In this interview with my longtime friend, Carolyn Kwan, we discuss:
- Dreams as intuitive messengers, but not in the way you might think
- The danger of comparing your own intuitive skills with somebody else’s gifts
- Being intuitive discretely: how flexing your intuitive muscles is possible and beneficial in any job or capacity, not just those that are officially based on offering intuitive services
- The simplest way to start feeling energies and to begin tapping into your intuitive depths
Please note that this interview has been transcribed and is offered in written format below.
Carolyn is a beautifully private person, and one of her young daughters pulled a Madonna/Beyonce during our recording (meaning that she changed outfits three times and paraded in front of the camera throughout our chat!) Although this was super adorable, it also didn’t feel right to broadcast this performance over the internet, especially considering that Carolyn’s own online presence is kept very private and minimal.
I’ve decided to offer this conversation as a transcript only, and you can access it in an eye-friendly PDF format here. Otherwise, you can scroll down to read the full transcript (minus any mentions of costume changes!) below.
(And see how this whole series is based on intuitive choices and making exceptions to my own ‘rules’? I love it!)
Dana: Hi, Carolyn. Welcome, thank you so much for talking to me. I’m very excited to talk about all things intuition with you!
Carolyn: Hey, Dana.
Dana: Carolyn and I go way back. We were just trying to figure out—I think it’s close to 15 years that we’ve known each other.
Dana: And we used to work at the same agency. We worked at a sexual health center on the counseling team. When I first met you, I was so fascinated by your intuition specifically. I was like, “Oh my goodness, Carolyn is so connected! Carolyn is so plugged into this energy!” that, at the time, I didn’t feel I had access to or that I could ever be a part of. And then as things evolved, I guess it’s almost like the tables have turned a little bit.
When I approached you to be a part of this series, you were like, “What do I have to contribute?” Or, “What do I have to say that’s special or unique?” But you are intuitive! I’ve always know that about you. So I’m really excited to have this conversation with you.
Can you tell me, Carolyn, about when you were growing up? Did you ever consider yourself to be intuitive, or did you always feel that you were intuitive?
Carolyn: Well, I didn’t know what that meant, really. I just thought that everything I felt and what I could hear at the time—I could hear things back then when I was a kid—and I just thought everyone could. So I was like, “Oh, well, whatever.” And it wasn’t until I got a little bit older that I realized, “Oh, wait a minute, not everyone hears that?!”
I didn’t hear people talking to me, I just heard certain noises. I couldn’t always decipher what they were, but I could hear things. And then I kind of ignored it for a little bit as I got older. Actually for a while. I ignored it for quite a bit, ’cause I was kind of like, “I don’t know what that is”, right?
And then there was a dream I had. I told you about this before, I think. I had a dream of my great-grandmother, and, I mean, who knows why she was drilling these numbers in my head. She was drilling these numbers in my head, and she’s like, “Don’t forget these numbers.” It just sounded so strange.
When I woke up, I remembered those numbers, and I told my mom, “I don’t know why I dreamt of my great-grandmother, and she told me to remember these numbers.” We didn’t know what the significance of it was, but we wrote the numbers down.
I think the next day, it actually turned out to be the lotto numbers! Who knows why she would tell us that, though? I don’t really think it was to win the lottery, but it actually turned out to be the lotto numbers. And then, maybe a couple of months later, she came to me in another dream and asked me to remember numbers again. When I woke up from that dream, I told my mom, “I don’t know, this just sounds so hokey! Maybe it was just a fluke the last time.” But we were like, “Well, let’s get the lotto. Buy the lottery, just in case it’s real.” And it turns out we forgot to buy the lottery! But they were the winning lotto numbers again!
My great grandma was probably cursing, like “What is your problem?!” Because I wrote them down. That’s how my mom and I were able to confirm this. I wrote them down as soon as I woke up.
