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On the Coast Magazine

Uncommon Faith

03/02/2015 12:42PM ● Published by Melanie Teague

Felicia McQuaid

Each of us has a life story, a journey that has brought us to the present moment. For many of us, sharing our stories can inspire others to examine their lives from a different viewpoint, a viewpoint that shows how each experience was purposeful and meant to move us toward the very reason we came to this life, our divine purpose. Such is the foundation of Felicia McQuaid’s debut book, “Uncommon Faith: The Journey from Difficulty to Divine Purpose.” Or, as she calls it, “a workbook,” interactive to the core with an overarching message to its readers: surrender to self-investigation through the lens of faith. 

“My biggest hope is that this inspires people to do what they’re meant to do in their life,” says McQuaid, owner of THE Healing Clinic in downtown Fort Walton Beach. “With faith, all things are possible.”

Yet this mission statement wasn’t developed overnight. Far from it. McQuaid describes her past as traumatic and tumultuous. “My mind was mostly centered on survival.” She had taken on the burdens of a broken home before she even hit first grade, forced to raise her younger brother and sister. She’d dealt with family abuse and alcoholism, and, through moves and foster assignments, never found a true space to call her own. She’d become estranged by the age of 16, working two jobs in high school just to scrape by. When she graduated from high school, there were no family get-togethers or well-wishes. No one even bothered to show up.

 The path to healing started in 2000 when McQuaid’s health was at an all-time low. “I was in full depression, full pain in my body, debilitating pain that I couldn’t find an answer for through regular care,” she says. She searched through several alternative methods. Each time one solution jumped to the forefront. “Everywhere I went, it was ‘Yoga this, yoga that ... Have you tried yoga?’ Yoga was my first official step on a path of healing.”

 It was through Laura Tyree, the owner of Dragonfly Yoga, that McQuaid was able to hit the ground running. “I started yoga in a gym, was directed to Laura, and in her second class she came up to me and mentioned teacher training. And my initial response was ‘No.’At the time I was praying, ‘Get me out of this life. I have to figure something out.’ Two days later I called her back and said, ‘I always say no. I’m going to say yes.’” That fateful decision would shape her life.

 Four years later she was on her way to becoming a state-renowned master of Reiki, a spiritual practice of transferring universal energy that McQuaid calls “a pivotal, pivotal gift that came into my life and helped me heal.” As McQuaid began to find her passion, her personal and professional life soared.

 She and her husband, Kevin, together for nearly 20 years, welcomed son Jonah (12 years old) first into the world and then daughter Rachel (8). Then in 2012, THE Healing Clinic’s final transformation from a tiny room in what’s now the welcome desk at Dragonfly Yoga — “I had enough room for a table, a radio and a wall,” McQuaid says, laughing at the absurdity as she mimed the difficulty of moving around a massage table taking up nearly the entire space — to her current vibrant digs housing two spacious massage rooms.

That was the first step in fulfilling her professional goals. Yet, even as she transformed countless lives on the Emerald Coast, she yearned for a larger footprint. 

The timing couldn’t have been worse to write a book. With two kids to raise, a business to run, yoga classes to teach at Dragonfly, Reiki training...McQuaid’s days were jam-packed. 

Yet, on July 7, 2014, after experiencing the catharsis of scribbling down a few ideas, she was all in. “I had no idea where I going to find time to write this book. It was like a leap of faith to start it and then say, ‘OK, how am I going to do this?’ ”

It first started with a lot of 4 a.m. wake-up calls. Sundays would soon become dedicated to 4-to-6-hour writing sessions on the back deck of her house. “As with everything I do, my family was just so supportive,” says McQuaid, laughing about the family suffering through “an awful Thanksgiving meal” at a restaurant due to her workload.

When she wasn’t at home writing, she made sure to have a notebook within arm’s reach.
“I always had a notebook with me, anything to scribble a note and expand on later when I had time,” she says. And she found inspiration in the most unlikely of places. “The ‘Apply the Lessons’ came because I was sitting at a horse show in Baker all day freezing with nothing else to do with a book in my hand,” McQuaid says of the meditation bookend to each chapter. “Suddenly it was like, Inspiration!”

And that’s just what she hopes to do through her writing: Inspire. “It’s simultaneously one of the most rewarding and most difficult things I’ve done so far,” she says. “It has just exceeded and surpassed everything I could have imagined. I didn’t want to just put out a good book. I wanted to put out something really excellent that really changed people.” Purchase Felicia's book at amazon.com. 

The muse behind the book, country star and 30A resident Joanna Cotten, who produced two CDs that will accompany McQuaid’s debut book.


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