Wednesday, March 14, 2012
A new chapter has begun in Mandyland I'm freaking pumped! I'm also backed up with words I haven't been able to express since our computer crashed over a month ago so this post will be a random collection of thoughts and updates instead of just one theme. I've been pretty low key in the public sphere over the past two months while I recharged my divalicious batteries so there's a helluva lot to share. Things like my BIGGEST dream EVER, the current Mandyland Mission, my next two book ideas, and why this chapter of my life is named Mandyland 2.0.
BUT FIRST, A LENGTHY PRELUDE
Last year was insanely busy in Mandyland and I loved it! I launched Sexpot Studio, did weekly Mandyland Radio shows, wrote weekly articles for my Mandyland column in Echo Weekly (my Claudia Day piece even made the cover!), got nominated for a Literary Award, launched www.mandylandrocks.com, won the Women Entrepreneurs Mastermind 5K Contest, wrote dozens of Mandyland Musings articles, launched Humanity Photography, and had a blast doing all of it! I pulled more allnighters than I thought was humanely possible but I was so happy to do it. It was an incredibly creative time for me and I wasn't going to miss out on any of it. I wanted to capture it all, and I did. Well maybe not ALL of it, as I'm sure I could have squeezed out a bit more had I not wasted time eating periodically. Damn our need for food!
Anyways, 2012 came and I felt like the world was mine. I had fresh ideas, energy to burn and ended up creating www.godsanddivas.com. My mind was filled with all the things I wanted to produce and accomplish in January (which was a lot) and I had BIG plans for GODS & DIVAS, The Poet & The Butterfly, and Mandyland itself. But despite my eagerness, and in the midst of all this activity (both mental and technological), something happened. A shift occurred that basically took me in the opposite direction of all these things.
I was at my bestie's house for a daytime visit to work on promotional pieces, and as usual, I had not slept the night before because I was up working online. My head hurt. I was cranky. I was exhausted. And my eyes burned. I couldn't focus properly when usually I focused like a laser. I was run down. But it wasn't until the following week during a Skype conversation with a business professional that I realized how much I needed to take a break; something I hadn't even wanted to do during the better part of 2011. I had been on a mission all year and I had achieved my goals. I had hoped to do the same in 2012, but the advice I was given was to focus on 1-3 projects, not on 10 or 12. I was told to take more breaks. To do less work (WHAT?!) and that was the hardest to even consider doing because I really do love working, like all the time, so why would I want to stop? I didn't, but my body sure needed a break, so I started to open up to the idea.
What followed from that conversation was completely unexpected and perfectly timed. I went offline more than I was on despite my mounting projects. Sleeping at night became my priority (and now it's the norm). I returned to my 3 walks a day (which I had done for years but had abandoned back when I was superglued to my computer). I puttered around the house, I cooked, I baked, and I became more available to others. I even began journalling every day-something I had done for most of my adult life up until last year.
I still had a ton of ideas for blogs, videos, radio, and my classes, but nothing made me want to do them. That was really new for me. To have an inspired idea and not make it public felt wrong. Like it was a dishonour to the energy that created it. But even when I tried to do a video (it was on relationships), the recorder wouldn't work properly. When I managed to do a radio show (on the same topic), I deleted it a few days after (something I have never done in my radio career) because it just didn't feel right to keep it up. And when I tried to write a blog (on a similar theme), my computer completely crashed.
You'd think I would have been frustrated, but I wasn't. I was grateful for the reprieve. I didn't want to actually engage with the world at large, but I also didn't want to withhold these new insights, so I felt torn. All the words that would have ended up on video, radio or in a blog, ended up in my journal. It still feels weird to me. I have grown so accustomed to sharing publicly that it seemed unfair somehow not to. Like isn't that why I'm here? To communicate? To inspire and enlighten and share my process so that others can benefit from it?
But even with the guilt of not doing the videos, radio shows or blogs as frequently as I once did, nothing could make me do them, and now without a computer, I felt the freedom to just let it all go.
If my computer crashed last year I just might have killed someone, but not this time. I have loved the space. The quiet. The downtime. The balance. I love the ritual of walking or biking to the library a few times a week to get online. I love having time to sleep. I love going for a ton of walks. I love laying in bed watching movies and I love not knowing or caring what the hell is going on in cyberspace. I am not missing out on a thing. I have gained a whole new world that I adore. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely loved last year and would not change a thing, but this chapter has its own beauty as well.
