Finding Strength in Self-Love & Sovereignty – 09
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Keri: So excited to have you you are Heather, I just have to say when I first met you, you are like just this super bright light in the world. And I just feel like a moth to a flame with you. strength
Heather: Thank you. It’s just a reflection of you.
Keri: Well, and I actually do think that a lot of people feel that way about you and I just, I’m really watching your new business grow and I’m just seeing the energy and it really is just a ball of light that we’re creating there.
Heather: And you I knew I appreciate it. That’s we something to remember that we all are light. So it’s just it’s a good—I’m just jumping right in—but to remind yourself I am light I am light I am whole. That’s something that I think keeps us clear and focused on the good.
Keri: Yes, exactly. And I just I feel so good when I go there and just the community and everything. And so I wanted to bring you in because this podcast is about awakening your power. And it’s about the kind of power that comes from within and, and goes outward to empower others. Right? I really think that what you’ve created with MXE…and tell me more about that. How do you feel like Moxie is through your work empowering others?
Heather: Well, MXE is a movement. And we play with that word two ways, because we move. So the movement that we’re doing is physical. We’re dancing, we’re doing yoga, I’m giving them all these labels, but I don’t like using exercise or fitness because there is this negative connotation. So I think that as humans, if we can just look at is we need to be moving. Yes. Physically, perfect. We got that. It’s also a movement in in terms of coming into yourself. And when you come in, then you can go out. So it’s that kind of movement. Well, so when we say it’s a movement studio, there’s a lot going on. It’s physical. Its mental. It’s emotional, spiritual. Yes. So that’s the purpose and you know, to think just to the physical, that’s, that’s okay. But the real change comes from within, it’s an inside out job ,we have to go in to go out.
Keri: Yes, yeah. And so the close cousin of power is the word strength. Yes. And I want to talk to you today a little bit about that word. Because I think you know, we really fall into habits with words and we all think we know the picture of strength and maybe we picture like you know, muscles or something. But what is strength to you?
Heather: So strength? Well the old me might say strength is being able to do all these push ups and burpees and pull ups. So that there is the physical strength. But now for me, strength means to walk into the discomfort. And not running. Because we all naturally want to run away. So to walk into the fire, to say it looks like, you know what? I’m sorry. Yes, if I’m wrong, it looks like having this uncomfortable discussion. It’s doing the work. It’s saying, I’m going to try something new. And I know I’m not going to be good at it. So that, to me, is strength. And as adults, and we are strong, we have to do a lot of stuff. We just are strong humans, but as adults, we do walk away from discomfort. And sometimes we like the word challenge instead. And you can use challenge too, but in order to, I think grow and change, you got to be uncomfortable. And it doesn’t mean it has to be painful, but that’s that strength, then it creates resiliency, and then you have growth. So that’s to me, that’s what strength is.
Keri: And to me, it sounds like this is this is about awareness. It’s about paying attention. Yeah, and not letting yourself just go through your life, you know, on habits and routine right and on autopilot.
Heather: Right, right and doing what everybody else is doing and just doing it because this is how it’s always been done and, and thoughtlessly just going on with your day, kind of like, I just have this image of a bowling alley and you have the bumpers, and you know, I just don’t want to get a gutter ball. So I’m just gonna kind of bumpers in, right, you know? Like, sometimes the gutter balls are kind of funny, because then you get to laugh, and then you get to figure out, oh, what do I need to do to make this different?
Keri: Well, and I love what you’re talking about here. Because when I see those railings come up, what I think of is the word boundaries. Yeah. And lately I’ve been doing a lot of work with–Do I really think that boundaries are what we need more of in our society, or is it possible that perhaps we need to start taking some of these down? Yeah, your thoughts on that?
Heather: Well, I actually don’t know what you mean in terms of society boundaries. I know what you mean about an individual boundary? Yeah, sure. And I am all for individually boundaries because I think that that makes a you know, you more focused and clear about what you need. Yeah, but what do you what do you mean about society? So sometimes?
