Part 1: On Possibility
I began 2015 flipping through discarded magazines during the construction of my annual vision board, searching for words and images that spoke to me in the moment. While sorting through the heavy pile of glossy paper, I came upon a trashy woman’s lifestyle magazine. Tantalizing words in bold letters laced the cover in bright shades of pink and yellow. The beautiful woman on the front contorting her body into an awkward position so commonly used by supermodels, and claimed to have the secret to losing belly fat in 30 days. Normally I have very little interest in such reads but as I was about to toss the magazine aside with out so much as opening it, six yellow words near the bottom of the page caught my attention. It read “Yes, you can have it all!”
I wondered to myself, “Can I?”
And thus began the theme of my 2015.
Yes, I can have it all!
It’s interesting, when peering back into the past few years, I can see how the terrifyingly large adjustments I made in my priorities, have completely shifted my everyday life. By making my own happiness, health, passions and self worth my top priority, I have stepped into a new level of my own personal power. All of my manifestations are coming to me at a surprisingly rapid pace. Everyday, much like I did on the Camino, I find some old piece of unnecessary energy that I can chose to release and leave behind. This process then creates more room for my thoughts and desires to coming speeding head first into my realm. The syncronicities of my thoughts pop up at any moments, giving me cause to keep walk down this path of light and personal truth.
The thing is, I finally can comprehend my identity outside of my career. Yes, I certainly identify with my work, it’s why I do what I do, but during these past 2 years of crucial self development and soul searching, I have come to know my myself for exactly who I am.
I have researched, experimented and observed many (not all) of the dark folds within my soul to find that I am very much intrigued and happy with who Michelle is, right now. I understand my thoughts and actions with a a far better comprehension than I ever have before. And although, this process of self discovery is never ending, my progress has excelled and lead me down the most beautiful path. After the uphill battle waged against myself, I can finally find love, acceptance and value for myself. And I am dawning on the appreciation and necessity in human connection.
A life is not a life when you simply focus on one area, in my case: work. Balancing my personal career ambition with the inclusion of my family and friends has been a challenge but I see now that you cannot have one with out the other. Learning to include others in my everyday life is what has brought me closer to my own inner peace.
Yes, you can have it all.
I finally understand. I am ambitious, my career will always be important to me BUT that career will never be what I believe it could be until I make working on my personal connections a priority. I truly can have it all but I cannot have one with out the other.
Part 2: The Power of the Team
It’s no secret that my love and passion for stunts has waned in the past few years. Physical pain aside (because it’s an unavoidable part of the job), the work I was getting was not only unfulfilling but also very emotionally hurtful. (I am much more sensitive than I will ever show.)
In the past 2 years, I have been much less present in the stunt community. However, I have left myself open to the possibility of work. Upon returning from the Camino, I spent a good deal of time liberating myself from the expectation of booking any stunt days ever again. Ironically, I work just as much now as I did when I was hustling my ass off only a few short years ago.
Having no expectations for any of the work happening in town, you can imagine my surprise when I receive a phone call one late March evening from an American coordinator looking to book me as one of the lead doubles in a big show filming here in Vancouver. Within an hour of chatting with the coordinator, I was shaking hands with the director and being “welcomed to the team.”
In my current, ever-growing, awakening state, my only interpretation of a surprise as unexpected as booking this show, can only be one of privilege. I was determined to bring to it as much curiosity, openness, grace and focus as possible. Unexpectedly, the openness that I entered the work on Deadpool with, brought me a new understanding of how personal connection and teamwork plays a huge role in the experience one receives from any situation, whether it be good or bad.
I have obviously worked on movies and tv shows before, but I can honestly never recall being welcomed to “the team.” Perhaps this is because of my own barriers I carry within myself or perhaps I was never actually part of said ‘team.’ However, with this show it was evident from the start that I was an important piece of the creative puzzle.
