Wherever you go … Plant your feet.

amandaleephotography-337Two weekends ago, I went to camp.

In the weeks leading up, I was very focused on only one thing. Packing. I mean ... camp? The when you were a kid, up north kinda camp. I had to find my sleeping bag and then make sure there were no strange inhabitants in there after spending years all rolled up. Not to mention the long list of “don’t forget to brings” such as blanket, flashlight, rubber boots, long john’s, toque? Wait, did that say…toque? This was September, on the heels of summer! But I digress.

I was going to camp.

But this was no ordinary camp – this was “Fall Fit Weekend” – 220 woman all geared up and ready to … get fit? I had no idea what I was getting myself into but from the list of ‘activities’ to choose from, I knew I had 5 classes to attend on our Saturday. The camp weekend is the brainchild of Kimberly-Jo Turley-Smith, a beautiful, glowing gal with a smile that has you drawn in immediately. She views the camp experience as a safe, magical place where we are all equal, we all get to be “cool” and we get to be in a very grounding environment – away from our responsibilities, if only for a short, sweet weekend.

Our group set off, first shoving 7 women (who were all fantastic and accomplished in their own right and pictured above!) and all our ‘stuff’ into two vehicles, not before being gifted personalized hats, each with a different saying fitted to our personalities, from our leader, Anna Ruff; who is a natural motivator herself. I’ve known Anna since highschool but I got to watch her, in her element, having recruited myself and five other women for the weekend and so I call her a ‘leader’ because of this but also because of her amazing trail-blazer energy – where Anna goes, you just want to follow. After I’d completed bootcamp for an hour, then another hour of a KILLER pilates class led by Lori-Ann Succo McLeod (just google her, trust me), I thought I might literally fall over. I wanted to skip kickboxing, my next class. Anna convinced me to go with her and it turned out to be the most grueling and fun hour of my day. Who knew punching and kicking could feel so awesome!

I also managed to sneak in an hour of time just for me. First, I met with Laurie Goodman, a fabulous photographer who has been doing an amazing project called "Life Messages". She's collected so many now, she decided to compile them in a book which she is launching tomorrow! Check her work out here.


But beyond the physical aspect of Fall Fit, Anna saw in me a need to have this weekend. There was no pressure, no pushing. Just encouragement. I said “yes”, and that, funnily enough, was the theme of the weekend. Whatever opportunity crosses your path, just say “yes”. Go for it and have some faith. Take the plunge (yes, I actually did the polar bear dip, twice!).

Packing only the essentials and entering into a two day stint with some women I’d never met – ended up being exactly what I needed. To get out of my space, out of my head, out of my comfort zone. I was not alone. I think there were many other women there just like me. There’s something about challenging yourself that reconnects you with you. Everything you need is in YOU. Your most awesome, deserving, empowering friend, is you. That’s a very tough thing to chew on, but it begs the question - what have you done for YOU lately?

For me, the fall fit weekend was an act of self-kindness. I'm so glad I said yes.

Life Messages image courtesy of Laurie Goodman Photography.

Group photo courtesy of Amanda Lee Photography



Today I did something really stupid.

I keep thinking about it. I start to forget and then, WHAM – it creeps back into my mind and I feel small all over again.

So I’m having a hard time letting it go.

Selfishly, I’m hopeful this blog post will help me with that issue.

I forgot … completely forgot … how to be compassionate. How to, even for a second, think like a somewhat compassionate person.

Without going too deep into the people and players, let me just say I got angry. A supplier didn’t do what he said he was going to do which resulted in me being very inconvenienced. He gave a really lame excuse (at least in my eyes) and when I called his bluff he had to dance around it a bit and basically proceeded to tell me he was sorry he couldn’t help because he was very busy with his second business.

Basically – he didn’t really care about my issue and he let me know it.

Isn’t this on the customer service 101 list of DON’T EVER DO?????

Well then I got really mad. Here is where I went wrong. Instead of letting the anger sit for a little bit (which would have resulted in some dissipation of the emotion, I am sure) I wrote him right back.