Keri: Well, I think I do mean individual boundaries. And I think what I’m seeing happen more and more is boundaries being used in a way that they are actually barriers. Oh, and they don’t really have any flexibility. And it’s like, well, these are my boundaries and they’re there and then then then it sort of becomes unconscious. Because now I’ve got my boundaries up, and I don’t think about it anymore. And now like that relationship with that person, there is no possibility for its change in the future.
Heather: Yeah, it sounds like boundaries in that situation is more like discomfort. So yeah, using the word boundary as an excuse for I don’t want to be uncomfortable. Here’s my boundary. I don’t want to have this difficult conversation. Right. You just, you know, don’t cross the line. So I think that’s a good excuse. That’s how I interpret it.
Keri: And I think it just feels like we’re seeing more and more of that. And where whereas, you know, I think when we’re talking about strength, I think about the strength that it takes to step out of your boundaries sometimes, or your discomfort, and see where that relationship is. And I’m, you know, obviously there are boundaries that are there for very good reasons. And I not at all talking about these situations, but what if we tried?
Heather: Well, it’s, that’s interesting, because I hear that a lot. In the beginning, when people first come to MXE. I can’t dance or I don’t do yoga on and I pause, you know, letting that absorb in those words, just floating the air. Let that person listen to it. Because those are all stories. And I also, if that person has a child, I’ll say, what would you say to your child if your child just said that to you? So turning it around. I mean, if I heard my child say, Well, I can’t dance. I, I would make the space like, what are you ridiculous? Of course you can What? Where did you get that story that you can’t? Mm hmm. And then now you’re like, Okay, well, do you want to? Or do you not want to? Or are you going to be uncomfortable? Or are you just not going to be good? So it’s not about it’s like this whole growth mindset. You know, it’s not that you can’t stop it. You’re not a morning person. Right? It’s just that you, you know, you’re giving yourself that story, that you’re not something you’re not good at math. You’re telling yourself you’re not good. You see, you’re not of course you’re not. Yes. You know. So, yes. I think it goes into these stories. You create these stories, and whatever starts in the mind is going to come into reality.
Keri: Absolutely. I mean, I always think that if we could have a ticker tape of every single thought we had throughout a day. Imagine what we learn about ourselves. And yeah, and then what if you could measure it and say, how many times was I negative myself? Yes, is how many times you know, I was positive which sort of brings me to the concept of self love? Yeah. Which I don’t I can say that I have never been at a workout place where cultivating self-love is such a centerpiece. And so this is clearly important to you. And I’d love to know a little of your journey. If this is just something that you’ve always had, or?
Heather: I don’t think I’ve always had it very honestly. I think that people that grew up with me, and you know, my parents, actually, we’ve had this conversation recently. They said, Well, you’ve always loved yourself, you’ve always had great, you know, self-awareness and self-worth. And I said, No, I think that it’s mistaken. I used to think that what I did, and my productivity and my grades and how I was perceived, I thought that meant I was a good person. And that is not who I am, right, very conditionally based, very conditionally based. So I am not my job. I’m not the money I make. I am not my size. I am not my physical appearance, I’m not any of these things.
So just me sitting on my couch alone. Do I like myself? And I do. Absolutely I do now, a couple years ago, I would have been terrified to sit on my couch by myself. Yes, because I was afraid of what if I didn’t like myself? Like, who am I? So I would busy myself. And I use the word busy. I don’t use that word anymore. But I would seriously make myself busy with things that didn’t make sense. I would call people when I was driving because I couldn’t be by myself by my thoughts. I would always have something on the schedule. I would be constantly going from one meeting to the next or teaching and there’s there’s never any downtime.
And now, I I look forward to the downtime. I love the pause. I need the pause. And that to me is the beginning of self love. So I did battled depression. And anxiety, it was pretty, it was very bad. It was very bad when I was a teenager. When I became an adult, like in my 20s. And then recently, so maybe five or six years ago, the Depression was really bad. And thankfully, I have a wonderful husband who’s my best friend, and I trust him. And we, with his help, and a lot of I have a great support, you know, system. I got help. And that looks like therapy. That looked like sleep. That looked like movement. That looked like pausing and being by myself and stop listening to everybody else’s opinion. And that also looked like medication for me. And so all of those things helped me pull back all these layers and remove the veil. And when I stripped everything away, I was left with myself. And I can say, Hey, I actually Like you, you’re you’re pretty freakin cool. What a gift. And it is. I’m on the other side right now, if you would have told me that I was going to be sitting down with you today talking about this five years ago, I would have laughed at you and thought that’s impossible. There’s no way I’m going to be able to look at myself in the mirror completely naked and smile. There’s no way and I can do that. I do that on a daily basis. And I make sure that my kids see me doing it too. Because the kids are watching.
