Contributed by Andy Hoeppner
We all face struggles in life. They come in many different shapes and sizes. What is most important is not our particular struggle, or what magnitude it appears, but rather in how we face it. For SCEA member Julie Johnson, her current struggle is stage IV breast cancer.
Julie was diagnosed on March 3, 2008 and ever since has been on a roller coaster journey physically, mentally, and emotionally. Her positive outlook has never wavered,even on her worst days,and has shone more brightly on her good days.
She has effortlessly transitioned from an educator to a room full of bright-eyed five- and six year- olds into an inspiration for every person fortunate enough to come in contact with her.
Recently, she has taken her desire to spread positivity to a new level by opening an online store selling clothing with distinctively upbeat messages. Her store, opened with fellow SCEA members, Andy Hoeppner and Stan Spain, is titled “Onword Spirit” – deliberately misspelled to tie into the consistent use of the word “on…” in each of the items. Each message, whether it be “Push On..” written over a mountain made up of possible obstacles or “Love On…” with the backdrop of a heart made up of those we love, is a positive reaction to one of life’s many struggles.
Each shirt is also tied together by the words “Me, You, Us”, the people who can help to “Live On…” and spread “Peace On…”. While Julie went into this business with the idea of earning some money, she also insisted that the business give back to others. As such, 10% of all profits earned are donated to charity at the end of every quarter. In addition, Julie has learned that for those going through tough times a simple night out can mean the world. She developed the idea of giving back an additional 10% to others struggling with obstacles in their lives. Anyone who purchases an item is able to nominate someone they view as deserving of an “Onword Spirit Award” which are decided on at the end of every quarter. This fortunate recipient will receive a $50 gift certificate of their choice.
On the website’s “About Us” page, in an open letter to all visitors, Julie talks candidly about her thoughts, struggles, and challenges and her ability to use this hurdle to inspire others. While the decision to have cancer may not have been hers, how she views it and deals with it clearly is.
The website, “Onword Spirit”, can be found at www.onwordspirit.com as well as a fan page on Facebook. The latest addition to the website is a “Pony On…” logo which celebrates the pride of the Stillwater Ponies.