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Women In Wellness: Trina Mcneilly of LaLa Lovely Things on the Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Participate in Your Life — I have found that we spend a lot of time thinking about our lives and not living them (maybe that’s just me?). We spend our energy anticipating, procrastinating or avoiding. Participating for me has looked like taking action on something I’ve been overthinking. I’m not great with numbers or finances (words are my jam). In recent years, I’ve been choosing to learn more about finances. It’s slow going, but I’m participating.

As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Trina McNeilly.

Trina McNeilly is the author and founder of La La Lovely, where she has been writing and building community online for thirteen years, sharing matters of the heart and design-related finds. With an eye for beauty, Trina finds inspiration in styled spaces, broken places, and everywhere in between. Through soulful writing, in the voice of a trusted friend, she guides others to find joy and goodness in their everyday lives. Her work also includes creative direction, styling, and design projects. Trina is a new resident of Nashville, Tennessee, where she lives with her husband and their four children.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

If one is a writer because they write (as I believe to be true) than it all began in my Garfield diary in 1980 something. Also, it may have something to do with “ink in my veins.” My grandfather was a publisher, my grandmother a reporter, and my dad went on to become a publisher and build a national media company. Writing and publishing feel like they are part of my DNA. As a kid, I played at the newspaper and as a teenager I spent summers learning/working different departments in the newspaper. The funny thing is, I never worked in editorial. In my early adult years, I spent the first part of my career working at a church and then for John Maxwell’s leadership company. Writing, sharing information, and inspiring others eventually began to converge. In 2008, after five years of being a stay-at-home mom, I read about something called a “blog” in Domino magazine. I was on vacation in Tucson, and I knew then and there that I wanted to start a blog to share inspiration, ideas, and encouragement. Days later, La La Lovely was founded. In many ways it was my own publication — I wrote, took photographs, edited, and sold ads. It was the perfect place to work on my craft of writing, build community, share inspiration and encourage others to find beauty, peace and joy in their everyday lives.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?

This is a fun one! I had the opportunity to partner with The Land of Nod (now Crate and Kids). I designed (and helped style) two rooms in my home and they shot it for their catalog. It was like a major production — my house was turned upside down (in the best way possible) with an amazing crew, interesting props, and a NYC photographer and stylist. I loved being a part of such a fun endeavor, working with a creative team, and experiencing the merge of design and print. I then got to do it all over again in my friend’s tiny NYC apartment. This project led to other great opportunities with The Land of Nod and other brands. I definitely felt out of my league working on a project of this caliber and with such talent. I tried my best to style but as soon as I saw the professionals at work, I realized I was way out of my league. There was no time to be hard on myself (which was my normal tendency). When I had a moment to process, after the project, I realized that it was my style and work that got me in the door in first place. We do our best work (are at our best) when we let our unique personality, creativity, and style shine through. There will always room for improvement or need for help. Grow, learn the lessons, and take assistance where and when you can.

Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

That’s a great question. The biggest mistake I’ve made in my writing career was to believe that my writing was merely a hobby. I believed it was a hobby because it felt like one at first (it was something I did in the wee hours when my children were asleep) and, also, because other people told me it was. Not everyone was supportive of the time and energy I put into my blog. Even after I began to make an income, it was still deemed a hobby. I began to believe that if I ever wrote a book, then it would be official work. I’d be an “author.” It turns out you can get a book deal, see your book in a brick and mortar store and still feel like writing is only a hobby . . . if that is your belief. Words have power. It matters how we frame our life with words (that’s why I love to work with words so much). Through this I’ve learned (am still learning) to be careful with the words I agree with — whether they are spoken about me or they come out of my own mouth. I’m proud to be an author, I’ve worked really hard to author a blog for over a decade and publish two books. These days, when people ask what I do, I most often tell them I’m a writer. It has nothing to do with my pay or achievements. It’s simply who I am. I am a writer — it’s what I do. No one can take that title from me.

Let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?

One of the greatest gifts a writer gives their reader is connection and the realization that they are not alone. Books often give language to what we have yet to find words for. They entertain, they educate, they inspire, and they keep company with us. Reading is solitary, but it makes us feel not alone (in the world, in what we may be facing). We are living in a very isolating time, even before the Pandemic research was proving that loneliness was an epidemic of it’s own. I have the unique privilege to inspire, encourage and keep company with other beautiful souls. In my latest book I have the honor of coming alongside the reader to help them care for their souls (their mind, will, and emotions) and create space for a healthy inner life. We mostly understand what it takes to care for our exterior (our bodies, homes, careers, etc.) and spend our energy accordingly, but many of us are at a loss when it comes to the health and care of our souls. When we nurture and nourish our own souls, we more likely to care for and help others.

Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.

I’d love to!

