Michelle's Guide to Making the Most of your Pregnancy
My Life Will Never Be The Same May 2nd 2011
I learned three things on the day of Mara’s birth; my state of mind has immense power over my physical body, next time I would like to try a home birth and finally, the pain I experienced in labor was nothing compared to the immense euphoria I felt holding Mara in my arms for the first time.
1. Mind over matter.
Let’s fast forward through the first few hours of labor, shall we? My water broke at night and the contractions started soon after, just like in the movies! (Note: contractions often come long before the waters break). Derek did his best to keep me in bed so that we could get some sleep but I spent most of the night looking at my iPhone trying to time my contractions. Eight hours later we arrived at the hospital where we met Giselle (doula no.1) and Rheja (doula no.2), as well as our midwife Lee. The labor continued just fine for awhile, Derek and Giselle rubbed my back through each contraction and Rheja instructed me to keep moving, walking and stretching. After about six hours of intense contractions things seemed to stall.
I was stuck at 7 centimeters dilation and my contractions started slowing down, on top of that I was exhausted and the pain was becoming intolerable. At this point the labor could have gone two ways; either the flood of interventions could have begun- induction with oxytocin perhaps, forceps, maybe even a cesarian, or things could have gone the other way and proceeded naturally. Luckily things went the other way. This was the point where I made a mental switch which is hard to describe. My thought process was somewhere between, “Let’s tap into our inner primordial strength”, and “Goddamn this hurts! Can we just get this over with!”.
I got on the floor and started moving in any way my body wanted to. When the contractions came Rheja instructed me to do deep squats to move the baby down. This was very painful but thankfully Derek and Giselle where there every step of the way rubbing my back and supporting me. I danced, I shook my butt, I swayed, I lunged, I even moaned chants from Kundalini yoga. The next thing I knew Lee checked me and said that everything was back on track and I could get in the tub of warm water (ah, sweet relief!) and start pushing.
2. Next time I will probably give birth in the comfort of my own home.
We didn’t need any medical intervention and being at the hospital proved to be more of a nuisance than anything. Don’t get me wrong, the hospital where I gave birth is excellent and if I or Mara became sick I wouldn’t hesitate to seek care there, but that’s just it, we weren’t sick we were in the process of childbirth. We could have done everything exactly the same at home except that at home the nurse wouldn’t have freaked my parents out with misinformation and ultimately kiboshed my water birth plans. Plus, my midwife Lee told me I would be a good candidate for home birth : )
3. No pain no gain.
Yes it hurt towards the end. Yes I told Derek I didn’t think I could do it. Yes, I cried. Yes, I asked for drugs (right before I found out I was 10 centimeters dilated and could start pushing so I didn’t end up needing them). Personally I didn’t find the pushing half as painful as the intense contractions and I’ve heard that from a few women. At the end of it all, as soon as I felt little Mara’s warm squiggling body against my chest (were she immediately proceeded to evacuate her bowels), I fell so deeply in love that everything else in the world, including my pain, ceased to exist.
I’m going back to work in 2 weeks to start filming Heartland even though Mara is only a month old, which is as insane as it sounds.
Michelle's Guide to Making the Most of your Pregnancy
Playing Hooky April 9th 2011
I know I have completely neglected this blog the past few weeks but I was distracted by the following things: 1.Being super pregnant and mentally preparing for labor, 2.Going into labor and giving birth to my beautiful daughter Mara Carmen, 3.Taking care of Mara, 4.Trying to get some sleep between feedings. But before I tell you about how the labor went -all I will say for now is that it was natural birth and a great experience-, I want to share the blog post that I wrote and didn't have time to post the day my water broke. So here it is, my thoughts to you readers the day Mara would surprise us and arrive 3 days early...
Getting in Touch with my Monkey Self March 31st 2011
I've been busy. Busy stretching and relaxing and doing acupuncture, busy going on walks with Derek or my mom or any friend who might drop by for a visit. I've been busy taking naps and storing energy and doing last minute organizing for the arrival of this new person on my life.
According to Chinese medicine this last phase of pregnancy is time for "loosening our belt and eating sweets". I can handle that
About 3 weeks ago I stopped doing strenuous yoga, or strenuous anything for that matter. A little swimming, lots if walking, and my prenatal yoga DVDs have been all that I needed.
