Gemeaux in Montreal

So it turns out that the event we went to during TIFF was not so much a TIFF event, as TIFF adjacent. It was honoring Rosamund Pike and her new film, A Private War, but it had more to do with female empowerment than the international film festival. It was an honor to be invited and is the exact kind of thing I hope to get involved in someday. I am putting this TIFF down as the one I paid attention to, so next year I will know what to expect and what I want to be a part of.

The following weekend I headed back to Montreal, where it was mostly family with a big touch of fancy. On Friday night, we went out for supper with my family, then came home where Ayisha discovered my secret past as commercial actor. My parents then decided to whip out the videos, which prove that once upon a time I was a cutie.

Saturday started out with a mimosa brunch before we went bridesmaid dress shopping for Rikki’s wedding. Three of us said yes to the dress J (does that count for bridesmaids?) After shoe shopping with Ayisha and meeting her mom, we again had supper with all my family, then went home and watched American Ninja Warrior while knitting. A perfect combo, right?

Sunday was Gemeaux day. I hung out with my friend JF, plotting shorts and catching up while Ayisha got ready and went to the afternoon gala, where she won the Gemeaux for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her role on Unite 9. I got to walk the red carpet and be her date for the evening gala, where her show was on fire and she presented an award.

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It was a night of highlights, but I think one of my favorite moments was walking into Reuben’s after it was all over, decked out in our gorgeous gowns and ordering some smoked meat. We changed back into our normal clothes and just hung out. Still, it wasn’t like the fairytale was over and the carriage was turning back into a pumpkin though, because this is life. It was eye opening to see that this was all just a part of the life of being an actor. Just like being in Los Angeles simultaneously made me feel like my dreams were so close and also so far away, this night made them feel equally attainable and impossible. Because it’s all just a part of the hustle. One minute you’re on stage accepting an award and the next you’re running lines on your way to an audition. Or one minute fans are tweeting to say your performance brought them to tears and the next you’re being released from a hold without even being notified. The closer I get to working actors, the more the dream becomes a possibility, but also a reality. Because I understand the ups and downs and how making it doesn’t change things into constant trailers and red carpets. Which is why you gotta love it. And I do. I love all of it.

On Monday morning I worked a bit with my mom and helped Ayisha with a self tape before we slowly started making our way back to Toronto. Her mom treated us to a delicious lunch and we returned our dresses to the incredible designer who loaned them to us and proceeded to treat us like friends once we get there.

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We got to Toronto much later than expected, but it was a wonderful weekend. And I couldn’t be prouder of Ayisha. This girl works so hard at everything she does and doesn’t even realize how amazing she is. And as busy as all of her endeavors constantly make her, she is always trying to help others, with small things like self tapes and finding an agent, to huge things like figuring out your entire life. She’s incredible. I’m in awe of her; this weekend and always. I am so honored and lucky to have her as one of my closest friends, and I can’t imagine how different my life would be if I hadn’t walked into her gym 9 months ago.

 

“Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for a while, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same.”

-Flavia Weedn

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End of Summer

The last few weeks have mostly been spent at the gym, with almost 2 weeks of impromptu summer camps and all my usual night classes. A certain someone going off to Europe meant I also had some extra time to do a lot of writing. Bittersweet I guess, but it is awesome to be creating and climbing into all of these imaginary worlds again. Unlike when I am just writing for fun, or with an eventual goal of turning them into something, this time we had specific plans for everything we were writing.

Johnny spent days at my house working on a one-pager submission. He came over so we could start working on it Sunday night, then decided he wouldn’t leave until it was done. This meant waiting at home while I was doing summer camp or BJJ classes, then writing late into the night to make sure we had the story down.

We finished it on our drive to Montreal for Labor Day. Most of my family was out of town, but I did get to spend some time with my grandmother, and stopped by for my great aunt’s birthday. Friends from the gym were in Montreal as well, so we met up for supper on the Saturday and came to swim at my place on Sunday night after everyone had come to BJJ that morning.

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I had a catching up/production meeting with Christine as well, and think it is amazing how far this project has come. What started out as a small reaction shot with a bit of dialogue for our stunt demos has turned into a 20 minute short with possible drone shots. And we went from who can we get really easily? To who will be the best person to make this story come alive? The project is getting bigger, and so is our investment in time, money and everything. By the end of the shoot I will have ripped my bleeding heart out of my chest and held it out for the world to see (not literally, but close) and I am so terrified, but so much more excited to do this.

