Summer so far…

Since it has been a while since my last post, instead of writing my day by day, I’m just going to share some of the fun things I have been up to lately.

ACTING

I got to spend a few days on set doing background, which is always fun, especially when you get to catch up with friends or have interesting conversations with strangers. I also did a bit of SP work, but actual acting has been pretty slow for me lately. I did get to do a self-tape thanks to my new agent, but the rest has been up to me. I have been helping other people with self-tapes, and co-running the kids summer camp at 4 Points, which is half martial arts, but also half acting. The kids wrote their own scenes (that somewhat included me), and we worked on actual scenes that they did audition style. It’s a good thing I can memorize quickly, because they enjoyed running lines while I was driving or just out of the blue, like when their parents arrived.

I am especially excited about the promising acting opportunities that will soon be coming my way. The best way to ensure this is to create them, which I have been doing. With help : ) For starters, there is an awesome-super-exciting-I-want-to-pinch-myself-because-I-can’t-believe-I-really-get-to-be-a-part-of-this project that I am helping Ayisha with, then there is an emotional, raw, beautiful short I am working on with Christine, and last but definitely not least, there is The Last 6. This is the theme of the contest, not the title of my short, but my short doesn’t have a title yet. I was yearning to create my own work, so before the first two projects were discussed, I submitted a concept to YEAA for their entry in the Reel World Film Festival. It was awesome to just be writing and creating, but then I was chosen. Which is incredible and I am so unbelievably excited. I finished up the script yesterday, have my producer and director, and a few meetings this week to work out the details. I cannot wait to spend my summer filming things that I helped create!

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Finally, Patricia Chica, a super talented director from Montreal came to town for the Premiere of her short film, Morning After, so I met up with her and Jasmine for that and supper beforehand. It was so lovely to catch up and to see the short on the big screen! It was a part of the Female Eye Film Festival, which is something I would now love to be a part of next year. Perhaps with something we film this summer?

TRAINING

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Training wise I have been consistently going to all of my BJJ and NOGI classes, helping with the kids classes, and hopefully improving, because I am signed up for a tournament this coming Saturday. I started BJJ thinking I didn’t really need to be good at the fighting part because I just wanted to be able to look like I could do it for TV, but things have definitely changed now. One thing I really enjoy about jiu-jitsu is that it truly is a community/family, so even after seeing each other nearly every day and having trained for hours, we still go out together a couple of times a week for supper or ice cream.

It also helps that I basically live at the gym, where a lot of cool things are happening. In addition to the summer camps we just launched, there will be acting classes starting next month, and more workshops and bootcamps, so we have been spending a lot of time promoting, postering and prepping.

In addition to BJJ, I took 2 trial taekwondo classes (and may have signed up for one of them), then did a couple of stunt training days where we worked on parkour, falls, throws, boxing and all kinds of cool things. It was awesome, and I met some incredible people who taught me, encouraged me and offered to help and train with me in the future. I also went to the monkey vault (where we practiced our vaulting, and I climbed up a wall on my first try, when I had thought our teacher was hilarious for even suggesting it) and archery (where I popped the first balloon).

I also took a couple of pole classes for good measure. It was a new teacher who taught both classes, so we mainly focused on prep work, but now that my shins aren’t covered in bruises, I was able to do a pole climb after class!

GOING HOME

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I went back to Montreal for Canada Day weekend and to help my friend Christine move. She insisted I try the Orange Julep, which was a wonderful and a terrible thing, because I now live 6 hours away from it. Once the move was done, we went to swim at my place with some homemade cookie dough ice cream. Another friend stopped by for a while, and then Christine and I spent the night working on a short film we hope to shoot this summer. What started out as a 30 second clip for her demo has turned into the really awesome project I was mentioning earlier. There was a lot more family time over the weekend, as well as meeting up with JF, and a Meisner class before driving back to Toronto. I am hoping to keep up with the Meisner so that I can improve, but I can tell that so far every time I go I am frustrating to either the teacher or my partner or both. Luckily they are super nice and supportive, so they encourage me to come back and keep trying so I can eventually get it. Which I will. Promise 😉

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Competitions, Sets and Plans

On Friday I started my day off working on my striking and evading with some friends, putting it on camera so we could see what we were doing wrong and what looked good even if it felt weird. We also put together a little combo to work on our reactions, which was a lot of fun.

I went to the lunchtime BJJ class at 4 Points, where we worked on technique and then got in 3 rolls, which left me dead. This is a good thing, although it is counter-intuitive, because it means that I am trying harder. I was less dead after rolls before because I would give up when I knew something probably wouldn’t work, whereas now I keep trying and every once in a while, it works. And even if it doesn’t, at least I am learning and trying things and figuring out new ways to get out of things (that either work or don’t, but at least I know).

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Later that afternoon, I went to ACTRA Toronto for the last TAWC meeting before the summer break. We recapped the Nell Shipman Gala, chose the theme for the short film creation lab, and I joined another sub committee. I love being a part of TAWC, and I can’t wait to write and submit a script for this awesome initiative. It would be incredible to be chosen and have all of the support and mentorship that comes along with it, but the best part is that even if I’m not chosen, I will still finish off the summer with a script. That I can film on my own, with the guidance of the TAWC Content Development sessions. No matter what, I plan to create my own work as much as I can, and tell the stories that I want to hear.

On Saturday, Ayisha and I went to Brampton to watch one of our students, who was competing in a Jiu Jitsu Charity Tournament. She is the absolute cutest thing, a tiny bundle in a sometimes pink GI, but she also works hard and practices and dominated every single one of her matches. So proud of her!

Over the drive, we brainstormed a lot about our career and filmmaking goals, including coming up with some projects we want to work on over the summer. I have been pretty lapse in my acting and writing recently, and I am so excited to get back on track and do what I love.

We went for brunch before going back to the gym for the kids class, and then spent the rest of the afternoon walking around and postering for our new summer camp.

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That night, Amber and I went to a drunk/live read of Mean Girls, which was awesome. The actors, especially Kayleigh and Mara <3, were hilarious, but it was also really nice to catch up with her. I have been in Montreal a lot lately, and have been doing #allthethings while I’m in Toronto, so I have slightly been neglecting my roommates, and it was really good to not do that.

When I got home, I did some research for those projects we brainstormed, and I signed up for my first BJJ tournament on July 21st. Slightly terrified, kind of excited, mostly just hoping I won’t die.

On Sunday I went to the open mat at Body of Four. Unlike class, where the teacher either pairs you up, or has you choose a partner before everyone starts to roll at the same time, this one was less structured. The timer was continuously going, with a slight break in between, so you had to go around and find someone and ask them to roll with you. Which is not my strong point. But I did. I started by asking every single girl to roll with me, and there were like 5 of them, then a white belt guy, before a black belt who had been to 4 Points before asked me to roll. We started at the end of one time block, so went on for the next one as well, and at the end, he told me I was good and had potential, but need to work on my submissions.

My last roll was with a white belt who warned me that he wasn’t really a beginner, because he had been doing Judo for a really long time. He definitely used some moves I did not know and did not see coming, but I also managed to take his back and submit him with a rear naked choke. Twice.

That afternoon I went to Navid’s birthday party, which was a lot fun. All kinds of delicious food, interesting conversation, and I learnt how to dance Persian. My favorite part though was probably when Shiva explained that it was only for close friends and family, and I was a part of that. For someone who was used to having a lot of acquaintances she hangs out with if they happen to be in the same place, it is really wonderful to have friends.

