My name is Mackenzie Bulych.
I was born in Regina, Saskatchewan. While I love my home province, I was lucky enough to travel at a young age. Since then, it has become an important, if not a vital part of my life. Not only to experience new cultures and geographical beauty, but to connect with people. I think that is one of the most beautiful parts of traveling is getting to know the people who define these places. Traveling and making these connections has had a profound influence on my life and has opened many doors to exciting possibilities as my life moves forward.
Soccer has been one of the biggest focuses and drives in my life. It has given me opportunities to play on different teams, meet an array of talented players, and work with many coaches. It challenged me physically, mentally, and emotionally. It was a challenge I grew to crave. It guided me throughout my adolescence to honor the values of teamwork, commitment; and pushed me to excel on and off the field. Soccer felt like home. It was my comfort.
Everyone in my soccer community was like family. Going to the facility 5-6 times a week to see friends, watch games- it became a lifestyle that I loved. I wanted to keep growing and keep moving up. So every choice I made, was one with the future of soccer in mind. Even choice of high school was decided on the strength of their soccer program so I could stay competitive when it came time to decide on a university.
My dad encouraged me to go abroad for university. Not only would it give me the chance to travel but to work towards a scholarship opportunity. So I did. I sent resumes and videos to top schools all over the United States and ended up with a four year, full-ride to Franklin Pierce University.
Those four years flew by so quickly. I played some of the best, most competitive soccer I had ever played and was lucky enough to travel places I had never been.
After graduating from Franklin Pierce University in 2010 with a business degree, my life sort of stopped. The realization that everything I was “expected” to do was done. Coming home and trying to play again, didn’t feel the same. I felt old. I felt like there wasn’t a place for me. I had responsibilities now. I had to work- and so did my teammates. Commitment became less and less.
Four years of playing a scholarship sport, studying business, being on my own for the first time, and making new friends. It was complete. So, what was next? I couldn’t fathom working a standard 9-5, so I came home and started working in a bar. Bartending and serving was fun, good money, and allowed the freedom to do what I loved! To travel!
South East Asia, Colombia, New Zealand, Germany, Holland, Chicago, New York. I’ve had so many amazing experiences since graduating. Some of them wonderful, some not so much, but they’ve all taught me lessons and helped me grow. More than this, it also helped spark and re-inspire my need to be creative.
What I refer to as “my doodles” has been something that has been a part of my life for longer then I realized. Growing up I was always loved crafting, coloring, drawing, painting, the works. But it wasn’t until high school and university that I realized that it became a tool I used to listen and learn. In class, if I was doodling in my notebooks during a lecture- it would seem to be that I wasn’t listening or was uninterested in the subject (which sometimes was true) but I found it was easier to retain the information if I wasn’t so focused on the prof lecturing. I retained more information drawing swirls and squares and triangles. Even writing notes had to be an art. I would sometimes find myself rewriting messy notes after class because visually they were not stimulating to me.
A friend in University recognized my love for doodling and encouraged me move my doodles from loose leaf to practicing in a sketch book. I took this advice and step by step over the years my sketches and doodles evolved into what they are today.
Sports in general were an importance to me. But also, hard on the body. A broken femur, numerous sprained ankles and bruises, training and pushing my body to its limits; it’s the “no pain, no gain” approach in sports. I found this even more when I played at a more competitive level. I trained my body like this for so long, and I continued to do the same even after my competitive sports days were over. I needed to find a balance, so my mom encouraged me to try yoga.
A first I looked at yoga as a way to stretch and relieve pain. But found out quickly it was also challenging. I loved this combo! And found I craved it more then anything else that I had been practicing. I knew there was an important piece to yoga that I wasn’t really acknowledging- that it was more than just a workout. It calmed my mind.
I started to recognize the positive impact on my body and mind when I found my breath. Learning to breath again. I sounds silly, but the results are amazing. I practiced to help find space in my body- to help move more fluidly and freely and the most important- to help settle my anxiety.
I had been challenged with a great deal of anxiety for several years- suffering at times from panic attacks, depression, and sense of hopelessness. I tried different methods to help control these attacks- pharmaceuticals, massage, hypnotherapy, other holistic medicines. It wasn’t until I really started focusing on my yoga practice that I found it had the biggest impact on managing my anxiety and depression.
With practice, it helped to shift and maintain focus on the present moment and away from thoughts that were distorted and causing stress and anxiety. Too much mental chatter, either positive or negative, can be overwhelming for anyone. I have found yoga to be a powerful tool in calming my mind so I can focus internally and start to listen to my body and what it’s telling me.
It wasn’t until about a year ago when I visited NYC that I was introduced to a yoga studio called Y7. Something about this studio made me feel more connected with my practice than I had ever felt before. The dark, candle lit and warmed studio with loud music and challenging flow sequencing were all right up my alley- but it was the teachers there that really made a difference. Each one offered insight to their own practices, experiences, and journey with yoga.
Now I am in NYC taking my yoga teacher training; focusing on my mind, and body and trying be more creative everyday. For three months I will be visually stimulated and inspired by the beautiful street art, fashion, architecture; brownstones, parks and bridges. It’s all an education for me. It’s my journey helping me to figure out who I am and what I’m passionate about. It’s what’s driving me. I’m lucky to have theses opportunities and I’m taking advantage of them. And I’m figuring it all out!
. Mackenzie Bulych .