So, it wasn’t until after that second dream, when I remembered those numbers and it turned out to be something, I was like, “Wait a second, maybe she’s trying to …” I don’t think it was the lottery itself, but maybe she was trying to tell me something. And that’s when I started to get back to feeling comfortable about what I felt when I saw certain people, or when I heard things, although at that time I didn’t hear anything anymore. But I felt more comfortable about, “You know what? Maybe this is something. Maybe I’m supposed to take something from that.” You know, maybe that dream with my great-grandmother was to get me to start thinking about things like that.
Not necessarily having winning lotto numbers, but to get me to think, “Hey, you should really start believing in your instinct, or just trusting yourself again.” Since then I’ve kind of been like, “Okay.” I’ve still kept it under wraps but if I feel certain things I should trust that, and it’s worked for me so far.
Dana: Yes. I agree that the purpose of those dreams wasn’t necessarily for you to buy the lotto and win the lotto, but it’s almost like your great-grandma was like, “Hey, this is real, and I’m gonna show you something that you can’t just write off, and you can’t discredit or dismiss.” Just to bring you back to that energy, and bring you back to your capacity to actually receive and listen to what you were getting.
Carolyn: Yeah. I definitely think it was to do that, ’cause I ignored my intuition for quite a bit, until those dreams came. After that, I just started trusting myself again.
Dana: Why do you think you ignored it for a while? Like, why do you think you shut that part of yourself down? Did you feel like it was crazy or that you were just making things up, or that you wouldn’t be understood by other people? What were the factors in closing that part off?
Carolyn: I think I felt I wasn’t understood by people and that they kind of brushed it off. And you know, it does sound crazy when I think about it now, because as a child I remember I always heard something, always, and I don’t know why, but it was always something under my bed. And I swear—it’s not that I saw it—but I swear it was a monkey!
Dana: That’s awesome.
Carolyn: And I never saw it, but I could hear it.
I told my mom, and she was like, “No.” Kids are probably thinking they have monsters under the bed or whatever. But I didn’t think there were monsters—it was a monkey!—but it was every night. And it wasn’t making scary noises or anything like that. It was almost kind of comforting. But I couldn’t go to sleep sometimes because it was making so much noise, right? So that’s when I told my mom and my dad, and they were skeptical and dismissive.
I also had a terrifying experience that I still remember. There was a mirror in my room. And my reflection was telling me something when I wasn’t talking. Still, to this day, I actually don’t know if it was a dream or if it was real. But that freaked me out! I told my mom, and they took the mirror out. And ever since then I haven’t had a mirror in my room, ’cause that freaked me out big time. But I remember my mom telling me to ignore what I was hearing, and I was just kind of like, “Okay…”
Dana: Yeah. Put it under wraps. But then once you had those series of dreams with your great-grandmother and you started being more open to it, what sort of messages, insights, or feelings did you start to receive again, once you were open to it?
Carolyn: I could totally feel other people’s auras, or something. I could feel … people… Even if I hadn’t met them, or if I had just met them, let’s say, I could feel them. I could feel their energy. I got a good sense of what people were like. I’ve heard people say, you know, “Maybe you’re judging them.” The thing is that I wasn’t judging them, but I could feel the energy that they were exuding. So I’m not sure if that was their aura or what. And sometimes, sometimes I could … it’s weird, because it’s not that I could necessarily see it, but I could feel the color of them.
Once I started trusting in what I could feel from others, then I started to embrace it more. I just started believing and trusting in my instinct. After that, it started growing into other aspects.
Dana: Well, I remember when I first met you, you were just so connected to that realm of sensing and feeling and knowing. And I remember even knowing, ’cause we used to talk about our cycles a lot. Our menstrual cycles, a lot. And I still love that!
Carolyn: “Ode to Bloating”.
Dana: Haha, yes! The “Ode to Bloating”. But I remember, you know, some months you would be like, “I’m ovulating now, and it’s from my right ovary.” And I was like, “How does she do that?! How does she know that?! This woman is magical!! How is that even possible?” Right?
