Don't we all wish for someone to be a part of our daily lives who is uncritical and enthusiastic, filled with unconditional love, support and unwavering belief in our talents and abilities? This someone would fully understand us and want only for us to reach our dreams of winning in this Game of Life.
In An Enlightened Cheerleader: Volume 1, Wynne Lacey provides in-depth advice on how to connect to your own personal, inner cheerleader and also how to align with the Universe's unconditional encouragement that we are all meant to receive. Wynne also covers how to:
- Give yourself permission to be happy, even if it means taking a different road than what is socially accepted.
- Find out how your brain doesn't always want you to be happy and what you can do to change your thinking.
- Discover the laws of the universe that support you reaching your highest potential and how we are all meant to be our own personal cheerleaders.
Wynne Lacey's personal experiences as a professional sports dancer, director of dance teams, and certified life coach gives her a unique insight into the external appearance driven world of professional cheerleading. Her tireless research and personal soul-searching has helped her to create and present a simple Life Formula that will put you on the path to self-understanding and ultimately to self-mastery.
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Read an Excerpt
An Enlightened Cheerleader
Volume 1: A Journey to Self-Mastery
By Wynne Marie Lacey
Balboa PressCopyright © 2014 Wynne Marie Lacey
All rights reserved.
Those Were the Days (or so I thought)
The game wasn't even over when I felt my throat tighten, and it became hard to swallow. A tear escaped as I glanced and saw 2 minutes left on the clock. It hit me then that these would be my final moments as a Chicago Bulls Luvabull cheerleader in the National Basketball Association (NBA). We hadn't made it to the playoffs, and this was the last home game of the regular season. It would be my last time to dance on the Bulls' court. It would be the first time I would show any emotion other than "happy" in my uniform.
As the buzzer rang to signal the end of the game, I let out the sob that had been stuck in my throat. As I walked to center court for our traditional end of year picture, I was in full blown tears. I remember thinking that it is not OK for a cheerleader to be showing sadness, but I couldn't control it. This was the end of four, very dedicated years with the Luvabulls. I had attended practices sometimes until one in the morning, taught in our junior program, made hundreds of appearances, traveled half-way around the world to perform at international basketball tournaments, and all the while I kept a full-time job. There was much hugging between my teammates and me and no need for words.
Five years earlier, in 1998, I was a rookie professional cheerleader in the NBA with the Milwaukee Bucks Energee! dance team. That year my goal was to train and learn whatever I needed to in order to make the Chicago Luvabulls the next season. The Chicago Bulls were led by Michael Jordan, arguably the most famous basketball player in the world. Jordan had led the Bulls to six championships. Chicago offered the best celebrity status and most opportunity at the time for a professional cheerleader. My dream was to be in Chicago and be a part of the Luvabulls. Not only did I make that dream come true, but I was named captain after my rookie year.
I spent a total of five years as an NBA cheerleader with a body in peak physical condition. I could jump off a chair into the splits and had a stomach that looked six-pack perfect in a half-top. I graced the cover of a magazine, posters, and websites and performed at elite venues. I was a good dancer and an even better performer. Fans often told me they could spot me from the nosebleed seats because my energy level reached the roof.
As I was retiring in April 2003 from dancing, I was simultaneously signing a contract with the Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League (NHL) and the Chicago Rush of the Arena Football League (AFL) to manager their cheerleading squads. By June of 2003, I had formed Wynning Teams and asked several of my current teammates to join my cheerleading squads. I was realizing the second part to my dancing dream—to be the owner of my own company and train cheerleaders the way I thought it should be done.
What I wasn't prepared for was becoming the outsider. For the past five years I was completely identified by my body's appearance and performance capabilities. All of the personal attention on me was gone, and the focus had shifted to others in the uniform. By the time I held my first team photo shoot as a director in the fall of 2003, not only had I gained a few pounds, but I was in so much pain I walked on pillows in the morning to lessen the discomfort of getting out of bed. The pain was totally unexpected. Once I stopped training the muscles every day that I needed for dancing, the aches and pains started to break through and reveal the damage I had done by dancing through injuries. My body was no longer masking the pain and compensating the imbalances because I was not using those muscles anymore. I limped around at my day job and then watched from the sidelines as my friends were still dancing. By the third year as director, I had become pregnant, stopped leading the dance practices, and gained 50 pounds. My assistant and good friend, Gloria, took over as choreographer while she was still dancing and looking physically fantastic.
Looking back on these times, I realize that two things were happening: I was discovering there was more to life than our physical bodies, and I resented others for being identified by their bodies and beauty because I didn't have mine anymore. I was in both emotional and physical pain much of the time, suffering over my lost beauty and jealous of how the team bonded together while I remained the outsider looking in. I wasn't special anymore.
