How Amy Fox, a Community Philanthropist, Collected 50 Boxes of Clothes to Hurricane Sandy!

Amy Fox is a mother of two and got inspired to start giving after her daughter got really sick when she was two. After her daughter recovered, she has been an avid supporter of national and local charities. Not only is she a supporter, she always inspires others to give. Here’s her story and she’s going to give us some tips about how we can help and make a difference as an individual.

Melinda: I’d like to start by talking about Hurricane Sandy.  When I heard what you have done, that’s when I really wanted to speak with you!  You personally collected 50 boxes of coats after the hurricane and people were sponsoring your boxes to be shipped!

Amy: So I have family on the east coast, people there lost their home, clothes and belongings while it was winter. They had requested on fb just trying to collect some clothes locally.  I shared this information to my kids, they said that “We have clothes, we have coats and we have grown out of things.  Let’s send our stuff”.  We started collecting stuff and we sent some text to friends for their donations.  So we also sent out an email to our school and the response was overwhelming.  Our community really wanted to help but didn’t know how.  People gave us bags and bags of coats, hats and warm clothes for adults and children.

Melinda: What inspired you to start giving?  What inspires you now?

Amy: Originally, 11 years ago, I had a child who became critically ill. While we were in the hospital, People brought us food, they took care of our mail and our cat.  Just those simple things really warmed our hearts and made us think how we could do this for others in the future. We also got involved with the Ronald McDonald house because we had to stay there while our daughter was in the hospital.  We were so grateful that it was there.  The organization helps support families with sick children in the hospital so that the parents can be there with their children.  So when we got out of the hospital, we stayed active to help the organization, the hospital and kids on dialysis.  We also really stayed active with the Ronald McDonald house because we think that’s an organization that really just needs to be around.  Any parent can find themselves needing their services and it’s just great that they’re there for us.  What keeps us involved is that we are lucky enough to be involved with our school and congregation community that’s really big with community service.  So we get in involved with different projects.  It’s really fun and rewarding.  Every time we volunteer together with family or friends, we always end up getting something from it.  Not because we mean to but because we feel great about it.

Melinda: What is the next project?

Amy: I have 2 projects coming up, one is an annual donation for the Fleischer foundation.  We raise money to provide CPR training in school. They fund a program through the American Heart Association called CPR anytime.  Each kid gets a recessitation kit, learn CPR and they go out and train 3 other people.  We also put defibrillators in schools.  Automated external defibrillators are key when some body’s heart stops and sometimes you need to shock that heart back in.  The shock is needed within 5 minutes of a heart stopping or the person can die.  We had a few young adults who passed away for that reason.  And so, this is saving lives.  The other project coming on is for kids who are going through dialysis.  There is only 1 dialysis center for children here in the OC.  Kids are spending 3 hours a day getting their blood cleaned.  We support them with their child life coordinator by providing movies, personal dvd players and video games.  My daughter is going to teach the kids origami and make crafts with duct tape.  Giving them things they can do while doing dialysis.  It’s a hard life being in dialysis, they can’t swim, play sports because they have tubes coming in and out of the bodies.

Melinda: You are showing people how you can make a difference by taking action and not just about donating money.  That’s incredible.

Amy: There are websites you can visit to give you ideas.  Just find things you are passionate about and jump in and find ways to help.  I know a little girl who walks dogs and donates the money she makes to animal shelters.  Or she buys them gift cards so they can buy food for the animals.  My younger daughter loves animals, and so, for her birthday one year, she collected gift cards for her local animal rescue.    This year we just recued a cat from the rescue.  She noticed that the cat didn’t have enough toys so she wants to collect dog and cat toys for the rescue.  So you can turn things that you love and help that way.

Melinda: If you were to write a book, what would it be about?

Amy: I would love to write a book about inspiring your kids to just be good people.  How to do simple things to make a difference and change the world.  They can change the world by helping people in need.   Just being a kind person.  If you don’t have the money to give, there’s always time.

Melinda: You and your family are amazing not only because you give but you inspire others to give.  It’s contagious and it’s inspiring.

Baking Her Way to Sanity – Story of Linda Bertch: Widow with 4 kids, Ex-Teacher and now F/T Baker.

Linda Bertch, widowed mother of four, teacher by trade but has turned her passion for baking into a business. But what’s more incredible about her is her story of perseverence and how she used baking to save her sanity.