I found myself awake in the middle of the night recently (not unusual these days) and I was worrying about giving birth, I felt afraid. So I decided to go back to square one, the first and the most empowering book I have read during my pregnancy "Ina mays guide to Childbirth". Lucky for me, Ina May had lots of consoling advice for me. Here are a few of my favorite quotations, ideas that have helped me sleep better, and will hopefully give me the encouragement I need to experience an empowering and joyful labor and delivery.
"Let's say you want some advice that might help you give birth, wherver that might be. My shortest answer is: Let your monkey do it....Letting the primate in you do the work of labor is a short way of saying not to let your over-busy mind interfere with the ancient wisdom of your body."
"Most pain is in the mind, and when a women absorbs the idea that the act of giving birth is excruciatingly painful-when she gets this information from her mothers, her sisters, her married friends, and her physician-that women has been mentally prepared to feel great agony... The best way I know to counter the effects of frightening stories is to hear or read empowering ones."
"Remember this, for this is as true as it gets: Your body is not a lemon. You are not a machine. The Creator is not a careless machanic. Human female bodies have th same potential to give birth as aardvarks, lions, rhinoceri, elephants, moose, and water buffalo. Even if it has not been your habit throughout your life so far, I recommend that you learn to think posiitively about your body."
*Note: I'm so glad I went back to these quotes the day my water broke. I entered into labor full of confidence, courage and joy, ready to welcome little Mara. Next post I will tell you how it all went down : )
Tip #8. My top 10 Pregnancy Must-Have Items
I am now at 37 weeks! Just a few weeks left to go and feeling great. Of course, I'm having as much trouble sleeping as any women at this stage, but what else is new. I will miss being pregnant, I will miss the calm, the time of meditation and the universal acceptance that I should care for myself. Then again, every stage of life is different for a reason and the next phase will be about nurturing my growing family.
These 10 items have really helped me through my pregnancy and I hope that they can do the same for you.
1. Substance Belly Jelly
They say stretch marks are inevitable in some form or fashion, but it still feels good to smooth this all natural balm on your belly, breasts and inner thighs after a shower. It has a soothing lavender scent, all natural ingredients and it leaves your skin feeling fantastic. www.mattercompany.com
I don’t know about you but I never managed to find a nice pair of maternity pants, they all seem to have a really unflattering and outdated cut. Why should pregnant women have to sacrifice looking good? So, I opted to buy super stretchy jeggings a few waist sizes larger then I would normally wear and they have seen me through the entire pregnancy in style and comfort. My favourite are from Urban Outfitters, and at only $39 a pair you can pick up a larger size as you grow, and maybe a couple colours too. www.urbanoutfitters.com
3. Coconut Oil
I took a great skin care hint from my favourite pregnancy meditation book “Bountiful, Beautiful, Blissful” (write up on the book to follow).
For Glowing Skin: Before getting in the shower dry rub your whole body using a loofa, brush or glove and your favourite natural oil (mine is coconut, but you could use anything including sweet almond oil, grape seed oil, olive oil etc). Shower as usual but finish your shower with a blast of icey cold water, rubbing your belly and skin vigorously under the water, then step out and wrap yourself in a fluffy towel. This brings blood to the skins surface and boosts circulation. You will feel shiny, new, and surprisingly warm!
4. “Bountiful, Beautiful, Blissful” by Gurmukh
This book was a gift to me from my sister in law and I am forever in her debt. Written by the famous Kundalini yogi Gurmukh, it contains meditations, exercises and brief essays to guide you through the ups and downs of pregnancy. The focus is on celebrating your woman-hood, your body, your spirit and your baby. The meditations often involve challenging arm postures that are held for 3-11 minutes straight, so your arms will maintain a nice tone : ) Find it on Amazon or at your favourite book store.
5. Styley Walking Shoes
Walking is a simple and easy form of exercise, especially important in the last couple months of your pregnancy when you are cutting back on more rigorous cardio. Look for something with good support and nice style so that you actually want to wear them. A comfortable walking shoe will make all the difference and save you from a sore lower back. I have lived in these New Balance 1400’s. www.newbalance.com
6. Belly Bands
Once I got past 34 weeks or so I found that even my large blouses were not long enough to cover my belly. Belly bands are the perfect fix, giving you that extra bit of coverage. They are available at any maternity store.
A little morning stretch goes a long, long way.
8. Comfortable Bras
Banish the underwire! As your ribs expand to make room for your growing baby you will find that traditional bras are too constricting. A nice stretchy lace bra, like this one from Hanky Panky, will give you room to breath. It helps that they’re pretty sexy too. www.hankypanky.com
Raspberry leaf, nettle, green, alfalfa, peppermint, oat straw... so many teas so little time. Not only do these herbs promote our health and nutrition, they also provide a great excuse to slow down, relax and sip something warm.
