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Retreat at the Ranch - Day 3

The final day of the retreat began with a casual breakfast at the big house. We all wore our matching pajamas for a photo, drank coffee, and visited with each other. We had all bonded over the past few days and it felt like we were buzzing, trying to get in as much as we could those last couple hours together. 

After breakfast and getting ready we had a fun session planned with Jenn for a content creation workshop. She does a series with her Mom on the social media that took off during Covid quarantine and so her Mom came by to help. They baked cookies and she showed us how they would film it for an ad for that series on her Instagram/TikTok. She gave us several tips for how to make the video catchy and keep the audiences attention. Another thing she and her mom are known for is dance videos. They'll learn TikTok dances together and film them to share, so of course we did that too! I am so shy when it comes to dancing. I'm not very coordinated, don't have much rhythm and too worried about what others might think. I hid in the back but made sure to participate. And guess what, it was SO fun! I definitely messed up, but it was a fairly easy and short routine so I didn't do too terribly. You can watch it in Jenn's story highlights here. But honestly my take away was just how fun it was. She said they do it because her Mom has such a focus on health and fitness, and Jenn has been trying to incorporate more of that into her life. She talked about adding in more play with her two sons and how it has made her feel. What a concept, more play in our lives! It keeps us young and I know my boys will love it. I've always wanted to do those dance videos I see in Reels and on TikTok and now I have the courage to do it! I'm definitely making all my besties do a few with me on our next girls trip! 

Once we did the dance, we took a little break before hearing from Logan. She was a bit rushed since we were behind schedule and still had the mastermind planned next. But Logan gave such great insight to branding and running your business. She talked about having a mission statement to help focus your brand, so this is something I need to work on. Why are they coming to me? What do I do? And who do I do it for? I know I need to focus on building a genuine connection over shared interests with community. I want to remember when I am putting content out there, how I want to make the audience feel. My favorite take away was "No one is you and that is your power." For the things that I struggle with, that have held me back in the past, this is so key. I'm going to print it out and post it in my office! 

The last session was a mastermind with the group. We went around the circle and briefly described what our business was and our struggles or current roadblocks, and then Jenn and Logan (but also the group) gave feedback. We each had about 10 minutes so everyone would get a turn. It was pretty quick, but really effective and fun. I was so nervous to really say anything since I don't technically have a business like most of the other women there did, but I knew I made the decision to attend for a reason and I deserved to get the most out of it. I actually recorded mine because I didn't want to be distracted by taking notes, and I'm so glad that I did. I played it back before writing this and wished I could have recorded the entire retreat because there were so many great tips I had already forgotten. One thing is I need to watch my language and how I speak about my blog and making it a business. I tend to downplay it and treat it like an unimportant hobby, rather than own it and say what I want it to become. Jenn told me that she's a big fan of "fake it till you make it." I told her the series I want to start on the blog and she told me just do it, pretend I am being paid and eventually the sponsorships will come. Brands will start to notice, and then I have examples of the type of content I provide once I am offered paid partnerships. They also said at this stage it's important to review my progress monthly. To see what was successful, what works, what doesn't. And my number one mission right now is getting approved for LTK. I am so motivated and ready to show up and make this happen! 

Overall this was such a wonderful experience. I grew so much from it, doing something completely on my own like this was way out of my comfort zone. I am so proud of myself for following my intuition and I'm on a mission to stop getting in my own way. 

Thank you so much for reading and being a part of my little blogging community. I appreciate you so much and hope you'll stick around for the ride. 

I just wanted to also give a shout out to the sponsors who gifted such amazing goodies for those of us attending, as well as the amazing women that I was able to meet and connect with while at the retreat. 


