Steph's Blog

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Building Community Connections

In my life, I have been so blessed. Despite being a bit shy, I have an internal desire to know and meet people. In part, I thank my parents for having me as an only child. Because of being alone, I found myself always searching for more friends and family. I always wanted to have people that I could bond with and relate to.

But I was also, not very good at it as a kid. I didn’t really understand in my youth what it took to make meaningful connections. Don’t misunderstand, I had friends. But I wasn’t always good at knowing how to interact with them. I was very popular when I was young because I always had an allowance on me. I didn’t understand money to the degree I do today, what child really does? If someone needed money, I gave it to them. If someone wanted something from the snack bar and didn’t have enough money, I bought it for them. On field trips, everyone got a pencil from the shop if there was one. Giving attracted people to me, but also didn’t ensure I was really making connections.

As I grew up and hit those horrible high school years, I started to learn that money couldn’t buy popularity (no matter what movies and television say). I then sought out to find friends that I could be myself around. Silly, young at heart, and full of dreams. I made a handful of wonderful friends and started to learn that quality meant much more than quantity. What I soon realized was that I had an “old soul”. My heart was attracted to “adults”, and so I put my energy into growing connections through volunteering with local organizations including a local nursing home.

These connections filled my soul in ways I never had imagined. I think it was there that I learned the power of making true, meaningful connections. Connecting with adults when you are a mere 16 isn’t easy, but I found that I was a natural. I wanted to be around and learn from them. And so, I made not only friends as a young person, but also had countless mentors that supported and loved me.

This all led to my strength in making connections. It taught me to trust myself and my gifts and talents to help me grow and meet the people I needed to meet.

I carried this mentality all through college and my first years in my career. But over time, society can cause us to lose doubt in ourselves. Whether it be measuring ourselves to others at work, or measuring ourselves to others in life, we soon feel like we just cannot measure up. So while I still made friends and connections, I continued to revert back to the friends of my youth. We rekindled our “sisterhood” and found the support we needed to help each other through the crazy thirties and forties, marriages and children, love and loss.

While this was wonderful, I was not getting to know my community, where I lived. I traveled with my job and created more bonds and connections in other states than I did at home.

So last year when I found myself in a community with no connections, I wondered how I would get started. I was starting a new business and a new life and knew that I couldn’t just lean on my long-distance friends from college to support me (although they are always there). I needed a closer group to interact with, laugh with and just enjoy. But as we get older, making friends and connections can seem so much more difficult. Whether it be because of time, or lack thereof, or because we are nervous to be ourselves, it just gets harder.

But I decided to set out on my new quest. I knew I needed to meet people, but not just anyone, I needed to meet “my people”. You may now be saying, “good luck with that,” but I assure you, I went into this knowing that I was going to meet people that would value me for me. Not for what I did or didn’t have to offer them, but for the person I was and for the connection, I could provide.

I made my list of goals and started by just taking that first step. The main thing I kept in mind was, they will have to accept me, crazy smiles, flowers in my hair, Disney addict and all.

So here I am, a year later and so filled with love and connections. What I have built goes beyond what I could have imagined last year, and continues to grow. I am just “me”, no one else, and therefore, I am surrounding myself with people who value that. It hasn’t been easy, and you do need a budget, but I assure it, it is worth it. Now I am truly at “home” in my community. I don’t feel like a visitor, but a local. I feel like I belong more than I have in probably 20 years.

As you read this, are you looking to grow or build your local community? Do you think you cannot have true friends and connections in your own back yard? Need help getting started?

Let’s connect and work together to Curate YOU! and curate a community that will love YOU!

It’s Time to Curate YOU!

It’s Time to Curate YOU!

There are so many things that my Chief weeMcFee teaches me daily. How simple things can be funny, to stop and pet the puppies, and a cuddle really can fix anything.

But one thing recently got me thinking about myself and what I’m trying to accomplish in this new business of curating connections. My wee one is truly connected to herself!

Have you ever thought about that? Little ones are very simplistic, sometimes annoyingly so when it’s about the certain cup, shoes or dress that isn’t available right when they want it, but think about it. They know what they want, they are not afraid to go for it, and they embrace who they are and what they love.

