Girl Crush // Kate Durie

-kate-081 main

Kate Durie is one of those people who radiates positivity. That positivity is so compelling, you can't help but be transformed by it no matter what mood you are in. Her story is one of triumph over pain, determination over struggle and possibility over fear.  We definitely need more Kate Durie’s in the world, her radiant outlook, her call to help others and inspiring spirit makes our world a little brighter. Kate among many things is a yoga instructor, artist, coach and creator of ‘The Gratitude Kit.’ Paige and I were lucky to experience 'The Gratitude Kit' event when Kate brought the artistic infused evening to Toronto. It was a night spent meeting and mingling with amazing women, crafting many items for our personal gratitude kits and filling our hearts with warmth, love and a gratitude plan for our year. Her compassion, generosity and spirit is an inspiration to us and we think you’ll get a dose of inspiration from Kate as this week’s Girl Crush.

You are a creative maven, talk about your many passions and professions? How do you incorporate art into your work?

I am a work in progress. Everything I do is infused with the intention of being, speaking, writing, doing, and creating from the heart (h’art). I guess you could sum up my passions and professions as:


(in no particular order)

I call this my second life. My injury prevents me from returning to a big corporate life; one that I was passionately in love with. Day by day, I’m designing, creating, exploring what IS possible. Pacing is the name of my game…and the key to managing TBI (traumatic brain injury) symptoms.

As I write this I am officially a Registered Yoga Teacher, Blissologist, Yoga Therapist, Creativity Catalyst, Metamorphosis Guide, and a whole-hearted Grief & Life Coach in progress...

Life is not a straight life. Which makes me (& all of us) ever evolving works of h’art. Wabi sabi. Perfectly imperfect. Always changing. It’s really about learning to love the process, and that’s what h’arting and living is all about to me.

Not easy. Worth it.

-- kate-006 small

(photo: Tara McMullin, stylist: Tiffany Pratt)

After your recovery from your accident did you feel a call to inspire others?

Yes and no. For a long time I could barely inspire myself, let alone others. I went through a lot of really dark times in recovery; a process that I am still in. In the early days, if someone had told me that this injury had a silver lining I would have punched them in the face. To be honest, even the question “how are you” would set me off. I was in a deep state of depression and grief, I was grieving me.

But somehow, something began to shift. There was this relentless determination to keep moving forward. To keep pulling myself out of those dark places. I learned that what seemed like steps backwards was still movement, still progress. There had to be a reason the Universe presented me with this experience…and I was not going to let it be in vain.

I began sharing my story. My experience. My tools (yoga, art, journaling, gratitude, etc.). The ups and downs. The twists and turns. And so it began.

I got, and continue to get, a lot of inspiration from nature. The caterpillar/butterfly’s journey (of metamorphosis, transformation, loss, endings/beginnings, faith, time, etc.). The lotus flower, at home in the muddy water, rising from the darkness towards the light, strengthened by the journey (“No mud. No lotus.” as they say). I just feel compelled to share any discovery I make. It doesn’t matter what your accident/injury/illness/hurt is. Grief is grief. Loss is loss. Pain is pain. Healing is healing. We’re all human and we’re divinely connected.

Sharing creates community and reminds us that we are SO not alone.


How do you bring your spiritual practice into your marriage?

Faith…I think. :)

I am not a religious person, but deeply spiritual. My husband and I were married just 4 months before my accident. You know that whole “for better or worse, in sickness and in health, for richer and poorer” thing? Ya, well, that sh!t’s for real! We faced each of them within months of saying “I do”. So I think the short answer is Faith. Showing up for each other as best we can. Sharing the light and the dark. Patience. Believing in the strength of our relationship, our friendship, our commitment to each other, and above all else, Love.

We’ve learned hell-of-a-lot about ourselves through this process. Personal Growth and Awareness with a capital G & A. And I share what I’ve learned with him. What keeps coming to mind for me is Yoga. Most simply, Yoga means to yoke or union, of body, mind and spirit. Living from this place of connection – awareness of body and mind and spirit. So often we lead with one and/or completely ignore others. Living Yoga means involving all three in what we do, say, think, choose, act, are. Bringing them back into sync, into equilibrium, harmony.

A near death experience and becoming a Yogi/Yoga Teacher, fundamentally deepened my spiritual practice, which became a part of me, and therefore part of my marriage … for better or worse. Yoga inspires this shift. Being present in your life. A showing up. A waking up. It’s hard to stay in an unconscious ‘auto pilot’ state when you’re tuning into body+mind+spirit. This can be a really good thing, and a really challenging thing, especially if you’ve spent a lot of your life living in the past, the future, numbed out, tuned out, or on autopilot.

I am eternally grateful that I have a husband who was open to this shift, and is going on this journey with me.

But just to make sure, I asked him how I bring my spiritual practice into our marriage, and he said:

“You share your learnings, lessons, beliefs, and try to impart it and apply it to day-to-day stuff.”

