Create a life you love – Inspiring Stories: Christina McFadden

I have the pleasure of knowing some amazing people. People who have done extraordinary things with their ‘ordinary’ lives.  Christina McFadden is one of them.

They have inspired me to think beyond the ‘normal’ as to what’s possible for my life – and I hope that by getting them to tell their stories here, they might just inspire a few others of you too.

Christina McFadden – Founder, Blue Door Partners

Christina McFadden
Christina McFadden

Tell us a little about yourself…

I am a Leadership Coach and Facilitator. I founded Blue Door Partners in 2016 – a professional development company for leaders – and all my dreams continue to come true – so much that I haven’t been able to dream fast enough.

I recently learned it’s ok that I don’t know my next big dream and it is expecting me either way – which was very relaxing to hear.

How do you know Nicki?

We both signed up for CTI’s Leadership training program. We friended each on Facebook before the program started and I thought (and still do) that Nicki was so bad ass living in Asia, from England and headed to Leadership.

Tell us a little about the life that you have created – and what you most love about it?

I made a big jump 2 years ago and love that my days are filled with leadership and team coaching or designing and leading workshops. I am over the moon.

Plus I get to travel the world (my personal favorite hobby) and take my work with me or work from home with my 3 black cats.

What are the defining moments in having created this life you love?

Being a millionaire on paper for a week back in 2000 as the first employee of – we made a directory (actual book) of urls. This was before there were any search engines.

I spent 12 years in Healthcare and worked my way up to COO. I kept getting fired or leaving after making big changes at a health centers.

I now know I am an agent of change and get bored once the heavy lifting is done. At the time I never thought I could leave a job after a year so I stayed even thought I was bored.

I was introduced to coaching, improv and acting 3 years ago, within 2 months of each other, and it changed the course of my life.

Now I get to coach leaders and run workshops with teams as my day job.

Who are your key supporters along this journey – and what have they given you?

This is truly one of my biggest challenges, I crave mentorship and I continually outgrew these relationships quicker than I wanted to, until I found coaching.

CTI coaches inspire me everyday. CTI leaders warm my heart. I try to talk to 2 coach friends a week (at least) because every conversation helps me grow.

How do you now ‘pay-it-forwards’? What support and inspiration do you provide to others to enable them to create a life they love?

I share all my paperwork for coaching and I am always happy to have a call about coaching. I love hearing about other folks coaching journey and sharing tips with each other.

What’s your current favourite book recommendation?

I am a hands on leader. I love to assist for CTI or watch videos. I do love books and I would rather be jumping into the work.

So take a look at this TED talk: The Little Risks You Can Take To Increase Your Luck

What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve been given?

I asked my cousin if she regretted not having kids as I was considering skipping having kids. She said, I am pretty sure you regret it either way. From that moment on I felt so free and knew not having kids was going to be just fine.

What’s next for you on your journey?

As I said earlier – it’s waiting for me even though I don’t know what it is yet.

A Ted talk? More coaching, more workshops and more traveling….. more cats and more kisses from my husband of 18 years.

Create a life you love – Inspiring Stories: Jessica McClure

I have the pleasure of knowing some amazing people. People who have done extraordinary things with their ‘ordinary’ lives.  I’m very pleased to be able to say that Jessica McClure is one of them.

They have inspired me to think beyond the ‘normal’ as to what’s possible for my life – and I hope that by getting them to tell their stories here, they might just inspire a few others of you too.

Jessica McClure – Leadership & Life Design Coach

Jessica McClure

Tell us a little about yourself…

I believe that when we are living our best life, there is no need for balance.  

Sometimes we focus on some things more than other — so let go of the guilt and the “shoulds” that don’t have meaning for you.  Instead take the time to make a priority of the things you “want” to include in your life — I think too often we go on autopilot and the days just pass. 

It takes effort to make yourself and your desires a priority, but in the end it’s worth it because you can create so much more in your life when you let in the unknown.  

I try and honor that with my own life and working with clients to incorporate that in their own lives, as a Life & Leadership Coach.

How do you know Nicki?

I met Nicki on a magical island (Lopez Island) just over 18 months ago, with 8 other women, where we slept, dreamed, ate, conspired, cried and grew together, both as humans and as leaders.  

