Back in 1985, I moved from a rural town of about 2,500 people to start college at Lindenwood University, located in St. Charles, MO - a suburb of St. Louis. To me, this was the big city. I had dreams of pursuing a degree in something that combined art and fashion. Young, energetic, bright-eyed, ready to take on the world, I was soaking up every moment of my freshman year of college! Second semester, I was in a class that teamed up with one of the best local malls (Chesterfield Mall) to help produce a fashion show. It was there that I first met Kasey Bergh.
Meeting Kasey was like meeting a celebrity - she was tall, beautiful, smart and spunky. In a nutshell, I idolized her. But she was so likable and approachable that we quickly became friends. This school project involved my entire class working with Kasey, but I was so consumed by it, I could barely concentrate on my other classes. I loved selecting clothing that coordinated well together, working with the various stores to make sure they were all well represented, being a part of the choreography that is much more than anyone realizes until they are truly behind-the-scenes making it happen. The butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling that comes leading up to the actual event was just the kind of adrenaline boost that I love! Watching the seats fill up, the models prepare, and then the energy of the event as the lights go up and the music begins, made me realize that this - THIS was exactly what I had been dreaming of!
Kasey clearly saw my enthusiasm and invited me to continue working with her throughout the summer on producing additional shows. From there, a friendship started that has spanned decades - not to mention marriages, divorces, children, kidney transplants (yes, that is plural), deaths of parents and friends, and all sorts of career changes. Throughout this, one thing remained, Kasey and I have a bond that has given us the opportunity to share life's ups and downs and be there for each other every step of the way.
Her story is truly unique and she is someone who is a perfect example of a woman who has had, and will continue to have many walks of life and we are honored to share her story in "Shoes for All Walks of Life, Part X." I am thrilled to introduce to you, my dear friend and truly magnificent human being - Kasey Bergh!
THIS FEATURE – SHOES FOR ALL WALKS OF LIFE – IS ALL ABOUT MULTI-FACED WOMEN. YOU CERTAINLY EXEMPLIFY THE TITLE OF “MULTI-FACETED!” LET’S JUST START WITH THE FASHION/MODELING PART OF YOUR LIFE.
I love you’re saying multi-faceted, cause I’ve referred to myself as having multiple personalities! I do have so much fun in so many areas of life. It’s entirely too boring to just be one “me.”
But back to the beginning.
In 1983 I was super tall and super shy but the longing to be in the fashion world overtook my timidity and I tried out for a volunteer modeling group at a local mall. I was chosen and poured myself into that fun experience so much so that the organizer asked me to be her assistant after the first year. That led to 12 years of participation in the fashion and modeling world in St. Louis. Don’t laugh readers, we had a thriving industry back in the 80’s and 90’s as we were the world headquarters for several multinational companies plus a number of important department stores and shoe companies!
Kasey, during her modeling days, mid-80s
From 1984-89 I coordinated fashion shows, wrote fashion articles and did other event planning, all the while working for my dad’s surveying business on large construction sites. Talk about multi-faceted! Tall with long blonde hair and smart as a whip, I was able to cross the boundaries between the two with ease, reading blueprints and discussing the job with the construction superintendent by day and working to best promote the local mall with the mall manager by night and on the weekends.
Kasey with Eileen Ford, of the famed Ford Modeling Agency
In 1989 I was recruited to work for a long-time friend at her modeling agency, doing model development and booking, where I stayed for 6 years. I continued coordinating my fashion shows on the side, fulfilling my talent for connecting with people as well as my creativity; using clothing as my medium for expression. To this day, I still enjoy spotting a new trend or recreating an old one, combining things in my closet to create my own look. I post "What Would Kasey Wear" every Wednesday because invariably I’ve put together something fun!
TELL US ABOUT YOUR FIRST KIDNEY TRANSPLANT AND HOW THAT LED YOU TO YOUR CAREER WITH NESTLE-PURINA.
When I was 25 or so I was diagnosed with a kidney disease. In fact, I remember you and I went to see CATS a day or two after the kidney biopsy which had confirmed the diagnosis. I was in pain but I went!! And boy was that ever fun!! Made me a life-long fan, both of the musical and of you!
I went for 7 years or so with no change to my kidney function until April 18, 1995. While I hadn’t been feeling myself, I was not prepared to hear my kidneys had failed at a routine checkup. I will always remember that day because it felt like an awful sucker punch!!! And the next sucker punch came the following day when I, along with the world, experienced the Oklahoma City bombing. I was devastated beyond anything I’d ever experienced in my young life. I couldn’t breathe. I was knocked to my knees. This double whammy was terrifying!!
