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Start Your Business Success Stories

How My Near-Death Experiences Taught Me to Chase My Dreams

How My Near-Death Experiences Taught Me to Chase My Dreams Credit: Nickell Beach

My childhood was contrary to most. I was lucky enough to have a pilot as a father who would spoil me with weekend trips that, for some, take a lifetime to experience. Those moments traveling with my dad were some of the greatest, and I wished they'd last forever. But at age 18, my father died in a plane crash. 

Looking back, traveling wasn't just a vacation but a bonding experience that I would come to cherish forever – sparking my passion and desire to involve myself in the travel industry. Losing my father was one of the most difficult experiences in my life, but it gave me the inspiration to persevere and eventually open my own travel agency, Expedia CruiseShipCenters.

After years of working a steady job with great pay and stability, I was ready to take a risk and act on my urge for adventure. Exploring the travel industry, my mother and I soon learned about Expedia CruiseShipCenters; and in December of 2016, we flew to their headquarters to learn more about the franchise opportunity – and we were sold.

Just when I thought things were finally heading in the right direction, a curveball halted our journey. My mother became extremely ill only 10 days after getting back from Vancouver. With a serious kidney infection and in intensive care, I thought I would have to chase this dream without her or put it on hold because I needed to take care of her. But despite the setback, my mother recovered; and I was able to sign with Expedia CruiseShipCenters. That is until we were thrown a second curveball.

After my mother's tough recovery, I was diagnosed with a serious and rare hernia infection that the doctors had not seen in their 25 years of practice. Having hours to live unless treated, the unknown started to sink in, including my fear of not achieving my dream of entrepreneurship. By some miracle I survived, but it left me bedside for months. It was during this time I could reflect on my life and all the "what ifs," but I made a promise to myself to fully commit to pursuing this dream. As soon as I was cleared by the doctors, there was no looking back. Now was my time to turn my dream into a reality.

After I recovered, I put all my energy into my business. The store is a second home to me, and I spend most of my time there. I've fully engrained myself in the entrepreneurial experience by participating in all day-to-day activities, including some of the not-so-fun activities such as cleaning the bathrooms. I've put my blood, sweat and tears into this business, and it's these experiences that allow me to appreciate how far I've come.

Now that my business has opened and is doing well, I want my children to have some of the cherished experiences that I had growing up with my father. Recently, I've started participating in a volunteer program where I take my children on a service project trip to Mexico to help local schools. My children not only get a taste of traveling but are making an impact and learning lessons for the future.

My near-death experience and family hardships taught me important life lessons. I've learned your time isn't always promised, so make the most of it and act on your dreams. Let this be a lesson: Spend the time with your family, pursue your passions and do what you love – no matter how crazy it may sound.

About the author: Nickell Beach is the franchise owner of Expedia CruiseShipCenters in Lehi, Utah and plans to open more locations across the state. Embarking on her journey to entrepreneurship and embracing her passion, Beach sought out jobs in the travel industry, keeping her love for travel afloat. She has not only chased her dream but has given her children the opportunity to travel. Expedia CruiseShipCenters offers cruise vacations and much more through its 235 locations across North America.

Edited for brevity and clarity by Sammi Caramela.

Sammi Caramela

Sammi Caramela is a recent graduate of Rowan University, where she majored in writing arts and minored in journalism. She currently works as a Purch B2B staff writer while working on her first novel in her free time. Reach her by email, or check out her blog at sammisays.org.