Keep Going Bravely Forward

with Mehgan Heaney-Grier

Introduce yourself! Who are you?
Hi, my name is Mehgan Heaney-Grier – I am a freediver, marine educator, ocean advocate, and storyteller, having spent much my career working on both sides of the camera as a series host as well as an executive producer. I am a proud inductee in the woman divers hall of fame and by way of passion and default, am a life-long marine conservationist. I have pretty much been working in, under and for the ocean for most of my life!

What is one thing no one really knows about you?
I am pretty amazing at driving backwards, and backing up any size vehicle into any space – trucks, boat trailers, camper trailers – you name it. One of my strange talents – ha!

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
I was on the ladies’ varsity basketball team my freshman year of high school. I wasn’t really all that good at the sport, but made several of the varsity teams in my youth I think due mostly to the fact that I went to a small high school, and also because I’ve always been an excellent team player. We had very intense and awesome coach for the team, Coach Lopez. He trained and worked us hard, and despite being in great physical shape and my tall build giving me the look of a basketball player, I always struggled at shooting the ball, especially under the pressure in a game or scrimmage during practice. At some point I had gotten into the habit of not looking at the basket when I would shoot the ball, by briefly closing my eyes or looking off to the side. I don’t really know why, or what my strategy was here, maybe I just didn’t want to see what was going to happen! Coach Lopez would get so mad and heated up, he would yell “HEANEY!”, because I hadn’t yet added my stepdad’s last name to mine yet, and was still going by, Mehgan Heaney. So he’d say “HEANEY, you can’t wish it in the basket!” Sound advice, in basketball, and in life! Funny, the sport didn’t stick but this sage advice from Coach Lopez sure did. I think of this often when I hesitate. Whether it’s in starting a new project, putting myself out there in some new and vulnerable way – taking that next step into the unknown is always a leap of faith and it can be scary. But then I think – HEANEY, you can’t wish it in the basket, you have to DO it. You’ve got to put in the hard work, keep your eyes on the target, take the shot and and follow through.

What would you say to 16 year old you?
Do not overly concern yourself with what others think of you, about what you do, and say, and who you are.  We are told in a variety of ways along the way, that we are not enough, or conversely that we are too much. But you are not going to be a great fit for everyone, and everyone is not a great fit for you either, that’s fine, that’s life. Keep the course with who you truly are – dig into that early, and often. That is the best of what you have to offer this world, and it’s grand!

Have you ever had anyone doubt you? How did that make you feel?
I have! Many times over…for me I mostly have let that fuel my fire, to push forward and prove them wrong. The most detrimental doubt though, is when I have doubted myself. It certainly isn’t productive and can ultimately be paralyzing – putting you in that stuck, stagnant place. It’s important to develop tools to help launch yourself out of this type of funk when it happens. The important thing to remember, is that this is something we share in our human experience. We ALL feel this way sometimes, doubt ourselves along the way, and it is ALWAYS scary going into the unknown, just by the very nature of it! You are not alone and it’s okay to reach out for a hand up. Focus on you, figure out what you need and take that next step, and keep going bravely forward.

What message do you think every woman should hear?
That you are enough, and worthy of putting yourself first. It is the best thing you can do for those who depend on you too!

What do you love most about yourself?
That I am resilient. The journey and process of life has a way of shaping that, just from the sheer number of times get knocked down, and then have to pick ourselves back up again. It grows that valuable and necessary ability to pick up and keep carrying on. Be proud of it.

What is (one of) the biggest lesson you’ve learned along the way?
That there is beauty and power in the letting go. Things won’t always be perfect, or within your control, or go like you planned… and that’s okay.

What motivates you most?
My feeling of responsibility, and knowing that there is always something more that I can do to give back, connect, and make the world around me a better place…in whatever big or small way that may be.

How do you manage your work-life balance?
I work out quite a bit, try to get moving just about every day. It does all the great stuff we know about – clears the mind, relieves stress, gets the good hormones flowing, and helps activate my creativity… the biggest thing is getting my body into motion when I don’t feel like it. Those are the most important times to get out and do it. I have also started setting a quitting time for each day. Being self employed it is important to do that – give yourself an official time to shut it down and focus on you, family and the other aspects of life that bring us balance and joy.

What is your favorite meal?
Easy. Beans and rice… with hot sauce. Best ever, always. Whatever else goes with it is negotiable.

What do you do on a daily basis to grow and move forward?
I have worked to establish better and healthy boundaries with my “smart” phone, I started journaling in the morning, getting my mind organized for the day first thing. Recently, I was feeling the need for some of those new tools I mentioned previously, and a friend turned me onto the #mindsetrest with Mel Robbins around the new year. It has been totally stellar for me! Highly recommend it – and it’s totally free, no strings (bonus!)

Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration in nature, and exploration – in kindness, and in connecting with other people. Also and especially, I find inspiration in my time in the ocean ocean, time with my son, and in the enthusiasm of young people… My favorite thing is to bring all of that together – connecting my son, youth, and people of all ages really, with the ocean, the excitement of exploration, and their ability to have a positive impact in the world around them. We all have the power to make a difference, and it’s awesome when people realize that and then pay it forward with their work and passion.

More About Mehgan

Mehgan Heaney-Grier is a freediver, marine educator, ocean advocate, and storyteller, having spent much of her career working on both sides of the camera as a series host as well as an executive producer. She is a proud inductee in the woman divers hall of fame and by way of passion and default, is a life-long marine conservationist. Mehgan has pretty much been working in, under and for the ocean for most of her life!

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