Keri: You are working against the current. I mean, the current in this society is so much easier and it’s more it’s more acceptable to you know, you look great today. Oh, this old thing?
Heather: You know, when somebody compliments you, they’re seeing you. And to say thank you, you’re saying I hear you and I agree with you. And so when you when you don’t accept a compliment, it’s good to pause and be like, Why can I not say thank you? Right? It’s, um, I had this conversation with a lot of men lately. Because I, I thought, Oh, it’s only women, right? have a heart. I know a lot of men that have a hard time, you know, saying thank you. And it’s, it’s okay to know that you’re, you’re nice. Yeah, for that you’re thoughtful, or that you’re a good listener or whatever it is. It’s okay to say thank you. And, and the idea is, well, then I sound conceited. You sound like you respect yourself. And then I’m going to respect you.
Keri: Well, and it just it passes it on. I mean, I just remember when you got your haircut, and you know, your hair was quite long for a while now. It’s, you know, chin length, and it’s adorable. And I’ve watched you kind of interact with some of the people and I watched you say, thanks. I like it too. You know, and it’s just it’s, it’s so nourishing for me to see people do that. And I’m sure it just you, there’s little lessons in all of that. And that I think, is one way that you really are empowering all of us in doing that, and you know, the other thing too, I as you’re talking, I just keep thinking about this relationship between self-love and strength.
Heather Yes. Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. You know, the, the tendency is to go towards, you know, putting yourself down and not taking the compliment. And that breeds more and more and more and more. It’s kind of like rumors or gossip. And if you want self love, I think you need to surround yourself, and they might not be friends yet, but I think you need to surround yourself with the right people. So like to say I like the way that that person speaks or carries herself or himself or how they treat their children. I want that in my life in my family’s life. So surround yourself with those people. And that means like things change, relationships change. And it doesn’t mean that you need to be mean anybody be like, you suck, but it’s no, I need this right now. And then you’re breaking these habits and these patterns because what you see what you hear, that’s what you become. So I’m glad that you heard me say that. I think that the dialogue does change. Once you come to MXE, when you walk in the door and you say, Oh, I, not you, but just anybody. I’m not a dancer. And then you then see them a week later, and they’re dancing. And then they’re not saying I’m not a dancer, yes. And then the week after they say I actually am loving this, and they’re like, Oh my gosh, I’m a dancer, whatever it is that the conversation does change. But you have to break these patterns.
Keri: Well, I can tell you one experience that I had with you that that caused me to reflect. As I came in, I think I think I had signed up for a class and then I didn’t come or something and then I said Sorry the next day and I said, Oh, I’m so sorry, I didn’t come and you said don’t apologize. And I and it, that was one of those conversations that caused me to reflect on. Yeah, you know, do I need to apologize? Did I, is there something that I did wrong? You know, and I really, and I’ve heard you say that to other people, too. And that’s another thing, I think, and maybe men too, but I really do hear women apologizing all the time.
Heather: My daughter says that sometimes she’ll just say, Oh, sorry. And I said, Wait hit pause, like, you don’t need to be sorry. We make mistakes. You do things that are it’s like sorry, is use that word when you are really really, really sorry. And I’m not being critical of you at all. But you’re not the only person people will say, Oh, I’m sorry, it couldn’t make it a class and life habit. Like I love you. I see you and if, if you can’t come that’s, that’s I’m hoping something else was happening your life. It was Great, and I’ll see you another time. But this isn’t, it’s not for me, you coming up anybody coming to the studio? It’s for them.