10. Nut Butter (Peanut Butter, Almond Butter, Cashew Butter etc)
I find nut butters make an excellent snack. Calorie dense, nutritious, delicious, and most important for your growing appetite, filling. Whole wheat toast with peanut butter and a little honey has kept me going between many, many meals.
Michelle's Guide to Making the Most of your Pregnancy March 6th 2011
Tip #7 Doulas are your friend
Whether you are giving birth in a hospital or at home, with a doctor or a midwife, I recommend adding a Doula to your support team. If you don’t know what a doula is, no worries, I didn’t either until I got mixed up in this whole big bellied business.
Quite simply, a doula is there to provide support for the mother before, during and after the birth takes place. The midwife or doctor will also support the mother, but their focus is more on the baby, especially during labour and delivery.
During Pregnancy: A Doula can help you get organized, talk you through what to expect during labour, give you educational information and address your concerns.
During Labour: This is when the doula is especially helpful as mothers can end up feeling neglected during labour and birthing. In all of the excitement and chaos it can feel like everyone is staring at charts and monitors and up the mother's vagina but seem to forget that she is the one delivering this baby right now! The doula will come to the mother’s home during early labour and help her decide when it is time to go to the hospital. During labour a doula can do things like provide emotional encouragement, massage, and get the mother moving and changing positions to keep the labour progressing. One of the best things about a Doula is that they can explain to the mother and her partner what is happening every step of the way. The doula will also make sure that the birthing partner doesn't faint and give him/her a break to go and get a snack or take a nap if needed.
Post Natal: Doulas will do follow up visits or phone calls and provide answers to infant care questions that are bound to come up.
Me and my good friend and Doula, Giselle.
Personally my doula Giselle has been a god send. She has helped me write up a birth plan, given me great tips on things to pack for the hospital (like coconut water to replace electrolytes, who knew?), and talked me and Derek through our fears. Even though I know that our midwife will be there for us I am comforted by the fact that Giselle will be with me at home in the early stages, and there holding my hand when everyone else is trying to catch the baby.
Here is what Giselle had to say about Doulas.
"It is great to have someone who knows what you want and is able to be an advocate for you, to make sure your voice is heard. When we are in labour we must stay focused on what is happening, a doula helps you stay calm, remember to breathe and keep you informed as to what is going on so you don't have to think about anything but having your baby." ~ Dr. Giselle Lili Lefebvre ND
You can shoot her am email if you are in the Vancouver area and looking for a Doula or if you have any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
Michelle's Guide to Making the Most of your Pregnancy Feb 23, 2011
Tip #6 What I Learned about Baby Showers
Full disclosure, my own baby shower was the first one I have ever attended so I do not consider myself an expert. That said, it was such a lovely experience that I thought I would share some of it with you readers. High Tea and decadent baked treats was the theme of the day.
DO have a girlfriend over the night before to start baking a super decadent, four tiered, Coconut Lemon Cream Cake.
DON'T even bother trying to keep flour off of that big old belly.
DO fill that cake with plenty of lemon cream.
DO enjoy finally icing that sucker after all the hard work you put into it.
DO let your fabulous friends host the actual shower for you.
DON'T even try to resist the lemon shortbread tarts they baked.
DO share your Coconut Lemon Cream Cake, as hard as it may be to part with your buttery little work of art.
DO enjoy the cake as much as you enjoy spending the day with your girlfriends.
Michelle’s Guide to Making the Most of your Pregnancy Feb 21, 2011
Tip #5 Drink Raspberry Leaf Tea
Known as a women's herb, Raspberry Leaf provides many wonderful health benefits during pregnancy. According to the Wise Women Herbal guide “Childbearing Year” by Susun S. Weed, benefits of drinking this tea include:
-Tones the uterine muscles which helps prevent miscarriage, prepares the uterus for labour and can reduce contraction pains
-Helps prevent hemorrhaging
-Eases morning sickness
-Assists in the production of plentiful breast milk
-Is a rich source of Vitamin C, Vitamin E and easily assimilated Calcium and Iron
Easy to find at your neighborhood grocery store or health food shop, just remember you want the Raspberry leaf tea as opposed to tea made from the Raspberry fruit.
