The Bledsoe Show

Burning Man, Consent, and The Butt That Went Viral with Maelyn – The Bledsoe Show #122

Burning Man, Consent, and The Butt That Went Viral with Maelyn - The Bledsoe Show #122

FMaelyn is a certified yoga instructor, energetic healer, and the founder of Pop-up Yoga Productions: creating concept-oriented yoga experiences. She is a mover and shaker, a full-time truth seeker, an ongoing theatre maker, and a mind-body-soul game changer. In this episode, we talk about her butt that went viral, her liberating experience with Burning Man, and thoughts on boundaries and consent.

Table Of Contents

Connect with Maelyn

Maelyn's Ass: An Introduction

Sandy Cheeks
Photographer: Jakob Owens | Source: Unsplash

Mike: Okay. We're going to start with the story. You told this story one night and I was completely entranced. So, please, share about your ass.

Maelyn: Absolutely. I love that when I first approached you, you said, "Can we start with your ass, Maelyn?" Where else would we start? That's how most men start with me as well. "Maelyn, can we start with your ass?" Sure, why not?

Mike: Tough life

Maelyn: It is. A hard knock one, as they say. Well, as I was sharing with you and a group of our friends that evening, most of my life, and I imagine most women can relate, I have hated, absolutely detested, my butt. And I would say that I could out-Goldilocks Goldilocks. It was either too big or too small. I once even had a boyfriend say, "That is saggy." And the ironic thing is at that point, I was probably 82 pounds. 28 years old, and I was drastically underweight. And then to have someone say your butt is saggy was a real mindfuck.

Maelyn: And coming from a very religious background, I was also in, at that time, a mindspace of modesty, where I was covering things very fastidiously. So any time I went out in public was highly cognizant of what was being exposed, skin-wise, even. And was so paranoid of people being able to see my butt, I couldn't even wear yoga pants without having a sweatshirt tied around my waist.

Being butt-conscious

Mike: When did it start? At what age did you start being self-conscious about your butt?

Maelyn: I remember being self-conscious about my butt when I was 10 years old. Which meant living in … I grew up in San Diego, and living in a beach town, that is tough, to go to the beach.

Mike: There are a lot of butts out there.

Maelyn: Oh, there is. And you had to have a perennially beach-ready body, where it's always sunny.

Mike: That's true. That's the one thing about San Diego. People are like, "What? Everyone's so beautiful here." And I was like, everyone's under the gun [crosstalk] 365 days of the year.

Maelyn: Constantly. You might have a fluke December 75 degree weather, it's like, "Hit the beach." I can't have a winter gut, no way.

Mike: You go to Minnesota and everyone's let themselves go in the winter.

Maelyn: All those layers.

Getting tired of hating her body

Maelyn: I would use, before kimonos were in style, back in the day I was covering myself up with little shawls and wraps and it was a quick hustle from my towel down to the water. Like, get me in there. No one is allowed to see that booty. And after Harry Potter came out I remember wishing, "Can I get an invisibility cloak? Just something to hide myself under?" because there was such a shroud of shame that I carried. I never wanted someone to be able to look at me. And that really applied to most of my body. To have a man notice you, and especially with this religious mindset, that if a man saw you, potentially then he could sexualize you. Which is a really bad thing.

Maelyn: And one day, this is about two years ago, I decided, "I'm sick and tired of hating myself and being so in opposition to my own body." Because I otherwise feel like a very empowered, confident person. And there's got to be something to all of these men that have grabbed my butt and gone, "Wow, where did this come from?" Because you know me, I'm a very petite, small person and there's a little bit of junk in that trunk. It was always kind of a surprise factor when a guy would reach around and go, "Hello, there's some flesh back there." To which would always cause this panic response in my body.