This 'downtime' (I use the term loosely because my downtime is not like most people's as I am quite diligent with my thoughts and I am deliberate with how I choose to spend each hour of the day) has brought me to a new sense of balance. I don't think I was out of balance last year (I don't care what anyone says) because I did precisely what was required of me each day. I am doing the same right now. Last year required a bazillion hours of online work to build the things I needed to build. Right now requires a ton of sleep, exercise and journalling.
And now that I have had a break from the projects that typically use up my time, I have decided that I'm ready to focus almost exclusively on my biggest dream yet; one that I have had for over 20 years now.
MY BIGGEST DREAM: STARRING IN VIDEOS
Ever since I was a teen, my dream has been to dance and be featured in R&B videos. You can read more about this in my 2010 post Writer By Nature; Dancer By Heart but here is the coles notes version: Being in videos was all I ever wanted, but I ended up a writer, mother and an entrepreneur. Insecurity and self-image issues prevented me from following my biggest dream but fate and my natural abilities led me to achieving many others. That's it in a nutshell.
When I discovered back in January that Life Rocks When You Don't Hate Yourself, I knew it was time to finally make my video dream a reality. Now that I have learned how to love myself as I am, I can move forward with confidence in this area that had previously been blocked through distorted beliefs.
I recently talked about this dream with one of my DIVAS while we were sharing our Creative Collages and I was open about my fear that maybe it's too late. Maybe I missed my chance 13 years ago when I had auditioned for a dance company in Toronto, got accepted, and never followed through with it because I felt I was too old (absolutely ridiculous) and too fat (something I have never been but felt I was up until this year) and not attractive enough (I believed most of my life that I was ugly-sad and true). Of course none of these things were true but my belief made them so and effectively kept me from doing what I most wanted to do.
My upbringing had a lot to do with my fucked up ideas about myself but all that really matters is that bit by bit and year by year I grew to believe these things less and less. Until one glorious day in January of this year when I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror on the way to an interview and wept at the sheer beauty of my being (both inner and outer). I finally saw myself as others did and I instantly fell in love. That day has changed everything in my life...my relationship with money, my relationship with my daughter and most importantly, my relationship with myself.
So back to my ultimate dream. During our conversation, my DIVA reminded me of something I knew to be true for others so of course it would be true for me: it's all about divine timing. It was not time before now because I had to heal all the things inside me that have been preventing me from realizing this dream in the first place. Lack of self-love kept this dream at bay for all these years and the only remedy was to see myself clearly, lovingly and compassionately. That happened only this year; just two months ago, and now my world has opened up in ways that it could not have before. It's not too late, though I feared it might be. I want to believe it's the perfect time for me to do this instead of worrying I missed my chance so many years ago.
My DIVA also told me that maybe the perfect artist for me to collaborate with has not even come on the scene yet; something I had never even considered. Just because I want to be in videos doesn't mean I am willing to be in just any video. It would still have to be Mandyland all the way; something that felt right and amazing on every level.
CURRENT MANDYLAND MISSION: MEET THE WEEKND
Fast forward one week and I hear "High For This" on the radio and wonder who and what is THAT? I had never heard anything like it and I fell in love immediately. So I googled the title and up came a man I had never heard of, The Weeknd aka Abel Tesfaye. I read everything about him and listened to all his tracks and was just completely blown away by his gift. His method of marketing and promotion was also brilliant, giving his albums away for free on his website, and he has become the most well-known underground artist because of it. I have to meet him. I instinctively felt that this is the artist I have been waiting for. His is the video I want to be in because he is simply the best.
So I sent him an email with images attached, letting him know (without begging) that I would love to meet him, have him on Mandyland Radio and that I would also like to be considered for an upcoming video. The automated response I got told me the inbox was too full to receive more messages. No biggie, I'd need to find another way to contact him.
I decided that YouTube was the answer. Initially I was just going to do a vlog directed to him in the hopes he'd see it somehow, but then I thought 'What better way to reach a singer than through song?'. So I contacted my dear friend Christen Zuch who happens to have the most angelic voice I have ever heard, and I told her I just had to meet this man and would she help me to do that by singing a song to him on my behalf. After hearing his sexy voice she agreed and that day I rewrote the lyrics to his "High For This" track to make it a love letter from me called "Hard For This".
