Thursday, January 28, 2010

{kenlan's closet...}

Everyone has a past. Everyone has their stories, their journeys, their tales to tell and for some reason, whenever people find out my political past…their first inclination is to ask whether or not I miss it! I’ve always found this quite interesting because in many ways, working in politics was just like any other job but to the outside world, it clearly held a certain mystique that others wanted to know more about.

I got asked this question again last week and it compelled me to think long and hard about my time roaming the halls of Parliament Hill. “There’s got to be something that you miss about it” I told myself, even if it was just the amazing spaghetti that they served on Thursday afternoons in the cafeteria! But the honest truth is no…I don’t miss it. It was a great time in my life but when I made the choice to leave, I was more than ready to do so. And then just yesterday, it hit me…the one thing; The one thing that makes me wish, that for one day, I was back in that one place…the annual Christmas party!!!

Believe me, I get how ridiculous it sounds to say that the single thing you miss about an old career is the party, but it really was a great party! All of us who had spent months upon months running the halls in our most professional attire with blackberries in hand, chasing after rogue politicians while attending committee meetings and making endless travel plans, were finally being given the opportunity to cut loose and paint our political town red! And party we did! We partied until the cows came home…the sun came up…and until, eventually, we had to go right back to work with streamers still caught in our hair!! It really was a truly great party!!

There was a downside though and it’s the same down side that plagues every girl hoping to look her very best when entering a room (preferably with a handsome sidekick not too far off in the distance!); the dress! The perk of being the estrogen dominate ones of society is that we are entitled to a plethora of truly gorgeous creations to help make our already beautiful selves twinkle and shine that much more. The challenge here is that such beauty doesn’t come cheap!! The dress, the hair, the make-up, the accessories…before you know it, you could end up with a mortgage payment worth of an outfit. Lovely? Yes. Ideal? Not so much.

This is where one of my brilliant brides has stepped in to save the day…

My December bride, Suzanne, and her sister Josée, have come up with the ultimate business idea to help out those of us who want to look amazing for the occasion but still have cash left over for our morning Starbucks; Kenlan’s Closet is the long overdue answer to many of our fashion prayers!

In the same manner that men have long been able to rent tuxedos for their big event, these sisters have now come up with a way of providing women with the opportunity to rent designer dresses for their own star-studded evenings. And I think that this is, by far, the best.idea.ever. Kenlan’s Closet is offering the likes of Nicole Miller, Alexander McQueen, Badgley Mischka, Vera Wang and oh so many more designers that will make your heart beat faster and your Manolo Blahniks dance with joy!

So ladies, I highly encourage you to not only check out this amazing new business but I encourage you to take full advantage of it! Whether it is for a night out on the town with your girlfriends or to simply bake muffins in your kitchen… either way, Kenlan’s Closet will help you do it in style!

Check out their website here and read a fantastic article about them in the Ottawa Citizen here.

Happy Designer Dreams ;)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

{suzanne & steve: wedding...}

I seriously have some of the best colleagues in the world. Seriously. We are a small group of seven women and on countless occasions, we say that the best part of our job is the people. That being said, we also agree that the worst part of job can also be…the people! And it’s not because we don’t adore each other or respect each other, it’s because like any other relationship in life, they can be trying at times. When you spend eight hours a day, five days a week together; when you share in the ups and the downs of your day together; when you share in the personal and professional sides of life together…you’re bound to get on each other’s nerves from time to time! But it’s a small (and very worthwhile) price to pay for the privilege of being able to work with people that I can call my friends.

It’s actually the single part of leaving my job that I am anxious about. I’m a bit nervous about the loneliness that could come with self-employment and what life will be like without that built-in network of people to see and share with every day. That, most certainly, will come as an adjustment. And there have been times when I’ve wondered if this factor alone would potentially be too much for the extroverted, social butterfly in me.

And then I met Suzanne and Steve…

I met them on a busy Friday night at Starbucks to discuss their upcoming Christmas wedding. I had met them at a time when I was still trying to decide if photography was really the way to go for me. After all of the stability that I had created in my current situation, it often seemed down right crazy to put it all aside for something that may or may not end up working out. I was scared about life outside of an office, life as business owner, and life without the structure that I had so intimately come to know over the last decade. But then there I was with this lovely couple and a half hour led to an hour, which then melted into two hours and before I knew it, I realized I had long overstayed the amount of time I had promised my husband I would be gone! Once I did make it home though, I walked through the front door, poked my head around the corner to where he was comfortably parked on the couch (with my most apologetic eyes, of course!) and when I was asked how our meeting went…I just looked at him, smiled and said “I’m so doing this!”