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It was mostly a relaxing weekend spent with friends and family, but I also got to work on organizing my room, and finished writing a short film I have been working on/talking about/putting off for months. Then, on the drive back to Toronto, Johnny and I worked on an idea for something we hope to film in the next coming months.

Some other cool things I’ve done:

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Women in View networking event with my ladies from TAWC. The panel was on navigating TIFF, but it’s the undertone of women supporting each other throughout the evening that left me feeling inspired and excited about what is next.

Krav maga. I got a groupon for this ages ago and keep meaning to go, but I am always too busy. It is about to expire, so I made time. The first class had a guest instructor from France, so I was also the unofficial translator, and the second only had 4 students, so we got a lot of hands on training and adjustments.

A bunch of background days. I love being on set. I love meeting people with similar interests and talking about the industry. So getting paid to write movies and hang out with people is always fun. It’s especially fun if you happen to end up interacting with the actors in the scene, listening to them do comedy and a Q & A or discussing afternoon tea places on the breaks.

YEAA meeting. We are having a fundraiser for the 6 shorts that were made last month, so stay tuned for more details 🙂

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We had a guest teacher for NOGI. I’ve met Ilan before, but this was my first time attending one of his classes. He taught us a bunch of BJJ warm ups we could do on our own in a small space (so you don’t have an excuse to not train) as well as real world applications for some of the moves we were doing. Since most of my BJJ is stuff I can’t use unless I’m already on the ground, it is always fun to learn stuff you can do and stay standing up.

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Trina’s pool party. I met Trina at the ACTRA conference and finally made it to one of her pool parties. This girl has such a huge heart. It was lovely to catch up, chill in the hot tub and stare off at the Toronto skyline

And finally, TIFF started this week, so I went to the Young Filmmaker’s TIFF Opening party with Ayisha and Dave. I have another such event to get to tonight, but I’ll tell you all about it in my next post!

 

“Most filmmakers will tell you that if you write your own films, it’s the most expensive psychoanalysis you could get. It’s costing a fortune, it’s costing millions, just for me to go to an analyst, but it’s wonderful because [then] you can go on living.”

-Denys Arcand

All the Things

When I got back from Montreal I had a week of summer camp, during which I also had to finish all of the pre-production for my short, which we decided to name All The Things.

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Camp was awesome, with 2 kids I particularly enjoy, who were really into all of the acting and performing things. My favourite part was probably when they asked to do my short. Not only were they super sweet in telling me how much they enjoyed it and it was touching, they were absolutely adorable and heartbreaking when they put it on for me. I am hoping they enjoyed themselves, but I was a pack of nerves about the 18th.

We had a rehearsal on Tuesday night, where we lost our location, then went scouting for a new one and found a gorgeous place. The director had to work late, so we set up shots and stuff without him, then quickly ran through the performance aspects once he arrived. Even though I wrote it, he and Ayisha would bring adjustments that I sometimes had to argue with, story-wise, but others made it a lot more compelling. And terrifying for me as the actress, who would have to do these things. But more than anything, I was excited to be doing what I love and stepping into Charlie’s shoes.

On Wednesday we created some props and did some research for craft, which resulted in a wrong turn that led to a new location. You see, I originally planned on having my short in a beautiful field with tall grass…but then research told me that was not going to work out, and the story changed. Almost immediately, the landscape shifted to an urban setting, desolate, overrun with weeds, with just enough hints so you realize this is not the world we currently live in. Our first location, which didn’t work out, was the alley behind my house, which was perfect in that respect, with weeds growing everywhere and abandoned cars and objects …there were other, logistics issues, but it was what I was looking for. The forest location we found while scouting was beautiful, but it wasn’t at all what I had been looking for. The location we stumbled onto accidentally, however, went back into the idea of an overrun wasteland. To a lesser degree, but it was still there.

On Friday I went to William F. White’s to get our equipment. Winning the competition gave me a budget from YEAA (Young and Emerging Artists Assembly), and it also gave me all of the equipment we would need thanks to the partnership with White’s. I must have inherited some of my parents’ Tetris playing skills (my mom on the computer, my dad with the trunk when we go on road trips) because I managed to stuff all of it in my car. One of my biggest regrets from that weekend is not taking a picture.