(You can read a little about Nicki’s journey to & from Lopez island here)

Tell us a little about the life that you have created – and what you most love about it?

I have created my own schedule that allows me to be with my family and also work one-on-one with people, to mirror back to them the life they want.  

I am drawn like a moth to a flame to connection, to community, to people and to conversations. This isn’t to say I don’t get nervous, don’t know what to say or love networking — it’s just that I have settled in to showing up and trusting that I will meet the people I am meant to meet or have the conversations that will have meaning for me.  

I believe that every interaction is a trading of energy — I’m supposed to learn something from you or you are supposed to learn something from me. If I come with that attitude, than an interaction is always meaningful, even when it isn’t apparent. You never know the impact or the random comment that might affect you — I still remember snippets from movies, conversations, listening to others, experiences, reading that have made a profound impact.  If I didn’t get out of my comfort zone and do things that were sometimes scary – I wouldn’t have had many of those experiences or growth for my own life.

So I guess what I love is that my life is not predictable.  I love that every interaction can change the course of my future.   

And what is predictable, is that my husband and kids can still make me laugh so hard that I have to run to the bathroom!

What are the defining moments in having created this life you love?

Oh wow, such a great question.  …It’s interesting to notice dots in my past that would have taken my trajectory in a completely different direction… no right or wrong.  Just being aware that every decision does shift the future.

My chronological dots are:  

– working in a corporate world for many years and never feeling like my puzzle piece fit in with the others;

– watching a reality show years and years ago when a person had a life coach and I remember being so intrigued;

– a random night sitting in a hotel room with 10 other women and having one of them ask me if I took a class on how to “communicate”;  

– reading Sheryl Sandbergs Lean IN book — which I hated and made me want to tell others to Lean OUT (this one was a big dot);

– “praying” before bed one night asking for a sign as to what I should do for my career and my dream of three women – one collecting mushrooms, one teaching yoga and then me “to speak” – two days after this dream writing in my journal “teach others to find their dharma” and three days later in the aisle of Costco my husband telling me he thought I would be a good life coach (I hadn’t shared the dream or the journal entry with him);

– meeting a pivotal person that encouraged me to create Lean OUT – a group of 8 women – and oddly enough, my entry into Lean In Seattle;

– a vision in meditation of 3 women and me sitting in a circle, I saw a symbol – a star with 4 points and each woman was a point – connection, spirit, movement and grounding.  And seeing how this symbol with its meaning has shaped my own growth.

– And the constant standing up for myself, against society, my family, some friends (never my husband or good friends) about getting a “real job”.

Every time I had to defend my choice,

I became stronger in my choice and stance.

Who are your key supporters along this journey – and what have they given you?

Countless supporters who have believed in me and lifted me up when I didn’t believe in myself.  

My husband — who has never questioned this path and what it entailed, specially when it financially didn’t make sense and it would have been easy for him to tell me to “go get a job”.  He gave me inspiration/belief when I doubted myself and the permission to be selfish in achieving my dreams – holding the confidence for me when I didn’t have it myself.

Inspiring coaches who are doing it – and who have had faith in me as well, to trust me with their clients.  

My clients who have made huge shifts in their lives and I get to witness them empowering themselves to go big.  

Random meetings that turned into new clients, workshops that I facilitated that helped my growth as well as the people who attended.  

Honestly, it always feels like the universe seems to support my growth, exactly with what and who I need at the time and with time my confidence in myself has grown and I’ve learned to be courageous in the face of fear.

How do you now ‘pay-it-forwards’? What support and inspiration do you provide to others to enable them to create a life they love?

I mentor in the year-up organization.  

I speak to everyone, not with the goal of “coaching” them, but to have a greater connection.  I am genuinely curious about people and about their trajectory.

By leading with my truth I hopefully inspire others to do the same.  

I write and I often hear that something I wrote was exactly what someone needed to hear — or that they read it and have an “and I think…..” which creates a bigger conversation.  

By putting myself out there – I think it shows people it’s not so scary to do it themself.

What’s your current favourite book recommendation?