At the time, I had dismissed all of the ways I was also being intuitive. I was writing it off like, “Oh, that doesn’t count.” Or, “That doesn’t qualify as ‘real’ intuition.” I’d see someone like you who was able to know which ovary you were ovulating from, and I’d be like, “But I don’t know which of my ovaries is ovulating!” And because I had classified you as an intuitive person, anything that you had or did that I didn’t have or wasn’t doing, I would exclude myself from the category of ‘Being Intuitive’. I felt that I wasn’t as perceptive as you, or that I couldn’t see-feel people’s aura colors like you could.
I was disqualifying myself, like, “Oh, I must not be intuitive if I can’t do this, or if it’s not showing up for me in this way.” But now I realize, not only did I become intuitive, I was always intuitive! It was just showing up for me in ways that I didn’t expect, or in ways that weren’t the ways it was showing up for other people, like you.
Do you ever feel now, Carolyn, like you’re not like intuitive enough, or mystical enough, or profound enough? Do you ever find yourself comparing your own intuition to other people’s intuition?
Carolyn: Well, I don’t usually compare myself to other people, but compared to you, I’d be like, “Wow, I’m not that intuitive, haha!” But I don’t usually.
Unless, sometimes when I have a really strong feeling coming from somebody, and I feel like I need to say something … but I don’t know if they’re receptive to that, that’s when I get a little bit nervous about it, like, “Should I say something?” Because if they’re not receptive to intuition like that … I’ve had a couple times in the past where I get huge, strong feelings from somebody, and I feel like I need to say something. One time, I did say something. And it turned out to be right. Like, she went home and was able to prevent something from happening.
She was so grateful, right? And I was kind of like, “Oh, wow …” I didn’t realize how intuitive I really was. I mean, I knew I could feel people, but I didn’t realize I could pinpoint specific things like that, which is what happened. I could usually feel a general sense of somebody or an event. But in this particular occasion it was very specific, and I felt the urge to tell her this. I said, “I don’t know what you should do with this, but I feel like I need to tell you.” And luckily she was okay with it, even though she said she felt a little nervous when I was telling her.
But she did check it out when she got home, and it turned out to be true what I was saying. And she was able to prevent something from happening, which was good.
Dana: I just have to say this: even with you relaying that story, I’m like, “Wait a sec: I don’t get super detailed precognitions like that!” Haha! I don’t get this sudden urge to say to someone out of the blue, “I need to tell you something very specific that has the power to possibly change or prevent something from happening in the future.” I don’t get that. That’s so cool!
Carolyn: But I don’t get that all the time. It’s only happened a few times. And I think that’s what’s so great, is that everyone gets intuition in different ways, right? Gets their message, or their feelings, in different ways. We just need to trust however it shows up for us. Like, you get it in a totally different way, and I can’t tap into it that way, right? But we all just need to trust our own instincts.
When I say ‘instincts’, I always feel like they’re actually messages. I always feel like it’s a push or a message from my guide or something like that. So I’m always like, “Okay, I better listen to that.” ‘Cause it’s not something I’m making up, right? Like why would this come up? It’s just coming out of the blue, so I better listen to this. I do take it seriously, especially now, and especially if I get those feelings to say something. I will.
Sometimes it freaks certain people out, though, I guess. So I kinda keep that under wraps a little bit when I’m with them. I’m be like, “Okay, I’ll just tone that down a little bit.”
Dana: Well you bring up a really interesting point with that: How we show up as intuitive, or how we present ourselves as intuitive, that’s different. You know, it’s not this uniform, “I am mystical Carolyn,” or, “I am mystical Dana.” I find, in my own experience, it really depends on who I’m engaging with. I can intuitively sense whether this is gonna cross the crazy line for somebody, or whether they’ll be open to it. It’s a delicate balance and this ongoing dance to honor my intuition, but I also don’t have to wave the intuitive flag wherever I go. And it’s not like waving the flag makes me more intuitive than instances when I’m like, “I’m not even going to mention anything about it.”