Once I unloaded the car I was ready to fill it up again with food. Luckily, this time I had help. I definitely did not make for good company on date night, because my mind was partially still on the million things I had to do or hadn’t done for the short. More than one person tried to reassure me by telling me it would soon be over, but that wasn’t really what I wanted to hear. I love creating my own projects and writing and acting…I didn’t want it to be over, I just wish I had prepared more or organized myself better.

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On Saturday we headed out to my new location, the one I had stumbled on by accident. I dropped my roommate off with some of the stuff, then went to load the car up with the rest of the equipment. I had completely forgotten to tell my co-lead that we were meeting on location, not at my place as I had originally intended, so I sent someone to get her while my roommate helped me with set design.

Eventually, my director pulled me aside, away from everyone else, and told me that the location wasn’t working for him or the rest of the crew. They would still film here if it was what I really wanted, because it’s my project, but as far as the look and the end result, they thought I was making a big mistake and strongly urged me to reconsider. He felt the current location didn’t convey wasteland or desolation either, it was just ugly instead of how gorgeous the forest would be. Since I am eager to please and not one to stand up for myself, especially when I am not strong enough in my convictions, I agreed and we moved over to the wooded location.

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This meant putting all of the equipment back into the cars and making a few trips, since there was a lot of equipment and a bunch of people as well. Once there, we had to carry all of this equipment about 15 minutes into the nature trails to reach our filming location. Which was beautiful, without a doubt. All luscious and green and full of life.

I had all kinds of sunscreen, but no bug spray, which led to some really interesting takes once we started filming. At one point while we were doing Rosie’s close up, I did the entire scene with one eye closed because there was a bug attacking it, trying to get in. Rosie also did an amazing job of ignoring a bug that was devouring her neck, but they saw it on camera and told her to swat it away.

Ayisha’s flight from Montreal had been delayed, so she got to set as we were doing the first takes. I am so grateful for all of the people who came that day to help me out. Some thought they would be useless and just sit around all day, but I definitely could not have done it without them. For heavy lifting and guarding the equipment, sure, but also for being there and doing the things and letting me delegate a bit so I could concentrate on other things. Which didn’t exactly work, but it was my bad more than anyone else’s.

We stopped my close up after a few takes because I wasn’t getting there, leaving it for the end, which was good, but also so much more stressful than if I had been able to get it out of the way earlier on. We had done a rehearsal to figure out the blocking before we had started filming, and I had hit all my marks then, but once we started filming, if the camera was on me I just couldn’t.

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When all we had left were my close ups, Ayisha came to talk to me, to figure out what I needed in order to be able to get to where I needed to go. We had given up on a lot location- and prop-wise because she felt the performance was going to carry it. I was having doubts. It was from talking with her that I realized that both today and last time I was acting in something I wrote, I was so stressed out and things weren’t going the way I wanted but I was keeping it all in and trying to be pleasant and there for everyone else. Maybe I couldn’t cry because there had been so many times today when I had wanted to cry but just pushed it back, knowing this wasn’t the time or the place.

I asked for the takes I needed, trying things differently, that went against what I had been asked to do, but that got me to where I needed to be. We had one take where I got there, both emotionally and for the tears, and hopefully that one time was enough.

We did some room tone because it was officially a wrap on principal photography.

I think it took about an hour to get all the equipment back into the cars, and then we headed back to White’s to return it all so another team could use it equipment in the morning.

Finally, once I got to my boyfriend’s that night, I could breathe. I didn’t have to worry about locations or not being able to cry or letting people down or not being good enough. Production was done and I was proud of what we accomplished.

I also had a million more things I had learnt on this production, which is good because the goal is to be continuously improving. Instead of beating myself up or stressing out about everything I could have done differently, I took the rest of the weekend to relax, to go for a brunch with my boyfriend where I wasn’t preoccupied with all the other things that need to get done…and then I spent the rest of my Sunday catching up on all of my administrative stuff and figuring out the next steps for the short J

Obviously, a huge thank you to YEAA and everyone there and at ACTRA who took a chance on me and made this whole thing possible. To everyone who gave of their time or talent or support…you are my heroes ❤

“Done is better than perfect.”

-Sheryl Sandberg

“By seeking and blundering we learn.”

-Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Home Again <3

A few weekends ago I spent some time in Montreal, reinforcing the misconception that I haven’t actually left Montreal, and still live there. I am half working on it, half really happy with how often I get to be home.