OOOH, that’s tough.  I have 10 books on the side of my bed right now…  

One that has made a big impact on me and has taught me how to talk to my “inner self” is Carolyn Myss, Sacred Contracts and everything Dr. Joe Dispenza (most recently Breaking the habit of being yourself) for understanding the science behind the brain.

But the book I recommend the most, and I think every person should read (especially women) is Women Who Run With The Wolves by Dr. Clarissa Pikola Estes.

What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve been given?

There are not two people in this world who are the same.  Don’t look to others for your path — inspiration yes, but follow your own path – and delete anyone from your life who makes you feel less than (social media or in real life).  

And trust. Trust in the journey and that you are meant to be happy.

What’s next for you on your journey?

Continuing coaching one-on-one.  Facilitating more womens groups – a smaller lean out and currently creating a monthly cross-generational larger group format for women to learn from each other.  

Letting the universe surprise and delight me with more opportunities, people and undertakings – while I do the “work” on my side.

Connect with Jessica and find out more about how she can help you find clarity by visiting her website:

Create a life you love – Inspiring Stories: Steph Wong

I have the pleasure of knowing some amazing people. People who have done extraordinary things with their ‘ordinary’ lives.  Steph Wong is one of them.

They have inspired me to think beyond the ‘normal’ as to what’s possible for my life – and I hope that by getting them to tell their stories here, they might just inspire a few others of you too.

Steph Wong – Gluten Free Baker & Entrepreneur

Steph Wong
Steph Wong (bottom left) & the WHO’s team

Tell us a little about yourself…

When I was small, I had ideas of what I wanted to do when I grew up.   They weren’t always concrete jobs or professions, but there were requirements to the kind of future I wanted.

I grew up knowing that I wanted a job where I could travel the world, where I could become a mentor, and eventually become my own boss. Most importantly, I knew I wanted to do something that helped people or where I felt like I could make an impact.

So I went through a series of jobs during high school and college, learning what I could about the different fields that I was interested in. The list included everything from camp counselor & dentist assistant to magician’s assistant, muay thai instructor training and managing a handmade lampshade factory.  I then ‘settled down’ into a corporate role as a project manager and finally a production manager.

All of it seems so disconnected, but each job gave me insight to who I wanted to be, what kind of people I wanted to work with, how to work with and lead people, and how to manage tasks that seemed near impossible! [Thanks Imagination].

However, after a while, I got to feeling that I wasn’t being challenged enough.  I wasn’t learning anything new and the support that I needed to grow was not there.

Prior to this I had some health issues, and found out that I had celiac disease, which is what brought about the next big change in my life.

I had a hard time finding good food and snacks while being on the road, so I started to make my own. I shared it with friends, family and coworkers and they loved it. That’s when I realised that I could get back into doing something that made me happy.

I started WHOS Gluten Free in December of 2013.

I worked on the branding, the recipes and figuring out what people wanted by going to farmers markets and food festivals – all while working as a production manager. I slowly built up my business, funding it with my paychecks, but too scared to jump into it full-time. There was always that “what if it fails?”, or “what if I can’t pay my bills” in the back of my mind.

All of that changed though, when my mentor and ex colleague was diagnosed with ALS, which is a serious progressive neurodegenerative disease. It put things into perspective for me. This is a man, who worked hard and poured his life energy into his work, only to be let go and then diagnosed with this life altering disease. Did I want to end up in the same position as him? To put so much heart, soul & time into working towards an unknown future for somebody else’s company? The answer was an easy NO.

I spent some time planning my exit and gave my months notice. I have now been working at my bakery for 7 months. I have 3 employees, and have grown my accounts from 4 to 17.

Steph Wong

It’s still in its early stages, but I am proud of what I have accomplished so far. I feel like I don’t have a real job.  Not because I’m not taking this next stage seriously. But because I love what I’m doing.

I don’t dread waking up at ungodly hours to bake bagels or bread. I enjoy baking and cooking, even if I have to stand on my feet for 12 -15 hours straight. To me, its something that I want to do. So maybe the best type of job for anyone, is a job that doesn’t feel like a “job”.

How do you know Nicki?

I answered an add on Craigslist for a project assistant position at Imagination New York.

After meeting Nicki & the team, I was hired for the job.

We were like a mini family the first few years – working/traveling together across the US.