Now ten years after the day I stepped off the basketball court and started my company, I rest in a place of joyful contentment about not being special even though our society is obsessed with being special. Today I am the sum of my youthful focus on outer physical attractiveness and pseudo-celebrity status and my yearning to provide meaning in my life and the lives of others. Depending on the day you ask me about professional cheerleading and other industries that rely heavily on outer appearance, I am against them and for them at the same time. I am truly the sum of my contradictions and yet comfortable with that because it gives me the opportunity to discover who I am and what I stand for. Over the past few years, I have confronted the earlier versions of myself, learned from her, watched her grow, and now understand how I can relate to many different thoughts and feelings all at once.
A most recent and vivid moment for me was during the 2013 Stanley Cup Championship parade in Chicago. I was atop a double-decker bus watching an estimated 2 million people cheer for the Chicago Blackhawks hockey players and their support staff, including the Ice Crew, our group of skating cheerleaders. I stood behind two rookies as they waved to the crowds and soaked up their "15 minutes of fame." When the busses stopped in a private location to drop us off at the rally in Grant Park, the two cheerleaders turned to each other and said, "I want more! I want more!" I was able to be happy for them to experience the rush of the crowd and accolades. I was also able to accept my personal fear of how this will affect their need to have more of the superficial validation. I personally have experienced the "coming down from the high" and the confusion of it when you are unable to process the loss of being special in the uniform. Frequently, I watch other females hit an emotional high because of so much attention while in the uniform, only to crash after they retire or find that the uniform isn't the answer to all their life problems.
Mary Pipher in her book Writing to Change the World wrote, "You have something to say that no one else can say." So what can I say that no one else can say? I can tell you about my journey to find true S-P-I-R-I-T as a professional cheerleader, dancer, and entertainment manager. I continue today as a business owner, manager, trainer, pageant director, and expo producer in an industry that depends on a woman's external appearance to make her a "complete package." I have learned why I sometimes resent and champion beautiful women all in the same day. The professional cheerleading industry offers a unique set of circumstances framed inside a short but intense length of time in a woman's life. It cuts to the very core of the biological female—the ability to instantly attract male counterparts based on outer attraction techniques that for thousands of years have provided us with the ability to reproduce and be physically protected. It is basic instinct, yet it produces very sophisticated systems, ideas, and emotions in our society, where today, we don't necessarily need a man for reproduction and protection.
I have been blessed with being on both sides of the proverbial "fishbowl" as both the professional cheerleader and the director who observes and leads others through the same experience. About five years into being a director, I became a Philosophical Cheerleader. First I studied psychology-based disciplines like emotional intelligence, team-building, and how females relate to each other. This research originally helped me to begin to understand female behavior in groups and possibly solutions to conflict and self-esteem issues. Still I felt like there was a question I wasn't asking, something that was missing in my research. The question became, why am I even doing this? What is my deeper purpose for being with all these women during this unique time in their lives?
I started to look for deeper answers, answers that could only be found at the spiritual level. I sought out and studied the wisdom that has survived through the ages. I asked questions and started looking for deeper meaning in my life experiences and the experiences of the women I was training. I experienced a spiritual awareness, deeper than just a philosophical point of view that resonated with the core of my being. This core of my being was dormant up to this point in my life, and it was so freeing to the point that I had to write about it. I feel now that I am working daily on becoming an Enlightened Cheerleader and that professional cheerleading can offer an amazing experience that encapsulates more than just the perfecting of one's outward appearance. I began to share with my teams what I now deem as The Invisible Cheerleader and my formula for living at the upper edge of our potential ability.
After years of soul searching, I realize that the Universe doesn't care what we do or how we do it, just that we express truthfully to ourselves and others whatever it is that we are experiencing. Shedding light on your personal truth liberates you and gives you a freedom that, literally, no man can take away. By exposing my personal development and discoveries, I hope to serve my gender. All females can discover and reveal their deeper side while simultaneously reaching the peak of their physical confidence. Beauty and brains are not mutually exclusive. The focus on one to the exclusion of the other is always detrimental to our personal development.
The purpose of this book is to share my experiences and bring insight to females about their inner self that connects us to each other and ultimately to the space between the stars. Many of us are mostly unconscious of our inner self because so much of the focus is on our outer shell development and our Egos. This book combines my private, personal search for my inner soul, and the unique way I discovered it while in the outwardly focused professional cheerleading and sports world. This contradiction has been the ultimate teacher for me to find my way. I would not change a moment of my life in the professional cheer/dance industry because by embracing both the dark and light sides of this experience, I have found enough awareness about myself to say something to you that only I can say.CHAPTER 2
Once a Cheerleader, Always a Cheerleader
In my fifteen-plus years in the pro-cheerleading industry, I have repeatedly asked myself, why do I do this? Why do they (other females) do this? Why does popular society still support, in fact, have a high regard for, pro-cheerleading? Today's young women have every opportunity to leave the sidelines and be an active participant on the field or court. The gender barrier has been broken wide open, and we see women compete in all forms of professional sports, from tennis to golf to hockey. So, why do some women chose to "stay on the sidelines"? I think there are several reasons, but first it seems necessary to tell a bit of history about this industry.
