Relationship Coach, Tara Caffelle, Talks Business, Balance & Bringing Couples Closer Together

My husband and I are 13 years in. We’re also 3 kids in. And 2 businesses in. And often it feels like we’re being pulled in every direction except together. We made a conscious decision, one that requires constant check-ins, to make time for each other…but relationships need more than just the scheduled date night now and again. And while catching a movie together on the couch is perfect after a long week, Tara Caffelle has better ideas for revving up your relationship’s engine.

When I heard that one of her clients dubbed her the Relationship Fairy Godmother I had to find out exactly why she earned that title and what she was all about. I had the chance to interview her about some of the things that are on my mind, and I’m sure many of you can relate as well.

Without further ado, here’s Tara!

What inspired you to start a business as the fairy godmother of relationships?

I have always known that our relationships and our communication have a ripple effect to everyone in our lives, and supporting these is my own way of affecting the change I would like to see in the world. The “fairy godmother” name actually came from a client I was working with a few years ago and it stuck.

They say that the roles we choose for ourselves in business or careers often carry with them personality traits, values or interests we had as children. Would you say this is true for you? If so, what have you carried over form childhood into this role as a relationship coach?

I think I was always pretty coach-like, while also being a bit of a bossy-boots…! The abilities I have that most serve the couples I work with—that I can see the truth when it’s not obvious, tease out empowerment and then harmonize it all—have always been with me, and it was a huge relief to find this work and have it hum along so smoothly for me. All coaches have the wealth of their own life experiences to add to their work, and I was lucky to have the family, relationships, and career behind me that benefit all of my clients now.

I agree that all the stones that pave our way contribute to who we are in the present. I like that you being able to be yourself benefits your clients!

As a woman and an entrepreneur, how do you balance the rest of your life? Do you have any support systems in place? Or any self-care measures you rely on?

This is something I’ve played with over the years, with varying success! I used to just work. All the time, all hours of the day and I would burn myself out, over and over again. And then after a tragic personal loss last year, I started to focus in on the softer side of my business, so now I hire a Dream Team to help me with things that I don’t enjoy and have no business doing or need support with, and I prioritize creating and resting because it helps me to keep moving forward. It’s been helpful to be strict with my boundaries and hours, and have personal goals (for example, I trained for and hiked the West Coast Trail this past summer) that get me outside. Keeping my own care intentional is one of my not-so-secret weapons.

I love that ‘rest’ is a priority for you and that self-care is intentional. It’s so easy to burn-out if you’re a one-woman show.

You talked about hiring people to do the parts of your business that are less enjoyable for you. So, what does make you jump out of bed in the morning? What do you LOVE about your work?

I just love, and I mean LOVE, having conversations with my clients, so that’s an easy answer. I get to spend my day having insightful, deep conversations and celebrating when my clients learn about themselves in new ways—I feel like I should pinch myself. I’m also writing my first book, so when I don’t have clients, that gets me out of bed pretty easily, too.

I’m sure your book will be fun and insightful to read!

OK, so imagine there is a woman reading this who is on the brink of starting her own business. What advice do you have for her, entrepreneur-to-entrepreneur?

Rest. Consider that sometimes the one thing you need to do to bring your business forward is to take a break and play with your kids at the park. Trust your intuition. Don’t get caught up in what everyone else is doing. Run your business from what feels great and has your heart, and you won’t go wrong. Learn from everything and everyone, and don’t be afraid to fail (it’s really the best place to learn.) And hire a coach to be a teammate with you.

That’s really great advice and even a little contradictory to what’s out there. As someone who is bombarded by sponsored ads and posts telling me I need to buy in to someone else’s techniques and ideas for earning 6 figures etc. it’s nice to hear that my intuition matters! Thanks for sharing that.

Now…couples stuff! What advice do you have for couples with small children who can’t seem to find the time or energy to be a couple, and not just partners running a household?

This can be tough and clients ask about this all the time. I think keeping it simple and intentional is key; spend just a few moments each day saying good-bye and greeting each other, take just 10 minutes to have a check-in on the day that goes a little deeper than “How was your day…good” and keep the connection mindful. I would recommend creating opportunities for connection while you make dinner or even land in the shower together at the end of the day. We can make this be an arduous thing and then we set ourselves up for failure, when “small things often” can do the job.

I’m sure you have more gems where that came from. You have a Super Couple Tune-Up retreat coming up on Sat Nov 19 in Burnaby. Can you tell us what couples can expect from this one day workshop?

I would love to tell you that there will be dancing bears and a fire walk, but the truth is, they’ll have some great conversations, learn some simple things that will keep them connected through all kids of challenges, and learn some practical tools. I will be guiding couples through a slowing-down and looking at where they are, WHO they are together, and where they would like to go. It’s a pause, it’s a time to take a day, sit next to one another, and say “Here’s what I want for you, you incredible person I get to spend my life with, and here’s how you can count on me.” So basically, they can expect a whole bunch of simple and accessible MAGIC.

So, no bears or fire, but a great day of connecting. And I see on the registration page that lunch and door prizes are also included!

Thank you, Tara, for hanging out with us here.

Thank you for having me!

Learn more about Tara’s Super Couple Tune-Up and connect with her on Twitter and Facebook

More about Tara:

Tara Caffelle is a life and relationship coach and writer. Through her work as a coach, Tara helps individuals and couples rediscover themselves and their wants and needs through open and honest communication.

As a relationship coach, Tara provides couples with a safe place to land – a term she calls “Downpouffy”. Tara can be your relationship cheerleader or your relationship referee – it all depends on where the relationship is and where it needs to be.  Whether it’s navigating your relationship after a baby, testing out an open marriage or simply wanting to heat things up, Tara helps couples get to the next stage in their relationship as a team.

taslim jaffer, let me out creative


Youth And Adult Fashion Design Camps At The Cutting Room In Vancouver

I just have to imagine the sound of a sewing machine – that split second hum before the tat-tat-tat-tat-tat – and I can see, in my mind’s eye, my grandmother sitting with her foot on the pedal, measuring tape draped around her shoulders, confidently guiding fabric under the needle. A designer and seamstress by trade, she brought ideas to life with precision and passion.

