An athlete truly inspired: a year in review and an exciting future

First stunt gag on Supernatural, doubling Emily Swallow (aka Amara)

Sitting in a coffee shop on my day off between filming and I can honestly say that I feel the pieces finally coming together. Between filming days. I giggle to myself every time I get to say that. As recently as I year ago, I was pining for the opportunity to be making my living as a stunt performer. Thanks to a brilliantly low Canadian dollar, thousands of hours of training, networking and manifesting my hopes and dreams IMDB has a page with my name on it!

The training, networking and hard work continues but, step-by-step I was able to go through the initial paces of getting paid for athletic, physical feats on film. I became a full ACTRA member, a member of StuntList (a vetted, online database for stunt performers), and now am able to make a living doing something I would happy pay to do. I am now liberated from working odd jobs, donating blood and organs for cash, couch surfing, eating out of restaurant dumpsters,etc (to my family reading this, please know it was never actually this bad. I still have all of my organs). A true testament to following your heart, taking calculated risks and being prepared for when the opportunity for success arises.

*Above photos from my experience with the Supernatural family in seasons 11 & 12

I continue to have a marvelous support network who help me live my dream. Even more who have helped me get to this point. Hopefully you know who you are because I’ve remembered to shower you with thanks, dramatic appreciation and a behind-the-scene glimpse of my set adventures.

The man in my life deserves a special shout out. He met me as I was starting this journey, fumbled with me through this maze of ups and downs, highs and lows, late nights, early mornings, rescheduled dates and rain-checked plans. I think we’ve had a blast these past couple of years and it’s about to get that much more adventurous. We will be embarking on a 4-month adventure based out of Calgary. Without hesitation he led the charge to pack up our old apartment, find accommodations in Calgary and will work out of Alberta while I try and rise to the challenge of my first lead stunt doubling job.

This leads me to the whole point of this post. To share my plan for 2017. My plan to give back and hopefully inspire others the way I have been inspired to pursue my passion for sport, performance and personal growth. I have a started a company and enlisted the help of my former boss, the woman who initially set me down this path, to help me inspire others to reach their goals, embrace their passions, and in the very least, learn the joys and benefits of training like a superhero.

I will continue to share my journey, discuss various topics that will hopefully get your minds and bodies in a frenzy and I will also be posting some videos on my YouTube channel to inspire you to test your limits and learn something new. So please like and share!

Stay tuned…

AthleteInspired

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Inspiration from Friends who are Killing It!

I am starting to feel like myself again in the mist of processing everything. At times like these, I can find it pretty hard to get motivated to train or work on the projects that I am normally passionately immersed in. My people, the family you have that are either blood related or not, have been incredibly supportive and have reminded me how many great things I am working towards. I am taking a little time to focus on all of the extremely inspirational people in my life and borrow a little energy from them. I wanted to use this post to celebrate just a few of the amazing people in my life and the infectious power that comes from chasing your dreams whole heartedly.

First up is my cousin, probably one of the most inspiring women I know. Her love for others (of the human and  the furry, 4-legged variety) and her hours upon hours of introspection is one of the few reasons I admire her. She has the ability to navigate through life’s major ups and downs with feeling and with flare.  When she was here in Vancouver for her brother’s wedding we were lucky enough to spend a couple of days together. She is going after her passion for food, mentorship and management while working her way up the restaurant chain. I have no doubt that she will one day own her own restaurant one day. And on top of that, she pursues it with such fashionable feistiness, I cannot help but want to do the same with my own pursuits. 

Next up is the stunt ladies in my life. One of them has been working in the sutnt industry for a while, one of them has made a major breakthrough this year and the other is quickly working her way onto the scene. They all come from different backgrounds of elite level activity.  Not your typically girls group either. Ju jitsu, muay thai, motorcycles are just a few of their collective passtimes. I sometimes feel intimidated when they bring me to their martial arts training sessions but other times they make me feel very confident in my own skills when they ask me to teach them gymnastics or parkour. Makes me realize that we may all be masters of our own trade but we are students of all the others. Not only are these ladies incredibly talented but they are so positive and accepting. They have brought me into their group, mentored me and provided support throughout the ups and downs.

Two of my most favourite people in the world are killing it as a team. I consider these two my family. I have been friends with the husband since we were in Grade 10 math class together. He knows me better than anyone. THe wife has been a total blessing to him, and to myself. Seriously, he is one lucky guy.  She is the full package deal and I never thought that I would have such a close relationship with another female. I love these two immensley. More importantly though, they have worked together, supporting eachother at different times, as each of them strives  towards their personal goals. She is new to the fashion design industry and is already experiencing immense success. He finally took the plunge and changed up his career path while simultaneously returning to the competitive golf circuit. A true team. Not to mention they are my biggest cheerleaders and have fully embraced and supported my lifestyle, goals and craziness. 