Camp didn’t end up happening that week, so we left Toronto on Thursday so Ayisha could get to a fitting. I went with her and caught up with a friend who was working in production before we headed home for a family supper.

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Once the meal was done, Ayisha and I headed to Complexe Multi Beloeil, so that we could attend one of Lee’s Jiu-Jitsu classes. Luckily I have been doing a whole lot of guard pass drills back in Toronto, so we breezed through that part of class and learnt some cool moves as well as alternatives to existing techniques.

On Friday morning I was expecting to drive Ayisha to a dress fitting and watch her try on a bunch of beautiful gowns, probably taking pictures and offering advice. While she was changing into the first gown, the designer asked me what I was going to be wearing to the event, and when I told him I was probably going to wear my bridesmaid’s dress, he insisted that I go try on some gowns and let him know what I like.

We spent over an hour trying on the most gorgeous gowns, which made our decision at the end near impossible. I was amazed by how nice he was, in addition to how elegant his creations were. We left there trying to figure out what events we could get invited to so we would be able to wear more of his dresses.

We stopped for some refreshments at Orange Julep, then went to Grant Brothers Boxing for a bit of pad work. This was the first time he gave us homework once he was done having us do pads, but it was fun homework; the boxing kind.

Once we were done with our workout, we rushed home for my dad’s birthday supper, which was probably mostly an excuse to get everyone to hang out together (his birthday was weeks before). It was nice, no matter the reason, and we went back to my brother’s after the meal for a night cap.

On Saturday I was filming Citadelle, a French proof of concept project that they hope to turn into a webseries next summer. It is with Thibaud, who did Un Jour En Societe as well as Ca Arrivera Jamais Icitte, so I was in familiar territory.

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Ayisha came with me and worked from the car while I caught up with old castmates, then choreographed my fight scene and rehearsed it with my scene partner. It was something I had never done before, so I focused on simplicity and safety more than wow. My scene partner probably got really annoyed every time I shot an idea down, but his ax was still pointy, even if it wasn’t real, and most of my training so far has emphasized safety over everything, so we were not going to ‘improvise once they start filming’.

I had forgotten how accurate Thibaud is and was surprised when we actually wrapped at the time his schedule had suggested, given how behind I thought we had gotten.

We drove home to work on some pre-production and have supper before heading downtown for the Nearly Secret Premiere for the 200th episode of Nearly Funny.

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I have been so inspired and in awe of Nir, ever since I started taking classes with him years ago at Suzanna’s. One of the first things I have on my list of things to do once I become an ACTRA apprentice is to be in one of his Nearly Funny videos. So needless to say, I was super excited to be at the event, and super proud of him and everyone else involved.

I got to catch up with a lot of Montreal friends, and see a whole bunch more in the 200th episode, which was really funny. I was so happy I got to be a part of it.

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On Sunday we convinced my dad to come to his first ever Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class with us. I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised with how well he kept up at the beginning, when we have to do somersaults and cartwheels and handstands. And I was maybe able to teach him some techniques from curriculum, but he was the one correcting me for the new moves that Lee showed us at the beginning of class.

Someone chose my dad as their rolling partner before I could, so it wasn’t until the second round that we got to go together, at which point he had already learnt a few new tricks. All in all, my dad did amazing, and I can’t wait to go back and train with him again!

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The last stop on my Montreal tour was Jessica’s wedding. Having been my cousin’s best friend since elementary school has made her a part of our family, so it was really touching to be able to see her walk down the aisle and find her happily ever after. It was more than worth driving home in the middle of the night when you have to be at work for 9. Without a doubt.

 

“Home is where our story begins…”

Tournaments, YEAA and Trips

So much has been happening lately! Right after my last post, I competed in the Next Gen Jiu-Jitsu tournament, which was quite an adventure.

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I woke up on the morning of the competition with my biggest fear being that I would tap out within the first few seconds and have all these people who came to watch me there for nothing. This lasted until I got on a scale and realized that unless I got to work, I wasn’t going to be able to compete at all. Tapping out would be embarrassing, but not being able to compete because I weigh too much would definitely be worse. I was wishing for the simple opportunity to get to tap out a few seconds in.

