It’s day two of no tv and thus far no heads have exploded (that I’m aware of). Tonight instead of our usual Thursday night practice of watching American Ninja Warrior together after dinner– we all played a game together. (Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE that show– and the ritual of watching it together is a thing in and of itself). However, changing a habit collectively, as a family, has a surprising way of opening doors that we didn’t necessarily know had been closed.
Tonight we sat and laughed together. We reminded ourselves there are settings other than “default” for our family. We remembered that we can be together in our home with no special occasion without having a screen as mediator. These may not seem like radical realizations– but they are gentle reminders. Choosing to step back from my relationship with the television has offered my family the option to do the same thing. I have no expectations of my teenagers deciding that it’s a really cool idea to ditch tv for thirty days and joining me for this little adventure. However, I do know that my kids are paying attention to me. I am their barometer. They test the waters only when I have fully traversed them.
My husband expressed a sentiment to me yesterday along the lines of “we don’t need to worry about changing the kids’ behavior– we just need to focus on our own.” Amen to that. I will continue to focus on my conscious choices and remind myself that each one I make is being monitored by the brilliant young humans who are in my care. They are paying attention even when they pretend not to be. And at the end of the day it’s really nice to just sit and laugh with them.
Today is the first of thirty days of no television for me. I realize this may not seem like a radical proposition to everyone– but television has been my drug of choice for the last several months– as I have slowly weaned myself off of all of my other creature comforts and addictions (namely sugar and caffeine). It’s my go to in the evenings at the end of a long day. It’s a lulling, numbing lullaby I’ve been unconsciously singing to myself every night, believing I deserved it for my feats of expansion.
I’m doing my best to be kind to myself in this process and skip the harsh judgement I often like to throw in my own direction. I grew up suckling at the breasts of sugar and television. Both of them gave me comfort when I needed it. They rewarded me as a child and created a framework for spending time with my family. They helped me process my parents’ divorce at the age of fifteen. Television became a mediator between myself and my father– something we shared when everything else in our two worlds was disparate.
For those reasons I have romanticized it. I have allowed it a space in my life that I don’t question. (Until a few days ago when someone challenged me to step out into the world without my security blanket for thirty days). My reaction to the abstract concept of giving up t.v. was positive– “good call,” I believe were my exact words towards the person who was doing it. And then he challenged me to step up as well…
The prospect induced white-knuckled fear. I was immediately petrified. My massive reaction was the clear indication that something was in need of a shift. It’s time to shine a bright shiny light on that terror at giving up something which is clearly not serving me.
I don’t demonize t.v. and I don’t ultimately believe it is the root of any of my problems. It is my engagement with it that needs consideration. My higher self is asking the little girl inside me who finds numbing out with t.v. incredibly comforting to trust that she is safe. The Mandy I am becoming has a lot to get done. (And the little girl inside of me is overwhelmed by the magnitude of it all.) But sometimes little girls just need a little guidance and some kind words. And I can give both of those things to mine.
So for the next 30 days– I’ve unplugged my television. I’ll be spending my evenings in productive pursuits of some kind or another. I’ll keep you posted on my progress– and please if your reaction to actually undertaking this is white-knuckled fear– feel free to join me!! There’s nothing I love more than a thirty day challenge other than sharing that challenge with others!
Among the many realizations I’ve had about myself of late are these two things: 1.) Despite my belief that I am an incredibly open person, I have some pretty massive, fortified walls up around me. And 2.) I have a really hard time trusting women. These two realizations both hit me like a ton of bricks this past weekend while I sat in a healing ceremony with a group of women.
Since I was little girl I’ve always considered myself “one of the boys.” I was the girl who proudly beat all the boys in arm wrestling in 7th grade. As a child I was constantly competing with my brother and my father. I unlocked the roots of that this weekend– but delving into that is for another day. My point here is, true female friendship for me is rare. It is a very select number of women who I’ve actually allowed myself to be personally vulnerable with– and one of them is moving across the country tomorrow.
