What I Learned from Leaving

I struggle to leave places. I don’t like it at all. To look at the stars one last time before closing my eyes or to stand at the shore looking out on the water before turning my back on it or to say “I love you” one more time before hanging up…it is torture. Even if I want to go where I am going, it is hard for me to leave and I really feel it intensely. So why ever leave? Especially if you are happy and content and love where you are? I don’t like it, but I have gotten better at it because I have realized some things. I leave because sometimes this is exactly what you need to shake things up and to appreciate where you have been.

It is exactly what you need to draw your attention and your senses to what it is that you love about where you are and to give yourself focused time to love it in the special way that you can only love something that is fleeting…longing as if it has already been taken from you or as if it is something you yearn for and have not yet found, while having an intense presence and focus in order to capture the well of emotion such that you can store its essence deep in the memory of your heart and body forever to recall at will and go back there.

It takes the Truth in the journey of life that everything is always changing, sometimes subtly, sometimes dramatically, and it makes you conscious of that. Well, it does for me. I am not talking about running away from anything. It is exactly the opposite. I notice what exactly it is that I am sad to leave and it makes me run towards more of that in my life, both while I have it and in new situations.

A lot can happen when you leave. You realize where you came from and you wonder about where you are going. You maybe have fears. You maybe have hopes. You maybe have decisions to make. You have an approach, whether conscious or not, for letting go of what was and embracing what is and opening yourself to what could be. You have the opportunity to take what you learned, what you loved and to apply it in a different context and in doing so, integrate it into your life more fully.

Leaving does not have to be moving cities or countries. It can happen even when you go to travel for a holiday. It can happen when you move from one house to another, one neighborhood to another. It can happen when you leave your bed in the morning. It can happen when you get totally immersed into nature for a day and then cross the threshold back into civilization. It can happen in a relationship with someone you love deeply who is just not the one.

How would you live your life for the next month if you knew you were leaving to a new place at the end of it? Would your senses be on higher alert? What would your priorities be? Who would you want to spend time with and how? Where would you wander? What new things would you do that you’ve been wanting to do and haven’t gotten around to? Where are your favorite places you would go and what would you realize about why you appreciate them? What would you feel grateful for? What would you realize about what you have learned and experienced there?

I just left a magical place, where I have had six months living on a lake in the mountains of Patagonia, surrounded by stunning, pristine nature and warm, fun, authentic people. I feel that I lived more consciously during my time at the lake, as I was so aware that I was only there temporarily and wanted to take advantage of that. I think I am leaving there living my life more in this fashion, understanding more about the nature of a full and consciously lived life. Life too, is temporary.

I am so sad to leave, but it is sadness that is grounded in the deep happiness and gratitude for having been there and knowing that although I am leaving, it is forever a part of me.

Dream a Little Dream with Me

I want to focus specifically on dream work because it is something I am doing more frequently. I find it fascinating and extremely insightful. And, well, we all dream. Everyone dreams and that includes animals. Carl Jung proposes that this would not be the case if it did not serve an evolutionary purpose. (fun fact, if you google “how do we know that…” one of the top things google will guess that you are searching for is “how do we know that dogs dream”) For now, I’m asking you to trust me that they do. Our dreams must give us something to learn, to keep us alive and safe and to grow.

So they help us grow and they also help us discover new things. Every dream has some new information coming from the depths of our unconscious, trying to make itself known. In a recurring dream or a nightmare, it may be that the lesson is of deeper importance or greater urgency and the unconscious is trying that much harder to get your attention. This is what I have discovered to be true about dreams as I’ve learned more about how to work with them. I would be weary of any person or book that declares they will interpret your dreams. Rather, it is a process and a practice and there are ways to be in relationship with your dreams, to treat them as guides and teachers.

When you are in the sacred space of sleep, your ego is on break and your unconscious comes out to play in the dark. The unconscious is a world of symbols and archetypes, of emotions and questions and longings and infinite potential. This energy of the less tangible and less logic-based things in life uses people and symbols that we attach meaning to in our waking life, to create stories that we can use. These stories are our dreams.

Anyone with a broken heart or goal or desire that has not yet come to fruition can tell you that the internal, intangible world is very real and the brain, soul and heart aren’t always on the same page. So dreams can be a bridge between our unconscious and conscious selves that can keep us moving forward when we cross them.