Upstairs in my bedroom closet, a sewing machine passed down from my mother, lies dormant. Every so often when I’m digging through my clothes for something I would enjoy wearing, a thought creeps into my head: Imagine if I could design and make my own clothes? Oh my gosh, the freedom to truly express myself in a way I can’t always do through someone else’s ideas!

Do YOU ever feel this way? Or do you have a child/adolescent who expresses interest in learning about fashion design? Then you should meet Liza Deyrmenjian: a leader in apparel design and production, the founder of a New York-based fashion-business coaching firm, and the brains and passion behind Vancouver’s The Cutting Room.

I recently had the pleasure of connecting with Liza to talk about her philosophy and upcoming Youth Fashion Camp.

Liza is successfully carrying out her vision for The Cutting Room by offering classes that focus on various aspects of the fashion design industry. It’s a one-stop shop for the emerging and established designer to gain skills in basic sewing, fashion illustration, pattern making, and all the elements of design.

You can venture as far as you want into the field of fashion from learning different stitches, to creating your own line, to understanding the in’s and out’s of the business.

taslim jaffer, let me out creative, fashion design camps, the cutting room, youth summer camps, fashion camps, summer, vancouver summer camps, vancouver, yvr,

It is NEVER too late to follow your passions or your curiosities. No matter where you’re at in life, if you feel your heart tugged when you read fashion blogs, leaf through magazines or imagine life as a designer, Liza has all the skills and knowledge to help you take that inclination to the next level. This 8 week Fashion Design course for ages 16+ might be perfect for you!

And if your child (ages 8 to 18) is showing an interest in the field, you HAVE to check out the details of Liza’s Fashion Youth Camp taking place in July and August! This is an opportunity to meet a mentor in the field whose clients have been spotlighted by Elle, InStyle, Oprah and Good Morning America. With a project focus for the week-long camp, participants will design a collection, sew, create a brand, and then present their line. Local fashion names Nicole Bridger (one of my personal faves), Lululemon and Herschel will appear as guest speakers throughout the week. You can read more details about the curriculum and select your dates right on the registration page.

taslim jaffer, let me out creative, fashion design, fashion, design, draping a skirt, youth camps, summer camps, vancouver

The incredible thing is this youth camp is maxed out at 8 participants which means a) super intimate learning environment and b) registration needs to happen sooner rather than later!

There’s also an opportunity to meet Liza and a number of other Canadian designers at a trunk show hosted by The Cutting Room June 23-25,2016 at their beautiful space: 1888 W.1st Avenue, Vancouver. Check out which Canadian designers are going to be featured plus all the other exciting details on their Facebook event page!

A quick Google search will also give you a great idea of what Liza is about – I’ve shared some favourites here:

Read about how Vancouverite Liza D (as she’s known) made the move to the Big Apple, the celebs she’s worked with, and her take on being a designer vs. an employee.

Watch her present at the Stitch Factory Speaker Series in this video – and check out that skirt she’s wearing!

And for an incredible story about how a 13 year old girl landed her fashion line in Nordstrom – and a testimonial to Liza D’s mentorship and business-savviness, you have to check out this story. Guaranteed inspiration.

Say ‘hi’ to Liza on Facebook and Instagram, too!

I hope this post inspired you to continue exploring your interests and passions.

Here’s to living our most creative life!

taslim jaffer, let me out creative



DISCLOSURE: This is a sponsored feature post. I only share with you the people and businesses I think can help you live your most authentic, creative and kind life. Thank you for supporting my work.

Don’t Just Dream It – Do It! Guest Post By Bianca Bujan @bitsofbee

I have another guest today – the final one in this series around guiding words for the year. I met Bianca Bujan in 2012, during the same dinner I met Natalia who shared her words here last week. Since then I’ve only had the opportunity to see Bianca a handful of times at various events, but have followed her business journey and family life online. Actually, when it comes to family, Bianca and I call each other ‘twinsies’: we have the same number of children, the same gender order, born practically at the same time! In fact, our older two kids are born within a month of each other and our youngest tykes are about 6 months apart. And from the stories she shares about each of her kids, it seems their personalities are quite a match. It’s actually a really cool experience to know there is a mom out there who ‘gets’ so much of my own family dynamic. And who knows that having 3 kids does NOT suck! 🙂

Bianca is a marketing maven with a flair for storytelling, and I truly admire her. So, I was really pleased she was willing to take some time and share her guiding words for 2016 with you. And, after I read her post, I have to admit, it made me feel like we have even more in common. After reading her words, I invite you to check out Bianca via the links below.

I’ve only recently realized the importance of self confidence. For many years I allowed myself to get lost in trying to impress others. I liked the pizzazz of having a flashy job title, and focused all of my energy on trying to make my family happy. I didn’t lose sight of my own dreams, but at the time, I thought they would remain just that – dreams.

I knew that I loved to write, but I didn’t believe in myself. I didn’t think that I could actually write something that others would want to read, so I continued to write privately, as a hobby. I had friends who were leaving their corporate jobs to pursue their passions – who were getting published and recognized for their writing, and getting paid to do something that they loved to do. And while I was happy for them, I was overtaken by feelings of envy and self doubt.

I’m often inspired by quotes, so when this quote on envy came to my attention, I realized that I was wasting valuable energy on being envious of others, instead of directing that energy towards finding my own unique capabilities.

 “Envy is a symptom of lack of appreciation of our own uniqueness and self worth.  Each of us has something to give that no one else has.” 

– Elizabeth O’Connor

Over the past 3 years, I’ve built up my confidence. I’ve stepped outside of my comfort zone, swallowed my pride and tossed my insecurities aside to pursue my dreams. And because of that, I’m now one of those people – I’m earning an income doing what I love to do.

