This week has been kind of busy, extremely interesting, and has definitely helped me focus my career and what I am looking for right now.

Last Wednesday, 4 Points BJJ launched an awesome workshop that I initially wasn’t going to go to, mainly because I was working, but also because I wasn’t sure if I was ready for it. I mean, I absolutely loved John Stead’s workshop, but I think that even with the little training I have gotten in the past couple of weeks, I would have been able to do so much better if I were to do it again. When every single one of the stunt people I asked, whose opinions I trust, told me to take the workshop rather than wait for another one when I would be better, I decided to go for it. To be honest, there is the part of me that has known me for the past 28 years who thinks that I am kidding myself with this whole fitness and stunts and training stuff, and that it will never amount to anything. It is the much smaller part of me that I have been nurturing for the past couple of years to be confident and strong and believe in myself who insists that I can do it, and that if I want it to happen, then eventually I will get there. She has been making strides in all of these departments, but it is still really helpful when people who care about you don’t think you’re being ridiculous and also believe that you can make it.

After the jiu-jitsu class, Ayisha asked me to come up with a list of my skills, so that we could try and find something I could do to support myself that wouldn’t rely on working for someone else. I personally didn’t see how a lot of my skills could be monetized, but Ayisha clearly has experience with this (and a lot more faith in me) so we (she) came up with all kinds of game plans that would seem like pipe dreams if I came up with them for myself, but sound realistic and easily achievable when she talked about them over steak night.

On Thursday I got a refill on my lashes, because Ayisha has done dozens of sets since mine and seems to genuinely love what she does. It took longer than expected, because she pretty much gave me a new full set of lashes rather than just a fill, and because we spent most of it talking, about life, careers, relationships…it was the start of her becoming more than just my trainer and career guide, she became my entire life guru, and most importantly, a treasured friend. And as a bonus, my eyes were mesmerizing.

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That evening I trained with Thomas, my friend in stunts, who had told me I had to practice every day so that once I had what he had taught me down pat, he would show me more. I beamed with pride as he told me how much I had improved since last week. I think he had expected to have to go over the basics all over again, but I had worked on what he taught me, and really paid attention to every new thing he showed me. To keep me on my toes, he would purposely change the combo once I had it down, moving a move or adding one in, because that happens on set, and if you’re not used to it, it messes you up entirely. I think I am getting better at adjusting when he does this, but the first time he added something in, I ended up trying to punch him and knee him at the same time. Luckily, he was completely expecting it.

Training with him definitely reassured me about the workshop. I think that for years I took fighting and combat workshops without ever getting better, so I really wanted to make sure I was good before going in front of people with any kind of power in the stunt community. What I was forgetting is that now that I am actually working hard and putting in an effort, I improve. So yes, I was a lot better training today than I was last week, but I think that at this point, showing that I am dedicated and working hard and improving is more impressive than my skill level.

Afterwards, I drove back to Montreal so that I could work at McGill on Friday morning. I know it probably seems silly, but if I am going to be going back to see my family anyway, I might as well get some work out of it, and also, I really love the people at McGill, and every time I go back, I get to see a bunch of them. So not going to stop any time soon.

That afternoon my brother took me to see the Avengers for my birthday, which I really enjoyed, but also…when is the next one coming out?

On Saturday, I spent time with my family and wrote a monologue for a French theater project, which I proceeded to film on Sunday and send in. Ultimately, it wasn’t comedic enough, so I will be trying again for the next one, but I am really proud because I struggled with finding a story for the longest time, and eventually found one that I not only think was entertaining, but it was incredibly vulnerable and honest as far as my own childhood experiences.

That afternoon, Christine came to my place so we could drive to Thomas’ and train at his gym. We started with the combo we had been working on Thursday, so I was used to demonstrate, but then we added things and moved things around. I have a little trouble adjusting my hooks to whether they are blocked or make contact once we are no longer using the pads, and I am very slow at the krav maga like thing he taught at the end, but… baby steps.

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After working on my roundhouse kick, which I so did not have at the last workshop, they did a fight choreography and I tried my hand at being a camera person for action shots, which is very different from working the camera during Suzanna’s classes. I have a lot of work to do on reactions and stuff before it would look convincing, so we didn’t film me doing it, but I did get to do a run through, and got tips and pointers so that someday, I will be able to rock the fight choreo as well.