This is where I thrive, after 12 years of being a professional working artist and 26 of being an athlete, I often find myself in a position of authority and responsibility. I enjoy being depended upon, working under pressure and I certainly love the collaborative, creative process. Although, on DP, I was never in any position of authority, my coordinators and teammates included me in the process, respecting me as the professional that I am, which is exactly what the professional in me seeks. I can be a great employee because I understand and appreciate the people who are directing me. I accept my role humbly, offering my 110% integrity.
Acceptance played a huge role in my DP experience. I know what stunts is and can finally accept it for exactly that. I know what is expected of me as a stunt double/performer. Any other wish, belief or hope would only be irresponsible. Knowing my role and letting go of any emotional attachments I may have carried with me in the past, released me from the darkness that clouded any of my previous work. Stunts is as stunts is.
I suppose a huge part of my release is knowing and valuing that I am much more than a stunt woman. Where as before, I struggled with identifying myself as such because I couldn’t quite grasp how all the pieces of puzzle fit together. A few years and 800km across Spain has taught me that I am ALL of those pieces and more! And for the purpose of this show, for the amount of time I am booked on it, I am a stunt woman. Plain and simple.
Having never felt like I was part of the team may also have been an unconsciously huge obstacle in my pathway of stunts. Being part of such a positive environment and great team leads me to believe that this work actually is FUN! Imagine that! For me, I just never saw it. My own previous experiences have only been bloody battles with ego, my own and that which perceived from the people around me. If this is what stunts can be, then I am positive that I can be a little more inclusive to allowing it back into my life.
Which leads me to:
Part 3: Confronting My Own Bull Shit…Again…
DP left me on a high, refocusing my eyes on the newly revitalized possibilities of what I truly want from my performance career. I can see a world where by continuing to pursue that which truly brings me joy, the perfect work will show up for me. The exciting part is, that I can feel stunts being a part of that vision again. Great, wonderful, now what?
Having experienced the power of community and unity with the DP team, I though this would be the perfect time to explore the concept in the power of being a ‘We’ instead of a “Me.” I enrolled myself in a course designed to address this obvious and very necessary step in my continued development.
(Please excuse my generic self improvement, mumbo-jumbo language but if any of you have followed my previous posts, you will understand that the changes I am making in my life are to gain a greater understanding into my relationships…or lack there of.)
The ‘We/Me’ concept was the focus this weekend and let me tell you, I had the most challenging, complicated and surprising experience of facing my own ego, stories, act, junk that I have had since Spain, and possibly the most abrupt. When faced with the task of finding love, compassion, oneness with a roomful of strangers, I shut down, completely!
For as long as I can remember, I have been a “Leave me alone, I can do it myself” kinda girl. I’m independent. There is certainly nothing wrong with that but my solitary lifestyle, while partially necessary to my entire well being, only encourages aloofness and a “I don’t give care about you because you don’t care about me” attitude.
Not very helpful when trying to create meaningful relationships.
The room I entered was full of like-minded, empowered people who were eager to take on a new understanding of how to make this world a better place. They all seemed so willing to engage their own personal dramas in such a way that they would be able to release whatever it is that they are still blocked with. I thought I was too.
But from the moment I sat down in my chair, I was a burning, white hot ball of volatile rage. The anger bubbling up my my stomach and chest, pulsing and searing into my veins as I sat and listening to course leader explain to the room what it would take to lead a truly empowered life.
“There is power in the collective whole, with this you can change the world. Anything is possible.”
I get it, I really do! I have experienced it before, the power of connection and love, how it can open up any door or window. It can free you of the shackles that contain your life. I was overwhelmed with it on the Camino, I just experienced it on Deadpool and I can honestly say that anytime I have had a moment of greatness in my life, it is because that community existed for me in that moment. So why am I sitting here in some random ballroom, seething in my blood boiling fury, ready to cut down everything the course leader or peers offer into the space?
Oh hey, Ego, it’s been a while, nice to see you again!
