The Bucket List

Now that five years of post secondary are finally coming to an end, I’ve begun making a sort of bucket list of all the things I’d like to do now that I’ll actually have time and (hopefully) money. A few of these things are maybe a bit bizarre, but I kind of want to post them somewhere so I can maybe look back in a few years and see what I’ve done with my life.

So, here it goes:

1. Jump the apex

In roller derby, jumping the apex is one of the more epic moves (at least in my opinion) where the jammer jumps around the blockers on the corners of the track and successfully landing the jump on the other side.

I’ve been able to jump the apex with no players around, but in a scrimmage and game situation, I always chicken out last minute. I WILL do this one day…

2. Visit my family in Holland and visit other areas of Europe

I want to go to Europe. I have family living in Holland. Holland looks neat.  The rest of Europe also looks neat. I don’t know where I want to go exactly yet, but traveling is a necessity in my future.

To date, I’ve only been on a plane once. It was a plane to Toronto. The tickets were free because my dad won them through his work. It’s hard to consider this traveling.

3. Learn how to roller dance

Yes, like the roller dancing from the ’70s ad ’80s to disco. I want to twirl on roller skates. I want to hop around on one foot on skates.

4. Relearn how to play bass guitar

I was learning how to play bass guitar in high school, but when school started I had to put the guitar down. I wasn’t even very good at guitar back then, but now the guitar I bought from my uncle has a pile of dust on it.

5. Brush up on my French speaking

After taking French Immersion in school, I’ve almost completely forgotten how to speak French. I realized this a month or two ago when I was trying to speak with a customer at work who couldn’t speak proper English. I could understand everything he said, but I struggled to speak back. I don’t want to lose my ability to speak French.

6. Move away from Winnipeg, at least for a little while

I don’t know when I want to do this, but I want to move away from Winnipeg for at least a little while. Living in Winnipeg has been fine, but I want to experience somewhere else. So far, I mainly want to go to Toronto, Calgary, or Ottawa.

I’m sure there’s more things that will be added to this list as I start to see over the pile of school books and into the potential future. What kinds of things do you have on your bucket list?

Learn more about roller derby

On this blog, I’ve been talking an  awful lot about roller derby. Actually, I talk about it a lot pretty much everywhere. Most of you reading this blog probably don’t know a whole lot about roller derby (I run into the problem quite often).

As a part of the Creative Communications program at Red River College, I’ve been working on my Independent Professional Project for the roller derby league, and they’re finally finished!

Introducing Roller Derby 201 – the simple video series that explains some of the rules of roller derby! You do need to have a slight foundation of the rules before being able to understand these videos, so let me break it down for you a little bit.

– In roller derby, there’s one oval track with two teams that play at a time.

– Each game is played in “jams”, which can last up to 2 minutes, but can be called off quicker by the lead jammer (there’s a video more on that).

– For each jam, each team sends out five players: one pivot, three blockers, and one jammer. The blockers and pivots from both teams make up the pack. The jammer tries to get through the pack to score points. The jammer scores one point for each opposing player she passes.

– The first time through the pack in each jam is to determine lead jammer – the jammers don’t score points on this pass.

Now that you know a little bit about the sport, take a look at my video series! They’re also posted on the Winnipeg Roller Derby League website.

I’ll have a table about my project during the IPP Expo on Thursday, March 12 at the Red River College Princess Street campus in the Atrium. That runs from 5:30 until 9:45 p.m. I’ll also be doing a presentation at 8:00 p.m. in room P107. Come check it out!

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A gym? What’s a gym?

The gym. How I’ve always hated the gym.

I was that kid in high school who would always be hiding out in the corner because I had to be there, but dreaded participating. I was always that girl who faked her period so I had an excuse to sit out. I hated gym.

In university, I finally sucked it up and started going to the gym at school because I knew I had to do something about the little bit of added weight I gained from all the free pizza from my first job. Instead of going to see a trainer or anything, I used to just people watch to figure out how to use the bizarre-looking machines.

One thing I noticed at this gym was the huge gender split. There was two levels to the gym, and the free weights and bench press tables were all downstairs while the cardio and weight machines were upstairs. I’m sure you can guess which gender went where.