And I’m not done! I still have more dreams to achieve. So this year, my guiding words are these: DON’T JUST DREAM IT, DO IT! Instead of talking about the things I wish I could one day accomplish, I’m going to dive in and start working towards achieving those dreams today. And I encourage you to do the same.  Toss those insecurities aside and pursue your passion. This is your year.

bianca bujan, bits of bee, beecomms, bee communications, don't just dream it do it, writer, columnist 24 hours vancouver

Connect with Bianca on her blog, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

taslim jaffer, let me out creative





When A Little Girl Playing With Beads Follows Her Heart

Hello, dear Readers! First off, a big welcome to my new subscribers! There’s a whole slew of you – and I’m sure we met on Saturday night at the Heartmind Wisdom Collection 2 book launch! What a fun night that was. Celebrating this amazing collection with my coauthors was one highlight. Watching all 3 of my kids sitting nicely in the crowd was another. When we got home that night, my oldest daughter says to me, “Mommy, I love your job.” Me, too, sweets. Me, too.

Speaking about living an authentic life, delivering a talk that came right from my heart and soul, was invigorating. I think we all have something like that, that does that to us. Something that’s pretty much sewn into our being when we are conceived. When we tap into it, live from it, our soul vibrates at an optimal frequency and things just feel good.

Today I’m shining the spotlight on someone I have known most of my life, but only recently have come to know as an artist. Fatima Sumar is the creator behind Fantabulous Dezigns – a jewelry line with a spiritual twist. If you were at the launch on Saturday, you may have met her as one of our sponsors. She is a great example of someone following her heart and doing what makes her soul sing. I asked her a few questions which she kindly answered for us. Hope you take a few minutes to read her messages about pursuing passions and family traditions.

How did your jewelry making begin? 

My jewelry making started off as a young child. I would always be making the latest trending jewelry piece and then my grandmother and I would sit down and make Tasbihs (they are prayer beads similar to mala beads) together as a way for us to bond and for me to inherit traditional knowledge.

What is your inspiration? 

My grandmother. She and I can be having a simple conversation and all of a sudden she will say something and I create my next line.

How did this passion develop into a business?

After creating trendy pieces as a hobby, I started noticing people were interested in my stuff. That’s when I started to think outside the box! I asked myself, how can impact the world? The answer was simple: educate and inspire others to do good through my Tasbihs and jewelry pieces. As each piece or line was created, my inner fire or passion was aroused. I feel as though I am in the right spot in the right time and that I am fulfilling my life’s purpose.

You come from a family of entrepreneurs. How do you think this has influenced you? 

Yes, I do come from a line of entrepreneurs, and at the age of 5 I knew that I wanted to be a successful business owner. I would say, given my background, that being an entrepreneur is in my blood but more importantly it excites me to my core. I would much rather have a conversation about the business world than a scientific conversation. When I worked at the airport I was very dark  and closed off. Although I had a stable paycheck and was around people, I was empty and bored. Today, I am the very opposite; I am happy and making a difference.

As an entrepreneur, it is not always glamorous and financially freeing in the beginning of your journey. However, the many facets of a business interest me due to the level of creativity involved compared to the black and white aspect of other lines of work. I also have never been one to conform to any role but rather be a leader and stand out.

What are valuable traits to have as an entrepreneur?

As an entrepreneur surround yourself with people who are like minded and have a vision. Never give up on your goal! Patience is a virtue! I have found myself questioning what I do many times especially when things do not go as planned but have come to understand that whatever is happening at this moment is right for me.

Please tell us about the rewards and challenges of your business. 

The rewards are: knowing that I have put a smile on each individual’s face and that I have imparted some knowledge as an ambassador of Islam. Also, I love knowing the piece is spiritually and emotionally what the client needed at that specific time and that I have been able to impact the individual’s life in a positive way. Challenges that I am finding are: ways to break through the clutter of many designers. But that also is exciting as I am confident about my pieces. I find the day to day administrative requirements to be challenging as they does not leave me with what I love which is designing and customer acquisition. Although, these are considered to be challenges I see them as a way to grow and make me stronger both professionally and personally.

Any advice for my readers who have a dream but are afraid to pursue it? 

Do not think about it, but rather get your feet wet and your hands dirty. Find someone that can mentor you and enjoy the journey. Your dream is your reality: own it and enjoy nurturing it to light. Love what you do!

Please check out Fatima’s site by clicking here – have a look at her pretty designs and give her a like and a follow!

“My Work Is My Passion” Danisha Shares Her Story Of The Work She Loves

Well, it looks like it’s back-to-back cousin guest posts! This week, my cousin Danisha is writing from Montreal where she attended further schooling in public relations and philanthropy while working for Big Brothers Big Sisters – an organization close to her heart. Once her schooling was complete, she stayed on in Montreal but soon will relocate to Edmonton where her family lives. The theme of her story is one of my favourites – when work and play equal the same thing.

Please welcome, Danisha!

When you meet someone new for the first time, one of the first questions is “What do you do for a living?”  It’s a standard question that no one ever thinks twice about.  Subsequently, the next question will be “What do you do for fun?”  This is where it gets interesting…because for me, the answer is the same.  I love my job.

Before going any further, I should probably clarify what I do.  I’m the In-School Program Coordinator with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Montreal.  In essence, this means that I get to recruit volunteers to be mentors to at-risk children needing help in academic perseverance and personal development.  It means I get to help others make a difference in the lives of children.  What’s so special about this organization is that I grew up with a Big Sister from the agency, myself. My involvement as a recipient of the services over numerous years (let’s not give away my age) has been so impactful in my life that it can only bring me joy to continue to be part of the process for others.

I love that I can spend a day in a school getting to know a child who is dealing with social issues in their lives and/or doesn’t have an adult to turn to.  I love hearing about a volunteer’s motivation to become a mentor and the environment that has impacted their decision.  A person who volunteers their time, even if it’s as small as one hour per week, is a hero in my eyes.

Going to work every morning is fun.  Sure, it’s not a movie, or salsa dancing, or reading (all of which I’m passionate about as well).  But the feeling I receive is beyond that.  I’m fortunate to work with my colleagues, who are like a family to me. I’m fortunate that I can take my adorable puppy to work everyday and that everyone treats him like a spoiled prince.  I’m fortunate that I’m surrounded by people who want to give their time to making a difference in their community, particularly my colleagues and volunteers.  And I’m especially fortunate to be part of the lives of children who are continuously learning and growing.

