Who better to interview for Thanksgiving week than Marney Henze?
That’s a rhetorical question, obviously… Marney is one of my favorite people and I’m beyond flattered she sat down to share a snippet of her story with us, because she’s truly a beacon of light.
We “met” in eighth grade, and by met, I mean I saw her at the high school track with the kids from Mile High… I was real intimidated.
Fortunately, once high school started, we became fast friends. I still remember her telling me I needed to lotion my elbows because they were ashy, and to this day, I make it a point to investigate and moisturize consistently. No one wants ashy elbows.
I have the fondest memories with her and Grace in Mr. Benson’s English class (SEATS! THE BLUE PARTS! – sorry, that’s the only inside joke… maybe).
And after graduation, with the ease of social media, I’ve been fortunate enough to stay in consistent contact with her… even more so since our friend’s passing.
Her creativity is boundless, her dance videos are heart-warming, and her compassion is inspiring… and I’m going to stop complimenting her now because it’s almost getting creepy.
“Is that your ‘O’ face?” I asked Marney as she popped onto my screen. My head was ensnared with the sexual wellness story that would soon be released, which I obviously explained.
Her infectious laugh rung in my ears and I was prompted to discuss exactly why I wanted to feature her this week.
“You just have this warmth and serenity about you that makes me so happy, Marn; I want to share it with everyone, if you’ll indulge me…” I said, watching her smile.
She adjusted her boujee gold necklace that rested over a sleeveless black turtleneck, nodding as I asked her to talk about her upbringing.
“Yeah, totally… I was adopted when I was three days old, so obviously I have no recollection of my birth parents. But it was never this big reveal; I always remember knowing I was adopted,” she began. “Two of my other siblings were adopted, too, and my parents always hated when people would praise them for ‘bringing us in’ because they just considered us their children.”
“My siblings always helped taking care of me when I was younger, but by the time I was in 5th grade, they were all out of the house.”
She continued, expressing how grateful she was to have such great memories of her childhood.
“From what I can remember, I was always a really happy child… I was very spoiled, not just in things but in love; my parents absolutely adored me,” she beamed.
Marney’s parents renovated their cabin in Prescott when she was seven, turning it into their permanent home, which we’re all eternally grateful for.
“That was the best house… I will never forget Halloween there,” I exclaimed, recalling how daring I thought my red cabaret costume was. Of course, this was before I found myself in the skimpy world of Old Town Scottsdale.
“Oh my gosh, yeah, and my parents got a DJ?!…” she laughed, shaking her head.
If I’m being honest, I’m pretty bummed she didn’t have a super sweet sixteen party on MTV.
“I know your dad is a lawyer still… remind me what you mom did,” I scanned through my brain trying to recall.
“She actually taught kindergarten for 17 years and then retired at some point to focus on the kids. My mom loved the chaos…” the memory made her pause. “In seventh grade, actually, when I met Grace, she offered to help her dad by picking her up and having her over every Wednesday after school, which turned into like eight girls after school every Wednesday,” Marney remembered with adoration.
“Uh yeah, and I always had one of you in my class talking about how much fun you had and being super fucking jealous,” I reacted… damn pom practice. “But really, how special to have a place where everyone felt so safe and loved.”
“Yeah, my mom was just always so good about that. She took in multiple different people and was just like, ‘okay, I’m gonna take care of you and get you on your feet,’” Marney looked up and touched her chest, just below her necklace.
“I remember one time in high school – it was like freshman year – I was complaining about how annoying this girl was and my mom goes, ‘No! You better go out of your way to say hi and be nice to that girl. You have no idea what kind of home she comes from!’” she laughed after doing her best impression. “So yeah, I guess I had my main ‘crew’ in high school, but I really did get along with everyone thanks to everything my mom instilled in me…”
We talked about how close our whole class was, fully engaging with each other in the hallways, at sporting events, and of course, as we downed Keystone and Hypnotiq at woods parties.
Aaah, I can even smell the contents of that blue bottle which makes my stomach turn with nostalgia and impending vomit.