Monday morning I had a training session for SP work, then got soaked in the short walk/run to the bus stop. And when I say soaked, I mean I looked like I jumped into a pool, and people avoided me for the ride home, because I was dripping everywhere. I went home and changed before going to meet Ayisha. We had lunch, took care of business, got some film equipment and did a self tape before kids showed up for class. We had two new students, and it made me so happy to watch the other students taking the time to show them and teach them all they needed to know. I felt absolutely useless, but this was way sweeter.

As for the two adult classes that came after, the consensus is that I am getting better, figuring things out, and Dave complimented me on my half guard escape (more because I usually try my own thing instead of the technique he teaches us rather than because I was particularly good at it). After class a group of us went out for ice cream, which I thought should be a weekly thing, but they are thinking more monthly. Either way, it was a great day.

On Tuesday and Wednesday I was on set doing background, which was a lot of fun, especially meeting some really cool people and getting stunt advice from the fight coordinator, who was incredibly generous with his time and knowledge.

On Thursday I got back to my normal hustle, writing a bit in the morning and ultimately submitting to a script competition, before meeting up with Ayisha. We did a self tape (she is killing it these days you guys), got me an agent, worked out our creative project for the summer, ran lines, went to an audition and then rushed back to the gym for the kids class. No one came, so we went out for supper, which was delicious, but a terrible idea before the NOGI class.

I worked on my technique for the new NOGI curriculum with Ayisha, who kept telling me how heavy I had become. She meant it as a compliment, like I was getting better at using my weight and strength in an offensive way, but given all the food we had for supper, I wasn’t the most receptive. Almost everything we learnt was new, and she assured me one of them was definitely my choke to use in the future (if only I could remember which one it was), then we rolled together. I felt like she was taking it slow and being lazy with a lot of it, but not like when people are just sitting there waiting to let me do things, more like she just wasn’t really into it. Or maybe conserving her strength because she is competing this weekend. I mostly matched her pace and tried to get a few things, but was pretty sure I would be reproached for not going hard enough. Instead she told me I was getting stronger and really improving. So maybe rolling slower is okay as long as you never stop fighting.

On Friday I went to the lunch BJJ class where we were only 2 of us, so we did a bunch of drills and worked on something I thought I had, because I have been using it lately, but was missing so many steps that will hopefully make it a lot easier for me to achieve when rolling. We also discovered that when I try to move my hips in a certain direction, my brain sometimes has my body stay in place while my head moves and calls it a day. It was hilarious, but not very helpful for the technique. We rolled a few times and while I can now tell that he is always going easy on me, I do think I am getting better at making it not super super easy for him. At least a little.

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I spent the rest of my day filming Ayisha, having a working lunch (we were that table where both people are on their phones and not speaking, but we accomplished sooo much) and filming a self tape for Dave. It’s intimidating, because he is usually my teacher, but it was also my first time seeing him act and I was really impressed. And I miss being a reader, so all of these self tapes are really making my week.

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On Saturday I spent the day at the Jiu-Jitsu Nationals, where two of our students, and Ayisha, were competing. Everyone did amazing and fought really hard. I went back and forth between “I can do this. Maybe I’ll make it my goal to win bronze or silver…” and “I hope I don’t die…” when it comes to my tournament in July.

Once we were done there, Ayisha and I went back to the gym for open mat, where I got in a few rolls, trying to give people more of a run for their money than I used to, and Ayisha had me working on the things I needed to work on. Then we went out for ice cream, because…because ice cream!

 

“There is no losing in jiu-jitsu. You either win or you learn.”

“If you cannot win, make the enemy pay a steep price for victory.”

Montreal & Classes

I spent Saturday at Imago Theater’s Stage Combat workshop to benefit Artista, their free mentorship program for young women. It was given by Anita Nittoly (from the John Stead workshop) with help from David Chinchilla, both super talented and from Toronto.

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The morning was spent learning unarmed combat, followed by an afternoon of swordplay, which was awesome. I really wish I had paid more attention/remembered more in previous stage combat classes, but I am making up for it now. This was a workshop for beginners, which was exactly what I needed. I am so lucky to be able to participate in all kinds of incredible workshops and trainings, but it was really good for me to just be able to learn the basics from an expert who also knows my goals and always seems to be right there to help me out.

There were also some familiar faces at the workshop, and new friends, which was really nice. At the end, everyone was asking Anita and David when they would be coming back, but I was thrilled with the knowledge that I now live in Toronto with them (so I don’t have to wait for them to come back in the Fall so I can build on the skills they taught us today).

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On Sunday, I worked with a bunch of my McGill friends, and got some work done in the downtime, before going out for Father’s Day with my family. I planned this trip to Montreal around the fact that I was convinced it was Father’s Day, so my dad humored me, even though it is actually the 17th, not the 10th.

On Monday, I started off my day with a mother-daughter hike, then eventually made my way to Complexe BTT Beloeil for some Jiu-Jitsu. They were working on curriculum, which just so happens to be the same as at 4 Points. Still, this absolutely does not mean that I didn’t learn anything. We did each technique less times, so I got further down the list than I usually do, and my partner taught me a few new locks (that I can’t actually do until I’m a blue belt) to prepare me because I kept putting myself in positions where it would be so easy for him to use them on me.

After technique, we rolled and it was really interesting to go against a girl who is pretty close to my size and also a white belt (at least for the next few days). The other rolls were probably more technique and lessons, but I can always use those too.

That afternoon I met up with my friend Cindy, who is the sweetest person you will ever meet. She is so encouraging and supportive that time spent with her is like a nice big hug and a ray of sunshine, if that makes any sense.

She walked me over to my Meisner class, where we were a really small group. I took weekly drop-in classes for a few months last year, and came to this class once. I loved it but also hated it back then, because although I could tell it was helping me, I found it terrifying that you can’t prepare for Meisner. You can’t learn your lines or rehearse or plan out what you are going to do. This time I was out of practice and nervous, but I went anyway. Since there were only 4 of us, I worked for 2 of the 4 hours, where everything is brought up, especially my nerves and awkwardness. What comes off as charming and adorable in life is actually boring and frustrating up there, where you need to have an opinion and care and do all kinds of things that I barely scratched the surface of kind of doing. Still, it felt so good to be back at it and I had a great night. The work was exactly what I needed, watching the others was incredible and we finished it off with drinks at the pub. Once I am back in Toronto, I am definitely finding myself a Meisner class, and I’ll try to stick around more Monday nights in Montreal.

On Tuesday I spent the morning sliding and climbing at a park, then waddling in ice cold water with my nieces, before heading to jiu-jitsu at the BTT headquarters in Montreal. I have never been in a class with that many people before, and so many of them were women. I did technique with 2 different ones, each super nice and helpful. We worked on curriculum again, the one I know, but with a few slight variations. What I found really interesting is that whenever they did something different from the way I was taught, I would ask questions, so I not only learnt different ways of doing things, I learnt why each one is beneficial and when to use which.

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For the rolls, I was paired with a white belt first (another who will be getting her blue on Saturday), then a purple, followed by two black belts. All women. Since there are so many people, we would start with one person already in the other’s guard. I am getting better at keeping people in my guard, at least when rolling, but I still have a long way to go. I learnt so much from this class, from the technique to the rolling to the giving me tips and pointers once the roll was done…I now have another place I will train at whenever I’m back in town.

