Unveiling the Journey: From Log-Rolling Champion to Empowering Women Everywhere


In the heart of Wisconsin’s forests, where the echoes of the World Lumberjack Championships resound, a story unfolds—a narrative of triumph over challenges, a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. Meet Kristine Ochu, a beacon of empowerment whose journey from log-rolling champion to internationally renowned Human Resource Executive, and now a fervent advocate for women’s empowerment, is as inspiring as it is enlightening. Through her experiences, she shares invaluable insights, fosters personal growth, and ignites the flames of courage in every soul she touches.

Can you tell us about your experience as a log-rolling champion and how it influenced your passion for new challenges and experiences?

I grew up in Hayward, Wisconsin where the World Lumberjack Championships are held. Every summer I was surrounded by champions determined to set new world records. I started log-rolling when I was 9 years old and fell in love with the sport. I spent my summers on the log-rolling dock practicing for hours every day. When I was 16 – I really wanted to win the Senior Amateur World Championship. I could beat all my competitors in practice but when it came to competition, I found myself getting nervous and not being able to perform my best. So, I read the book, “The Power of Positivity” by Norman Vincent Peale and it changed my life and I won the world championship that year!

Learning how to create a winning mindset, and learning that anything was possible, definitely created my love for new challenges and experiences.  Whenever possible, I’m the first one to sign up for a new adventure or to explore a new challenge. II believe it’s important to go outside your comfort zone and learn new things, it helps us grow and makes life interesting! 

How did your career in corporate America as an International Human Resource Executive contribute to your understanding of human potentiality and personal development?

As an HR executive, my belief that our number one asset was our employees. Even with all of our technology today, you still can’t build a business or serve the customers without employees. I worked with CEO’s that aligned with my values and beliefs to build systems to empower employees to become self-aware, to recognize their strengths and weaknesses and build paths to personal success. So personal development and training programs were always a priority in organizational development strategies. 

I also loved the business side in corporate America including marketing, sales and finance and built performance systems where each employees understood their value in the company’s success. The real-life experience of dealing with mergers and acquisitions, lay-offs, hiring, etc. really gave me an understanding of how fragile and yet how strong we can be and to respect each individual and treat them with dignity.

In the end, we are all human and are capable of incredible accomplishment. We just need to learn how to tap into our potential, and stay motivated. This is a challenge for everyone, from the employee on the front line to the CEO. We have family, health, community and spiritual needs that we have to balance into our work life and sometimes things can become very challenging. So, I was always researching the latest in psychology, neuroscience and other fields to keep that leading edge.

What motivated you to create “The Night of a Woman’s Soul—Creating Your Amazing and Adventurous Life” workshops, and how do they empower women?

I had left the corporate world to pursue my love of writing and research. I began with screenplays and expanded from there. However, in my own life I had moments where I “fell off the log” just like in my log-rolling days, but had to get back up out of the water, dry off my face and get back on the log and keep on rolling! At one time I was divorced, raising my two young daughters, working an executive job and dealing with tough family situations. It was rough but I made it through. Later on, I recognized it as my own “Night of a Woman’s Soul” and knew that the powerful tools that I used could help other women through their challenges. 

I also was passionate to bring these tools and the process towards “creating an amazing and adventurous life” to all women, regardless of economic ability or geographic location. So, I began in my small northern Wisconsin town of Hayward, Wisconsin in 2018 to teach my first workshop there. 

My main goal is to share self-empowerment tools that women can use “on the spot” to shift from stress to calm, confusion to clarity, self-doubt to confidence and fatigue to energy. I recently created my “Be UnStoppable” emergency tool-kit. These are tools that women can use every day on their own and are free. We all have those moments at any level in our careers and life where we face overwhelm or a sudden health or life challenge. You can’t always reach out to a therapist when you need one, so these tools can stop a negative cycle, slow down the cortisol and shift towards positivity, motivation and problem solving. An analogy that I use is, “if you cut your finger, you need to put a band-aid on it to help stop the bleeding. You may need to go back and analyze why you cut your finger but you need a tool to help you in that moment.” I also teach processes that go deeper into setting intentions, raising your vibrational energy, and how to address your limiting beliefs, to stay motivated and overcome obstacles. 

Could you share some insights into the various fields of knowledge you have assimilated, such as meditation, energy medicine, mindfulness, and neuroscience, and how they shape your approach to empowerment?

Sometimes people view empowerment as an overused word but its popularity exists because of its importance. The key is to learn self-empowerment tools so we can go inside and use our strength and tools.  I still believe friendship, community and professional coaching and advice is important but we need to have the tools when we can’t access those resources.  And the more we feel self-empowered the more confident we are when dealing with difficult challenges and also to create success in our lives.

