Category Archives: Self-Esteem

Self-esteem coaching articles

Non-retouched Photo of Cindy Crawford- Real Meaningful Beauty

An untouched photo of Cindy Crawford has made headlines mainly because we rarely see a woman at the age of 48, let alone a former supermodel, gracing the pages of anything without touch ups. (click on pic.twitter link)

 Cindy Crawford’s April spread in Marie Claire features 100% non-retouched photos. Take a bow Ms. C.

The leaked picture was originally from a 2013 Marie Claire Mexico and Latin America cover story. Ms. Crawford’s lack of muscle tone, dimpling skin and all the rest that came with aging was put out there for all to see. Without the benefit of Photoshop she became real and words of thanks rang out across the globe.

There are rumours that she leaked it herself but no matter how it came to be I had to wonder….

Does it really take a supermodel’s “leaked” picture to make us feel better about our aging bodies?

Will this have any affect on magazines who are most interested in trying to manufacture the perfect woman for readers to ooh and aah over? or Will they consider opting for a wider definition of beauty?

The fact that so much press has circulated around this one photo shows that women are still looking for some sort of validation. When someone who is seen as an icon of female sensuality and beauty shatters the illusion that she is perfect we are moved to do a happy dance. It is not like the rest of us are going to get the same opportunity to showcase our wrinkles and flab as a means to challenge beauty myths. So, here comes Cindy Crawford to the rescue, showing the world that an aging woman has meaningful beauty!

I’m glad to see this photo too but it is a sad fact that we will likely never feel entirely comfortable in our skin. To boldly wear our scars and wrinkles as a sign of a life well lived. We retouch so much of who we are and blame others for our inability to make peace with our bodies. We are our own worst enemies.

What this photo says to me is that beauty may be considered subjective but it is most powerful when we dare to see it in ourselves.


What’s Next for You?

When I went to write this post I was thinking I need to offer something centered around your career or give you some semi profound tips for transitioning in life. What I realized after several lines of typing and erasing is that there is no magic formula and all the assessments have been written ad nauseum.

Go to any self-help section and you’ll find a plethora of guides to help you uncover talents, skills or anything else you want to know about yourself. If that’s the trip you want to take then all the more power to you.  I bet that just when you think you are finished unpacking the layers of yourself then more ‘stuff’ will be waiting to emerge.

What’s next is already in motion. Even when you feel nothing is happening, something is.  I can’t even begin to add up how many times my life shifted not because I consciously sought out someone or something but quite simply all things aligned. That doesn’t mean to say I sat on my butt letting life flow but I certainly can’t take full credit for where I ended up.

Sometimes what came next for me was a swift kick in that butt of mine. Other times it was one conversation that changed my world view or a brave choice to pick door number two. What’s next flowed from the belief that there is life after whatever was happening or a job that better matched my lifestyle.

I have complete faith in us all to find what lies beneath layers of doubt and confusion. By all means seek out people and things that aid in answering your questions as this opens up the possibility of a fresh perspective! I will offer my two bits…. try going into the new year with the following:



Patience with self

Compassion for others

A willingness to learn and…

A profound sense that nothing is certain

Happy New Year!


Hiring a personal fashion consultant

About a month ago I hired Michelle Addison to come in to my home and do a basic cleanse of my wardrobe. This was particularly helpful because…

1. I finally parted with clothes that really needed to be donated or consigned

2. I gained an education on what is working for me and what isn’t

3. I now shop differently for clothing

4. I feel more like me with an increased confidence and love of my style

Having said all that, I want to be honest and say this service was an investment on my part. Unlike many socialites, celebrities and fashionistas that probably have the means to hire a personal stylist I had to justify in my mind that this was worth a portion of my pay cheque. It was and I would highly recommend this to anyone either as a gift to self or gift to someone they love who is struggling to feel good in their clothes.

Where this got a little out of control was when I met Michelle at Hudson’s Bay City Centre in downtown Vancouver. When we talked before she had mentioned there were great sales on a the Bay right now and so it would be a good time to meet where she could provide free personal styling. I poked around a week or so before and noticed the seasonal sales were in progress and thought, Wow, this is actually going to be fun and within my budget!

