Before I left for Spain, I’d written, “I hope I find a reason to not come home…. But I’m also terrified that I’ll find that reason.” It seems I was feeling stagnant, ready for change, wanting something big to show up in my life and blow me away, but also deep down I knew that I wasn’t the type of person to leap into the unknown or to take chances. An interesting dichotomy that I was aware of, and yet unable or unwilling to fully address. Yet.
It’s November 2008, I’m barely a week into my third decade, and I’m alone in a foreign country. More than alone, I’m lonely. Making my way through Spain I’d seen and done some amazing things, but without someone to share those moments and memories with, there was a spark that was lacking and the novelty of travel was wearing off.
I got off the bus in Lisbon, Portugal, too disoriented to be charmed by the cobblestone streets. I didn’t speak a single word of Portuguese, and I didn’t know which direction to head to find my hostel. Also, my last few hostel experiences had been less than ideal – they were cold, both physically and emotionally. I was tired, a little under the weather, and missing human connection. I’d come up with a plan to stay a couple nights at the hostel in Lisbon, then head north to Porto where I was looking forward to staying in a home with a local CouchSurfing host.
I arrived at the hostel, thanks to a kind man who saw I was lost and walked me all the way to the door, and quickly realized that things were going to be different. As I entered the lobby there was someone coming down a stairwell, who took one look at me and disappeared back up the stairs. Odd. I checked in and as I turned around the guy from the stairs handed me a drink – my first caipirinha – and said, “Follow me.” He showed me to a room with an open bunk, “Leave your bag here, come on!”
He took me to the common area, and a dozen other travelers all looked our way: “Hey! What’s your name? Where are you from? Come join us!” This. This was what traveling was meant to look like.
I dipped a cup into the communal vat of sangria, joined the massage train, and a couple hours later found myself laughing in the streets as we explored Lisbon’s night life.
A very young backpacker who’d been staying at the hostel for a while was our unofficial guide through the narrow streets. He was impish and impulsive, too much of an open book to be charming, but still intriguing. I quickly learned that he was the type of guy who didn’t think twice before jumping in with both feet. By the end of the night he’d asked me to marry him, and I had no doubt that if I agreed he would have immediately swept me into his joyous whirlwind, which would have blown us to the nearest chaplain’s office, then off onto some wild adventure.
I was awestruck. I’ve always been overly cautious and yet I’d been yearning to break free, do something wild. I didn’t accept his proposal that night, or the next few nights when he continued to ask. I did spend more time with him, more curious than anything, and he truly lived his life immersed in each moment. It was fascinating, and totally foreign. However, I soon realized this usually meant he was doing what felt best for him, regardless of the people around him. He was open and caring, but totally unfazed by most social norms or potential consequences, and that made me uncomfortable.
I realized that I didn’t, in fact, want to live my life like that. I’m rational, and sensitive to people and situations around me, which I (eventually) decided are strengths, not weaknesses. Sure, I still wanted to learn to open up and embrace opportunities, but in hopes that it would bring more connection and intimacy into my life. Despite this guy’s fascination with me, I felt in no way connected to him. Apparently a willingness to make sweeping split second decisions was not synonymous with commitment. I no longer envied his carefree being. It’s funny how much relief you can feel, when you realize that you actually like yourself the way you are.
There were others in our makeshift group of new friends who were just as interesting: a couple of American girls with hippie names, a sweet Australian girl traveling solo, a Portuguese guy and girl who it was unclear whether they worked at the hostel or just enjoyed the atmosphere, a trio of Aussie guys who were traipsing through Europe, and a handful of other fellow nomads.
I never made it to Porto. My couple of nights in Lisbon stretched to over a week, and I didn’t leave until I was in danger of missing my flight from Barcelona back to Calgary. Even then I didn’t want to go – by that point there was a very specific reason why.by McKinnley
The energy that flows in and out of and around all of us.
Whether you acknowledge it or not, it is there, and whether you know it or not, you are influencing it. Once you’re aware of it, then you start seeing how it unfolds, and then you learn how responsive The Universe is, and how much she enjoys a good conversation.
