From foster care to self-care: An inside look at what it is like growing up in the system

As many of you know, I grew up in foster care. (Want to hear my story? Listen here.)

It is National Foster Care Month.

Today, I am reflecting on all the things growing up in the system has taught me when it comes to self-care. At the age of 13, I lived in and out of foster homes until I aged out of the system at 18. It literally transformed my life. Sure there were plenty of highs and lows along the way, but the years that followed once I was taken away from my mom left an imprint on my life like no other.

Something that I have learned from my years growing up in foster care is just how vital it is to take care of ourselves. When we prioritize our self-care, when we believe in our worth, and when we believe we are deserving of the life we want for ourselves, so much is possible. My experience in foster care has shaped the work I do with people now- and if there is any one thing I can help inspire you today my friend, it is that you are so worthy of your own care too.

To celebrate National Foster Care Month, I invited a dear friend of mine named Brandon Johnson to come on First + Foremost to share his story. Brandon talks about his experience growing up in the system and overcoming a childhood filled with drugs, gangs and violence. He is a warrior, my friends! He has seen more than many people will in their entire lifetime and today he shares his journey of thriving and making a beautiful life for himself after all he has been through. Be sure to give episode 42 a listen!

5 Boundaries to Set in Your Business Right now!

Oh, boundaries.

One of my absolute favorite words.

Truly, boundaries are a game changer in life. The purpose of a boundary is always, always, always to create structure around what you are wanting and needing. It is you declaring and making a commitment to yourself about how you will protect your space. We can set boundaries with the people in our lives, with our habits and routines, and with our work.

It’s Time to talk ABOUT why it is essential to have Business Boundaries.

From the outside looking in, many people who do not own their own businesses tend to think business owners can do what they want when they want. And maybe that is true for some business owners, but for me personally, I have had certain boundaries I have tried to stick to so that momentum in my business is never lost. So that I myself have structure and routine. So that my clients know what to expect from me. Boundaries serve a vital role in keeping everything behind the scenes running. So while I would love to go out and meet a friend for coffee every morning of the week, I would not be a very savvy, nor productive, business owner if I did so!

Here are my top 5 business boundaries that I personally have tried to stick to before I made the decision to go on an extended maternity leave. I recommend coming up with your own list to help maintain a rhythm within your business!

Set these 5 boundaries in your business right now:

  1. Set hours

    I typically have worked from 10-3. I try to be clear about the specific days that I work. When you own a business, start here. When do you want to start your day? End your day? What days do you want and need to work? What days will you honor as time off? Honor this schedule and don’t be afraid to come back around to it as life changes. It’s okay (and encouraged!) to switch things up! The idea is to establish the boundary for you. When are you turning work ON/OFF?

  2. Set days to batch work

    A lot of my boss lady clients are usually intrigued and a bit surprised by my process for getting work done (something that I am happy and eager to share exclusively with them!). In a nutshell, we must have a rhythm and flow for how and when we are getting work done. An example might look something like this: Mondays are for programs, Tuesdays and Thursdays are for client calls, Wednesdays are for podcasting, and Fridays are for networking. You designate the type of work you do for various days. This helps your brain create focus when you start your day. You can then easily say NO to miscellaneous work that falls outside this work boundary.

  3. Set aside time to network

    I like to swap the word “connecting” for “networking.” Seriously, thinking about networking as “networking” is just so not my cup of tea. I come from an education background where I was a teacher and networking was not something we emphasized nor did, so you can imagine my initial discomfort here! When I realized that networking is essentially making new friends and connecting with old ones, I changed my perspective. I saw that networking is actually something I can do, and something I can do well. Each week, on Fridays, I give myself permission to connect with my people. Whether it’s a cup of coffee with a friend, a brunch date, or a virtual Skype call, I set aside this chunk of time to connect with my people. I think it’s vital to have boundaries with this. We can sometimes get pulled into the, “when are you free?” question and start giving away our precious time designated for other critical elements within our business. We must set a hard boundary here. Find time in your schedule that you will permit yourself to connect with others, and stick to it.