She found me early in my Portland days– in the first year of opening my studio. She was a fellow Pilates instructor, energy healer, mother– the list of things we had in common was never-ending. I still remember the first moment her eyes met mine as she walked through the door of my sweet little studio. There was an instant recognition. My soul took in a huge breath, relieved, and said “there you are!”
We tumbled quickly into a friendship love affair, each of us taken with the other. She began working out of my Pilates studio teaching and doing energy work. She stepped up and took care of me and my business when I found myself in the midst of a medical emergency and unable to work. We were like twins, separated at birth and at long last reunited. I felt from her a recognition and an understanding that I hadn’t ever really had in my life. She spoke the language that I didn’t realize existed outside the walls of my head. She helped me to trust myself and expand in directions that I’d been scared to go before.
We continued growing alongside one another as colleagues and friends for several years. I expanded my business into a new location and plummeted into single motherhood as my first marriage dissolved. Things began to feel a bit sticky and yucky between us as our similarities diverged but we continued to individually expand. My new studio ultimately didn’t work for her. I still remember the conversation we had on the phone, I was sitting in my backyard, both of us feeling into the yuck between us– trying to find clarity in it. I burst into tears as it dawned on us that we were no longer meant to be housed under the same roof. We cleared the energy between us as tenderly and graciously as we could. We acknowledged the grief along with the feeling of new-found freedom.
The years that followed were a lengthening separation– the tender love of smothered-sisterhood-in-need-of-space between us. Occasionally we’d run into each other on the street– always acknowledging the massive love we had for each other. Once we randomly saw each other at the coast. She met my now husband in that isolated moment. As we moved away from her and her family I struggled to articulate to him the massiveness of who this woman was to me for fear of opening old wounds in myself that hadn’t fully healed.
Gradually we moved into a more comfortable place with each other with the passage of time. A few months ago she reached out to me about doing an energy work trade. I felt an immediate yes– and then we struggled to find the time. Both sessions happened perfectly, momentously and completed a cycle that began that moment my soul took her in for the first time in this lifetime.
Ours is a friendship that is beyond precious. It is rare to find someone who is able to hold a deep healing space for you while simultaneously allowing herself to be vulnerable– and who allows you to do the same. It is even more exceptional to find someone willing and able to consciously dive into lifetimes of karma with you and come out the other side lighter and brighter and full of love for each other.
Discovering that she was moving away from our perfectly isolated bubble shocked me. Though it has been years and years since she has been a regular part of my daily existence, I took her proximity for granted. I made an assumption, as we humans often do, that she would remain in my peripheral orbit– touching in every so often, maintaining our carefully established rhythm. As I process through the fact that my friend is leaving, I am floored by her courage to pick up and move on from the beautiful life she has created. She reminds me with her graceful departure just how mundane and meaningless time and space are in the grand scheme of things.
There are some connections that surpass the stories that our human minds like to tell about them. They defy definition or categorization. She will forever remain in my orbit, my treasured karmic sister. And while I do grieve her departure, I also innately understand that no matter the time or space between us, WE will always feel like home.
Yesterday morning I had a hard time pulling myself out of bed. Harder than most Tuesday mornings. I felt heavy. My legs seemed to teeter a bit underneath me as I moved through my early Tuesday morning motions– trying to wake my sleeping beast.
Tuesday and Thursday mornings are a unique experience for me. I wake up, roll out of bed, throw on a hoodie and shoes and head to the studio to teach a 6:15am Pilates Equipment Class. Early mornings are not my best time. I am in every sense of the word a night owl. Nights are when I shine. My creative juices flow, I come alive. Mornings tend to want some space and time. It takes a bit for my lights to warm up and turn on. I am not my most capable self. That’s probably why it took me until I was at the studio and trying to teach that I realized I was actually very dizzy.