How did you get started?

Linda: As a mom of 4 kids, I would bake for all their birthday parties.  Then my friends would see it and would want me to do theirs.  Even though I enjoyed doing this for other people, I started to really enjoy and it turned into a passion and a calling.  I prayed to God to please use my cookies and cupcakes to bless others.  Even though I wouldn’t know how.  I had faith that He was going to do something amazing.  I made a batch of pink ribbon cookies for a friend running for the Susan G Komen race and sold all the cookies for $200.  That’s when I knew that could turn into a business.  That’s also when I started baking for cancer patients.  I knew that was part of my calling.

Melinda: So that is really a labor of love, you are just giving!  I love that.  Last year, I heard about your husband who passed away unexpectedly, with 4 children, how are you handling it all?

Linda: Yeah, I get asked that quite a lot.  I just do what I can with what I have.  I take it day by day.  The day that my husband passed away, God told me that I would be okay. He provided the community with all the support.  The City of Irvine, church and even my clients all really came together and supported me with what they could!

Melinda: That’s so great to hear that!  Especially in Orange County, sometimes we feel there’s a lack of community.  We don’t always know our neighbors and people close their garage doors right after they get home.  There’s a certain feel of coldness.  Great that the community came together for you!

What are your hopes for the future?

Linda: I still hope to continue the baking and hope to open a bakery and hire disabled adults to help work.

Melinda: I think that would be really special!

So with everything you have gone through, if you were to write a book, what would it be about?

Linda: I think it would be about how God can use any ordinary person to do great things. And by just having one passion, it can lead you to so many journeys that can help you.  Baking has been the best therapy with dealing with the grief and loss, I also use baking as a positive energy to bless other people.

Melinda: So not only is it helping you, but it’s helping others.  It’s the saving grace of your life.  This is definitely more than a passion.  It’s very intertwined with your life, you are absolutely amazing!

Thank you so much for watching, we’ll see you next time!

#FitnessTuesday: Diet vs. Exercise. Where Should You Start?

Feature Guest Blog:  #FitnessTuesday with Andrea Galbreath!

Diet vs Exercise: Where should you start?

I get approached by many people telling me they want to lose weight.  Interestingly enough, that statement is often followed by this question:  “Should I start with diet or exercise?”

Well, here is my take on this.  It’s kind of like the chicken and the egg debate.  Does it really matter which one is first? Not really, because you can’t have one without the other.  The same goes for diet and exercise.  It doesn’t matter where you start as long as you start! But in order to have real and long-lasting results, you need diet AND exercise.

Here are a couple of (almost) real life examples:

  1. We all know somebody that has lost 20, 30, 40 or more pounds with just diet alone.  Sure, that person has gone down a few dress sizes, but they look kind of soft and squishy and get out of breath just walking up a flight of stairs.
  2. What about that friend who is at the gym everyday sweating it out with the best of them?  She meets you for lunch, orders a cheeseburger, french fries, and a diet coke, then complains that she can’t fit into her pre-pregnancy jeans. Hmmmmm. Wonder why….

So what’s the take-away? First, don’t wait for the stars to align before you take control of your health. Start now!!!  Maybe you want to focus on your eating habits.  That’s great! Maybe you want to start by establishing an exercise routine that you can maintain.  Fabulous!  Just start and remember that in order to feel the full benefits of these changes you will have to include both diet AND exercise.  You won’t be sorry that you do!

Have a healthy day!


Connect with Andrea!

Mom of 3 amazing kids, health and fitness professional, Turbo Kick junkie, and Transformation Specialist helping people transform into better versions of themselves!




Tien Vares Talks About Fear, Challenges and How She Overcame Them!

Tien Vares Talks About Fear, Challenges and How She Overcame Them!


Behind the scenes:  We’re talking about feelings

Melinda: When you were about to tell your family about opening a gym, how did you feel?

Tien: I felt nervous, I guess I felt nervous for myself.  Can I really do this?  This is off the charts and is it really possible for me to do this?

If you put your mindset to it, it’s possible.

Melinda: How did your family feel about your decision?

Tien: My husband was really excited and thought it was a great idea.  He knew that I was having all the struggles while working at the other gym.  He also knew what I wanted to do on my own.