My doula Giselle Levebvre recommends 1 cup/day in the first trimester, 2 cups/day during the second trimester and 3 cups/day during the third trimester. Giselle mixed me up a batch up Mommy Tea containing Raspberry Leaf, Nettle, Alfalfa, and Stevia (to sweeten it), which I drink every morning mixed with Green tea (for a little pick me up) and chopped fresh Ginger (to balance my hormones and help my acne prone skin). Not only is this a delicious way to start the day, it’s also comforting to know that with each sip I am giving the baby much needed nourishment.
P.S. This tea also increases fertility in both men and women, good to know for those hoping to get pregnant : )
Michelle’s Guide to Making the Most of your Pregnancy Feb 9, 2011
Tip #4 Read anything by Ina May Gaskin
Ina May Gaskin in the 60's when she was helping to found The Farm birthing center.
It was inevitable that I read by renowned American midwife Ina May Gaskin, every doula, midwife and trusted doctor that I spoke to raved about it. One midwife friend of mine went so far as to say, “That is the only book you need to read to prepare you for childbirth”.
This book reminded me that women’s bodies are incredibly well designed and that our capacity to give birth is natural and powerful.
In Ina May’s Words;
“Consider this your invitation to learn about the true capacities of the female body during labor and birth...The way I see it, the most trustworthy knowledge about women’s bodies combines the best of what medical science has offered over the past century or two with what women have always been able to learn about themselves before birth moved into hospitals.”
Ina May still at work after thousands of births.
Ina May often emphasizes the importance of the mind-body connection, the ability for our state of mind to influence our laboring experience. You come away from this book with wonderful and practical ideas that have helped childbearing women throughout the ages.
All of Ina May's titles can be found here on her website.
The inspiration of a happy mother.
Tip #5 Get Your Beauty Sleep
Try to get a good nights sleep and take naps as much as possible. You will find that your body needs more rest during different stages of the pregnancy. I was exhausted during the first trimester, had tons of energy during the second, and am somewhere in between during the third. The baby goes through growth spurts so do your best to honour your body's need for rest.
Michelle’s Guide to Making the Most of your Pregnancy Feb 4, 2011
Tip #3 You can and should continue exercising*
As a very active person I was concerned early in my pregnancy about what kind of exercise and sports I should and should not be doing. Could I ride horseback on Heartland? Could I keep jogging? What about lifting weights and yoga?
I ultimately discovered that while we have come a long way since the Victorian idea that pregnancy=bed rest, everyone has a different opinion on this and you have to trust your body and your instincts. The following is an amalgamation of the advice I received from doctors, midwives, yoga instructors and personal trainers.
-Avoid extreme sports or anything that could result in a hard fall (duh).
-Cardiovascular exercise is great, just use the “talking test”; ie. make sure you never reach a point where you are breathing so hard you can’t speak. We want to avoid overheating during pregnancy (same reason we avoid hot tubs and saunas).
-You can and should continue the exercise regime that you are used to but go easy and do not increase weight or intensity.* Therefore, if like me you are a jogger, a yogi and you hit the gym regularly, you can continue to do these things. Listen to your body, it will tell you when to slow down and when you can keep going.
-If you were not big on exercise before you got pregnant now is not the time to start lifting weights. However this is a good time to get in the habit of going for walks and gentle hikes and a great time to try a pre-natal or beginners yoga class. You will need some stamina for the labour and you want to keep your circulation going to avoid swelling and varicose veins. Getting your body moving in the morning will help you overcome morning sickness.
-Stretch everyday. We need to keep our backs flexible and strong so they can carry the extra weight. Stretching your legs will also ease “restless legs”.
(Out on a hike at Mt.Seymour)
I feel that I am in better shape now then when I got pregnant. Quitting my casual smoking and drinking combined with the motivation to be a strong and healthy mom has really inspired me. Studies show that women who exercise regularly have an easier time with labour then women who don’t.
I highly recommend doing some Pre-Natal Yoga (or modified regular yoga) as this will help ease pains, focus your mind and prepare you for labour. I enjoyed Shiva Rea's Prenatal Yoga DVD.
Here is a link to a great article on working out during pregnancy written by my TKO trainer Pete Estabrooks:
*Women with high risk pregnancies should consult their care provider. Usually they will be advised to avoid any strenuous activity during the first trimester.
