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The Steward Project

The Steward Project

By Nicole Steward, MSW
Welcome to The Steward Project, a space to discuss the intersections of service, social justice, spirituality & self-care. Each one an important aspect for helpers, healers & change makers to stay healthy, happy, and effective in the work we do.
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Episode 19: Global Pandemic as Opportunity
Hi Friends!  In this moment, we are all in some form of shelter-in-place/lockdown/quarantine as we try to navigate this global pandemic.  COVID-19 has taken over our lives.  And for some of us, it's created some dysregulation and feelings of instability.   The truth is, we are experiencing a global TRAUMA.  And many of us are experiencing the stages of grief and loss as we have lost our routines, our jobs, and for some of us, the loss of "busy-ness" may be creating a sort of identity crisis.  For those of us who identified with our work as Helpers, Healers, and Changemakers...this transition is hard. We may even be having an existential crisis. BUT...many of you have been pulling into your Radical Self-Care practice.  This RSC practice has given us some level of resilience.  And while we are experiencing a global trauma, we are also witnessing global RESILIENCE.  Some of us are ready to focus on the future, considering the ways we want to change our systems, our patterns, and our personal habits.  This pandemic is creating a beautiful opportunity for us to create new ways of being and doing and working! My call to action: Join me on a ZOOM call Thursday, April 2, 2020 at 4pm PST/7pm EST.  We will discuss how we want to shift how we show up in this new world we are about to create!
April 01, 2020
Episode 18: Radical Self-Care & Remembering
Radical Self-Care for Helpers, Healers & Change-makers includes the regular practice of REMEMBERING. As our work gets more challenging and our world gets more chaotic, it’s vital to pull back into our WHY. Work with other humans is why THIS work? Remembering who we are, at the core of our being, helps us gain an understanding of the ways we are drawn to the work of helping, healing & making change.  Once we remember who we are & why we do this work, we begin to understand how our passion is used (or abused) to keep us overworked & underpaid. We begin to unravel the root causes of our stress and overwhelm when we take time in the space of Remembering. Then we’re able to use the power of remembering our WHY & our PASSION so that we can reignite that fire to keep us sustained in this amazing work we love...the work of Helping, Healing & Making Change!
November 02, 2019
Episode 17: Guided Meditation-Expanding Our Container
In this episode of The Steward Project podcast, I'm offering something a little different. This episode, I'm offering a guided meditation to help us expand our containers in order to thrive in a challenging world as we do radical work.  When I was in Mexico for my yoga retreat, I made sure to sneak down to the beach and record this guided meditation for you!   This is one of my personal Radical Self-Care practices...whenever I'm in nature (whether it's the ocean, a lake, the redwoods, or a warm summer night with crickets singing), I record a minute or two of the sounds.  Then I listen to the sounds again in a moment when I need a break.  I highly recommend this practice. Another way to ground ourselves in the midst of chaos. After you listen to this 11 minute guided meditation, I'd love to know how it was for you!  Leave me a comment or come to the blog to share your experience!  For more information, visit
June 10, 2019
Episode 16: Radical Self-Care Reality Check
In this episode of The Steward Project podcast, I'm sharing what I call the Radical Self-Care Reality Check.   Rates of burn-out, chronic illness, and death by suicide are on the rise among Helpers, Healers, and Change-makers.  This has long-term impacts on us as human beings but also impacts the outcomes we are trying to achieve for those we serve and for the world on a larger scale.  We must do something to stem this tide and turn it around.   A Radical Self-Care practice is necessary for Helpers, Healers, and Change-makers.  For many of us, the issues/work/professions we are drawn to and become passionate about are deeply personal to us and may speak to a deep wounding we experienced in the past.  This can be a strength and a challenge.  When the work we do in the world requires us to be emotionally engaged with an issue or with individuals, our own wounds can be triggered.  This triggering causes a stress response that can get out of control, causing us to burn-out, get sick, and sometimes can even lead to death either of chronic illness or by suicide. In this episode, I share the data on what's happening now in the world of Helpers, Healers, and Change-makers and what we can do to change this.  When we are doing radical work in the world, we must meet that with Radical Self-Care to keep us sustained and thriving in our work.  For more information, visit
May 13, 2019
Episode 15: Cultivating Compassion as an act of Radical Self-Care
