We can rebuild her, we have the technology


Roller Derby is a very physically demanding sport and injuries are common. One of the main reasons I don't play in any actual games is, in fact, to avoid injury at all cost. After all, if I get hurt, I wouldn't be able to do my show. It never really occurred to me that I could get hurt doing the show. First of all, I'm by myself, so there's no chance of getting knocked down hard and all the falls I do do are carefully choreographed. But I'm doing a show on roller skates practically every day for the past 3 months. In some cities, like Edmonton, I would even flyer on my skates, spending 4 to 5 hours a day in them. Like runners training, there's bound to be some wear and tear overtime.

And I'm not quite sure if that's what it was? Overuse and bad posture maybe? Or maybe the floors in the Falsecreek Community Centre were just harder than what I've been used to - I've been told it's a sprung floor but it doesn't feel that way. Or maybe, this one time, I landed funny? But during my tech rehearsal for the Vancouver Fringe on Wednesday, when I practiced my jump and landed on my skates as I zip around my makeshift track, something felt off in my right knee. With the limited amount of time you get to tech, I brushed it off, finished the rehearsal, and with a half hour to spare, tried it again on different skates, since my outdoor wheels have more cushioning than my indoor ones. Then I tried it one more time on my regular skates before thinking that maybe I should stop now...

I called my director. Her first suggestion was the sensible one - "Cut the jump." - So of course I didn't want to hear it. Thoughts of a Calgary Fringe review ran through my head: "The novelty of wheel-powered theatre eventually wears off." 

I'd worked damn hard on that jump and I wanted to show it off, but ugh... Yup, I was letting my one meh review from the summer dictate my personal safety because I was scared of losing any more Wow factor from the show.

I met with the team and started icing my knee. It did feel better. But I didn't want to take any chances that it could get worse. My greatest fear was that I wouldn't be able to do the show at all. Or at least not skate in it. So I managed to get a last minute physiotherapy appointment. And am I ever glad I did!

Bolder, better, faster, stronger.

My physiotherapist was amazing! She immediately noticed there was swelling in my knee, but after some light testing deduced that it was a minor injury. My knee got tapped up. I was given some exercises to work on, as well as some kind of electrotherapy, told to keep icing it when it hurt and Just. Be. Careful. It was really awesome to talk to someone who worked with athletes and knew how important it was for them to be able to perform the next day. She made me feel at ease and like I had options.

Opening night in Vancouver. A sold out house! I really was not expecting that at all! My knee is feeling better so I decide to go for it with the jump. Boom! Nailed it. No twitch, no pain. I feel relieved. After the show, other then residual muscle stiffness, I feel pretty alright. Five more performances to go so let's keep it that way.


Coping Through Cartwheels


magical place Something changed after Thailand. Many of the things I had been working on as a person finally seemed to sink in. A little while ago, I was speaking to an old University friend who I hadn't seen in over 10 years. It was after a yoga class and we were catching up. I was talking about my life on the road when finally he said: "Have you always been this much of a free spirit?" Before the sentence was even fully out of his mouth, I responded with a quick "No." "Yeah," he said. "I remember you being so much more..." Again, as he made this clipping gesture with his hands, I knew what he was going to say. "Serious," I said.

I'm still a pretty intense person, which makes me wonder if someone thought I was intense back then, just how tightly wound was I? It's a scary thought, so don't try and dwell on it further. I know I won't. I just know that it's still a process for me. Over the years, I've learned to laugh at myself more. Learning to relax, not worry, take things with more ease (Sabai sabai!) all these things take practice. I'm not saying intensity is a bad thing. I can channel my powers for good. It gives me focus and helps me accomplish big goals, like a major summer tour and a crowdfunding campaign for a feature-length documentary.  But what do I do when I start feeling the pull to the Dark side? When I start to obsess over things like said crowdfunding campaign for a feature-length documentary. When I find myself refreshing the page just one more time in case anything changed when I know that I would get an email if it did. What do I do when I get right up there in my head and start creating imaginary drama and worry? I get back into my body. Fitness has always been a salvation for me. Once I started finding the things I enjoyed, like Zumba, it became easy. These days, I've kicked it up a notch.