FINally there is one other special person in my life who is truly killing it. THe only other person I have met who can juggle ambitious career goals with a multitude of athletic persuits (both mainstream and extreme), volunteer work and a packed social schedule. And they do it with such passionate conviction. I don’t think that I have met anyone else who packed up everything and moved to China in search of a new career, in a new industry, on the other side of the planet. And I’m not talking about a fearless risk taker because those people scare me and belong in REdBull commercials. I’m talking about calculated risks that are outside of the score of almsot everyone I know.  Spending time with this person makes me want to be better at whatever I’m doing. Whether it’s problem solving at work, training my circus routines, learning a new sport like kiteboarding (see next post for more info on this grand adventure) or putting in that little bit of extra energy to network. It is rare to find someone that inspires you in all facets of your life. 

 So what do all of these people posses that I feel attributes to their “killing it”? First off, they all have passion. Very high doses of passion. Hardwork that is directed at a goal they want so bad they dream about it. Secondly, they are all very self aware. They have gone their own trails and tribulations and used those experiences to develop a keen sense of self. Thirdly (which is actually a combination of the first two), they do what they do, and go after what they do, unapologetically. They stay true to themselves, they stray from the norms, stick to their guns and they don’t apologize for it. And that is my definition of Killing it. Something to look up to as you are trying to get your motivation back.

AthleteInspired

Certain realities of money

Money. A reality and necessity of living. Especially in the wealthy, developed land we live in. A reality that has recently given me a not-so subtle kick in the pants. The pleasure of training and pursuing one’s dream without making much money (certainly not enough money to afford solo-rent, gas, organic/ free-range / GMO-free food, evenings at the local craft-brewery and any sort of plane ticket to anywhere) can apparently only go on for so long.

The difference between needing and wanting when it comes to the above mentioned list of creature comforts can get quite blurred with me. Living on my own gives me my coveted personal sanctuary. But the price tag on that, especially in Vancouver, is steep. My grocery delivery service allows me to eat good food, save time and avoid impulse purchases at the grocery store (whose checkout lines are a constant test of will against all of the rubbish magazines, chocolate bars and candy that call to you as you wait for your kale and avocados to be scanned and bagged). The personal and social benefits of enjoying a cold summer pilsner or warm amber ale with friends at the local watering hole are self-explanatory. A 6-pack of Glacier at home just cannot properly lift one’s spirits or quench one’s thirst. And then there are my monthly training expenses. Let’s just say they border on ridiculous.

The reality is that at some point, you either need to make some decent money to live or you have to say goodbye to ALL of those creature comforts we cannot seem to live without. I recently hit such a crossroads and found myself on the side with regular massages, farmer’s market double smoked bacon and surf sessions on the Oregon coast. I can only imagine how relieved my father was when I told him that I needed to venture back to the dark side of paper pushers and weekend warriors. I signed a year’s contract to run a gymnastics centre while my boss is on maternity leave. Unlike my previous job where I had to build up the gym from scratch, my sole responsibilities are to hold down the fort for a year and not make too many changes or mistakes. Not an entirely difficult task. And this deal was sweetened with enough flex time and freedom to continue a scaled-down version of my training regime.

First day on the job, obviously had to do a handstand...

First day on the job, obviously had to do a handstand…

I certainly didn’t jump at this endeavour right away as, with all decisions, there is an opportunity cost. That cost for me was training and networking time. For each hour on the job equaled one less hour I could train or one less hour I could meet a stunt industry professional on set for possible big break. But here’s the reality of it. I love a challenge, I love a regular paycheque (as I equate it to the hours of kickboxing lessons I can take and all of the exotic places I can escape to on my ‘vacation’ time) and I have a very hard time saying no. This is a great opportunity with a fixed timeline.

The traditionalist people in my life jumped for joy and offered little sympathy as I hung up my freedom to rejoin the working classes. The free-spirited people in my life, embracing alternative lifestyles were cautiously supportive. At the end of the day, the ability so save some more money away for a future bout “professional acquirer of stunt-related skills”, mixed with working for an awesomely energetic management and admin team who have graced me with some flexibility, made it very difficult to turn down. Do I feel like I have betrayed big dreams? Temporarily, yes. But that evening glass of organic vino, trip home to hold my new nephew and the occasional visit to the acupuncturist are pretty nice too.

AthleteInspired