I told him I was disappointed.

I might have accused him of not being honest.

And then I challenged (no, I JUDGED) his way of running his business. I might have insinuated he sucked at it.

For a few hours at least, it felt kinda good. I mean, I told him what I really thought – gave him a piece of my mind, let him know it was not OK by me that he didn’t care about me as a customer.

When I received his response text (while I was working with a client, I might add) I started to heat up. You know that feeling when something has happened and you just can’t go back, and you KNOW you were wrong and you feel stupid and small and awful and sick and like you want to fall into any size hole in the floor that would take you?

Yep, that. This man’s car broke down and he’s had to take a second job to pay for a cancer drug that might help his wife of 32 years who is dying of Cancer.

And he really let me have it. He told me I had no right to judge him when I didn’t even know his circumstances.

Now, some might say it was not fair of him to make it personal (after-all, my rant was completely professional) – which is kinda true. And others might say he could be further scamming me with a sob story.

In any case, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is how that made me feel. He should have just said I’m an awful person and it would have had the same effect.

Of course, I wrote with an apology – that I never intended to judge and that I was very sorry. That I understood. That I wished him well.

He never responded.

So, people – here’s the lesson – at least, my take away :

Try not to be too harsh when you feel someone isn’t meeting your expectations. Maybe you don’t know their whole story. Maybe they are doing the very best they can. Maybe they have it worse than you. Maybe they just need some compassion. Someone to say “it’s OK, I understand”.

Next time, I’ll be checking my ego at the door and thinking about today.

Social Media Meltdowns?

facebook-lulea-data-centerI recently saw a story on TV about Facebook’s data centre. It freaked me out. We post photos, comments and likes and never think about it again. But, it’s all housed in their massive warehouses located in a small town at the northern edge of the Baltic Sea, 62 miles south of the Arctic Circle.

Weird eh?

Anyway, so it’s their birthday and they launched a stupid movie link (which, btw, mine had the same photo show up twice in the 1 min clip – shame on them. Yep…I WAS curious enough to watch). Whatever.

I read a great article all about 'social media lying' written by a young mom. She lovingly referred to Facebook as 'Fakebook' and rewrote posts made by other moms in the 'real' sense. Waking up to well-rested, smiling children who get along and behave marvelously turned into waking at 4:50am to groggy, cranky, stinky children who then proceeded to spill cereal all over the place, among other things. So, which is real? I would have to guess the latter is more probable and that the former is ... possible?

But the article really begged the question for me ... is it OK to give ourselves permission to just say it like it is sometimes? And when does saying it like it is just too plain personal? Don’t get me wrong, I love being on a personal level with my friends and family. But for some reason, I resist being too personal on my twitter or Facebook page. For some people there does not seem to exist a real line here.

There are some things I just don't want to read about you. Some things just make me feel a little ... icky. However, I can recognize that for some, perhaps social media is their only outlet for being able to express themselves in this personal way. Or maybe it’s just their favourite way. Perhaps they are seeking approval in their lives or they want to make their life look really cool. Or maybe they want that feeling of instant support. Watching for ‘likes’ does that…doesn’t it?

It makes me wonder, what did we DO before social media came along? I find myself longing for a time when I just called a friend or made a plan. Can you imagine just making a plan? I’m talking about not being able to know where someone is or follow them on a GSP system telling you how many minutes away they are (which is extremely convenient I must add!). You made a plan to meet at a certain spot and a certain time. And if someone didn’t’ show up, they didn’t show up and no one thought anything of it.

Having said all of that, I realize social media is a connector. It gives us news and information immediately. It's great for business and raising awareness for causes. I get all that. When I first joined, I was a bit scared. But then it became fun each day to see who had sent a friend request. My best friends from camp, an ex-boyfriend who moved to the states, old school friends and then there was THAT guy ... the one I had crushed on for years. It was both awesome and depressing to have a glimpse into a life that I'd fantasized about being mine...

