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Meet Leah Grandstaff

Today we’d like to introduce you to Leah Grandstaff.

Hi Leah, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
I was officially introduced to the circus arts in 2013 when my good friend Leigh Ann DeLoach finally convinced me to try aerial class with her. Little did I know at the time that my life as a circus artist was in the works!

I immediately fell in love with aerial arts through the expression of my physical strength in the air, in the silks. I credit circus arts for helping me learn to love things about myself that I never thought I would appreciate & for seeing myself from a new perspective. I credit the circus arts for empowering me to leave behind many of my past unhealthy forms of numbing & for creating a life that I truly love.

For those reasons & more, I knew I wanted to share what I had learned with other humans, thus began my journey into coaching in 2016. While doing well financially in the service industry, I was becoming miserable in the work & trying to find my passion. It felt like a big but necessary leap to invest in the training to become an aerial instructor. I spent the majority of my life trying on different jobs & roles, a Jill of all trades if you will (most surprising to most folks would be my time in the Navy as an aviation mechanic), so change itself wasn’t novel, but certainly felt like a big risk! After some amount of juggling a few different income streams doing less appealing work, I was finally able to shift fully into circus-related work. I have for several years now been able to make my living through coaching, performing, & administrative work for a local studio (shoutout to Aerial Cirque over Denver)!

I also managed to co-create two most incredible human beings who make me laugh like no one else in this world. Shout out to my daughter Sadie & my son Gonzalo.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
While I have some definite amount of privilege to attribute to my successes, I have faced obstacles as well, as we all have in this human experience. I was a mother before I was an adult (a choice I am so grateful to have been able to make, as an aside) which presented a fair amount of challenges in itself. I have struggled with mental health the majority of my life, but am also privileged to have had access to counseling & a support network of family & other loved & precious humans.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
As a circus artist & coach, my work is incredibly fulfilling but certainly not all aspects are as magical as folks sometimes assume. Let me tell you about the good stuff though!

I do get to play with my friends, taking spins on chandeliers in the air, making shapes, maybe sometimes getting dizzy :). I get to stroll around with an extra 3′ of leg on my stilts & interact with kiddos, creating magical moments & sharing laughs. I get to share an incredibly fun physical modality & art form with students of all ages & capabilities.

I get to be a part of so many folks’ aerial journey, meaning I get to witness (& perhaps guide to some degree) so many moments of sheer joy, exasperation, challenge & triumph, camaraderie forming, & so much more.

The notion that I can help bring people joy performing an aerial or acrobatic feat or teaching a cool skill makes my work incredibly fulfilling.

What does success mean to you?
I think it’s a moving target, ultimately. At least, it seems to be for me to some degree. Or perhaps more accurately, it’s that what I desire to achieve changes.

I think defining success is a highly personal act. For me, it is centered around finding balance & being resilient. I feel like I am the most successful as a person when I am being the best version of myself. Not all days are the best days & trekking on in spite of the not so great days, the great days do get speckled in, even if they’re lesser in some times than others!

It might sound contrite, but I do strive to be the best version of myself yet being forgiving at the same time. I grant myself permission & understand that the best version of myself is only what I can muster at that time. Being able to look at oneself in the mirror with love every single day, that is success in my opinion!

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Will Strong Photography Martha Wirth Photography Eric Brown Photography Tony Ciccone Photography

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