  4. Decide when you will check email

    I don’t know about you, but checking my email drains me! (Do you know your own energy drainers? If not, and you do not already have my FREE Daily Routine Workbook, I highly, highly recommend downloading this super-charged freebie with all my tips for creating an energizing routine. Get it here!). How does it feel for you when you check your email first thing? Do you have energy in the tank to tend to your other creative work? Maybe so. Maybe not. Either way, this is key information for you about when to check it. Set a boundary and be sure to check it only when you say it’s time to do so.

  5. Stick to a morning routine and daily wind-down routine

    Self-care is absolutely everything within a business. Setting boundaries is part of your self-care within your business. Making sure that you start your day with the mindset, attitude, and rituals to create energy for the day ahead is so very key. DO NOT skimp on this piece. Remember that you started your business for a reason. There’s something in you that feels called to do this work. Show up for your business at your best. How will you ensure that you can do this very thing, daily? And while you’re at it, what habits and rituals will you do at the very end of the day to signal it’s really time to turn it off? Write down your plan of action and make it happen, love. You got this!

There you have it- the top 5 boundaries to set in your business right now! I hope you will take some time for yourself to reflect on these business essentials. They have been a true game-changer in how I run my business and I hope they help you create the drive and clarity needed to get after the peaceful daily rhythms you crave in your very own. had

3 Things You Can Learn from Working with Your NOT-RIGHT People

I remember the earliest days of starting my business, some of the best advice I received was to coach everybody! The same can be said for you wherever you are at in your passion work journey. Take on those clients you are unsure of. Get a feel for who you like working with, and who you do not. This is vital information for you moving forward in your business, so don't be afraid!

It has officially been 4 years into my full-time journey as a coach and today I am looking back on what I have learned since that time. While I know today who I absolutely gravitate towards coaching, I have also learned a lot from working with clients who are not my right-people. (Curious to get the inside scoop? Listen to First + Foremost episode 38 now!).

Today I want to share what YOU can learn from working with your own NOT-RIGHT people and how it can help you grow your business moving forward.

Here ARE 3 things you can learn from working with your NOT-RIGHT people:

1. Who you absolutely LOVE to work with.

A lot of people I work with who are starting out in their businesses will tell me that they have no idea who their ideal client is. Well, my friend, look to who you HAVE worked with for insights here. What about your previous clients/customers did you NOT like or enjoy? What character traits did they possess? What bugged you about the experience? Do not be afraid to dig into your answers to these questions. They have MAJOR information for you in growing your business. If you did not love that your previous clients wanted digital photos, then that is information about what YOU want in your next client: a client who values print photos.

Here’s how to do it: Make a lady date with yourself once per month in your business to reflect on the past month and make a list of what you are loving and not loving about your current clients. Save this information and add to it as you go along your business journey.

2. Who it is time to start saying “no” to.

This is a big one. Starting out in your business, it is hard, hard, hard (I know it!) to say no to a potential client. In fact, as mentioned above, I recommend saying yes to a whole heap of clients that may come your way early on, since afterall, we are trying to collect information about who we want to work with moving forward. However, after you start collecting said "information," it is time to do something about it. The next time a potential client comes your way and you get that feeling that maybe you might not be the very best fit for each other, listen to it!

One of the greatest values I try to align myself within my coaching practice is integrity. If a client comes my way, and I get a feeling that we are not the best fit for each other, it is my utmost priority to be transparent about that, AND match that client to the very best coach for him or her. So, while I absolutely want to feel energized by who I am working with, it is equally important, if not more important to me in my business, to make sure that my potential client feels that very same energy. When we hold this as our truth, saying no to our client becomes easy, because it is no longer about us. It is about them. And it is NOT about losing a potential client, but rather helping a potential client on his/her journey.

Here’s how to do it: Say no when you get that vibe that tells you it is not a right fit and refer your potential client/customer to someone who can be of tremendous service to them. The beauty here in referrals is that others in your industry remember when you do something like this, and I guarantee they will be on the lookout to pay the act forward to you in some way down the road if and when they can.

