Becoming a Grown-up

I still remember that first day I stepped off of the transit bus in front of the University of Winnipeg. That was back in 2010, and it was the beginning of this communications journey. I was terrified.

What if I didn’t like university?

What if I didn’t like communications?

What if I finished and there were no jobs?

What if I go severely into debt? What then?

The end was so far away; it seemed like it would never happen. Well, now it has! Yesterday was my last day of classes—probably ever. Now, I go on my three-week work placement, and then I’m off into the real world. In the words of my good friend Nads of Steel from the WRDL, “You have to be a grown-up now!”

I get to be a grown-up now. Ha. But you know what? I couldn’t be more excited. Don’t get me wrong, being a student is great. I get to learn tons of new things, I get to meet tons of awesome people, I get to work a mindless retail job where I don’t have to show up with any fantastic ideas; all I have to do is sell movies and music.

I’ve been there, done that. I’m done working a retail job where I really have no say in anything, I’m finished with going home after a full day of classes and still having another 5 hours of homework, and I’m excited to start making money from communications instead of spending a ton of money on communications.

That, and I’m pretty sure my friends are pretty tired of me being tired and busy all the time.

To my friends

To the many friends I’ve met throughout my five years in university and college, it’s been fantastic meeting you, and I hope we keep in touch in the years to come. You’re all very talented and I know you’ll all get great jobs, find some great hobbies, and do whatever else you want to do with your lives. I’m sorry to my university friends whom I’ve lost some contact with while at RRC, that program definitely kicked my butt.

Most of the PR class of 2015

Most of the PR class of 2015

To the friends I’ve made in CreComm specifically, it’s been a tough two years, but we did it! I wouldn’t have asked for a better group of people to do this program with. I got to know some of you super well, and some not so well, but every one of you made my experience in college a (mostly) decent one. To my PR family specifically, Melanie was right when she said we all worked together well. We made a killer team.

To my older friends who’ve somehow stuck by my side through all this nonsense, you’re all amazing and I can’t thank you enough for putting up with my long nights, my complaining, and my bailing on hang outs last minute. You’re true friends!

To my professors and instructors

I don’t know how many of you will read this, but thank you for devoting so much of your time teaching me how to be a grown-up. Many have said that professors in university often don’t even know students’ names, but I can safely say I made some friends with a few of my professors. One of you even introduced me to roller derby, something I can’t imagine my life without anymore. I hope to see you around in the future!

To all the instructors and other helpers with the CreComm program, you guys have a super tough job. Pushing us so hard while still taking care of families and still working in industry to stay up to date on trends. Thank you for putting up with the CreComm class of 2015!

A huge thank you to the other helpers in the program as well. You guys were the ones who gave out your personal cell phone numbers for me to call and text frantically when I needed help with the school cameras, you helped us put together a giant telethon for the Winnipeg Humane Society on your own time, and you always had smiles on your faces at 7:30 in the morning in the tiny camera room.

Thank you to everyone who have been involved in my post secondary experience, and I hope to see all of you in the real world! Congrats to the CreComm class of 2015, you guys all deserve it.

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“It’s Just a Scrimmage”

Nerves can get the best of us., even when we try to convince ourselves there’s nothing to be nervous about.

On Monday, after flipping through some roller derby photos of girls in my league, I had the itch to go to the scrimmage that night, even though I hadn’t played in one since September.

The second I said to myself, “yes, I’m going to go to scrimmage tonight,” my stomach dropped, my hands got clammy, and I couldn’t think of anything else except how many times I was going to get hit out by the girls who’d been going to practice regularly all through the winter.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve gotten nervous before scrimmages. Which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense because it’s just another roller derby practice, but in a game setting. There’s no actual teams, no one is keeping track of the score, if we lose it isn’t a big deal (and we wouldn’t know about it anyway), and it’s all about improving our skills for when we actually play a game.

This gif from The .Gif of Derby sums up my thoughts of scrimmages perfectly.

“When someone says scrimmages are just for fun”


So why did I get so nervous on Monday, no matter how many times I say to myself “it’s just a scrimmage, it’s just a scrimmage”?

Maybe it’s because I was afraid of how low my skill level may have gotten.

Maybe it’s because I get the feeling people are watching me and judging me.

Who knows, maybe it’s just over excitement.

How do I get over it?

Thankfully, the girls in my league, and in the rest of my life, are the most supportive people I can ask for. After expressing my concerns, my friends kept saying “you got this,” “you’re going to do fine,” etc. A friend from the league even said, “Nerves keep you on your toes. And don’t worry, I won’t make you jam the first jam.” (I suppose that line about not jamming the first jam is reassuring)

Having a few supportive friends can make a world of difference if the reason I’m nervous is being afraid of people watching or judging me or I feel I lack skill.

I’ve had people tell me to keep telling myself that it doesn’t matter and I shouldn’t be nervous, but since I sometimes don’t know why I’m nervous to begin with, this never seems to help me all that much.

Another thing that I find helps, which I read in the Positivity Blog, is to stay in the present moment and not think about the event in the future that’s making you nervous. Thinking about it too much tends to psych me out and causes me to do things like not going to scrimmage and instead staying home.

How do you calm your nerves? Do you have anything you get nervous about when you know you shouldn’t?

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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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