For Carrie McKinnon the journey to wellness and wellbeing starts with looking inward and learning how your cycle can impact you.
The Lola member, Carrie McKinnon used to believe that owning her own business was not something for her between the amount of energy she would have to expend and the sacrifices she would have to make. Carrie owns two microbusinesses now, and to her, the key for a sustainable and healthy work-life balance is cycle tracking. Learn more about how Carrie has used her cycle to her greatest advantage here. When she isn’t empowering others who bleed, you can find her devoting her time to making memories with her family and friends.
Location: Atlanta, GA
Age: 42 years
What I do: Owner of 28ish
Briefly describe who you are, what you do for work and for fun
I inhabit many titles: mother of twins, wife, menstruality mentor, linguist, executive, sister, daughter, auntie, and friend. I spent my entire 30s decade living in North Africa and have re-integrated into American life over the past two years. I am originally from Atlanta and always said that if I ever moved back to the United States, I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. Well, here I am! I spent the previous decade as a business owner and recently, since being back in the US, have launched two micro-businesses and taken on full-time work.
For fun, I love hanging out on my porch with the tight-knit group of friends that I was separated from for the past decade. I am making new memories with my family and friends, as well as the new people that have come into my life since I’ve been back. I’m a total foodie, I love finding reasons to bring people together for a party, and I am usually the person that people want to talk to about a business idea. I am a big dreamer and still very much working towards the day when my businesses are fully supporting me again.
Share your career story with us including anyone who inspired you along the way
While we often think of careers as linear progressions, in the past two years I have come to see that differently. I have held executive roles in large companies and left it all to start a business that supported me and employed over 20 people for a decade. I left that also. I started over. It’s a messy and beautiful journey and I am not yet sure what the destination is. In my “day-job” I am a youth sports executive working on programming and special events. I have over 15 years of experience in the private education sector. My two businesses are focused on bringing the recovery of cyclical living through menstrual cycle awareness into the forefront of women’s lives – 28ish, and language coaching – The International Language Coaching Association.
Unbeknownst to me, my parent’s career trajectories had a deep level of influence on my career choices. My father has always only worked for himself and I grew up saying I never wanted to do it because of the amount of hard work and sacrifice I saw him expend on his business, yet, like many other lessons from childhood, the drive to work for myself activated for me in my early 30s and I never looked back. My mother was a director at KindCare and I remember riding to work with her in the KinderCare van before school. I ended up going into education leadership very early on in my career, and I think her influence was at play, without my being conscious of it.
What activities take up most of your time each week and which areas of your life would you like to give more time and energy to?
My day job takes up most of my time. I am so grateful for it because it is a female-owned and led team and I feel totally aligned with the mission and goals of the company. I also simply really love the team of people I work with. I get to spend lots of time with my tween daughters and take them to work with me where they can be inspired by the positive role models around them and be in an environment that encourages both physical and mental growth.
I want to spend more of my time working on the 28ish podcast and making local inroads for both 28ish and ILCA.
What wellness practices are a part of your daily/weekly life that help to keep you feeling balanced and grounded?
The wellness practice that guides all aspects of my life is menstrual cycle awareness.
I know when it’s time to tighten up my boundaries and when I can be a little more flexible. I know when my inner critic is going to be strong and I make room for my authority to present as well as practicing much more kindness with myself when my inner critic is too loud. I know that there is a week in my cycle that, if I am not careful, I will overextend myself for the entire next month. So I know that I need to be more careful in saying yes to commitments during that time. I put my cycle as the very center of my life and I draw energy and guidance from each part of it. I have learned that when I consult my cycle calendar before making work commitments, I set myself up for success and happiness. This is what led me to create a menstrual cycle tracking app that integrates with my primary professional calendar.
I track my cycle through both digital and traditional creative journaling. I also embrace my woo and I love pulling tarot cards, following the moon cycles, and carrying crystals around with me.
How does hustle culture make you feel and has stress had any negative impact on your life? If so, how?
I believe that American culture is a very hustle-focused culture. When I lived abroad, I had the opportunity to experience a different way of life. Morocco is a very family-focused culture and I found it easier to respect the work-life balance and to make room for my cycle. When I returned to the United States, I lost the support I had in running my home and caring for my children. I found myself in a very dark place. I’ve had to do a lot of contemplating on what kind of support I must prioritize and how I can’t do it all myself.
Another aspect of hustle culture that I find harmful, is when I cannot nurture my body and spirit by just stopping. There are times in my cycle where I need to do absolutely nothing. The society we live in doesn’t recognize our need to turn inward and stop because our bodies are telling us that we need a rest. I try to make space for my cyclical nature in all aspects of my life. The outward time in my cycle is generally never challenged by my responsibilities, however, there are times when I need to show up for work or other commitments and all I want to do is lay in bed and allow my body space to recover.
In an ideal world, what would a truly balanced and healthy life “ideally” look like to you, if there were no parameters put around it?
In my ideal world, I would never be called away from my bed when my body is telling me that I need rest. I would take a week of vacation every six weeks and a month in the summer. I would have the support I need in my home and in my email inbox. I would eat healthy and delicious food, cooked with love at home, and I would enjoy my space and feel great in it.
How do you feel in this moment of the pandemic? How has it impacted your mental health and wellbeing. Has the pandemic changed how you view wellness in your life and have you made any changes to your lifestyle over the past 18 months?
For the first six months of the pandemic, I appreciated the different pace of life and the gigantic reset that the pandemic provided by forcing us all indoors. That has changed and in this moment of the pandemic, for many workers, life must go on. People are expected to get out of the house and work and live in spite of the pandemic. Some days this feels really stressful when I receive daily calls about covid positive kids that I have nurtured the previous day, as well as covid positive results from vaccinated colleagues. I get a weekly covid test and follow all of the safety precautions. I work hard and do the best I can do and then the reward is another exposure. It’s scary and some days I take it in stride while on other days, it makes me cry to receive the covid-positive calls.
Do you have any hopes (or personal plans) for a permanent shift in the way we work and live moving forward?
I hope that businesses will adopt a more flexible approach with their employees. Not requiring a strict in-person presence for workers when it’s not necessary for the business model.