7 Steps to Start Fostering Love Now

It's May. And that means it is also National Foster Care Month. 

Foster care holds a very special place in my heart because I myself was a foster child from the time I was 13. Each family I lived with had their own way of doing things, and I learned very quickly how to adapt, not stand out, blend in, and acclimate to my new families. I also learned early on how to be my own advocate, how to take care of myself, save money, and become my own support system. There were moments in each home I felt glimpses of nurture and love, and there were often many times I felt like an imposter, like someone who did not really belong.

The greatest thing I learned being in foster care was ultimately that I am somebody who can stand tall on my own two feet despite the challenges life tossed along the way. I learned that I can have the kind of life I want and crave for myself by believing in it enough and paving a way to make it happen. I also learned that all the stability and love I need, I ultimately provide for myself.

When you look up the word "foster," it means to encourage or promote the development of. Throughout May, as we recognize National Foster Care Month, I ask that you join me in fostering love. Whichever aligns best with where you are at in your life right now, here are some ideas to help you get started so you too can foster love this month:

1. YOU. Yes, you! Foster yourself. We are our best selves when we nourish and love from within, first and foremost. What is one think you can encourage, or support the development of within yourself this month?

2. A child. Whether it's working with a child one-on-one to facilitate their growth and learning, volunteering in some way to give back to kids (my favorite organization is CASA), or the BIG one- actually fostering a child if you have the means and are in a place in your life where it feels right.

3. Those who are experiencing mental health conditions. National Mental Health Awareness month also happens to fall in May. It's a great time to pledge solidarity with friends, family, and even strangers who are living through tough challenges with mental health. The National Alliance on Mental Illness offers a ton of ways you can show your support and that you are #IntoMentalHealth.

4. Animals. Because they need love too! Check your local area for fostering opportunities with pets. I have several friends who fostered pups before adopting them. If allergies aren't a problem, and you have loads of love (and patience!) to share with an animal friend, this could be for you!

5. Plants. By far the simplest way we can support the development of another living thing is by taking care of plants. They are also one of the best reminders to care for ourselves (hey, we need sunshine and water too!)

6. Your community. From recycling to picking up the trash along your street, there are tons of ways you can chip in around where you live. It could even be as simple as joining Next Door, an online social community, where you can make the town you live in a better (and safer) place!

7. Those who need our help! From people living with intellectual and developmental disabilities to those who are homeless, there are many ways we can help. Find an organization in your area that speaks to the cause you are most passionate about and get involved. My favorites are Best Buddies and local soup kitchens.

So, are you in? Will you be joining me this month in fostering love? If you're on Instagram, share your efforts by posting your pictures using the hashtag #fosterlove. Please let me know if you have other ideas for fostering love that are not on my list by replying to me here, or leaving a comment over on Instagram