Michelle’s Guide to Making the Most of your Pregnancy Jan 31, 2011
I found out I was pregnant on my birthday weekend this past July. I had a little break from filming Heartland in Calgary, so I drove up to a cabin in the Kananaskis Valley. I had decided to spend the weekend in artistic seclusion; painting, writing and meditating on where life had brought me over the course of 29 years. For some reason I did the pregnancy test in the middle of the night, so there I was at 4am, staring at a startlingly clear “+” symbol, wondering how I was supposed to feel.
Pregnancy and birthing is natural. Healthy babies have been born in the woods, backseats of cars, amidst snowstorms and on raging battle fields. Women are designed to do this. So why is it that becoming pregnant left me feeling so helpless? I was filled with a million questions, doubts and worries, and sometimes I still am. What do I know about having children? I know about theater and film, I know about snowboarding, I know about music and literature...how does this prepare me for bearing a child?
Luckily, with solid guidance from family, doulas, midwives, a supportive partner and some excellent books, I have reached my 30th week (7 1/2 months) of pregnancy happy, strong and ready to go. I have learned so much these past few months, I decided I should share a little with other pregnant women who are looking for some advice (or even just a little encouragement).
Tip #1 Eat! Eat! Eat!
As soon as you wake up the morning, eat! Every two hours, eat! In the middle of the night when your tummy is rumbling, eat! There is a living being growing inside of you which need lots of nourishment, no wonder you're hungry.
Even if you are not a “breakfast person", get in the habit of eating first thing in the morning. A serving of fruit, some oatmeal, cereal or whole grain toast with almond butter are great options. I found eating some grains/carbs helped settle my stomach so as to avoid morning sickness.
Get into the habit of packing healthy snacks and a BPA-free reusable water bottle when you go out. You need lots of water too!
Tip #2. Eat Like a Bird
Make yourself a mixture of “Birdseed” to feed the little chick growing inside of you. Any mixture of nuts and seeds will be beneficial but I recommend ground Flax, Hemp Seeds, Sunflower seeds, Almonds and Soy nuts. This magical mixture will pack your diet with Omega 3 fatty acids which help your baby grow (especially her brain!), and healthy fats which appease your growing appetite and make your skin and hair shine. Many pregnant women suffer from constipation, but this Fiber rich concoction has helped me to avoid it completely.
Grind some flax seeds in a coffee grinder or food processor (or buy them ground if you don’t have a grinder), mash up some almonds in a mortar and pestle or simply using the back of a spoon, throw in some hemp seeds as well as any other nuts and seeds you like and voila! Keep your Birdseed in a re-sealable container in the fridge or freezer, then toss a couple teaspoons into your oatmeal, cereal, salads, yogurt, cottage cheese, protein shakes, etc. It’s delicious and your little chick will love it too.
Oh and p.s., this is a great recipe for anybody, boy or girl, no pregnancy required. We can all use more of those healthy fats that keep us feeling full so we aren't as tempted by junk food.
***More Tips coming soon***
New Favourite Band Alert...LAND OF TALK Oct 1, 2010
LAND OF TALK played an amazing gig last night at Dicken's Pub in Calgary.
Oh Man can ELIZABETH POWELL sing. Her voice is haunting and expressive, and her lyrics have that Thom Yorke quality where you can't quite understand everything word, but you always know exactly what she's saying. Bassist JOSEPH YARMUSH and drummer ANDREW BARR round out the churning, slow-burn rock and roll sound.
LAND OF TALK is on tour now so check for dates in a town near you on their MYSPACE SITE. Here is a video of my favourite single...
"SOME ARE LAKES"
HEARTLAND Premiering Across America This Weekend! Sept 14, 2010
Season 1 premiering September 18th and 19th.
To all my friends south of the border (the Canadian border that is), Heartland Season 1 will be premiering September 18-19th, which is this weekend! Many of your questions (What Channel? What time?) will be answered here on the HEARTLAND BLOG. One of the major carriers will be the CW network, so if you get that channel check there first. Hope you guys dig it as much as we do. xox
Michelle's Sled Island Days...are over July 2, 2010
Saturday: Day 4
Still recovering from last night. Highlights are hazy, but when GZA opened with the audio clip from Shogun Assasin I got so excited. I guess I had a strong emotional attachment to that album when I was 15 It made me miss my brother JP so much. Weird.
FUCKED UP killed it at the Legion. BUILT TO SPILL looked realy bored on the main stage, but HOT WATER MUISC and especially DINOSAUR JR., made up for that.
Thanks Sled Island, for injecting my Calgary life with some much needed rock and roll.