A few months ago, the Ottawa Stilt Union offered a workshop in acrobatics, something I've always dreamed of pursuing, but never though was possible until recently. I never felt "athletic" enough to do that sort of thing. That said, the schedule for this workshop never worked for me, even after it was rescheduled. So I decided to take matters into my own hands and approach them privately. For the past two weeks now, I have been joining them during their regular training sessions learning to use muscles that I have never used before. It's been an absolute thrill!

At one point during our first session I was asked if I'd ever done a cartwheel before. I said yes and flashed back to a time when I was 10, maybe 12, in my grandmother's yard with my cousins, rolling through the grass. I've found my sense of play in these training sessions, something that has helped ease my anxiety issues exponentially.

And I'm hoping that one day it means I could do something like this in a show:

One day there will also be roller skates...

How do you cope with stress and anxiety? How do you reconnect with your sense of play? Where do you find your bliss? Please leave your comments below!

Never Ever Hold Your Breath

About 10 days ago, I returned from a three week trip to Thailand. My first vacation in ages. No work obligations and mostly unplugged, it was an incredible experience. Life-changing, even. The weather was glorious, the people incredibly kind, and the adventure was eye-opening. We did plenty of awesome activities like ride elephants and take a Thai cooking class, but the one thing that stood out the most for me was accomplishing my life-long goal of learning to scuba dive. I love the water. Growing up on the East Coast I have a fondness for salt water in particular. But I also love warmth. And I figured if I ever wanted to scuba dive, learning in the warm waters of Thailand would be the best, not the mention the cheapest, option.

I don't know what I thought would happen when I learned to scuba dive, but I don't think I was quite prepared for how far out of my comfort zone it would take me. Multiple times I had to fight the little voice inside my head going "ARE YOU CRAZY??!? Why are you still underwater? You can't BREATHE down here!"

I panicked. Multiple times. In fact, this panic lead to one of many self-realizations: Whenever I try something new, if I don't "get it" right away, I stop breathing and brace myself for some sort of impact that is sure to come and kill me, which leads to an unreasonable amount of panic. And then usually I give up, because this fear of dying due to trying new things must be a legit one that is just trying to keep me safe.

Oy. I do this in my acting work too.

But see here's the thing with scuba diving, the most important rule actually: NEVER, EVER, HOLD YOUR BREATH.

Wait a minute, so now I can't fall back on my old panicky habits and I have to sit/hover there under gallons of water and just... breathe? Because there is nothing wrong? My equipment is secure and my scuba buddy (always swim with a buddy) is right there.

Fortunately, I had a very generous and patient instructor who was with me the whole time. And eventually, it hit me. There is nothing wrong. I can breathe through this, I will survive and I will be stronger for it.

Not only that, it opened the door to a whole new world of wonder & fun. Beautiful fish swam around us, gorgeous corals were all over the place, secret crevices were hidden inside underwater rock formations... And then we had a blast striking superhero poses underwater because if you're going to hover in water, hover like you're a goddamn superman.

It was the most fun I'd had in a long time. And to think I almost missed out on it all by closing my eyes and holding my breath.

With my Sail Rock Divers instructor Emma looking like badass superheroes with messy hair.



Level Up Your Life

Koh Ngai []Creative Commons License Darren Johnson via Compfight

As some of you know, for the past few years, I've taken a greater interest in health and fitness. I feel really good about that, but the thing is I don't want to just feel "good". In the words of my guide for all things awesome, Jes Lacasse, I want to feel awesome. A couple days ago, I came across a website that wants to help me do just that: Nerd Fitness.

A couple months ago, I had seen a nutritionist who had recommended the Paleo Diet as a solution to my chronic fatigue and general feelings of grossness - which I think is the proper medical term. Of course, she said not to start while I was on tour because that would be crazypants, but now that I was almost back in Ottawa, I had decided to actively look into it some more. Which is what led me to Nerd Fitness, Steve Kamb and this post in particular. His proficiency with linking back to previous posts and articles sent me down the rabbit hole and I spent well over an hour reading through everything. I was incredibly inspired by many of the transformations he profiled on the site and realized that this was something I wanted to do too.

More on that in a second.