3. How to start talking to your ideal client.

Quite possibly the best piece of information we can get from working with our NOT-RIGHT people is how to start talking to the people we really and truly DO want to attract.

Here's how to do it: As you are collecting information about what you do not love about working with some of your clients (remember, this is totally okay, and a major component of being a savvy business owner), be sure to start also reflecting on what you are learning about each person. When it comes to your NOT-RIGHT people, what all do you know about him/her that is NOT vibing with you- and really let all the details shine through here! Maybe your client hates dance and you love it! Maybe your client is a bit pessimistic and you would love your clients to be more cheerful and positive. Or maybe your client constantly wants help with writing copy, but you really want to help with creating content.

This is all information, my friend.

You may not be working with your ideal client right now, but the people you are working with in this moment hold extremely valuable feedback for you. Now that you are in reflective mode, you can start making sure you speak more to who you think you'd like to work with (even if you haven't worked with him/her yet.) In your content (ie. blogs, newsletters, social media posts, etc.) you can start really tailoring your message to who you want to attract. Start sharing behind the scenes posts of your dance class if you'd like to attract a client who is into that! Start talking about how you can help people with creating content if that's what you want your jam to be! The idea is to show up for your ideal client and give them a snapshot of how the two of you can align and work together. Give them what they need based on what you know in this moment. And then repeat monthly as you reflect and learn more. This is how your ideal client will start to come.

And before we wrap this chat up, one final thing to really think about:

It takes time to gain your ideal client's trust.

Do not expect overnight growth. Overnight engagement. Overnight followers.

You have to put in the work to build the relationship. The same way you meet an amazing human out in real life, it is unlikely that the two of you will be BFF after that first encounter. It takes time to grow any friendship or relationship.

So, remember to take your time, and trust the process. I promise after a while, your ideal clients will come.

My Top 5 Self-Love Activities

I don't know about you, but this time of year things can be, well... dreary.

Everything just seems to have slowed down. It's cold outside. The sun is shining much less. 

You feel me?

This is exactly why NOW is the time to check in with your self-love things.

You know... the things you do that make you feel the most connected to yourself. The things that remind you that you are a being worth loving and caring for. The things that make you feel human and whole and real.

Today I am sharing my very own self-love things with you in hopes that you may be inspired to reflect on your very own.

Here are my top 5 self-love Activities!

  1. The mirror exercise.

    This one is probably the absolute hardest, but one of the most profound ways to reconnect with your inner self-love. Here’s how you do it: Stand in front of a mirror. You can start with your clothes on, but the best way to do this exercise is in your underwear or naked. Stand there, and lovingly notice the parts of your body that you see. Challenge yourself to say something loving about the parts you find yourself ridiculing in the mirror. Think about what that part of your body does for you. Thank your body for being there for you.

  2. Daily gratitude.

    The way you do this exercise is simple. You can do it quietly in your mind while you are getting ready for the day. Simply state 1-3 things that you are profoundly grateful for within yourself. What about yourself do you love dearly? What are you grateful for physically? What have you done recently that you can celebrate and love on?

  3. Putting on lotion mindfully.

    This activity is meant to be a self-love exercise for when you are needing to reconnect with yourself physically. Put lotion on slowly and intentionally after taking a shower. I love to sit down for this one and notice the various parts of my physical being that I am grateful for. Celebrate your toes. Your legs. Your thighs. Your tummy. As you rub lotion on various parts of your body, honor the very vessel that you are in that allows you to experience life.

  4. Letter to self in 5 years.

    When you are having a really tough time in life, this exercise can be powerful in giving yourself permission to be exactly where you are at right now, and to still be loved for it. Sit down and grab a pen and paper and write a letter to the you in 5 years time. You will write two letters to yourself in this activity. One letter is to the you in 5 years that has changed in a positive way, living life aligned the way you most want for yourself. The other letter is to the you in 5 years who is still doing the same behaviors. The idea is that both exercises create space for you to reflect on where you at. After writing, try to sink in the feelings you have for the YOU you most want to be in 5 years time.