I spent a stressful morning watching others compete and running around with a bunch of layers so that I could sweat the weight off, but stressing out about my weigh-in kept me from stressing about the actual competition, so it was filled with relief, not fear that I went into my match, less than 5 minutes after making weight.

In the end I got choked out two and a half minutes in, but I fought hard up to that point, and was really proud of myself. Not to mention that the girl who beat me went on to beat everyone else and won the gold medal. All in all it was a great day, and everyone went out for supper afterwards to celebrate our defeats

My parents were in town to watch me compete, so I spent a lot of time with them, visiting family and Niagara, before going to a bridal shower in Cornwall. It wasn’t quite home, but still felt like it time-wise after spending over 8 hours in the car that day. Still, I wouldn’t have missed it. It was so nice to see family and celebrate Jessica’s upcoming wedding. I even ended up driving back to Toronto with the bride-to-be, after a delicious supper at her grandmother’s.

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I had a week of summer camp, where the kids wrote their own play, worked on songs and auditions, we did obstacle courses, made bracelets and all kinds of cool things. I also went to my first YEAA meeting for the short we are filming later this month. It was really cool to meet the other filmmakers that were chosen, to hear their concepts and to find out exactly what this project entails.

I left that meeting to go meet my Director at William F White’s and discuss our visions for the short. The closer we get to the date, the more I get excited (and obviously nervous) that this is really happening.

A few days later, we held a mixer at ACTRA to meet potential actors and crew members. So many interesting people, and one of them will be our Director of Photography once we start production on August 18th.

Once camp was done on the Friday, Ayisha and I headed to Montreal for a week filled of training, self-tapes, family stuff and cool events. It started off with my cousin’s engagement party, which was super cute and my aunt definitely went above and beyond with the tiny details, like personalized water and wine bottles for the couple.

Next we had breakfast with Christine and a pool party at my grandparents before attending the Yes Let’s Make a Movie Festival at the Cinema du Parc. It was awesome to see so many familiar faces, and to get to see some really interesting shorts on the big screen. Ayisha and I celebrated with a supper at the Keg, where we also made game plans and discussed goals.

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Almost every day we were in town we made sure to train jiu-jitsu at BTT Headquarters, and boxing with the Grant Brothers. And Edwin. I felt like a total newb for the boxing, but also had so much fun, especially since it was my first time being in an actual ring. Jiu-Jitsu wise, I had some good rolls, but the most exciting part was when Ayisha finally received her brown belt. It was during a NOGI class, so we didn’t get to hit her with our belts as is apparently the custom, but I was bursting with pride for her anyway.

I managed to squeeze in a day at McGill, and a few hours as a reader, which I really miss. The work and the people, who even suggested I do a self-tape there after we finished, since they are the ones casting the project.

I met up for coffee with an old friend, went to the YEAA Montreal Indie Producing Panel Event (insightful info, familiar faces and favorite teachers) with another friend who wants us to write a horror short together, and made it to Reuben’s for a ginormous and delicious dessert from a new friend.

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We spent Friday at La Ronde eating all the food and riding all the rides with moderate to no lines, then went to the Women’s Only class at BTT Headquarters. We were only 4 of us, 2 brown belts and a black belt working with my white, but rolling was super informative and fun. Because even though I am still failing most of the time, I am actually trying almost all of the time, which makes for more exciting and beneficial rolls.

On Saturday we took the morning easy, working with these weird hand things from Aqualogix that actually gave us a pretty good workout. We may have accidentally given my mom the hardest of all the colors, but she was a good sport and did great regardless.

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That afternoon we got serenaded by a singer at my grandparents’ summer party, which included so much food, dancing, music and love, then went home and raided my closet to get rid of clothes that either don’t fit me anymore, or just aren’t flattering. As someone who once lost a bunch of weight, reached her goal and gave away all her clothes, I can clearly remember the last time I did this and had to wear dresses with leggings for a year because none of the pants I had left would fit me. Not my proudest moment, but hopefully this time will be better.

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On our last day in Montreal, we helped my brother move, went to my niece’s birthday party, and my brother’s moving in/housewarming party. It was busy, but exactly how I would want to spend my day, surrounded by friends and family

Once back in Toronto I maybe took things kind of easy, but was also working really hard on preproduction for my short. The cast is set, most of the crew as well, but we probably just lost our location. So slightly stressed out. But mostly grateful and excited.

“Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.”

-Henry David Thoreau

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 😉

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.”