How Did You Know?

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

~ Anais Nin

I was recently honored to receive an email from an old colleague who had seen my profile on LinkedIn and reached out about my adventures in South America and my book. She asked a question that I’ve been asked before and one that I have been on the asking end of, so I thought I’d answer it here…

The question: “How did you know ‘enough was enough’ to follow this path?” I’m going to draw the conclusion here that “this path” is in reference to my decision to leave the corporate world and to go wander in South America…to make a big change and do something different.

I love hearing stories of people’s adventures. My favorite question might be “What’s your story?” and then to wait eagerly to see what they’ll say and what they’ll highlight. While it’s natural to focus on the outcomes and the “highs” of a journey, I am constantly fascinated by the spark that ignites the chain reaction in someone’s decisions, priorities and path in life…like asking someone how they met their true love. Did you know right away? What did it feel like? How did it happen? Tell me everything!!

When I trace back my own story, the starting point could be in any number of places really. My memory, which is often selective, tells me that the final trigger came most strongly after returning from the World Cup in South Africa in 2010. My close friend and I had gone there for a month to celebrate our 30th birthdays after planning for four years and it was like a sneak preview into what could be.

We came back from South Africa changed. It is not an exaggeration to say that everything felt possible after that. Having that dream for four years had kept us exploring and growing and learning through the challenges and barriers we had both encountered during that time. There was a goal and a dream, and it was undebatable.

There’s a quote from The Alchemist where Pablo Coelho writes, “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it” and we had directly experienced this. We had tasted what it felt like to be whoever we wanted to be, laughing, dancing, singing, exploring, embracing every present moment and we were rewarded tenfold.

With this came a big responsibility. How would we keep this alive?

When I went back to work in a tiny office that we were not so affectionately calling “The Cave”, I knew that I had to decide to live differently. I didn’t know what career I wanted to move to and so I decided I needed to go figure that out. I started with what I did know…I love to travel and I learn a lot from getting out of my comfort zone.

That is how I knew. And once I knew, I didn’t really have the option to turn back and ignore the feeling. In full disclosure, it took two more years of preparation before making the leap, but I always knew I would and I was working towards it that whole time.

Anyone else out there have stories of big life changes and how you knew when “enough was enough”?


If you like this post and want to talk about this topic together, I am now offering sessions in 30 minute chunks of time to do just that. Think of it as targeted coaching. 

The same goes for other topics addressed in previous blogs. Sessions are $20/30 min and can be scheduled by filling out the form on my website.

Please consider following the blog and checking out the rest of my website. You will find photography, writing focused on travel, transformation and gratitude, as well as updates on my upcoming book.

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.

Countdown to 2015 – 1 – Oh Darling, Let’s Be Adventurers!

It’s the final countdown or rather the final blog in this series of personal development practices for an inspired and adventurous 2015. Thank you for following along and I hope it has been a fun and interesting mini-journey.

Here is 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

3 – Finding your People

2 – Into the Depths of Our Unconscious

drumroll for number 1….

Well, it has to be adventure of course…getting out of our comfort zone and diving into the unknowns.

If you’ve been following along, you are likely aware that I have my own little adventure going in the form of a kickstarter campaign called: Let’s Go on an Adventure!

It is a two-part project that includes writing and publishing a book telling the story of my transformative adventure and also an interactive guidebook with practices and exercises such as those presented in these blogs that are intended to help someone on their own personal journey of self-discovery or change.

Tomorrow is the last day of my campaign where I will either be fully funded or go back to the drawing board. Whatever happens, I’m humbled by the support and grateful for the opportunity and courage to put myself out there and be vulnerable. It’s been challenging for me. Thank you and if you are so inspired, please check out the campaign.

So adventure…why am I so addicted to it and why do I think it is so important?

Well nature and adventure have been the two most significant transformation tools in my life in the way they challenge me, teach me and inspire me.

One of the most defining characteristics of adventure, in my opinion, is that it involves unknowns….maybe surprises, an element of spontaneity, a willingness to explore and get out of your comfort zone and away from what is familiar.

I think it is important to get out of our comfort zones because that is where the growth happens. Our brains strain to keep us safe and protected and do so by clinging to what is familiar and efficient, while our souls long to explore and discover and learn and grow.