Many people have passions.  And all too often, they turn into hobbies because of the demands of other aspects of their lives – work, children, spouses, debts etc.  Not many people can say that they are able to practice what they’re passionate about on a daily basis.  And I’m so grateful that I can.

The last three years of my life in Montreal have been incredible. And now I’m transitioning to a new period in my life…moving back home to be close to family and friends, settling down etc. But one thing that will never change will be my balance between work and play. Continuing to do what I love…makes life so much more enjoyable!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Danisha Bhaloo combines her experiences and passions as a writer, social services worker and public relations consultant to provide unique objectives and coaching to various individuals, not-for-profit organizations and small businesses.  Based on her passion to help those in need, she focuses on projects that raise money and awareness on various issues including crime prevention, children and youth-at-risk, women’s development, poverty, elder abuse and neglect.

With 10 years of professional experience, Danisha has succesfully implemented mentoring programs for children and youth without positive role models in their lives and has raised over       $500 000.00 through a combination of services including grant writing, fundraising, event planning, media and government support for charitable organizations.

Danisha can be found on her website and on her blog.




If you’d like to inspire others with this post, please pass it on with some social media love.  If you don’t see the buttons below, click on the title of this post and they will magically appear at the bottom.

P.S.  Let ME Out!!’s second workbook, What If…? 52 Questions Designed for an Entire Year of Self-Discovery, is now available for FREE to all subscribers.  Receive blog posts, special offers and event updates straight to your inbox when you enter your email address in the subscription box above. 

“Pulod’s Fund” – Tasneem Shares How One Event Sparked Passion In Her Life

This morning, my cousin Tasneem is joining us from Dushanbe, Tajikistan.  I was really happy that she chose to write about her passion for helping those in need – and the event that rolled this path out before her.  As I read this, I am reminded that acting on our heart-calls is essential to feeding our spirit, and that we should not miss an opportunity to do so…no matter how impossible the situation may seem.  Our actions can have a great effect on others, even those we may never meet.

Please welcome Tasneem!

I never met the man who changed my life forever.  His name was Pulod Davlatnazarov and his death connected the two of us in a way that I could never have imagined.  Since 2007, his spirit lives on in the lives of some little girls in Tajikistan whose parents couldn’t afford life saving surgeries. As for me, Pulod has created the kind of meaning in my life that I had been looking for.  I never thought I could do it on my own – busy with work, marriage and raising a child -but when I continue the work in his honour, I am passionate, energetic and can’t think of doing anything else with my life.  Let me tell you the story of how I met Pulod, a young man from Bartang, Tajikistan –a remote mountainous, beautiful region of the poorest part of the ex-Soviet Union.  Even as I write this, I don’t want to stop but will soon need to take my 4-year old son to the school bus.

Ok I’m back.

It was a summer evening in 2007 and I was putting dishes in the dishwasher after having dinner with my husband in our cozy 1 bedroom apartment in Kitsilano.  My husband, who was glued to the computer screen called me over to have a look at a video of a man being shot by a thief in a liquor store in Hollywood, California.  It was Pulod – he was on the night shift stacking drinks in the warehouse in the back while a thief pulled a gun on the owner at the front cash register.  Pulod came to the front to put some milk in the empty refrigerator and got caught in the middle of a heated argument between the two men.  The thief grabbed Pulod by the hand, pointed the gun to his head and shot him. Pulod fell to the ground and died instantly.  It was all caught on the security camera in the store!

Having spent some time in the region where Pulod comes from and being married to someone from there, I knew his family, who I later heard included a wife, son, parents and extended family, were unable to afford bringing his body back to Tajikistan – a minimum of $10,000 easily. “We have to do something – I don’t know what, but we have to do something,” I told my husband. And so I did…

I wrote to all my family, friends and colleagues and asked them to help in whatever way they could and to spread the word – I attached the video clip to the email.  Over the next couple of months, I watched as my inbox was flooded with emails from people wanting to help.  One anonymous donor sent $500 via online Interac – I didn’t even know that existed. I created an Excel spreadsheet called Pulod’s fund and jotted down every dollar that was donated, in addition to creating a trust fund in his name so that individuals could go deposit the money at the bank if they wished.  In two months, there were more than 40 donors, including a number of Tajiks living in Canada, with donations ranging from $25 to $500. I ended up sending over $6,000 to Pulod’s wife who cried in gratitude when my husband spoke to her (I couldn’t speak the local dialect) and thanked all the donors for their gesture.  She later wrote a thank you note and I sent the translated version to the donors.

Since then, Pulod’s fund (the Excel spreadsheet honoring his name still exists on my computer) has expanded to include 1 adult who needed an eye surgery, 1 little girl who needed double hip replacement to walk and another little girl who needed a life saving heart surgery.  They are all from Tajikistan, where I have been living with my husband and 4-year old son for the past year.  In total, Pulod’s fund has raised a little over $10,000!

This past March, I met Farangis, a 4-year old spunky little who dreams of becoming a dancer when she grows up.  A typical girl, she loves makeup, purses and playing with her friends.  I learned about her 2 years before when a friend of mine from Tajikistan told me about her – the doctors had given up hope of her walking again and said she would be tied to a wheelchair for the rest of her life if she didn’t get a much needed surgery.  I saw pictures of this little girl lying down in her bed all bandaged up from her hip down.  I wrote an email to all the parents and grandparents I knew and with their generosity, sent $1,500 to Farangis’s mother on February 1, 2010. Just over two years later, I had one of the best days of my life – watching Farangis run around with my son, playing near the fountains of Rudaki Park in the center of the town. Her mother told me about the difficult labour she had and how hard it has been to take care of Farangis’s medical needs when they cannot even meet their basic needs.  She thanked me profusely and I told her that it was my responsibility and if she was in a position to help me, she would.  For the next couple of weekends, our kids got together and we spoke about Farangis’s future needs – more surgeries and medicines. A local NGO heard about her and donated some of the proceeds of a recent charity concert featuring local bands.