I arrived, went to THE ROOM on the second floor and was escorted to a changing room area that I assume is exclusive for this service. The first thing I noticed was Michelle, beautifully polished and trendy as ever, and then I noticed a rack of clothes and accessories. I switched my head from work to me time and quickly realized the magnitude of my good fortune. The first outfit was carefully thought out and ready for me to try on and once I stepped out of the room I was in love.

This love grew with multiple outfits and like a good student I carefully committed to memory what and why this works. At different points when I closed the changing room door I took a brief moment again to think about this opportunity and the likelihood that it will not happen this way again. This was a first, (different from being in a store with a great sales person) and the joy that comes from experiencing such personalized service is unexplainable. This was not lost on me because I had just come from a place where women have never experienced such attention and I couldn’t help but wish I could give them this gift.

Here’s the down side to this service… I overspent. There were only maybe one or two items on sale, the rest were high-end prices. I felt a little duped in the previous mentioning of sale and now she was placing regular priced items like $150 belts to $340 blouses in front of me. It seemed advantageous to her and not so much for me. However, I’m in THE ROOM and I’m working with someone who has picked perfectly for me and I can see in her world this is no longer extravagant.

Shopping again

My advice to you if you are thinking about hiring a personal fashion consultant or stylist is do your homework:

1. Check out their website to get an idea of their philosophy about fashion, who their clients might be and who they are. There is a fair bit of  branding and PR but most of it will likely be true and that can lead to the next step.

2. Talk to the stylist by phone or meet to discuss their services. They will ask questions and you may have a few of your own.

3. Establish your budget. What I learned from this, is that it is important to communicate what you can afford. Given free rein both consultant and client can take this experience from pleasurable to regrettably costly.Trips to return items you love can be heart breaking.

4. If budget is your problem then see the value in a consultation but find ways to get what you want through online deals, consignment or thrift store purchases. For instance: A Helmet Lang wool tuxedo blazer looked fabulous on me! It was $575. I thought it will be an investment piece as the style pairs well with pants, jeans or skirts. When I went to Turnabouts Consignment Store I managed to find the exact style, by a different designer, minus wool fabric and hidden button, for $25.99. Guess which one is hanging in my closet?

5. Upscale consignment stores often provide fashion consultations to customers. One such store is REWIND Consignment in South Surrey. In a recent discussion with one of the staff I was told that for under $30 (price to be confirmed) Bianca and Alex will book an appointment time with you for a personal consultation. Contact your local consignment store to see if they offer a similar service or if you want to travel out the sunny South Surrey go to REWIND.

If you want to build your self-esteem, need to connect with your stylish side, have been feeling worn out or have a wardrobe that no longer wows you then I say,

Invest in hiring a personal fashion consultant ~ Internally and externally you will reap the benefits.


I always wanted to be…

If there is one statement I hear a lot from people it is “I always wanted to be a …….” What follows the description is the word “but,” which we all know is the intro to the reasons why they have not pursued their dream job. At some point in our life we have uttered those same words to a friend or partner. We merrily describe what interests us about our dream job or how it would change our life but then what I like to call “unverified reality,”  steps in to burst the bubble.

Unverified reality is when we create this world for others to hear about that supports our position without ever verifying facts. This false reality is designed to mask fears, lack of research and unwillingness to act. I’m not sure that we are fooling anyone because there are plenty of examples of people beating the odds to reach their goals.The truth is if we really wanted to be something, we could. If only we had spent less time talking about it and more time pursuing it.

Everything that needs to be done to become who you wish to be must be self-generated. Stop being your own worst enemy. That sounds harsh, doesn’t it? However, that is where all of us have stood, in the way of ourselves. Self esteem plays a huge role in all of this and therefore it is important to get support. There is no magical pill or expert opinion that can fast track your career. If you are expecting an easy way to your dream job, think again. This ain’t Hollywood’s version of what it takes to rise to the top.

Sometimes our dream job isn’t even possible. I may think that I will be the next winner of The Voice which will then parlay into a multimillion dollar music career but maybe my best is not good enough.  I might have been on the way to becoming an NHL star but an injury occurred and now I’m unable to reach that goal. What I want to be and what I can be may be very different. Barriers exist, one dream ends and an alternative begins. I would have to assess if or how I can work in that industry and be around the sights, sounds and smells I love but in a different way.