I spent the night with my parents, going to see Ocean’s 8 and watching American Ninja Warrior. They tease about me eventually being on the show, which I’m pretty sure will never happen, but I bet I can do a lot better on a second round of Tough Mudder 😉

On Wednesday I got in another hike with my mom, then went to train with Christine. She likes that she gets to work on her basics with me, and I really like that she teaches me cool new things by breaking it down into easy steps and is super patient. Other than the usual padwork and combos, we worked on our back falls, side falls and half twists. SO MUCH FUN! She made me lunch and we hung out after, until I had to rush to McGill in a panic because her clock was over an hour off.

Today I am at McGill all day, just hanging out and catching up with old friends (and I guess working too) before I head back to Toronto, with all kinds of new knowledge (and some bagels) in tow.

“All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Wedding and Fighting Harder

My first experience as a bridesmaid was an absolute success. Most of the day was spent getting ready in a hotel room with all the other bridesmaids and the mother of the bride (after a little family breakfast), then we headed to the chapel for the ceremony. I didn’t wear waterproof mascara and was pretty sure I would be fine, but there were some moments, especially when the poem at the bottom of this post was read, where it was a very near miss. It was definitely an incredibly emotional day.

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After some pictures, we walked across town for the reception, which was a really great party with new friends, old friends and family. I didn’t really leave the dance floor much, and I had a wonderful time.

On Sunday, I accidentally caught up on some much needed sleep, then spent some time with my grandparents, and then catching up with Christine in the spa. I think she now understands why I have to come back to Montreal so often.

On Monday I drove back to Toronto just in time for the kids class at 4 points. These kids are the absolute cutest and it is awesome watching them learn the techniques together and helping each other.

I stayed for both adult classes, as I do, and everyone told me that I had improved and was trying harder. Most of it is because I am shutting off my brain, that usually assesses the situation and resigns itself. Like if I knew I couldn’t prevent a sweep, I would let it happen and brace myself for the fall rather than fight it. If I knew I wasn’t strong enough to sweep someone or submit them or whatever, I wouldn’t even try. This time I didn’t give up, I kept trying, even if I knew it wasn’t going to work. At one point we did the guard pass game we usually have the kids play, where the person on the bottom has the person on the top in their guard, and the person on top tries to break free. The person on the bottom just had to keep their guard closed and either sweep the person on top, or use a submission. This activity gave me two things. One, I saw how hard the guys fight when they aren’t trying to be careful with me, and how unbreakable they are when a competition is involved. Two, I kept fighting. Technically, as soon as he swept me it was over and there was nothing I could do because I had already lost. In a roll though, you would keep going, so I kept resisting and fighting. Probably not useful for the guy who had defeated me and still had to keep going (for like a second or two), but at least I wasn’t giving up and resigning myself without trying (when my brain and the reality of the situation told me I had already lost).

On Tuesday morning I worked on my kicks and the hip toss throw, before breaking down another wushu choreography. It was a lot easier than a few weeks ago, which can be because this choreography is easier, or because we’re getting better. I obviously choose to believe the second option.

I did the lunchtime jiu-jitsu class, then worked until the NOGI class that evening, where I continued to roll harder and fight instead of giving up.

On Wednesday I spent the day with Ayisha, then helped out with the kids class, which is really helping me out as well. I am way better at drills and techniques and all kinds of things. Which is really good, because Ayisha has been training more lately, and having her as a partner is great in the sense that she knows all the things, but it also means that she knows when I am doing something wrong, or half-assing a technique, and she does not let this happen. When my guard kept opening during one move, she decided to have me work on my guard, by hanging on to her while she was standing, with my legs around her waist, and doing sit ups. She also had me get into her guard in mid-air rather than on the ground. Which I eventually used in a roll. She also had me practicing back rolls a bunch of times so I wouldn’t be so apprehensive about doing them when it was a part of the technique. So she is making me work, but I am learning a lot and getting so much better.

During the rolls that night I successfully used half-guard escapes, a really cool takedown sweep and an omoplata (on people who weren’t just letting me do them), which was super exciting for me. Steak night was the perfect ending to a great day.

On Thursday I went to Midtown Med Spa for a lash lift and tint, which was awesome. It’s a quarter of the time it takes for lash extensions, but it’s still super pretty. My lashes basically look like I’m wearing mascara, but also like I have a million more of them, because they aren’t all clumped together.

The rest of the day was spent working on the new Summer Camp 4 Points is launching 🙂

On Friday morning I worked on the Wushu choreography again, trying to perfect it rather than just get the general moves right, and then got to practice punches and esquives with some expert advisement.

I had lunch to catch up with a friend who was in town from Montreal, then drove to Montreal and had supper with JF. I’m in Montreal a little longer this time, so I am trying to do all the things and see all the people 🙂

 

“I do not want to have you fill the empty parts of me. I want to be full on my own. I want to be so complete I could light a whole city, and then I want to have you. Cause the two of us combined could set it on fire.” – Rupi Kaur

Arms and New Beginnings

While in Montreal a little over a week ago, my “All the Things Encourager” decided (or was convinced) that she was going to go to the Jiu-Jitsu World Tournament in California on June 1st, so on the Tuesday we got back, we spent the 12 o’clock class helping her build up her cardio for rolls. I was maybe a little hurt to be referred to as active recovery (although considering what we do for active recovery in the boxing bootcamp, it’s no walk in the park), but this was also the beginning of many conversations about me needing to step it up jiu-jitsu wise, because I don’t give 100% and I often try what feels comfortable to me rather than what will actually work.

I spent most of that afternoon putting together furniture and hanging out with Ayisha before NOGI class that evening, where I tried to apply some of her suggestions. I somehow feel more confident in NOGI, and find it easier to fight harder and give more, but I still have a long way to go.

On Wednesday I had a meeting with an agent at lunchtime. I am so torn when it comes to agents, because part of me would rather have anyone than to not have one, whereas part of me is apprehensive because I know what I have been through in the past. This agent was so excited about me and what I could bring to her roster, but she was also very new in the business, which scares me. That being said, she answered every question perfectly, is being mentored by a veteran, and I feel like she will truly fight for me. Which is why I ultimately decided that I would sign with her for what will hopefully be a very long and prosperous relationship.

 After the meeting I met up with Ayisha and we hung out/figured things out until class started. I have been helping her out with the kids class, for my affinity for children rather than my jiut-jitsu skills, but it is incredible how much I am learning from it. The kids have their basics down way more than I do, and they have tricks and stuff to remember how to do things properly.

In the before last roll of the adult class that night (after over 2 hours of technique and lots of rolling…) I hurt my arm. I was going harder than I usually do, trying to be less passive about my training, so when someone was about to sweep me, I fought instead of resigning myself to the fall, and ended up falling on my arm (and theirs) in a manner that my elbow (and wrist) went in a way that it really isn’t supposed to go. I’m pretty sure I heard a pop. We both realized it wasn’t a good fall and she pulled back immediately. I got up, and like every other time I’ve gotten hurt doing physical activity, I tried to shake and walk it off. It was when her voice started to sound like it was coming from miles away, the room became filled with bright lights, and I felt an ice cold breeze that I decided to sit down for a bit.

I watched the last roll and lined up for the end of class, then went to steak night, where

I iced the arm and stopped moving it, because one person told me not to irritate it, but then another told me to get it checked out by a doctor. I wanted to be tough and brush it off, but I also didn’t want to aggravate it and make it worse.