In our waking life, we can look at the themes, the symbols, the archetypes, the emotions and the questions present in the dream to learn something and grow. Jung proposes that everything in the dream is a symbol that holds information about yourself. Each person in a dream is representing a facet of yourself…a quality you want to garner, a shadow quality you need to work with, a quality that will help you with your current life circumstances and so on.

It is common for people to have a dream about someone they just randomly saw the other day and say, “Well, obviously that person was in my dream as a coincidence of seeing them the other day.” Jung would argue otherwise on behalf of your unconscious. We potentially see hundreds, maybe thousands of people a day. Your unconscious seeks opportunities in the real world for synchronicity because those things can then grab your attention and be studied as symbols. It’s as if your unconscious is scanning your experiences for the right symbol to use and when it finds it, boom it edits it into your dreams so you have the opportunity to work with it.

So here are some primary things you can start doing:

Before you go to sleep, focus on your desire to remember your dreams.

When you do remember them, lay in bed and go over the dream again before moving.

Write the dream down and give it a title.

Describe the themes that you see in the dream.

Record the emotions and energy you felt.

Think about the questions that the dream is posing to you.

Identify the symbols in the dream and record what you associate with them.

Keep a journal of dreams and look at them in a series of 10 for patterns that occur.

In certain cases, you may want to draw your dream or move and act it out to dig deeper into the sensations and messages.

Keep asking yourself how this relates to your life experiences…What is familiar? When have you felt this before? How does this make you feel now? What new perspective is being introduced? What is the invitation from this dream?

This is plenty to start with. Other practices for getting in touch with your emotional and unconscious world within can also help.

First, acknowledging that this part of you is alive and working on your behalf all of the time. Focus intention, perhaps in meditation, through writing or wandering in nature, on your desire to notice and nurture your unconscious world. Also, while I don’t rely on dream dictionaries, there are a myriad of books out there that can help you to learn to work with your dreams.

Here are a few recommendations of books that have been helpful to me:

Where People Fly and Water Runs Uphill: Using Dreams to Tap the Wisdom of the Unconscious, by Jeremy Taylor

Dream Symbol Work: Unlocking the Energy from Dreams and Spiritual Experiences, by Patricia H Berne and Louis M. Savary

Man and His Symbols, by Carl Jung

I also recommend seeking out dream groups, a dream practitioner or a therapist who offers dream work or deep imagery work, retreats and workshops. I learned so much about dreams from my vision quest and the month-long transformation retreat I did in the Amazon, in addition to my personal practice.

Dreams are personal. It can be so helpful to have someone guide you through the process and dream work in a group setting can be extremely powerful as well. I have made major life decisions based on dreams and gained many insights. I occasionally have lucid dreams and even literal dreams that have come true the next day. There is a whole world of possibility for those courageous enough to explore. Happy Dreaming!

Countdown to 2015 – 3 – Find Your People

The countdown to 2015 continues here, moving right along from self care to sharing our fabulous selves with others. This post is brought to you by Finding Your People.

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you too, can become great. When you are seeking to bring big plans to fruition it is important with whom you regularly associate. Hang out with friends who are like-minded and who are also designing purpose-filled lives. Similarly be that kind of a friend for your friends.” ~ Mark Twain

Since we just talked about self care it seems appropriate to talk about finding what I like to call “my team” in supporting me in that. For me, once I started making big changes in my life, I needed more and more support as things showed up. This touched on those categories again of mental, physical, emotional, spiritual, cultural and social.

I didn’t consciously realize it at first, but I was putting together a support network for myself. This included a naturopath, an acupuncturist, a massage therapist, a shaman, a therapist and a meditation teacher. I hope to add ‘mentor’ to this list soon.

I do understand that I had the resources to have such a team and I’m grateful to that. I think there are options out there to trade services/talents, to work with students training to be in these roles, to seek online resources, to save money and have a fund for this sort of thing and I welcome other ideas for how to make these types of services accessible. Part of it is making it a priority as well.

I also sought support from people in my personal network. A few friends of mine and I formed a brunch club that met every other week or so. We were each seeking to make some changes in our lives. We would meet for brunch and talk about what each of us was doing towards those goals and we would share resources, ideas and encouragement.