I get lightheaded on a fairly regular basis. I am familiar with standing up and needing to take a moment to get my bearings. That was not this. My bearings were nowhere to be found. The world was spinning around me– or I was spinning within the world. Either way– the effect was discombobulating and disconcerting. I drove home and immediately made myself food, thinking perhaps that was the root of my spinning.
I headed back to work to see my next client at 9am– presuming that this dizzy thing was going to fade and I’d be back on track.
About five minutes into my session with my incredibly generous and understanding physical therapist client, I texted my next client to cancel our session and cancelled the rest of my day. A dizzy Mandy has a hard time being a helpful Mandy. It’s hard to turn your focus outward when something in your brain is telling you everything outside of you is spinning.
So why exactly was my world spinning?
I believe we have a “system overload” situation here. I am moving through a rapidly shifting inner landscape, doing my best to trust myself as I move forward. But the truth of the matter is– I don’t really have a clue what I’m moving forward towards. I am being asked to navigate a space for myself that isn’t defined by any of the rules I’ve learned to play by thus far. And though I’ve finally moved past just the intellectual grasp on this expansion and into an energetic understanding of it– there are massive parts of me (my brain for one) that are incredibly confused and would LIKE AN END GOAL, PLEASE.
I’ve plunged into the depths of me only to find that there is nothing concrete to grab onto– and my edges are RAPIDLY EXPANDING. I suppose a little dizziness is to be expected. I am in the midst of toppling my previously erected structures of care-taking and tending to others first. I am being asked (by my higher self) to create a time and structure for MYSELF to re-frame my writing practice, not for anyone other than ME. And apparently my soul is really quite serious about it. Dizzyingly serious.
“No, you will not be seeing clients today– you will be turning inwards and REFLECTING, dammit.” (voice of my soul)
I am responding the best way I know how to respond. I am looking inward. (Great idea soul, It’s not spinning in here). I am settling into myself– and reminding myself to connect to the ground and all the energy that flows up and out of it. I am asking for and receiving help from my friends and family as best as I am able. I am looking out on the vast, mysterious undiscovered landscape of expansion that lies in front of me and reminding myself that change is the ONLY CONSTANT.
My dizziness is asking me to reorient myself. It’s turning my up side down and my down side up– or making everything seem like a sideways venture. As I reorient myself to my new reality I realize that I have been preparing for this expansion process for years. I have slowly been amassing the support structures necessary for myself to soften into when the time came. And when I remember to soften into those structures, to feel my feet on the ground and acknowledge the energy that flows through me from the earth, I feel less sideways.
I woke up this morning with the world feeling much more stable– because my belief and trust in myself had grown deeper roots. It is true that my path forward is unknown, but there is one thing that I am certain of. I am ready to be seen. I am no longer comfortable hiding. I am stepping out from behind the curtain in full regalia ready for what awaits me.
There are so many pieces of my complex puzzle that are coming together at the moment. So many parts of my multi-faceted transformation process are bubbling up to the surface and begging for acknowledgement. I find it hard to know where this story begins.
For years I have danced around the same places– intellectually understanding things that energetically I was not able to fully inhabit. I have tried again and again to prioritize myself and somehow though I’ve continued to move forward, I have been unable to gain the traction to maintain my own momentum. It’s like I’ve been dipping my toes into a vast body of water, unable to fully submerge myself for fear of what lies beneath the surface. Only just now do I begin to understand that what lies in those watery depths is ME.
I’ve spent years honing my intuitive skills and trusting myself to help facilitate other people in their process of transformation. Yet I’ve continuously sold myself short on my own behalf. I have created structures and even a business centered around healing but have failed until very recently to access my own resources. I have slowly and steadily over the last eleven years built a thriving business, raised two phenomenal human beings, and managed to continue moving forward in my own healing process. Yet when it comes to acknowledging my own successes, I hit up against a massive brick wall. So where’s the love, Mandy Cregan?