The next morning, I had ultrasounds as an SP, and got worried because my arm was feeling really stiff, but then I realized it was probably because I hadn’t been moving it. At all. When I started to, it hurt a little, but only at first. I messaged a friend who is a physiotherapist and got her recommendations for what it is safe to do and at what point it would become hospital worthy. She didn’t sound concerned so I was incredibly relieved.

This was the first time I have gotten hurt since starting this new, very active lifestyle, so I knew that how I acted this time would set a precedence for future injuries. Old me would have seen it as a valid reason to take a few weeks off, but I knew that doing that now would mean that I would never make it as any kind of a stunt person. Being afraid and taking time off from training would probably create a snowball effect, just like the one that started last summer, which would set me back to the girl I was then. Not that she wasn’t awesome, but she didn’t quite realize it and was afraid to own up to it or explore it. I have grown so much since then, and I was terrified of reverting back.

So, while I didn’t want to injure myself further by rolling in NOGI that night, I still did the kids class, working technique with a 10 year old and then rolling with her. Easing into it and being smart, but still training. Then Ayisha and I went to a middle school play for one of the girls who sometimes does jiu-jitsu and workshops. I was expecting the kind of plays we put on when I was in high school, but this was a musical and she was leagues beyond middle school or even high school. The acting, the singing, her stage presence…she was amazing.

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On Friday, I met up with some people and we worked on the choreography from the week before. The amount of fun I have doing these things is a great barometer for whether I should keep pursuing this somewhat crazy dream of mine. I loved every minute of it. There was jiu-jitsu at lunch, where we spent the whole hour working on technique, without rolling.

That afternoon, I worked from home before going to the Nell Shipman Awards Gala. I was there as a volunteer and part of the committee that organized it, and it was a really inspiring night. We screened Moon Dog, the result of the Short Film Creation Lab initiative, and it is so encouraging to see what these women put together, and what the Toronto ACTRA Women’s Committee is fostering.

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My favorite part of the night was probably the speech Karen Walton gave when she accepted her award. She was who I voted for, but hearing her friend introduce her, and then hearing her speak definitely solidified my choice. She writes women that I would dream of becoming, sees the world in a magical way (as it could be) and works so hard to bring people together, to support and encourage and nurture other writers and creators. A new addition to my list of people I would love to collaborate with, and whose career I will be paying a lot more attention to from now on.

On Saturday, my roommate offered to shoot some headshots for me (of my new badass self) so we chose some outfits, she did my hair and makeup and we wandered around our back alley taking pictures. She was awesome to shoot with, super talented and sent me the edited shots within hours. If you are lucky enough to know her and want some new headshots, I can definitely vouch for and wholeheartedly recommend her.

After, I went to the Saturday kids class, where Ayisha had the students teaching her techniques that she could use at the tournament, which was possibly the cutest thing ever.

I stayed after that class for my first even open mat, which was a million times less scary than I made it out to be. In my head, open mat meant all kinds of big, strong guys from different gyms with something to prove who would be rough and annoyed that they have to roll with a newbie girl. (Absolutely none of my encounters with jiu-jitsu people have ever reinforced this, but I have a vivid imagination) In the end, it was all the guys I am already used to rolling with. I spent the first bit going over curriculum with one of them, then we started rolling. I did make it a point to warn everyone about my arm, more out of fear than actual pain, but they found many ways to make me tap out without even touching my arm. They were careful if they needed to be, but also gave me a lot to work on. So in those two hours, I faced my open mat fears, and my rolling after hurting my arm fears.

Once open mat was done I rushed home to shower, then headed out to meet a friend for some gelato. We have been trying to get together and catch up for probably years, but he is always being awesome and touring across the country, or to different countries, and we are rarely in the same city at the same time, so it was really nice to finally get to do that.

The next three days I worked as a standardized patient, all day, (one of them with no access to our phones, which led to some worried friends) then managed some quality roomie time, jiu-jitsu classes and boxing at night.

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On Wednesday, I showed up for the 9:30 boxing class, unaware that it was not happening. Shiva had also come, so instead of heading home, we did our own workout, with a variety of warm ups and exercises from jiu-jitsu, boxing, workshops and classes that either of us had taken. We did the fun stuff like pad work, but also the not fun stuff, like squats and more pull ups than I have done consecutively in my life. It was a crazy exciting moment for me, which is hilarious for what it is, but I spent months working on pull ups to be able to do 5 a few years ago, and here I was doing more than twice that like it was nothing. Or at least not the hardest thing ever. It is really exciting to be able to do things I wasn’t able to do before.

I worked from home that afternoon, then came to the kids class before driving back to Montreal once it was done.

I woke up for a 6 am hike with my mom on Thursday, then met up with Christine for some training. She has mats and all the things, so after some cardio and ab workouts, we did combos, which I think I sometimes got, and sometimes completely missed reaction-wise. But when she gave me choices, I always chose the one I felt I had the most difficulty with, so…yay to learning new things?

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We finished off with falls, because she recently had to do one on set (and absolutely killed it) and realized just how different cement is to the really big mats we usually learn falls on. I spent most of the time we spent on back falls trying to convince my body to land on my back first, rather than on my tailbone. I do understand why I’m going about it the wrong way though, so continuously working on it until I am no longer afraid of the void and falling backwards should fix it.

Luckily, my side break falls were good, so after testing me a couple of times on the mat she brought, we did it on the grass. Soooo many times. But it was fun. I like working on the things I don’t get so that I can improve, but it is really nice, every once in a while, to be doing something that I am actually doing right.

When we finished, I met up with JF for what ended up to only be a 20 minute coffee break, because training ran late and I had to get to a rehearsal for my cousin’s wedding. For months now it has just been something that is happening, an event, a given, but there was a moment during the rehearsal where it hit me. How everything will mostly stay the same, but also be different. How she is the first one of us cousins to walk down the aisle. How this is the start of a whole new adventure for her. I couldn’t be more proud or nostalgic or excited for what is happening tomorrow.

I went for supper with my aunt and cousin after the rehearsal, then slept over at Christine’s, where we watched a South Korean Action film, talked a lot, ran lines and ate ice cream and cookie dough.

This morning I came home to go to a NOGI class in Beloeil, where I learnt some cool moves the people at my gym may not know, which might give me a slight advantage if I manage to pull them off? I also got to meet some really nice people and roll with someone who is closer to my size than I usually get.

I spent the rest of the day running errands and spending time with family, and now I am off to bed because I have a wedding to be a part of tomorrow.

“We didn’t realize we were making memories, we just knew we were having fun.”

John Stead Workshop

I can’t believe this workshop happened just over a month ago, because it feels like so much has happened since then. I guess that will teach me to wait a month before posting about something…

For starters, if you don’t know who John Stead is, he is awesome. He is a director, stunt performer, stunt coordinator and fight coordinator on a bajillion things, most recently on Dark Matter, Designated Survivor and Mary Kills People.

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The workshop started at 9am on the Saturday, and we were asked to be warmed up and ready to go by then. I secretly haven’t entirely figured out what we are supposed to do to warm up and stretch, so I mostly do a variety of things I see (or have seen) other people do, and add in a dancer pose because I hope it makes me look like I know what I am doing.

When John arrived, he introduced himself a bit, then asked us if we were actors, stunt performers, both or neither. He specified that he wanted us to answer not based on success or experience, but by driven-ness and motivation. The smart thing for me would probably have been to say I was just an actress, so I wouldn’t be expected to be that great, I would just be there to learn camera angles and how to move rather than any actual fighting or choreography. But I didn’t. Even though I am years away from being a stunt performer, I raised my hand and said that I was both, because based on industry standards, I would be neither, but my determination and motivation warrant both.