It was almost intimidating having to walk through the group of men with large muscles grunting in the mirrors to make my way up to the weight machines where I could lift a sad 10 lbs. I never dared go near the free weights.

This split kind of reminds me of walking into a Toys R’ Us and you see the pink girl aisle and the blue boy aisle. Very rarely do you see children crossing over to the “forbidden” aisle.

Then, I joined roller derby.

My squats were terrible, my cardio was terrible. Everything was terrible. I finally made an appointment with a gym trainer and began working on my squats and cardio. Of course, I still only ever stuck to the women’s side of the gym.

Going to the gym with a plan helped me improve my skills as a derby player immensely, but I still dreaded the gym. For me to get through a 20-minute interval run on the treadmill, I used to play this extremely loud, fast, and angry band White Lung blaring through my headphones, I would turn the TV on with subtitles, and I’d have my phone with me. This way I could distract myself from the awfulness that was the treadmill.

Then, I took a break from derby.

If you’ve read my past posts, you know I haven’t been actively participating in practice since September. Darn school getting in the way and all. I made my triumphant return to practice two weeks about. And I must admit… It was. A. Disaster.

I was falling everywhere, and tasks that were simple last summer seemed so difficult. I walked out of that gym with my skates hanging over my slumped shoulders, defeated.

The wonderful coach for the league’s All-Stars team gave me a file of a workout he had the team doing throughout the winter, and I decided to give it a try. As I stared at the sheet, I realized I had no idea what more than half of the exercises were.

A hang power clean? DB lateral step up? Pull over with rotation? I had no clue. So I decided to Google them, and came up with results like this.


As a girl who’s never even looked at these giant bars, this was scary. Beyond terrified, I contacted the coach for help. I then found myself standing in yet another gym, but the coach grabbed a medicine ball and dumbbells instead of this insane looking bar. What a relief.

Each of these exercises has an “easy” version so that I can, for the most part, stay on my side of the gym.

And so my journey begins to get back in shape for the next roller derby season. Do you have any tips you use to make the gym more tolerable? Let me know!

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The person behind the microphone

Leaving high school, I was a shy, shy person. The kind of person that had one small group of friends (which we called “the Hermit Club”) and really didn’t talk to anyone else.

So how did I end up in a career path that has me networking, talking in front of crowds, and all other sorts of communication I never would have thought of doing those years ago?

IMG_20150201_171940The answer lies in a small room up a weird yellow flight of stairs at the University of Winnipeg. A small radio station that let’s nearly anyone test out the Winnipeg airwaves. That little place is called CKUW.

I first heard about Creative Communications and the joint degree program after seeing some hosts from Kick FM, the former RRC radio station, during a school tour. I thought the idea of being on the radio was so cool. Being able to speak your mind and play cool music, but no one had to see what you looked like. While at the University of Winnipeg, I decided to try out their radio station.

My first show on CKUW was guest hosting on a show called Only Cowards Sing at Night. I was so nervous I couldn’t even say one word through the microphone for the full hour and a half.

The Power of Radio

Not long after that I found myself co-hosting Only Cowards every Sunday. It was great; we’d get to sit back, play some cool local and underground music, and talk about whatever we felt like – as long as it tied in somehow.

I discovered some of the best local music around and I could confidently say “I heard of them before they were big.” Of course I didn’t do that because I don’t like to consider myself some pretentious hipster.

CKUW opened me up as a person, made me better at articulating my thoughts, and helped me become a better speaker on and off the air.

It also opened my eyes to how amazing the local music scene is. Throughout high school, I was under the impression that Winnipeg was a total culture wasteland with nothing to offer, but really it was all behind the doors of tiny bars and pubs in downtown Winnipeg.

I would meet some of these bands face-to-face on our radio show and would get starstruck.

Soon I brought on my friend Ginaya as a co-host and our random banter between songs became so natural that it made that tiny, extremely hot area with so many posters you couldn’t find a white patch of wall, feel like a fantastic getaway.