Michelle's Sled Island Days July 2, 2010
Tuesday: Day 0
I caught the last night of the Sled Island Film Festival with my good pal Chris Austman (My co-star in Bunny Hug, and also an incredible musician who recently won the song writers award for the Calgary Folk Festival). We met up at Sloth Records for the Poster Sale. Here are a couple beautiful poster specimens.
Then we booted over to the Plaza Theater to catch the premier of PREGNANT JACK. The script, written by the very talented Ted Stenson, won the SHOW US YOUR SHORTS writers competition. I laughed out loud many times. It was great to meet a whole crew of young, passionate film makers in Calgary including Evan Wilson the lead, who hosts a comedy show and podcast called AM I RIGHT?? on CJSW, and director Hussein Juma.
Wednesday: Day 1
First to work where I shot a beautiful sunset scene out at Heartland, but still managed to make it home by around 9 p.m. No one I knew wanted to come out so I went over the Legion hall to catch some music anyways. Luckily I ran into Adam Kamis almost right away. Adam is one of the curators of this years Sled line up (you may know him as the friendliest bartender at Broken CIty or from his radio show PILLAGE THE VILLAGE on CJSW). So Adam and I proceeded to spend the rest of the night scooting up and down the Legion stairs catching GOLDEN TRIANGLE, CHAIN AND THE GANG, THE ALMIGHTY DEFENDERS and the New Orleans BOUNCE music sensation BIG FREEDIA.
This was one of the best nights of music I have experienced. I won't even try to pick a favourite act. IAN F. SVENONIUS of Chain and the Gang is perhaps the smartest musician I have ever witnessed perform. Big Freeda can bounce his booty better then any woman, and I the girls from Golden Triangle are my new style icons.
Thursday: Day 2 Canada Day!
2 p.m: The friendly staff at the Good Life Community Bike Shop helped me fix up a new ride, now I'm ready to roll from venue to venue with ease.
3:30 p.m: Met Lisa Wilton (entertainment writer for the Calgary Sun) at the Ship and Anchor to catch the end of BBQ's set. The place was packed with folks who had been there for a couple hours drinking beer, and the dance floor was surprisingly energetic (considering it's tea time).
4 p.m: We walked down the block to see HOLLERADO play the Local 510. These guys are sick! Just good, solid rock and roll fun.
6 p.m: Lunch on the Broken City patio. Best patio in the city on a sunny day.
The boyfriend arrives in a Toyota Yaris full of smelly boys who have driven from Vancouver just to check out Sled this weekend. Rock and Roll.
10 p.m: We head to Republik to catch WOMEN for a bit. They took so long setting up that I didn't have much patience for their mellow, droney set. So we booted over to Broken City to catch an amazing Nashville band TURBO FRUITS. The first time I heard these guys was on the Sled Island compilation album. These cats play what I will describe as surf rock for the desert.
12 a.m GREG MACPHERSON stood on stage with only his guitar and belted his heart out at the Local 522, followed by CHUCK RAGAN from HOT WATER MUSIC. Lisa and I walked around the corner to the Distillery to catch some of the MARIACHI EL BRONX set. I had been looking forward to this Mariachi set more than any show today, and I wans't let down. What an incredible idea, take a wicked punk rock band like THE BRONX, and mix in a full Mariachi section, including horns, acoustic guitars, and violin. I managed to convince some scenester boys to dance with me, like really dance.
Mariachi El Bronx
Friday: Day 3
Today I will hit the main stage to catch BUILT TO SPILL, and after that, who knows? Tonight I would recommend the line up at Republik, including C'MON and THE MELVINS. To hear some hard rockin metal and punk rock hit up Broken City and catch BISON B.C, THE BRONX, and CHEESEBURGER. Oh, and TURBO FRUITS are playing again at the Distillery. Should be a good night.
Three Things I Like: Sled Island, Local Food and Heartland June 21, 2010
While the "summer" weather has perhaps been uncooperative in western Canada (Vancouver and Calgary I'm talking to you), it has turned out to be a pretty great June all around. Here is a brief list of things that keep my spirits up above these gloomy clouds, for simplicities sake we'll call it "Three Things I Like".
1. Heartland Season 4. I've settled into a great apartment in Calgary, and we are well into filming our 4th season of Heartland. It is a wonderful gift and a highly unlikely experience for a show to last this long, so I feel thankful for the experience. I also feel like this is our chance to make Heartland better then ever, the crew is working like clockwork, the actors are so comfortable with their characters, and there is just a high level of confidence all around. Here are a few shots I took out on location in High River, Alberta the other day.