If you always wanted to be a…..,then here are some firm sounding tips:

* Do your research. Find out if it is possible to get employment in that field.

* If the research pans out and you need to go back to school then find a way. Stop talking and start educating yourself. Sure, it may take a while but in the end you are doing what you love.

* Stop caring about what others think. If they can’t support you then find a true friend that will or business mentor.

* Get help for the emotional baggage that keeps good people like yourself in a perpetual state of giving up before you really begin. If you want to spend more time rehashing your experiences as a student in high school, self identify with labels for why you are the way you are or stay on the loop of childhood, marriage or employment failures it is going to be a long haul. You are worth more than that so when you are ready we will welcome you to the now!

* Know that success is created one logical step at a time so stop trying to take giant leaps or skirt under the fence.

* You have likely over 80 years to grow as a person, learn from the best and embrace your talents so please stop saying you don’t have time.

By the way, I give myself this same advice all the time.



Book Review of Choices and Illusions

The next time you find yourself asking the question “What’s my purpose?” or feeling like others are to blame for your circumstances in life you may want to consider reading Choices and Illusions – How Did I Get Where I Am, and How Do I Get Where I Want to Be? by Eldon Taylor.

This isn’t just another self-help book. It is a weave of one man’s journey, an introduction to the science of the mind and a common sense approach to self-improvement. Written from a first person point of view, Taylor creates a personal connection between himself and the reader. He manages to draw attention to various scientific studies along with spiritual research, hypnosis, subliminal messaging and other psychological references to illustrate the choice and illusion concept.

For those that don’t just want to read about how to tap into their potential, Mr. Taylor has also provided multiple interactive exercises that can produce “Wow!” moments. Though some readers may have been exposed to mind manipulation or visual illusion exercises it never gets old being reminded of the brain’s ability to process more than we give it credit for. Eldon Taylor uses his study of the mind, his education in psychology and metaphysics along with his background as a criminalist to provide solid takeaways.

It would be hard for a reader not to turn down the corners of several pages. Take, for instance, the following two chapters: What We Perceive And Fail To Perceive (chapter five) and Psychological Defense Mechanisms (chapter six).  Many of you may have heard of or tried the visual illusion(s) in which you stare at dots in the middle of a picture that doesn’t look like much at all. Then when you look away and stare at a blank surface you see a face, a bird or something else that was not previous visible.   Taylor makes a good point, “The important thing here for you to realize is that if your senses can trick you in that way, what can you really trust? He goes on to say, “…then it becomes more conceivable that many other things that you hold to be true may in fact not be so and your journey to finding yourself can actually begin.” (page 37)

Another interesting piece of wisdom came in Chapter 9: A Simple Model of Mind and Behavior. It begins with the line, “When I have spoken to inmates, they all have stories and persons or events on which to blame their life errors.” (page 85) There isn’t a person out there that can’t say either they or someone they know tells similar stories of blame. Part way through Taylor reminds us that “As long as we blame, we effectively rob ourselves of our own empowerment.” (page 86) Then there was this, “…There are essentially two ways to be tied up in the world. Someone can physically bind you or you can hold on to some thread and refuse to pull it hard enough to break it, and you are just tethered as if you were actually tied. Holding on to blame is the same as being tied up. Until it is released, there is nothing you can do about anything, because, after all, it’s not your fault.” (page 93)

Many interesting aspects of our consciousness are explored along with hive consciousness and media’s control over us. In Chapter 14: The Courage to Challenge Yourself we are reminded about the impact of the information highway that consumes our life. I loved the reference made to the power of a “media-ocracy.” “The media engineers our ambitions, our habits, and our wants.” (page 153)

Mr. Taylor also provides extensive credits to others with constant references to their work or quotes that are relevant to the concepts he is addressing. Further resources and his Unlimited Personal Power CD are also included. With this approach you get the sense he isn’t just spouting advice but rather sharing a field of study.