  1. Participate in Your Life — I have found that we spend a lot of time thinking about our lives and not living them (maybe that’s just me?). We spend our energy anticipating, procrastinating or avoiding. Participating for me has looked like taking action on something I’ve been overthinking. I’m not great with numbers or finances (words are my jam). In recent years, I’ve been choosing to learn more about finances. It’s slow going, but I’m participating.
  2. Be a Thought Leader — Our thoughts, whether we realize it or not, are leading us somewhere. If we are not aware, our lives will follow. We might not be able to control what thought pops into our minds, but we can lead our thoughts. We can lead them into the home of our hearts to dwell or we can lead them out the door.
  3. Ask for Help — Asking for help is not easy. But sometimes it’s the very thing that will keep you from collapsing. It’s great when help is offered to us, but most of the time we have to ask for it. I found that when I took time to observe my history of help (my family of origin’s relationship with help), it helped me understand my hang-ups. Help from counselors, friends, family members, and doctors have been crucial and necessary in helping me to become healthier. Sometimes we pray for help. Sometimes we pay for help. Sometimes we ask for help. Sometimes we do all three.
  4. Nurture and Nourish — It’s no secret that exercise and eating proper foods has an immense effect on our mental and emotional health (the health of your soul). It’s easy to approach caring for the body from a negative aspect — like you’re depriving or punishing yourself. What if we changed our perspective and thought about adding the things that make us feel good. I see exercise not as something I have to do, but get to do. Movement in my body gives me movement in my soul. I try to not to give all of my attention to cutting out foods, but rather to the nourishing foods I can add. Nurturing and nourishing my body, nurtures and nourishes my soul.
  5. Strategize for Joy (and peace) — I used to believe that peace and joy could only be experienced when all was well and figured out and orderly. Peace and joy is not something we wait for in tomorrow. It’s something we can only experience in today. I’ve learned to not wait for these fleeting moments, but to strategize for them (create a plan of action). In fact, I’ve created a little formula: Plan for joy + take action = joy achieved. There are a number of ways we can do this, one would be to set the table for joy — to put yourself in the way of the things that give you joy. How have you experienced joy (or peace) in the past? In nature? Get outside. Time with friends? Schedule it. Noticing beauty? Visit a museum or simply take a walk in the woods.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

Fabulous question. I would start a Soul Care Movement. Your soul is comprised of your mind, will and emotions. We often talk about mental and emotional health as two separate entities. I understand the thought process, but everything is connected. Even our physical bodies are connected to the health of our souls. I believe that a healthy soul will make for a healthier body and caring for your body will make your soul healthier. So many people are struggling mentally and emotionally. Many are afraid to take a good hard look at what is happening in their inner life, but mostly, I’m finding, that they simply do not know how. We live in a world that leaves nary a minute of quiet or unoccupied time. We are being conditioned to not be able to even sit at stoplight without checking our phones. This modern way of life leaves us no time to pay attention to our thoughts, to our pain, to our longings. I’d love to guide people in beginning to pay attention to the soundtrack of their soul. And then offer tools to help them sort through and unpack their unique soul clutter.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

  1. You’ll never really feel qualified. Imposter Syndrome is real. There is always something (or maybe someone) that will make us feel like we are a fake or not up for the task. Some days I feel like an author. Some days I feel equipped to encourage others. Most days I don’t. In fact, I find that on the days when I most need encouragement, it’s best to give it. Give what you need (that could be another point). I’m learning to not trust my feelings all of the time — sometimes they are imposter.
  2. Done is better than perfect. I like to call myself a recovering perfectionist. This means I procrastinate (overthink) a lot and when I do finally get to things I labor way longer than I should. Perfect never gets done, because perfect is impossible (unless your God). Giving it your best and getting the work done is what gets you places.
  3. What you see online is not real. Actually, I’ve told myself this since the inception of social media. I just don’t always believe it. I look back at photos on my blog of my perfectly styled Pinterest worthy home, but I know what was on the outskirts of the frame of that shot. Overflowing laundry baskets, toys strewn across the floor, screaming kids, my broken heart. The squares never fully tell the full story. Don’t compare your everyday life with someone else’s styled moment.
  4. No decision is a decision. Truth is someone did tell me this — my dad. I just didn’t get it until I had already spent a good deal of time avoiding hard decisions. When in fact, my avoidance was a decision. Woah!
  5. Writing is like any other job. Naturally, I would say that I’m an inspired writer. Ideas come to me. Words come to me. And when that happens it’s glorious. But when you’re on deadline and it’s not happening you can’t for inspiration. You have to show up to do the work that is where inspiration will meet you.

Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?

Without a doubt, mental health. The World Health Organization reports that globally more than 264 million suffer from depression and one in thirteen suffers from anxiety — the most common of mental disorders worldwide. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health stated in their 2018 report that in America alone, 20.3 million people (twelve years and older) battled substance disorder. With these statistics it’s evident that we have an epidemic of souls overwhelmed with damaged emotions and pain. Millions are suffering, unaware of how to heal, and finding themselves in a spectrum of behaviors to cope. The spectrum can range from numbing out by mindless scrolling on Instagram to anesthetizing with substances. I am one of those statistics. I’m finding healing and freedom and I want to share my story with others to help them experience healing and freedom too.

What is the best way our readers can follow you online?

Instagram: @trina_mcneilly

Facebook: @trinamcneillyauthor

You can also become an email friend and get weekly inspiration and motivation in your inbox: http://bit.ly/FridayFriends

Thank you for these fantastic insights!

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In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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Candice Georgiadis

Candice Georgiadis

Candice Georgiadis is an active mother of three as well as a designer, founder, social media expert, and philanthropist.

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