But I digress.

I guess in some ways, social media has made me feel more connected AND more disconnected. This is still my personal struggle with it. I have both real friends (I’ll say ‘real friends’ as a differentiation between those who are actually in my life vs. the old camp friend) and non-friends (those people whom I knew from my past but are no longer in touch) and I suspect this is the norm. Only a few of my friends in media have thousands of “friends” who they don’t even know. I sometimes feel like I’m ‘caught up’ with someone based on them showing up in my feed. It’s nice … but it’s also a bit false.

I’ve tried to keep a very level head over the years when it comes to social media. I’ll admit there have been times when I’ve seen my ‘real friends’ (yep, real) at an event or party, and I’m at home in my fat pants reading the post. Here’s my truth – it makes me feel bad. BUT, only for a few, short moments. I have enough confidence to know that I’m not at that particular gathering for a reason and my friends have a right to see who they want, when they want, myself included or not. I’m still valuable, loved and fun. And, I don’t need to feel bad.

And, fifteen years ago, I never would have even known about that party.

That, was bliss.

Wishing Peace and Joy

photoI'm stealing a moment away to write what will likely be my shortest post yet…

While my family showers and dresses in preparation for a country walk (albeit a cold one!) with our furry members, I am basking in the afterglow of another Christmas morning. Coffee, stockings, and opening gifts with a glass of bubbly is our family tradition.

This is not an easy time of year for everyone. It's the time of year where we tend to reflect and it's the annual time stamp for many … we think about what has happened this past year, relationships made or maybe lost, loved ones that may no longer be present, hard times and happy times. All packaged into another year gone, another year older.

But the energy and the spirit of today is palpable. At least, it is for me. There's a special beauty that covers everything on this day. I'm together with my family and that, quite simply, is awesome.

Wherever you are today, I wish you peace, joy and the ability to stand and bask in the glory that is Christmas.

See you in 2014.

What does being 'present' really mean? Really...

IMG_0881A friend of mine lost her father this weekend.

It was not expected. At least not for me. If it were, the family did a good job at not letting it be known. As a matter of fact, her mother has been ill and going through treatments – that much I did know.

Anyway, it does not matter. The loss is complete. Deep. Real. Forever. And my heart is feeling broken for her and her entire family. I do not know this pain, as I have not been through it. I do not want to know. But someday, I likely will. After all, saying goodbye to a parent (or parents) is a part of life. And, a difficult part, no doubt.

When I asked her. “What can I do?”, “What do you need?, she replied “Cherish your dad”.

This rocked me. Not because I don’t cherish my dad. But because I knew what she meant.

It got me to thinking of a conversation I often have with my husband and my mother. They are always (seemingly) after me for being on my smartphone or ipad or computer … and often while a conversation is going on around me. Or, when a conversation is happening WITH me. I hate to admit this. I resisted the technology for so long. I think it is just so rude…but yet, I do it. I figure since it’s family and since I have ‘work’ to do or an email to respond to or maybe … maybe my phone made a SOUND (gasp!) – god forbid I don’t get to it right away. Right? I mean, I’m so important…right?

I know this is the message I send to others when I do this. That I am more important than they are, in this moment, and that whatever, or, whomever is on the other end of that message – is more important than them.

When the fact is, NOTHING is more important than them. Nothing.

And so, I am really going to make a change. Make a new effort to put the damn devices down when I’m around people I love and am thankful to be with. There is nothing that needs your attention more than being PRESENT in the moment you’re in. TODAY is a gift, for we don’t know what will happen tomorrow – prepared for it or not.

Look people in the eye. Be engaged. Take a walk. Look at the sky. Hear the sounds. Respect the earth and simplicity of life. Make others feel like there is nothing more important than them. That’s what “presence” means to me.

Presently yours … kylie

Thanks :)

UnknownThank-you. Thanks. Thx. Tnks. TX.