Having said that I also believe that much of what you read in the self-help genre has been said hundreds of times. The quotes become familiar, the feel good stories and cheerleading titles are expected. After a person’s initial commitment to change comes the inevitable return to old beliefs and habits.

I won’t lie and say Choices and Illusions doesn’t have what I have just described. However, I will say it holds a lot more in the form of introducing readers to the vast array of research that supports one’s ability to see their world differently. In my quest to be fair to readers I will offer a couple of criticisms of the book:

1. Some of Mr. Taylor’s stories took over. I felt I was being strung along from chapter to chapter waiting for the conclusion. By the time that came I had forgotten the original point.

2. His constant references to his other books was distracting. Mr. Taylor stated in the preface that this was done to benefit those who wish to explore certain areas in great depth but it came across like a sales job.

In the end this book opens a reader to a personal journey in which Eldon Taylor offers examples from his own life and professional experience. He illustrates the choices we make, the illusions we live under and the consequences of both. You get a sense of his passion for exploring the mind and how that passion translated into a successful career. Choices and Illusions – How Did I Get Where I Am, and How Do I Get Where I Want to Be? gives the reader the potential to understand that change is possible if you tap into your masterful mind and to accept that your power really does lie within.

Eldon Taylor

Choices and Illusions – How Did I Get Where I Am, and How Do I Get Where I Want to Be?

United States: Hay House, Inc. 2013

Hardcover ISGN:978-1-4019-4338-7



Shedding The Good Girl Image

Miley Cyrus was the one of many poster girls for the innocence of childhood. She spent her young life nurturing an image that was identifiable to little girls and parent approved. Then like many of her predecessors there came a time when she needed to transition from girl to woman. For any of the rest of us that are not in the public eye this could be done slowly, getting to know ourselves, adjusting to the changes in our body and dealing with our feelings over time. For girls like Miley, who are surrounded by “Yes” and “Do it” people, coming-of-age and navigating the complexities of a women’s identity may look very different.

Her recent performance at the 2013 Video Music Awards left little doubt that Miley is on a crusade to shed her good girl image and has chosen (or been coached) to do so by selling her sexuality. Described as a girls gone wild act she twerked and tongue lashed her way through two songs. Instead of receiving positive reviews of her show, she received criticism and pity. One of the songs was a duet with Robin Thicke and after looking up the lyrics I can understand why some might question the choices she has made. Even Cyndy Lauper who was known for her ‘masturbation’ song and creative performances, did not have anything good to say about Miley’s show. (See below for a link to Cyndy’s comments aired on an Australian radio show) I have seen Cyndy Lauper in concert and I have enjoyed her music for many years but she never appeared to be anything else than what she was, an artistic and thoughtful songwriter, singer and performer.

This is where the struggle begins for girls who find themselves cast in a role that no longer fits either with their peers or within the backdrop of society. There is more pressure today for girls to use their sexuality to get ahead than in any other time in history. It is no longer about sexual freedom or freedom of expression as it has more to do with a new kind of conformity. Conform to porn. Buried in all of this hype about a slutty look and performance is the belief that in order to transform from girl to woman one must do so with a persona that sells a fantasy. Stripping down to barely legal and adopting behaviour that stems from porn imagery, girls and women try their best to be noticed. It has become a strange competition with a message, “Comply or be cast out!”

Like boys who have no right of passage within our culture that helps them move with pride towards manhood, girls have very little assistance in navigating the road to womanhood. What happens is outside influences that have more to do with profit or people with little interest in a girls well-being, step up to provide direction. If you are a vulnerable girl who wants to shed one look for another, ditch the virgin image and try on something more provocative there are plenty of ways to get it done. The problem is you can’t win. Shedding the good girl image often means girls give up more than they bargained for and learn little about what it means to be a woman. Often what rises to the surface is embarrassment, low self-esteem, powerlessness and I might add sadness.

In my opinion, Miley Cyrus is a good example of how a young woman is still not accepting of her entire being. She traded one extreme image for another and when she does that neither she nor anyone else can see who Miley the woman really is…but then maybe she doesn’t know.