The world is so busy and “noisy” with messages bombarding us all day long. Therefore, meditation and mindfulness gives us a chance to slow things down and quiet our mind, soul and bodies. It is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves and even short periods like fifteen minutes a day can be helpful. I encourage women to take two-five minute breaks to just breathe when they are going to the grocery store and pull into the parking lot. Instead of rushing into the store, to stop, close their eyes and breathe. 

I look at mindfulness as a form of meditation. It’s slowing down, and give ourselves some space to be aware. It also produces gratitude as we are able to see all the wonderful things around us. The food that we eat, the people in our lives, our bodies, our minds, our goals and dreams. Whenever we can center ourselves –we empower ourselves. 

I’ve studied energy medicine for years and use tapping and different tools to regain my energy and to keep it in balance. If we are fatigued, we can’t be at our best for ourselves or others so it’s important to have some tools to bring energy into our bodies and also to recognize when we just may need some extra rest. When we feel energized, we tend to be more confident and empowered. 

I’m a huge fan of the research and tools that neuroscientists are sharing for empowerment. To really know how to connect our conscious mind to our subconscious mind and body. I practice bringing positive memories and thoughts into my mind and then feeling them in my body. This is a way to program ourselves to shift into positive states. This is where we can use the “Law of Attraction” to live in a high vibrational state where we attract the positive things we want into our lives. The way I use teaching from neuroscience is also using the cognitive behavior theory from psychology where we learn that our thoughts create our feelings and our feelings drive our behavior. So, if we are conscious of these, we can use tools to stop a negative cycle and create a positive one that empowers us.  I teach these tools and practice them daily!

Your novel, “Campfire Confessions” draws inspiration from your own journey filled with twists and turns. Can you elaborate on how your personal experiences influenced the creation of the book?

When I teach women stress management tools, we often talk about balance. There are only moments of true balance, the rest of the time is spent adjusting to the constant changes around us. Just like driving a car, there is rarely a perfectly straight route with a smooth surface. And just like a quote from my book, “Life is messy but the best parts are in the mess. They become our cherished stories.”

I believe that one of the keys to my success is that in my late twenties, I failed with a broken marriage, financial distress, single mom and totally stressed out. At the same time, I was holding down a high-level executive position with international responsibilities. I had some special childhood best friends and three sisters who were my lifelines. I used all the self-help tools that I knew of and constantly researched more to add, and made it through to happier times. I also reached back to my log-rolling days of “never giving up!”

When I started to write the book, my passion stemmed from wanting women to know they aren’t alone. That we all make mistakes and they don’t have to define our life. There were many things that I would have done differently during my struggles and I had to learn self-compassion and forgiveness. My goal was to create relatable characters who are childhood best friends who have all messed up and have a secret they’re embarrassed to share. The twist was to put them on a canoeing trip that starts out fun but then everything goes wrong and add humor as they figure out how to survive and what they want to fight for. 

We noticed that you founded Windigo Productions and have written screenplays and a children’s book. How have these creative pursuits enriched your life, and how do they connect with your overall mission?

I really love screenwriting. I’m a visual writer. When I write—I see the scene playing out in my mind. Screenwriting led me to meet many creative friends, sent me to Los Angeles and Hollywood, CA to pitch my scripts, taught me how to be disciplined and finish what I started. It also taught me how to take criticism and become astute on what to use and what to discard. 

My children’s book, “No Pooping on the Dock! The Owl and the Looney, Whacky, Crazy and Naughty Ducks” was written for my two granddaughters and was unintentional. Being a storyteller, I made up a story about a magical owl who was willing to share his dock with a group of four ducks but he had one rule, “No Pooping on the Dock!” One by one the ducks disobeyed him and chaos ensued. My granddaughters loved the story so much that I had to write the book! This was my first venture into self-publishing. It was a great journey and I used many of the proceeds to help charities. 

My overall mission in life is to spread love, joy and compassion in the world and to share empowering tools that women can use to “Be UnStoppable” in creating their own amazing lives. So, everything I write tends to have a theme around different values and a certain amount of proceeds goes to various charities. 

Growing up in the middle of the forest in Wisconsin, how did your upbringing shape your sense of humor, love for nature, and passion for outdoor activities like hiking, kayaking, and tennis?