Since we had all been working hard and training, we went out for supper and to the spa afterwards, making it a pretty awesome day. I can’t wait to keep learning and keep training and keep doing all of the things!

On Sunday I had breakfast with a friend of mine and celebrated some really awesome news before driving back to Toronto. I keep meaning to download podcasts, but as it is, I tend to spend most of the drive thinking of things and figuring out what I want with my life, especially when I have someone like Ayisha who encourages me to have opinions and more concrete goals while I am working on the big ones.

On Monday, I had a blast at pole dancing, learning a new combo, working on my inversions and trying a bunch of spins after class. My 10 class pass is almost over, and I think I might have to get a new one…

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That afternoon I went to 4 points, where I pretty much live now. I gave myself goals for all of my classes for this month, and in jiu-jitsu, my personal goals were to not always be the one who taps out, and to try and get back on top rather than just staying at the bottom. I am pretty sure I was always the one who tapped out, but I did spend a lot less time underneath. Or at least trying to not be underneath rather than letting it happen. One thing I hadn’t put as a goal but that I am really enjoying is that generally, when we are going over the technique, my partner and I can figure out the moves without having to ask the teacher or someone who is more advanced than we are.

On Tuesday, I had Jonathan and Shiva over so we could work on writing the short we want to film. It felt great to be writing again, and I am so excited about this project, and all of the future ones we will do together.

Once that was done, I met up with Ayisha at 4 points and we went for lunch and talked. I joke and call her my life guru, but at the same time, there are so many things in my life that I am pretty complacent about, or just don’t really care either way, but when she asked what I wanted in certain areas, she wouldn’t let me just say whatever. She asked me questions and made me think about what I actually wanted, in an ideal world, rather than what I am willing to accept. It sounds so simple, but it makes a huge difference in how you go after things, and how you value yourself. A snowball effect has been happening since last summer, that gave me confidence, propelled me to move to Toronto, introduced me to Ayisha, and got me to finally be going after all of the things I always said I wanted, but never actually did anything to achieve. It is amazing to see the tiny moments or opportunities that have completely derailed my life, but in the best way possible, hopefully setting it on course.

When we got back, we did a self tape of a scene I had done in class with Suzanna and absolutely loved, to put it in a package to send to agents. I don’t think she would have been helping me like this if she expected me to be bad, but she was pleasantly surprised that I could act. If nothing else comes of it, at least it was a fun afternoon of doing what I love.

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That evening, I did the NOGI jiu-jitsu class, where I really went for it. I usually hate using chokes and submissions, and would rather just spend my time trying to escape and keeping the roll going, but this time I tried things. I gave up what I thought was an upper hand in order to try something new. And I used chokes. Successfully. Like I actually got people to tap out. A friend once told me it was the greatest feeling in the world, and I teased them for saying that of choking people, but I kind of get it. Being able to do something you weren’t able to do before…it’s pretty cool.

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On Wednesday I spent another day with Ayisha, which is becoming a trend that I have no intentions of stopping (did I mention that I now basically live at her gym?). She did my hair, I checked out her website, we did some self tapes (hers for a part, mine for fun) and went out for lunch. I am continuously flabbergasted by how much time and effort people are putting into helping me out and nurturing me and supporting me in this world. I spent so long believing I wasn’t worth it, and listening to the people who implied this, that I didn’t see how many people are like me, and would rather help people out than tear them down. Or maybe I’m just finally finding all of the awesome people?

That night I did the jiu-jitsu class, where I once more worked to not be at the bottom, tried to do the techniques without asking for help (I’m a lot less familiar with the Day 2 curriculum) and actually held my own quite a few times. Whenever Ayisha is there filming/coaching me, it is always way more exhausting than usual. When she tells me to get back on top or re-guard or what not, I often exasperatedly tell her “I’m trying!” but there is no doubt that I try harder and do a lot better when there is someone there, cheering me on and not letting me be lazy about anything.

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Finally, we went out for steak night, where I am the only one who never has steak. We stay out until midnight just talking and getting to know each other, which is awesome and makes it so much more fun, on Wednesday nights, but also in class. If you’re seeing someone every day for at least a couple of hours, it’s way more interesting when you’re friends, rather than just bodies to roll with.

“Change your opinions, keep to your principles; change your leaves, keep intact your roots.”

-Victor Hugo

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