Mackenzie Carignan, Ph.D.
I'm Mackenzie, and I'm a Creativity and Writing coach. My journey so far has consistently shown me one thing: that connecting with our authentic creative spark is an incredible way to see, feel, and experience the world more vividly.
As a young child, I remember watching my father create songs on his guitar as if it were his life's purpose. My mother was at work, making flower arrangements that looked to me like the most "alive" art I could imagine. On the weekends, they would retreat to their "studio" where my father designed stained glass patterns from mere ideas in his head, and my parents built windows, lamps, and various other pieces together, allowing his creative visions to come to life. My brother grew to be one of the most talented visual artists I've ever seen, charting a path for himself to work at Disney Animation studios. And me, I'm the wordsmith-- the poet of the family, introduced to Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven" when I was 9. While it wasn't always perfect, there was no shortage of creative energy and mutual support for that energy.
I chartered my own path with a dream of becoming a poet and college professor, teaching poetry writing in higher education. I was in front of a classroom by the ripe age of 22, teaching Creative Writing as a graduate student in Boulder, Colorado. Next step: Ph.D. in Chicago.
It was an amazing experience filled with creative opportunities that I had only dreamed of. I won awards, published poems, edited literary magazines within and outside of my academic institutions. I collaborated with other artists and dancers to form a collaborative arts organization, and I performed my poetry on stage in both Boulder and Chicago while also creating space for other artists to collaborate and perform. I was living fully in my creative space-- and making space for others-- a space that felt limitless.
And then I had a baby, graduated, and moved to the suburbs of Colorado.
Everything shifted in a flash. My husband's entrepreneurial spirit finally got the best of him, and he quit his stable job and launched his software business out of our home. With my second baby on the way, I reluctantly made the decision to leave teaching (which was an adjunct position and lacked stability) and take a job for one of the largest corporations in the country. I would still be teaching, but now I'd be teaching other employees how to write, communicate, and edit. I quickly learned that I'd need to adapt my creative way of thinking, being, executing, and communicating to fit a different type of environment.
I didn't have a choice but to adapt-- to speak to the ROI of learning, writing, and creating. I developed my own techniques to translate my creative thoughts and ideas into digestible, appropriate chunks that others in this new environment could understand. I continue to use and teach these techniques today through Creative Vision Lab.
What I didn't do was hide my creative endeavors or my authentic spark. During my nearly 12 years working at various organizations as a learning strategist and curriculum developer, I became the trusted “creative” advisor: I was the person people came to when they lacked creativity or saw creativity lacking on their teams or in their projects. I found myself facilitating interactive workshops about leadership, growth mindset, curiosity, and, yes, creativity. I was coaching others on how to balance their work and family lives and their authentic desire to be creative. And it was working . . . but I was doing it in the margins of my demanding role to deliver, deliver, deliver.
A Growth Mindset exercise from a leadership workshop I developed and led
It happened. I burned myself out.
An excerpt from one of my original poems.
I quit my job in January of 2022, and I made a list of the things I wanted to do to reconnect with myself while I "took a break". At the top of the list were creative endeavors-- and I dove in with as much energy as I could muster. I was coming back alive, fully reconnecting with that authentic side of myself that sees the world through creative eyes.
That's where Creative Vision Lab was born. I want to bring the magic of creativity to others; invite you all into the experiments I know will help you reconnect. I've taken proven strategies that I know are impactful from both the corporate and creative worlds, and I've designed programs and systems that will allow us to explore together. I can't wait to see what we discover together!