An Interview with Mary Margaret McNeil Smith (and her three pieces of advice for women navigating their lives, careers and adventures!)

Last September at a birthday dinner for a friend, I met a woman who immediately inspired me, intrigued me and left me hoping that we would stay connected. She was smart, real and adventurous. She grew up in Minnesota and even went to college here, but when I met her, she had just moved back from Montana and was trying to decide with her boyfriend where they should move next - I think at the time they had three cities in mind. I THOUGHT THIS WAS SO COOL! 

If you've ever thought about taking a risk that involves picking up and moving to a new town, or need your travel bug to bite again, this blog post is for you! Mary Margaret McNeil Smith aka Maggie has much to share about living life down the road less traveled. 

 Meet Maggie!

Meet Maggie!

 

Name: My full birth name Mary Margaret McNeil Smith, but everyone just calls me Maggie or Maggs.

Where do you live now? I am currently living on a small island in the middle of the Caribbean called Isla Culebra. Culebra is seventeen miles of the eastern coast of Puerto Rico and is considered one of the Spanish Virgin Islands.

How old are you? I am 26 years old.

Where did you go to college? For my undergraduate degree, I attended a private liberal arts college in Minnesota called the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University. I also recently completed my Masters at the University of Montana in Bozeman where I studied Science and Natural History Filmmaking.

What is your Secret Food Obsession? It is not really a secret, but I consider myself to be a French toast connoisseur.

What is always in your cup holder? I currently do not actually own a car, but when I did you could always find a jar of change and almost always either a latte or a Wendy’s frosty in my cup holder.

What do you love most in your life? Currently, I love waking up every day and seeing the ocean.

What is your definition of success? Wow, great question. I am not sure I have a definite answer for you. However, I believe one of the biggest determinants of success for me has been learning to embrace failure. I am admittedly a perfectionist and am naturally very tough on myself. I tend to think big, set lofty goals, and hold myself to high expectations, which are all good things. But, I have also solidified this notion in my head that I must do things perfectly in order to be successful. Graduate school really challenged me on this belief. I failed a lot, but I also achieved some extraordinary things. I realized that failing is all part of a successful journey because it means you learned something. If we let fear of failure determine our actions we in turn limit our own success. I love this quote by author Georgia O’Keeffe and I have sort of adopted it as one of my life mottos. She said, “I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.”

What is your definition of a balanced life? For me, a balanced life is all about working towards future goals and building the life you’ve dreamed of while also focusing on staying present in the here and now. While I think it is important to think ahead and make future plans I also think it is equally important to live in the moment and not stick to the plan. In other words, living a balanced life is about spontaneously taking the scenic route, but not forgetting the final destination. The worst thing anyone can do is to let their future plans dictate every decision they make. The second worst thing anyone can do is to never actually make any future plans.

What have you been up to since you graduated from college? I graduated from Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s in the spring of 2013 and that summer I packed up and moved to Bozeman, Montana where I began graduate school that same fall. Three and a half years later I graduated with my MFA and was in need of a change. I was twenty-five years old, about to turn twenty-six, and had been enrolled in some type of education program since I was five. I honestly love school, but after twenty straight years of school I was ready to experience life outside academia. Since I was younger, I have always wanted to just buy a one-way ticket and take off to some new, exotic place. So, that’s exactly what my boyfriend and I did. We plan to stay in Culebra for almost year and are already throwing out ideas of where to go and what to do next.

How did you know you wanted to follow the road less traveled? I owe it all to my mom. She is a world traveler and at a very young age instilled me with a love for taking the road less traveled.

What has been your greatest learning experience since leaving home? There have been so many learning experiences it is hard to narrow it down to just one! I think the most important lesson I have learned from all my travels has been the importance of kindness. Kindness is the universal language.

What has been your biggest struggle since leaving home? I think the biggest struggle I have dealt with since leaving home is not being home. It is hard missing out on holidays, birthdays, hearing my nephew’s first words, celebrating my friend’s engagement, going to Timberwolves games with my dad, and all the other moments in between. It makes me sad, but it also makes me appreciate where I am right now. Life is as much about being grateful for one’s triumphs as it is for the journey.

What is your dream job? Someday I want to be a college professor.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received? “Every thing in moderation including moderation.” – Oscar Wilde. “Freedom is something that dies unless it’s used.” –Hunter S. Thompson

What advice do you have for other women navigating their lives, careers and adventures? Three things: 1. Never stop being curious. 2. The quality of your thoughts determines the quality of your life. 3. Don’t forget to stop every once and a while and give yourself some credit. (It’s long overdue.)

What impact has Everme Coaching had on your career? I met Kelsey at Everme Coaching this past September and I am absolutely amazed by her work! We met a mutual friend’s birthday celebration and spent almost all dinner talking. Her down-to-earth vibe and enthusiasm make her super relatable and easy to talk to. It has been incredible to watch Everme Coaching grow and see Kelsey empowering men and women of all ages to proactively take charge of their lives. Whatever goals you have Kelsey will help you achieve those goals and become a happier, healthier, and better you!

 Beautiful woman inside and out! 

Beautiful woman inside and out!