A year ago I was working a job that wasn’t just a job, it was my home, my family, my heart, and a huge part of my identity. I’d been with the company for 5 ½ years and I loved it, I had no desire or plans to leave, and felt there was plenty of opportunity for me to remain with them for as long as I wanted. I’d been working in a new role, putting in long hours and a ton of energy, but despite my joy I was craving a break.
I started realizing this when chatting with customers and frequently many would mention being unemployed or taking leaves of absence, and every time I would sigh and respond, “Oh, you’re so lucky, that sounds delightful!” Unemployment generally isn’t something to be jealous of, but the thought of so much free time set off visions of relaxation, travel, and bliss somewhere inside of me. Even as I vocalized my envy, in my head I was aware, “Be careful, McKinnley, or else The Universe will listen, and you do NOT want to lose this amazing job.”
Fast forward a couple of months and a change in management began to drastically affect my workplace. Inexperience, unethical practices, and outright lies plummeted morale, and personally made me both angry and uncomfortable.
At lunch with a friend I talked about the turmoil at work and the emotional toll it was taking. I used her as a sounding board as I considered meeting with the CEO, or confronting the offending management, or taking a stand, or simply putting my head down and hoping it would pass.
Then she asked me, “What do you WANT to do?”
The answer came to my lips immediately, and I swear I could hear a ringing like a crystal bell inside my head. “I want a break,” I replied, surprised with the answer, and with the fierce desire behind it, and with the accompanying tears that flooded my eyes. I didn’t want to hash out nasty “He said She said” confrontations, I didn’t want to suffer in an unhealthy environment, I didn’t want to pour even more time and energy into something that had turned poisonous, no matter how much I had loved it. I had some money saved, summer was just around the corner, I knew I could get another job, and I knew that the absolute best thing for me to do was to take a breather, and then step forward onto an unknown path in the future.
I’m not one for rash decisions, but the ringing clarity of that answer felt so absolutely clear that I went home and drafted my resignation letter that afternoon, then submitted it less than 24 hours later. I never thought I would walk away from that job, and I never thought I could do it so quickly, but somewhere deep inside me I knew with 100% certainty that it was the right thing to do. I can’t remember ever feeling that clear about a decision. It was crystalline. It was magical.
Did it end up being an easy transition? Not in the least. Walking away from that workplace home and family was extremely difficult. Discovering how much of my identity was wrapped up in that company, and the subsequent grasping for a foothold as I created a new path was shocking and disheartening. Watching the place and people I loved so much spiral downwards for a time was heartbreaking.
Was it the right decision? Abso-frickin-lutely. I held onto that moment of clarity with faith and conviction. I thoroughly enjoyed my summer of funemployment more than I ever imagined possible. I trusted that I would weather the shock with strength and come out the other side changed for the better and poised for success.
Now I know that kind of ringing can occur, and that I’m capable of making decisions based on trusting my instinct of what is right for me. That clarity doesn’t occur if you’re not in tune with yourself and The Universe, and so I constantly have to remind myself to stay clear and connected, but the places it can take you are amazing!by McKinnley
“I just know that this is what I’m supposed to be doing. I can feel it in every cell of my body. It feels like it did when I started painting – it doesn’t necessarily make sense, and may not be the “right” timing, but none of that matters.”
Sam is one of the most incredible people I’ve ever met. She’s brave and vulnerable and intense and open and her life is ALWAYS exciting. That doesn’t mean she’s never scared or overwhelmed or that she doesn’t have to work hard or communicate better, it just means that she DOES THE WORK, and it always leads her where she needs to go, into increasingly beautiful moments and experiences.
We talked about that feeling of knowing you’re on exactly the right path. It doesn’t necessarily happen often, but when it does, it’s unmistakeable.
“It’s like choosing one of a dozen glasses. They are of varying sizes and shapes, some are more appealing than others. Some seem better suited to everyday water glasses, but you worry they are too boring and practical, others are gorgeously ornate but you worry they might sit preciously on the shelf. You look them over, you pick them up, you run your fingers over the etchings, you pour liquids in and out, you take sips. Sometimes you don’t do any of that, you just choose one on a whim. And then one day you tap one of the glasses, and it rings. And you realize that glass isn’t actually glass, it’s crystal, and it’s exactly what you’ve been looking for.”