My sister ended up being a perfect match for me and in spite of my abject terror, we had a kidney transplant on July 14, 1995. While I had felt like a victim before the operation, after it, I felt like a warrior! I was contacted to be a volunteer spokesperson for others needing transplants and I immediately knew this operation had totally changed my life.
I quit the modeling agency with no job in sight, so I started temping. 4 days before Christmas that same year, one of the agencies I worked with called to ask if I’d want a 2-week job at Ralston Purina Company, now known as Nestle Purina PetCare. And while I had a moment of initial hesitance, I knew it had come into my life for a reason and jumped at the chance, not knowing for one second what they did.
My career at Purina ended up spanning 22 years. My first 6 as a recruiter in the HR department, in a role remarkably like the one I had at the modeling agency! And 16 directing the corporate giving of that magnificent pet food company, making a difference in the lives of people and the pets they love.
Another transplant happened in April of 2019 when my first failed, putting me into a state of disability for 3 years as I went through dialysis and then recovery. I was not prepared for the loss of identity I felt without my role and the company no longer associated with me…I felt like “I used to be…”.
DIVORCE IS ALWAYS A TOUCHY SUBJECT, BUT YOU ARE SOMEONE WHO HAS ACCEPTED YOUR FIRST MARRIAGE ENDING ABRUPTLY, YET MANAGED TO STAY FRIENDLY WITH YOUR EX-HUSBAND. YOU’VE ALSO ACKNOWLEDGED THE PAIN AND SUFFERING YOU FELT BUT USED IT TO BECOME STRONGER, MORE RESILIENT AND SEEMINLY MORE OPEN TO COMMUNICATING AND SHARING YOUR FEELINGS. THE STORY OF YOUR CHANCE MEETING WITH HENRY AND THE UNIQUE AND SPECIAL STORY THAT LED TO YOUR MARRIAGE AND SO MUCH MORE IS QUITE FASCINATING. PLEASE SHARE THAT WITH EVERYONE.
In April of 2006, I suddenly found out my marriage was over. And I fell apart. Every bit of any abandonment issue I’d ever experienced decimated me, and once again I found myself knocked to my knees unable to breathe. I let myself feel all my feelings and wallowed in victimhood, kicking and screaming all the while. Resilient to the core though, I came through better because of it and now, 15 years later, not only am I an entirely new woman, we’re great friends!
I was single for 6 years and learned a ton of lessons the Universe put in front of me and so when on June 29, 2012, I sent a text and got a wrong number, I guess I was ready for what came next. My text had reached a 23-year-old young man named Henry. He was a brilliant old-soul, interested in the Law of Attraction. I was 52, creative and a free-spirited young soul, on a spiritual journey that embraced when we fell in love at our first meeting. Was my ego involved when I feared others would see me as his mom? You bet, but I looked at it like another test from that friendly Universe, and I passed it! We both did!
We’ve had a tumultuous 9 years filled with joy and frustration and growth and fights and adventures and heartache. We’ve both worked incredibly hard on ourselves and the relationship, finding the age difference to be irrelevant, rather life conditioning and personal preferences led to most of our challenges. But our dedication to love and growth has kept us steadfast in our forward progress.
In 2019, we found out Henry was a match for me when I needed a second transplant and our bond became even stronger!
I recently had a mathematician calculate the odds of us meeting through a wrong number text, falling in love and then that Henry would be a kidney match for me. He said it was one in a billion.
TODAY, YOU HAVE CREATED ANOTHER CAREER CHAPTER FOR YOURSELF. PLEASE TELL US ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE DOING NOW.
In a phrase…I’m building lighthouses. Through coaching, writing and motivational speaking, I’m attracting women who’ve got deep yearnings to become who they’re meant to be but might be experiencing their own “I used to be”…married, healthy, a professional. The lighthouse to me embodies the power center in all of us, where self-awareness and self-love intersect. I’m inspiring women to build their own lighthouse, to ground themselves in their bedrock, to climb the stairs, eschewing old stories that kept them in a fixed mindset and illuminating their way to a growth mindset and ultimately their power center, empowering them to pursue their “what’s next” and ultimately shining their light brightly from the top of their own lighthouse.
IT’S SO FUNNY HOW LIFE TWISTS AND TURNS – I LOVE THAT YOU WERE THE FIRST PERSON WHO TOOK ME UNDER YOUR WING WHEN I WAS A WIDE-EYED 18-YEAR-OLD COLLEGE STUDENT, EAGER TO BE INVOLVED IN THE FASHION WORLD, AND THEN ROUGHLY 30 YEARS LATER, I HAD THE JOY OF HAVING YOU SHOE MODEL FOR ME WITH WALKING CRADLES. WHAT WAS THAT LIKE FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE?