That was on Friday. Since then Christen has been mastering the song to mirror his style while I've been steadily pulling together the corresponding video made up of approximately 70 images that change every second or fourth beat. Christen and I are beyond excited and believe that something truly beautiful will come from this gift to him. Our hearts are in it and within a few weeks our efforts will be posted on YouTube with the hopes that he or someone he knows will come across it and reach out to me so that we can meet. Then, without begging, I only need one conversation to inspire him to feature me in one of his upcoming videos. That is my dream. If his was the only video I was ever in, I would be fulfilled. I would have realized a dream far greater than my original one because I had never considered our world would be graced with such greatness, and to be immersed in it creatively would be the highest honour.
The last time I felt this inspired and focused on a task was during the creation of The Poet & The Butterfly. Nothing but magic surrounded the process and that's how I feel about this. This is yet another labour of love that I feel blessed to be a part of. I have found the specific artist I want to meet and work with and I won't stop til I get it.
BOOK 1 & BOOK 2! OH MY!
So last night I got together with my beloved editor of The Poet & The Butterfly, Anna Fleet, to get creative and discuss a bunch of ideas I had floating around for my next project. Talk about 4 hours well spent! We narrowed the list down to two, both of which she thought I should do because I got so excited talking about them, and brainstormed the layout of each. I came home completely inspired and got straight to work. I now have an outline for both books (one is for men and one is for women) and each will have 20 short chapters that will help both men and women navigate the world of dating without settling for less than they deserve. The men's book is direct and humourous and the women's is direct and insightful. Both will contain my own personal experiences as well as dos and donts for each topic. Anna and I are totally pumped about working together again, and if all goes as planned, both ebooks will come out this year. Stay tuned!
I'd like to thank my Podcast King, Steve LeDuke, for coining the phrase Mandyland 2.0 after reading the Facebook uppdates I wrote recently:
"Noticing that I'm no longer drawn to the things that fueled me for years. I want to leave it all behind and start a brand new life. Dreaming new dreams now."
"A new MANDYLAND chapter is officially in the works now, folks! Today I got super clear on what I want to do next thanks to a fabulous and inspiring chat with my beloved bestie and it has nothing to do with writing, radio or classes:) I have no idea how long it will take to manifest but I've had this dream for over 20 years now and I'm finally ready to claim it. This year I prepare. Next year things go BOOM! Rock on."
Of course I was talking about my dream to be in videos and when Steve described this shift as Mandyland 2.0, I loved it! Here is why it resonated with me: I honestly feel like I'm being given a second chance at life, in the sense that I get to live the life I could not live while I was raising a child and working through all the inner garbage that needed cleaning up to make a great life for me and the kid.
Instead of being a rich and famous video dancer like I dreamed of becoming, I became a young mom whose mission it was to heal and transmute generations of dysfunction. I did not have the luxury of doing things 'just for fun' because my work felt quite serious and important. I was also depressed a lot, and I hated myself most of the time, so how was my dream to be in front of the camera going to happen when I hated seeing myself at all? It was only through my Sexpot Studio videos last year that I grew comfortable with myself in video form, and the only reason I made it that far was because sharing wisdom that I knew would benefit others trumped my insecurity about the way I thought I looked.
And so now, with a grown child and a healed sense of self, I feel like I get to do my life the way I would have done it had I been free of a shitty past (and the need to clear it) and the responsibility of being a parent. I have done the hardest work I will ever have to do and now it really is Mandyland 2.0 because this is my second chance at life; one that is based 100% on what I want and not on what was forced upon me to deal with.
So naturally, my first and ultimate goal is the videos. I will keep you all posted!
THE GREATEST TIME OF MY LIFE
These past 2 months have been just great and I am so relaxed and happy overall. I am free of intense self-hatred and that changes absolutely everything. It's nice to not feel depressed or feel like I'd rather be dead; both of which I experienced quite often for much of my life. I know some of you may not believe I could have felt that negatively about myself given the work that I do and the positivity I exude publicly, but just like an introverted and private actor who comes to life and lets it all out on screen, I too was able to access the very real part of myself that is wise, loving, happy and optimistic, despite all the rest, and project that outwardly. Both were true. None of us are all one way. We are a million ways all at once, and I sincerely believe that my truest self is who I am with my DIVAS, through my writings and through Facebook. There is a safety I feel with all three that allows me to be my highest self no matter what.
Thank you so much for reading my heart and I look forward to keeping you updated on all these Mandyland goodies that are in the process of being realized.