To Dance Is To Be Out Of Yourself…

“…Larger, more beautiful, more powerful." ~Agnes De Mille

SANY4110

On Friday I performed in our studio’s gala! This was my third gala performance since starting bellydance 2 years ago. It’s been such a hectic month, but amid the craziness, it was always so fantastic to have my weekly dose of dancing with my amazing friends and brilliant teacher to keep me sane. SANY4122We did a veil choreography this time around which was a lot of fun. Bellydance uses a lot of props (including finger cymbals called zills and canes) but veil is probably my favourite. It’s a large piece of lightweight fabric that you use to frame your body and make beautiful shapes to accentuate your movements.  SANY4114Something “clicked” for me in this gala, and for once I wasn't stressed about our choreography or how much I was able to practice (or not). There was so much going on this month and I just put faith in myself that I knew what I was doing. And it worked. SANY4119I’m so happy that I’ve found a form of expression (and exercise) that I truly adore. My bellydance girls are some of my favourite people in the world, and they really make our classes enjoyable. Zahira is such a fantastic teacher and I am so happy with how much my dancing, confidence and poise has improved over the last 2 years. SANY4131 By the end of the year my goal is to perform a solo or duet in one of the small student performances (called haflas). I think it would be a great culmination of all that I have learned, and we all know that I love any excuse to perform!SANY4111When I started bellydance 2 years ago, it was mostly on a whim; I had enjoyed performing a little bellydance routine in Kismet, and thought it would be a fun way to get some more exercise in. Now it’s one of my favourite things in the world and I get to do it with an amazing group of women I now call friends. SANY4128Is there something out there that you’ve been thinking about trying, but haven’t for whatever reason? I say just go for it. What’s the worst thing that could happen? SANY4118

Walk – It Challenge With Weight Watchers and The Running Room

After 6 weeks of build up, I finally got to participate in the Weight Watchers Walk It Challenge last night!! WWBanner Lindsay and I met up beforehand at Pulp Kitchen for a little fuelSANY4085 I started with the Rubee juice – a mix of tangerine, grapefruit, beet and red clover. It was very refreshing and I loved the citrus in combination with the beet. SANY4088 I opted for the Crispy Crunchy Salad which is a mix of Cucumber & green bean salad w/ a tangy vinaigrette topped with crispy breaded tofu & sautéed mushrooms. I really loved the cucumber and green beans in the salad, I only wish there had been more of the green stuff! The tofu wasn’t overly fried and the coating was very light. SANY4089 Lindsay had the ancient grains burger and was disappointed to find out that it was no longer made in house. The super yummy sprouts in her salad made her smile though, and she passed along her feedback to our super sweet waitress.

Once our tummies were filled with yummy vegan food, we headed to the Running Room in the Beaches where we were greeted by a room FULL of Weight Watchers members who were ready to walk! Weight Watchers Canada General Manager Paul Schiffner and Running Room founder John Stanton were on hand to help get the group pumped up. SANY4099 I brought some Weight Watchers Bravo stickers to hand out to all my members who attended, and if you look closely you can see the Bravo stickers on Paul’s shirt that I gave to him as well! (John opted to put his on his hand) I was so excited that so many of my members attended the event!! SANY4100 It was awesome to see so many familiar faces out on a Wednesday night, especially with warnings of thunderstorms and an earthquake earlier in the day! The weather co-operated with us, and we enjoyed an amazing 5k walk along the boardwalk overlooking the water with an amazing breeze to keep us cool. I had a lot of fun wandering around chatting with Lindsay, my members, Paul and John.

SANY4102We finished the walk in a little over an hour and were greeted by cheers, high fives and some yummy trail mix when we returned! It was an amazing event and I’m so happy that I was able to participate with some of my favourite people on such a beautiful day in Toronto!

Did any of you participate in the Walk It Challenge? How did it go? Are you feeling motivated to walk more or push yourself further with activity?

Fringing For The Very First Time

So excited to be a part of my very first show in the Toronto Fringe Festival! For the last few years I’ve attended at least one show as a part of the Fringe, but have never had the chance to be in one of the 150 shows as a performer, until now! breadwinnerBetween July 1 and 10, I will be performing in a new musical called “Breadwinner” at the Annex Theatre in Toronto. The show is about 4 friends who are the primary money makers in their families who come together every May to commiserate about their lives and shared experiences.

The show was written by the lovely Megan Benjafield and features Amanda Dwyer-Scarlett as Harold, Christine Aziz as Andy, Mallary Davenport as Pat and myself as Chris. My character is the sweet as pie (sort of sheltered and naive) friend who lives in Fergus, Ontario and runs her own fitness centre. It has been such a treat to be working so closely with these incredibly talented ladies and I can’t wait to see our hard work pay off in less than two weeks!

Show Times:
Thursday, July 1, 10:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 3, 1:45 p.m.
Sunday, July 4, 7:00 p.m.
Tuesday, July 6, 4:45 p.m.
Thursday, July 8, 5:45 p.m.
Friday, July 9, 2:15 p.m.
Saturday, July 10. 9:45 p.m.

