A Richer Understanding: Self-Help

I am inspired by people with natural talents and those that are able to turn their gifts into something they love while generating income and making a living. I have friends and co-workers with entrepreneurial desires; bakers, chefs, singers, songwriters, educators who all want to share their gift(s). All seemingly desiring that push, or leap of faith to thrust them forward.

A Richer Understanding BannerMy wife (Michelle) is a classically trained lyric soprano. Without appearing pushy (at times impossible) I often remind her of her gift and that sharing it with others would mean so much to them as well as enrich her life. The conversations typically break down after she asks how she would monetize it. Michelle is clever, she does not intend for us to problem solve and figure it out, but believes this is the best way of getting me to drop it. I prefer not to attach too much value to money, this alone provides more than a few ‘discussions’ about life concerning money and ownership. There is however an implied while pursuing your dream at the end of that statement. Build it and they will come, but avoid potential consequences of putting too much faith in an idea that does not have enough grounding in authenticity.

While I’ve singularly focused on her voice I’ve over looked more important gifts. The work she is doing and has been doing for over sixteen years. Maybe I’ve overlooked it as a (gift) because to me she has minimized the work as a something she has to do versus something she wants to do.

The work is authentic.

Box of Crayons

Health care management for early childhood behavioral health and early childhood development for child care has always represented the work she would do in her life and perhaps it became more important as she grew older. Identifying key areas of business and focusing on long term investment; in children and herself, she purchased land prior to the subprime mortgage crisis to build a center where she would be able to merge a gift and an opportunity. Once in a position to build she was unable to obtain financing largely due to the crisis and a credit crunch. Attempting to reduce cost to secure a smaller loan she shifted her approach to modular construction.


Fast forward to the present and she is set to close on funding for a large child care center while continuing to own and operate her current center. She has persevered and achieved her mission through hard work. She continued to face the same challenges with funding, purchasing an existing structure versus new construction however, enter the Self-Help Credit Union.

Youthful Exuberance

“We create and protect ownership and economic opportunity for all.”

The process, while challenging, has been incredible and the one-to-one relationship she provides to families and children was reciprocated to her.

I remain,


Brian Tramuel is a regular contributor and helms the 'A Richer Understanding' series. He lives with his wife Michelle, their children Geneva and Brian, and their Cocker Spaniel Maestro in Charlotte, NC. They, along with his two older children from a previous marriage, Davina and Aaron, provide a constant source of inspiration. Aaron lives, works and plays in Charlotte and Davina lives, works and plays in Roanoke, VA.


  1. “to me” was used as a self-reference to the self-locality of my view and to explicitly affirm the right of others to hold their own. I do write that the work Michelle is doing is authentic, meaning something she absolutely loves doing.

    To answer the question, yes “to me” it does matter. How do you measure success? A person could be successful doing a job by another’s measure and yet feel unsuccessful by their own; recall my co-workers who desire to do something different with their lives. Doing work “to me” that they have to do to support their families while desiring to do something that they want to do.

    I do agree, doing something else because they want to – they will be successful.

  2. Hello Brian,
    Even if Michelle is doing the work she feels she has to, does it really matter that much, especially when she has succeeded? If and when she is ready to do something else because she wants to, I bet she will be successful at that too.


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