I hope to meet Pulod’s wife and son one day so I can tell them how many people have been helped because of their husband and father – a great man whose name will live on. His death gave me meaning and I hope to share this story with my son when he grows up.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Tasneem Damji recently moved with her husband and son across the world to live a life of authenticity, simplicity and gratitude.  Currently living in Dushanbe – Tajikistan, Tasneem coaches young people to pursue their passions, study abroad and live lives of meaning and service.  As a mother, she is inspired to raise a son with positive values to help him contribute to society when he grows up. She has written some stories of him in her blog, Ode to My Son, and hopes to write more regularly (an ongoing challenge).



If you’d like to inspire others with this post, please pass it on with some social media love.  If you don’t see the buttons below, click on the title of this post and they will magically appear at the bottom.

“My Love Of The Outdoors” Amanda Shares Her Passion For Nature…With Children

Meet Amanda – one of the many reasons why I will always be grateful that my life journey included in a stint in speech-language pathology.  I met Amanda in 2001 on a student practicum; on that practicum we shared an office, we shared clients and we shared many adventures.  Since then we have shared just about everything else in our lives.  And here today, on Let ME Out!!, Amanda will take you for a journey into her world of the outdoors, spiritual connection and family.

Please welcome Amanda!

Taslim often talks about how important it is to engage in the things that you are passionate about – the things that make you jump out of bed in the morning, eager to start the new day.   For me, one of those passions is my love of the outdoors.  It was a mutual love of outdoor activities (such as cross-country skiing, biking, hiking and canoeing) that initially attracted me to my husband, and when we think about our lives, both present and future, the pursuit of outdoor adventures figures largely into our dreams/plans/aspirations.  Our first date (and countless since) was a day of cross-country skiing.  A year or so later, I didn’t get an engagement ring – I got an engagement road bike, and couldn’t have been happier.  The times in my life that I have felt the most alive, the most connected, the most me – they’ve been out in nature.  Going out for a day is great, but adding a tent and going for days on end is even better.

I wasn’t consciously aware of this until recently, but engaging in these outdoor activities encompasses a number of things for me.  What I get out of these experiences seems to nurture my body, mind and soul.  Certainly, I like the physical exercise that they entail, as well as the opportunity to see and experience more natural surroundings. I like getting to places that you can’t get to unless you’re willing to put in a little (or a lot) of physical exertion.  Though there may be some discomfort along the way, it is often part of the pleasure too.  I also find time in nature to be spiritual – the moments that I have felt most connected to a higher power have largely been spent outdoors.  Outside, I am able to find a sense of solitude and peace that I find difficult to obtain with the hum of electricity and traffic noise.  I love the feeling of accomplishment when you reach the top of a mountain or a lovely campsite after a long day of hiking/biking/paddling.  I love how it matters that the clothing I wear outside is functional more than fashionable.  I love how my time spent outdoors seems to increase my gratitude in life – I come home appreciating things like hot running water, for example, which I would otherwise take for granted numerous times a day.  I love how simple pleasures like wool socks and a hot mug of tea can feel so amazing. I love knowing that I have everything I need on my back – it seems like the easiest way to put the real priorities in order:  Food, check.  Shelter, check.  Loved ones along for the ride, check.  Nothing else really matters.

Also, whether intended or not, you get closer to the people you are with on outdoor trips. Doing nothing but hiking all day generally results in some fabulous conversations, as well as some wonderful time to do nothing but ponder your own inner workings.

Okay, so you probably get the picture now – I like being outside.  And for our first few years together, I feel that my husband and I were doing a really good job of finding a balance in our lives that included our passion for outdoor activities.  It was just part of our lifestyle, and one that we dreamed about continuing as we started a family.


So, fast-forward to today, and our little family of 2 has doubled in size.  We now have a daughter who will be 3 next month, and another daughter who is 13 months old.  And here’s where I’m supposed to write how we still do all of these activities, right?  How nothing has changed?  Well, obviously, things have changed – kids change your life in many wonderful ways, and in some ways that are difficult to anticipate.  When I got pregnant we got ourselves a fabulous backpacking child-carrier, as we were hoping to still do overnight backpacking trips and continue on with life as before as much as possible.  We forgot to consider a few things though:  for one, although some degree of discomfort might be part of the journey for us, we certainly didn’t feel the same way about our daughter.  Thus, when she was done being in the backpack after an hour or so, that was that – it’s no fun to hike with a miserable child.  So, no, we haven’t been doing week-long backpacking trips with our toddler and baby.  And that’s not to say it’s impossible, and kudos to all those people out there who have succeeded in that – but for us, it’s not feasible at this particular moment in our lives.  But that doesn’t mean we have hung up our hiking boots entirely.  Instead, we have found ways to share our love of the outdoors with our children, and still engage in those experiences that we find so necessary for our own physical and mental health.  It has taken a bit of trial-and-error (and continues to) but I guess our answer to finding balance has been to adjust our expectations.  I did not say lowered our expectations on purpose, as I think there is a difference in attitude there, and it took us a bit of time to realize that ourselves.

In adjusting expectations, we have reduced our distances and come to appreciate that sometimes success isn’t reaching the top of a mountain, but may be in getting outside at all. For example, when our eldest daughter was 9 months old we did a 6-week road trip between Vancouver and San Francisco, with a mix of camping, yurt-stays and hotels along the way. We had anticipated that we’d do a greater amount of camping than we did, and more long-distance hiking.  But we adjusted to life with a 9-month old pretty quick, and realized that some days our “hiking” might be a walk around the campground interpretive trail.  We found that no matter how lovely Mount Rainier might be, it’s not as lovely when it’s cold, rainy and foggy and your daughter is not sleeping – but after packing up our camp in the cold early morning hours and feeling a little like we had failed, we ended up having a lovely picnic breakfast as the rain lifted, at a roadside turnout overlooking a gorgeous valley.  The trip was challenging at times, but it probably gave us a good indication as to what we did and did not like doing with a baby in tow.  And overall, we realized that our goal with our kids is to help instil a love of the outdoors.  During our first summer as parents, we spent a number of nights in a tent, and even managed to do a canoe trip.  The trick here, again, was to adjust expectations.  We went for an hour-long canoe only, and stayed on the same island campsite for 2 nights – did I mention that we were with my parents? The 4-to-1 adult-to-baby ratio definitely helped!  We still went skiing and biking, pulling our daughter in a trailer behind us – but we went for shorter distances, timed our outings around nap periods, and were pickier about weather conditions.  Now that we’ve added a second child to the mix, it’s a bit trickier – we had planned to try a canoe camping trip this summer, but ended up abandoning that idea to do some car-camping trips instead.  Again, we’ve adjusted our expectations – because underlyingly, the important thing for us is to get outside, and to raise our children in an outdoor lifestyle, so that when they are a bit older, we’ll be able to realize our dream of backpacking as a foursome or doing some bike touring as a family. If we go for a hike and that involves a lot of playing in the woods but very little distance covered, then so be it – because at the end of the day, the kids only know that they were outside, they got dirty and they had fun, and that’s awesome.