Maelyn's Burning Man Experience

Heading into  my first Burning Man- and blessed to be an ambient drummer for the Fire Spinners, who perform around the Man prior to the burning ceremony.  One of the days of my life that I will never forget,  and find strange dreams surrounding this picture when I’m older and starting to forget- a grounding of who I am, the people I want to  surround myself with, and the courage and love that I want to guide me for the rest of my lifetime.
Photographer: Bry Ulrick | Source: Unsplash

Maelyn: I think that is … And if we could all just really hear and get each other on that level, the amount of compassion and empathy that we could access would be tremendous. What an experience to look in the mirror and not actually see what is truly there and present.

Maelyn: But as I was preparing to go to Burning Man, most of us will create some kind of deep intention. What's your purpose? What would you like to discover or excavate or realize on your time out on the playa? It's such a vortex of synchronicities and magic. And facetiously, I turned to one of my girlfriends and said, "This year, I'm going to learn how to love my own ass."

Maelyn: And I felt sort of cheeky and mischievous declaring that. And then I also had to be very sacred and real and say, "And also, I'm going to have connected Queendom. I'm going to come into those deep, spiritual inner work too." But really, it had a very deep, inner context for me. I wanted to come into this space where I was tired of excommunicating my own body from my own body, and step into an era of booty worship.

Maelyn: As I was preparing my costumes, and costume is a pretty big deal at Burning Man. It's the ultimate expression of your inner world and radical expression. Every piece that I was gathering together was a little bit more scantily clad outfits and little sexier than I might normally have put on. It was a process of, when I wear something like this, how will it make me feel? How will it be received by others?

Pretending a role

Maelyn: And I stepped out onto the playa that year and was still a little bit edgy, beginning of the week. Was still a little bit more covered up. And I remember the first day I put on a little bit shorter panties, and they were leopard covered, I had to race right back into our U-Haul and put on … I tied something around my waist. I was like, what? Are you 11 years old again? Why are you tying something around your waist?

Maelyn: All the quirks of Burning Man, yes. I stepped back out and had to assume a role. And I'm an actress, and so the confidence that I gave myself was, "Pretend that you're playing a character right now. And if you were this character, if you were someone who was a little bit more of a sexy vixen, how would she move? And how would she exude an aura of confidence and take no shit from the world? What would she say to others?" And with that permission, it was okay for me to be in public, because it wasn't totally me.

Maelyn: And the ironic thing is, at that moment I remember that a year prior, I had been in a play here in San Diego. And one of the scenes, I make this big, dramatic entrance wearing hot pink lingerie, high heels and that only. And literally, I strutted my stuff across that stage and there had not been an issue.

Camp Mystic and liberation time

Maelyn: Then on Wednesday night, we have this big party, the camp that I'm part of, called Camp Mystic. And I pulled out lacy, black panties and knee-high boots and a corset. And got up on the second-story level beside the DJ booth, next to the performers, and got up there and started dancing. And there was such a sense of liberation and play. And what was particularly poignant about this night is that all the men that are part of Camp Mystic have created a container, before that party even began, that said, "We are going to stand as protectors and guides and stewards for the Divine Feminine in this space. So that they can come out and play and be their sexy, raw, primal selves." And so feeling that that context was created allowed for me to really let whatever wanted to emerge, come out.

Maelyn: And so I was just unleashed and unbounded as I had never been before. And I turned to one of my Mystic brothers, new-found friend, and said, "Yes. Can I tell you a secret? I've hated my butt my whole life and I'm learning how to love it tonight. Tonight's my night." And he turned to me with big eyes and said, "Are you kidding? You hate that thing? That's what drew me over here. That's what pulled me up to this second story to dance next to you. That thing is delicious. What?" And so having him give me that boost of confidence and validation was just the extra stamp of approval.

There's nothing like Burning Man

Maelyn: And throughout the night, he would tiptoe over and lean into my ear and go, "Just so you know, there's 200 men watching you shake your butt right now. Proceed. Go ahead." And that felt so fun and playful. And the rest of the night proceeded with absolute sparkles and magic.

