January 2023 – Jennifer McKinney

How to Gain Clarity
There are many things we were not taught. Many things we are learning and passing on to the next generation. Things like letting go of perfectionism; how to work with our emotions; how important things like our thoughts and words actually are, and how to find clarity on what we truly want. These have been learned through self-exploration, but never through traditional streams of education, and often not even from our parents and guardians who were not taught these skills.

We are at the beginning of a calendar year, which often elicits goals of taking advantage of a fresh start. We set intentions for what we want to invite in throughout the new year, but as we also now know, for greatest results, setting the intention takes some strategy. If we align ourselves more with the seasonal calendar, winter is the first step in creating intentions for the upcoming cycle.

In winter we slow down and go inwards. We meditate on what the previous year brought us; we explore our role in the outcomes we received; we peel back what may have been getting in the way, and we get CLEAR on what seeds we want to plant for the new year. This work requires bravery. It requires a season of pause before “springing” into the next goal. Slowing down is a big part of the phase of winter, giving more time for reflecting and processing the previous cycles. Slowing down allows you to notice what is and isn’t working. For this, finding frequent moments of peace, digital detoxes, meditation and prayer allow you to cut through the constant stimulation that is our current experience as humans. You have to knowingly wade into the noise, sit in it and allow the noise to settle around you to find the gems of truth that are always there below the chaos.

 

Questions to ponder in the peaceful moments: Reminder: You have all winter to explore these questions.
● How satisfied am I? (Apply to specific topic or keep it general)
● How do I want to feel this year?
● When I look through the lens of God/My Highest Self/Love, what do I see for myself this year? What is their vision for me?
● What is keeping me from moving forward? Where is there lots of struggle?
● What drains my energy most?
● What currently makes me feel alive?

The next layer to finding clarity for your new year is to express what you found in the quiet. Write it down, speak it out loud, create art with it as your muse, move your body to reflect the truths. Let it flow through and out of you, and then, pause again. Repeat the process a few times, exploring different things. After the introspection, after the expression, you digest. You tend to what needs healing, you rest and you
revisit the expressive creations frequently, adding layers if you feel it’s needed, possibly getting additional support for moments that feel too deep for self exploration. There tends to be a lot of letting go and accepting what is, hopefully from a place of love and understanding for the human experience. Then, as if suddenly, you begin to see, you begin to feel what’s needed next. Slowly and simply you start to make a game plan for the next season, spring. You start to gather new tools and teachers; you invest in creating change; you build momentum in the form of foundational habits and small tweaks throughout the winter months. When spring rolls around, you are ready to spring into further action.

Clarity thru Crave
Big goals and projects may take many cycles before the momentum is there and this is very normal. Building a business, changing your habits, learning new skills all take years. This is why allowing plenty of time to reflect and get clear is so important … otherwise it is very easy to get lost in the weeds. It’s as if the moments of inner work are equivalent to pulling the weeds of your metaphoric garden, clearing all the stuff that became overgrown or neglected throughout the year. When I think about my time with Crave one of the biggest benefits was the space to dig deep and get clear on what I wanted to create. I had the idea of an online wellness program, but the project seemed too daunting. I lacked clarity. The workshops, the time to brainstorm with a trusted group, the professionals I got to meet and learn from through Crave were a very crucial part of the final product that will actually launch this SPRING!!! Five years in the making and it all started with the mindful mapping of Crave activities that unveiled my vision.

Forever grateful,

Jennifer McKinney, Crave I Leader

 

Foundational Fitness Online Wellness

 


January 2018 – Jennifer McKinney

Crave found me in a very spiritual and curious manner. When I was approached by Michele (our trusty leader) about Crave I was feeling kind of stuck and craving real connections with like-minded people. Due to some personal struggles I had spent the previous six months rebuilding my life and bring a focus to my foundation, the values and actions in which I was going to build a business and a life that I love. I had been praying, wishing, hoping, journaling and meditating on “finding my people.” While I did have a solid group of friends and family, and a fabulous book of clients, I was hoping to find people looking to create change in their communities by exploring meaningful concepts, all with a willingness to get deep and to discuss our similarities and differences in a safe and loving space. I found these people and that space in the Little Red House.

As a solopreneur, life can become a bit isolated. Add in the fact that I am more introvert than extrovert and engaging in purposeful conversations with new people can be a challenge. After the Crave mini retreat I knew that I had found “my people.” Learning about each other’s hopes and dreams revealed not only a common love of travel and dreams of learning new languages, but also possibilities in which we might be able to collaborate to make some of those dreams come true.