“You’re tuned in to Only Cowards Sing at Night on CKUW 95.9 FM. We’re your hosts Shanell and Ginaya.”

My break from the airwavesSnapchat--8068461432774925600

Because CreComm is the way it is, the first half of this year I had to step away from the microphone to focus on my schoolwork. I missed CKUW almost immediately.

The past two weeks I’ve finally found my way back up that flight of yellow stairs up to the station to do something I love: playing music, talking on the air, and having fun with a good friend.

Insert my shameless plug here. CKUW is a community radio station run mostly by volunteers and has gone all of 2014 without advertising. This is because of the generous support of the community during the annual Fundrive telethon.

This station is not only my lovely little getaway place, it’s a wonderful place for many who take the time to put together shows every week, sort through thousands of albums, coordinate programs, and so much more.

Although this year’s Fundrive ends today, CKUW always accepts donations to help keep the station running for another year – hopefully without advertising.

Thank you to everyone who listens to CKUW regularly, and if you’re intrigued, check out Only Cowards! We go on air every Sunday from 5-6:30 p.m.

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The joy in children’s books

“So, while you walked up and down and wondered if it would rain, Winnie-the-Pooh sang this song:

How sweet to be a Cloud

Floating in the Blue!

Every little cloud

Always sings aloud.

“How sweet to be a Cloud

Floating in the Blue!”

It makes him very proud

To be a little cloud.”

This was one of my favourite stories as a child – Winnie the Pooh trying to trick bees into thinking he was a little rain cloud so he could take their honey. It was in this massive “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh” book my mom bought my brother and I when we were small.

Three years ago, I was wandering through the Exchange District with my dad when we came across this toy store. We went in to look around, and I ended up walking out with this other Winnie the Pooh book, “Positively Pooh – Timeless Wisdom from Pooh”.

The book is split into three sections and has inspirational messages “for those bothersome days.” Two months after I got the book, my grandma was diagnosed with terminal cancer, so that book became one of my go-to’s to make me feel somewhat better.

It has messages like,

“Always have a plan Bee.” (In relation to the story in this post)20150206_141635

“Sometimes you are wonderful even when you don’t know it.”

“Look the part so you’ll feel ready for anything.”

Each message came with a story from the adventures of Winnie the Pooh.

When my grandma was in the hospital, I decided to bring this book with me to read to her, but by the time I got there, she had already been put on so many pain killers that all she did was sleep. I accidentally left the book at the hospital that night and didn’t get it back.

Round Two of Positively Pooh

Last week I went back to that toy store as a part of a school assignment, and they had another copy of the book there. I grabbed the book and bought it, and have been reading messages from it every day since.

“Find a type of exercise to suit you.”

“Think about all the exciting things that are going to happen today (particularly on Monday mornings).”

“Flowers brighten up even the most bothersome of days.”

The Joy of Children’s Books

Children’s books are supposed to be just that – children’s books. But they can be so much more than that. They can be nostalgic, they can be happy and simple, and with this one, they can make certain situations more positive.

I first remembered how awesome children’s books were when I had an assignment in university where we had to read a book in front of the class. I ended up reading the story of Pooh being a little rain cloud, and everyone in the class loved it and wanted a copy of my gigantic Winnie the Pooh adventures book.

If you’re ever feeling down one day, go pick up a children’s book, especially one you used to read as a child. It may just brighten your day a little bit!

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The shoulder faux pas

“Hey you! Put a sweater or something on!”

This was a common line my friends and I would hear at our high school in Winnipeg. Why were we being asked to put sweaters on? Because parts of our shoulders were exposed.

What were we to do? We were teenagers going to a high school that had no air conditioning with some days reaching nearly +30 Celsius with the humidity.

My high school, and many others, have somewhat strict dress codes for the students – and most of the dress code rules pertain to girls’ fashion. The more common ones at my school were:

- Your shorts/skirts must be long enough that you can reach down all the way with your arms and grab the bottoms of them, if not longer,

- No foul language or other offensive comments on clothing,

- No low cut shirts, and

- No shoulders. I believe the exact rule was something like there had to be at least a 2 inch piece of cloth covering them.