Maelyn: To the extent that the next day when I was riding my bike out in the middle of the playa, I had numerous men come up and approach me and say, "Was that you? Were you that woman on the platform dancing? It was, it was you, wasn't it?" And I just had to go, "Yeah, well, the one next to … Well, yeah, it was me. I was that dancer." Like, "You were beautiful. Thank you. I wish that I had been able to come up and talk to you, but you seemed so … It was just intimidating." And I was like, whoa, okay, I really tapped into something here.

Maelyn: And later that week, I was in a sunrise, which is the most glorious time on the playa. If there's somewhere anyone, listeners, you want to be on this planet Earth, it is sunrise at Burning Man. The change your soul, it's liberating.

Mike: Yeah. Yeah, there's some parties happening right at sunrise. And yeah, it feels like for me, going out on the playa, 9:00, 10:00, 11 o'clock at night with your crew and dancing and running into different DJs and wandering around and meeting strange people and discovering new things. And then you can start, and it starts getting a little bit lighter, yeah. There's nothing like it.

The Butt That Went Viral

The Butt That Went Viral

Maelyn: There isn't. It's like you have danced the day alive. And because you've alchemized things in yourself, it's truly this transformative moment that then you are sharing with everyone, that gets a little bit quieter and you're watching daylight break. It's such a communal experience.

Maelyn: And in that moment, I was wearing a rainbow tutu and yellow, fishnet stockings. And a good friend was with me and he was like, "Hey. Bend over." And we happened to snap this shot of literally the sun rising right between my ass cheeks and this perfect moment of utter play and release and someone in such sheer joy and confidence. And that photo happened to go viral. Posted on Instagram, and then picked up by a couple of other accounts, and picked up by some blogs. And it was that final piece for me that said, "Yeah. I definitely learned how to love my ass. And definitely gave the okay for other people to love my ass. And now, if anyone wants to come grab or squeeze or slap, you are invited in. It's a congregation of come on."

Welcome to my ass

Maelyn: Then the end button to that story was a few months later, I got a phone call from someone I hadn't heard from in 10 years, from college. And I went to a religious university. And I'm super curious. "Wow, we haven't talked in 10 years. What …" And we kind of did the phone tag thing back and forth and finally I get a text message like, "Well, I know you're probably wondering what this is all about. And let's schedule a phone call."

Maelyn: And we finally connect, he goes, "The thing is, I got to talk to you about Burning Man. I saw this picture …" And I just, peals of laughter, dying laughing. And to this day, I keep teasing him about that. And he is not the first person who has called me to talk to Burning Man as a consequence or result or utter joy of that picture. Which I told you you could now share on [crosstalk] your podcast.

Mike: Yes. I'll be sharing that.

Maelyn: Welcome to my ass.

Coming Back from Burning Man

Photographer: Anne James | Source: Unsplash

Mike: You had that experience on the playa. What was it like coming back? Because there's always … You've probably heard me talk about this. But coming back from Burning Man, it's an adjustment.

Maelyn: Yes.

Mike: There's an integration process. It's not one of those things where I come back and I go, "Oh, I'm ready to go back to work and everything's good now." What's funny is this last year I go, oh, it's my third time. Second year was easier than the first year, and the third year ended up being the hardest to integrate. Took me months to really get back to normal. And there's nothing wrong with that. I don't want people to hear that and go, "Oh shit." I was still working, things got done, life was good, I was happy. But there was an adjustment.

Mike: There was an adjustment made for me in the last year where I go, "Oh, it rattled some things up that turned out to be really good." For you, what's it been like during that integration period? And how has that shifted your relationship to your butt and the rest of your body? Because I imagine it wasn't just your butt, it shifted a lot about you.