It’s coming at me from all directions. If I take a moment and sit in mediation I can literally feel love surrounding and supporting me from all sides. I sit with love coming at me from all directions and I realize that all of it is a reflection. The love I receive from my children, my husband, my clients and my friends is a direct reflection of the love that shines so brightly and brilliantly from my own heart. I am surrounded by love because I give SO MUCH LOVE.
I think I FINALLY get this. On a cellular level.
I deserve love because I AM love.
Just like the rest of the perfectly imperfect human beings occupying this planet of ours.
WE ARE LOVE.
I cannot possibly expand without believing I am capable and deserving of expansion. Transformation is complicated. Healing can be messy. There’s no simple path and no one way to approach it. But at the center of it all is my need for MY love. And as hard and scary as it may be, I am no longer just dipping my toes in the water.
I’m plunging into the depths of ME head first. And though I may not LIKE everything I find. I will LOVE every single piece of it.
For several years now– too many to count, although it wouldn’t be hard to do, I’ve been silently beating up on myself for not writing. I’ve moved forward in fits and spurts, but they have mostly gone unacknowledged by myself– and somehow I have managed to continue to give myself the consistent message: YOU ARE NOT DOING ENOUGH.
It hasn’t been an easy message to stomach, nor has it been particularly helpful in allowing me to move forward.
In the last week or so I’ve been revisiting my drafts folder in my different blogs and realizing I’ve written a lot more than I’ve given myself credit for– I just haven’t necessarily always PUBLISHED. Perusing back over my unpublished words I find myself wondering WHY I’ve taken so many steps only to stop before completion– and then upon further reflection, I acknowledge a pattern of mine.
I’m the lady who sorts the laundry and washes the laundry and drys the laundry and SOMETIMES evens folds the laundry (though usually that’s my husband). BUT, even if I do get to that critical folding stage, the process breaks down before the putting away stage. Inevitably there is breakdown in my process somewhere right before completion– which leaves me feeling unaccomplished and leads me to some very unfriendly and incredibly unproductive negative self-talk.
WHY do I allow my my process to break down? Why don’t I allow myself that critical final step and the feeling of accomplishment? Who does it serve to stop myself short of the completion of a task?
I end up carrying around the weight of whatever task it is that I haven’t accomplished for days upon weeks and chastising myself (consciously or unconsciously) for not fulfilling my responsibility.
Even now as I sit and write this I find myself wishing with all of my being for a distraction. As I edge closer and closer to the epicenter of my NEED for distraction I am BEGGING for a reason to get up and walk away from this computer– or even just click on another tab. Isn’t there a social media account that needs checking? Surely SOMEONE needs me to weigh in on SOMETHING inane and time-consuming…
Instead, I’m going to ask myself to settle into the bewildered lack of ease I feel when I think about finding the root of my need for distraction. And as I do so my cat is literally climbing onto my lap and blocking the computer screen– as if she’s saying, “are you sure you’re ready for this?”
To her (and myself) I say: “As I’ll ever be.”
And just like that– the answer comes.
I am continuously hijacking my own process for something or someone else. As this realization dawns on me I am reflecting back to something I said to a client in an energy session YESTERDAY.
This is about PUTTING YOURSELF FIRST.
There are all kinds of excuses we give ourselves for not doing that– but at this point I’m going to call bullshit on all of mine.
There is no one else in the world who needs me more than I do. I am no longer a mother to young children. I am no longer running a brand new business that requires all of my time and attention at all hours of the day. And bullshit to all of the other justifications that I might feel tempted to create just to make myself feel better.
I am a mother of two nearly grown children who are incredibly independent and capable. I own a well-established business that runs like a well-oiled machine regardless of my presence. And I am married to a man who has my back like no other human being has EVER. NOW is MY time.
There are NO MORE EXCUSES for me to hold back from being the biggest, baddest ME that I can possibly be.