In this episode of The Steward Project podcast, we're exploring the cultivation of compassion as an act of Radical self-care.   Compassion is the foundation of a Radical Self-Care practice.  Without self-compassion, we may not believe that we need or are worthy of the same care we give to others.  We may feel that self-care is selfish or a luxury.  But what we are seeing now is an epidemic of compassion fatigue and burn-out of helpers, healers and change-makers.  If we want to mitigate burn-out, we must cultivate a practice of self-compassion. Compassion means "to have concern for the suffering of others".  The root words are COM (with) and PASSION (suffering) and the Latin origin word "compati" means "to suffer with".  In order to sit with the suffering of others, we must have compassion for them...and in order to sit with the suffering of others without becoming overwhelmed by them, we MUST have self-compassion.  Self-compassion allows us to see life from a different perspective, to commit to deep, courageous self-care practices, to prioritize rest and time off, and allows us the space (time & energy) to be with others' suffering while also tending to our own. Toward the goal of Cultivating Compassion, I'd also like to invite you to a yoga & sound healing retreat April 15-19, 2019 in Puerto Morelos, Mexico.  We will be cultivating compassion through a daily practices of yoga, meditation, sound healing and restorative yoga.  For more information, visit
March 13, 2019
Episode 14: The Truth About Burn-Out
In this episode of The Steward Project Podcast, I'm getting real about burn-out.  It's a topic that is coming up a lot and there is growing awareness of what burn-out is and how it impacts us.  However, there is a special flavor of burn-out experienced by those of us in the Helping, Healing, or Change-making fields. Join me for this in-depth discussion on the classic signs/symptoms of burn-out, how burn-out impacts us, our work and the outcomes we hope to achieve, and what we can do about it. What are your thoughts on burn-out?  Have you experienced on yet?  What has it taught you and what changes did you make? What's your self-care go-to?  Let me know by posting a comment on my blog:
February 26, 2019
Episode 13: Love, Light and Good Vibes Only
In this episode of The Steward Project, I want to talk about Love & Light and Good Vibes Only. Now, you know I'm a big believer in Love & Light. And in Good Vibes. Absolutely. But there's this way of using these things to cover up sadness, anger, frustration, or hopelessness. It's used to silence the pain of others, to invalidate the uncomfortable experiences of others (like illness or trauma). We use it to push away the reality of our bad habits. We use it to numb ourselves out from discomfort. We use it to dissociate from the reality of the world.  Our challenge is to experience ALL the "vibes", all the emotions, and learn how to navigate them while moving towards Love & Light.  And to understand that when we allow ourselves to experience the full range of emotions, life is sweeter and we can really pull into the Love & Light in an authentic way. What has been your experience with Love, Light and Good Vibes Only?   Let me know by posting a comment on my blog:
January 21, 2019
Episode 12: On Healing and Healers
In this episode of The Steward Project, let's talk about Healing and Healers.  Let me start by saying I believe in healing and I believe there are Healers in the world.  The healing process requires reverence and space to truly work...but what happens when everyone is promising to "heal" us with a 60 minute yoga class or a sound healing or a reiki session?  What about people who claim to be Healers? Don't get me wrong. These practices (yoga, meditation, sound healing, reiki, etc) are very real and can help us along in our healing process. These practices can help open us up to new possibilities and allow us to make big changes toward healing. And there are real, indigenous Healers in the world. But if someone is telling you they have THE thing that is going to heal you or that they are a the other way! A few things I highlight in this episode are simple reminders about healing and healers: - Healing from trauma is possible and takes time.  It requires safe spaces to experience what can be a messy process. - The goal of a healing journey is to untangle what about how we behave today is a response to the trauma we experienced and seek ways to unpack that response and figure out how it's impacted our lives. - We are able to harm each other through our interactions (most trauma happens in interpersonal relationships) AND we are able to HEAL each other through those same interactions (safe, healthy relationships flood our systems with oxytocin, the bonding chemical). - "We can damage each other's health by repeatedly activating the stress response, but we also have the power to heal ourselves and others biologically..." Dr. Burke Harris. - Yoga, Mindfulness, Meditation, Sound Healing, Reiki, etc. are deep, courageous self-care practices that can be part of our healing by allowing us to open & investigate what healing might look like for us. - Healing includes investigating what we are carrying that may not be ours to carry...(See Podcast Episode 6: Caring vs. Carrying) What has been your experience with healing, with healers, or with these practices?  What has worked for you?  What hasn't worked for you?  What does healing mean to you and what does it look like? After you listen, jump on my blog at for links & show notes!