Maelyn: Yes. My experience was somewhat of the opposite. Coming off of Burning Man, for the first time in my life I actually felt safe in the world. And I think that would be the deeper underlying reason of not wanting my butt to be noticed, is not wanting to be identified in the world, be feeling threatened and predatorial energy from men. And then reemerging from this container of …

Being Aware Of Boundaries

Maelyn: Absolutely. Prior to that Burning Man, I had a high level vigilance and almost had to assess every man that I was interacting with before the fortress of protection would come down and I could allow someone to come in to an interaction. And after that, it was an open playing field. And then should a boundary be crossed, then was that firm insistence that someone leave my particular Queendom, that I was fully in command of my field, my boundaries at all time. If that makes sense.

Mike: Yeah. And I think it's a really great thing to bring up, the boundaries conversation. I work with people and I hold our retreats, a huge part of what we teach is boundaries. And what I know about boundaries is that people's boundaries are being crossed all the time. And it's because people are not even aware of their own boundaries. They don't recognize them consciously, as such, and then they don't speak up about it when they're crossed. Boundaries are being crossed, people feel violated, but the person that's violating the boundaries doesn't even know it's happening.

Mike: So it's a two-way street, is the person who is feeling violated or the boundaries are being violated, they need to speak up. They need to say something. Because the other person just doesn't even know. I mean, it could be a simple boundary as, "Hey, could you just text before you come over to my house?" I'm not talking about even … I mean, all boundaries, physical boundaries, boundaries at work, what you will do, what you won't do, where you work more hours than …

Boundaries is a two-way thing

Mike: I know a lot of people, they have poor boundary setting around that. "My boss asked me to work overtime again but I really don't want to." It's like, okay, then say no. These are boundaries. And I like to point out it's a two-way street, because I know when … I work with a lot of women. And a lot of times, they're like, "This guy crossed my boundary …" And did you say anything? "No." Okay. So now you get to take 100% responsibility for taking that on and moving forward. And then if you speak about your boundaries and then someone crosses that, that's a fucking problem.

Maelyn: Absolutely. And this is such a pertinent conversation right now in lieu of the consent culture, MeToo movement, the Kavanaugh trials. I was recently invited to come speak to a group of young girls about just creating boundaries and agreements when there had been a few instances of sexual assault in a religious congregation. And just talking to the girls about how you can express, yes. Can we hold hands or not? And this was revelatory to them.

Maelyn: Or to even sit next to someone on the couch or on a date and say, "I feel that there is some chemistry and energy between us. But let's just not kiss tonight. Let's just share that space with one another with the awareness that we're not going to take that any further and just really relish and savor this space together." And I'm watching these light bulbs go off in these pre-teens girls' heads. "Wow, I can say that?" And it's not, the boundary isn't expressed when the threshold has already been crossed, but preemptively, compassionately, you can declare what and how you want to operate and thrive.

Let's Talk About Consent

Photographer: Nadine Shaabana | Source: Unsplash

Mike: And additionally, when I was first introduced to the conversation, how to have a conversation about boundaries, about consent, my first thought was, "Doesn't that ruin the moment?" if you're having this romantic experience. I grew up where the woman wants to be taken, and stopping and asking permission, would that throw things off? And I remember thinking, "Oh wow. This is a whole different way of approaching it." And I'm very open-minded, so I was definitely into practicing it in a context, in a workshop. And what I found to be true is the exact opposite.

Mike: And I think that what you see in a lot of movies, there's not this whole conversation about it. We have this whole culture built up in a way that leads everyone to believe that the man is supposed to lead the way and really … I mean really, in a movie, what's happening is a demonstration of a really high emotional EQ, high emotional intelligence guy, able to read the energy of the woman and knows exactly how to engage with her. That's what's happening. It's a fucking movie. It's sensational.

Maelyn: Well, arguably I would say that's not what's being modeled, that they're high EQ.

Mike: Well, yeah. I-

Maelyn: What we're seeing is this Casanova who sweeps a woman off her feet and that it's highly romantic and there's this velocity and force that's so tremendously enamoring and that's what we all want in our lives. But that idea of, if you ask, does that disrupt the flow? No.