The lovely Jessica Steen (aka Lisa)
Shaun Johnston (Grandpa Jack) and Jessica Steen (Lisa). Can you tell these two make good company while we wait around on set?
Amber Marshall (Amy), making sure she's got all those lines straight.
2. THE LOCAL. My partner Megz and I have a great little reality show brewing up. For now I will only say that it is a travel and food series about local food specialities and the people who eat them.
3. SLED ISLAND Last but not least, it's almost time for my favourite music festival.
This annual festival of music, film and art is so unpretentiouse and fun. Local music advocate and politician Zak Pashak started the festival in his native Calgary, and he always manages to bring out incredible bands. In the past I've seen acts like Jose Gonzalez, The Bronx, The Pixies, Andrew W.K, and King Khan & Bbq Show This year I'm looking forward to Dinosaur Jr., Built To Spill, Mariachi El Bronx (a mariachi side project for The Bronx, need I say more?), The Donkeys and Girl Talk.
Check back with me here for updates on the best shows to check out, as well as picks and stories from my Sled Shredding nights. For more on the festival check this link to the SLED ISLAND website.
What's Cooking TV June 20, 2010
I was a guest on this new cooking show. It was fun, the food actually tasted great and the best part was it filmed in Quebec City... Road Trip! (Well more like air plane trip, and it was super cold there, but quit harshing my vibe it was fun alright?!)
The episode featured Speedy Suppers, and we made a Parmesan-Baked Salmon dish. To watch go to this WHAT'S COOKING link.
BUNNY HUG is taking over the world May 4, 2010
The new Website is up and it's beautiful http://bunnyhugshow.com/
In very exciting news BUNNY HUG has been shortlisted to receive a grant from the IPF (Independent Production Fund) web-series fund. We find out in June, and if all goes well we will be making more episodes for your enjoyment before long. We were also nominated for 3 AMPIA awards (you would know what that was if you worked in the Alberta television industry, and then you would be very impressed : ).
I Miss Chile February 19, 2010
One of my favorite shows, Anthony Bourdains "No Reservations", did a special on my home country CHILE! This happened awhile back, and while I was in Chile last year everybody was still talking about it. Chileans were excited that Bourdain loved the LOMITO, and amazing pork and avocado sandwich.
This show made me so nostalgic for Chile, and look how incredible the food is! Heaven
BUNNY HUG February 10, 2010
It has been two months since we wrapped Heartland and I'm feeling like myself again. Did some traveling, went to Yelapa Mexico, a cottage in north Ontario, spent some time in Toronto, and now here I am in Vancouver where I plan on staying for awhile. Yes it's crazy here with the Olympics going on, but if you just act like a tourist it's actually pretty fun. There are all kinds of events and I plan on seeing Robert Lepage's new show, Blue Dragon.
Check out this kick ass web series, Directed by Grant Harvey, who I met working on Heartland.
Here it is, all three episodes of BUNNY HUG
Here are some stills shot by my pal Schane Godon.
7 Months is a Long Time December 10, 2009
Especially in actors months. 7 normal person months would be like 20 actors months. That's how long we've been shooting season 3 of Heartland. I'm not complaining, it's been a great year over all, but it has also been a long year, with alot of changes going on in everyone's life. I'm ready to take a break from playing Lou and work on a few other things, like The Works, a comedy series about a trailer park princess trying to launch her own cooking show, and also a real traveling food show called The Local. Many things to look forward too this winter, especially snowboarding and seeing Pee-Wee Herman live in LA in January.
Here's a shot from the Demo we shot for The Works. We built this set too.
What the heck is a Gemini Award? November 15, 2009
Good question. Well it's the annual television industry awards in Canada. It's been held in Toronto just about every single year since it's inspection in 1986, and for the first time ever it was held in Calgary. Lucky me! A bunch of my friends from Toronto brought the party out my way for once. Award shows are typically pretty boring, and this was no exception,but I got to dress up, I had an awesome time with Jessica Amlie, and most importantly, I got to meet my Canadian television heroes.... ....the Trailer Park Boys!
Amber and Graham presented an award. Note* I think it's hilarious and awesome that both Amber and I borrowed our dresses from our respective characters wardrobe on Heartland. Any fans out there recognize these dresses from past episodes?