Ironically, the first group of cheerleaders was an all-male group. This first creative group of cheerleading men originated at the University of Minnesota. Their purpose was to lead the crowd in support of their team. Many years ago, young women, who were most likely frustrated by a lack of women's sports, found an opportunity to express themselves by joining in with the males and doing the cheer leading, tumbling, and gymnastics.
Just like other female sports, such as hockey, cheerleading has a long history that has evolved from a male-created model. Unlike all other sports, professional cheerleading is no longer a male sport; in fact, many argue that cheerleading isn't a sport at all. There are men who are cheerleaders, but never an all-male group. Male cheerleaders are on squads to add power and assist females and the females remain the focus. Today's youngest of females are moving into competitive cheerleading squads that don't actually support a team sport of any kind. They literally just cheer to compete amongst themselves. The current wave of youth cheerleaders is doing it for the teamwork and athletic development. They might never end up on the sidelines.
The professional level cheerleader is every bit as athletic as the next female professional athlete. However, today's professional cheerleaders are less known for their athletic abilities and more for being exhibitionists of physical beauty. This was caused by the National Football League (NFL) which began organizing professional cheer teams in the 1960s. In the 1970s, the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders (DCC) emerged with revealing outfits and were seen by the nation at SuperBowl X. This caused the image of cheerleaders to permanently change, and many other NFL teams began emulating the DCC's attire and routines. The DCC cheerleaders resemble today's professional dance teams much more than the earlier Minnesota cheerleaders, whose moves and chants were designed solely to encourage crowd support during team play.
Many professional sports dancers cringe when they hear the word "cheerleader" to describe their craft, but truthfully, most fans label us as "cheerleaders" because that is the origin of the professional sports team entertainer. The NBA cheerleading squads are more specific about labeling themselves officially as dancers, but I guarantee every NBA dancer has had a fan ask them on more than one occasion if they are "one of the (insert your team)'s cheerleaders." Many professional cheerleaders will dance for both an NFL and NBA team over their career because very often the type of dancing is the same, and the dancer will want to experience both opportunities.
Cheerleaders are professionals; I have no doubt about that. I know first-hand the work and dedication that goes into the craft of being a professional cheerleader. This work happens at night and on the weekends because most of the women are working another job or going to college during the day. The skills learned while a professional cheerleader are many and easily transferrable to other careers. But, professional cheerleading is not meant to be a career itself, just a unique part-time job that can help in a female's future endeavors. And, I don't think it's the skills we acquire that draw young women to professional cheerleading. I believe that it is the venue that attracts most women to this industry. There are a variety of venues in which to dance and entertain, but there is something about sports arenas. Sports are everywhere. There is a whole section of the newspaper devoted to sports. Athletes are celebrities. The people in our lives talk about their favorite teams that they have loyally followed since their parents took them to their first game. Sports have crowds with amazing energy and bring all sorts of people together in one place for one reason, and it creates an immediate sense of community.
More importantly, professional cheerleading offers a local celebrity appeal that doesn't happen in other venues. Every professional cheerleader is highlighted by their sports organization. The women are put on websites to draw in more hits. They are put on posters and calendars for sponsorship deals. Thousands of these posters and calendars are printed for the cheerleaders to sign at appearances throughout the season. This doesn't happen at dance classes, cheerleading competitions, or the park district recreation leagues.
I think what also draws most women to the professional level today is that they see their particular sport, whether it be dancing, cheering, or ice skating, as an opportunity to do what they loved doing in their childhood. In a recent response to a 2013 RedEye blogger's comments about suggesting that the NHL's Chicago Blackhawks ambassadors, the Ice Crew, should be dismissed, one fan responded with his experience coaching an Ice Crew member. Before being on the Ice Crew, this particular team member (Yanina) had previously been a hockey player on local club team. The coach wrote, "I coached Yanina a few times, and she is a phenomenal hockey player. The media ignores women's professional sports leagues almost entirely, so the Ice Crew is probably the closest chance a female hockey player can get to skating on a professional ice surface." (RedEye blog April 2013)
Excerpted from An Enlightened Cheerleader by Wynne Marie Lacey. Copyright © 2014 Wynne Marie Lacey. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsChapter 1: Those Were the Days (or so I thought), 1,
Chapter 2: Once a Cheerleader, Always a Cheerleader, 7,
Chapter 3: If You are Happy and You Know it—Savor it, 19,
Chapter 4: The Total Package is Only the Envelope, 31,
Chapter 5: The Life Formula, 43,
Chapter 6: Intentions: Out with the Old, In with the New, 51,
Chapter 7: Energy: The Equal Playing Field, 59,
Chapter 8: Matter: The Temporary Boundary, 67,
Chapter 9: Be Your Own Personal Cheerleader, 77,
Chapter 10: Feminine Feminists, 87,
Chapter 11: Carpe Diem, 97,
Creed of An Enlightened Cheerleader, 103,