We were introduced to Geoff and Anita, the stunt performers he had brought to help him teach, and we all got to watch as he created a choreography on the spot with them, changing things each time based on what worked and what best brought on the next move, although he also left things that didn’t quite work, so we would have to figure out how to perform a flawed choreography, on our own.

Once they made it to the end twice (with changes and adjustments each time) John asked who knew the choreography, and I was surprised when a bunch of people raised their hands. I mean, I could tell you the general outline, but nothing close to being specific enough to recreate it. I can tell you “punch, punch, kick, then turn” and what not, but I couldn’t tell you what kind of punch, or how the other person reacts.

John proceeded to pair us up based on whether we knew it, sort of knew it, or didn’t know it at all. This didn’t exactly put us with people of our same skill level, but with people who were on the same page choreography-wise.

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They taught us the first move, disarming the one holding the gun, then we did it on our own. We were still working on that move, thinking they would continue teaching us the choreography, move by move, but this was not the case. We had to forge along on our own. Well, with help, obviously, but there wasn’t one person teaching for us to follow along to, we had to ask for help every time we needed to know the next move. They would make general announcements to explain or teach certain parts every few minutes, but we were usually nowhere near that point of the choreography yet.

At around 11, we lined up based on the part we were playing and got new partners. I was lucky enough to be with someone who had a lot of experience and understood the choreography. She was also probably used to teaching choreographies to actors with no fighting skills, because she was amazing at getting me through it.

At one point, she had just corrected this move, where I would go up when I was supposed to go down, and John came over to watch us. “Your rhythm is off.” He told me, which was probably true every single time I had run it, but I explained to him that we had just adjusted a mistake I was making in the choreography, so that’s what threw me off.

“Don’t worry about the choreography.” He told me. “Get the rhythm and be perfect in what you do. As long as you’re at half speed or more and doing it perfect, I can use it. It’s always better than full speed with bad technique.”

This was easier said than done, because I was convinced that I would be much better at the rhythm and all the other things once I got the choreography down, but he was right. This wasn’t a workshop to teach me that one choreography. Getting it perfect wouldn’t really mean anything if I didn’t learn the bigger picture things he was trying to teach us, like camera angles, rhythms, chambers, safety and working with a choreography that doesn’t feel perfect without changing it.

I got to the end of the choreography once with this partner, before we had to switch again. My new partner wasn’t entirely new, because every time John gave us a break, I would find at least one person to run the choreography with, so I could get used to different people and not just get accustomed to the way one person did it. (Which is good, because as a stunt performer, you will often have to do it with the other stunt double, and then do it with the actor as well)

We hit a couple of snags, mostly in the choreography, but we also modified some height and distance things to make it work with the two of us (another reason why it’s cool to run it with different people is that you can work on your safe distances and sells and stuff).

We were still working on the beginning of the choreography together when John said that everyone should have the choreography down by now. My partner was the only one who raised his hand to say he didn’t, so John asked me and I assured him that I did. I wasn’t perfect and probably didn’t have the rhythm yet, but at least I knew the steps.

We got some help running it to try and get to the end, but our stunt performers had to go do the choreography so that we could all film it and have something to watch to make sure we got it right. I knew I had a lot of work ahead of me for tomorrow.

As mentioned, once the workshop was done, Christine and I stayed for the boxing bootcamp class, then ran through the choreography together. This wasn’t super easy, because we were both playing the same part, and had to learn the other side of the choreography to be able to practice with each other. It meant more work, but I find this really fun, and it was nice to be able to do either side and practice with different people later on. It also helps you know the choreography better, and you probably always get to a point where you know the other person’s actions, just like you eventually learn the other actor’s lines, but we were actually getting to do them.

The open mat guys were shuffling in as we practiced, and one of them is a security guard, so he right away commented on the way I was disarming Christine, to show me how it should be done, which included some kind of an arm lock, some krav maga, and a takedown. I definitely appreciated his enthusiasm and desire to keep me safe, but I also needed to learn the actual choreography.

Once we were convinced we knew it, I had Christine give me notes, and we worked on all of my reactions, then went to a pool (where we ran it a few more times) and out for supper. At home, I rewatched the video of the choreography about a million times, looked online for videos of gunshot reactions, and tried to go through the moves in my head, without someone there to remind me what was coming.

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The next morning, I had convinced Ayisha to open the gym earlier, so we got there at 9 to practice (the workshop started at 10). The rest of the workshop attendees weren’t far behind, and neither were the stunt performers. The one who’s part I (and everyone I know) was doing showed up a couple of minutes after me, and the other one arrived just as we finished warming up and he was trying to see if he remembered her side.

I did the choreo with 3 different people before John started the class by pairing us off with the people we would be filming it with. I was put back with my first partner, so we knew how to work together, and had time apart to learn from other people as well.

One thing about John’s choreography is that he is really a stickler about safety. This means that while I couldn’t tell you how to do certain moves, like the windmill, I could tell when we were doing something wrong, because if ever we accidentally bumped something, or narrowly avoided hitting each other, I knew we weren’t doing it right.

One issue we had was that she didn’t want to actually touch me. She has on set experience as a stunt performer, and I am new and don’t look like much, so she would stop inches away from me, which is good for certain things that don’t need contact to sell, but for others, you do. She asked if she could switch a punch to my stomach into a slap or something so she wouldn’t have to make contact, but Geoff instead taught her how to properly do the move without hurting me, and I repeatedly assured her that it was okay. She had earlier suggested she would keep going like this, then go all out once we were filming, and I told her that she had to be consistent and start going all out now, or I would be flustered and thrown once we did it in front of John.

Every time someone was having trouble with the choreography and using time to work on that rather than the things he was telling us to, John would remind us that this workshop isn’t about the choreography. Because that isn’t a transferable skill, it’s one choreography that exists only for this workshop. The things we are supposed to be adding to our repertoire is knowledge of camera angles and how to open up to camera, as well as how to make every moment work. This means a balance between fillers and not giving the other person time for fillers, showing pain and reactions, chambering…

I again ran it with different people when we had a break. This may have seemed pointless, since our partners had been assigned, but I wanted to take every chance I had to practice. Eventually, we broke for lunch, but it was a rolling lunch, where half the class could stay and work while the others went to eat, then they would come back and work while the others went to get food. He opted for this since there wasn’t enough floor space for everyone to be doing the entire choreography seamlessly without readjusting or skipping reactions.

My partner and I decided to keep going and then break, which was a great idea, because we got to work completely unimpeded, got direct feedback from John, then got to eat while talking shop and suggesting future workshops. I went back down to work on the notes John had given me, one of which being that I meet targets, but it wasn’t long before John came back and everyone decided to start back early.

Most people weren’t ready to film, so we had a rotation thing going on, where you would run it with Geoff until you got it, then practice on your own before going in front of John, who would film it, calling us all over to watch the successful takes, or the ones that needed improvement, so we could all get the notes.

One of my friends that I had asked about the workshop had told me that it was very important to take John’s notes and do them, so I was careful to pay attention and understand them and tried so hard to implement them. We did it once as a rehearsal, he gave us notes and we went again, where I did maybe half of his notes, and then adjusted myself for the others before he could. (As in he told me to land a foot to the left after this move, I landed in the same place I had before, but moved over a foot to the left before ending, without him telling me to)

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We went through the same process for the French reverse, running it and filming it with Geoff before doing it for John.