Sounds about right. :)


How did you first develop ‘The Gratitude Kit’? There isn’t many workshops like this in our community, what was the response like for the first event?

It all began after a serendipitous connection with an incredible woman and entrepreneur, Emily Arbour who had just opened Hello Yello, a new shop in Almonte. At her opening, she mentioned creating a workshop space in the lower half of the shop. I instantly put up my hand to offer…something.

A few months later I get an email saying something like “how does February work for you? When I think of you, I see hearts.”

What emerged from my h’art was {the GRATITUDE kit}. For me, gratitude is a spiritual and creative practice. One that saves me, grounds me, connects me, inspires me and transforms me on a day-to-day basis. Something this good has to be shared.

What I heard from Emily prior to the workshop was that a few people weren’t sure what a “gratitude kit workshop” was about. Not sure what to expect. In fact, I think I’m still trying to figure out just how to promote and describe the event. Blog posts like this and this from beautiful souls who attended help a lot!

I have held 100+ Corporate editions of the workshop, as well as smaller editions running from 12 – 20+ people … and the feedback is that the experience is nothing short of magic. That’s what happens when we get into the flow, when we create, play, get messy, when we let down our guards/walls/pretensions and tap into our wise inner 5 year-old guru selves. It is a process of remembering who we are, that we ARE creative. We were born that way. What people leave with are a whole pile of tools and inspiration and reminders to help them build a gratitude practice. One that truly has the power to transform they way they live and see and interact with the world. You also leave with a seed of creativity deeply planted in your heart. What grows, well that’s as unique as each person who attends.


[via Random Acts of Pastel]

You went from working in the corporate world to becoming a yoga teacher, how has life changed for you and what advice would you give others wishing to leave their 9-5’s?

That’s a big question! Not sure I can do it justice here, but I think my experience with Death Café can help. We need to ask ourselves how increasing our awareness of death (aka acknowledging the finite nature of our lives) can inspire the way we live our lives…today. Like now. It may sound morbid at first, but tomorrow is not a guarantee. The one thing we all have in common is that we are going to die + we just don’t know when or how. So how do we want to spend our time on this earth?

I think the answer to your question is just a series of more questions. Each of our paths are so different…

At Death Café we ask a lot of questions… like: how can we allow our future regrets be our current goals? What is on your “before I die” list? How do you want to be remembered? How do you envision your funeral or eulogy.

Are these questions you’ve ever contemplated? Often these types of questions make us uncomfortable so we avoid them. It’s part of what I call the numb out, tune out, shut out strategy. It’s part of the living on autopilot; ‘same shit, different day’ attitude.

I didn’t leave the corporate world. Nor did I have a 9-5 job (more like 8-6 and then some). My accident and new capabilities chose for me.

All any of us can do is ask, Who am I? Why am I here? What makes me happy? What brings me joy? What is important to me? What does success really mean to me? If we dig deep, I think the answers will often surprise you.

Are you living for some future state of happiness or stuck in the ‘when I get/achieve X, then I will be happy’ trap? For many people, their 9-5 job is what pays the bills. If you can leave work at work, this gives them the space to enjoy life – family, friends, hobbies, passions, callings. Not all callings are meant to pay the bills.

Where do you derive your sense of purpose or meaning? Do you resent your job? What about job related stress? Is your body/health sending you messages that you may be ignoring? Deep down do you feel called to something different? What is holding you back from exploring that? What are you afraid of? What’s the worst thing that could happen? What IS possible?

Ultimately we have the capacity to explore many careers in one life. We just have to be okay with beginnings and endings. With change. With so called ‘failure’. With risk. Possibly living with less external stuff, fewer toys. When we live with a grateFULL heart, when we feel full on the inside, what we need on the outside changes.


I love your bohemian, California style! What inspires your looks and what are some of your go-tos?

Every time someone describes me as a Cali/boho girl I smile ear to ear. Biggest compliment ever. Especially the Bicyclette girls!! Thank you.

I often joke that my heart lives in California - must be a past life thing (haha). I think this ‘Cali/boho’ style emerged organically + I’ve always been a hippy at heart. I suppose not being in the corporate world anymore allowed a natural style to emerge.

Hair: No flat irons or blow dryer in the rehab hospital, I let my hair do it’s own thing. Some (ok, many) days I didn’t even brush it. Many months later I was given a hair product (Kevin Murphy “Motion Lotion”) at a clothing swap some friends organized. Fell in love, have been buying it ever since. Gives that messy, wavy, just got off my surfboard look. ;)

Clothes: I live in Yoga clothes most of the time. But, when I do have a social outing that requires real clothes I love to play dress-up. Whether it’s ripped boyfriend jeans/shorts, flowy dresses, kimonos, tutu’s or party skirts…silks, head wraps, or a whole lotta arm candy I let the mood or event inspire what I wear. Sometimes I even surprise myself. I’ve been like this since I was old enough to dress myself.