Cyndy Lauper’s comment about Miley’s performance


What Breast Cancer Taught Me

ID-10061252This blog deals with a very personal topic that has greatly affected me and my family. At one point I hesitated to bring it forward but then I realized there was more to the story of breast cancer than the declarations of cancer’s presence and treatment decisions.

Taking it beyond the hellish ride it puts an individual through, came an opportunity to examine how breast cancer can change our own perception about our breasts. Join me on a journey to loving my body more than I did a year ago and help me honor women who continue to fight breast cancer.

(picture provided by

One of the hardest things a person can hear from their physician is the words “You have cancer.” In January of 2013 two women in my immediate family were diagnosed with breast cancer and so began the journey. They did not have the same type of breast cancer so they took a different path when it came time for treatment. One would have the tumours removed, still keep her breast and begin chemotherapy. The other would undergo a radical mastectomy with no treatments to follow as this very rare cancer appears not to respond to chemo, hormonal or radiation therapies.

When cancer struck my family I went from the initial shock through to turning all my attention to their needs. I tried to suppress the “What ifs.” Afraid that I may be some force in the world, I rejected  as best as I could every negative thought that came my way. I did not want any negative energy to be the cause of more discomfort.  With the pace of pre and post appointments, emotions that descended upon my loved ones and myself,  along with calls to everybody who wanted to be kept in the loop there could have been little time to consider one’s own health. Instead it became more of a focus.

I had always considered myself someone who had embraced life especially after a previous near death experience but that didn’t mean I was always kind to my body. Whether through youthful idiocy or adult pressures there were certainly times when stress was high and coping was low. Though I have come to know that most cancers are not hereditary it still made me assess am I doing all I can to treat my temple well. So began my efforts to step up the laughter, reduce the stressors, incorporate yoga back into my day and be conscious of my breath. Interestingly, I feel I was more prepared for the challenges that our family was facing then I would have been a year ago. Now the mind and body connection was foremost in my thinking.

Besides my increased awareness of biology and belief came another interesting awakening attributed solely to breast cancers arrival. I learned to fully love my breasts. Once cancer and breasts became the topic of every conversation I couldn’t help but think differently about my own.  I always had a love-wish relationship with my breasts.  From girlhood to womanhood I have comparatively assessed their appearance usually to standards set by a whole host of outside influences.  For the most part I have been happy with their appearance but there have been many a time when I had wished for something “better.” In  conversations with other women on the topic of breasts each woman would throw in her  opinion on what she likes and what she would change.

When I watched the women I love grapple with the reality that their breasts will be either disfigured or removed,  it changes the way I saw my own body.  The breasts were no longer used to attract a partner, to show off in an outfit or for feeding babies. Instead their significance became about life, death and their natural beauty. Now, I could care less what others think of my breasts or how they have changed as the years have passed. The only thing I think about is how thankful I am to have my breasts free of cancer.  Watching breasts become more of a ticking time bomb than a feminine body part changed my perspective completely. I stand before the mirror now and think how beautiful they are.

However, if by chance in the future, I sit in a colourless office with a white coated Doctor, holding results of a scan in a file, pulling up a chair so she can tell me, “You have breast cancer”, I will know that I am not alone.  As these months have passed I have seen multiple women escorted to examination rooms in gowns, saw a cancer centre filled with families waiting alongside their loved one as they met with countless specialists. I understand the helpless feeling that takes over as you watch the gurney take them away to an awaiting surgeon and follow the after-care that is both psychological and physical. It is only through this journey that I have seen the most intense sadness, overwhelming anger, debilitating fear and incredible bravery displayed by women in my life. Yes, breast cancer has taught me and those I love a lot; I only wish the lesson could have been less invasive.




You Look Marvelous: What a style & image consultant can do for you

It is hard to deny that fashion plays a key role in our lives, unless of course you are a nudist. Since most of us are not conducting business or pleasure in the buff deciding what to wear can be a daunting task. As I rummaged through my own closet lately I was struck by how many pieces hang there untouched. The other day I flung at least six outfits onto the bed looking for the right look for a casual business appointment.  In the end I put on something that just didn’t feel right.