Today is the day that I write. And the next day, and the one after that, and the one after that. Every day is a writing day– because this is my clearest, truest form of expression. There is no one and nothing I’m hiding from any longer. I have nothing to fear in forming words and putting them out into the world. As I allow words to flow from me I ease my burden. Each time I press publish my load is lightened, my wings spread a bit further. Sharing my story is a MASSIVE part of my process of being a human in this world.
And I deserve to honor every single part of that process.
In just 18 short days I will be married. That’s not a word I necessarily thought I’d ever use to refer to myself again. I’ve taken the ride on marriage train once before. My partner has also had his own previous experience with said train. Neither of us felt particularly motivated to jump back on […]
I have a confession to make. I haven’t been consciously withholding this information– but just recently uncovered it somewhere in the depths of my cells.
I have spent years being ANGRY. Horribly, Defiantly, ANGRY.
What I have realized is this anger (that I have managed bury to the depths of my being) has been holding me hostage from moving forward and becoming the biggest, baddest ME I can possibly be.
FLASHBACK 25 YEARS:
My parents announced their divorce to me when I was fifteen. I was bewildered. My foundation began to crumble.
While intuitively I understood the cracks had been there for years, and intellectually I knew it was not my fault– the carefully crafted story of my family began to disintegrate. It was then that I began to assume an unreasonable amount of responsibility for things that were beyond my control. It was then that my anger at myself began to take root.
I had a great childhood– one that I easily romanticize. I was raised with immense love and support by two incredible human beings. I grew up feeling certain of myself and my abilities. I don’t have any horror stories or blaring reasons for deeply rooted psychological trauma. But that division down the middle of my foundation at the age of fifteen struck me deeply. And with it an came an immense amount of shame and self-blame which I am just beginning to acknowledge.
My self-critical voice formed at the age of 15 out of necessity for the brave face that I donned. I have been living with that same critical voice (and brave face) ever since without realizing where they came from. My angry, fifteen year old critic has been tough on me for years and her voice has carried a lot of weight.
Yesterday, with the help of my healer, I was able to both listen and talk to my fifteen year old self. What she told me was that she wanted to make herself as small as possible, she didn’t want to bother anyone or for anyone to think something was her fault, and what she needed from me was support and a context for understanding herself.
I told her first that she was beautiful and that it was okay for her to give her love to the world and to herself. I let her know that the things that she perceived were real– and that she was bigger than she could possibly imagine. I also told her that making herself small was impossible– so she should stop trying. And that she deserved to take up as much space as she possibly could. (and the world deserved it too).
I have never felt a more profound gratitude than the gratitude my fifteen year old felt for my forty year old yesterday. And that gratitude is like a circle that I get to continuously experience. I’ve also never felt a more profound empathy for another human being than the empathy my forty year old felt for my fifteen year old. I no longer fear the critical voice of my younger self. My anger is gone. It has been replaced with love.
I feel my timidity and the power behind my fear. I feel my desire to please the whole world coupled with the wisdom that I can’t possibly do that. The weight has been lifted from my shoulders and I have got MY OWN back like no one else has ever had it. (And that seems appropriate). I understand in the depths of my cells a vibration of gratitude the likes of which I have never experienced– and it is for MYSELF. I am beautiful, self-reliant and powerful beyond anything I could possibly imagine. And I’m finally beginning to understand at my foundation how to to love myself first.
I seem to be pushing up against my edges at the moment. My brain feels as if it’s spread across three separate continents and my body feels as if I just ran a marathon every day for the last week, on my hands. On top of that I flew to Las Vegas last night with my son for a basketball tournament leaving behind my amazing and slightly bewildered partner to handle the kitchen sink full of dirty dishes, our unmade bed, piles of dirty laundry and a ten year old little girl. (He’s racking up the karma points as we speak). I am seven days away from the opening of my dance company’s latest show, In My Own Space, and you could say I’m dealing with a bit of stress.