Okay, sure. The first three make some sense. Wearing shorts that are so short everyone can see… stuff hangin’ out is not nice to look at, same with the low cut shirts. Offensive comments of any kind can cause other problems, so yes, I agree.

But shoulders?


The dress Gabi wore to the dance. Not very revealing, right? (from

Yesterday, I came across an article from Global News about a girl in Utah who was “ordered” to wear her coat at a school dance because her dress was too revealing, and all these memories came flooding back to my high school experiences with the same ridiculous rule.

My friends and I would joke about why the rule might exist, and most of us would joke about, “ohhh my shoulders are so seductive. My male classmates can’t stop looking at them, I bet.” This was the most legitimate reason we could come up with as to why women showing shoulders was such an “obscene” thing.

Is it because I might have bra straps showing? My shoulder blades? Is that what men might look at and get somehow distracted? The girl from the Global News article, Gabi Finlayson, said this in the article:

“Maybe instead of teaching girls they should cover themselves up, we should be teaching boys that we’re not sex objects that you can look at and derive pleasure.”

Yes, I do agree with her. Covering up women so men aren’t distracted isn’t the right answer. Although I do think there should still be some kind of rules in place because, frankly, I don’t like to look at some girl’s bum hanging out of her shorts either.

But, again, shoulders??

I’ve asked men in my life before if they had ever thought about shoulders as a sexual part of a woman, and none of them really thought about shoulders that way. Who knows, maybe they weren’t being entirely truthful, but a woman’s shoulders causing men to quiver seems so unrealistic.

At my school, my friend and I put up a stand against this rule (sort of). We would wear tank tops all we wanted, and would be harassed by two teachers in the school to cover ourselves. Eventually, by the time we were in grade 12, those teachers had finally given up, and let us strut around with our shoulders enjoying the lovely “fresh” air in the school.

Did you have a rule like this while in high school? What did you do about it? Do you have a better explanation of why shoulders might not be allowed in high schools? Let me know!

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Listen to your feet


All of my skates.

I’ve never been so in tune with my feet, not since I joined roller derby. Before, my feet were my feet. I wore a size 9 shoe, I sometimes got pedicures, but otherwise, they were just sort of there.

Lately, my feet have been shouting “HEY! I’m here! Oh what’s that? You want to skate? I’m just going to start hurting like hell. Trying to ignore me? Ha, good luck.”

Roller skates sizes need to be quite specific. They need to be big enough that your feet aren’t super squished, and big enough that you can get your feet in there. But they also need to be small enough that you can hop around without your feet shifting, or small enough that I can pop up on my toe stops and my feet don’t slide into the front every time. It’s difficult to find that perfect pair.

My first pair of skates was too big; blisters were a daily occurrence. My second pair of $700 skates were too small, I ended up crushing my right toe. It hurt for months. I ended up being pushed to a podiatrist, who told me I needed to get my toe nail removed… That was a sad moment.


WRDL Championship. Photo by Shawn Coates

So me being stubborn, I didn’t make an appointment for the surgery. Instead, I bought a third pair of skates, my gorgeous Riedell 495’s, and they were nearly perfect. This past summer, I played the whole season without getting the toe surgery, and sure, if I landed on my toe it would kill, but I could play, I could pop up on my toe stops, and I felt I could do everything my last two pairs of skates didn’t let me do.

The three months off

I ended up taking three months off of derby because life was just insane. I finally went back last week, beyond excited to lace up my skates again. Of course, the toes decided to come back in all their painful glory.

Not only did they hurt, they’re now bruised and more than a week after, still hurting.

I’ve had to make the difficult decision to call that podiatrist again and stay off of my skates (after I just started again…) until I can get this surgery.

Pay attention to your feet

Take care of your feet, guys. I ignored mine for far too long, and now it’s preventing me from playing the sport that I love.

Cover up those blisters, cut your toe nails properly, get pedicures the odd time to help clean them up. And please, please, wear shoes that are the right size. If it wasn’t for that second pair of skates where I crushed my toe, this wouldn’t be an issue.

If you do happen to do something that hurts your feet, go see a professional, and take their advice.

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