I took transit into the city and noticed so many interesting outfits worn by fashion savvy young women and I couldn’t help but think “I used to be like them; putting more effort into my fashion choices,” “Where did they buy that?” and “Would I look good in that outfit?”

The fact is I feel some days like I have lost my sense of fashion direction. I’m not sure what to wear and trying on clothes at the stores often turns into an exercise in frustration. I know I’m not alone in the quest to find the perfect pieces to compliment my body and lifestyle. The good news is we don’t have to be famous to enjoy the expertise of a personal stylist or image consultant because there are people like Diana Kilgour who can come to our rescue. 


What is a personal style and image consultant? A person who knows how to bring out the best in her client’s appearance and manner. I do it by working with clothing and accessories that uniquely suit a person’s lifestyle, colouring, shape and size; suggesting improvements in speech, body language or posture if needed. It’s about impression management and equipping someone to live a freer, more confident life. Some people call me a personal shopper, dresser or stylist.

A good personal style and image consultant is a combination of three things: Caring friend with great taste who wants you to be happy and successful in life and isn’t afraid to tell you the truth, in a constructive and positive way.

Fairy-godmother who is able to help you transform your appearance so that you’ll fit in at the ball, in the office, at the resort or even the gym. Ensuring that your wardrobe and style formula is uniquely yours and not a carbon copy of others.

Consumer advocate who helps you make the best choices with your wardrobe dollars. I work for you, not for any particular store, so I can take you shopping anywhere and your long term satisfaction with your clothes is what I aim for.

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5 ideas to help with life’s challenges

laptopThroughout our life we are faced with challenges. Sometimes we can see a challenge coming and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes they are easy to solve and sometimes there not so easy. No matter how challenges surface there are healthy ways to tackle them head on without feeling too overwhelmed.

There is no denying that the majority of people I meet who are stalled in their careers tend to suffer at some point from analysis paralysis. The challenges faced by the unemployed can grow quickly, the days and nights are filled with more questions than answers and pretty soon life is far more complex than one previously thought.

Friends and family may step in to offer suggestions, the unemployment office might be breathing down your neck to get job searching, bills are piling up, the want ads are thinning out or what was once a great idea to pursue a passion quickly turned into more work than anticipated.

When it comes to employment or life challenges I find it helps to visualize a pie. Not the kind you eat but instead a structured pie shape. Then divide up the pie and place in each portion one challenge you’re facing.

1. Identify the challenge. Examples of challenges: Job, Time, Education, Financial, Experience, Energy, Depression, Child care or Health. (Portion your challenges) This is a visual cue as to how much is actually going on and can often help you to understand more fully why you are feeling so overwhelmed.

2. Figure out the level of control you personally have over this challenge. There are challenges within our control and some that are dependent on others to take action. Example: You have approached your bank for a loan and you have filled out the necessary paperwork. Now, the bank is in control and will take action. You had a financial challenge, you took control of the situation and now it is in someone else’s hands. Each step requires you to assess how much is within your control.


3. Accept that if one or more of your challenges is firmly outside of your control then it is better to focus your efforts on those you can. What is the point in spending your precious energy on something that is dependent on another person. Take a look at the pie and itemize what is the priority 1, 2, 3 etc. This is based on YOUR ability to take control and make some headway. Often just by working on one particular challenge it happens to knock off two others when it is solved.

4. After reviewing your challenges it is good to do an honest assessment of self and determine whether you are ready to take action. Often times we can get caught up in talking about a challenge but fail to commit to doing anything about it. Fear and procrastination may have taken up shop in your world and they aren’t easily swayed to move on.  You can talk all you want about wanting change but if you don’t move to EFFECTIVE and INFORMED action everything will remain the same.

5. You may need more information or help from others but finding solutions and action planning is integral to your success. When I said effective and informed action, I meant it. Cut your self some slack! Sometimes we don’t know the answers, sometimes we revolve in the same circle because we really can’t find a way out. That is OK to admit. So, part of your action may be making a strategic call to someone who does have an answer.

There is no challenge that is insurmountable. It just takes the willingness to segment out our life and career challenges, to gain a clear perspective, establish control and to be ready to move forward one step at a time.

Here’s to not trying to eat a whole pie in one sitting and to a full night of sleep!


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