Sexual Harassment on Heartland? November 11, 2009
On the last episode of Heartland, "Growing Pains", we saw a story line whereby my characater Lou was repeatedly hit-on by a character named Richard Chenowith and then ultimately she was sexually assaulted by him (in a very 'PG' way, but still, assaulted none the less). Lou experienced feelings of guilt, she blamed herself for what happened, and it took opening up to her sister Amy about it before she could begin to deal with what happened to her. Amy had to remind Lou that what happened was not her fault. I was curious to see what people were saying about the episode, and I noticed that there were quite a few responses on the Heartland Blog saying that this story line was "too adult", "inappropriate" and "weird".
These responses are to be expected, but I would argue that this "weird" story line is exactly the kind of thing that a family show like Heartland needs. Canadian families are dealing with issues like domestic violence, sexual harassment, and child maltreatment every day.
According to a 2006 Survey on Domestic Violance by Stats Canada...
Children and youth under 18 years of age are at greatest risk of being physically or sexually assaulted by someone known to them.
According to the 2003 Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect, an estimated 235,315 child maltreatment investigations were conducted by child welfare services across Canada.
These isuues may not be your typical Sunday night conversation topics, but I think it's important that a show like Heartland occasionally touches on these 'taboo' subjects if only to let kids out there know that they are not alone.
It's also quite fitting that November is Women Abuse Prevention Month in Ontario. I hope that viewers can appreciate that our show mainly deals with the light hearted drama and humour that comes along with everyday family life, but if we never addressed complicated issues such as abuse, and yes, sexual harrasment, we would not be a well rounded family show, we would be a cartoon.
www.Vancouverslop.com October 21st, 2009
My buddy in Vancouver runs this awesome website where he reviews restaurants all over the Vancouver area. He was kind enough o feature me in his "Top Slop" section where I list some of my favourite spots in Vancouver to chow down. Check it out!!
On set in Kanaskis country with Graham Wardle and Amber Marshal.
Heartland Cast Appearance this Saturday September 26th
Attention people living in the Calgary Okotoks Area!
Graham Wardle (Ty) and I will be appearing at the Tree Of Life Fundraising event for the Sheep River Health Trust This Saturday in order to help raise money for Women's Health Initiatives in the area, such as a opening a new Drop In Women's Health Centre and distributing the Gardasil Vaccine (prevents cervical cancer). Here's the Info
Join us in te Okotoks Shopper's Drug Mart Parking Lot Under the Big Tent!
Saturday, September 26th 2009 between 11:30 AM – 2:30 PM for an opportunity to support Women’s Health Initiatives in our community. We welcome you to join us for a mouth watering BBQ lunch, live entertainment, face painting, children’s activities, special guest appearances and a Show ‘N’ Shine. Wear something red for a chance to win prizes. Everyone is welcome.
Five Days in TorontoSeptember 18th
I got to hang out with my good friend Adam Brodie, one half of the Adam & Dave directing duo. We went and saw a confusing film called The Joneses starring Demi Moore and Ben Hollingsworth whome you may recognize as a guest star on Heartland season one. Go Ben! After the CBC fall launch Amber Marshal (for those who don't follow Heartland she plays my sister) and I went for dinner with cast of Little Mosque on the Prairie and Dragon's Den, CBC was certainly represented in the house. I even got some free finance advice from Kevin O'Leary. Apparently U2 showed up later, but I couldn't see them through all their security people, so that was as close to a celebrity spotting as I got : )
DId a photo shoot with Dave Todon, my good friend and official photographer. Props to my girl Sarah Campbell who did my hair and make-up.
Now I'm at the airport waiting to fly back to Calgary. Man oh man, I can't believ summer is over. Luckily the weather in Toronto was so beautiful today that we had a barbeque at my place.
Go to the VIDEO section of the site and check out my new DEMO REELS.
I wish I was surfing.
Catch Up Time - August 31st
What's up dudes and dudettes. Okay okay okay let's play the catch up game. I am filming Heartland Season 3, which goes to air on October 2nd. So I'm in Calgary most of the time, but right now, as I write this I am sitting in a teeny tiny quaint little cabin in Tofino BC, where I have spent the past 3 days straight surfing. Everything about surfing is amazing. It's challenging, it takes focus and calm, you can't force it, it's fun, it's something that you must do all on your own but you can share it with your friends, it's so good for the soul. Okay, enough hippy talk.
Happenings? The Demo for the comedy series I wrote is complete and now I just need to find some financial backing to try and get this show on the air. It's a comedy about a trailer park princess who wants to star in her own cooking show. It's funny, trust me okay. Don't you trust me?