I’ve seen it written many different ways. In this age of texting and emails and twitter and postings, it’s used an awful lot. These days it seems to be pretty much tossed around as an after-thought. But what’s really in saying or giving “thanks”? I’m not entirely sure we say it often enough to those people in our lives who have impacted us (either in a big way, or small) or supported us or who were just there at the right time, in the right place, saying the right things to get us through. It’s easy to say “thanks for the coffee” or “thanks for the chat” or “thanks for holding the door”. Those are things that come out of us somewhat unconsciously and we even say it to perfect strangers out of courtesy. “Thanks for being amazing” or “thanks for being beautiful” or “thanks for being my friend” or “thanks for being you”. These statements are not said often enough. So today, or tomorrow, or the next day…try it. Tell someone you love that you thank them for something BIG. Because THAT is what being thankful is truly about.

May the spirit of THANKSgiving bring you love, laughter and a warm heart.

Till the next pair of shoes … kylie

P.S. This picture reminds me of ... home.

Changing of the Seasons

IMG_1458I’ve always been really into fall. It’s my favourite time of year. I used to love the anxious anticipation I’d feel every September when I’d head back to school to see my friends. It always felt like there were many adventures awaiting me. I think I still feel it in the air every year, which I look forward to. I love the cooler nights and days requiring sweaters and even when I have to bust out my boots, I’m happy. But then … there’s also this bittersweet sadness I feel. Like saying goodbye to a camp friend you know you won’t see for a long while. Knowing you just didn’t have enough time to really say and do all you wanted to. That’s kinda how I feel about saying ‘see-ya’ to summer this year. It was really, really short. And really, really sweet – like most summers are I suppose. So, I’ll change my closets over sometime soon and trade my sandals for sorels. Soon … but not too soon … just in case ☺

Till the next pair of shoes … kylie

Waking on the Right Side


I was having lunch with a very dear friend yesterday. I don't get time with her often and life has been far less than kind to her. That's an understatement if i've ever made one. We got to chatting about how everyone has their own “s__*t”. Excuse me for that one, but really there is not a more appropriate word for it. We all know (deep down, anyway) that many people have it ‘worse’ off than us. You just have to turn on the news to see it. But, that does not take away from the fact that our life is our life and we have to get through our own experiences – both the good and the bad. It’s how we choose to respond to life’s lemons that really define if we come out smelling like, well ... roses ... or something else entirely. What’s that saying? It’s our REACTION to experiences that determine the outcome. Sometimes we need to have our own perspective tool, a way to put us on a path to having the kind of day we want. Am I breathing today? OK, well then great. It’s going to be a good day.

Till the next pair of shoes … kylie

Happy One Year to Me!


I recently traveled to western Canada and one fine afternoon, this was my view. As I was reflecting, I realized - one year ago (this month) I became certified as an image consultant and jumped into a new career with two wobbly feet. Like any new challenge, I’ve had moments of clarity and a few that felt somewhat terror-like. But, encouragement from friends, family, coaches and clients has remained steadfast. I had no idea how much this new venture would contribute to my own personal growth. That came as a total surprise. My perspective towards myself, others and life in a general sense, has changed for the better. And, one year in – fun things are happening. I’ve joined an agency as their “in-house” stylist, taken on a role as VP Marketing for the board of directors of my association (AICI) starting this fall, and I’ve partnered with two coveted Toronto boutiques so that I can bring an even more customized experience for my clients. Yep, I’m one happy and grateful human being.

Till the next pair of shoes … kylie



If you were asked to say what you like, or even love, about someone else – a friend, loved one, respected colleague or mentor … I bet you could. But if someone asked you to say that about yourself, chances are you’d have to pause and think. We are all striving for goodness, love and balance in our lives. No matter what your circumstances, this is a deep human intention that unites us all. So yes, while it is so important to be kind to others (always), it’s also very important to be kind to yourself. Forgive yourself and do the best you can with what you have to work with. Have kindness in your heart and that will always prevail.

Till you can walk in someone else’s shoe’s … kylie