I grew up on a lake in the middle of the forest and was always surrounded by nature. My love for nature and animals runs deep. Hiking, kayaking and almost any outdoor activity is food for my soul. I discovered tennis a bit later in life and loved the physical aspect of running around and having to stay focused on the ball. It was a new challenge and I still love it. But put me in a kayak or canoe on the river any day and it’s like heaven to me.  I love the adventure of discovering what’s around the next bend. 

Nature provides us a gift of inspiration, joy and humor! I tend to be on the serious side, but I love laughing and being silly with friends. Being in nature puts things in balance, it gives a time out from the busyness of our lives and lets me relax, gain a new perspective and laugh at myself and situations!

You mentioned being involved in various organizations and supporting local causes. How do you believe community involvement broadens our perspectives, and why do you prioritize supporting the Humane Society and rescuing senior Golden Retrievers?

We need to always be broadening our perspectives and one of the best ways to do that is to get involved in local causes. It’s also great to be involved on a broader scale as well. I do believe in the “ripple” effect that if we send positive energy out into the world – it will carry further than just that one act of kindness. We need each other more than ever. People are hurting, with loneliness becoming an epidemic, financial stress, and a wide number of health challenges. I do enjoy helping the Humane Society and rescuing senior Golden Retrievers as I’m an avid animal lover. There is a saying when you rescue a dog, “that they rescue you right back.” My family has found that having a rescue dog brings an element of additional love into our lives. However, I do support literacy causes, cancer organizations and did a UNICEF campaign to help Ukraine refugees. 

In “Campfire Confessions,” you touch upon powerful themes such as friendship, empowerment, forgiveness, and authenticity. Can you discuss how these themes resonate with your own life experiences and why they are important to share?

We all need to feel connected to others in this world. It’s a basic human need to belong and having friends to share your life with through the good and bad is key to happiness. The research keeps getting stronger on the relationship between connection and happiness.  We can’t always rely on our partners to fulfill every need we have for belonginess. Friendship is a place to not only find support but to have love, laughter and fun!

I think every human being should feel self-empowered. To know their gifts and to let their “light” shine. I cringe when I see people hiding behind fear instead of following their dreams or not having the tools to get over their obstacles. It’s why teaching these easy and powerful tools is so important to me. I also think self-love is key to empowerment. That we need to focus more on our strengths, to take time to see how much we do each day and praise ourselves.  The more we can love ourselves—the more we can love other people. 

One hurdle that many people encounter to living the life they really want is the challenge of forgiveness. Once again, we all make mistakes and people in our lives make mistakes. Forgiveness is so powerful and healing. We need to forgive ourselves and let go of the past and move forward. I can’t speak for situations of abuse and violence as I’m not qualified to do so and I encourage those who have suffered in these situations to seek professional counseling for support.

Authenticity is so powerful! Nobody wants to be around somebody who is ingenuine. Yet, sometimes we need to find the strength to be our authentic selves. We may have societal, family and other situations and challenges to overcome to find our voice and place. But it’s always worth striving for. True authenticity to me correlates with freedom. 

As you continue to share material from your workshops and embark on the journey of creating “Campfire Confessions,” how do you envision connecting with readers, empowering women, and overcoming obstacles together?

I’m currently in the middle of experiencing a very difficult personal challenge that has impacted my life. I was in incredible pain this past summer and ended up in the hospital with Ramsey Hunt, a rare form of the shingles. It went into my cranial nervous system. It damaged my nerves and for over a month, I couldn’t walk a straight line. It has caused me to experience dizziness, a type of brain buzz every day for the last eight months. This has caused me to connect and relate to readers and my community in a different way. I am developing a better understanding of what it’s like to live with a long-term health challenge.  It has taken a lot of determination and strength to get up every morning, be grateful and positive and move forward. I am very grateful for my husband, Herbert Rush who hung in there with me and my family and friends.

Once again, I’ve found myself needing to use all the tools that I’ve learned. The gift is that I created my “Be UnStoppable” toolkit to help women shift from stress, confusion, self-doubt and fatigue towards calm, clarity, confidence and energy. These are powerful “on the spot” tools that we can use anytime-anywhere. I did weave some of these tools within my novel, “Campfire Confessions.” I love speaking at public events, fundraisers, women groups, literary events and anywhere I can to share the messages of self-love, forgiveness, letting go, authenticity and empowerment.  

I continue to connect with readers and women and men through speaking engagements but also through social media, and virtual and in-person workshops. Some of my future plans include writing the sequel to “Campfire Confessions” along with sharing my “Be UnStoppable” tools with creating a virtual community where we can come together to discuss, share and empower women to overcome their limiting beliefs and obstacles to achieve their dreams. 


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