The website is also waaaaay more than just a fitness and nutrition guide. I started reading post after post relating to living a better life in a way that I could totally dig: through sci-fi and video games.

I remember playing the Sims or World of Warcraft and starting to associate things I did in my real life to video game quests (i.e. Just learned a new recipe? That's another 10 points to my cooking skills. Or I need to go to the bathroom know, the toilet bar must be low... Don't lie. If you're a video game nerd, you've probably done the same thing.)

For more on that, check out his Ted Talk:

If you can't watch the video, know that Steve decides to turn his life into his own personal video game, levelling up every time he completes a quest on his Epic List of Awesome. This. This was something I could get behind.

Honestly, go give Nerd Fitness a look. Posts the spoke to me in particular include no longer saying "I don't have the time" but "It's not a priority" (makes more sense when you click on the link) and having specific goals in mind (inspired in part by Tim Ferriss' 4-hour Work Week, which is an awesome book you should definitely read).

So, back to me.

A month ago, while having brunch with a good friend in Ottawa, out of the blue she asks "Do you want to go to Thailand with me?" Since this past year for me has been all about living a more spontaneous and adventurous life, the word "Yes" came out without hesitation. Two nights ago, the tickets were booked thanks to an incredibly good deal. We fly to Bangkok on February 13th and will be spending 21 glorious days wandering Thailand and the surrounding areas.

That's when everything finally clicked together. In order for a goal to be SMRT S.M.A.R.T (specificmeasurableattainablerelevant and time-bound), it needs to have a deadline. February 13th is mine.

To do what, you might ask (if you've actually been reading this far)?

In the past, I would say "get into shape" or "have visible ab definition" or something vague like that. And after reading through the some of the amazing transformation articles on Nerd Fitness, I am more convinced than ever that the scale is a big fat fatty fat liar liar pants on fire so it's not about losing weight either. No, it's going to be about body fat percentage. Although I can't check with a device, the images in this post make me think that I'm in the 24-26% range. I would like to be in the 17-18% range.

So there you have it: I want to have 17-18% body fat by the time I fly out to the beaches of Thailand on February 13. Since working out hasn't done all that much to change me, the problem then is my diet. I will therefore reach my goal by continuing my strength training but also gradually changing my diet to a Paleo Lifestyle.

I'll be posting updates and photos here in the weeks to come. Encouragements welcome in the comments section.

Oh Touring Life, What Have You Done To Me?

Before I went on tour, I had a personal trainer, I was working out 4 to 5 times a week, and I had roller derby practice on Sundays. Now, to be fair, the main reason I was working out so much was to be in shape for Roller Derby Saved My Soul, but something happened. I realized that I really enjoyed working out; fitness classes in particular. But more on that in a second. Being on tour, any working out went right out the window. It could be argues that I did plenty of walking and, yes, Roller Derby Saved My Soul was a workout in and of itself, but let's be honest. There's was plenty of greasy take-out food (forget about eating gluten-free) and plenty more booze. In Montreal, the festival gave us free drink tickets, but they were only good for beer, which I didn't drink anymore... I couldn't really turn down "free" could I?

By the time I had finished my acting class in New York City and was safely nestled within the family abode in Moncton, I had gained almost 15 pounds and felt super gross about it too. It was time to turn things around again.

I started taking a probiotic and going to the gym every. single. day. Easy enough to do since I love the instructors at the Goodlife in Dieppe/Moncton. Last year, their enthusiasm inspired me so much that I went out and got my Zumba Instructor Certification. Then I quickly realized that I still didn't know anything about fitness instruction and started working towards my CanFit Pro Fitness Instructor Specialization. Throughout the year, I had taken the course, passed the written exam and gotten my CPR/AED credentials. All that was left was my practical exam where I had to teach a 45 minute class for a CanFit Pro Instructor. How fitting then that it ended where it all began?

On my last day in Moncton, I passed my practical exam through the same instructor who inspired me from the very beginning. I am now a certified CanFit Pro Fitness Instructor Specialist. Oh and I've lost almost 10 pounds and feel fitter and personally think I look better than when I first began the tour.

So to my fellow Fringers out there feeling the post-tour drag, it is possible to turn it around. Three weeks people. You can do it!