“There are an enormous number of people out there with invaluable information to share with you,” Anne Lamott said, “all you have to do is pick up the phone.” Most people love having their opinion asked for and enjoy an opportunity to give a piece of their mind. Sadly, we seldom pause long enough to take an interest in what another person has to say. We've replaced good old fashion conversation with tweets, snaps, and texts. There's not anything wrong with those things in and of themselves. They're tools after all. Tweets and snaps aren't an adequate stand in for picking up the phone or sitting down to talk. When technology reaches its limit pick up the phone, grab a cup of coffee or kick off an email exchange to dig deeper.
Which is exactly what I’ve done with today’s guest. We’ve chatted in person, over the phone, and via email over the last several weeks, covering a wide range of topics. I’d like to share some of our conversations with you here.
Mary Margaret is more than a talented singer and performer. She is a kind and generous soul as well. When she’s not performing, Mary can be found in coffee shops helping other women sort through life’s ups and downs, and connecting them to a community of like-minded ladies.
Today’s conversation covers a host of topics including living in New York City, moving forward after failure and growing up in a creative family.
Join me in getting to know Mary and learning from all she has to offer...
On to the conversation...
You actually did what every kid at one point or another dreams of—you packed your bags and moved to New York City. Could you tell us about that experience? What was it like moving so far from home at such a young age? What drew you to New York? What did you learn about the City over the last few years; what did you love/hate about it? What did you learn about yourself throughout the entire process?
Since my pre-teens, I always knew that after I graduated high school, I’d move to New York. No question. What drew me to New York initially was that I wanted to be on Broadway. I wanted to sing my heart out and tell stories and live on stage. What drew me to New York was the “what could be’s.” As a teen, I struggled with depression and anxiety and those battles kept me feeling small and stuck. I needed to get away, and New York was the city of endless possibilities, of endless people. I could write a novel on all my experiences in NYC, but I’ll try and keep it short. The city was a place like no other. It could make you feel small, and stuck and it could also make you feel larger than life - like anything was possible. What I learned about myself was that I am a lot stronger than I thought I was, I can’t stand mariachi bands on the subway at 7 a.m., and I’m a person - who though they might not like it at the time - needs change, often.
Nobody is born with a style or a voice. No one is born knowing who they are. Those things develop as they pretend to be their heroes and try new things. Who are your heroes? In what ways do you try to emulate their work?
As I continue to evolve and grow and change, those who I look up to change vary, so my answer may be different in a month. In this season, I very much look up to a woman named Danielle LaPorte. Danielle is a bestselling Canadian author, inspirational speaker, entrepreneur, and blogger. I admire her because she is fierce, she is loving, she is raw and truthful - in everything she does there is art. I am inspired by her to be who God made me to be and to search for truth and freedom in everything.
You have a wildly creative family. What did growing up look like? What aspects of your family life do you think influence you the most?
My dad used to set up the old video camera and record me and my siblings doing interviews with him as the show host. I mean, talk about an outlet to be all different sorts of crazy characters. No wonder I’m an actress. My Dad is also a talented musician - he used to play the keyboard all the time in the house so maybe that’s why I am so interested in music, as well.
My childhood was a combination of light, love, and complete freedom to do or be whoever I wanted to be. I was always encouraged to follow my passions, use my imagination and creativity, and follow through with what I started. I was so very lucky to have such supportive and encouraging parents.
“There’s only one rule I know of,” Kurt Vonnegut said, “You’ve got to be kind.” You appear to have taken this to heart while in New York. Tell us about the Just Be Kind Project. What is it and why did you start it? What have you learned from the whole endeavor?
Just Be Kind Project is an organization that gathers women together into an authentic community. We do this by hosting gatherings, small events, and conferences.
My mission was to create a haven where women feel they can show up and be vulnerable and raw—totally themselves. I created this project because sisterhood is key to women flourishing and finding freedom. New York is a huge city with so many people. I had a hard time finding a group of women that I could live life with. I figured I wasn't only one. I created Just Be Kind because of needs I saw and experienced while living in NYC.
I kept seeing this pattern over and over again. Women competing with one another and tearing each other down. They'd do it in an attempt to build themselves up. I used to feel the need to be apart of that, I was one of those women. Since I’ve begun to consistently invite community with other women into my life, my world has completely turned around. Having women beside you to grow and learn from and lean on is key - pure magic starts showing up in your life.
