BOWLING GREEN—Julie Hood Leverenz recently retired from the health care field, working for Hannibal Regional Health Care System. Now she’s embarked on a new path—one where she plans to leverage her years of knowledge to help others.
She recently started JLev.Life, a consulting company that offers life coaching, inspirational speaking, workshops retreats and strategy sessions. In what used to be an apartment above Bowling Green Pharmacy, Leverenz has created a new space; one that is warm and welcoming.
She said her family owns the building, and when she and her husband moved back to Bowling Green in the late ’80s, they gutted the space where her office is now. The building has held numerous businesses over the years. Leverenz even remembers getting her hair done there as a child.
One look at Leverenz and you can see that retirement was only a steppingstone for her next adventure. She noted that she had so much energy and desire to help others that she started writing a book. She recently completed and published “There’s Joy in the F.O.G. Awaken!” In fact, to launch her new business and showcase her book, she is holding a ribbon cutting and book signing in the loft Friday, Oct. 16, starting at 4 p.m.
There’s a door that sits between the pharmacy and the accounting business next door—Craig Bowen CPA. One might even miss it, if it weren’t for the new food pantry Leverenz had created by the folks at The Henny Penny. She and others keep it stocked with non-perishable food items for people in need. It is just one more way Leverenz gives back to the community she cares about so much. She encourages people who are coming to her seminars to bring extra food to keep the pantry full.
“Doing for others makes one feel better,” she said.
She lived in the loft with her family after they converted it to an apartment. But after she had two children, she said, going up and down the long flight of stairs and not having a garage became just a little tiresome. The space did not go unused, she noted. Her folks, who had recently sold their business and moved to Illinois, would use the loft when they came back to town to visit. She moved her parents back to the area not too long ago.
She worked in Hannibal for 31 years as a senior leader in health care. She tried about 6 months ago, at the end of March from that career.
“I started feeling restless and called to do something more,” she said. Leverenz wanted to share her gifts and aspiration with a broader audience. Even though she loved working there, Leverenz said she needed to move on.
“And then COVID hit at the same time,” she said. Because of that, she added, her business plan had to be turned on its head.
During those intervening months, Leverenz said she had the time to conceptualize what she wanted to do with her book and the business—JLev.Live.
Her first thought was of not having a permanent space for the business, instead working remotely and traveling to clients to do motivational/inspirational speaking and executive and leadership coaching.
“I had a whole workshop series I was going to implement,” she said. “I tried to heed my own advice and not be discouraged at all.” Even with all the COVID shutdowns happening, she launched the new business in April.
And her client base started to grow. She noted that she has several leadership and coaching clients, and she finished and published her first book.
Just the week before, she said, she did her first virtual keynote speech for a national conference.
The company, she said, wasn’t about her, but it was about all the people who have inspired her over the years.
“So I invited people, who I knew and loved, and with particular expertise, to serve as gurus … and I now have 15 of them,” she said. “They are exceptional people with high levels of expertise in their areas.”
One of the people is Emily Trevathan, who has a background in economics. But, Leverenz said, Trevathan loved yoga and started a studio in Hannibal, which is where she met her.
Leverenz asked her to come to Bowling Green to teach yoga. Some of the space in the loft is dedicated to a yoga studio, although at times it can double as a conference room.
“So, every Thursday, Twisted Juniper”—the name of the studio—has class in the loft.
“And now she’s teaching a yoga teacher’s class here in Bowling Green,” she said. Even though she’s not a Zen type person, Leverenz said she could still learn a lot about life from yoga. “It is so complimentary to all the philosophies that are captured in my book.”
Leverenz is looking to help people awaken to their own potential.
“That’s really the core of what I want to be able to offer to business leaders, to individuals, and to groups,” she said. “It’s about being fearless and understanding your values.”
And now that she has the loft, she can do small retreats and workshops here in Bowling Green. In fact, she has already held one for a group out of St. Louis.
People thought her book title meant the ambiguity of the reality were facing because of COVID, Leverenz said, because it says there’s joy in the fog. But F.O.G. is actually an acronym for her values—faith, optimism and gratitude.
“I reveal that in the book,” she said. “But who knew I was going to put this out there during a year with there was a pandenic?” And it’s the perfect book for those who are feeling out of sorts and disconnected because of what they’ve gone through this year. She is constantly striving to be better and to bring others along with her.
As Leverenz wrote in her book: “We have a choice everyday to be better than the day before.”