May I kiss you right now?

Maelyn: And I recently was on a date and presented this to the guy that if you were to ask, "Hey, I'm feeling a lot between us. May I kiss you right now?" how sexy that is for a woman. First, for that energy to be acknowledged, and then to empower her with the capacity to say, "Yes. Yeah, you may kiss me." Then it allows her to be a constituent of the experience and in no way does that create an interrupt or a hiccup of what's already occurring, but it makes you both active participants. And that was a completely novel concept for him.

Mike: Yeah. I know for me, the way it used to be was I wanted to kiss a girl. Like, okay. Does she want me to kiss her? I want to kiss her. Should I go in now? What should I do? And there's this whole-

Maelyn: Oh yeah. The internal dialogue.

Mike: Just going on, going on and going on. And then when I was younger, I was on the side of probably waiting too long. I was too cautious. I was like, "Oh shit. I'm so nervous." And my experience of it now is I always lead with conversation. I would say there are rare, I don't even want to bring it up. I think it's a pro move if you can be in energy with somebody and energetically have this conversation.

Mike: That can happen. But it happens with two people who are very in touch.

Maelyn: In tune, yeah.

Mike: They're very in touch with themselves, they're very in tune, and they probably are a little more on the energetic side of, we could call it a personality, just to simplify it. Some people can have access to that.

Having a "Brave Space" instead of "Safe Space"

Maelyn: And interestingly, in the media and entertainment industry, now what is occurring are intimacy coordinators on the sets of different TV shows and even pornos, who are there as advocates for the actors to make sure that the actors' best interest is being served. So before moments of connection, making sure that, in that position, are your knees okay? Do you need ChapStick? Do you feel comfortable here? Is this … Are your boundaries being preserved? X, Y, Z, because they were noticing …

Maelyn: Even for myself, I have a theater background and I directed a lot of plays. And any time there was any form of intimacy, I would call a special, closed rehearsal just with those actors that had that form of physical contact, because it's always awkward when you have a first stage kiss or any form of pedaling or touching. You won't want onlookers there at that first moment. So that they feel safe. And to say, okay, we're going to take it, it's a choreographed moment. Let's take it slow, how do you feel? Is this comfortable? To make the mechanics of it still look realistic, but so that the actors themselves … You know, we're all actors on our life stage. That everyone feels …

Maelyn: And there's this new term that I absolutely love, called not a safe space but a brave space. Because it's really unlikely that we can always have spaces that are safe, but brave. And that bravery to be able to give voice to what's occurring, and to be a stand for ourselves as well as everyone around. And when missteps or mess-ups occur, that we have the ability to clean it up and clear it up.

A more intimate connection when getting consent

Mike: Oh, the one thing I wanted to cap off the consent conversation with was that what I found is way more enjoyable intimate connection when actually getting consent and speaking into it. What I thought was going to be something that would throw it off ends up making it way hotter and easier and more enjoyable. Yeah.

Maelyn: I agree. And I commend you and thank you and to all listening for willingness to read those statements, ask those questions. "May I touch your ass?" Yes. Yes, you may.

Mike: Well you know, just last week I was with somebody and we set the boundary at a certain point. And it was really nice knowing we're going to have a really good time but this is where the line is drawn. It's like, okay. There's no … At no point in the entire night am I questioning that I, oh, should I go further? It's like, I know exactly where I can go. And I'm going to have a lot of fun within these boundaries. So even if you're not going … Most guys want to get laid. I know that. I think most girls want to get laid, too. But it's good to set boundaries along the way and enjoy bits and pieces as you go.