January 07, 2019
Episode 10: Permission to Slow Down
In this episode of The Steward Project, I want to give you permission to SLOW DOWN. As helpers, healers, activists, and changemakers, we are exposed to a lot of oppression and injustice in the world. And we often run towards it in order to be of service to those suffering first-hand from these injustices. But sometimes, we have to slow down, pull away, and take some time for ourselves. In this episode, I share that NO is a complete sentence and one we should use more often; that self-care is a daily practice of being attuned to what our bodies need and operating with compassion and kindness to meet that need for ourselves; and that we shouldn't wait until we get sick. It's easy to get carried away by the challenges in the world, but in order to stay sustained in this helping, healing, activist and change-making work, we must commit to self-care, which includes...slowing down. After you listen, jump on my blog at for links & show notes!
September 26, 2018
Episode 9: Spiritual Bypass & Bullsh*t Manifesting
Spiritual Bypass is defined as, "the use of spiritual practices and beliefs to avoid dealing with our painful feelings, unresolved wounds, and developmental needs." As we start any spiritual journey, we must become aware of spiritual bypass and how that can impact our path.  For some, coming across a teacher or "guru" who is engaging in spiritual bypass may cause them to pull away from spirituality altogether.  I want you to avoid that by being fully aware.   In this episode, I share about what Spiritual Bypass is and how it shows up.  And we can't talk about spiritual bypass without talking about "manifesting".  Manifesting is something I strongly believe in...AND, I think sometimes we make very blanket statements about what manifesting is to the point that it can become spiritual bypass in and of itself. Join me on this episode as we explore spiritual bypass and bullsh*t manifesting! After you listen, jump on my blog at for links & show notes.
September 12, 2018
Episode 8: Back to School for Homeless Youth-How you can help!
It's Back to School time!  Whether you're getting your own kids ready to go back to school or you're going back to school yourself (as a student or an educator), you know the supply shopping, getting that new first-day-of-school outfit, and preparing for the first day. The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act is the federal law that guides how schools identify, enroll, and support homeless students in public schools. While this is a time of excitement and new changes, for our homeless students, back to school time is one of anxiety and hardship. In this episode l share information about the McKinney-Vento Act, how it defines "homelessness", what supports it offers, and how YOU can help homeless youth in the schools near you. After you listen, jump on my blog at for additional show notes and links and let me know what you think!
August 25, 2018
Episode 7: Ethics & Humanity
This episode of The Steward Project Podcast came from a post I saw on Instagram. The post hit a nerve for me and when I saw the comments from fellow social workers I knew I had to address this topic: Ethics & Humanity. When we think about our work with clients, we must understand and uphold privacy and confidentiality.  Of course.  We must also hold very clear boundaries for our work and self care.  Of course. AND we can show our humanity by being human in our interactions with them in public/outside of our work. In this episode, I share some steps to ensure we can balance ethics & humanity. I'd love to know how this topic resonates for you. After you listen, jump on my blog at for additional show notes and links and let me know what you think!