-kate-042 small

(photo: Tara McMullin, stylist: Tiffany Pratt)

Is there a spiritual text that profoundly affected you? What is a quote or mantra you live by?

There are many. I’m not even sure where to start. A few of the early ones would have been:

Marianne Williamson - she is a student and teacher of a rich spiritual text called A Course in Miracles. I heard one of her quotes in a song, followed the breadcrumbs (thank you Google) and kept on reading/learning. For me, I’ve always struggled with traditional religion/the Bible/Jesus/God but have been fascinated and drawn to what I now know to be spirituality since I was a small child. For me, the word “God” is really any higher power or source of wisdom, whether that be the Universe, Spirit, the Divine, Mother Nature, whomever or whatever. I think Gabrielle Bernstein (a student of Marianne) has done a great job of modernizing the teachings from A Course in Miracles – making it more accessible and relatable to those who feel they are more spiritual than religious. Ultimately it is NOT about one religion or another. If you dig below the surface, as Caroline Myss has documented in a number of her books, at the core is the same underlying principles, messages and values. A way of being. Love.

The Yoga Sutras - one of the foundational yogic/spiritual texts. The yogic path or philosophy in general is a ‘way of being’ and has shaped, influenced, and affected me profoundly.

Buddhism – Less from a religious perspective and more as a spiritual philosophy and way of being. I somehow found myself at Joyful Land Buddhist centre following my accident and was profoundly affected by the dharma teachings and meditation offered.

Gratitude & Nature – Both of these were a huge part of my childhood and upbringing (thank you mom!), but perhaps had taken a lesser role as I pushed and climbed and built my career. When a friend introduced me to this thing called The Blissology Project while I was in the hospital, it lit a fire within and shaped the path that followed. I began an active gratitude practice, and began re-connecting with the healing powers of nature. Blissology was created by Yoga Teacher Eoin Finn; Gratitude and Nature Appreciation are two of the main principles he lives and teaches by. Funny how the Universe works, because I later studied with and received my Yoga Teacher training from Eoin, in Bali. Something I never thought was possible following my accident. 

In fact, my North Star’s/guiding principles/mantras were birthed during my yoga training and time in Bali. Peace and Possibility. I made a commitment to the Universe to become a Possibilitarian. To believe in what IS possible, to believe that peace is always possible, and to live in Love. When I got home I tattooed Shanti (a sanscrit word that means Peace) and Possibility on my feet, as well as my trademark heart (Love) on my left wrist, which connects to the right side of the brain. Each time I practice meditation or yoga, or raise my hands into Namaste (Anjali Mudra) at my heart centre, I am reminded of this journey.


3 things you are grateful for today… 1. SUMMER. 2. MY BREATH (it is my anchor, my presence, my calm, my life). 3. COLLABORATING WITH RAD HUMAN BEINGS. 

3 places you want to travel to…

BALI (again, my intention is to be there early spring 2015!).

FRANCE – Paris, Saint-Tropez

JAPAN…or Thailand (again), Southeast Asia. (Oops. That’s more than 3.) 

3 synchronicities in your life...

As annoying and trite as I once thought this to be, everything happens for a reason. The tricky part is that we have to be conscious, we have to be awake, we have to be listening … and even when this IS happening, that reason can be elusive and may not present itself right away or in an obvious way. And sometimes, the lesson is a painful one. I choose to believe that my soul, my spirit, was signed up for a big assignment, so every step along this path is a synchronicity of some kind.

One cool thread to share: I followed a (really crappy) boyfriend to Ottawa. For quite sometime I really resented being in Ottawa, found it boring and missed my friends/family (many were in Waterloo/Toronto). I gave myself 2 years, after which I would move back to Toronto. During that time I met my now husband, I went to Chicoutimi (Northern Quebec) to learn French and met Wendy Woods (love at first sight), Wendy lives in Toronto, is a Style Coach. On one of our shopping trips she introduced me to Bicylette Boutique (love at first sight). And here we are!! xo!!!

Life is a lot of learning to love the unknown. To love the process. To have faith in what we cannot see. To cultivate the capacity to listen. To wake up and to stay awake so that we can hear the whispers, and make choices from a place of truth, a place of love. To believe in peace. To believe in possibility. 

You have a magical presence and energy that is infectious, what does magic mean to you?

Well oh my goodness. Thank you. So much!

It’s funny, I use the word magic a lot. I just comes out when I’m in the flow or writing about experiences that feel extra alive. There seems to be this texture to certain experiences. Something you can feel – your whole mind, body spirit is involved. If I connect the dots, when magic is present there is often one or more of the following involved: Yoga (which includes meditation, breath, and and and), creating/creativity or h’ART making, building community or being in community, connecting with or being in nature, sharing or experiencing from the heart – living in love, being in service of your calling or purpose.

I could go on and on…but maybe that’s a story for another day.

(photo 1: Tara McMullin, stylist: Tiffany Pratt)