Once you’ve heard the ring of the “right” thing, and felt it vibrate through your being, there is no mistaking what it means, and you learn to seek it out. There isn’t always a crystal glass in the midst of your choices, sometimes you simply have to choose a glass and one will likely be as good as another, but when you strike crystal, there is absolutely no other choice.
As for me, I’m not a great decision maker. I tend to overanalyze my options, and I often have “buyers remorse” once I finally do make a decision. I suppose it can be an asset to see both the pros and cons in almost any situation, but I’m learning that there is strength and peace in quickly making definitive decisions.
Hearing the “ring” can make decision-making easier, but you can also train yourself to become better at making decisions. I’ll tell you about both…..by McKinnley
It seems that a majority of the conversations I’m having these days are centered around the Power of Intention, Conversations with The Universe, and all varieties of incredible, philosophical, spiritual learnings. It’s exciting and inspiring!
Exciting in that more and more people are talking about this stuff, are asking questions about how to live their lives bigger and fuller and with more purpose. I LOVE these conversations. I love reading the books, perusing the websites, pondering the implications, doing the experiments, and sharing my thoughts and experiences.
When a friend asked me if I’d like to attend a Belief Re-Patterning seminar with her, I quickly agreed. Even though I’m unemployed, giving up a Wednesday evening to go sit in a conference room wasn’t entirely appealing. And like I said, I eat, sleep and breathe this stuff, so I wasn’t confident the speaker would have anything new to add to my repertoire. But just like learning to play guitar, or draw, or speak Spanish, if you practice once a week, chances are your skill level isn’t going to improve much. If you practice every day, even for 20 minutes, you’ll retain more information and muscle memory, and you’ll improve pretty quickly. But the only way to really become proficient is by becoming immersed in the activity, by taking every opportunity to talk about it, learn about it, and practice the techniques you are learning.
I went to the seminar, and not only did it feel good to be surrounded by like-minded people and to absorb the energy they generated, but I actually learned a few new things.
The event was called, “Inner Critic to Inner Coach,” and the very engaging speaker was Hay House author (and Calgary native) Suze Casey. My favourite technique from the night was when Suze asked everyone to write down the days of the week, beginning with Thursday (the next day). She then had us write beside each day a feeling we want to experience more frequently, such as “secure” or “free.” We now had our intentions for the week mapped out, so each day we would be able to look at this list to remind us what to focus on. Of course the next step being to concentrate on that feeling, in order to draw more of it into our immediate daily life. So if you’d decided you wanted to feel more freedom in your life, on the designated day you would devote a few moments in the morning thinking about all the times you’ve previously felt free. You’d recall specific details about what you were doing, who was there, what prompted your freedom, and exactly how it felt. Throughout the day you would take snippets of time to draw up that feeling of freedom again, and really feel it: how your lungs expanded, your skin was tingling, your muscles were loose and relaxed, your brain was calm yet excited yet laser-focused all at the same time. You feel all of that again. No need to think it through, no need to ponder why you were feeling free, or to try and formulate a plan to replicate it, just feel. And keep on feeling.
Suze’s theory here is that so much of our “New Age” manifesting is focused on things. Sure, if you’re in tune enough with The Universe you can manifest yourself a brand, spanking new car, it happens all the time. However, for the majority of us, no matter how much we WANT to believe this is possible, our logical know-it-all brains just roll their eyes at us and put their ear buds back in – effectively ignoring the thing we’re desperate to manifest: “Pfffft! You think you can just dream up a new car and it will “magically” appear?! Riiiiiiiiiiiight.” The champagne coloured Audi A4 allroad quattro inevitably doesn’t arrive and we subsequently dismiss the entire notion of manifesting.
The reason we’re so crap at manifesting specific things is simply because we’ve been taught our entire lives that it’s not possible, it’s not that simple, and it’s pretty darn difficult to turn 36 years (in my case) of cultural conditioning on its head. You most certainly can flip your worldview 180 degrees, but it usually takes a few steps and a lot of determined effort to get there.