Melinda: What kind of challenges did you face?

Tien: The transition of leaving one gym and opening up another.  It seems like it was a great idea at first. And then there’s insurance, lawyers, operating agreements, business operations. Finding a location was harder than we thought.

We also had to bring in another partner and give up a part of the company.  Now I wouldn’t know what we would do without the third partner.  He’s a lawyer so it made sense.  He saw a potential in Crossfit and was more than willing to be a part of it. I’m really grateful for bringing him on board.

Melinda: How is it all feeling at this moment?

Tien: It’s feeling great, I’m starting to figure out my schedule.  At first, it was really hard because I was at the gym a lot and not enough time at home or with the kids.  I’m trying to get that balance now. That’s why it’s key to have partners.  It gives you flexibility.  I think my advice for a working mom is to have great partners.

But there are stories where partnerships go awry, so the advice is to find a really good partner!

Melinda: How are you balancing everything?

Tien: It’s been challenging but it really helps to have a great husband. He cooks, cleans and does the laundry.  And he really understands.  But if I did have to cook, I would find ways.  That’s one of the biggest challenges is to have the help at home.

Melinda:  Definitely agree!  Having support at home is very important…

So how much weight are you lifting in your picture!

At the time, that was 65 lbs.  But now, I can do about 125 lbs. for 1 rep max.  The goal with Crossfit is to get stronger.  That’s my goal, it’s just to get stronger.  It’s not about how I look, it’s more about performance.  It’s performance based training.

Melinda:  Finding the right fitness program that fits your lifestyle and personality is very important!

How Does She Do It All? Tien Vares, Mother of 2, Owner of CrossFit Vibe and Ambassador for Lululemon Newport Beach!

Find Out How this Mother of 2 and Owner of a CrossFit Gym do it all!

Melinda: Congratulations on being an ambassador for Lululemon.  How did you become an ambassador for Lululemon?

Tien: I started a relationship with the Newport Beach store, invited them to the gym and did events with them.  I applied for it on line and all the employees in the store vote.  They pick 5-6 per year.

Melinda: What’s the difference between Crossfit and other fitness platforms out there?

Tien: One biggest difference is that everybody’s accountable.  Everybody goes to the gym, it becomes a community and it’s more intimate. Everything is measured and timed so you see progress.  You repeat workouts from  3 months ago and be able to visibly see improvement and progress.  It’s high performance, intense, short workouts and measured,  4-20 minutes.  You go in the gym, warm out, and you work out.  Very time efficient.

Melinda: What got you started in Crossfit?

Tien: I’ve always been an avid runner.  I had a girlfriend one day who suggested Crossfit to me. She suggested for me to be a personal trainer.  I started looking into it.  I was looking around to see what type of personal trainer I’d like to be.  Since my girlfriend started doing Crossfit, I checked it out and I like the philosophy. So I just signed up for the certification.  After the first day, I was so sore for a week and fell in love with it.

Melinda: So the key here is that you decided to get certified even though you’ve never done Crossfit before.  It’s like applying for college without looking at the college!  Good thing you love it.

Tien: Just like any other profession, it’s a crowded space.  I wanted to do something unique that’s not too popular just yet.

Melinda: How did you go from certified to owning your own gym.  I know it’s a long process, what were your key moments that sprung you forward?

Tien: One thing is definitely the start of it. I got certified, but I still had a lot of learning. I found a gym that offered a 16 week internship program.  Twice a week I would go in, clean the gym, workout and  shadow all the trainers there.  That’s where I paid my dues!  That’s where I got my education.  It was worth it to have that type of education being surrounded by mentors and trainers.

Then, I create my own Bootcamp at the park.  I started to bring my clients in the Crossfit gym and slowly built my clients from there.  There’s where I decided to branch out and do my own thing.  I felt that my philosophy was a bit different than the one I worked for.  I wanted to cater to women and moms because they usually get intimidated by Crossfit.  I wanted them to feel comfortable and not be scared or intimidated.  Because most gyms are dominated by males, it was really scary for women to work out there.

I met my partner at a Crossfit gym, we did a stair climbing event together in LA, that’s where we bonded and realized we both wanted to open up a gym.  So that was it.

My partner Jeff was willing to try different things and that’s what I wanted in a partner.