One thing that will happen as you start to make changes is that some relationships will change in your life and maybe even fade. This was unexpected for me and I struggled with it at first. We all get so comfortable with experiencing people how we know them and when they start to act out of that role it can feel confusing and maybe even like a betrayal.

Change is often scary and so when you have the courage to make a big change and follow through with it, it can bring up feelings for others about their own changes they want to make and are maybe avoiding. So this is difficult and I have had to mourn some relationships. I do think it is necessary though and is really better for everyone in the long run.

I recently read a fantastic book on relationships from a Jungian perspective called “The Eden Project”. The basic premise is that we project our own fears and our own desires onto our relationships (especially our romantic, intimate relationships). The challenge and the goal is to remember that we are each unique beings on our own journeys and to focus on our own individuation and then support others in their own individuation.

It is about bringing our best selves to the table and fiercely guarding that for ourselves and others. In our romantic relationships, I think it is especially crucial to have agreements with each other around how we’re going to do this as a team.

Depending on where you’re at in your journey, you may be kickin’ it solo right now. I totally geek out on the hero’s journey, the pattern found in the stories and myths of cultures worldwide throughout the ages whereby the “hero” undertakes a journey into the unknown, into solitude to discover his/her unique gift. In times of solitude and liminality such as this, “Your People” still show up, maybe as teachers and guides and accomplices.

I’ve been on a solo journey for a couple of years now and it has heightened my senses and awareness to those whose paths cross mine. Why those people? What can I learn from them? Who am I attracting into my life right now and why? What am I sharing with them? I have learned so much about myself from paying attention to this.

One thing that has arisen out of these new relationships is the idea of creative collaboration. In the past year in particular, I have started working on some creative projects with people close to me. In some cases this has been inspired by a shared passion, in others because there’s been a shared goal or desire and we’ve gotten creative and supportive about how to meet the goal.

This has been photography projects, informal peer coaching, dream work, scavenger hunts to have fun getting to know a new town, and here at the estancia where I am living we are always challenging each other to do new things and to create together to keep things interesting and fulfilling while living in a quite remote place.

Creativity is a tool, a gift even, that we all have in some way and it is so expansive to engage in creative practices. It opens possibilities and doors, encouraging your brain to be a bit more of a wild child, a dreamer.

Ok so here are some actions we can take in these areas:

Take an inventory of your relationships – personal and professional. Who is in your inner circle? What values do you share? How does this show up? What do you give to and receive from these relationships? Are there any that are changing or need to change?

Seek a mentor.

Seek a community for shared experiences of your passions and interests.

Sit down with your lover and come up with agreements for how to be a team while also serving your authentic selves.

Play with some kids.

Start a creative collaboration project with a friend.

Form your support team.

Start an equivalent of a brunch club with friends…maybe do that right now and share where you’re at with setting intentions for this year and use this as a way to check in with your intentions and stay loyal to them.

Thank you for tuning in to this series of ten blogs posts on personal development practices for a fulfilling 2015. If you’re just arriving, welcome! Here’s where we’ve been:

10 – Setting Intentions

9 – Expressing Gratitude

8 – Wandering in Nature

7 – Playing with our Passions

6 – Letting to go Excuses

5 – Law of Attraction and Ritual

4 – Self Care

If you like what you are reading, please consider backing my kickstarter.com called: Let’s Go on an Adventure! and please share too. The campaign is focused on writing and publishing a book about my transformative adventure from Corporate America to a life designed around passions and also includes an interactive guidebook to help those wishing to make their own personal changes.

I have 3 days left in my campaign, all or nothing!

You can read more about my story at erinkmac.com and continue to receive this blogs by clicking the ‘follow’ button.

Thank so very much for coming along on this adventure.

Countdown to 2015 – 4 – Yours Truly

It’s the first day of 2015…Happy New Year!! It may seem odd that we’re still counting down to 2015 in this series of ten blogs when it is now 2015, but here’s the thing…we’re not seeking perfection and the idea is to be mindful every day of how we’re consciously living full lives. In this light, today’s blog is about Self Care.

But first…here’s what we’ve been through so far:

10 – Setting Intentions

9 – Expressing Gratitude

8 – Wandering in Nature

7 – Playing with our Passions

6 – Letting to go Excuses

5 – Law of Attraction and Ritual

So I thought today would be a good day to talk about self care because we’ve just been gifted a brand new year and how can we do great things and be good for anyone else if we’re not taking care of ourselves.