So what if, instead of trying to materialize arbitrary items out of thin air, you start setting goals? And instead of having objects become the focus of your goals, what if feelings were what you were after? For example, what does that gorgeous Audi represent for me? Success perhaps. If somebody were to hand me my dream car tomorrow, would I actually feel successful? Probably not. Oh, I’d be pretty stoked about it, but if I’m counting on an Audi to make me feel happy and fulfilled, I’ll likely be disappointed, and then confused as to why achieving this goal didn’t tip my success scale. How do I define success? What does success FEEL like? If I focus on those questions, instead of what success might look like, I’ll be much more likely to achieve success (and who knows, maybe I’ll end up with that Audi after all).
A few years ago I learned about feeling oriented goal setting from the always enlightening Danielle LaPorte (check her out! www.daniellelaporte.com “What will I do to feel the way I want to feel?”) but suddenly Suze had handed me a new tool to really be able to create these emotions, as opposed to just trying to manifest them. Talk about a lightbulb moment!!!! Now, instead of telling myself, “Hey, I’d really like to feel more accepting. K, thanks, bye,” and then hoping all these opportunities to feel accepting appear in front of me, I can go, “I really haven’t been feeling very accepting lately. Sonja is an amazing example of Accepting because she just radiates light and love, I should spend more time around her and try to emulate that kind of presence. And remember the time in a ferry terminal where I opened up and was really attentive and kind to the odd hippie dragging around a giant garbage bag? How he was sweet and interesting when I decided to actually listen to him, and then he gave me a hand-dyed shirt out of his bag, simply as a gesture of appreciation and good Karma? It felt like I was sending little tendrils of love from my heart to his, that’s what accepting felt like, and I want to repeat that experience regularly.” Now I can conjure up that syrupy, rose-gold tinged heart-feel at will throughout the day, and if I continue to recreate that feeling of acceptance, it won’t be long until I simply AM an accepting person.
My list looked like this:
Already I’m feeling more focused!!
If this strikes a chord with you, Suze is having another FREE seminar in Calgary on Tuesday, September 15. You should reserve a seat at www.critic2coach.ca (you can use code 1182 when signing up). You can also check her out at www.beliefrepatterning.com Or pick up her book Belief Re-Patterning http://www.amazon.ca/Belief-Re-patterning-Technique-Flipping-Positive/dp/1401935567/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1440989564&sr=8-1&keywords=suze+caseyby McKinnley
There were four of us out on a Sunday afternoon, looking forward to some live music, and since we were at a table for six and the tickets were sold out, they sat another couple at our table. I was facing the stage and the woman was seated directly in front of me, so I couldn’t help but observe her as part of the experience.
She had a beautiful face, and absolutely gorgeous, chestnut brown hair, cut in a style I envied. She was wearing a strappy, summery, white dress with a black Aztec-y pattern that’s so popular right now, and it fit so perfectly she wasn’t wearing a bra. Her skin was creamy and flawless, and to top it all off, she was really nice.
Then this thought hit me so hard, I was somewhat taken aback, “I wonder what she doesn’t like about herself?”
I’m surrounded by beautiful women in my life, and not just “beautiful” because I love them, they’re legitimately stunning women, who turn heads every day, and every single one of them has expressed unhappiness with her body at some point. These aren’t the type of women who are unhealthy and complaining, yet doing nothing about it, and they aren’t the type of women who are overly self-obsessed, high-maintenance, and complaining simply for attention. They are down-to-earth, fit, funny, energetic, successful women, and yet they all feel like their bodies aren’t quite up to some distant level of perfection.
So then I started wondering, “Do dudes think about their bodies as much as girls?” Initially my hilarious subconscious inundated me with memories of dudes stripping down at parties, in hot tubs, at hostels… guys are weird. But when pressed into seriousness, I began remembering snippets of conversations I’ve had or heard over the years; the theatre guy who was refused a role until he lost weight, the gay guys who don’t eat for two days before going to the beach, the ex model who doesn’t want to be caressed near his waist since he no longer has a six-pack.. And the discussion I had with a guy after he’d been to a nude beach for the first time: He was young, attractive, in good shape, and very confident, so I was surprised when he observed, “I’ve never really seen naked guys before, except I guess in porn, and I always kind of thought maybe I was below average.. But the men on the beach, they were all so different…”
I don’t know that the intense self-scrutiny is as prevalent with guys as it is with girls, however it’s definitely there. And don’t get me wrong, I’ve absolutely done the same to myself.. But WHY? Why are we all so damn hard on ourselves??