Melinda: What is your vision for you and the gym?

Tien: I just want a place where people can come in and try to see what Crossfit is all about.  I wanted women to try it feeling comfortable.  I’ve come to realize that Crossfit is not for everybody.  And that’s okay.  But as long as everyone comes and gives it a try, I’d love that. I found that if you have a competitive side to you, you’d really like it.

Melinda: So with everything you’ve gone through, if you were to write a book, what would you write about?

Tien: I think my book would be about being a mom and being able to balance everything,  I’ve always worked, I put myself through school, I have 2 children and I have a very active social life.  Having a really well balanced life is important.  I’d want an encouraging book for women who are stuck and inspire them to go out there, try new things and meet new people.

Melinda: You wouldn’t know that you wanted to do this even 5 years ago.  Your degree in college wasn’t in fitness so I think the people do find new passions all the time.

Tien: Life is not over just because you are a mom!

Melinda: Yes!  Being able to do extraordinary things with kids is what inspires me.  So Thank You!

Becky Lew and her Journey from Passion into Professional Photography

Becky Lew is a busy mom of 2 and a successful photographer with photos I believe should be featured with Anthropology!  Just throwing it out there…

She is a beautiful person inside and out and even though I haven’t seen her in years, her warmth and smile made me feel so comfortable like I’m seeing an old friend.  Perhaps that’s her gift as a photographer, she has the ability to bring families, couples and kids to trust her so they reveal their deepest emotions which is brought forward by her photos.

I’m really lucky to get a chance to sit and chat with her yesterday about photography, life and motherhood.

Melinda: When did you start taking interest in photography?

Becky: It’s so funny because when you don’t have the right equipment, you just will not be satisfied with what your work.  When I took pictures of my kids or other people’s weddings, I realized the photographs never came out the way I had envisioned it.  I got a really good camera from a friend,  it took a really nice picture and I fell in love to it.   So when the pictures came out and I saw what I wanted to see, that was how it first started for me.  And ever since then, I haven’t been able to put my camera down.

Melinda:  Have you always taken interest in the beauty of things or places?  Was the camera just a tool for you to let your vision out?  Have you always had those visions?

Becky:  I’m one of those people who treasure moments.  Like “ohh I love this coffee and I’m treasuring it”.  I’ve always wanted to capture a moment.  For example, moments like your kid’s first step or when you’re going on a date or when you have yummy food.  I just want to capture those moments.  I always remembered my parents taking pictures all the time and the pictures don’t reflect necessarily what was going on.  It doesn’t bring me back to that feeling.  I’ve also wanted to capture a moment with the emotions behind it.

Melinda: So at what point did you decide to take the risk and start Becky Lew photography?  Since this was a passion, it could have easily stayed as a hobby.

Becky:  So, the funny thing is that I’ve never visualized myself to be a photographer.  Literally for the first year, I was charging people for my photography but I still couldn’t tell people that I was a photographer. I cringed because I would go into sessions and have no idea what I was doing.  I was nervous, scared, didn’t know if I could do it.  How do I interact with these clients?  Am I worthy?  Are these pictures going turn out the way I want them to?  And it’s really something that I journeyed through that year discovering if it was something I could do.  So, after a year, with a lot of cheerleaders and good friends, I finally decided that this is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.  So it was definitely a journey.  I didn’t just wake up one day and decided I was going to do Becky Lew photography.  That wasn’t my goal, it was something I hoped for and just to have the confidence to call myself a photographer.

Something else that I also learned is that you really have to know your equipment.  You have to be connected with your purpose and style.

Melinda:  A lot of moms too have to go through that journey to get rid of self doubt and naysayers in order to decide that this is what they want to do.


So, here’s some advice I would give moms who’s trying to also be a photographer:

  1. Learn the equipment
  2. What inspires you?  Babies, people?  For me, I am in love with people and telling their stories.  That’s what inspires me!
  3. Just keep doing it and don’t quit.

Melinda: What challenges have you faced?

Becky: I would be up until 2 in the morning learning Photoshop.  I would be pouring over images after images.  I would compare myself to others.  One of the best advice I have is to stop comparing yourself.  I know it’s hard because I still do it myself.  You are comparing yourself with other’s perfect pictures and it just squashes with your creativity.  Believe in who you are and what you’re called to do.