I actually believe that one of the more unselfish things to do in life is to take care of yourself and follow your dreams. This world could use people who are living fully and are truly embodying and sharing their authentic selves.

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life.” ~ Mary Oliver

This is one of my favorite quotes. And then there’s Carl Jung. I’m completely obsessed with Carl Jung; the man was a genius. His contributions range from archetypes to dream work, synchronicity to individuation and so much more.

Last year I was encouraged to pick one word to focus on, one word to anchor my intentions to. The word that I picked was “Individuation”…which basically encompasses and celebrates that there will never be another me or another you ever again and the responsibility, opportunity and life journey that comes along with that is perhaps the meaning of life.

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” ~ Mark Twain

“Today you’re alive that is truer than true. There is no one alive that is youer than you.” ~ Dr. Seuss

Self care can mean so many things so much so that what you really need to start with is a nap and a massage. Actually, I do count both of those as self care if that is what you need to do. To take it further I like to reflect on the state of my mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health. I’ve started adding cultural and social as categories too.

I meditate and/or journal on each of those areas periodically. What have I done to care for myself in each area? What new things am I trying or pursuing to grow in each of these areas? Do I feel balanced or am I scattered or pulled strongly towards one area now.

It now makes so much sense to me that when I started to shake things up emotionally and mentally with wanting a change, my spirituality grew stronger and my physical aspect made some noise. Most people I know who have made big life changes have had to care for something physically with their bodies.

I think each of these facets of our Selves are integrated and influence each other, for example something emotional manifesting in a physical way. So I like to notice what’s going on with me in these areas and also have practices for nurturing each aspect and for balancing them.

I have learned in this that physical touch is really important, especially for parents bonding with their babies, but for all of us throughout our lives. We can connect in many ways, but there is something very transformative, loving and necessary about human touch.

This could be going to get that massage, getting a hug from someone or even cuddling with an animal. Touch is calming, soothing and makes us feel seen, connected and loved. Everyone stop what you’re doing (as soon as you finish reading this) and go get a massage. This is your permission.

I think self care also includes taking a look at relationships. Who are the big players in your life? Where are you supported? What are the values you share with those in your lives? How do you let people know what they mean to you? How do you receive from and also tend to those special people in your life?

Here are just a few ideas in these areas (and of course these things can overlap):

Mental – meditation, listen to a podcast, read, write/ journal, study something

Emotional – laugh, cry, smile, listen to music, create something, dance

Physical – meet with a naturopath, go for a bike ride, take a bath with candles, nap

Spiritual – do yoga, perform a ritual, wander in nature, gratitude practice

Cultural – do something new, be creative, plan a trip, host a foreigner, go see live music

Social – meet someone new, write a letter, attend a conference, join a club

With all of this self care, soul work and personal development you are doing, it’s important to celebrate it. It is encouraging, fun and impactful to continued progress when we acknowledge our journey and accomplishments, reward ourselves and celebrate.

And now time for a restorative, self-care induced full night’s sleep. Thank you for tuning in to this series of blogs on personal development practices for an inspired and adventurous new year.

As I said, I think the greatest form of self care can be to go after your passions without restraint. I am currently running a kickstarter campaign based on pursuing my passions.

The campaign is focused on writing and publishing a book about my transformative adventure from Corporate America to a life designed around passions and also includes an interactive guidebook to help those wishing to make their own personal changes.

If you like what you are reading, please consider backing my kickstarter.com called: Let’s Go on an Adventure! and please share too.

I have 4 days left in my campaign, all or nothing!

You can read more about my story at erinkmac.com and continue to receive this blogs by clicking the ‘follow’ button.

Thank so very much for coming along on this adventure.

Countdown to 2015 – 5 – Ritual Attraction

So the official countdown to 2015 is actually tonight I suppose with it being NYE, so let’s continue with this countdown to a transformative adventurous 2015 as well. Taking a look at the countdown so far, an ideal way to spend this transitional day/night would be a combination of it all:

10 – Setting Intentions

9 – Expressing Gratitude

8 – Wandering in Nature

7 – Playing with our Passions

6 – Letting to go Excuses

Add some champagne and midnight kisses and that’s a pretty dreamy New Year’s Eve for me. I’m celebrating in Argentina where apparently you are supposed to wear pink underwear and then be sure that your first step of 2015 is with your right foot…ya know, “putting the right foot forward” as they say.

