Melinda Van Fleet with her book, “Confidence Mastery for Couples.” CONTRIBUTED

Melinda Van Fleet is on a winning streak with the release of her book, “Confidence Mastery for Couples” on March 9. Not only that, she’s also restarting her Good Vibes personal-development meetup group in Islamorada, which was put on pause due to the pandemic.

A Tavernier resident, Van Fleet’s been a top performer as a sales rep of handbags and jewelry. She’s also a confidence-building success coach, helping many women reach their goals. Oh, and she’s a podcaster, running a show called “Confident Conversations,” as well as pitching in with her husband’s podcast series about fishing. 

To top it all off, she’s a loving mama to three adorable shi tzus. In other words, she’s pretty bad***.

Discussing her book launch, Van Fleet was asked where she gets her energy for all these accomplishments.

“I go to bed early. There’s really no secret there,” she said with a laugh. “I meditate a lot.”

But the future wasn’t always so bright for Van Fleet and her husband, Ryan. In 2009, they hit a low point during the recession. 

“I was laid off first, in January. I was a senior buyer with a large retailer in Minneapolis,” she said. “A television shopping network — a really good job. My husband was really struggling at work. He was a production control supervisor for a third-party manufacturer, for Airborne (supplements). 

“He was miserable,” she continued, elongating the word for emphasis. “One day, I was watching Oprah, thinking, ‘I can’t seem to get a job. He’s so miserable. What is he gonna do?’ On her show, this couple had both been laid off at the same time. As an intuitive person, I knew that was gonna be us. I was like I knew it, I knew it.”

Ryan was laid off in June 2009 and the couple mulled over their next move. They knew that they both wanted to leave Minnesota and live somewhere warm, with Ryan dreaming of being a sportfishing captain and Melinda curious about working in sales. Florida seemed like a good option. That Fourth of July, on a whim, the couple went on vacation to clear their heads. 

“We were like, ‘Let’s get out of here.’ We went to Mexico for the week. We packed peanut butter and jelly, anything I could smuggle over the border. We basically just prayed to the ocean gods. A couple people said to us, ‘You should just do it. Just move. You can figure it out.’ We came back and just decided to move. We put together an action plan to sell everything and move to Florida.”

Since 2009, the Van Fleets have gradually built their new life in Florida, with Melinda creating a successful sales career and personal-coaching business, and Ryan finally achieving his dream to be a sportfishing captain with Good Karma Sportfishing. But there were a few bumps along the way. Melinda remembers grumpy nights after being on the road with her sales job, when her husband asked her after she got home late, “So what’s for dinner?”

“‘Seriously?’” Van Fleet remembered thinking. “‘I just drove in traffic. What are you talking about?’ So we had to learn communication.” 

Thus, a book was born: “Confidence Mastery for Couples: Roadmap to a More Intimate Relationship.” 

“I felt called to write a book based on my experience,” she said. “We started over from scratch, from nothing. That’s really hard on a relationship. I wanted the book to be relatable. I wanted normal people to say, ‘Oh my gosh, this can help me too.’”

In the book, Van Fleet uses humorous personal anecdotes, inspiring stories and thought-provoking exercises to show how to nurture partnerships, business, love and finances. 

Liz Huddleston is the owner of Islamorada’s Miss Monroe and Wild Lily boutiques and has attended Van Fleet’s Good Vibes meetup groups. “Melinda is such a positive and inspiring person,” she said. “She’s a breath of fresh air in an increasingly negative world. She makes you feel like, if she can do it, so can you.”

Terri Lynn Murphy is an author, speaker, happiness coach and corporate trainer. She points out that “Confidence Mastery for Couples” is not just for couples. 

“There are many great lessons that can be applied to any individual that wants to grow in a positive way,” she said. 

But perhaps the proof is in the pudding. Ryan could not be happier with his relationship and his new Florida life. 

“I love my wife from the bottom of my heart,” he told us. “She really understands how to help me in situations and know when I’m struggling. I’m fortunate to know she’s there for me.”

He said that in their old life in Minnesota, he would enjoy happy hour a little too much in order to seek relief from their problems. But Melinda taught him a new tool: meditation. 

“I thought mediation was foo-foo magic,” he recalled. “But I said, ‘I’m gonna try this.’ And things started to work out for me as far as being on the water.”

So did the couple ever smooth out those hangry fights about dinner? As always, Melinda’s humor rises to the occasion. 

“The best thing ever is exit 2 in Homestead,” she said with a laugh. “There was a Chipotle, and now there’s Longhorn Steakhouse. Takeout saved our marriage.”

Find Van Fleet’s book on Amazon.com. The in-person meetings of her Good Vibes personal-development group will take place outside in the Village Square behind Trading Post on the first Thursdays of the month; the next meeting will take place Thursday, April 1, at 5:30 p.m. Look for the announcement on Melinda Van Fleet’s Facebook page. To learn more, visit thegoodkarmasuccesscoach.com.

Charlotte Twine fled her New York City corporate publishing life and happily moved to the Keys six years ago. She has written for Travel + Leisure, Allure, and Offshore magazines; Elle.com; and the Florida Keys Free Press. She loves her two elderly Pomeranians, writing stories that uplift and inspire, making children laugh, the color pink, tattoos, Johnny Cash, and her husband. Though not necessarily in that order.