Curiouser & Curiouser


Curious OneThe Transformative Power of a Positive Mind

Written by Sam George

 

“Alice laughed. ​‘​There’s no use trying,’ she said. ‘One can’t believe impossible things.’

‘Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast,’ 

said the Queen.”

 —Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

 

If you believe in yourself, work hard, and have a little bit of luck, you can become anything you want. This tenet is at the core of the American zeitgeist, but it’s nice to be reminded from time to time that it still holds true.

Chelsea Berler, CEO of Birmingham-based boutique marketing agency Solamar and author of The Curious One, has seen her share of success. At just 30 years old, Berler has already been at the helm of Solamar for the better part of a decade, and in that time has grown it into a very profitable company that employs more than 20 people. However, it is not her success that makes Chelsea Berler such an inspirational reminder that upward mobility and true happiness are attainable, but rather that throughout the long and arduous road she had to walk to get there, Berler remained doggedly positive,and unrelentingly hard working. “I think having a positive outlook is vital to a happy life,” says Berler. “No one’s life is perfect, everyone is battling something, but it’s how you handle it that’s important. Your biggest struggles, your greatest tragedies—they can be your greatest success. To be able to look at life, face it right in the face, you need to love it. All of it. Even the not so great.”

And there was plenty of, to put it in Berler’s signature on-the-bright-side parlance, “not so great.” Raised in the tiny (that’s population-of-300 tiny!) burg of Scranton, North Dakota, Berler’s life had the deck stacked against it early. As her loving father began his sad, slow descent into alcoholism, her family fractured. Her parents divorced when she was only 6 years old, and the reduced income left the family relying on food stamps just to get by. The rest of her life is littered with misfortune as well—the eventual death of her father as he finally succumbed to his disease, the surprising and sudden death of two of her brothers in unrelated car accidents, and multiple heartbreaking divorces.

But despite all of the weight life had pressing down on her, she did not let the obstacles before her define her path. “The hardships definitely rerouted me every time,” Berler recalls, “but those hardships gave me a choice, and that’s what has made me successful. Everything is a choice. Don’t ever settle and think you don’t have other options, because you do. In everything. Notice your choices and make the best one you can make at that time. You are your choices.”

One of the choices that brought Berler to Birmingham was her decision shortly after starting Solamar to escape the confines of North Dakota, with its haunting memories and same-old environment, for the radiant shores of Destin, Florida. It was there, in a fateful chance lunch-time meeting, that Berler met her current husband, Mark. In fact, the story of how she met Mark is a microcosm of Berler’s entire existence—a little luck, a positive attitude, and tons of hard work.

Chelsea Berler

Working constantly, she never left her house. Spurred on by her concerned mother to “take a shower, shave your legs, put something cute on—and take yourself out for lunch,” she suited up and headed for a great local spot right on the Gulf of Mexico called Bud and Alley’s. The place was empty, except for one other customer eating a lonely lunch. After a few minutes of silence, Berler decided she just had to make contact with this seemingly kindred soul, went over, sat down, and asked if she could dine with him. That plucky move turned out to have been instinct at its finest, because the two are now married and full of love for each other. Luckily for Birmingham, Mark lives here, so though she kept the house in Destin, Berler now spends the majority of her time here in the Magic City.  “My favorite thing about Birmingham is you can be different and still fit in,” Berler says. “You don’t have to conform; you can be vibrant, curious, etc., and still be loved by the community. It’s also the first city that felt like home for me. Birmingham is growing and it’s so fun to see the uniqueness come out in such a colorful city.”

Now that she’s finally (sort-of) settled, Berler has decided to focus on returning the love. “I think it’s the best thing in the world to give back,” explains Berler. “Not only to my family, but to my community and to people who might be struggling.” This is why at age 30, Berler has decided to write down her life story. “I actually didn’t want to write it, she says. “It’s very personal and something I didn’t think people were interested in hearing. Then, a mentor of mine told me I need to write my story, because it would help so many people survive so many hard things in their lives. That these stories need to be public. The more I thought about it, the more I thought, ‘Well, why not! If I can just help one person, I should write it.’ So I did.”

The result is The Curious One, a charming and beautiful tale of resilience, told honestly and compassionately. For anyone who thinks life is just too hard to move forward, give The Curious One a try, and you’ll see that there is nothing so difficult it can stifle a dream. Or, as Berler puts it, “You have a voice. You have a choice. And you have the power to make a difference. Never settle. Explore and really live full out. Travel. And never, ever, ever stop learning. Oh, and love. Love like you’ve never loved before. Even if it will break your heart (or you’ll break someone else’s), just love.”

For more information on The Curious One, visit thecuriousbook.com. For more information on Chelsea Berler, visit mostlychelsea.com. For more information on Solamar Agency, visit solamaragency.com.

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