I learned a lot about myself from Nicki and she gave me more confidence – reminding me that I need to speak up for myself and be my own cheerleader.

Tell us a little about the life that you have created – and what you most love about it?

Most days I wake up early and walk the dog, then head to the bakery to make to-do lists for my bakers. Bake, make deliveries, talk to the neighbors, and build a community around the bakery.

Compared to what I was doing before, this all seems fun and easy.

I love coming to the bakery, knowing that we are helping people and making it easier for them to find delicious gluten-free snacks and healthy gluten-free food.

Steph Wong

It really makes my day when parents come in with their kids, who have serious sensitivities and allergies, and feel at ease. They don’t have to worry about cross contamination – or chemically processed foods and flavors, because it is so abundant in the GF products found in the super markets.

I am also consciously working on a better work life balance – which is a lot easier now that I have 1 job instead of 2 full-time jobs. I am still learning how to slow down with the workload and focus more on my mental and physical health without feeling guilty. I started a run group in my building complex, I am organizing a team of 12 for a 2 day relay race, training for a sprint triathlon & learning how to swim.

What are the defining moments in having created this life you love?

Looking back into the past I can see how the things I wanted for myself subconsciously guided my decisions in life.

Pivotal point 1 “Leaving the nest”. I moved away from my family, friends and everything I knew to start a new life. I wanted to see if it was something that I could do, if I could survive on my own.

Pivotal point 2 “Finding my career” By accepting the job as project assistant at Imagination, I hit my dream goal of traveling and seeing different parts of the country while working. I moved up the “ladder” and then changed career paths. I learned how to work with people, how to get people behind your idea and most importantly I learned more about myself through relationships I had with my colleagues and managers.

Pivotal point 3 “Lifestyle change” I had a lot of health issues and went to doctors for years, before figuring out that I had Celiac disease.

I changed the way I ate, went out less to avoid getting sick, and started a bakery.

I went to farmers markets every weekend that I was not traveling and met great people. Within 5 months of farmers markets, I opened a retail location with 2 other women business owners. We formed a co-op space, that brought the community together, with 3 completely different businesses.

I had the GF bakery, there was a specialty tea bar and bath and body workshop that focused on afrocentric products. I felt like we were making a statement and that it was the coolest thing to be a part of.

When we came into this part of town (Jersey City, NJ) – there was nothing like us.  Now it’s an up and coming area with several specialty bakeries and restaurants. I like to think we made the area more desirable. Then we were growing and needed a bigger kitchen space – so relocated to another part of Jersey City.


Pivotal point 4 “Dead end” I felt trapped at times and that whatever I did was not enough.

I believe as women we have to learn and accept the fact that


…maybe better for the job than the male counterparts that we get passed over for.

Once we believe in ourselves, then it gives us the power to fight against the micro- aggressions and stand up to it.

If we don’t believe in ourselves, we begin accepting what is handed to us without question. I know I let that happen for too long – by the time I realized my worth – I decided that it was time to start a new journey.

Pivotal point 5 “Creating the culture” Its like the saying goes, if you want something done right, do it yourself.

I’ve taken what I’ve learned in the past 10 years, to create a space where we feel empowered to do better everyday.

I teach my employees everything I know, answer all their questions about starting their own bakery.

I help other gluten-free bakers by renting my space out – giving them contacts and tips on wholesaling.

Some people tell me that I am helping the competition. But I don’t feel that, I feel like I’m helping someone live out their dream – and that is what matters at the end of the day.

How many people can say they helped or encouraged someone to do something great with their lives or that they helped them live out one less regret?

We are on the outskirts of Jersey City, far from the popular downtown area. These are the areas that I feel like need a space like ours, a safe space for kids to hang out after school. A place to get healthy food at affordable prices. A place to have donation based yoga classes, or educational classes on food and health. Theres a lot more about the disparity in my part of Jersey City and the downtown area…(but I think that would have to be another article.)

Who are your key supporters along this journey – and what have they given you?

My key supporters are my friends and family – they jumped in feet first with me.


Steph Wong

They stayed up late baking with me, woke up early to load up the car for the markets, then they stood out in the hot sun and pouring rain with me to sell my baked goods, without asking for anything in return.