Your class came to help with one of my shows through your university and your energy even at 18 was so palpable I was immediately drawn to YOU as a kindred spirit! At the time I was about 24 or 25 and the age gap was huge but neither of us cared and that started our amazing friendship! It was energizing for me to meet someone with so much verve and passion and a perfect size six foot, so when I was then able to bring you into the shoe modeling world through the modeling agency about five years later, it felt like a perfectly tied bow.
Kasey Bergh and Lisa Schmitz at a Walking Cradles photoshoot.
Little did I know that so many years later my size 10 feet, which I abhorred as a young woman, would be a perfect representation of a size needed by Walking Cradles! I was thrilled at the chance to support you and I became a life-long customer!!
I’VE SEEN YOUR SHOE CLOSET AND I KNOW IT IS INCREDIBLY EXPANSIVE AND IMPRESSIVE! PLEASE SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON WHAT SETS WALKING CRADLES SHOES APART FROM OTHER BRANDS?
Kasey's quite colorful shoe closet! (This isn't anywhere near ALL the shoes she owns!)
LOL, I love shoes, oh how I do love them. You’ll notice in this picture that I have a wide variety and this pic is really only a representative sample. Zoom in and see the red clogs? I got them in 1974. If they were shoes, I wouldn’t be able to wear them, but since they’re clogs with an open back, they still fit. I love the pink tennies with fuzzy balls. Last year I got the white over the knee boots and the Jessica Simpson bejeweled “hiking boots.” Did I mention I’m 61? The Betsy Johnsons with the polka dots and flowers are so special, I saw a friend post that she’d bought them and I was at the store within an hour to get them for myself! The tie-dyed boots were my most recent purchase because I’m such a hippie but I haven’t worn them yet, in the end finding them to maybe be a bit too much, even for me lol!
But it’s the Walking Cradles I turn to more often than not these days. The look and feel, the stylish designs of Jamie and the comfort of those pillows have saved my feet after years of wearing heels. In fact, after a recent MRI revealed evidence of osteoarthritis, I changed my diet to rid it of oxalates and lectins and started wearing WC’s in the house and the pain in my feet has vanished!
WHAT KIND OF SHOE ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
Wear shoes that don’t cause your feet to hurt!!! Rotate them so you’re always adapting your foot to different heels and flats. I promise you’ll want to be wearing heels when you’re 60 and older so take care of those feet now!
WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT THE WALKING CRADLES SHOES YOU ARE WEARING IN THESE PHOTOS?
Well, the comfort for all three pairs is exceptional!
I love the attention to detail in the Whitney. The classic loafer look becomes charming with the cutouts along the sides. These shoes are versatile for three seasons.
Kasey is wearing the Whitney black patent perfed loafer in the two photos above.
The silver Orleans are so special as a casual flat but with all that sparkle, they make an impact with any outfit. I wear them all year round, especially when I’m wearing all white, which is a favorite look.
And the Penelope sandal, well, they’ve become my go to shoe since I got them a few weeks ago! I wear them in the house and on every errand and with most of the outfits I’ve been coordinating lately. I love their comfort and incredible versatility!!
Kasey's Facebook post she shared after deciding the Penelope sandal is her new favorite!
WHAT IS A MESSAGE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH EVERYONE?
Slow down and listen to yourself. DO NOT listen to the “voice in your head.” Listen deeper. Listen to the Universe. Learn the difference. Watch for magic that appears in synchronicity. Listen to your feet. Wear Walking Cradles. Listen to your body and befriend her after years of ignoring her. Listen to your soul and hear what she yearns for. Be your own advocate. Learn about options to take the best care of yourself that you can. Change your diet. Accept the diagnosis but not the prognosis. Whatever age you are, there is still SO MUCH MORE of you to find and BE!!!! Build your lighthouse around your strongest self and find out how amazing you are and how, when you tap into that place, you’re unshakable in your new you!
Please visit my website www.kaseybergh.com to learn more about me. Get my resources page for books and resources to build your own best self and receive my bi-weekly blog! Apply to work with me! Follow me on Social Media. This has been a joy. Sending love out to all of you!
Would you like to be featured in an upcoming story? Looking ahead to 2022, we are looking for more fabulous women to feature in our "Shoes for All Walks of Life" series. To be considered, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me a little bit about your multi-faceted life and the various roles you have that make you amazing! We know you have a story to tell, and we would love to tell yours and show how Walking Cradles shoes have made a difference in your life!
Thank you for joining us to learn more about the women who wear Walking Cradles and their multi-faceted lives. We will feature a different fabulous female each month and we hope you look forward to reading their stories as much as we enjoy working with them. Although, is it really work when you love what you do so much and get to spend time with such amazing people?!
Until next time...
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