40 & Fierce in Tulum

Last month something amazing happened. On my 40th birthday my love, Gavin, flew down 25 of my closest friends to Tulum Mexico to surprise the sh*t outta me! We celebrated all week long and it was the absolute, hands down, the best week of my life!

Even though words can’t begin to describe the love-full experience that was the celebration of my 40th year around the sun, I feel compelled to express my gratitude and offer a little window into the heart-exploding experience. This celebration was so much more than just my birthday, but it was a culmination and full expression of all the love that is abundant in my life today. It hasn’t always been this way. Not too long ago there was a time where life felt consistently challenging and mundane. I felt as if I were surviving, rather than thriving.  But I made the decision that it wasn’t the life I chose, so I set out to do the inner work, as challenging and seemingly slow progress as it was, and here I am today! A new woman living a dream. I can confidently say I manifested the life that IS my vision board!

Kelley’s surprise birthday party in Tulu

My life partner and fiancé Gavin, who loves me unconditionally and shows it in every way possible and every single day, family and friends who I love and adore, and my son Hunter and stepsons Benji and Ryley who are blessings in my life, so many heart-opening experiences and connections every single day, and a growing art career where I get to truly be my creative self. I love it all so much my heart feels like it is about to burst!

The weeks leading up to the trip Gavin did his very best (and he did a great job!) of throwing me off the trail. I knew we were going away for my birthday, and I had a guess it was Mexico, but that’s all I could figure out. Gavin said all sorts of things to make me think we were going somewhere else, and also acted at one point like all the plans were falling apart due to COVID cancellations lol.  All my friends were of course in on it, and they all had asked me “Hey, what are we doing for your birthday? Can I plan something for when you get back from your trip?” I asked Gavin- “Hey love, I’m so excited for our trip, BUTTTT, did you happen to plan anything with my friends!? They are all asking me about it…” He dismissively said, “sure we can arrange something the following week”. Little did I know what was about to happen…..

I packed my bags with “warm weather” attire and off we went to the airport. We landed in Cancun and got in a shuttle and a few hours later we reached the mystery destination: Tulum! We checked into Nest Tulum, a super cute boho-chic boutique hotel right on the beach. The attentive staff took our bags and whisked us down a lush jungle path to our villa. The room was absolutely adorable, complete with a clawfoot tub on an elevated loft level, overlooking the ocean. So romantic and dreamy.

The next day Gavin and I woke up bright and early and headed out to an eco-excursion arranged by Nest Tulum.  We drove down a bumpy unpaved road to meet our captain and guide, Pedro. We jumped into his boat to take a private tour of the Reserva de la Biósfera Sian Ka’an. This eco-tour was spectacular, filled to the brim with wildlife sightings. In 3 hours we saw alligators, manatees, dolphins, stingrays, sea turtles, and so many beautiful birds. It’s a must do!

Famished from the eventful day, we dined at Meze that evening, the new hotspot and an Aegean open-flame restaurant owned by the guys at Grupo Gitano. The food was spectacular. Two of my favorite dishes that tantalized my tastebuds were the Tyrokafteri (spicy feta spread with caramelized fig) and the salt- encrusted catch of the day, which is cracked-opened and served in a beautiful table-side experience… As I was sipping on my Rose, Gavin was asking me about fishing, as he has never been before, and something he really wants to try. Since it was a leisurely vacation dinner I went on and on about all the different kinds of fishing I have tried over my 40 years. I told him about deep sea fishing for tuna, fly fishing for salmon in Alaska, bass fishing on the lakes in Florida, and ice fishing on the frozen lakes of Ontario. Mid-story, he said we had to go back to make the happy hour at our hotel. “Why the rush? I asked. He just took my hand and whisked me into a taxi as I kept explaining how you can cut into 6” thick ice to set a line.

Once we got back he led me to the beach bar and as I walked down the stairs I noticed the bar was empty. Suddenly as I turned the corner a crowd of people jumped up and yelled “SURPRISE!!!!” and I threw my purse onto the ledge in complete shock! Twenty-five of my closest friends were there to surprise me. The video speaks for itself:

The following days were filled with so much joy and connection. My friend Tamalin had meticulously arranged absolutely every minute detail to make the week super special. We all rented bikes and group-biked into town. What a site that was! We sipped Aperol Spritzes on the beach. Every day! Tamalin and Gavin hosted a wedding-worthy birthday dinner celebration with decor that deserves a feature in Harper’s Bazaar. The best part of this night was when every single person at the table stood up and told me how much I mean to them. Tears were flowing down my face the entire time. My friend Lovisa even serenaded me with a song she wrote!

NEST Tulum of the Namron Group couldn’t have hosted us with any more love, care, and attention. Their service is beyond. They knew everyone’s name, memorized each and every favorite customized cocktail and had one waiting the minute we sipped the last drop. They treated us like family. I will never forget our stay there and I will surely return soon.

Thursday we relocated to the NEST’s sister property La Valise Tulum, also managed by Namron Group, just a few doors down. We checked in and went upstairs to the master suite. I stepped into the room and my jaw hit the floor. This was the most amazingly gorgeous room I had ever seen…  The very best part is that the bed was on a track and wheels so you could roll it out onto the ocean front balcony to sleep under the stars!!!  Take a look for yourself: (VIDEO). 