Lizette Alvarado | Syn Skin Aesthetics @synskinaestgetics
Abbie Icamina | Gray + Graham Salon
Jessica Gonzales | Makeup Artist
Caroline Pies | Fleur De Paris Shop
Anna Kornick | Its About Time Podcast
Emily Mendler | Memmy + Co
Caroline Abarco | Goodness Gracios Ceramics
Emily Bravender
Lydia Witte | Tiny Play All Day
Theresa Magliozzi | From Foothills to Fog
Abigail Reller | Abigail Reller Art 
Marnee Diaz | My Littlest Loves 
Michelle Messina | MPreau Photo
Brandi Heath | The One Pot Momma
Lindsey McDaniel | Realtor
Olivia Summers | The Hudson Social

Event Sponsors:

Hosts @theschoolofstyling @hauteofftherack
Event Venue @za.ranch
Furniture @partyrentalsnola
Backdrop Design @thegracefulhost
Journals + Pens @graphicimageny
Home Design @eleve.designcollective
Snack Station @mackenziechilds
Beauty Bar @tartecosmetics
Hair Tools @t3micro
Pajamas @showmeyourmumu
Insulated Mugs @brumate
Charcuterie @snacx4u
Party on the Patio @donsseafood
Photographer @aperture_photos_co
Hair + Skin Products @colleenrothschild


Larson Family Winery Pumpkin Patch

We joined Larson Family Winery way back in 2012, I think. I discovered it from another blogger who shared that it was dog friendly. At the time we brought our dog Louis with us everywhere. He was our baby! We loved how the winery was fairly close to San Francisco, and that we could bring Louis with us to enjoy the wine and setting on weekends. We also loved the affordability of the wine while still being really good! Their Larson Family Winery label wines are my favorite, but the 3 Lab Cab and 3 Lab Chardonnay are great too. Honestly we enjoy nearly all of them! Larson Family has continued to be a staple for us through all the various stages of life. As time went on, we continued to visit frequently with our friends and our pups. We also went on my Bachelorette party weekend and I learned to saber a bottle of champagne! Now, even though we have moved, we stay members because they are kid friendly and host so many great family events. We make it a point to go every year for the Harvest celebration and pumpkin patch that started back in 2020, as well as our favorite Santa meet and greet in December. Even though it's a bit of a drive now, and always requires a lot of planning and coordination, we love visiting! 

We went down on a Sunday which was nice because it was less crowded. We got seated at the edge of the tasting deck in a nice lounge area that was perfect because we could watch the kids run around and play in the pumpkin patch area and on the trailer used for hay rides during the harvest celebration. The boys all love climbing up the hay bails and sitting on the vintage red tractor! 

This year, the harvest celebration wasn't in October so the pumpkin patch hadn't started yet. We decided to plan our day for the pumpkin patch rather than harvest. Hopefully next year they do them together because last year the kids had a blast stomping grapes, going on hay rides, and picking pumpkins. They also usually have live music and a food truck at the harvest event. Even without all that, we had a great day. I always try to bring an activity like kinetic sand to entertain them when they get bored running around. And of course, all the snacks! It was fun to spend a few hours together with our besties enjoying a wine tasting and watching the kids play. Plus we had Gamma with us for an extra set of hands. 

We can't wait for our next visit to see Santa in December! Here are a few of my favorite photos from Larson Family Winery over the years. I wish I had a photo from our first visit when we joined. We had the best time with a few couples we met traveling from Texas. We even went on an adventure walk trying to find the ghost town Wingo nearby, we turned back before we found it but it was so fun! 


Retreat at the Ranch - Day 2

Time is zooming by and I haven't finished updating you all about the retreat! I wanted to share my thoughts and experience from Day 2. This was the most jam packed, content filled day of the retreat. 

The morning started with coffee and a light breakfast at the main house, then we had free time to go on a walk if we chose. It was such a beautiful sunrise and the morning light on the property was so lovely, of course I took my coffee out for a stroll around the property. There was also a team from Doctor Devon Szczepanski's office who were doing health evaluations as well as a skincare consultations from the esthetician in the office. Part of me wished I had stayed back from the walk to have more time for these sessions because I had to get back to my room to get ready for the day and missed my consult with Dr. Szczepanski. After hearing her speak, I think would have been so helpful. But, I did spend a lot of time learning about skincare which I am really hoping to focus on so that was great. It felt like such a fun perk of the retreat to have that time before the day started! They also gave us some goodies from So Lux Wellness line to take home. She suggested the PH Refresh Solution pray and Skin Soothing pads for me, and I've been loving them! 