It’s not about how many people’s following you on Social Media.  It’s about your journey and discovering what you are supposed to do.  We are so concerned with what others are doing that we aren’t focusing on what we’re called to do.

Melinda: What has been the most rewarding thing for you?

Becky: One of the most rewarding things is to be able to connect with people and hear their stories.  I love it when a couple comes to me and I hear their story and how they fell in love and being able to capture that on their special day.  Creating something that they can look at when they are fighting or when they’re old.  It’s one of the greatest gift is to capture those moments they can’t get back.  Being able to savor the moments when they are vulnerable with me laughing and crying.  They open themselves up to let me capture who they really are.  I want to be able to share with them of what beauty I see within them.

Melinda:  So what does your kids think about you and your work?

Becky:  When I first started, they were really excited that I have a website!  They are so proud of me for being able to take their photos and they really like it.  They saw it unfold since it wasn’t like I’ve always wanted to be a photographer.  So they see that mommy loves to do something and then now I’m doing it.  And now that they see that their dreams are possible and that they can do it too!

I have amazing friends who walked through the journey with me when I cried and doubted my photos and when I thought there was no way I could do this.  I think the biggest thing is my family, the sacrifices my husband has had to make.  He’s been my rock, he stayed up with me until 2 or 3 in the morning while I was trying to figure things out.  He was sitting next to me but it just takes that person to sit next to you supporting you.

Melinda:  So inspired!  And I hope everyone else is too!  Don’t try to do this by yourself!

Becky:  And there’s going to be naysayers, you’re going to have people who will question and make comments about what you’re trying to do.  If you are called to do something, just do it.  Do it with everything you have, pour everything into it.  Just do it.

Melinda:  I have posted some of your photos on  You have to check out her photos because your photos should be on anthropology

Becky:  There’s beauty in everyday.  You wake up and you think what is today going to bring.  You need to go out and find the beauty.  Be able to capture something that someone may not see about themselves.

Melinda:  Thank you so much for being here.  She doesn’t do much video so this is definitely a treat!

Interview With Meg Collins, Founder of Lucie’s List

Lucie’s List just reached over 28,000 Subscribers!  Lucie’s List is a survival guide to new moms.  This is an exclusive interview with Meg Collins, Founder of Lucie’s List. Learn how she did it and get her advice on what you MUST do in order to succeed in the the world of mommy blogging.

Melinda: Do you need to be a writer before starting a blog?  Please tell us a bit about your background and Lucie’s List.

Meg: Absolutely not, I’m an industrial engineer and then I got my MBA.  I’ve had many different lives!  I went to Georgia Tech where you don’t really take many writing classes.  It helps to be able to put sentences together and to tell a good story.  I’m a terrible writer, I just write in a very informal tone.  I think that if you can relate to people, you can make it informal.  You’re not writing a thesis.  Good editing is the key.

I started doing Lucie’s List for fun!  Back then, I was broke and gearing for my first baby, I did everything badly!  I formed a mommy group, I copied down all the best practices and started writing about it.  Anyone can do it.  Even engineers!

Melinda: What is your long term vision?

Meg: Lucie’s List is bigger than I could have ever hopped for.  We have built such a great community for women.  I want Lucie’s List to be a resource for new moms who have no idea what they’re doing.  Moms have a great sense of humor and want to get the low down on information.  I talk a lot about maternal health, taking care of yourself emotionally and physically.  Being able to hold someone’s hand through that difficult period is really important.  A lot of us don’t live near our family or friends, so to be able to provide comfort and confidence to new moms, it’s a really great gift.  Secondly, I’m really getting into publishing!  I published a non-fiction book recently.  I learned a lot and would like to enable others to publish as well. I think everybody has a story to tell and everybody is relevant and resourceful through their own experience.

Melinda: What’s your advice for moms who want to start blogging?

Meg: Know what your goal is for the blog.  What are you trying to accomplish?  Some people like to blog just to share as a memoir.  If that’s your purpose, then you can do that tomorrow and sign up for WordPress.  But if you want to syndicate, you really have to look inside yourself and decide what you have to offer.  It’s actually very difficult to make money as a blogger.  You have to figure out your goal and your runway.  If you’re not making money, a lot of people quit.  It’s tough, not easy at all.  In fact, you loose money!