Steph Wong

They believed enough in me, in my idea and my cause to sacrifice their nights and weekends to see my dreams come to fruition. They even packed up my apartment and my bakery when I was on the road for work, because our lease was up and we were moving to a new location. I don’t know what kind of friend would help you move, while you were out doing something else. I think I might just have some crazy best friends.

It also helps that my boyfriend believes in my work so much, that he pushed me to choose the path that I am on now.  Without the financial stability he helped to provide, I would have had a harder time transitioning from my “9-5” to living out my best life.

How do you now ‘pay-it-forwards’? What support and inspiration do you provide to others to enable them to create a life they love?

I rent out my kitchen to other small businesses who are just starting out or trying to figure out what their next stage is.

I have partnered with other women owned businesses.

We also hold community events in our space like, donation based yoga, since it is not easily available to everyone.

What’s your current favourite book recommendation?

Right now I’m reading Codex Alera, it’s a 6 part fantasy book. I like to read a ton of fiction, instead of watching tv, to escape.

What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve been given?

I can’t narrow any one piece of advise or quote down, but I know that when I’m feeling a little less than enthusiastic about life, I can count on Walter Raymond.

Without realizing it – he regurgitates little simple truths, idioms and tons of wisdom. He helped me get through a lot of self-doubt without realizing it Here is the most recent excerpt from Walter.

“What I need and what you need is different.

The point is you don’t need much to be successful.

You find your core needs, and get them to serve you fully, what can’t you achieve?”


What’s next for you on your journey?

I started an app company with a group of friends back in December of 2017. I’m planning on putting more time into this, as it’s still in the content development stages. We hope to launch a prototype in January so we can start speaking to investors.

Once that gets under way, I plan on being part of the Forbes 40 under 40 list. Maybe for the bakery, maybe for this new app, maybe for something completely different.

All I know is I’ve got a few years left to make the list and a lot of work to do!

Connect with Steph Wong and Whos Gluten Free Bakery here:

Feeling inspired? Want to work out your first step to create a life you love?

Get in touch with Nicki and schedule your free introductory coaching session.

Create change

create change
Photo by Joshua Ness on Unsplash

So how does coaching create change?

Coaching does not have a formula.  Sometimes I wish it did, as it would make my job more straightforward.  But it doesn’t.  Coaching is inherently dynamic. It’s personal and unique.  And when done well… it creates a unique empowered relationship for change that can sometimes feel like ‘magic’… But there is more to it than fairy dust and a good sprinkling of luck…

So how can I make it more understandable? Less mythical?  More tangible and visibly ‘valuable’ to those who are interested but unclear about the practicalities?

I’ll try my best here.  As understanding how coaching could help to create change for you, is the best first step I can take to help spread the word about what is possible when you decide you’re ready to create a life you love.

What coaching is…

For the official ICF definition, and the detailed blurb about what coaching is (& isn’t) take a look here.

For my shorter (sweeter?) answer, read on…

Coaching is a deliberate, focused conversation designed to support the person being coached (the client) into clarifying choices and working out how to make real change.

Coaching offers a ‘recharging’ space, where the client gets to tap into a positive source of energy that is needed to get over the hurdles in their life, to create change.

It’s a safe AND courageous space, where the truth gets to be spoken (by both the coach & the client) and the client can breathe, experiment, dream & strategise without any limitations.

It’s a rare environment – and a truly supportive one.

It starts by working out where the client is. (You are here. Where is here??) And then works to design where they want to be – creating a compelling vision that pulls them along, past the barriers of lethargy and fear.

It requires commitment. On both sides of the relationship.

The client must commit to exploring, learning, taking risks, persevering even when difficult – investing time & energy to go beyond their comfort zone – to be able to truly create change.

And as the Coach, I have to commit too.

To my clients and their vision.

I have to commit to digging deep, to listening (to what is said… and what is not said), to inciting, to motivating, to challenging, to insisting.  Because I know that my client is not just here to create change.  I know that they are able to transform.

And my biggest joy comes in seeing the caterpillars turn into the beautiful butterflies they were always meant to become.

Ready to create change?

Interested in how you can create change for yourself?

Get in touch and we can schedule a free, introductory session so you can experience what coaching is like for yourself.