning – Owner and Travel Advisor, Jill Beth Travel

Be patient with yourself. A friend gave me this simple advice a couple of weeks ago. I wrote it down and taped it in a couple different places in my home and office. It has helped me tremendously. Nothing worth it is easy, so I need to be patient with my growth process and allow myself to learn.

Katie Garces – Nurse Practitioner, Certified Nutritionist and Life/Spiritual Coach

Get still, get quiet and surrender control. Trust in the unknowing and the unfolding. Listen to your intuition.

Cyndi Rikert – Nutritional Therapist and Social Worker at The National MS Society

My advice for anyone who is trying to get through a very challenging time is to figure out how to change your mindset, get support if you need it and then just start. Once you change your mindset, you can accomplish ANYTHING! Take your time with this process and explore the past and work through that junk so it doesn’t keep coming back to haunt you. You may need to seek professional help and that is 100% okay! Mediate and get into nature to ground yourself. Remind yourself you are worth the change and show yourself some grace and love!

Sharone – Rock Singer/Songwriter

There is no challenge insurmountable. Some of the most successful people in the world have seen the worst in it, have been abused, have been seconds away from death, have felt the worst kinds of heartbreak and pain, and they are now the artists and game changers that we all look up to. Don’t ever give up. Pain and challenges are parts of life that we all have to deal with. But they thicken our skin and help us to grow as people and creatives.

Ashley Rowack – Cosmetologist and Balayage Specialist

Life can sometimes be a bumpy road, and whenever we are faced with challenges that seem like they are too hard to overcome, I always keep in mind that every day is a gift. Life is way too short to let any obstacle come in the way of our happiness, goals, or dreams. Whenever anything might feel insurmountable, don’t be afraid to ask for guidance or help. Nothing is too challenging to overcome, and guarantee, you will be stronger and wiser than ever before.
By the end of the day, we all want to be happy, so it’s important to feed your soul with a positive mindset! I’ve always believed in staying passionate for what makes you happy and driven, it’s the best way to succeed in the most effortless way!


Angela- Online Content Creator & Lifestyle YouTuber

For me, when I’m going through a really big hump and I feel stuck- I try to remind myself of why I started and to trust the process. Things that are worth wanting do not come easy! It’s important to use this challenge as a learning experience, and to trust yourself.

Erin Stereo – DJ, Curator, Record Collector

My best advice for someone facing a seemingly insurmountable challenge is to try and focus on what you DO want more than what you DON’T want.  Instead of saying “I don’t want to fail” try to re-frame that into “I want to succeed.”  It’s natural to think about the undesirable outcome and while that is valid (and helpful at times), your mind is a powerful thing and you will certainly end up with whatever it is you focus on, good or bad, so make it good!  And be kind to yourself if this type of thinking takes time to develop.  Don’t try to fight your negative thoughts – just recognize them, accept them and then gently redirect your focus back on to your goal.

Sabyn Blankenship – Denver Alternative Model & Artist

If you come across a situation that you feel is too big or too much to handle, DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP. Our friends and family will always be there for us and there are other resources as well to seek help. Don’t let the little negative voice inside tell you that you can’t because YOU CAN.

Brandi Miller – Freelance Runway & Commercial Model

I would say to enter the situation with an open mind and give yourself enough time to process everything before reacting. Sometimes, we second guess ourselves when we act quickly, and trying to re-correct it. Take your time when facing a challenge because everything takes time to accomplish and a challenge is major one. Stand strong and believe in yourself, without believing in yourself…. you will not get through the challenge happily! -Brandi Miller.


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