Interview x Celine MacKay

Inspiring Women by Ashley Neese

Today I am happy to introduce you to Celine MacKay, the founder and Editor in Chief of Pure Green Magazine. Celine has created a thriving community by sharing what it means to live with intention. She is passionate about sustainability, nature, learning, slow living and creating a life of meaning.

When I first came across Pure Green Magazine I was blown away by the beautiful design, attention to detail and the inspiring stories of the creative people they featured. Celine and her team have done an incredible job of tackling important topics in a way that feels accessible and contemporary.

I was thrilled when Celine agreed to be part of this series as she is a wonderful example of inspiring, integrated living. In our interview we dive into the importance of staying connected to nature, the necessity of releasing expectations as a Mother, and the magic of setting tiny goals in business.

Inspiring Women Celine Mackay by Ashley Neese

What does wellness mean to you?
Defining wellness in my mind is a difficult task, because the idea of it is ever-evolving. The biggest thing, in my opinion, is being able to stay connected to your body and deeper intuition, so that you know what you need, and when. But in a condensed, basic I way, I suppose that wellness to me is the ability to provide your body with what it needs in a nourishing and joyful way through balanced nutrition, whole foods, rest, exercise, and meditation. Above all though, the idea of wellness should be unique to each person, comprised of what resonates with you and not simply what you see others doing.

Connecting to nature is very important to you. How do you make time for it?
Lucky for me, I live in a region 2 hours north of Toronto that is comprised of many lakes and forests. I am constantly steeped in nature— I live in a home high on a hill among the trees, with 100 steps down to the lake in which we swim several times daily in the warmer months, and with a lovely view I can enjoy the rest of the year.

The forest is steps from my front door. I am surrounded by nature, and the way I make time for it is simply to notice it. I find that our days are so full and the speed so fast, that slowing down and simply noticing beauty, shafts of sunlight filtering through the trees, glittering blue water or the contrast of the sky against the trees, is an act of meditation and brings me back to myself very quickly. It’s an act of observation and gratitude that can be practiced anywhere even in the heart of the biggest cities—nature is always present in some form.

My most valued trait is my ability to feel wonder and awe, which honestly and truly fosters so much appreciation and gratitude for the world around me—I want my daughter Charlie to inherit this trait as well so I do all that I can to share it with her. Outside of this, I do make it a priority to walk every day, I find it a nice break to sitting at the computer, it’s vital to my health, and it’s a nice way of spending time outdoors with Charlie, my husband Jonathan, and our vizsla Rusty.

Inspiring Women Celine Mackay by Ashley Neese

When did you know you wanted to be a Mom?
It took me a while as I had insecurity about whether or not I was a “nurturing” enough person. My mother was incredibly nurturing and I had set pretty high expectations upon myself to live up to my perception of her as my mother, but once I realized that each of us has our own way of mothering I felt more willing to try.

We got pregnant quickly, but I lost that first baby at 13 weeks and the absolute, enduring pain I felt during that time is what taught me I was ready to be a mother—it ignited a desire in me the likes of which I had never felt. Interestingly, it took a lot longer, nearly 2 years, to get pregnant again, but the waiting did nothing but solidify that becoming a mother was what I wanted (and on a deeper level, that state of mind plays a big role in whether or not we get pregnant at all).

What insights would you like to give to new Mothers?
Release any and all expectation. I, and everyone I know, had some pretty strong preconceived ideas about what it meant to be a mother, and it caused pain and stress to all of us. You’re moving into territory that is unknown to you, and the experiences of others are often irrelevant—comparing yourself to them is the worst possible thing you can do. You have to carve out your own path and comfort zone—if you’re successful in doing that things will go much easier. Charlie is now two and half and I find that every new stage requires the same release of expectation, because too often those ideas are not congruent with reality and it’s hard to reconcile that.

Realize that it’s not going to be all sunshine and rainbows—becoming a mother is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and you should give yourself permission to feel negative as well as positive emotions.

Find some ways to make time for yourself. A quick escape to a yoga class or an hour to just read a book will change the entire structure of how you feel and your ability to adapt to your child’s needs—it isn’t selfish, it’s a way of making sure you are able to give and provide what your child needs.

Lastly, I think in our society we have too much of a tendency to completely stop living life in order to attend to our children’s each and every whim. I went through phases of that only to find that it bred resentment really quickly. Instead, I take Charlie with me absolutely everywhere, and as long as she’s well fed and rested, it always works out. As she gets older she’ll learn a lot too! Oh, and one more thing: DON’T BE TOO HARD ON YOURSELF. If you care enough to worry that you’re screwing up your kid, chances are very good that you definitely aren’t.

Inspiring Women Celine Mackay by Ashley Neese

Share three of the most rewarding and most challenging aspects of Motherhood thus far.

Oh, where do I begin?! Here’s my best shot:

Childbirth was hard, sooooo very hard, but the fact that I went through it taught me that I am stronger than I ever imagined and that I can do anything I put my mind to.

Every time Charlie learns something new, it floors me. I feel awestruck and the love that fills me up is so strong and bright, it’s almost more than I can bear. I’ll catch Charlie sometimes as she plays trying something new, or interacting with her surroundings in a different way, and I just get the biggest smile. It’s amazing.