As our relationships have grown deeper, each Crave Leader has brought me a great deal of inspiration. I am still in the foundational level of building my business, Mint Condition Mind and Body, but have hopes of expanding to help as many people as possible become their happiest, healthiest selves. I have had lots of ideas of how I can make this happen, but it wasn’t until I saw how my fellow leaders were using their skills to empower their communities that the fire inside of me was lit. Watching others do this work has inspired me to keep my mind open to ways in which my gifts and skills can be used to build happy and healthy individuals, families, and communities. This list is ever growing.

In addition to my fellow Leaders, Crave has also connected me to multiple community leaders, leaders that I now have access to while on my journey. One such leader is my mentor Debra Hendrickson. My time with Debra has been wonderful. Not only do we regularly enjoy a cup of coffee and chit-chat about fashion, life and spirituality, we also carve out time to discuss my projects and goals. It is amazing what this focused attention can bring. She has introduced me to people, helping this introvert to ease into networking. She routinely asks me about the online programs that I am working hard to build, listening to my progress and giving me a fresh take on the ideas that get stuck spinning around in my head all week. She has been an extremely valuable part of my Crave experience.

Overall, this group of soul searching Millennials has brought me so much hope. Using self exploration and working hard to uncover the root of issues instead of simply applying a bandaid, this group is making big a big impact. From helping to strengthen communities and lessening the burden of poverty to changing the way people come together to worship, Crave leaders are building strong healthy connections. By educating and inspiring kids and young adults to become curious about their passions and learning more about the earth in which we live, Crave leaders are encouraging others to get creative and share their aspirations in a safe and loving space.

I am beyond excited to watch this group of talented, beautiful people create long-term positive change. I am beyond honored to walk alongside them, paving a path for future Crave Leaders. Together we walk that path, the path that leads to our Little Red House.

Jennifer McKinney
Owner
Mint Condition Mind and Body


December 2017 – Debra Hendrickson

Throughout my life my goal has been to surround myself with friends and family for the enjoyment of good times and support in the bad ones, have a fulfilling career and make enough money to support myself in a comfortable lifestyle. Church was always part of my life until the past few years when I found myself somewhat uninterested in what the pastor had to say on Sunday morning. My mind wandered around the sanctuary, thinking about all the trivial things I needed to do in the remainder of the day. In time I stopped going. The Sunday New York Times was more appealing to stimulate my intellect and curiosity.

Life took an unexpected turn one year ago when I decided to leave the job I had enjoyed for 14 years. I put my future in God’s hands which led me quickly to Michele Van Son who is the inspiration behind Crave. She started sharing with me her story about Crave, about the research done at Harvard Divinity School, specifically about Millennials who are leading spiritually and socially innovative communities beyond the local church. Although I am far from the age defining a Millennial I felt drawn to the concept. I could relate. I had holy discontent but had worked for many years in the non-profit community, serving to make it a better place. I was committed to Crave, leading the newly formed advisory board and mentoring one of the Millennial Crave Leaders, Jennifer McKinney.

A friend recently shared a new word with me  “Mentern” and I thought that my experience with Jennifer fit her definition. You won’t find it in the dictionary. But as she explained it is when the mentor and the mentee learn from each other. If you read the October 2017 blog of Crave Leader Molli Miller you learned about the book One Word That Will Change Your Life that was introduced to them at the program’s opening retreat. Jennifer’s word is “Foundation”. As a personal trainer and yoga teacher helping others live a fulfilled life I thought her word appropriate. Jennifer’s company, Mint Condition, helps the foundation of body and mind. I grew up in a loving environment and felt that I had a strong spiritual foundation, however, due to a series of unexpected and sad life events occurring this year I have felt discouraged. Jennifer helped me realize that life has unexpected unpleasantness but we are all on the same path together. God is there for me and has brought Jennifer to help motivate me forward. I recently participated in a mediation class even though I had always referred to meditation as “just not my cup of tea”. There is a calm quality about Jennifer that I admire. Meditation is helping me find that inner peace that I need for this unstable voyage. My mentee, Jennifer, has become my mentor and together, along with other Crave Leaders; we are navigating our spiritual journey.

Debra Hendrickson
Advisory Board Chair
Crave, Inc.