We see the flow of life, like a river – as one great flowing journey. The essential flow of life is achieved when we understand the concept of flow and can integrate into everything we do. As part of a regular series, we are asking people we know, people we have discovered and people we are inspired by, to share with us some insights into their life, their work and what flow means to them.
“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” Alan Watts
Q. Tell us about yourself and what you do.
My name is Roxan McDonald. I’m a writer, a writing coach, a workshop facilitator and a creativity counselor. I’m also a dance instructor – over the years I’ve taught swing dancing and Zumba and continue to sprinkle a class or workshop here and there into my schedule. I am currently a graduate student – I’m in my second year of a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program.
I struggled with the answer to ‘what I do’, because what I do is so fluid, that it’s difficult for me to put titles to it. In the last five years my profession has basically been me showing up where I’m called, being of service where I can and trusting that money comes – either directly from my work or from a more surprising place.
Primarily though, I’m a writer, a counsellor and a dancer. These are my passions in life and I’ve followed them along a career path that is focused on guiding others toward their passions too.
Currently, I teach creative writing, through an extension program at a local state college. I host weekly writers’ groups, daylong writing retreats and destination retreats, focused on writing and mindfulness. I offer one-on-one coaching for writers wishing to both improve their craft and explore their creativity.
I also facilitate manifestation/personal development workshops for people wanting to develop a practice of self-reflection, values clarification, mindfulness, goal setting and happiness cultivation.
Other jobs I’ve held include auto mechanic, waitress, director of recovery programs in high schools for at risk youth, owner-operator of a restaurant in Costa Rica, English as a Second Language instructor, nanny and commercial fishing net assembler.
Q. Why do you do this profession?
I sometimes think that I’ve just fallen in to one job after the other and been lucky that those jobs were things that I was excited about. When I look back at the trajectory of my career, I see that I have consistently followed my passions, found people who would mentor me in each interest and risked something, to be able to spend more time doing what I love. I’ve been lucky to have been offered support to continue to live those passions, either through a paycheck, a grant, a scholarship or a gift.
I believe as we get older we become more uncomfortable in professions that don’t align with our passions and values. I’ve seen that the more present I am in my life – a presence I cultivate through meditation, art, movement and healing – the more uncomfortable I become, with spending time doing things that don’t matter to me. My current career choices feel deeply in line with my passions, as I am able to engage the best parts of myself, guide and hold space for others to find their passions and voice and have the freedom to change my schedule. I can create new projects that hold my interest and devote time and energy towards continuing my education and honoring my creative needs, which is immensely important to me. Being a coach offers me choices that are fluid, as well as flexibility.
Q. What does being in flow mean to you?
To me, being in flow means listening. It means being present with myself, the world and the people in my life. Flow is synonymous with curiosity for me. The times in my life when I’ve been out of flow – when my day to day life felt like nails on a chalk board – have usually been due to one of two things. Either me pushing past my internal navigation system because I was afraid of what my soul was telling me, or becoming oriented toward goals that weren’t truly mine but were goals pushed onto me by society, culture or well meaning but misguided people who love me. I see flow as being in alignment. To get to eye level with that call inside myself and the people I work with and to be deeply curious about what that call is saying.
As a dancer, I have a physical experience of flow. I have worked countless hours in the practice room, going over footwork sequences, patterns of movement, and body alignment for finding my frame. Many of those hours have not felt like they were flowing. They were grueling, often painful and most of the time ego crushing experiences. I found joy in those hours, even when I did not find pleasure, because I connected that hard work with the moments on the dance floor, when the music would be playing around me and would suddenly feel like it was filling me. I’d be in communication with my dance partner, the floor beneath me and being fluid with that part of me that just moves without being told. The hours of practice, patience and persistence were just me, getting my muscles trained to get out of my own way. And I would just dance.
I see that same flow in my writing practice, in my teaching practice, in my meditation practice, in the times when I am able to show up fully for my clients. Flow doesn’t always feel or look fluid. Sometimes it is emotionally, physically and intellectually draining. Flow is the dance, the training and the call toward the music inside of us.
By Roxan McDonald
Roxan is a self-employed writer, counselor and dancer, currently based in California in the United States. You can contact her by email or learn more about her here on her website. You can also follow her on Instagram here for writing and creativity inspiration and here for inspiration on personal development and spiritual growth.