I was the only one that day who got off course and accidentally kicked her partner, which completely mortified me and I felt terrible. John told me to breathe and play with the moments, so we went again and I didn’t let it get to my head, but I apologized profusely once we were done.

At the end, we all got to thank John and say goodbye, before he, Anita and Geoff headed home, and a few of us went to a nearby pub for some supper. I think everyone left feeling incredibly motivated to keep training and doing stuff like this. I know that I was going into the workshop with nearly zero skills, and I didn’t do much as far as impressing him goes, but I did show up and I was motivated and dedicated and eager to learn. Which I did. All kinds of things that I would have missed out on had I waited to be more skilled or more ready for the workshop. Hopefully John will teach another workshop, or I will run into him on set someday, and I will have improved exponentially, and be using the things he taught us, and that is when I will impress him.

 

All of these amazing pics are by Gozde Bocu (@lensofberlin)

Baby Steps and Anniversaries

I started last week off right with an early morning hike on St-Hilaire with my parents. We used to go nearly every day last summer, so I have been missing my mountain, and was really glad to be back.

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After the hike I set off for Toronto, but not before stopping at a park to train with Alyssa. I wasn’t liking the way I would train every day in Toronto, then get to Montreal and do nothing, so it is really nice to have friends that I can train with every time I come to town. We did some pad work and she taught me some kicks, but an hour definitely wasn’t long enough.

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Once in Toronto, I pretty much went straight to 4 Points for Jiu-Jitsu. It was my friend Shiva’s first class, and while I have been doing this longer and know more technique, she is strong and fierce and tough and will definitely be annihilating me once she figures out what to do. A few of us ended up going out after class and talking for hours about the industry and stuff. I learnt a bunch of things and had a wonderful time

On Tuesday, I worked as an SP and at 4 Points, where I finished off my evening with NOGI. Shiva was there again, which is only the second time that I have not been the only girl for a NOGI class, the last time being when I brought Christine. Shiva is clearly committed and will probably be there as much as me now.

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On Wednesday I had a dry run as an SP in the morning, then spent the rest of the day hanging out/working with Ayisha. We got the footage Hubert Boorder put together after the workshop and it is incredible. The footage, yes, but also the fact that he took the time to put it all together for us. I am slightly flabbergasted, but then again everyone I speak to tells me that he is the nicest guy ever. Shiva was there again for jiu-jitsu, and for the steak night that came afterwards. It was the first time I actually ordered the steak rather than some other carb wrapped meat thing on the menu, and while it was very good, I think I prefer my burgers and chicken wraps.

On Thursday I sent my materials out to some Toronto agents, because although I have been consistently busy doing things, the agent search is definitely something that has been neglected as of late. Once that was done, I met up with Ayisha and had my first experience putting together ikea furniture. It probably would have gone better with a hammer, but we still accomplished our task. At NOGI that night, probably because I don’t listen when I am told that grabbing people’s heads won’t help me, David taught everyone how to choke me when I am in that position. I know that the guys all go easy on me; rolling slower, letting me get one (a few) over on them, not putting their weight on me and so on (appreciate the honesty Jonathon), but I also feel like they have been going slightly less easy on me, and that I am giving more of a (or hopefully a better) fight. So although I was a bit disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to do this move that made me feel like I was accomplishing something, I really appreciate the push it will give me to do better. I am a huge fan of baby steps and goals, so this month I wanted to not always be the one tapping out. I already transitioned from accustomating myself to being crushed under someone’s side control to making sure I never have more than one butt cheek and shoulder on the mat, but Ayisha has been pushing me to try harder and not let myself get to that position at all. Although the baby steps are more comfortable for me, they may not be the best idea. Yes, it is easier to turn onto my side rather than to get back up on my knees after I am thrown down, but I would clearly rather escape before someone closes their grip on me instead of getting myself used to being crushed. I take pride in always going back in there immediately after tapping out, but going into rolls assuming I am going to be the one to tap out is a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. And as Ayisha told me, I am clearly not giving my 100%, because I am not dead after a roll, and I should be (She gives the best motivational speeches ; ) )

On Friday I trained, working on choreography stuff in a martial art that I am completely unfamiliar with, before going on a date where I discovered there is a free farm/petting zoo thing super close to my house. I no longer have a kid living with me, but I was super excited, and can’t wait to bring my roommates to see it. I drove back to Montreal with a friend once it was over, ready for a fun, family-filled weekend.

On Saturday I went for a fitting for my bridesmaid dress, because it wasn’t quite right, then brought my cousins to the hall so we could help get everything set up for the party that night. Luckily, we finished just in time to get ready and have lunch before the photographer arrived for the photoshoot. We were a bit torn, because my grandfather loves being in pictures and my grandmother hates it, but ultimately, we want to record the memories, especially happy ones.

The party was incredible, not just as far as parties go (and getting to see everyone, friends and family, from near or far), but for what it represented. A huge reason why my grandparents do this kind of party is because they got tired of only seeing certain family members at funerals, so these ensure we will see everyone for happy occasions too. More than anything though, it was amazing because it celebrates not only their 80th birthdays, but the 60 years that they have spent being married to each other. They raised 3 kids and 6 grandkids, ran businesses, built buildings and kept not only our immediate family close, but everyone. Their door and their hearts are always open and they bring everyone together. A lot of people were saying my grandparents were their relationship goals because of the 60 years, and I hope to be lucky enough to get there as well, but it is so much more than the years. It is the love and respect they have for each other, how they are a team; an unbreakable team that can get through and accomplish anything.

On Sunday morning, I got up early and headed to Montreal to do a self-tape with Christine, who convinced me to try her protein shake, which was actually kind of delicious. The scene was in French, which is fun to practice, and she had to take on a bit of a different essence, which was really nice to watch, and made me really miss being in class all the time.

I had to leave to go train with Alyssa, again in the park, and again with the pad work and the kicks, but we did different ones, and worked on a combo as well. Hopefully we will put aside more time for our next training session, because I really enjoy working with and learning from her.

 

That afternoon, I went to the gym with a friend in stunts, thinking we were going to do more pad work, maybe learn a little combo or something, but instead we did all the weights and conditioning stuff they had told me to do back in April, and more. Dead lifts, split squats, pull ups, dips, abs, another kind of squats, neck exercises, other things I don’t know the name of…It obviously wasn’t as fun as what I thought we were going to do, but I can definitely see how necessary and beneficial it all was. And it will be a lot easier to keep up with it now that I have done it and know what it is supposed to look like. Also, there were a lot of things I wasn’t sure I could do, but just tried anyway, and felt like a total badass afterwards (there were also things I kind of failed at, but baby steps, and I’ll be better next time.)

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Once training was done, I went to my grandparents’ for another big family supper, where I finally got to meet Jaelyne, who is so sweet and adorable. She also has muscles that could give most people, including me, a run for their money.

On Monday my mom and I went for a hike, and then I met JF for coffee before driving with a friend back to Toronto. I had intentions of going to gymnastics that night, but my legs didn’t quite agree, and I was exhausted from a weekend of late nights and early mornings.  I don’t exactly hate my friend who trained me on Sunday, but let’s say they aren’t currently my favourite person either.

“Under pressure, you don’t rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training.”