Maybe I am suggesting that we trick our brains into seeing change and growth as an adventure, so that we acknowledge the unknowns and we get excited about them instead of triggering fear responses.

They have a lot in common actually ‘adventure’ and ‘change’….unknowns, a goal, no guaranteed outcome, tools/practices that can help, something to be learned; a physical, mental, emotional and often spiritual element. And yet even just focusing on each of those words seems to bring up different feelings, emotions and thoughts.

Adventure is often treated like a choice and like a luxury for those who have the courage and resources, whereas change is inevitable, hard and sometimes even dreaded. “Change” often gets a bad rap and yet changes are happening all the time; it is one of the guarantees, the truths of life.

So what if we approach our life changes, goals and intentions like adventures? I believe it can shift our perspective and ultimately influence the outcome.

When something is an adventure, we often look for ways through…ways around obstacles, people to help.

We dream big and we share our experience with others.

We tend to focus on the positive, the new and the exciting with childlike wonder.

We tend to assume that it’ll be a success and that even if we don’t know the outcome, it will be fun and we may learn something along the way.

“It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters in the end.”

~ Ernest Hemingway

So what would it look like if we treated changes in our lives as adventures? How would our approach evolve if we set intentions for where we want to go with our lives with curiosity, excitement and determination?

When I decided that I was going to head off to Argentina to do some wandering, I started with practicing a bit close to home. I started going to movies, cafes, restaurants, and bars by myself. I had earned a short sabbatical at work and used it to take myself on a road trip in my home state of Colorado. I traveled to Costa Rica by myself for a week. I went on a vision quest in the mountains of Colorado. I started trying new things that I had never done before.

By going into the unknowns, especially when going alone, you are automatically rewarded with the opportunity to learn about yourself. What turns you on? What turns you off? Where are your limits? What are your fears? How will you face your fears? Just how resourceful are you? How do you handle challenges? Are you curious? What thoughts or questions are sparked? What surprises you?

Being surrounded by unknowns heightens your focus on what makes you, you. When things are unfamiliar, they draw your attention and maybe beckon a new approach or response or perspective and so there is this expansive, growth quality inherent in going into the great unknown.

I acknowledge that certain fears are rational and are there to keep us alive. I get it. That’s pretty important. I’d dare to say that most of our fears are irrational though and it is incredibly freeing when we can dig into them, understand them and set them free.

We can do this by choosing differently….by saying, “Hey there fear, I see you and I raise you some courage and a new perspective. I’m going to befriend you and we’re going to do great things together…but I’m in charge.”

We can do this by asking what the fear is really about. Where did it originate? What triggers it? What are the emotions and feelings behind it? Where/when else have I experienced those feelings being triggered? What is my process for attending to those feelings? What do I notice about my energy when confronted with one of my fears? How are my fears taking away my power? How are they helping me and how are they keeping me small? What is my fear response? Does it influence the source of the fear when this response is activated? What are some other responses I could have instead?

To be clear, I am not suggesting repressing fears, pushing them aside and pretending they don’t exist. Yikes, no. They are there as tools to tease us and maybe even torment us, but then to teach us. Often our fears and our shadows hold the keys to our greatest desires and our greatest gifts. When we get to the other side of them it is absolutely glorious.

The more I spend time confronting fears and the more I spend time trying new things and getting out of my comfort zone, the more I enjoy life. Truth.

I learn, I grow, the new experiences beget still newer ones…new connections and relationships, opportunities, lessons, insights, growth, transformation, fun and adventures.

It’s like the universe is there to reward the brave and courageous and when that becomes you, you feel like, whoa….that’s cool, now I have more energy and space for being alive.

“Be alive your whole life.” ~ Bumper sticker anonymous

…and let’s make it an adventurous one, yeah? Who’s with me?

Thanks again for coming along for this ride. Now go do something new today.

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.

Countdown to 2015 – 6 – Excuses be damned!

The countdown to 2015 continues. For our next trick, let’s send our excuses straight to the place where the sun don’t shine. So by now we’ve started thinking about our intentions for what we want 2015 to look like, answering questions and dreaming big. We’ve focused on gratitude, acknowledging how important it is to recognize what we do have. We took all of these thoughts and good energy for a wander in nature and then we took our passions out to play.

It’s not necessarily a linear process, but all things that we can take together to shake it up and get ready for a new year. Do you notice that contemplating our passions often tends to coincide with excuses and obstacles for why we can’t pursue them?