Once I got ready and headed back to the main house, it was time for the guest speakers to begin. There was a full day planned with an amazing line up of guest speakers as well as a panel at the end. I was so impressed with Logan and Jennifer for organizing such a great group of women, as well as the questions they asked to lead the discussion. You could see they really wanted all of the attendees to get the most out of this retreat as possible. 

The first speaker of the day was Devon Szczepanski MD., MS. She is a doctor in the area who has built a very successful private practice. She told her story about why she wanted to become a doctor. Of how when she graduated from medical school, she went to work in a large hospital like the majority of her class. But when that hospital had some issues, she wanted to open her own practice instead. She wanted a place where she could focus more on individual patient care. Most people told her not to, saying she wouldn't find success, and warning her that wasn't what people were doing in the medical field at the time. But she did it anyway and built herself a very successful career. It was inspiring how she talked about helping her patients and blending more of an eastern and western medicine approach. One thing that stood out is how she described the way she felt the first day of medical school, and how she said her entire class felt that excitement and passion. But she started to notice that doctors no longer felt that way as their careers progressed, and she has made it her mission for them to remember why they started. I loved hearing how she followed her intuition rather than listening to what those around her were saying. She said rather than chasing her dreams, she always felt her dreams chased her. 

The next presentation was from Dr. Brittany Joslyn, an executive coach and consulting psychologist. Prior to arriving to the retreat she had us take an online assessment to see what our Saboteurs were, so that we could review them together and learn a little more. It was so interesting because I hadn't heard of this assessment before and was amazed at how spot on they were for me. I got 9.4 on both Pleaser and Avoider. When reading the descriptions of these, it was frighteningly accurate. She helped give us some insight on how we can learn from these traits we have. And to overcome the ways they can hold us back, and lean into how they are strengths both in business and motherhood. 

Next was Shelby Clement with Shelby Clement Marketing and Host of the podcast: Damn Good Marketing and Jennifer Palpallatoc of Haute Off The Rack.  I think I was most excited for this presentation because it really applies to the areas I want to focus on for building my brand and hopefully finding success as a content creator.  Plus on the first evening I was able to talk to Shelby and I just loved her immediately. I think I took three pages of notes during their session. A few things Shelby said that really resonated with me were, how can I teach my kids to chase their dreams if I don't? (I started crying when she asked me that, such perspective). And her top three things she wanted to take away from her talk were: 1) Be authentically, unapologetically YOU 2) get comfortable being uncomfortable 3) just do the damn thing. I felt like she was telling me all the things I needed to hear. Jennifer gave such valuable advice for content creation and posting specifically for social media as a business. Times to post, tools that are helpful, tips for content calendar creation, and strategies for what to post. It was so valuable to me at this stage when I am just beginning and want to grow my community.  

Danielle Bayard Jackson was the last presentation before the panel. After having looked at the speaker line up prior to the event I was so excited to hear from her. She is a friendship expert and coach, and since I value my relationships so much and feel so lucky to have such a close group of friends, I was so interested to hear her thoughts. She was an incredible speaker, and really commanded the room. I loved listening to her and was so glad she attended the retreat as a guest as well so I got to talk to her a few times throughout the few days at the ranch. You should definitely look her up and stay tuned for her book coming out next year! I am fortunate to have such long lasting, close friendships. I'm always learning how to be a better friend, how to communicate, and navigate friendship especially in this stage of motherhood. Hearing from her made me feel pretty good actually, that I'm not totally failing at this friendship game. Our group of friends is actually pretty good at prioritizing our relationships and making time for one another. Of course we all have strengths and weaknesses, and I was happy to learn a few ways I can improve as a friend. She three keys in friendship were positivity, consistency, and being vulnerable with each other. Specifically with vulnerability, the key to being vulnerable is that it involves risk. And one take away I'd like to implement was "movie trailer invites." Making it easy to decide and make a plan to see each other. Quickly paint the picture for what to expect. Name the time, place, and duration. I could see how this would help a lot of things actually happen, rather than just an idea that lives in a group text. 