I have this really clear memory as a kid, being in the change room at the local swimming pool, and my mom traipsing my sisters and I, and all our gear, from the lockers to one of the few cubicles, where we took turns changing. There were semi-clothed and completely naked women and girls everywhere in that room, most were discreetly turned towards their locker, and it seemed that none of them felt any awkwardness about it. I didn’t feel particularly weird about changing in private, but it did seem like unnecessary effort. I didn’t really have the understanding or confidence to broach the subject, so it just got tucked away in my subconscious.
In spite of my shy, conservative, extremely modest mother (Don’t get all defensive, Mom! I think modesty is great, and under-appreciated, and very classy), I’ve somehow ended up with a pretty laissez-faire attitude when it comes to nudity – I simply never understood what the big deal was. Changing in front of people has never bothered me. Years of theatre school engrained a sort of careless intimacy about the whole thing; simply taking off your clothes in public would be out of the norm and probably anxiety inducing (for you and any observers), but shades of nudity in appropriate or safe places is perfectly acceptable. I think being comfortable and confident in your body is crucial to overall health and happiness – plus it’s really attractive. (Sidebar: Does anyone still have sex in the pitch dark, simply to avoid having their partner see them naked?!)
I’m not sure I have any brilliant philosophies to sum up with, I just think people should be a little gentler on themselves – and enjoy getting naked.by McKinnley
#8. I don’t need anyone else to complete me.
I’m rather independent, always have been. I don’t remember ever running to my Mom for comfort, I never got home-sick, I’ve been on my own since I was 18 – paying my own bills, doing my own laundry, taking care of myself. Sure, I’ve been lonely at times, and my life wouldn’t be complete without my friends and family, but I march to the beat of my own drum, with confidence. I may have been (still be?) stubborn, serious and shy, but I’ve never been clingy.
When my ex moved out 16 months ago I was surprised to realize that the thing I missed most was the codependence. Having someone around to share a meal with, to chat about my day, someone who would run to the grocery store with me, someone to play a game of Crib with and then snuggle up on the couch. I missed sharing my life. Cohabitating was actually one of my favourite things about that relationship, and I was broken when I lost it.
Fast forward to a year later and I’m finally comfortable again. I love being able to come in late at night, turn the light on in the bedroom, and read in bed for as long as I like. I’m delighted about not having to confirm my whereabouts and daily activities with anyone. I like making last minute plans, or no plans at all, or changing my mind and making different plans – because I can. I’m happy to spend my rare evenings off of work with my girl friends and boy friends, without feeling any guilt or pressure about ditching a partner. I enjoy eating dinner at 8pm. Or 5pm. Or having a bowl of popcorn at 9pm and calling that supper. My life is my own, well, except for Quinn, she demands feeding every 7 o’clock, but she’s a really good snuggler so I keep her around.
My life is full, and I am happy, comfortable, and doing whatever I damn well please whenever I damn well please – and the things I do are exciting and glorious and fill my spirit with joy. Complaints? None. I’m comfortable in my skin, I’m pleased with the choices I’ve made, I’m thrilled with my day to day existence. Is there a piece lacking? Not that I can tell.
However, this doesn’t mean I’m not looking for Love. Yep, Love with a capital L. Come on, who isn’t?! I REALLY like holding hands, like a lot, and even though I can sometimes coerce my sister into holding my hand, I rather prefer not having to resort to alcohol or music festivals or bribery for a little hand on hand contact. So I guess that means I’ve gotta find Love.
And love I’ve had, in spades. I’ve been incredibly lucky/blessed to have dated some amaaaaaaazing people. Truly, amazing. The things I’ve learned, the fun I’ve had, the connections I’ve made – how does one girl get to have so much awesome in her life?! But no matter how much I enjoyed them, the thought of giving up even one iota of my freedom completely freaked me out. You want to spend another night? You want to keep what in my fridge? You want me to make plans how far in advance?!
