I am a 39 year old aerialist. I have lived in Halifax for the past 20 years, and have been working with the Provincial government for the past 14 years. I am a Saint Mary’s University graduate - I came from a pretty modest background and I put myself through University. I became a Mom at the age of 35, which has proven to be the hardest, most amazing job I've held to date.
I found circus arts at the age of 36. OLD. Haha 'Old' for just finding my way into a very physically demanding art/craft/sport. I had a background in gymnastics, cheerleading & dance, so it was a great fit for my abilities and knowledge base. I was in love with it immediately, and it helped to fill a void in me; I was struggling badly with post-partum depression when I sought out my first aerial silks class. I came to make my home at Atlantic Cirque, where I have learned from amazing artists, and have found myself a little circus family that I am forever in awe of and forever grateful for.
What are you most proud of professionally? And who or why?
I am most proud of getting my University degree and securing myself a great job. Because I did it all on my own, which has been a theme throughout my life.
What’s your vision for Atlantic Canada in 10 years? What’s our biggest opportunity now?
Ideal vision: to have less unemployed, overeducated post-secondary graduates with massive student loan debts. See our trades thrive again. See us work towards becoming more sustainable, greener, and more progressive - continuing on the trend of blending ‘old’ Halifax values with fresh new ideas that bring life to the city. We have a cool city!! Our biggest opportunity, I believe lies is supporting our local entrepreneurism and talent; enticing our young population to stay here and build their lives here, and giving them a reason to WANT to.
What was your greatest stage of growth? What made it a shift for you?
Greatest stages of growth for me are always attached to struggle. My most recent and I think greatest stage of growth was experiencing an emergency surgery and 3 pregnancies, back to back, within 4 years. I have one beautiful son, some battle scars, and a new level of strength from those experiences. The toll that it took on my body and mind was crazy, and it took a lot of determination and a new outlook on life to get back on track. The shift was that, in the face of struggle, you can either sink or fucking swim. I didn't want my child to see me as a weak person; I wanted him to see me as a savagely fierce woman who is in control of her path forward. Life shouldn't 'happen' to you, you always have a choice to steer your ship in a different direction.
What’s your favourite or most read book or podcast? Now or at each of your greatest stages of growth?
Current favourite is 'The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck'. Most read book throughout my life has been 'Adult Children of Alcoholics'. Both have saved my ass from self destruction. :)
What’s your deepest learning from this past year? How did/will you apply it?
Deepest learning from this past year has been navigating my way through a separation/divorce from my spouse of 15 years. It has proven to be so much more challenging than I expected, and it pushes me outside of my comfort zone every single day. I apply it to my circus training by using the emotions to my advantage - whether anger, sadness, joy, sheer exhaustion or a driving need for something positive to fill me up, I always get some sort of productive use from my real life circumstances these days. The creativity that has come from freeing myself of a relationship that was no longer serving me has been the best little surprise, and encourages me to keep it at.
Who’s inspired you, directly or indirectly? How have they inspired you?
My step-mom inspires me the most, personally. She has been an amazingly reliable source of support and comfort to me throughout my life. And an amazing female role model. Not one to back down, not one to cry victim, not one to rely on a man to do things for her, and very successful & smart.
What would you have done differently?
Not much, really. Every life experience I’ve had has provided me a piece of the current puzzle that is my life. I perhaps would have found my voice sooner - found my confidence and appreciation for my own strength sooner.
What motivated you to make the choices you’ve made? What are the principles you live by?
Not wanting to end up how everyone thought I’d end up drove me to make many of my life choices. I wanted much more than small town life, and I didn’t fit in with small town mentality.
Principles I live by: own up to your mistakes - people respect it. Be honest. TRUST YOUR GUT. Laugh. Be able to poke fun at yourself, especially if you’re going to poke fun at others. Take care of yourself - no one else is going to do it for you. Know when to ask for help.
How have you recovered from fractured professional relationships? What uncomfortable truths have you learned about yourself in those experiences?
I haven’t had too many fractured professional relationships. I can think of one in particular where I was in the wrong, and went back to apologize. It took a loooong time - like years. But I did it. Others, I can think of one or two, I’ve just let go. Sometimes a difference of opinion or a sticky situation isn’t worth keeping a door open. And that’s ok, in my books.
Long-time provincial government employee, circus monkey, mother, adventurous, food lover!
Photograph by Chris Crowell