Thursday night we secured some very-hard-to-score reservations at Hartwood. Although the food had been spot on this entire trip, this meal took everything up another notch- if that was even possible. The giant fire roasted beet was the size of my head and sat on a bed of luxurious creamy avo-crema- divine! I also must note that this is a truly fully sustainable restaurant- running on 100% solar, cooking on open flames with sustainably sourced fish, meats and veggies, which holds an extra special  place in my heart.

We finished off the night with dancing at Gitano’s– picture a cool, hip vibe in the middle of the jungle with a music set of a super talented and eclectic DJ. This was the hot spot to be. We explored the meandering indoor-outdoor spaces that seemed to connect through little passageways, leading to more secret nooks, all dimly lit with candles and hanging tree lights. The energy was palpable and you couldn’t help but to dance to beats that infiltrated the moody jungle surroundings. It was as if nature and music collided and merged to make this tribal celebratory dance experience. What a special night!

Before I knew it the week commenced and we said our goodbyes at the airport. Our bodies and feet were exhausted, but our hearts were full and glowing. You could see it in everyone’s eyes and smiles. This week had not only touched my heart deeply, but also had moved each and everyone who attended. It had been a transformative experience for all of us because we shared so much love and connection. This week will never be forgotten and will go on to live in our memories, our souls, our stories, and in our relationships. So much gratitude. So much Love.

Travel and Event Producer: Savoir Agency   | @savoiragency
Event Decor: Corrie in Color  | @corrie.in.color
Floral Designer: Vanessa Jaimes  | @vanessajaimesfloraldesign
Event Rentals: Rental Bloom  | @rebel.bloomrentals
Venue: Nest Tulum  | @nesttulum 
Photography: Lili Breton Photography  | @lilibretonphoto
Videographer: Andrew Grace  | @andrew_grace

Yosemite & Sequoias RV Family Vacation COVID Style


I’m finally getting around to sharing some memories and tips we learned on our family RV trip to Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks! COVID has caused a big come-back in the popularity of good ole’ American RV and camping trips. We made some amazing memories on this trip, all while cramming 2 kids, 2 teenagers, and 2 adults into one 30ft C-class motorhome. It may have been tight quarters, but it sure was a blast!

I grew up playing in the woods behind my house, and those are some of the most memorable moments of my adolescent years. My friends and I would hike out into the forest collecting rocks, floating flowers and leaves down the babbling brooks, and weave grasses and honeysuckle into bracelets, necklaces and crowns. This trip brought back vivid memories of those times, and I found myself feeling deep joy and excitement witnessing our kids create the same nature magic. Nature is healing and nature is the best teacher. I’m so thankful for the good times and connection we shared on this epic RV trip!

Tip #1: 

Make sure you have a good food plan and grocery ship accordingly.

So RV fridges and freezers are super small and once you fill it up with drinks there isn’t room for too much else. I had big plans to pre-cook casseroles and other meals, only to find out there was no room to bring them. (Worked out ok in the end because I froze them and ate them when we got back, when I wanted to do nothing more that chill out and watch a movie) So, make sure you bring things like canned tuna, pasta, and other shelf-stable meals. There is a great deal more cabinet space than fridge space!

Tip 2: 

Plan your route, and book RV camping spots and plan excursions ahead of time, keeping in mind how big your RV is (and where it will fit)

RVs are great on the highway. I mean you’re rolling down the freeway goin’ 65 and still have full access to TV, food, cold drinks, couch and a bed! Major upside. BUT the major downside is that you can’t fit that 30 footer into just any place. The solution- make sure you plan ahead. Book RV camp spots that accommodate an RV of the appropriate size. Check out all the stops and sites you want to see and make sure they have RV parking. I must say, national parks are pretty well set up for RVs so we didn’t have too many issues. The one stop that we did make that was super tricky to navigate the boat was Rainbow Falls. (It’s definitely worth the stop- you can swim to a waterfall and climb right in behind it!) This place gets packed and parking is limited and tight. Either get there early to grab one of the few RV- compatible spots, or park outside and hoof it in.

TIP 3:

Bring family games.

Camping is fun but kids need entertainment. Board and card games were a fun way to pass the time, connect and have a laugh with each other. Heads Up was a hit with our family.

TIP 4:

Plan where to DUMP (eek!) and fill up with water. 

With a large family like ours the holding tank would fill up fast and went through water quickly as well. Make sure you know where you can dump the tank and fill up with water nearby or at every stop along the way.

TIP 5:

Go with the flow.

Despite all the planning, life always throws us curve balls, so adapt and go with the flow. When we embrace this perspective we make the most out of every moment.

I grew up playing in the woods behind my house, and those are some of the most memorable moments of my adolescent years. My friends and I would hike out into the forest collecting rocks, floating flowers and leaves down the babbling brooks, and weave grasses and honeysuckle into bracelets, necklaces and crowns. This trip reminded me of those times, and I found myself feeling joy and excitement witnessing our kids have those special nature-connected moments.