  5. Journal writing.

    This is a daily exercise of self-love where you create space to be with yourself and your thoughts. I love to write in a journal as a way to reflect on life, though some people I know and work with love to have a focus with their writing. A sentence starter like, “Today I learned…” or “Today I am celebrating…” is a great way to be reflective. Personally, I like to just write whatever comes up on my heart!

There you have it! These are my current go-to exercises for self-love that I find to be the most helpful. I hope you sink into this cold weather season with rhythms that give you comfort and remind you that you are so very loved.

My Top 3 Methods for Creating a Compelling Vision

I am all about setting New Year's Resolutions and creating a word of the year.

However, there is by far, one absolute must do when it comes to kicking off the new year…
And that, my friend, is creating a compelling vision.

I must admit, at first when I created a vision years ago, I was a skeptic. But when I went back to revisit my 5-year vision just a handful of years later, I was BLOWN AWAY at just how much I had manifested in real-time in my day to day life.

That dream kitchen I thought would never ever be my reality? It's mine. Now. At 34 years old.

A waitlist filled with clients ready to team up and work with me? A constant in my business now- and one that I am eternally grateful for.

Running programs in my business that help people feel and live their very best lives? Yup. In fact, I currently run TWO annual programs that do just this!

I do not in any way share this with you to brag. (In fact, I notice that part of me right now that is hesitant to publish this post for the fear of anyone out there thinking that of me in any way. But I am pushing past that fear, friends, because I know YOU are here because we align in some way and that you will see my greater intention for sharing.)

I share this with you to inspire you to dream your big dreams, and to not fear them. Sometimes we can be so afraid of what we really, really want. (This of course calls for a lovely 90's throwback. I miss this song!). Sometimes what we want makes us uncomfortable. And other times, when we think about what we might really want, we begin to feel sad about our present reality.

But there’s thing about creating a compelling vision:

A vision moves you to action.

A vision creates energy, love, and excitement around your present reality (if of course, you let it) and it empowers you to get out there and align your daily actions towards what you are wanting.

Maybe you are a skeptic like I was. Either way, today I want to share with you some of my favorite ways to create a vision. I hope you’ll take a few moments out of your day this month to put your vision together. The idea is to hang it up somewhere where you can see it and let it serve as a powerful reminder of the life you are wanting to create for yourself.

Here are my top 3 methods for creating a compelling vision:

  1. Create a vision board.

    I love this classic take on creating a vision so much because it is probably the most widely used way to do it! A quick search on google will likely bring up several visuals to inspire you.

    Here’s how to do it: Grab a sheet of paper or poster board and a bunch of magazines. Cut out words and images that inspire you when you think about what you want in your life this next year. Do not think twice about it. Just cut them out, and put them in a pile. Then arrange the words and images on the paper. Glue them down, and there you have it! Your vision board is complete. Take a moment to look at your board and see what comes up for you as you read it. What goals emerge? What unfinished business do you have that you are excited to do?

  2. Create a vision box.

    A vision box is very similar to a vision board, but the main difference is that you are doing the exact same activity as above, just on a box instead of a piece of paper or poster board. I love to place the box somewhere where I will see it often after I am finished, like on my desk or in my bedroom. You may want to fill the box with inspiring notes or messages to help you create motivation when you need it most!

  3. Create a vision journal.

    A vision journal is a fun twist on a vision board in that you are covering the front page of a journal with images and words that inspire you. I have had some clients who have chosen to use their entire journal as a vision exercise. So each journal entry is filled with words and images that might inspire you. Whether it is just the front cover or the entire journal, this is sure a creative twist on creating a vision!

There you have it! These are my tried and true methods for creating a compelling vision. I hope you will take some time out for you this month to create a vision of your own. And, if you are part of my First + Foremost community (if you’re not, what are you waiting for, boo!?) I encourage you to send me a pic of yours! I would love to see what you have created and plan to manifest!