Kids love you, it’s so clear, but still, the first time Charlie said “I Love You” will be etched on my heart forever.

Ummmm…. childbirth. Hah!

Being exhausted is super hard. I find that the times where either Charlie or I, or both of us, are not well rested things don’t go well, so finding ways to cope with that, to dig deep for patience, is a big challenge. That said, it’s getting easier!!

I have also found that starting a family dramatically changed the dynamic between my husband and I. I feel closer to him than ever before, but kids have a way of magnifying things that aren’t so swell in your relationship so you’re forced to deal with them. We’ve worked though it and are now stronger than ever, but when the honeymoon period of bringing your first baby home is over and life gets real, it can be a tricky landscape to navigate. You are learning not just how to be a new mother, but also a partner in parenting with your spouse, each with your own roles!

Inspiring Women Celine Mackay by Ashley Neese

How do you create balance between your personal and professional life?
Well, the more I think about this, and pursue it, the more I realize that balance is a myth. The way we currently do things in our society it’s truly impossible to be balanced, there are just too many balls in the air.

I’ve come to the conclusion that balance is an illusion; it’s more so a sense of peace that comes to you when you feel in sync with your present reality. When you go with the flow, so to speak, things feel easier and the sensation of balance is more real, but as soon as you struggle against the flow, to resist the elements in your life, even if it’s just in your own head, all semblance of balance disappears in a flash.

To me, finding balance is more about learning how to tip the scales towards one thing or another, whether it’s work, or parenting, or things you love doing, and just making sure that the scales aren’t permanently tipped towards one thing, and when you’re in each element, you commit fully. If you can keep your mind focused on what you’re doing and not yearn for the things you can’t do, in that moment, everything feels easier and balance feels more real. The fatal mistake is to think that balance means literally balancing: keeping all things in equilibrium at all times. It’s just unrealistic.

What advice would you give to women entrepreneurs?
I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that growing a business takes patience. It’s difficult to feel as though I’m making progress when things take so long to manifest, so it’s really key to break down goals into super small, bite-sized chunks to remind yourself that every day is a step in the right direction.

The other thing that’s great about teeny tiny goals is that you can reevaluate where you are in your business on a daily basis, which promotes innovation. I also find that reflecting on what your goals are in the first place is a very effective mini-meditation—it involves going inside of yourself and asking if where you are now aligns with where you want to go, and it requires looking at the big picture. I’m not saying I’m amazing at this, but I have found that when I can be diligent in this practice it makes a big difference.

As well, I find that as women it’s in our nature to try and do everything, and to hold ourselves to a gold-standard. Try and find a way to let go of the desire to control all things, to always do more—I found that the moment I was even moderately successful in doing this I saw immediate results in a positive direction.

Inspiring Women Celine Mackay by Ashley Neese

Have you ever struggled with self care in your life? How did you navigate that?
Yes, and I still do. During my pregnancy I did a lot of things to take care of my body, but I wasn’t doing it for me, I was doing it for my baby. Since becoming a mother I’ve seen what happens when you let yourself fall apart, and we all know it isn’t pretty. It’s impossible for me to be kind, patient, understanding, loving and nurturing when I’m a burnt-out disaster, so I realized the hard way that I need to take good care of myself.

I began with yoga, which immediately made space in my head for more, and have slowly been layering in more and more small things as I feel I can handle it. The nicest thing about this is that taking good care of myself also feels indulgent and helps me feel more satisfied and at peace.

I’m also taking great care in my environment and do my best to keep things tidy and clean. When my house is in order I feel so much better, and while this doesn’t sound like self care, I enjoy a welcoming space so much that in a way it is caring for myself to ensure that my surroundings agree with me.

Name three books that you refer to often.
One that I referred to often in the past but no longer need to is Ecoholic by Adria Vasil. It’s a must-read for anyone looking to remove toxins from their life and live more sustainably. I read a lot of cookbooks, since food is a constant source of inspiration for me. A current favourite is Sarah Britton’s book, My New Roots. And, as cheesy as it seems, I like to go to bed on a positive note, so a silly and heartwarming book I read a few pages from regularly is Neil Pasricha’s Book of Awesome.

Inspiring Women Celine Mackay by Ashley Neese

Best advice you have ever taken.
Always focus on where you want to go.

What impact do you want to have in your community?
My aim through my work with Pure Green is to have a positive influence in regards to living consciously, with respect for the planet and each other. For more about our mission (in my own words) please read this..

What are you most grateful for?
My health, and the health of my family. All too often I meet people whose lives are affected by illness, and I remind myself daily that although things could be better or less stressful, as long as I and the ones I love are still in one piece, it’s all good.


Be sure to follow Pure Green Magazine on Instagram for a daily dose of inspiration!

Photography Emily Blackman (lake shots) and Lauren Kolyn (Celine & Charlie)


  • Merri

    Holy moly!!! Full of amazing wisdom. What a great read. Thank you.

    • ashley

      You’re so welcome Merri! Thrilled you enjoyed Celine’s words. Wishing you a wonderful weekend. xoa

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