-NAVY Seal

Get Busy Living

I have been journaling for as long as I can remember, first as a child, then on vacations, sporadically for a while, before a few years ago when I started journaling consistently, every single day. There are periods where I can look up entire conversations that I’ve had with people, nearly word for word. Lately, something has happened which is really upsetting, but also super awesome. I have become too busy to journal. Or at least to keep up with it the way I did. Which is sad because I liked the idea of being able to go back and know exactly what was going on, but seriously, it is so exciting that I am too busy living my life to be able to write about it.

On the Thursday of my last post, I spent the morning doing self-tapes with friends and watching Buffy, before going to work at 4 points. I didn’t make it to NOGI that night, because Midtown Med Spa, where Ayisha now does Lashes & Blades, was celebrating its anniversary with a fancy event. The people who work there waited in their rooms while clients (and potential ones) roamed around, drinking wine, enjoying food and asking questions. I spent some time batting my newly amazing eyelashes, and even participated in a live demonstration of lash extensions. It was fun to get dolled up and meet some interesting people, such as Ayisha’s friend Sarah, who was in town from Montreal. When the event was over, we all went out for supper.

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The following morning, I met Sarah at 4 points for a little photoshoot for her upcoming Extensa Method Training. She teaches stretching to Olympic divers, hockey players, Jiu-Jitsu teams…and that morning she taught some of it to me. It was a lot of fun, and so is she.

Not long after she headed out, Chie arrived for my boxing bootcamp. This was one of the rare occasions where I had someone else with me, but we still followed the same routine of circuit training and padwork. He very much enjoyed the fact that even as he put pressure on my wall sit, I still smiled.

We did some prep for the workshop that weekend, then I did the lunchtime jiu-jitsu class, where we worked on all the chokes. Especially the ones involving the GI. Not my favorite, but who knows what will come in handy during a roll.

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That afternoon, Ayisha had a self-tape to do where she was an absolute badass, so we worked on it and did it a few times, then her boxing friend from Montreal gave us an hour long private session which was intense and soooo much fun. We did the scenes again with this new energy before calling it a day

Back at home, there was basically a party going on, with all my roommates, including the new and unofficial ones, and Christine, who was in town for the Hubert Boorder film fighting workshop. There was talking, food and then we watched Brad’s Status, to support all of the amazing Montreal talent they were lucky enough to have in it.

On Saturday Christine and I went to the workshop, which I will have a separate post on, then we had lunch and went to the Monkey Vault, where we practiced the short fight choreography we had been given. When my partner left, they were still working on their stuff, so I joined in on a new friend’s private parkour session. We worked on vaulting, which was one of my goals for this month, and I achieved some stuff I had been pretty sure I couldn’t do, which was really exciting. It’s really comforting to see that the more you do the things that scare you, the less scary they are and the more you can do.

That night, a bunch of us went out for supper at The Green Eggplant, then we went to see I Feel Pretty. I can understand why some people wouldn’t like the movie, but I did laugh a whole lot, and the company was amazing, so it was an awesome night.

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On Sunday we finished the workshop, running a little more than 2 hours over, which was unexpected, and incredibly generous of our Stunt Coordinator instructor. I absolutely loved pretty much every minute of it. A few of us went for supper afterwards, which is becoming a tradition that I very much enjoy.

On Monday, Christine had to head back to Montreal, but Alyssa stayed, so we went jogging with my roommate and did some padwork before meeting up with some guys who had trained in stunts with her in Montreal. It was a really nice, fun afternoon. Nearly everyone I have met who works (or wants to work) in stunts has been super nice, helpful and awesome.

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I finished off my day with Jiu-Jitsu, which must have been hilarious to watch, because I was sore in many places, and literally had to lift my head up with my hands before I could sit up, because my neck wasn’t quite up to the challenge.

On Tuesday, some people who are either trying to get into stunts, or just want to train and practice their basics, came to the gym and let me join in on their training. I absolutely love training and working on this kind of stuff every chance I get, so it was an amazing opportunity. I recently saw a stunt girl who posts a weekly tally of how many hours she spends training, and while I don’t think I need to broadcast it, I definitely want to make sure that I am putting in the time and working on my crafts. I was told that my job now is to train, and I intend to take this very seriously.

I spent the rest of the day with Ayisha, and this girl is amazing. Not only because I really enjoy hanging out with her, but because she gets things done. Once she sets her mind to something, she finds a way to make it happen, and it is really inspiring to watch. I finished off the day with NOGI, where there were more chokes and a lot of work to never have two butt cheeks or two shoulders on the mat. Definitely good advice, but I may have sometimes gone into a semi-bridge position for the butt cheeks, which was not what she meant when she gave that directive. After class, those who wanted could stay and be drilled on certain useful techniques, especially to prepare the guys who were participating in the Ontario Open. I was incredibly excited when one of the things we were doing was something that I had been taught and could do, while others hadn’t learnt it yet. Not because I felt like I was better than anyone, but because for once I got to help someone who had spent countless classes teaching me all the things. And honestly, I am just really excited when I get things.

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On Wednesday I did the morning boxing class with Chie, where I did my first deadlifts, and was told to be more careful when training, because he can’t work on my kicks when my shins are all bruised. It was still a really fun class where I sort of got to try sparring, and I’m sure I smiled even through the hard stuff.

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That afternoon I worked with Ayisha, then did some BJJ, but I had to leave early to get to a viewing party. Chris River, who is an awesome actor and a really great kid, was on that night’s episode of The Expanse, and he did a wonderful job. It was sweet and sad and cute and watching him and his mom watching the episode had to be the cutest thing ever. The kid is also hilarious, so we were thoroughly entertained.

We ended the night with steak night, which usually comes after jiu-jitsu, but who am I to say no to spending time with friends? (I used to do this a lot…with so many excuses…but I’m working on being much more ‘go with the flow’ and spontaneous and less shy and self-conscious) It was a great night. (or day actually, from start to finish)

I had SP training on Thursday, followed by working/hanging out with Ayisha. We have been working a lot on the film and tv side of things, which will soon include self-tapes, which are something I am very familiar with, from helping out friends, from class and from working as a reader. They’re an incredible opportunity to act and discover a character, and the perfect embodiment of “If you find a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life”. We mostly worked on that and updates for the website until I had to head home to Montreal, luckily with company, because otherwise you get very tired around 2 am…

One of my friends was locked out of his house when we got there, so he ended up staying over at my place, and getting picked up from my grandparents’ place Friday morning while I made cupcakes. I spent most of the day with my mom and aunt at my cousin’s, preparing for her sister’s bridal shower and bachelorette party.

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When they headed home, I drove over to Paragym (and totally got lost walking from my car to the entrance) so I could train with Christine and Alyssa. At first we just did a warm up and worked on our kicks, but then Christine came up with a combo whose sole purpose was to run us through the gamut of reactions. We ran it a bunch of times with the different ways of avoiding getting hit, then filmed ourselves taking the blows, so we could see what sells and adjust accordingly. They were awesome and mostly had to adjust the height of their kicks or the angles of their punches, but I had a lot of work to do. From being too stiff to looking down to a bunch of other things, it took me a lot longer to get to a point where we were satisfied. I still have so much to work on, but every time we meet up and do things like this, I improve exponentially. I am at the complete bottom of the skills level, but that is completely fine with me. I am going to keep training with people and working on it on my own and watching the videos and learning from my mistakes and from other people. Because even if it takes me a million baby steps to get there, eventually, I will get there. And I am completely enjoying the journey, so while the destination will be awesome, it doesn’t really matter at the moment.