While I may not have a prince charming to kiss tonight, I do have the champagne, pink panties and a right foot. It seems an appropriate time to talk about ritual and attraction…the Law of Attraction that is.

So the Law of Attraction is of course about attracting what you want in your life by focusing your thoughts and energy on that very thing. The idea is that we are all energy as is this beautiful planet we live on and we are all connected by that energy. Quantum physics supports, hell it proves, this idea. We are all part of a greater whole; the connection is magnetic; like will attract like.

“What you seek is seeking you.” ~ Rumi

Also, putting your focus on something keeps your awareness there and you are often more receptive to relevant things that show up. Your brain loves what is familiar. It’s purpose is to be efficient and to recall patterns and run the appropriate response circuits. With intention and awareness, you can influence what those circuits are…letting go of old ones and replacing them with new ones.

“We do not see things as they are. We see things as we are.” ~ Anais Nin

This isn’t a free pass, you have to show up. You have to be clear on what you are inviting in and why; what is the greater purpose?

Being able to see things from the ‘big picture’ point of view is essential here. Disbelievers will point to the occasions when they wanted to attract something and didn’t. Often this is because they have focused not only on what they wish to attract, but also exactly how they expect it to play out or perhaps they are isolating their desire.

“I want to win the lottery. I didn’t win the lottery. It didn’t work.”

ummm, no.

Another way to look at it would be something like this, to use myself as an example:

“I want to have the financial resources necessary to write and publish my book.”

This focuses on the financial desire while honoring the greater good and creating openness for how it will happen.

The Law of Attraction is not limited to thought and intention though, it is also action. Almost like the universe is saying, “You want that? Prove it.”

Again in the case of my personal example, one action I am currently taking to influence my financial situation and the publishing of my book is to run a kickstarter campaign to try to crowd-fund my project.

It may work out…I hope it does and I am trying to take action to influence that as well (writing articles, posting blogs, sharing photography, emailing and posting on facebook, etc.) or it may not. If it doesn’t, something else will. That actually is a guarantee.

“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” ~Pablo Cuelho

I think it is important to understand the ‘why’ of what will manifest and what will not manifest, as well as the time factor. I have a few opinions on that.

One goes back to everything being connected and us being a world community. We are part of an intricate puzzle that needs to energetically fit together and so I think it is best to be a collaborative community where we all support each other in this. (side note: I think this is a very abundant and creative energy that is available to us all)

Also, there may be something that we need to learn first, someone we need to meet, an experience we need to have before it makes sense for us to receive what we are wishing to attract. “The Law” works, just not always on our timeframe.

Finally, we may wish for a lot of things and some may cancel each other out or compete with each other, even if we are unaware of that in the present moment. We can help our deepest desires along the more focused we are on being intentional about what we want for our lives and why, including what we want to give and share.

On the levels of quantum physics, neuroscience, mindfulness and spirituality…it works.

“What you think, you become. What you feel, you attract. What you imagine, you create.” ~ Buddha

One way I like to participate in the Law of Attraction is by way of ritual. I do rituals at key milestones in my life, which always includes one around the turn of the new year. (Notice that I said “around the turn…” meaning that if you do not do one today it is not a reason to write it off and wait until next year.)

Everything we’ve done so far in this series of blogs has set us up to have a good idea of what we want to attract in our lives and in the coming year. A ritual to honor these things and to focus on energetically and symbolically drawing attention to them will help our desires to manifest.

This can be as simple or as intricate as feels good to you. Creativity is most definitely invited to this party.

I think the topic of ritual could be its own blog post, there is celebrating to get to today and perhaps you have a pair of pink panties to buy…so that is it for now.

This post is the sixth in a series of ten posts counting down to a meaningful, inspired 2015. If you like what you are reading, please consider backing my kickstarter.com called: Let’s Go on an Adventure! and please share too.

The campaign is focused on writing and publishing a book about my transformative adventure from Corporate America to a life designed around passions and also includes an interactive guidebook to help those wishing to make their own personal changes.

I have 5 days left in my campaign, all or nothing!

You can read more about my story at erinkmac.com and continue to receive this blogs by clicking the ‘follow’ button.

Thank so very much for coming along on this adventure.