A year and a half ago I lead a completely normal life and I always knew I wanted to impact the world in a positive way, I assumed it would be through performing arts. I had hopes and dreams of becoming a professional actress because I had grown up a theater kid and that was always where my passion had been. I couldn’t picture myself growing up and doing anything else. Then on October 8th 2013 everything changed. It was 6pm on a Tuesday and I was driving my little brother home from the park when we were hit by a drunk driver and sadly my little brother passed away. Bailey was almost six but he was wise beyond his years and had told us he was going to heaven before we were multiple times before the accident. He loved life and was very strong in his faith; he even sang at our church with my dad and did the sign language to the song he had learned in preschool. He was fearless.

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The accident left our family at a fork in the road where we could choose to live in sadness and anger about what had happened or we could live life to the fullest and try to find reasons to smile every day like Bailey would have wanted. Can you guess which path we took? You got it, positivity! With my Mom leading the charge we slowly put the pieces of our lives back together, learning to deal with our new family rhythm as we went along. My sister and I became closer than ever before and things started to look up, and then I found Natural Life and things truly took a turn and were awesome!

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I had gone through theater auditions but my body was nowhere near the functionality of what it needed to be and I wasn’t ready to leave my family, so I ended up getting a great job working for a children’s toy store and ice cream shop downtown by the lake where I live. It was at that toy store that I found a catalog Natural Life had sent to us and as I flipped through it, I was filled with so much excitement and happiness. I loved the positive messages  felt so connected to this company just from looking through a catalog. My first order consisted of car coasters, a car magnet, and car air fresheners. Although it sounds crazy, these were some of the most influential products I ever purchased. Being in a car after the accident was so hard for me, and driving was even worse, but shortly after I received my Natural Life products and started decorating my car I started to like being in it a little more every day.

I became a huge fan of Natural Life and was constantly checking their social media outlets and reading anything I could to learn more about the company and all of the amazing things it does to help people! I knew last fall that I wanted to work for them someday and that this would be my way to help people in a fun and positive way! All of the sentiments really resonated with me and helped me deal with the loss of my brother. I wanted to help people find products to enhance their own lives as well. I started doing research on Jacksonville, Florida and the cost of living and still wasn’t quite sure how I would get there but I knew that if it was meant to be, it would happen.

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Christmas came and I did a large amount of my shopping on the Natural Life website. Most of my family members got all kinds of cute sentiments and I got my Grandma a mug that came in a cute wooden box. The mug really resonated with my grandmother and when she opened it on Christmas eve she was so excited! Christmas morning she was drinking coffee and while we were playing cards my sister accidentally knocked it off the table and it broke all over the floor. I looked online and couldn’t find it on the website anymore and figured it was probably discontinued.  Then, my mom emailed Natural Life and one of their amazing employees, Kristin, found one last mug in the warehouse and sent it to us. During their emails my mom had mentioned my love for Natural Life and how I so wanted to be a part of it and through that email she was told they were opening a partner store in Nashville, TN! I have family there, so I was ecstatic and quickly put together a resume, letter of intent and some pictures of my crafts and Natural Life products. Through the help of Patti Hughes and some sort of miracle I ended up getting an interview at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville and was hired on the spot at my interview!

I moved to Nashville two weeks later and anxiously awaited the store opening, doing as much research as I could on the company and getting super pumped to teach people about all of the wonderful things Natural Life does for their community and others. Well, the day finally came and when the Natural Life team was arriving and I met Lisa, Alisha, and Alexis. I was so nervous and excited I could barely talk. The process of putting together the store and decorating was exhilarating. Every time one of the Natural Life girls talked about the Jacksonville store I was enthralled, I wanted the store here to have the same magic and positivity!

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We opened on Wednesday May 13th and we had a marvelous opening day! So many happy customers who were eager to learn more about this company! But the thing is, this isn’t just a company, it is a way of life and it is magical. Everyone out there is struggling with something or has something to worry about, but Natural Life helps them remember that life is about learning to dance in the rain and embrace ourselves and all that we have been through and come out of the tunnel smiling! When I think about how amazing it is to be a part of a company that is also a movement for happiness and giving, I can’t help but smile! Life is so amazing when we are content and excited about what we are doing, and I am so excited about this store and what it is going to do for this community and everyone traveling through! Come visit me at the new Natural Life partner store in the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and experience the magic of Natural Life for yourself!

Live, Love, Have Faith!

Madison McCollum

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