After a few hours, we went to Christine’s for a healthy, protein-filled supper, fun conversations, a clothing giveaway and some UFC videos. I am slowly starting to watch fights as not just a series of blurs until one person wins, but to be able to recognize what people are doing. It started when I went to see Tomb Raider and recognized all kinds of different martial arts and moves, but at the John Stead workshop, it kind of bugged me that I could remember the sequence okay, but wasn’t familiar enough with the moves to tell my partner more than punch, punch, kick. It’s a lot easier to remember the choreography when you can tell yourself right hook, uppercut, roundhouse, than if you just register whether it is the arm or the leg that is moving, which in itself is an improvement on how I used to watch fights. Again, I am a huge fan of baby steps.

On Saturday, there was more prep before the actual bridal shower. Chelsea showed up in a white dress, so she obviously wasn’t surprised, but I would like to hope she was happy with everyone who came and what her mom put together. There were games, so much food and the cutest/funniest video series from her fiancé answering questions about their relationship. I used to love going to showers when I was a little girl, and this one was no exception, but so much more exciting and a big deal because my cousins are like my siblings and we are all growing up. Which was pretty obvious when we got to the bachelorette party. I believe there is a ‘what happens at the bachelorette party stays at the bachelorette party’ rule, but I can say that the food we had catered was delicious (so let me know if you need a take home chef in Montreal), I was overwhelmed and so touched by what people notice and think about me, and I did some more #allthethings. I also somehow agreed to participate in the next jiu-jitsu competition, because I missed all the guys from 4 Points participating in the Ontario Open. This means I have a little over a month to train and get ready for it. I would be terrified, but someone told me it helps to have no feelings when it comes to competitions, so I’m trying that for now.

Finally, Sunday was Mother’s Day, so I spent the day with the women who go way above and beyond what the title implies, and help make me the luckiest girl in the world.

“It’s not about what you tell your children, but how you show them how to live life.”

-Jada Pinkett Smith

A New Guru

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

Getting Back Into It

After a couple of days of MMIs and turning 28, I flew to Punta Cana with my mom and grandparents. I had planned on being much more athletic, as my suitcase could attest, stuffed with workout clothes and running shoes, but instead, I spent a week just walking the beach, relaxing and hanging out with my family.

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Less than 12 hours after we landed in Montreal, I drove to Toronto for the TAWC meeting, where we found out who the recipient of the Nell Shipman Award will be. If you don’t know who Nell Shipman is (I definitely didn’t) look her up, because she was an all-around badass. She wrote, produced, directed and acted in her own movies, where she often did her own stunts.

Friday night, I went to Gyros gym for the MWF Madness gymnastics class. I was more reluctant to go to this class than any other (except parkour, because I could potentially fall and die) because I feel like I am expected to have improved from the first class, where expectations were incredibly low.

I haven’t specifically been working on any of it, except for the handstands, but a huge part of my problem has always been my fear (and lack of confidence) rather than not actually being able to do it. So, for the trampoline, knowing that I was able to do everything last time removed any fear. Learning falls in jiu-jitsu made me not afraid (but very entertaining) as I continuously fell to the floor while trying to figure out the 2 leg kick things (I did eventually get it, but made some people laugh before I got there). As far as actual gymnastics, I achieved a back roll (rather than a backwards shoulder roll) which was awesome (because I was definitely not getting it last class). And although I’m not there yet, I completely went for it with the handstands. I normally do them half-ass when I’m out in the open, because of my own fear of losing control once my balance shifts, but this time I went for it. It is still scary to tip past the point where it is easier to just fall back down, but I have more faith in myself? Allen, the teacher, was telling another student who was working on handstands that he would get the next step once he could hold his handstand against the wall for at least 30 seconds (or maybe a minute? Not sure).

“I can do that.” I told him, not mentioning that I can hold it for probably 2 minutes, because I would rather be up against the wall for longer, and have to roll out of it less times, than to have to do a dozen short bouts. So, I got the next step! They’re really baby steps, and I know that, but I would rather do it right and be confident in my skills, even if it takes longer, rather than to power through things I can’t quite do, or don’t feel comfortable with.

I am super proud of my progress, but the best part is probably that after facing my fears this class, I won’t be afraid to come back next time 🙂

On Saturday, my stunt friend was in town, so we trained. By that, I mean that he taught me the basic fighting stance and some punches for film fighting, which will be super beneficial for shadowboxing, and because that’s why I am learning to box. It’s homework that I am actually doing, because once I get these things down, I get to learn new things 🙂

That afternoon, I went to a pole class, where instead of learning a combo, we learnt how to combine spins. I didn’t know most of them to begin with, so I learnt a whole lot of new things.

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On Sunday, I went to the Monkey Vault for a parkour course (all about bars), which was awesome and really entertaining. I find parkour is a lot less scary when you aren’t afraid of the bruises (which I no longer am), so I just throw myself into things (like spins or vaults, not stationary objects) and probably get more bruises than I should, but I also get to find out what I am made of. My friend was staying for the flexibility class, so I did that as well, then a few of us went out for food. All 3 of these women were so sweet and welcoming. At the end, I said I would see them at the monkey vault, but they told me that they do other things too.

“Like what?” I asked, expecting more exercise classes.

As their list of things I was now invited to went on, I realized I wasn’t just being invited to a weekly exercise group, I was invited to be their friend. Which is way better.

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On Monday, I went to another pole class and learnt a cool combo, with the teacher just assuming I was awesome and knew all the spins. It turns out I didn’t know the essential spin that most people learn their first ever spin class, the fireman. At the end, she wanted to work on pole sits, but I asked if we could do inversions instead, and finally made it upside down. It still needs work, but when the teacher got on my pole to demonstrate what I was doing wrong, she realized that it was super slippery and was impressed I even managed the class, let alone hanging upside down on it. Unfortunately, the slippery pole was not the cause of my imperfect inversion, but I’ll be back with a vengeance next week.

I had work in the afternoon, and had to fix some phone issues, before going to jiu-jitsu. It was good to be back after weeks of being away. I think I missed the actual jiu-jitsu and rolling, but I definitely missed the people. I stayed after class to get some career advice from Ayisha, who has partially become my life guru.

On Tuesday, I went to the lunchtime jiu-jitsu class, where I reworked some half-guard passes, then had a really cool conversation with some of the guys, until I got a call asking me to get to set within the hour for some background work. Say what you want about background, there are very few places I would rather be than on set 😉

As for today, I got back into boxing with Chie, spending half of the class on my tippy toes to work on my footwork, then did some SP work before some more jiu-jitsu tonight.

 

“Feel the fear…and do it anyway. Often we think, ‘I’ll do it when I am not so afraid.’ But in reality, it works the other way round. The ‘doing it’ comes before the fear goes away. The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out and do it.”

-Susan Jeffers

I chose this quote because part of me debated whether I should share my fears and insecurities in this post. It’s what I have always done on here, but lately, I am trying to be a badass and strong and I didn’t think those two goals lined up. But that’s the whole thing about this journey I’m on; I’m not trying to convince anyone that I know everything and can do all the things. What I am trying to do is convince myself, first of all, that I am badass and strong and capable. Which doesn’t mean getting things on the first try, or even being amazing at them. It means not letting my fear or assumptions stop me from trying all these incredible things I was always afraid of doing. I think that being terrified of something and doing it anyway is the most badass you can be. And admitting that you were afraid doesn’t diminish what you accomplished. It just shows the next person who is afraid to try something that it’s normal to be afraid, but you don’t need to let it stop you. So you will keep getting my worries and fears and insecurities with every post, and I’m not sorry, or ashamed…