“I would if I could…”

“I’d love to, if only…”

“I don’t know how…”

“I’ll do it when…”

“…but…”

I’m the most guilty of saying, “Well I would, but I don’t have the money now.” Until one day it occurred to me that I didn’t even know how much money it would take to do the thing I was saying I couldn’t afford.

Maybe it is true that I didn’t have the money in that moment and I could choose to give up there and stay stuck. Instead, I now scribble that information onto the “Known” list. I take a look at what else I know to be true and then I start to figure out all of the unknowns. In this example, how much money would it take to do x?

I think there is a lot of information hidden in our excuses. We may even believe they are logical ‘reasons’.

They often point to where we feel scarcity in our lives…

Not having enough money

Not knowing what it is we want to do

Not having the resources, knowledge…and you knew this was coming…not having the time.

“I don’t have time is the grown up version of the dog ate my homework.” ~ Unknown

or they point to where we feel responsibility in our lives…

I have a mortgage.

I have a job, benefits, tenure, etc.

I have debt.

I have kids, family and relationships to tend to.

Responsibilities are legitimate things, absolutely. They also point to the outcomes of previous decisions we’ve made in our lives, again giving us information about our values, desires, habits, choices, resources and circumstances.

How you spend your time, money and energy is indicative of both your priorities and your responsibilities.

“We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves happy, the amount work is the same.” ~ Carlos Castaneda

What comes next is a lot of good news for you if you’re willing to get into a staring contest with your excuses.

If you want something, it is almost always possible and doable. This has been a huge lesson for me the last two years and then I’ve had it demonstrated to me over and over again.

You just need to decide how much you want it, get curious and prioritize accordingly.

“Forget all of the reasons it won’t work and believe the one reason it will.” ~ Unknown

“yeah, but…”

shhhhh…

“no really though…”

zip it. 

It doesn’t mean you will not have to take risks or give things up or make changes…all challenging things to do and ultimately all reasons why it can be more comfortable to blame the excuse rather than do something about it. AND…it’s all worth it to go after what you really want in life.

Here is the challenge and the opportunity to get your head and your heart working together instead of playing tug-o-war…

Excuses be damned. If you could do anything in the world with your life, what would you most want to do, as you see it now?

Whatever your answer, do you really mean it?

What is stopping you? (If nothing, than awesome. Share your experience in the comments!)

What do you know to be true? What are the unknowns?

Are you going after it? What are you discovering?

Are you not going after it? Why not? What’s in your way?

What’s really in your way?

How could you approach it differently?

What have you tried to do about it and what happened?

Now what?

What is a different way to look at it? This is an invitation to get creative and unconventional. Find out what it would actually take and then start figuring out the path to get there…knowing the path is sometimes a puzzle and sometimes a paved highway.

I have met parents with kids who are traveling and living in other parts of the world.

I have met artists who are using their final pennies to pursue their craft while waiting to get into school…and opportunities are showing up.

I have met dreamers with ideas who are engaging in entrepreneurial pursuits on the side of their jobs until they can make the transition.

I have met healers who are trading their talents in exchange for services when money is not yet there.

I have met adventurers and I myself have invited in and accepted the generosity of others knowing full well that we will give it back tenfold when we are able.

This is intended as an invitation. This is meant to be exciting and freeing.

“If it is important to you, you’ll find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.” ~ Unknown

It took two years from the time I had the inkling to follow a dream and the time I worked my way through shifting priorities and refocusing the circumstances from past decisions. For me this meant deciding to sell my house and my car in order to free myself of attachments and financial responsibilities before coming to Argentina.

I did it. It worked. It’s a practice…this whole “excuses be damned!” thing and I continue to be dedicated to it. I’m hoping to help inspire others to do the same through the book and interactive guidebook I am now writing.

If you like what you’re reading, please consider backing my kickstarter campaign for this project called, “Let’s Go on an Adventure!”. Also please share my campaign with others who might be inspired.

I have 6 days left in my campaign when I will get all funding if I reach my goal and nothing if I don’t. Any donation helps!

This is number 6 in a series of 10 personal development blogs counting down to 2015, in hopes of inspiring an adventurous, fulfilling year ahead. Follow this blog to receive the others in this series and check out more of my story at erinkmac.com.

Thank you for tuning in!