Carolyn: Yeah, exactly.
Dana: Can you talk a little bit about back when we worked at the sexual health center? Because our roles, we were counseling people who came in to the center. Can you speak to how your intuition was able to help you be a better counselor, or how it helped you to fill that role?
Carolyn: I could feel people, and because of that, I could definitely know what to say to them, or how to say it. How much of it to say. I knew if I could be jokey with this person and have the session be lighthearted. Or if they were really serious, and I just better keep it to the facts. That actually helped me a lot because, you know, we saw so many different kinds of people. I mean, although most of them came in there for the same main reason … There were so many different people of different backgrounds with their own different reasons.
And I could feel them immediately, because it was just us in the room, right? Like the counselor and the client. It was just us two in the room, I could feel them immediately. Not even necessarily in the room, too. Like when I saw their intake form, I could really get a sense usually of what that person needed from me. And how I could cater the session. You know how we had to talk in the beginning?
Carolyn: Introducing ourselves and what the agency did—that kind of stuff. I always said it, but sometimes I cut it short or expanded on it a little bit more, depending on the feeling I was getting from that person. Even though that person didn’t say anything, you could immediately sense it when it was just you and that other person in the room. I could feel if this person was guarded, let’s say. Or, by their eyes, how much they needed me. I could feel that, just by looking at their body language. And so that’s how it helped me. And I think that’s why I felt that I was close to everyone, too.
Dana: You were, and you are an amazing counselor and resource for people to be able to connect with. And I remember at the time, because I was applying to cover a maternity leave position, and it was between me and another woman, and the other woman had way more official credentials than I did. You know, she was in the social work program; she had done a practicum already.
I remember thinking, “I’m not gonna get this position, because I don’t have the thing on paper that I need to have in order to be able to do this.” But I ended up getting the position, and I remember the main feedback was that anybody could learn the information, the content, and what to say to someone else. But you can’t teach the people skills so much. You can’t teach the warmth, the resonance, and the rapport that you need to be able to build in that kind of a situation.
Carolyn: Yeah. It’s so true.
Dana: Another thing I wanted to talk with you about was this idea… A lot of people are wanting to become intuitive in a professional way or to be a light worker for a living. And you and I know, obviously, that intuition doesn’t have to be a job title. It doesn’t have to be your official position—it can come through regardless of what your job title is, or what you’re actually doing for work.
But for people who are beginning to understand themselves as intuitive, or who want to show up more as intuitive, do you have any reassurance that you can offer them—that it’s okay to be intuitive in your own way, or wherever you are right now?
Carolyn: Well that’s the thing, right? We all receive these feelings differently. I think that it starts off with just believing in yourself and in the feelings you have.
This is a bad example but, you know how sometimes … where you’re walking somewhere, like to class at university or wherever. Or on the street downtown. And sometimes, you might get a weird feeling that somebody’s watching you, or somebody’s behind you, even though you don’t see them. You haven’t turned around to look, or heard anything, but you feel like something’s off. It’s that kind of feeling- I think we need to trust that! To trust and believe in what we feel! Not that there’s any kind of meaning in it necessarily. You might not know the actual meaning from that. Sort of like my lotto ticket dream: it’s not to win the lottery, right? It’s to get my attention. And I think it’s like most dreams actually, too.
It’s not usually about the specific thing that you dreamt about: there’s a bigger meaning behind it usually. And we may not know the meaning behind what we’re feeling about somebody or something now. It’s just to get our attention for something. So keep that in mind, and just keep plugging along in your day. But trust in those little messages that you get, or feelings that you get throughout the day, and eventually it will become clear, you know?
And, I mean, maybe it won’t become clear in a year’s time. I don’t know, who knows? But it’s to get your attention for something. Or maybe it’s just to get your attention, period. Like, “Hello! Why don’t you listen to me? Why aren’t you listening to your own instincts?”