Melinda: What are the 3 MUST DO’s to succeed:


1. Figure out your goal

2. Define the audience you’re trying to reach.  There are all kinds of forums and websites where you can find your audience.  If you don’t know, it’s an uphill battle.   You need to define the people you’re trying to reach in order to speak to them directly.

3. Be patient, it really takes a long time to see any results.  This guy Bill Belew was showing graphs at the last blog conference and demonstrated that it actually takes 8-9 months to show traction.  So if you have stopped at month 7, you never would have known what could have happened.

*For bloggers, you have to blog consistently (or you’ll never see that vertical of traction), frequently and be persistent.  Don’t give up or you’ll never see the vertical piece of the curve

Melinda: I see bloggers who blog about minutiae… yet they are so popular.  Why is that?

Meg: That doesn’t happen very often, you have to be very funny like the Bloggess.  Or have a brand behind you and have followers already.  You have to make sure people care about what you have to say.

Me:  Thank you Meg for your honesty!  Again, we are so proud of you!  If you’d like to connect with her, feel free to place a comment or question below!

Meg: Can I add something?

Everybody has a story to tell.  If it’s writing a book, I think the market is wide open using the tools that are available right now.  If women want to make income, they can become an expert and talk about it.  It’s an open field right now!

3 Ways to Start Investing In Yourself


Imagine yourself 5 years from now, are you going to be satisfied with your life exactly the way it is right now?  Taking time out to invest in yourself is GOOD for you and your family! Here are 3 ways to help you get started in taking action towards living the life you’ll love.

  1. STOP the Guilt: Rekindle with your passion and indulge in things you LOVE to do!  The trick to NOT feeling guilty is your mindset!  Once you realize that taking time out to do the things you love will in turn make you a more patient mother and attentive wife.  Haven’t you heard of the phrase “Happy Wife, Happy Life”?
  2. Take Baby Steps:  What is one little thing can you do TODAY that will bring you closer      to the life you want to live.  Do one LITTLE thing per day and before long, look back and you’ll see HUGE progress.
  3. Talk More:  Make sure you are constantly talking about the things you are doing with friends and family!  If it’s something you love, you’ll have no problems talking about it!  Getting support and validation will encourage you to continue!

The key is to make progress!  Here’s a thought…  Progress leads to Growth which leads to Happiness!




Andrea Galbreath on how YOU can Transform Yourself to a Happier New You

Have you subscribed to my YouTube Channel yet? If you haven’t subscribed to my YouTube Channel Click HERE! We will continue to feature regular moms who is doing amazing things! Stay tuned!

We have a special treat for you!  I am personally introducing you all to Andrea Galbreath who has giving you fitness tips and advice every Tuesday here on Aspirely!

Please tell us your story.

I am a transformation specialist because I transformed myself from someone who was very unhappy and unhealthy to someone who’s very happy and now the healthiest in my life.

I was 200 pounds, size 18 and on high blood pressure medicine.  I just knew I needed to change.  So now I feel great and fabulously happy!

What was your final straw that inspired you to take action?

I was around 31, my blood pressure creeping up, didn’t feel good about myself, didn’t like the way I looked, I felt tired all the time and emotionally, I felt like something was missing.  I didn’t know what it was that I wanted by I knew what I didn’t want.  And I didn’t want to feel like that.  So I decided to fix it.  I started by exercising and eating right.

What are you vision for IGIG Wellness?

My passion and goal is to get people healthy.  Everybody can create their own healthy lifestyle that fits and real.  I am a busy mom of 3, I am the care taker for my elderly grandfather, my nephew lives with me and my husband.  I know that it’s hard to make time.  But that is essential.  Now that I am healthy and happy, I’m more present with my kids and family.  I can now really make a difference with them.  That is the best thing I ever did for my family was to get myself healthy.

What is the key element to transformation success?

Other than commitment, I’d say for a women or mother, it would be to not feel guilty for taking time out of the day to exercise.  For me, I took one hour per day of concentrated effort of getting myself healthy.  It was tough to tell my friends that I’m going to exercise instead of lunching with them.  That was really tough, but my true friends understood and they were supportive.


Have you subscribed to my YouTube Channel yet? If you haven’t subscribed to my YouTube Channel Click HERE!  We will continue to feature regular moms who is doing amazing things!  Stay tuned!