To say that I like Suzanne and Steve would be such a ridiculous understatement! To say that I wish I could carry them around in my back pocket as my permanent coffee dates would be at least getting a wee bit closer to how much I adore them. Not only are they two of the most wonderful and kindest people that I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with, but frankly…I love them!!! And at the risk of making them sound like a puppy that followed me home…I want to keep them!!! Pleeeeeeasseee…

Not only do they radiate the very essence of love and happiness that I cherish so much in people, but from the moment I first met them, they began to teach me a very important lesson; a lesson that I needed to learn in order to move forward in my photography career; they taught me that relationships are not a by-product of a work place or a work structure…they are a product of the effort you put into them and the parts of yourself that you are willing to give them. They reminded me that it will be people like them that become my new colleagues and the new day-to-day elements of my life. It will be sharing in their wedding days and the time leading up to it that will become my new structure and if I’m really lucky, some of those relationships, just like some of the ones that I’ll be leaving behind at my old job, will long outlive our “designated” time together to become an entity all unto their own. And that is, quite possibly, the very best reward of all.

As I joined my husband back in car after having dropped off their final disc of images, I just looked at him and said “I’m sad!” And I really was. It was like saying a reluctant goodbye to a friend at the airport! I didn’t want their wedding to be over, I didn’t want their pictures to be done and I didn’t want to drive away from my new friends! But then I got a beautiful email the next day that said “let’s keep in touch, okay?”…and just like that, my heart felt better! I didn’t quite get to “keep” them, as in I don't get to see them every day…but I definitely felt like I had been granted shared custody!!

Suzanne and Steve, you’re amazing! You’re amazing in front of my camera and you’re exponentially more amazing in person. Thank you for not only letting me share in your beautiful wedding day, but thank you for being the very best way to end an incredible year. I miss you already!

Gen xoxo

To see more of their romantic winter wedding, click here to see their slideshow.

Monday, January 11, 2010

{so long...}

About five and half years ago, I sat in my doctor's office crying about how I hadn't slept properly in three I was always feeling sick to my I had a constant headache...and most of all, how I was having difficulty breathing. I was convinced I was dying. After listening to my hysteria for ten minutes, he handed me a note giving me the next three weeks off of work and asked me to take part of that time to consider if the field of work that I was currently in was something that I wanted to pursue long-term. "If not" he said, "now would be a good time to make a change."

I was in politics at the time. I had been hired as a political assistant on Parliament Hill shortly after graduating from university and while I enjoyed the experience of it all, over the course of my three years, it had also managed to systematically suck the soul out of me. At the age of twenty-five, I been put on stress leave.

Ten days into my three week leave, I got offered a new job in the field of the fine arts doing marketing and communications. I quit my political job that same day, started my new job the following Monday and swore that my life would never experience that kind of imbalance ever again.

As strange as it may sound, that change of direction in my career was one of the most "divine" moments of my life. It was one of the best and most spontaneous decisions that I have ever made and no part of it had anything to do with prestige or money or even advancement. It had to do entirely with the pursuit of well-being and the proper alignment of my priorities...for what may have been the first time ever in my life. I had surrendered myself in that doctor's office and God had taken over the reigns from there. And He did an amazing job!

In five weeks, I'm going to be leaving that job to become a full-time Mother, a full-time photographer and hopefully, an even more genuine version of myself as once again, God takes the reigns in a whole new direction. And just like last time, I can feel God's presence in this transition as things slowly fall into place; the gentle hand guiding into new and unfamiliar territority but all the while, reminding me that it will all be okay. I've never been more scared and excited all at the same time!

This is why I didn't mind spending my entire New Year's Day in front of the computer putting together my "best of" slideshow for 2009; because it was - in essence - giving some well deserved reflection and acknowledgment to the first of many steps that would change the course of my life. I've always considered it somewhat cliché to do the whole "look back at the year...", but in this case, I felt as though I owed it to myself to take a moment (or an entire day!) to recognize how far I've come in this area of my life...which ultimately, has affected every other area of my life as well. It has also proven that God is far better in the driver's seat than I could ever be (even with the new GPS we got for Christmas!)!!

So 2009...I bid you farewell! 2010...let's kick some ass!

To view my "Best of 2009" slideshow, click here.