Maelyn's Spoken Word

1ZWI Poetry Jam is a Christian Spoken Word event! The name translates to One Voice! Thusly, it’s a gathering of poets with one objective - to be one voice! What voice right? The notion behind this movement is to model a youthful culture in Zimbabwe of poetry and spoken word! A young people whose actions are a mere manifest of the Word Of God! Thusly 1ZWI then becomes a community of young people that meet every fortnight at different locations in Harare, Zimbabwe.
Photographer: Trust "Tru" Katsande | Source: Unsplash

Life Is In Session!

Did I mention I'm currently in school? I'm Presence'ly enrolled at the University of Human'ing, working on my double PhD in Trust and Surrender.

Silly me, I thought it'd be fun to sign up for the accelerated course curriculum. Sillier yet, I assumed I’d already Mastered (in) the Heart Work. Turns out there are no shortcuts. Everyday my professors actualize as someone new (Hey you! Guru??) or someplace unexpected… The wisdom of a sunset! Insights offered on Aisle 9. Historied reflections and newfound connections everywhere from URL's to IRL.

…Can I share a secret? I'm beginning to suspect there might not even be a set graduation date! I've got an inkling that there is no real ink, paper, or stamped diploma – because the way this Life keeps unrolling has me ENrolling in new classes all the time. I get schooled everyday.

Major perks: the field trips are out of this world. And perhaps best of all? This program is big on pause, integration, and recess! I might even Emphasize in Play.

Back to Trust and Surrender. True kindred spirits and playground pals of vulnerability and intimacy…

See, I tried out enrollment in the School of Hard Knocks. Took a ton of classes, racked up flimsy credits, and night after night came home with more bruises. With everyone clamoring and clawing to come out on top, best friends became bullies – but none could outshine our own inner critic. Later than sooner (fortunately) enough was enough–

"Get me outta here, transfer me please!
I don't care and I'll pay whatever the change-over fees!
But I won't take one more day pushed down to my knees!"

So. To my here and our now. Full-time. Overtime. Double-time. Exceedingly beyond space-time. Me and this University of Humanit-Free. Human'ing and Healing and Hearting and hOMing and Having-It-All (simultaneously knowing that All is Nothing when Love is not Present.)

This time? It's a Tuition paid for in faith, aligned action, deep inquiry, discernment, intuition, and a splash of Mae-gic. At-hOMe-Work steered and galvanized by evolution, discovery, and contribution.

In this grand game of Trust and Surrender opportunities surface to co-create and collaborate with resonant dance partners. Like-minded souls and seekers and spoons. Invitations for Into-Me-See. But it's still a stretch. Some places can feel edgy. Like I said, this is a doctoral program in Trust and Surrender. I won't claim to have it all figured out. But I can cross-my-heart and hope-to-(ego)die to stay wholly present and accountable for my experience, needs and responses. Which looks like: noticing moments of contraction…respecting sovereignty and boundaries…listening to the subtleties and cues of the nervous system/somatic body/cognitive narrative…even spontaneous dance parties!

To receive is to give oneself and to give is to receive the other. To find security in a mutual risking.

Right now I notice a slight contraction. We've got the banter/repartee/wordplay in spades. Willingness to share more depthfully newly emergent. But when it comes to physical touch, sometimes I recognize I need a little bit more foundational knowingness. More, something to ease and abate some of that. It could be a phone call, or just a little shared face time. But me, little spoon, I'm big on transparency. I'm just sharing what's real. Like I said, I'm already on a journey, committed to trust and surrender.
And the U of Human'ing is infinitely more fun with Spoons and Study Buddies.

As for group project 101, 9:00 PM today, if that still works for you.


Me, and the University of We

Inspiration for the piece

Mike: Got chills on that one. Little teary eyed. What was the inspiration for that?

Maelyn: Oh man, the muse is everywhere. Honestly, it was feeling like I had mastered a lesson and life knocking me down to my knees and one of those heart blasted wide open feeling so tender and clueless and infinitely minuscule. Going, "Okay, God. Universe, Source, our shorthand is in comedy, black comedy, because the only way I know how to get through this is to laugh and transmute this into something of beauty. Beauty and the beast of this moment." So all I can do is try to create from this moment, and that's the best way to get past this. Though I find that my best work often comes, I'm sure as most can relate, from those moments of crisis.