Keri: I was describing you last night to a friend. And I think the one thing I said about you is you’re not someone who needs anything from other people. And I don’t think that that means you can tell me if you think that that’s a fair description of you or not. And what I mean by that is not that you don’t need people, I just mean that you’re not needing them in that grasping kind of sense.
Heather: Now, that is true. So that is true. Now, I used to, I used to measure myself by how many people were in my classes, by how many friends I had on social media, by how many likes I used to measure myself all the time. And it I’m not classically trained in yoga, but I have a really good friend who always says you’re so you have such a Buddhist outlook other because I won’t say my students. They’re not mine. Yeah, they’re not mine. You know, I won’t say My choreography, it’s not my movement, its movement. You know, these are just students. These are humans. So I don’t I don’t need anything except for my, you know, my I need my sovereignty, I need my love. I do need my family. But there are very few things that I really do need a hot so I actually can take that as a compliment. So thank you.
Keri: And I mean, that kind of brings us into this. You said the word sovereignty. Yeah. I love that. Oh my gosh, I want to talk about this.
Heather: Yes. So sovereignty is was a word that was actually given to me and with one of my first meetings with my therapist, my current therapist, and she said self sovereignty, and I looked at her I was like, That’s not nice, you know, because sovereignty I at the time, I thought, Oh, the sovereign nation, right, this independence that you know, I do whatever is good for me and, and then you know, just think about. If you’re like, wait a minute, I need to have sovereignty, I need to know who I am, my beliefs, what what I want what I need. So then I can move forward, I can say the right things that are consistent with myself I can behave that way I can act, you know. So sovereignty to me means knowing yourself listening to yourself, not doing something because somebody else is doing or everybody else is doing it or not doing something because this is how it’s always been. So checking in and I think that’s what a lot of the problems are right now. in society and in our world. You know, people are on automatic and they don’t really know what they believe they’re getting snippets and bytes and, and listening to what’s being told to them on TV and social media and maybe they read something and they’re taking those bits and pieces and and spitting them out. And then you kind of pause like, do I really believe that? My soul and my heart says and and you know again back to pause pause like what what is your gut say, what is your intuition, what is your heart say? And so that’s the sovereignty that is just knowing who you are and maintaining that wherever you go when you are uncomfortable like sovereignty and strength and self love it all goes together.
Keri: And now that you’re talking about this, I really see how it’s different than independence Yes, because independent just sounds a little bit more like a whimsical or maybe I’ll just stay I feel like doing it where we’re sovereignty seems a little bit and maybe these words work or not, but it seems a little bit more associated with our sense of morals.
Heather: Yeah, yeah, I think so. And I think it’s this support the strength the security, it’s this you know, this kind of weight that, that you carry wherever you are, it’s like this inner compass. So I have carried that word with me a lot, especially when I do things like I go to a party where I don’t know anybody. Yeah, I want to make sure. You know, I used to kind of be a chameleon and adapt to whoever I was around. And so I used to say things that people wanted to hear. Yes. And now I don’t and I’m sometimes say things that people don’t want to hear, but it’s not me. It’s not, you know, disrespectful or to hurt anybody, but it’s aligned with what I think and a lot of times that’s because I’m a feminist, and I’m very proud of it. And I will speak accordingly. Yes, but that’s who I am. And I feel that way about all people. So if I hear somebody saying a racist joke on an airplane, I will turn around and say something. Yeah. And I think it also is like when you have that, if people see it or not, people can feel that, and then they know that they can’t mess around with you. And they know that they can depend on you that you are secure and consistent.
Keri: Well, and so now what you’re kind of talking about is how these things, the strength, the self love, and the sovereignty come together to make a better world. Because if there’s one criticism I had, in teaching yoga, sometimes it just seemed like it was for ourselves, and that we were kind of keeping it to ourselves. And what I really love is like, you once you get stronger on the inside, you’re going to be called to do something with that strength, right? And, and so tell me more about how you might see these three things come together to be more to effect positive change in the world.