I began the process of making this piece as a practicality more than anything else. POV Dance hit a couple of walls in the last year. We failed to secure a space we were hoping to make a dance in, and therefore we didn’t receive funding. But despite those walls, I desperately wanted to be engaged in a creative process. Enter: Body Mechanics, my Pilates studio. It was already paid for, I didn’t need anyone’s permission, and it’s MY SPACE. What could be easier?
From the outset of this process I found myself stumbling in places where usually I feel solid. My co-director was upfront about the fact that he couldn’t be very involved, so I found myself having to navigate roles that I was unaccustomed to handling, he’s the yang to my creative yin. I had a hard time envisioning the overall structure of the piece– which is something that usually comes to me very clearly when I enter a new building. Being so intertwined with the studio made it difficult for me to find time to connect to it in envisioning the piece. (It’s hard to imagine a dance when you’ve got ten other things crying out for your attention the moment you enter a space). I also found myself having a harder time than usual creating movement as rehearsals began.
There’s an anonymity that dancing in a space separate from yourself affords you. It’s what I’ve always done– and up until this process I hadn’t realized that anonymity equaled freedom. Being in my own space in the beginning made me feel like I was under scrutiny simply because I was a known quantity within the studio. Usually I’m climbing over ledges and bouncing off of walls in spaces where no one knows anything about me beyond the spectacle I’m creating. Creating a spectacle of yourself when people know who you are and have certain expectations of you is a very different thing. It was challenging for me to take ownership of the space as a dancer because I was so worried about the experience that clients were having when they entered the studio, I couldn’t concentrate on having my own experience as an artist. The necessity of connecting to the studio creatively allowed me to redefine and expand my role within it. It forced me to stop holding the space continuously and let me begin to be held by it.
Body Mechanics is the most conscious and concrete outer reflection of myself that exists (other than my own physical body). It’s my public face in building form. I have spent more time and energy setting intentions and clearing energy in that space than any other. It is my sanctuary and is intended as a sanctuary to all who walk through the door. Introducing the chaos of my company’s creative process into my sanctuary opened my eyes to the importance and power of expectations.
As human beings we have a certain number of programmed expectations that we carry with us– many of them not consciously. We generally don’t expect people to be dancing on desks and railings. My idea of other people’s expectations when walking into my business created an interesting conundrum for me when beginning the crafting of this piece. I had to release my fear of judgement from others. In releasing that fear I realized in that I create the reality of others’ expectations. People may be surprised by dancers on desks– but they’re also incredibly curious about them. As a known quantity within the space I was able to put them at ease easily with what was happening. When we let go of others’ expectations of us, we allow ourselves to be bigger than we can possibly imagine.
Engaging in a creative process in my own space, fulfilling my roles as business owner, healer, teacher, dancer and choreographer at one time, in one space, has been massively liberating for me. It has allowed me to move beyond my own self-imposed limitations and stories I have created for myself. I have been able to de-compartmentalize myself and truly OWN myself and my space in a way I’ve never conceived of before.
There is an immense amount of magic present within Body Mechanics. It is a place where people are given the freedom and permission to release whatever is no longer serving them, where people redefine their connection to their bodies, and strengthen themselves from within, and where they realize their capacity is much greater than they may have believed it to be. As the company brings the dance out of the floors and walls and ledges, Body Mechanics is given a reprieve from holding all that it is used to containing. POV Dance is allowing Body Mechanics to be seen as more than a Pilates studio. We are redefining and expanding the capacity of what is expected in the studio, allowing its magic to be seen in an entirely different light. And I am allowing myself to be seen within my space in a way that pushes me right up against the edges of myself– and just a little bit beyond. I realize that despite my discomfort, despite my fears, and stress and vulnerabilities– right now my own space is exactly where I’m meant to be dancing. (And the laundry can wait).