Marney continued on, explaining how her mom (Honey, as she calls her) would drive to the school to drop off a shoe so she could play in her volleyball game, or buy new ones so she wouldn’t miss a show (Marn also did theater… I know – Jack of all trades… but lets change that to Jill of all trades… no, Bey of all trades. Flows better).
“Where do you think she got that from?” I asked, “was her mom like that or did she go the complete opposite way?”
“My mom’s mom struggled with alcohol so she had to grow up really fast… she had five siblings and took on the motherly role at a super young age,” she expressed with her hands, listing out everything her mom did for her brothers and sisters.
“I’m sure that made it so much harder then, when she started to lose her faculties,” I voiced aloud with concern.
“Yeah, well I think it actually started sooner than any of us knew,” she raised an eyebrow. “When I was in high school, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and she got a double mastectomy almost right away, and my memory is that she got healthy somewhat quickly after, but they said usually people with Alzheimer’s have a traumatic event that can trigger it,” she grabbed a peach Yeti (I think) and drank from her eco-friendly straw.
“I was just hearing about that on a podcast, actually,” I recalled, “that a lot of diseases or potential for cancer can remain dormant unless they’re triggered by some traumatic event.”
Welp… 2020 has been just about the most traumatic thing, so that’s neat for our already fragile healthcare system.
“Okay, so we’re going to take a left turn because I want to start talking about how you incorporated mindfulness and became the woman you are today!” I said in a couple octaves above what was necessary. “Give me the inside scoop…”
She smiled with a composed stillness, “Grace took me to my first yoga class just after high school and I remember sitting on this carpeted floor… I was so uncomfortable, and I just kept thinking ‘I hate yoga… this seriously sucks,’” she laughed. “But then when I moved out to LA for school, my apartment complex offered free yoga classes and I was all into being fit, because you know – LA, but for a while it was all purely external.”
From Marney’s estimation, the transition from her practice being physical to internal happened about four years ago.
“Yeah, it’s cool to be able to hold a handstand or do some hard pose, but really it’s about moving the energy around and preparing to sit in stillness,” she concluded.
I fumbled my way through asking her what her resting attitude was (like resting heart rate? Resting bitch face?), explaining that I was always quick to anger or frustration, and for a long time, all my validation came from external validity.
“Oh yeah, same, and I feel like I was always very self-conscious because I was a taller, bigger girl in school and boys were just kind of mean, so that sticks with you…” she recalled a few comments people made in elementary school and middle school.
Let me just say… bullies are hardly ever creative.
“So, I was definitely a happy kid, but I do remember being frustrated when guys would want to date my friends and not me, so I compensated with things… I would obsess over what purse to wear with an outfit, or what shoes would impress people, which obviously gave me no self esteem because I wasn’t buying any of that shit myself… I had zero dollars,” she furrowed her brows and lifted her hand as if to say, ‘get it together, girl.’
She continued by explaining how angry she would get when she was trying to understand her mom’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis. “When I was living with Jackie, I was just not a kind person… something small would set me off and I’d flip a switch. I would put up walls for people that loved me and had no interest in talking with anyone about my feelings,” she said.
Her mom was diagnosed in 2013 and as Marney recalls, she had no idea how to cope with it. “I was getting into situations that made me feel small and made my anger feel so much heavier. I was sleeping in later and later until one day I just woke up and thought ‘I cannot do this anymore,’ so I went to a yoga studio and more than anything, I was so amazed by this teacher, Angie Hall, who showed us a type of breath work called kriya and something shifted in me so I kept going back…” she paused, remembering the praise her therapist gave her after a few months, recognizing how much this practice was helping her heal.
Who else wants to know about kriya breathwork? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2L-toJ1PKNw
“So, once you recognized the shift in yourself, was that enough to stay accountable? Because I know a lot of things are cyclical, right? Incorporating a new workout, or eating well, or journaling… sometimes it just falls off…” I squeezed my butt, realizing it’d been too long since I’d done lunges.