Then, out of the seeming blue, along came Someone. Yep, a special Someone, who I wanted to make all the plans with. Who I was coercing into staying another night. And another. Who I immediately set up with their own toothbrush, and subsequently wondered why they hadn’t started keeping extra contact solution under the sink yet. Who I invite along everywhere. Who I can spend 8 solid hours talking to, yet feel completely comfortable spending a day apart from. Huh. Cue the anxiety? Nope. Cue the second guessing? Nope. Cue some sort of drama, internal or otherwise? Nope nope nope. Huh.
Who knows where we’ll end up, this Someone and me. Maybe we’ll part ways in a month, or maybe we’ll be inseparable for the next 28 years. I dunno. And I’m not that concerned, to be honest. Right now is fan-freaking-tastic, and that’s all that matters to me.
But does he complete me? HELL NO!! For him to complete me, we would have to assume that a piece of me is missing. That some integral part of my life was flawed or gaping open until he came along to fix it up.
My life didn’t – and doesn’t – require fixing or finishing. Is he amazing? Yup. Do I want to spend time with him? Always. Does he make me want to be a better person? He inspires me every single day. However, my happiness hasn’t increased since he entered my life, it’s just stretched around to fit him in.
And you know what? I would venture a guess that one of the reasons he likes me is because my life is so full of awesomeness. Here’s a little secret: One of the (many) reasons I like him is because his life is pretty awesome too. I don’t feel like I’m filling any holes. I don’t feel any pressure to say or do or be anything other than me. I definitely don’t feel like I have to make him happy, because we’re both already happy. And I really enjoy having his happy around my happy.
( http://www.marcandangel.com/2015/02/04/9-things-you-should-be-able-to-say-about-your-life/ )by McKinnley
There’s a moment in life when you’re attempting to embark on a new journey, only to realize you’ve gone and packed your baggage full with an encyclopedia of all the doubts you’ve learned, hole-filled gloves from the the walls you’ve built, an old toothbrush dirty with the lies you’ve told yourself, and a broken mirror etched with the fears you’ve refused to face.
That bag is so damn heavy, and doesn’t leave any room for pockets full of magic, new shoes for dancing down exciting paths, a book of dreams, or your favourite hoodie that brings you comfort, peace, and pleasure, no matter where you are.
It’s time for me to unpack that baggage. I’m not going to throw it out, it’s been all over the world with me and seen so many adventures!! But I’m going to empty it out, store all those nostalgic items in a cool trunk somewhere, clean it up, then pack it with a few shiny new ideas, some comfy old stand-bys, and make sure to leave plenty of room so that my bag is light enough to play with, and open enough to fill with all the beautiful things I find and learn on my journey.by McKinnley
Today is different. As much as January 1st is the same as any other day, there’s an inherent new-ness to it, as you can’t help but take at least a moment to reflect on the past 12 months, and ponder the months stretching out ahead.
This morning I ate my breakfast out of a bowl that has the words “If it’s not a ‘HELL YES’ then it’s a No” inscribed around the rim. To me feeling that Hell Yes means listening to my heart, and being both brave enough and honest enough to honour what my heart is telling me.
It’s not always easy. My life is not defined by black and white, everything is a shade of grey, where all answers are debateable, and all choices are valid. It’s both a blessing and a curse. It makes me open-minded, and a great learner, but it also means making decisions is extremely difficult. Plus, my head speaks just as loudly as my heart; logic and emotion are constantly battling it out inside this little 115 lb. frame. It’s complicated.
2014 was massively self-reflective for me. My biggest goals were to be more open to whatever Life decided to throw my way, and to become a better communicator. I learned a lot, I branched out, I spoke my truth, I did some absolutely rotten things (not generally intentional, but still…..), I took a few steps back, then tried to take even more steps forward down paths better suited to my journey. I cried absolutely heart-wrenching tears, and I reveled in the bliss of pure joy.
It was one of the most beautiful years of my life.
And so I step into 2015 with so much gratitude and love, for every experience I’ve fumbled my way through, and every gorgeous soul who’s been part of my journey. I have high expectations for the adventures to come!!by McKinnley