Heather: Right and that these are all the the core values are, these are internal words at MXE, and it’s our vision. So, on the surface, it looks like we’re, you know, moving around and dancing, laughing which we are, but the whole purpose I see this vision that these people that coming in, they are going to love themselves unconditionally. They’re going to have compassion, respect, and then they’re going to be able to have the same for the people on the street that they don’t know. And their family and their friends, and then that’s going to just move like wildfire. So, I think that, you know, when we see people fighting when we see racism when we see leaders, saying and doing things that are that just make your jaw drop. There is a little bit of there’s pain, there’s a lot of pain. And I think that a lot of that has to do with the lack of self love.
When you are in pain, you want other people to be in pain. It’s just, it’s contagious. You actually want people to be in more pain than you. And I think the same happens with self love. So once you feel good, then you want to give the same and share that with other people. So when we are in the studio and I’m asking people to look at themselves in the mirror, and it’s hard for many people, that is okay. But my hope is that one day, you can look at yourself in the eyes in the mirror. So then one day you can stand on the street and look somebody in the eye and have a conversation with them and listen to them. So that’s just one example of how I think that this could change the world. I don’t think that you know, it’s going to happen with laws. I don’t think it’s going to happen with someone saying this is how we’re going to act; it starts with the individual. We are all have a responsibility. We do need to take care of each other but it does start with taking care of yourself. You have to clean up your own mess and your own home and and be safe and secure and compassionate and then you can clean up. It’s like putting on that oxygen mask in the airplane first, and then you can help those around you.
Keri: Well, and I think too, when we, when we love ourselves, and we have our sovereignty, we can try and experiment with things in the world, like, for example, making a conversation with a stranger. And if they don’t respond, or if they respond negatively, it doesn’t have to impact us and we can just go try it again the next day. And so there’s you said, you mentioned earlier the word resiliency and I think that’s also what we’re cultivating as we’re working on these things is kind of a resiliency to just, Yep, I got hurt yesterday. As I was out there, and I spoke my truth and it hurt and you know, that there’s this tendency to want to withdraw back into and that’s okay. I think we I think there’s always a time for that. But then we’ll bounce back and we’ll go back out there and we’ll try it again. Because every day is different people are different and I kind of agree with you. I think I’m hearing you say that self love is really the the antidote we need to all the hate, the fear and the pain.
Heather: It’s different for everybody. But you know, when you say like, I had a rough day or, you know, feelings are real and they’re natural. I, I used to get really upset when I was depressed. And people would say, well, you just need to be happy. Yes. And you just have a great life. And yes, and yes, I wish I could just flip a switch, but sadness, and anger and disappointment and embarrassment, those are all real feelings, and we’re human, and we’re supposed to feel those things. And then we can also be content and we can also be happy. So we can feel all those things, but we all have this. We want to numb a lot of feelings and we use things to numb it. We use our phones, social media, alcohol, drugs, whatever it is, we do lots of things to not feel. And again, that’s strength like being uncomfortable. And and knowing that Yeah, I tried to talk to that person and he or she did not respond and that’s okay. Yes, that’s them. That’s not me. And, and I will continue to be who I am, it will continue to look at people in the eyes, I will continue to speak my truth.
Heather believes that movement is a form of healing, and that all humans, you included, can harness its transformative power. She knows that feeling healthy, beautiful and strong is different for each individual person, and she builds curriculum that honors those unique needs. Heather is a born teacher and a professionally trained dancer. She’s been instructing group fitness, designing choreography, training instructors, and filming virtual and home DVD programs for more than 20 years and has no intention of slowing down. She’s an ACE certified instructor, a health coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and an award winning wellness expert. Make no mistake, she is a force to be reckoned with.
After a decade of teaching at top notch gyms and clubs across the Midwest, Heather set out to create MXE. She wanted to offer wildly enjoyable movement classes, build a progressive community and foster genuine self love in all of her students. She recruited the best and brightest teachers from the Twin Cities fitness scene and is over the moon excited that they’ll be sharing their expertise with the MXE family. She is a loving mom, a diabetic and a red lipstick junkie. It is virtually impossible to embarrass her. Just try seriously. When she’s not running the MXE Empire. She’s freestyle rapping in her kitchen dancing like nobody’s watching and howling at the moon. If you swing by MXE for a class, she will hug you.
You can find Heather at:
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