My daughter and I were playing dress up in my closet, and I was amazed to watch her gaze at herself in the mirror. She smiled so proudly. She turned, laughed and told me how beautiful she looked. And she meant it! She truly believes she IS beautiful. Of course she is to me, but I got thinking about how I wanted to stop time right then. Not to stop her growing up, but to stop what society will certainly do to that belief. To ensure she never stops knowing she is beautiful and to love to look at herself in the mirror.

As I am out connecting and driving my new business, I am so often overtaken by that image question. How is my hair or my clothes? Does my tummy stick out and am I smiling too big? Something I know plagues everyone when we know we have to leave the safety of our homes. What will people think?

Of course the answer is so simple, and as people say, with age comes wisdom or at least an attitude of, “I don’t care! I am going to be who I am!” But here I am, at 43. Twenty pounds heavier than I was 2 years ago due to stress, early menopause and too much sitting. I look in the mirror and see everything I don’t like, that I want to change.

But then my daughter comes in, at her tender age of three, and points out all of our similarities. How we both have pretty blue eyes (her words), how she likes my long fingers, my hair because it’s straight like hers – she thinks she’s beautiful because she thinks I’m beautiful.

So what does all of this mean – it means we have to work on ourselves! But not in the way you so often hear. I challenge us all to curate the connection within ourselves. To dig deep inside to those days when we used to look in the mirror and KNOW (not just think) that we were beautiful. To see the beauty for ourselves and to love ourselves because of it.

For if you cannot see your own gifts, then how can you share those gifts with the world? And isn’t that what connecting is all about?

Get up, go look in the mirror and smile at yourself. Say “hi”! Look deep into your eyes. You know you are in there. Now put on those clothes and get out there so the world can benefit from all the beauty you bring!

Join me on this journey as we work together to Curate YOU!

Happy connecting!

The Power to Curate Courage

The Power to Curate Courage

As I was walking along the beach the other day, my attention was caught by a beautiful sight of the water going over the edge of rocks. I stood there mesmerized, watching the water easily flow over the edge, making a gorgeous mini waterfall. But as I waited for the next wave to reach the rocks and make the spectacle occur again, I noticed how many times the waves came close, but did not make it to the rocks edge. With each wave, the water would get closer until finally, it would spill over the edges of the rocks and flow through the crevices to reach the rocks and pools below.

I had an awakening as I looked at this show that Mother Nature was putting on. It’s not something new, as I’m sure it’s something that has been written about multiple times. But think about it, water is so powerful. It covers the majority of our planet. We cannot live without it. It can destroy homes and towns when in rage, and awaken new life when in calm.

Water is one of the most powerful forces on earth!

Looking at myself in the mirror when I returned home, I realized what my mind and heart were trying to help my eyes see. That I needed to be more like water.

Think about this – when presented with the changes and challenges of life – how do you cope? As with anything, it depends on what the change or challenge is, but then again, does it? What do we really need to rely on when a transition occurs in our lives?

We need to rely on our courage and our faith in ourselves and those around us.

So what does all of this mean as we look at the extraordinary power of Mother Nature and water and try to relate THAT to how we can be more courageous?

Just as the water did not give up on getting to it’s location, just as water pushes through all barriers no matter what to get to where is needs to go, just like water can make beauty, we need to find a determination in our soul to get to our goals and never give up, no matter what. It may not always be pretty. We may look like we’ve lost the battle as times. We may make mistakes. But the important thing, is to never give up.

So while I’m not saying to be like the massive flood that takes out an entire town, I am saying to look and find the beautiful strength, the Courage, you have inside your own heart, and to Curate it! Ask yourself why you might have lost your courage when it occurs and focus on who, and what you need to be more courageous.

At the end of the day, if you really want to achieve your goals and live your dreams, DO NOT GIVE UP! Be like water, because in the end, you will leave the most glorious and phenomenal outcome in your wake.

Go out and Curate Courage. It’s the first step on the path to Curate YOU!

Happy Connecting!

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