July 26, 2018
Episode 6: Caring v. Carrying
This latest episode of The Steward Project podcast explores the difference between caring for others and carrying them. When we CARE for others, we help guide them towards love & belonging. When we CARRY others, we keep them from doing the accountability work needed to change but we also set ourselves up for serious burnout. Join me as I share how this awareness of CARING vs. CARRYING has shifted my personal view of boundaries as they relate to self-care. I hope this difference creates a shift for you as well. It's so important that we keep the scope of our work in check so we can continue this challenging helping, healing, and change-making work! Visit for additional show notes and links.
July 11, 2018
Episode 5: Trauma At The Border
Let’s talk about what’s happening on our southern border. The separation of families, specifically separation of children from their parents, is causing severe trauma. What does this mean? In this episode, I share briefly about what is meant when people say “these kids are being traumatized” and share a few tips on self-care as we fight these despicable actions.
June 24, 2018
Episode 4: Mental Health, Depression & Suicide
Welcome to Episode 4 of The Steward Project Podcast, a conversation on mental health. Specifically, depression and suicide in the wake of the recent suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. If you or someone you love suffers from depression or have/have had suicidal thoughts, this is the episode for you. In this episode, I share some brain science around depression, my personal experience with depression and suicide, and some answers to common questions. Is depression just a "chemical imbalance" in the brain? Do all people who suffer with depression become suicidal? What is going on in the brain when someone is suicidal? How do I help? Resources: - Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) - - Anxiety & Depression Association of America ( - Visit for additional show notes and links.
June 18, 2018
Episode 3: Foster Care Part 2
May is Foster Care Awareness month! This month I'm sharing about the foster care system. This beast of a system that cares for almost half a million kids yearly is still somewhat mysterious to those outside of it. This is part 2 of a 3-part series... Part 1: The What, Where & How of foster care w/ data & info; Part 2: The Who of foster care, sharing my personal journey; Part 3: *possible* Interview w/ a former foster youth In this episode, I share my own personal journey as a foster youth advocate and then a foster parent. I share my WHY, my start as a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate), and a few experiences I've had with my foster kids. I hope you enjoy! Visit for show notes and links.
May 27, 2018
Episode 2: Foster Care part 1
May is Foster Care Awareness month! This month I'm sharing about the foster care system. This beast of a system that cares for almost half a million kids yearly is still somewhat mysterious to those outside of it. This will be a 3-part series... Part 1: The What, Where & How of foster care w/ data & info; Part 2: The Who of foster care, sharing my personal journey; Part 3: *possible* Interview w/ a former foster youth Do you know how many youth are in foster care or how many are available for adoption each year? Do you know how many foster youth "age-out" of the system each year or what their outcomes look like? Join me as I share this data (and more!) to help you understand this system and how you can get involved. Visit for show notes and links.
May 10, 2018
Episode 1: Meet Nicole
Welcome to The Steward Project podcast! In this first episode, Nicole shares about the journey thus far and how 20+ years of social work experience has informed her current work in the world. How did she get started in social work? What has the path over a 20 year career looked like? What are the challenges we face in this helping, healing, and change-making work? How can we work together in this space to find healing and support for each other? Join the conversation!
May 01, 2018
Intro to The Steward Project
Hi there! I'm Nicole Steward and I'd like to introduce you to The Steward Project podcast. The goal of this podcast is to create a space to discuss the intersections of service, social justice, spirituality and self-care. Yes, that's a lot of S's but each one is vital to those of us doing helping, healing or change-making work. Join me as we build this community of support and inspiration together. If you're like me, then you know this truth: we are all in this together and we belong to each other. Let's create a platform to share and support each other!
April 18, 2018