Mike: Yeah. What's your relationship to surrender? I know that for a lot of people, my perception, my relationship to surrender is much different than it used to be. I used to be, I never surrender. And surrender was us giving up and I know that when people hear that, they see surrender as a bad thing, not something that you would embrace. What's your relationship and understanding of surrender?

Maelyn: My understanding is that it is one of the keystone, fundamental reasons for existence, that we are here to unlearn. That the purpose of this being is to unpack all of our belief systems and expectations and attachments and so more and more it's this unshackling of identity to come into identi-free. Embrace it, I welcome it. And the more I welcome it, I feel like I get a little bitch-slap. Like, "Haha, you think you get it? Try again. That's cute."

Maelyn's Next Moves

The way to the cabin
Photographer: averie woodard | Source: Unsplash

Mike: It's exactly what it is. What are you excited about next?

Maelyn: I am loving, as you said, just being in a parallel synchronization with summertime. And I was sharing with you on my way over here how the muse hit at a very inconvenient time, that I was starting to write and the car, I have to get over to your house. But I've been writing quite a bit more and so I am performing in a couple of different venues. I've got a performance tomorrow night and so both my highest excitement right now is in sharing in community and performance and letting both through dance medicine as that, the story about my ass I shared with you while dancing.

Mike: Oh yeah. I wish people could have the experience that I had. I'm lounging on this, I don't know what it was, a big pillow on the floor. And you're up dancing and performing it and demonstrating it. It was great.

Maelyn: Yes. I have integrated movement, dance, which I think is essential for that story, because it's about embodiment and similarly, I'm coaching a lot more clients on how to be permissionaries for themselves. And coming into a sense of deep play and acceptance. And how from that they can emancipate their souls and find what it is that they most desire and be in alignment and catalyze joy. That's where I'm at.

How to Break Out and Do Something New

Exploring the green outdoors
Photographer: Michelle Spencer | Source: Unsplash

Mike: Imagine somebody, they work a 9:00 to 5:00 job, they work their job, they go to the gym. Most days look alike. On the weekends they go out, maybe have some drinks, have a good time. But may not feel like they're self-expressed or living their best life. What's a good first step for somebody who wants to break out, that's living that type of a life, that wants to break out and do something new?

Maelyn: My first piece of advice would be, find something that allows you to be barefoot, to be silly, that allows you to mess up. I'll take my students through silly moments. And there'll be a moment where I'll often juxtapose my playlist where an absurd song will come on that makes no sense and it's a throwback to the '80s, or the lyrics are just goofy. And I often comment, "Go by a playground some time and watch children at play." Because they're total nerds, little goofballs. And they'll tumble and fall, but they have the resiliency and the tenacity to get back right up and continue and resume their game of chase and tag. And they're not thrown off. And it's not like, oh man, everything just … The world collapsed. They just continue.

Maelyn: So, give yourself opportunities to, and another one of my jobs is I teach playwriting, is mess up. Be a student of fucking up willingly and embrace every opportunity to be a little bit silly and to try on something that is edgy and risky that gives you exposure to others. Not for criticism, not even for feedback, but that gives you that vulnerability, because vulnerability is the club password for connection, both to yourself and to others around you.

Connect with Maelyn

Mike: Love it. Where can people find you?

Maelyn: You can find me on stages and studios, but you really want to connect, check my out on Instagram. My handle is Maelyn, my name, M-A-E-L-Y-N, rising, like a phoenix rising. And would love to connect, yeah.

Mike: Rad. Go give her a follow, folks. And I'll be snagging that photo from you to throw up on the blog. Thanks for joining me today.

Maelyn: Thanks for having me.

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