The speaker panel was an impressive lineup. They had Angelle Marix of Dashing Darlin', Rachel Taravella of Minimal but Extra, friendship coach Danielle Bayard Jackson and The School of Styling Logan Doerries as moderator. I had heard of Dashing Darlin' before and seen her on Instagram, but Rachel was new to me so I was excited to learn more about her. And after Danielle talk prior, I was so excited to hear more from her. She is amazing! Logan did a great job of asking questions and this part really focused a lot on Motherhood and how these women found such success in their business with the demands of motherhood. I appreciated their candidness and insight so much. It was nice to hear how some don't struggle with mom guilt, I always feel guilty because I don't have Mom guilt the way some describe. I am happy to have a weekend away with friends, get a babysitter for date night, or take time for myself. I know it is important to take care of me too. Where I feel guilt is when other Mom's make me feel less than for being comfortable doing that for myself. So hearing from them, they too don't feel guilty making themself a priority was so helpful to me. Not to say they don't prioritize family, they do. I also loved hearing from Angelle about motherhood because her kids are now older. We talked about how she fostered such an open and honest relationship, especially with her sons. Because as a boy Mom I often worry that when they grow up, they won't talk to me as much or be as open. I found myself taking a lot of notes with her tips on how to foster that close bond, open communication and trust. Rachel shared how she thinks 'finding balance' is such a scam, how some times your business will need more and sometimes your home life, there will never be a perfect balance. And I loved that, we're all striving for something that seems impossible, because it is. We should just appreciate the various stages while we're in them. One thing that really stood out from Danielle is how our phones are affecting our children. This has been heavily on my mind, and hearing her confirmed that I would like to implement a no phone zone or time for Andrew and I at home. Where we can be fully present and focused on the boys. I really enjoyed this session and how it brought everything from the day together, with a focus on motherhood. Everyone was so engaged and asking so many questions, you could tell we all found it so valuable. 

After the speaking panel we had about an hour of free time before the Ranch Dinner Party started. I went back to the guest house with the other girls to relax a little bit. We chatted in the living room and just rested after the long day of programming. And I finally got to squeeze in a brief FaceTime with the boys. With the time change and the schedule of the retreat, it was the only time I managed to catch them after they got home from school and before I left for dinner. I sure did miss them while I was away. Especially with the focus on motherhood and how that was woven into the content every day. 

The dinner night two was a party on the patio for all attendees with a ranch theme. I wasn't thrilled with my outfit, but wasn't able to get a denim dress or something I liked more in my Rent The Runway shipment. I ended up in an Amazon dress and added a belt and black boots to make it on theme. They had a lovely set up as usual, and it was catered by a local restaurant with traditional southern cooking. I was so glad to get a taste of southern food! The shrimp and grits were my favorite part! The oysters were good, but I definitely prefer them raw. And the gumbo was great as well. They also had blood orange margaritas served up on a little bar cart for everyone. It was so great talking to all the women and get to know everyone a little bit more. It was bittersweet knowing it was our last night of fun, and I was really just getting to know everyone. Next time we agreed we needed more time!

Day 2 might have had the biggest impact for me. I took so many notes and was so inspired being in a room of women who felt called to do something creative, and they actually DID it. They didn't let fear hold them back, they just went for it and tuned out all the noise. I found it so inspiring. It was so amazing to be able to speak to people like Angelle, Jenn and Shelby who are actually doing it. Who have been since the beginning, and hearing them tell me that there is a place for me at the table. That I can and should follow my heart and set my mind to this meant so much. Jenn was wonderful at providing specific advice on how to grow and find community. And Shelby really lit a fire in me to tune out all the noise in my head that has been holding me back for literally years. I've been letting it stop me from moving forward and putting myself out there, because the fear of being criticized. Now I'm changing the narrative in my mind. I know the people who truly love and support me won't do that. My real friends will support my dreams and cheer me on. And most of my community I haven't found yet. The few people I may know from high school or prior stages of life may say things, but that's about them not me. I am so excited to have found my courage to do this, and finally move forward to what my gut has been leading me to this whole time. 

I'll be back with Day 3 on Friday! I know these posts have been long, but I hope you enjoy them. Mostly, I wanted to document my experience for myself to look back on so I don't forget just how pivotal this experience was. 

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