Below is an interview with Nadine McNeil. Nadine is a global activist, social entrepreneur, writer and yoga instructor. She has worked extensively with the United Nations and other organizations across the globe for 20 years. Elephant Journal is proud to have her as a writer and to share this interview from Mary King. You can read Nadine’s articles here. She is also helping develop elephant Africa and elephant Caribbean ~ ed.
Writer Interview: Nadine McNeil.
Mary: Okay, let’s start with the basics. Tell me a little bit about yourself.
Nadine: I am a motivational speaker and world traveler in the name of peace. I am the Universal Empress, using my life story to help others.
I grew up in Jamaica until the age of 16. Upon completing high school, I moved to Canada where I completed grade 13 and then attended university in Ontario.
Mary: Why did you decide to write/speak?
Nadine: I was in my mid-30s when I discovered that I had a choice in the role I chose to play in my own destiny.
Through no conscious fault of their own, and not wanting me to suffer as they may have, my parents, like many of the Jamaican culture of that time, raised me to “do as I was told or else.” For them, a formal education that “guaranteed” me an income was the key to liberation.
More than half of the world’s population does not enjoy the privilege of choice, parents and education. The “right” to choose is a luxury they can ill-afford when the urgency of hunger and disease tugs persistently at their torn, worn clothing and hearts.
It is the injustice embedded in this that drives me to act—to offer guidance and support to those who need it. This injustice is further compounded by the humbling reality that for whatever reason I was deemed a fate different from theirs which now compels me to act.
“With great blessings comes great responsibility.”
In honoring my gift of choice, it is my human duty to serve in a manner that is of benefit to those who are disenfranchised and/or dis-empowered for a myriad of reasons.
A shift in one individual plants a seed that grows from a seedling to a tree to ultimately, an entire forest—transformation at a global level.
Nadine: Well, presently life finds me in transition. In June, I completed 21 months of being in the Central African Republic, working for the UN peace-building mission there. Suffice to say that while it’s been my toughest posting to date, on the journey of life, it’s been a very necessary learning experience in the “university of adversity.”
With virtually no support base and living in constant, abject poverty, I was deeply driven to go deep within and to uncover my mettle so to speak. For now, I continue to transition and take each moment, each breath as it comes.
In July, I will be engaging in a Kripalu teacher training program. My intention is to use this time to re-integrate into my true self by continuing to be focus on change at a deep and cellular level. Once I’ve completed this, my next step will be with Baron Baptiste, Level 1. And of course, taking my writing to a cathartic level will be an intrinsic part of this process.
Rather than become a victim of circumstances, I choose to become aware of them, the impact they have on my life and on the lives of others. Then I can share this with others—how through conscious awareness one is able to create freedom and a life that brims with endless possibilities. The tools I invoke are yoga and writing.
Awareness gives rise to consciousness, which leads one to make responsible choices for their lives, ultimately contributing to their evolution.
As a writer, I design and facilitate workshops that combine yoga and writing. Each component may be delivered as a separate program.
I am doing speaking engagements. I have 20 years of humanitarian service across the globe with some of the most respected international organizations, which qualifies me as a credible source on a range of topics related to development at a personal as well as national level.
Mary: Of all the experiences you had in doing workshops and speaking engagements, which ones have stuck with you the most and affected your life today?
Nadine: I have been blessed with many wonderful opportunities to give, to receive and to share which makes it hard to pinpoint any one in particular. My work with the Africa Yoga Project in Kenya has and continues to be immensely inspiring for me. To bear witness to young souls who are committed to themselves and are ready, willing and able to transform their lives and visions is a gift for which I am deeply grateful.
In my own country Jamaica, last week I taught my first class at Rocktowa, an artist community located in the inner city of Kingston. It was just mind-blowing to be there and witness these inner city youth trying to find their path, focus and direction.
Perhaps what I love most about being in such environments is that my students become my teachers, reminding me of my mission in life and giving me a chance to reflect and be truly grateful for the lessons I’ve learned along the way. These are my divine gifts.
Mary: So, what’s next for you?
Nadine: As for “what’s next,” for the immediate future, i.e., the next 3 months, I’ll be focused on re-gaining my balance. My experience is that as I have become more attuned, I am also more sensitive, therefore making transitions more challenging than they may have been in the past.
For now, I continue to pay attention to the signs and trust the process. All is manifesting as is divinely intended. And in those moments where I encounter fear, I continue to tap into the breath, the prana, the life force.
There are some exciting possibilities on the horizon—my continued work with Africa Yoga Project, the 2013 Caribbean Yoga Conference and the 2013 Bali Spirit Festival—for which I will be leading yoga, empowerment and writing workshops.
Mary: What are the most important things you’d like our readers to know that they don’t know already? What would you like to leave readers with today?
Nadine: Hmmm. This is a tough question. All that we need to know already lives within us. With daily living, oftentimes we forget who we are as we try to squeeze our round, whole selves into square boxes, designed by others based on their projections. Humility, grace, courage and love are the key ingredients to leading a wholesome and uplifting life; the life what we’re all meant to have. We just need to remain open to what is.
Mary King is a recovering corporate hardhead. After accumulating a few years of running injuries, she stumbled into a hot yoga studio. “These people are insane!” she thought, but her stubbornness prevailed, and she was soon hooked without any clear idea how it had happened. She recently certified in a 200-hour teacher training program and is growing comfortable with the idea that it might take two million hours to understand how yoga works. Through this journey she is learning to love life and, slowly, herself. Mary is a woman with incurable curiosity and wanderlust, an avid reader, and the best aunt in the whole wide world.
Editor: Thaddeus Haas