So, when faced with the concept of allowing a room full of strangers into my life and me into theirs, my own personal blockages surrounded connecting to the world appeared in a full fledged ‘flight or fight’ response. The physical reaction was so palpable, real and consuming that I spend most of the day teetering on the edge of picking up my bag, stomping my feet, shouting obscenities and finally, leaving the room middle fingers raised high in the air! I was having a full on, full out, 6 year old temper tantrum and I couldn’t even tell you why!
All I could hear in my head was, “It’s a room full of people I have absolutely no interest in, why would I give a shit about becoming part of the collective whole with them? I don’t care.”
I do know that, for whatever reason, I carry an “I don’t care, leave me alone” attitude into every area of my life. It is a defensive mechanism. It keeps me safe from harm and rejection.
I can accept that. I can work on that.
What I can’t accept is the fact that even after all this work I have done in the past few years, that I would completely give up and walk away from something that is going to offer me growth just because and I am scared and uncomfortable. Which is why I stayed in the room. I was determined to discover what was at the bottom of this.
There I sat, the white, hot burning in my chest transformed into green foam of nausea. My legs bent up under neither me, arms crossed over my waist, shoulders caved in; a completely protective position.
In my struggle to keep myself in the room, I did manage to maintain a small level of awareness. A part of me still in there, observing myself through this horrible change in my being, wondering what the hell is going on that my reaction to the material would be so visceral.
The obvious conclusion is that this is clearly an area of my life that needs attention. I am searching for better, closer, more truthful relationships and what better indication that I am on my way to understanding why I have continually shut myself down than this experience, than right here. I must be very close to having a life changing epiphany (my favourite kind.)
At the end of it, I can’t say I truly was able to drop my childish resistance to accepting the group, although I did lighten up considerably, I was extremely fortunate to have a glimpse of a piece to the puzzle I have been searching for. I may have awoken a dragon but at least I know it’s there.
The truth is, I do want to make an impact in this world. I have an empire to build but I can’t do that if I can’t reach people and I can’t react people if I can’t connect with them. I was able to connect to my team on DP or with the pilgrims on The Way because of our shared interest and common goals. I was completely unwilling to share myself with a room full of authentically, supportive humans, looking to grow in the same way I am because they were strangers to me, therefore worthy of my mistrust. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the group of people I shared the weekend with and I am certain that they would have had my back in a heart beat. It was simply my own resistance to releasing my own bull shit that held me down.
There is beauty in being able to drop the selfish, individual act, walking into a world where you engage in making a meaningful difference for others. Indeed, this is truly how the world will change for the better, if we all stand up for each other, not just ourselves.
Also, there is absolutely no doubt that I can have it all, everything I dream of but as I have mentioned early, I can’t achieve my own personal goals without enlisting the help and support of the community around me. What I realized this weekend is that I still have a long way to go in allowing any of that support into my life because my selfish ego thinks it will be fine on it’s own. This is a blatant lie.
So, my “breakthrough” promised in this short course was not feeling the power of love in being a part of the whole but rather in that I realized how much this “I don’t care, leave me alone.” defensive strategy pervasively runs my life. There is power in that because like all development, change begins with the awareness. And I have certainly gained that.
The irony, I am sharing my struggle with you right now, vulnerably admitting my own short coming in the face of truly making a meaningful shift in my consciousness, liberated in the fact that I have exploded something new to my ever-growing evolution as a human being. And perhaps you or someone you know can relate. I have no idea what your story is but it is equally as valid and worth sharing. If we truly are connected, then we all share in this same difficult struggle to wake up from the comfort of our own bubble and working to expand it to include others.
I can assure you, I will recover from my anger. I didn’t die this weekend from caring too much, nobody tried to hurt me. Everything is as it should be. What I learned this weekend is perfectly timed. The knowledge I needed, came to me at the exact right moment and that I can accept that while I settle into the shift that is about to happen for me.
Yes, I can have it all. It’s on it’s way and this is only the beginning of something amazing!