Now, remember how earlier I talked about what outdoor activities mean to me?  Well, our new version of outdoor activities with the kids doesn’t actually achieve all of those things which I need, in particular, the exercise.  This has also been an adjustment, as my husband and I used to always exercise together, and now we can’t because someone has to be home with the kids.  Thus, we now take turns getting out for a run or a bike, and I try to do daily yoga, even if I can only fit in a single pose.  Finding time to exercise has certainly been a challenge for us, which I could write an entire blog entry about by itself, but basically, we’ve realized the importance of exercise for our well-being both mentally and physically, and so it really is a high priority.

Our advice to ourselves has been to embrace the changes that come with having kids, dream big about what adventures might be in store for our family, but be flexible with these dreams along the way and adjust our expectations as necessary.  In doing so, we’ve also had to examine what we individually need to bring balance to our lives (whether that be biking for my husband, or yoga for me) and remind each other of the importance of engaging in those activities.  I’m sure that it will be an ongoing challenge for us, but one that I’m pretty excited about having the opportunity to explore.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Amanda Sullivan lives with her husband and 2 children in Ottawa, where she is a part-time speech-language pathologist and a part-time stay-at-home mom.





“From A Car Accident To Cancer To Chiropractic” Rozeela’s Journey To Her Career Of Passion

Rozeela and I met in a creative writing class in college and were drawn to each other immediately.  Soon, she and I were inseparable friends, causing international ruckus on our escapades and supporting each other through our entryway to adulthood.  I am very excited to share Rozeela’s inspiring story here; reading this, it really hits home how beautifully it all came together.  Certainly, I have learned from her that when we think misfortune has struck us, it can actually be quite a blessing.

Please welcome Rozeela!

What gets me up in the morning, you ask??  What’s the fire that makes me leap out of my goose down sleepy haven at 7am??  Well at this moment of my life it’s my 8 month old daughter, who quite literally pushes me awake.  But figuratively,  it’s my passion to help people. I learned, at a very young age, that I love to make people laugh, smile and feel good.  I wanted a career where I was able to do exactly that every day.   So my search was on…endless hours I spent rummaging through possible career choices in the big metal filing cabinet files in the counselling office and then even more time spent going through potential options with my career counsellor.  As I struggled to determine my destiny, my inner voice repeated this mantra “choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” And I am truly blessed to have been at the right place at the right time so this career choice could be presented to me.  At the very young age of 18 I was involved in a car “accident” that was set to change the course of my life.  The silver lining was I started seeking answers to questions I couldn’t find in the medical world which led me to a chiropractor and a massage therapist.  There was a lump in my throat that the massage therapist insisted I get checked.  The lump was a malignant thyroid cancer.  Two quick surgeries, a prescription for thyroid medication to take daily for the rest of my life and I was signed off with a clean bill of health.  The cancer was gone and I was healed but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I needed to understand more.   I needed to know why?  Why did I get cancer?  Why did cancer choose that area of my body?   Why hadn’t my body healed itself?  What was my role in creating this cancer?  What could I do to prevent the cancer from coming back?

So once again, I started searching.  In the early stages of my search I needed to know simply how the body worked by asking such questions: Why does liquid come out of my eyes when I think of something sad?  How does my heart beat and my food get digested?  Later in my search I was seeking answers to questions: How do I create health? How do I maintain health?  I found these answers in my study of chiropractic.  Chiropractic is a science, art and philosophy.  The science is that the nervous system controls every cell in your body, so should there be any pressure on your nervous system (subluxation) your body won’t function optimally.  The art is the finesse of an adjustment to the spine to alleviate the pressure on the nervous system to bring the body back to equilibrium.  The philosophy is that healing occurs from within and we all have within ourselves an innate intelligence that is constantly striving for health and well-being.

I’ve been practicing chiropractic for 8 years now.  I initially chose chiropractic because it answered my questions.  But now I see that chiropractic isn’t only a career choice for me it’s a lifestyle choice.  That little girl in me that was daunted by the “the- world- is your- oyster” filing cabinets of options is happy, very happy with her choice.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Dr. Rozeela Nand is the owner of Innate Chiropractic & Wellness Centre in Vancouver, B.C.  She is passionate about caring for her patients as whole people and incorporates physical movement, diet, emotional, mental and spiritual well-being into her practice.  Dr. Nand has a keen interest in pediatrics and pregnancy and has undergone extra certification in this area.

In 2006, she joined the Hope Foundation and travelled to India to work with street children in Calcutta.  In this capacity, she was able to introduce and conduct chiropractic treatments to the underprivileged in India.

Dr. Nand lives in Vancouver with her husband and their daughter.


If you’d like to inspire others with this post, please pass it on with some social media love.  If you don’t see the buttons below, click on the title of this post and they will magically appear at the bottom.

“My Love Of Pictures” – Gillian’s Account Of Her Passion For Photography

About 15 years ago I met Gillian Meyer, who quickly became family to me.  One of the things I’ve admired about Gillian is her connection with Nature and the time she takes to share that love with her family.  Through her photography, I’ve learned a lot about the way she sees the world and I’m so happy to be able to share her beautiful account here with you today. 

Please welcome, Gillian!

