Growth: Excruciatingly Extraordinary


If you’ve been following our dream for U!Shine Vienna from the beginning, then you know 2018 was a huge year for us. It was a year all about building: Working to get U!Vie (our self-dubbed nickname) founded as a legal entity, gathering a team, opening a bank account, creating a website, finding our voice on social media, and networking among a number of other exciting moments.

It was also a year of extraordinary and excruciating growth. Extraordinary because, whoa, U!Shine Vienna exists and we’ve met so many phenomenal people in Vienna, immigrants and locals alike, due to its existence. Excruciating because, as growth does, we’ve been stretched in uncomfortable, disappointing, and at times, disheartening ways. I tell you this not to kill the mood, but rather, to be transparent in how we’ve experienced the realities of founding this organization.

Non-profit building is tough stuff, and we took some serious mental health days as a result in order to preserve the progress we’ve made so far. We did a lot of journaling, talking, crying, breathing, and getting the necessary psychological aid to support us throughout 2018. There were plenty of days we wanted to throw in the towel, convinced this whole endeavor was a huge mistake. But as uncomfortable as those times were and will be, they were reminders that such growth was and continues to be so necessary.

Through struggle is how we learn the skill of resilience, the cornerstone of mental and emotional health. And we’ve often found that just when we’re feeling pretty low and tempted to curl up into the fetal position, the light flips back on and restoration follows. The messages we received and conversations we had last year about the desperate need for something like U!Shine Vienna gave us life and encouraged us to keep moving forward.

So, on we go into 2019 where the real excitement begins as all of that building we’ve been doing is going to finally start making its way to the forefront.

Our website is set to launch in January which will be closely followed by our first ever Information Night. February will see our first meditation event, our first seminar, a test run of a movie night, and a restructured version of last year’s Coffee Meetups. We’re also eager to begin posting episodes from our upcoming podcast as well as well personal stories and tips from our blog.

We are beyond excited (and a little terrified) for what 2019 will bring for U!Shine Vienna and invite you to join us on this journey of bringing mental and emotional health awareness, education, and hope to the city of Vienna, Austria.


About the Authors

Holly Kooi is co-founder of U!Shine Vienna and lives in Vienna with her husband and two kids. She is a certified Character Mentor, and her heart is with the refugee and those on the fringes of society. She's passionate about loving people well, writing, mental health, and good coffee. To connect with Holly, visit her blog or follow her on Instagram.

Michelle Terese Hrvat is cofounder of U!Shine Vienna and lives in Vienna with her husband. She is an avid baker and homebody with many passion-projects and enjoys helping her fellow human. She also has a secret love for fashion, and likes to read in her free time. To connect with Michelle, check out her blog or FB.