Dana: Yeah. And I think it’s really reassuring to know, too, that nobody’s being asked to jump out of the gate and be this world famous intuitive immediately. Right? That you can be intuitive as a librarian, as a mother. You can be intuitive no matter who you are, or where you are, and what you’re doing right now. You already have those feelings and those sensations and instincts coming through! And you can start where you’re at, and just acknowledge those feelings as they come through. Be aware of them. That is intuition already.
Carolyn: Well, even mothers and fathers—when they get a sense that there’s something not right with their child or whatever. That’s intuition right there, right? How come you feel that something’s not right? Because you’re intuitive! We all have those times. We all have these little superpowers, but we just- I think a lot of people brush it off as just, “Oh, coincidence, or, “Oh, whatever.” It can feel tough to trust in that, right?
Dana: For sure. So, for the people who are starting on their own intuitive journey, are there specific practices that you do or that you can recommenced to build up their intuitive muscles a little bit more?
Carolyn: Well, I’ll give you what I do … And then see. Because everyone’s different, right? When I feel the most off of somebody, it’s when I’m truly, truly listening to that person, and not distracted with somebody or something else. When I’m fully engaged with that person, and in what they’re saying, I feel a lot. But when I’m distracted… Let’s say I’m going out for lunch with somebody, and I’m distracted with what’s going on in the restaurant, distracted with kids, or whatever, then I’m not fully there. And I don’t usually feel.
But it’s when I’m really and truly listening to that person, and really tapping into their energy—I think you will feel a lot, actually. ‘Cause I feel a whole lot of stuff! I think everybody feels that, don’t they? Like when you are really concentrated and really focused on somebody, doesn’t everybody feel that? Tuned in?
When you’re really focused, and the feeling that you get sometimes; people feel goosebumps, let’s say, right? Or they feel emotional after talking to you, or whatever. I think those are just signs of really tapping into energy! That’s the only thing I can think of to really build on those intuitive muscles: is really listening, like really listening, hearing them out, and paying attention to what you’re feeling as a result of listening to them. And not getting your stuff in the way. Not having your own stuff distracting you so that you’re not listening to them. When you’re really involved in and invested in what they’re saying, then I think that you can sense their energy.
Also: not being afraid to ask questions that you probably won’t get answers for. I think that’s important, too. It’s okay to ask those questions. “I don’t know why I feel this”, and “I don’t have the answer to that”.
Dana: Yeah, yeah! I totally agree with you. The presence part is huge. Being fully present with someone else. I think that everybody does receive input from that person they’re being present with, but how they process that data, or how they make sense of or interpret that energy, would be different for everybody.
Dana: So maybe some people would really feel it, and for some people it might bring through visions or knowing, or they might hear words or phrases, something like that. But that energy is there, regardless, and you choosing to be present enables you have access to that energy, right?
Dana: Well, thank you! Thank you for everything you’ve shared. I just want to honor you for coming on this call, even though you weren’t sure what we would talk about, or what you could contribute, or whether your kids would be distracting you or not. I want to thank you for showing up anyway!
Carolyn: Thanks so much, Dana. This was fun!
Carolyn Kwan is a full-time mother of four, as well as an immensely creative and deeply compassionate woman. She first realized that the unseen, energetic realms were real when her great grandmother came to her in not just one, but two separate dreams with independent winning lottery ticket numbers!
Carolyn worked as a counselor at a feminist sexual health centre for many years before choosing to start a family of her own, and she is now dedicated to not only honouring her own intuition and self but also raising children who are emotionally intelligent, inquisitive, sensitive, and inclusive beings.
Carolyn is truly intuition in action—she lives and breathes the act of trusting her gut and making aligned decisions whenever possible, to the point where her intuitive skills are nearly invisible to her sometimes! I find Carolyn’s perspective to be particularly down-to-earth and relatable, and it’s such an honour to feature her voice in this series. She doesn’t have a website, and her social media accounts are private, but if you have any feedback you’d like me to pass on to Carolyn, please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.