When you asked me to write about my passion for taking pictures, I had to think about how far back it went, I couldn’t remember.  But judging from all the photo albums I have of my pictures dating back to when I was in grade 8, it started long ago.  I’ve never taken a course or been trained in how to take good pictures, and I have no idea how to use all the features on my camera.  I just take a picture whenever I see something I find beautiful.  Taking a course is on my bucket list though.  I think if I had proper training, I could take really great photos.

Image Credit: Gillian Meyer
Please do not use without permission.











At first, I really liked capturing my friends at school, just of us having fun in the hallways or on field trips.  Looking back at the photos recently, I’m really glad I did that.  I think if I hadn’t, a lot of the memories may have been forgotten.

I think in some way, taking pictures has always been therapeutic for me.  I find the warmth in someone’s smile beautiful and maybe just want to always remember that about someone.

Image Credit: Gillian Meyer
Please do not use without permission.











I think the love of pictures may have been passed down.  It seems as though my dad and my maternal grandfather were also amateur photographers.

I remember always feeling a little embarrassed taking pictures of people, like they didn’t want their picture taken.  Back in high school, I was a little shy so it was hard to take the pictures I really wanted to take.  I think I was the only one who walked around with a camera too, so it might have seemed a little weird.  My girlfriend Denise and I were on vacation to Alberta with her family and remember her telling me we stand out because I’m making us look more like tourists!  She was so embarrassed of all my pictures…. until we got back and she saw all the memories I’d captured, especially of the cute guys I made her stand beside so I could get a snap.

These days I am finding that pictures of nature are what I really love.  I am a huge nature lover and whenever I’d be out walking, I’d have to stop so many times just to take a picture, even if it’s just a raindrop on a flower.  There is so much beauty in nature and seeing pictures I’ve taken makes me happy.  There’s a picture frame on my wall of all my favorite pictures over the years and at least once a day I stop just to enjoy them.

Image Credit: Gillian Meyer
Please do not use without permission.











For Christmas a few years ago, my friend bought me a Canon Powershot camera and I can honestly say I’ve taken my best pictures with this camera.  It’s my first digital camera.

If one day I find myself a little down, I take the camera out and go for a walk.  For me, it’s self-medicating, without the drugs, if that makes any sense.

Image Credit: Gillian Meyer
Please do not use without permission.


I’ve been asked before, if I had to grab one thing (besides my family of course) out of my house what would it be.  And it’s always been my pictures.

Thank you for asking me to write a little something on my passion, it’s made me realize how much my pictures really mean to me.

Image Credit: Gillian Meyer
Please do not use without permission.











* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Gillian Meyer is a mother of 4 living in the Maple Ridge area in B.C.  She believes laughter is the best part of any day and finds happiness in family and all things nature.  Her ideal day would be spent in the garden creating her own private oasis.

Gillian Meyer









If you’d like to inspire others with this post, please pass it on with some social media love.  If you don’t see the buttons below, click on the title of this post and they will magically appear at the bottom.

A People With Passion Interview: Amanda Fall (Sprout Magazine) Visits Let ME Out!!

Good morning, dear Readers!  Please join me in welcoming an amazing woman who I am so grateful to have cyber-met a few months ago.  I was perusing another blog and this gorgeous image caught my eye.  I thought, wow, something beautiful lives behind this button!  Click! 

And I was right.  Not only something beautiful but someone of heart, passion and creativity who has brought a lot of colour and joy to my life through her e-zine, Sprout!  And here she is, Amanda Fall!

Amanda, I’m going to start with one of my favourite questions: when you were a child, what would you be found doing, when left to your own devices?

Reading, reading, reading.  Soon I also began creating worlds of my own, writing a “novel” about twin sisters with “waterfall strawberry blonde ringlets.”  As a very shy little girl, I found freedom and friends in my beloved books.  I also loved wandering in the nearby Kentucky woods with my brothers and cousins, looking way up into a canopy of green and feeling so safe.

Isn’t there something intriguing about blonde twins?  That takes me right back to the days I used to devour Sweet Valley books by the armful!  It’s wonderful that you belonged to really safe and creative worlds from a young age.

I met you, of course, when I was drawn to your magazine, Sprout.  Tell us more about it.  What’s the story behind Sprout – the name, the vision, how it came to be?

Oh, Sprout.  How my heart pounds at the thought!  Sprout began as a teeny-tiny, timid seedling in my preteens and early teens, a little breath of an idea.  I wanted to write and publish a physical zine “for kids, by kids.”  I wasn’t quite ready to make that dream a reality, but always had that yearning in my heart to express myself and share stories with people around the world.

In late 2010, after years of sporadically selling my art and writing, and discovering a new love for the technological freedom of digital publishing, my zine-dream drifted back into thought.  What if?  What if a long-ago dream could now be reality, but in digital form?  Suddenly it all made sense: my art, writing, digital connections—it all came together in Sprout.









Now I’m blessed beyond belief and thrilled to publish a new issue of Sprout every month, each cultivating a particular theme in everyday life.  No matter what the theme (Boldness, Creativity, Kindness, etc.), Sprout is designed to uplift and inspire through color, beauty, and meaning.  Sprout’s pages are bright and beautiful, bringing together art, poetry, prose, and so much more in an environment of joy.  Sprout has sweet contributors and readers all over the world.  It really is my dream come true!

The name reflects my desire to focus on everyday growth, cultivating concepts like celebration, adventure, and joy.  I want to meet people where they are in life, helping them find beauty and meaning even in—or especially in—the broken places.  Sometimes our lives need to be churned up for the best growth to happen. That’s where Sprout comes in.

That’s fantastic!  That really is like a fairy tale – only you’ve made it seem so plausible.  I’m sure many of my readers can relate to having a long-ago dream that is never really lost…I hope your example demonstrates that our dreams can become our reality and our reality can be like a dream!

I talk about authenticity on this blog – specifically, I call that true Self our creative Self – and I wonder if you can tell us what living authentically means to you.

I’ve really been working on this in my own life, striving to think, act, and speak in harmony with my core values and beliefs.  When I end a day feeling uncomfortable or dissatisfied, it’s usually because I wasn’t being true to what I believe.  Living in harmony with my purpose, my calling, and my spiritual core is what it’s all about for me—even if it’s a lifelong process!








