1. I have a brown belt in Shotokan KarateI trained for seven years in Karate and got as far as 2nd kyu, which means I have one level of brown belt to pass before earning my black belt. My mom enrolled me in Karate when I was nine years old to help build my confidence as a shy, awkward kid (jokes on her, I still have intense social anxiety, hahahehehoho). I felt so out of my comfort zone as a tall, lanky girl who was afraid to yell out “Kya!” at the end of moves. In my third year or so, my younger cousin EJ joined me and jumped up so many levels and nearly caught up to where I was in under a year. He was so good at it, had so much spirit, and really enjoyed our classes. Meanwhile, I just wanted to stay home on Saturday mornings and watch The Weekenders. But Karate did teach me a lot about self-discipline during distractions (like not turning your head to see who’s walked in just because you heard the door open), which comes in handy a lot during my daily meditations. Karate also taught me the importance of good form and a solid foundation, which I strive to maintain in everything I do from yoga to writing. It’s these lessons that, over time, have helped me understand that self-confidence and staying centred is made up of so many smaller moves that require a lifetime of practice. Below is a photo of my cousin EJ and I with our sensei Ehab Badawy after passing our tests and moving to the next belt level. I really enjoyed learning from sensei Ehab. He always saw my potential and encouraged me to keep training. I had left the dojo when I was 15 so I could focus more on school. When I dropped in many years later just to say hello, sensei Ehab said he still keeps my file handy, holding on to a flicker of hope that I’d return to the dojo. Lately I’ve been thinking about going back to complete my training and earn my black belt. It’s definitely on my bucket list.
2. I am getting over my love/hate relationship with travelI’ve been lucky to have visited some beautiful places all over North America and dip my toes in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. But I’ve never been outside of the continent, and I know a lot of that has to do with the fact that I didn’t start enjoying and prioritizing travel until my late twenties. When I dragged my mom with me on a last-minute trip to Las Vegas to re-meet my hockey love Jose Theodore at the 2010 NHL Awards, I got a taste for fast, cheap getaways. I was slowly building my way up to a trip to London with my mom, my favourite travel buddy.
3. I volunteer at Canada Learning Code and teach kids how to programAs I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post called Feeding my flame, I taught myself HTML/CSS/PHP when I was a pimply 12-year-old, and I’ve been able to turn that hobby into a career as a digital producer. That’s why helping kids feel empowered with coding is a subject that is very dear to me. I’m thrilled to see coding is a part of some school curriculums now and that initiatives like Canada Learning Code exist to introduce children to the wonderful world of programming. So about twice a month, I volunteer as a mentor in CLC’s Girls Learning Code and Kids Learning Code weekend classes. The topics range from Creating Generative Art with Processing to Webmaking with HTML & CSS to Photo Editing with Pxlr, and so much more. The classes are only three hours long, but I’m always amazed, impressed, and moved by what the learners come up with. What’s also great about volunteering with CLC is that you don’t need any prior coding experience to be a mentor. It’s really all about helping the kids (usually ages 9 to 12) work their way through the exercises and encourage them to think creatively with a new language. This past weekend I invited my friend Sarah along to volunteer with me. My next two volunteer sessions in a couple weeks will be the first time I get to mentor adults just like myself in the Ladies Learning Code classes. Check out the Canada Learning Code website if you’d like to sign up for any classes as a learner or as a mentor.
4. My dream job is to be a travelling jazz singer who sings at nursing homesIt’s no secret that I love to sing. In my blog post, Karaoke stress relief, I talk about the therapeutic benefits of singing and include some samples of my favourite recordings during my time on Smule’s Sing! Karaoke app. But what you might not know is that I also use the app to practice singing for my future dreams of becoming an amateur jazz singer. Specifically, performing in long-term care homes. I think about my grandma when I sing, and how she gets nostalgic and smiles and tears up a little when she hears me sing some of her favourite songs. I hope to bring that same joy to elderly members of our communities and sing old classics or vintage spins of popular songs a la Postmodern Jukebox, like the one below:
5. My favourite actor is Gary OldmanI honestly could not think of a fifth fact so I’m throwing this in here for fun. My childhood memories of the first live action movies I watched seemed to have Gary Oldman as prominent figure. I couldn’t believe the crazy villain in Léon: The Professional (one of my favourite movies of all time) was also the creepy-ass Dracula in Bram Stoker’s adaptation. That man is a chameleon and I love how he’s totally believable as a villain and as a good guy. But I personally love him as a good guy (Commissioner Gordon in The Dark Knight, Sirius Black in Harry Potter, George Smiley in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy) because who wouldn’t want Gary Oldman on their team?
Thanks for reading! What would your five facts be? Here’s a template to get you started:
- My secret skill is ______.
- I have a love/hate relationship with______.
- In my spare time I ______.
- My dream job is ______.
- My favourite actor is ______.