Are you going to continue with the Just Be Kind Project now that you're back in Texas?
My plan is to continue with JBK in Dallas as soon as I get back on my feet! So Dallas gals, keep a look out for event postings on Instagram!
What makes you feel eight years old again? Or whatever age you associate with childlike innocence and ambition. What activities fill you with joy?
I love painting. Being in water. Being barefoot.
When you know a lot about something, it is a pleasure to be asked a lot of questions about it. What do you have a deep well of knowledge about that people might not realize? What do you most enjoy discussing?
Feminism. Oh, my goodness. Let's go to coffee and talk about Feminism - what it means, what it doesn’t, how the word and meaning have been distorted, and how it’s not taken as seriously as it should be. Danielle LaPorte said it perfectly, “Feminism is not gender-specific. It’s a consciousness.”
You mention that feminism isn't about gender, but consciousness. What do you mean by that?
What I mean by this is that anyone can be a feminist, not only women. The term has been completely distorted due to a lack of understanding about the subject and it’s correct definition. Many men and women are turned off by feminism because we have become so separated from the original meaning. Feminism is "the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.” Feminism is not hating men and it is not flaunting our female bodies in a provocative way and calling it women's empowerment. It's an opinion, and it's a way you move through the world. And though feminism is a movement for the rights of women, everyone benefits from the world where everyone is equal and valued.
Life can so often be about making mistakes and feeling lost. I believe that we learn more from our failures than from our successes and that at least a dozen or so are necessary along the way. Unless we want to remain stunted individuals who don’t grow. Is there a time where you’ve completely dropped the ball, and how has it shaped you moving forward?
Ya, I agree with you. Man, I drop the ball all the time. It’s all about awareness and bringing you to a higher level of consciousness. Failing or dropping the ball can either be an excuse to get stuck and stay small, or it can be an opportunity to grow. One of my favorite authors, Brene Brown, says “The moment we deny a difficult experience, it owns us”. If we are brave enough, often enough, we’re going to fall. Now, I am very much a perfectionist, so often times I’ve screwed up and I’ve definitely struggled with picking myself up off the ground. But when we can take our failure and turn it into a growth moment, we do ourselves a huge favor.
Writers often send their work to many people before sending a copy to their editor or agent. They value the input, suggestions and help another set of eyes provides. This can also be helpful in life. Sometimes we get stuck and aren’t sure what to do next. A friend, mentor or coach is a great help to provide us with the direction we need in those moments. I noticed on your website that you help women figure things like this out. Tell us how you got started, what drew you in that direction and a little about how you work?
For a long time, I felt like I was merely surviving life - trying to get through the next day. And at some point, it didn’t feel good anymore. It didn’t feel like enough. I wanted more out of life - more passion, more consciousness, more ferocity, more joy.
I have always been the go-to for my friends when they needed support or guidance or someone to listen. I realized I had healthy and beneficial insight. I knew the ideal questions to ask to get them to dig deeper wherever they were struggling or having trouble. I decided I wanted to be a coach and enrolled in Mentor Masterclass, an all-in life coaching program. I support women to create loving relationships with themselves to experience freedom internally and externally. I work with women to heal the stories they tell themselves. Stories that aren’t serving them anymore. I work with women who believe they are meant for more but don’t know how to step into their power.
You talk about helping women step into their power. Help us understand exactly what that means?
To me, stepping into your power means deciding not to play small anymore. To live in alignment with your truth and who you are and not being willing to compromise. To dial into your intentions and commit to authenticity. To live the ultimate expression of yourself.
How do you integrate faith into what you do?
Faith is integrated into everything I do. It’s why I serve and help other women. It’s why I use my gifts and talents and tell my story - it’s all for His glory.
Everyone recharges in their own way. Some people enjoy walks in the park, others long bike rides, while others still prefer curling up with a good book. What are your favorite methods of relaxing and recharging, especially during a hectic and crazy season?
Reading - some of my go to’s are Rilke, Danielle LaPorte and Brene Brown. Lighting candles, yoga, meditation. Sleep is also a really great way to recharge, and gosh, I love sleeping. Also, tea. My personal favorite is Peppermint or Woman's Moon Cycle tea.
Do you have any habits or routines that help you win the day? If so, what do you believe is the single most important aspect of it?
Prayer. It's the best reminder that it's not about you or me. Everything is for Him and the greater good.
Thanks for dropping by for today’s interview…
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