Agreed!  Authenticity and harmony go hand in hand.  I like how you notice your state of being and measure it up to how one should feel when living in harmony.  Thanks for sharing that!

Can we take a closer look into your day-to-day life?  What does your typical work day look like?

Oh, that’s the beauty of working for myself!  (Well, one of many.)  I really have no typical day.  I go through cycles in the creation of Sprout (my main job right now), so at certain times of the month I’ll create hand-painted backgrounds, scout new materials and contributors, market, network, brainstorm new ideas, work on layouts, etc.  I also create lots of original content for Sprout (I’m a co-creator with my contributors, not just an editor), so I dive into writing poetry and prose, taking photographs, and creating visual art.  I also blog three times a week at Persistent Green. Somewhere in there I might clean the house.  Maybe.  When the dust bunnies turn to dinosaurs.

That sounds like Heaven to me!  I like your attitude toward housecleaning!

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

I had to laugh, because sometimes it feels like I’m always working!  Much of Sprout work really feels like play, though—taking photographs, planning new themes, testing new techniques, etc.  I love to get my hands messy in paint and glue and marker.  I’m rediscovering how much I NEED to be outside, too, unplugging from all the buzzing equipment and reconnecting with something bigger than me—back to that green canopy of my childhood.  I love early-morning bike rides or walks with family.

My husband and I also recently purchased a motorcycle, so I’m practicing courage and trust while hopping on the back!  I’ve been loving riding with him and family, laughing and leaning our way through the Black Hills curves, seeing this world in a whole new way.  Really, any time my husband (also known as my best friend) and I spend together is pure joy.  We make each other laugh like nobody else.

Oh my gosh, courage is right!  And there’s a quote that came to me when you said this about your work being your play.  It’s from an English historian, Arnold Toynbee and he said, “The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play.”  Sounds like you’ve not only blurred it, but smudged it in some rich-hued finger paints! 

Sample from Issue #5: Seeds of Creativity

In fact, one of the things I love about your magazine is that it is so vibrant and colourful!  I feel like I want to grab some paint and brushes when I’m looking at those pages and create something myself!  What is your favourite art medium? 

Ooooh la la, art supplies!  Don’t let me loose in a supply store, ‘cause I could browse for hours.  I love juicy watercolors and the way they splash across a page, thick and bold acrylics, squeaky and stinky permanent markers.  Ink pens, blotting all over my hands, staining with their passion.  Tissue paper, thin and temperamental and oh so surprisingly luscious when mixed with gel medium.  Oh!  Gel medium!  I could eat the stuff.  But I probably shouldn’t.

Please don’t!  Haha!  What can you say to my readers that will help them take that leap and claim their passion, the way you did with starting Sprout?

Listen to your heart-whispers.  Pay attention to what makes your heart beat faster, a grin come to your lips for no reason, and gives you a feeling of “oh YES, this is so right.”  Sprout has brought me some of the most nerve-wracking and most thrilling times of my life.  I spent so long wondering if I could, if I knew enough, if anyone out there would care about what I have to say—when really, I knew deep down (even when I was that timid preteen) that I was born for this.

What were you born for?  You won’t regret making that leap of faith . . . and finding out you can fly.  Even if you learn that your passion wasn’t quite what you expected, at least you’ll KNOW, and your courage will grow so much in that process.

Great words of wisdom!  Let’s hear some more!  I hear this a lot from people:  “I am not creative.” Or they feel tentative about picking up a paintbrush or crayon because they “don’t know” what to do with it.  Now I can tell them to check out your magazines that feature beautiful art projects with step-by-step instruction!  What would you say to someone who tells you they are not creative?

I honestly believe we are ALL creative—but in our own unique way.  I believe that creativity can blossom while baking a loaf of bread, harvesting tomatoes off your homegrown plant, dressing yourself in color and sparkle, or arranging flowers in a vase.  I believe we are all born with a divine spark, a voice all our own—but we need to take time to honor that voice, to nurture it, to cultivate our own way of seeing the world.  I can hardly draw a straight line!  But you know what, that doesn’t bother me anymore—because MY unique voice embraces beauty in imperfection, and loves wild and abstract color more than traditional “perfection.”  Find the way YOU see the world . . . and love it wholeheartedly.

And those of us with time management concerns want to know: How do you manage to get everything you need to do done?  Do you have a tried-and-true organizational method?

Remember that dust-bunnies-into-dinosaurs thing?  Um, yeah. I don’t get everything done, at least not all at once.  As I mentioned earlier, I’ve discovered that I work best in cycles—shifting gently from one activity to the next. I make lots of lists and notes to myself.  I follow patterns that work, rather than reinventing the wheel (and just as important, pay attention to “mistakes” and learn from them!).  In general, I have a very organic way of working, and try to embrace whatever mode I’m in at the time so I can be most productive and in the zone.  I wear many caps at Sprout—editor, creator, marketer, writer, artist, graphic designer, public relations officer, etc.  The key for me has been knowing when I work best and hitting that time of flow—even if it’s ten at night.  Find what works for YOU!

Thank you so much, Amanda, for that truly inspiring interview and for sharing yourself with the rest of us! 

Taslim, thank you so much for inviting me to share here on Let ME Out!!  What an honor!  I’m thrilled to be here with other creative, passionate souls.  Finding a “tribe” has been one of the most important parts of my journey, so I’m especially grateful for this opportunity to connect.

Me, too. 

Readers, if you would like to connect with Amanda, please visit her on facebook, on her blog or at Sprout magazine. 

P.S. You’ll notice that I’m an affiliate of Sprout – if you visit her site through this link (or by clicking the Sprout button in my sidebar) and make a purchase, you will be supporting me with a portion of your purchase.  Thank you!

P.P.S. I’m so excited about next month’s issue called Joy – not only because man, I love that word, but because a poem I submitted for the issue will make its way onto one of Sprout’s gorgeous pages!!


If you’d like to inspire others with this post, please pass it on with some social media love.  If you don’t see the buttons below, click on the title of this post and they will magically appear at the bottom.