“Well, once I learned how to meditate, it was like game on.”
I lifted both my hands… “RIGHT?! How was this not taught to us?!” I yelled in frustration. But seriously… education reform.
“I don’t know; it’s crazy because once I figured it out, I found this whole new world – everything changed. I realized I am the universe. And then I got into flow – you know, where everything just starts happening seamlessly. I’d think about someone I hadn’t talked to in a while and then they’d reach out to me that same day,” she explained.
“So, with a combination of breathwork, yoga, mindfulness, and meditation, I’m able to lift things that I’d packed down… seriously, right now, I’m working something out from years and years ago that I didn’t think was still an issue.”
I know I’ve got a suitcase bursting at the seams waiting to be unzipped, which I’ll certainly make my new therapist work diligently to get open.
We talked about an episode of Armchair Expert (of course) in which Dax discusses what life was like in the early days of his relationship with Kristen… always finding himself in fights because he thought that’s what would make her feel safe. No doi – it didn’t – so once he changed his narrative, he almost never, ever found himself in the same situation or witnessed fights around him.
In short, we create our reality.
“Can you walk me through your meditation practice? I know you have a spot dedicated to it, right?” I asked, considering which section of the house I could transform.
“Yeah, no one needs to have an altar, but I wanted one; I wanted a place to truly find solace and prepare for a quiet mind and a successful meditation. I have pictures of my mom there, these deities, and candles, and incense, and sometimes I’ll pull (tarot) cards before my practice, setting an intention for the universe to show me something…” she trailed off.
“What, if anything, would you say to people who claim they can’t meditate or can’t get quiet?” I asked… the million-dollar question. Actually, I’ll change that to billion-dollar question. With Jeff Bezos raking in the billions, it’s only fitting.
“I was given this five-step meditation called Sattva Yoga Meditation which helps prepare you for stillness. But really, to start, I’d advise everyone to latch onto a mantra, followed by a guided meditation, which you can find on YouTube or the Calm app… honestly, I’m sure there are so many free offerings,” she surmised.
“There’s also this really great book I read by Michael Singer, called The Untethered Soul, which I would recommend to anyone interested in what we’re talking about,” she calmly proposed.
“That’s the second time someone’s told me to read that in the last week… adding it to my audible library right now,” I said wide-eyed as I thumbed down on my iPhone.
“See, that’s what I mean… that right there,” Marney started, “the universe is always working with us, not against us, but it’s up to us to actually listen.”
She continued by talking about how much her spiritual teacher helps here, reiterating that we’re here to grow – that pain is there to help us – asking us to keep our hearts open.
“That’s not to say you can never have a pity party, because trust me, it still happens… we are human after all,” she shrugged, “but then I can step back and almost stand behind myself and realize this ‘bad thing’ isn’t happening to me, but for me.”
I know, I know, there can be so many potential situations running through your head about why something horrific happened (i.e. sexual trauma) or why someone passed away, or why, why, why… for me though, dwelling on the martyrdom just doesn’t do anything – it doesn’t provide any excitement or bring any positivity into my life, so it’s better to grow.
Liz Gilbert put it so eloquently when she said the universe buries treasure deep within each of us and then sits back to see if we have the courage to go in and find it.
“So, Marn, as we wrap up here, seeing as this is going to be featured on Thanksgiving, you want to rattle off some gratitude?” I asked trying to sound like a cool teacher talking to her middle school students.
“Of course,” she obliged. “I’m so grateful I got to say goodbye to my mom in February, before everything shut down. I’m grateful for all the people I’m drawn to because they show me something about myself… they show me that we’re ALL connected. I’m grateful I’m not a slave to my emotions anymore, and I’m grateful to my spiritual practice because it literally saved my life. And of course, most importantly, I’m grateful for my family.”
She concluded with one final message for us all.
Get still –
Be kind to yourself –
Help one another –
and damn it, take your grocery cart to the stall.
IG (Jewelry): @honeyshive_collection_