Toni McLellan on The Fulfilling Life

March 20, 2013 2 Comments

Toni McLellan and I met about a year ago as participants in Kate Swoboda’s overwhelm shifting group Breathing Space. During out time together in that group Toni’s humor came through loud and clear. If you want a good laugh and a chance to take life a little less seriously, Toni is the woman for you.

Toni is so much more than her full belly laughs. Knowing Toni is to know someone who cares deeply about living a fulfilled life. She has worked through the challenges we all face — anxiety, fear, and self doubt. Toni shares her experiences openly, and now devotes herself to helping others bring more joy into their creative work.

I found myself captivated by the wise words Toni shared, and also completely at ease in her presence. So much so that she helped me come over my own perfectionism and leave a major blooper in the video that I would have preferred to edit out.

Enjoy the interview!


Toni McLellan on The Fulfilling Life with Kelly Dahl from Kelly Dahl on Vimeo.


Humor, mindfulness, breathing, and letting go are all pieces of Toni’s practice. Of course, there is also lots and lots of laughter ringing out along the way.

Toni explained that she has not always lived this way. There was a long time when she pushed herself so hard to reach her goals that she couldn’t even enjoy them when she eventually succeeded.  She describes this as “white knuckling” her way through — holding on so tightly to the outcome that she forget to enjoy herself on the way.

I just love how Toni helped me see that knocking a lamp over in the middle of an interview is totally okay. I really wanted to edit that part out, so much so that the first thing I said to Toni after we finished recording was “I guess I can’t edit that out anymore.” Somehow I was able to dwell on my mistake throughout the rest of the interview.

Focusing on the falling lamp was me “white knuckling” my way through the interview.

Right after the lamp fell Toni said something really simple, and at the same time very profound, at least to me.


“Lightening up is such a key to living a fulfilling life.” ~Toni McLellan

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My challenge for each of you is to look at your life and your work and recognize where you are “white knuckling” your way through, and what you can do to just lighten up.

What is one thing that you are currently “white knuckling”?

How can you just lighten up?

Share your answers in the comments below. Then, if you’re moved, share this video with your friends. I’m sure that someone will really appreciate the reminder to lighten up.


Toni McLellan, Makearoo, Camp Makearoo, The Fulfilling Life InterviewsToni McLellan is a writer, creativity coach, and host of Camp Makearoo, a retreat where shiny-object chasers gather to have a blast and rekindle their creative spark. Get in touch at

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Comments (2)

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  1. Ohhhhh…. I love the simplicity of replacing the negative thoughts with those that are kind and loving. I know from experience that it sounds simple. But it isn’t easy! It’s a life-long mindfulness practice. And I am always grateful for the reminder.

    I REALLY love that you didn’t edit out the “knocking of the light.” First of all, what a wonderful modeling of “lightening up.” In action! Right there. Life is full of little things like that and what you two show us by example is that we just laugh and move on. The quest for perfection doesn’t serve any of us. Big thanks for that in-the-moment example of being with life!!!!

    You two are great! 🙂

    • kelly says:

      Thanks so much Sherry! I was actually not super excited about keeping the falling lamp in. But, what an amazing lesson in letting go of any aim for perfection. It has since become one of my favorite parts of an interview!

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