Tickets are already available on the Toronto Fringe site and are a total bargain at just $10!

I picked up my Fringe program today and I look forward to seeing as many shows as possible this year.

Just Another Sunday In The Park With Crohn’s

I can’t believe the 15th annual Heel ‘n’ Wheel-a-thon is now behind us!

It’s been a very busy couple of weeks leading up to the event and I had the honour (as honorary chair, tee hee) to chat with some local media leading up to the event. I was excited to know that on Thursday I made the cover of the Beach/Leslieville/Riverdale Mirror!SANY4067The article discussed my involvement with the event and focused on my desire to raise awareness of IBD in Canada.

As I wrote my honorary chair speech on Saturday, I realized that I was less than $200 away from reaching my fundraising goal of $3000 so I solicited some donations on Facebook and Twitter over the course of the afternoon and was able to hit $3000 on the dot! Thanks so much to everyone who donated – I can’t wait to see if the Toronto event hit its goal of $325,000!

All week the weather people were talking about thunderstorms and rain for the day of the walk, which made me pretty sad. Apparently it NEVER rains on Heel ’n’ Wheel day and I didn’t want my year as Honorary Chair to break that tradition!! I got up bright and early on Sunday and was greeted by cloudy skies. Clouds I could deal with! I arrived onsite a little before 7 am and spent the morning helping wherever I could…SANY3995 and socializing with other members of the Committee… SANY3996 SANY3999and seeing friends – old and new! I spent a bit of time with Hannah, who was the awesome Honorary Chair last year. SANY4000 I remembered seeing Hannah’s team (the Cranky Colons) with their bright green t-shirts at last year’s walk. Her mum was on the organizing committee and it was awesome to meet Hannah this year and chat about our similar (yet very different) journeys with this disease. I also had the pleasure of meeting super cute Megan who writes The Gut GazetteSANY4001 Megan and I have been corresponding via email and blogs for a long time now, so it was awesome to finally put the online persona and actual person together! Megan and her team the Grand Poo-Bahs were decked out in purple t-shirts and did an amazing job fundraising!

My friends Lindsay, Michelle & Brenda arrived to join me on the walkSANY4036It was so sweet of them to join me for the event and I was excited to have some great friends to enjoy Sunnybrook Park with! After a super fun and energetic warm upSANY4005(with scissors no less)SANY4007 we were ready to hit the road! I got to cut the ribbon…  28272_1388199358978_1651890505_1372277_8223047_n28272_1388199598984_1651890505_1372280_533299_n28272_1388199758988_1651890505_1372281_3963987_n and we were off! We enjoyed stickersSANY4024 and delicious fruit  SANY4022SANY4028SANY4030along our beautiful 5k in Sunnybrook. The weather held up and it was the perfect temperature to be walking. The 4 of us had a lovely time chatting along the route and cheering at each of the route stations. We took about an hour to do the 5k before hitting the finish lineSANY4032 SANY4034Just like last year, the food was still an issue for me at the event… made worse by the presence of a dessert truckSANY4037 Seriously? I recognize that there may have been a time in years past that I might have jumped on the opportunity for a deep-fried twinkie (!) but things have changed since then, and I truly believe that at an event around raising money and awareness for Inflammatory Bowel Disease, we should be promoting HEALTH. Deep-fried things on sticks, pizza and burgers don’t promote health to me at all and I hope that moving forward it is something that will continue to evolve. One of the members of the organizing committee and I are going to chat about ideas for next year and I hope that I can leave an imprint on the event in that way. I brought my own food for the day and had fun chatting with the healthier vendors in attendance like Bio K and Simply Bars.

After having my face paintedSANY4048 I had the pleasure of thanking everyone for coming out and sharing a bit of my story. SANY4057 I felt really comfortable up on stage and later our PR Coordinator told me that I was very brave. It was a very successful (but long!) day and overall it’s been great to have been the Honorary Chair for this year’s event. It has enabled me to connect with some great people and has also given me the opportunity to share my story with others and in turn hopefully raise awareness of IBD.

Thank you to everyone who supported me in this event with words, donations or by joining me at the walk. I couldn’t have done it without all of you and I truly appreciate it!!

Heel ‘n’ Wheel-A-Thon in T-Minus 2 Days

The big day is just around the corner! hnw startI can hardly believe that it’s been a full year since the last time I did the event. At that time, it had still been less than a year that I had been diagnosed and was still working to figure this all out. So much has changed in a year, but I’m proud to say that I feel even healthier than I did at last year’s event and I am so excited to continue to head in that direction.

I hope that as a result of being the Honorary Chair and sharing my story that I’ve raised some awareness about the prevalence of IBD in our society. IBD affects more than 200,000 Canadians with more than 9,200 cases each year, but somehow before I was diagnosed I didn’t know anything about it. I want people to realize that they can speak up about this disease and that there are options out there. I realize that I’ve taken a bit more of an “unconventional” path to healing (not just medication and surgery but with primarily food!), but it has worked wonders and I’m so happy that I feel as healthy as I do today. hnw finish Join me this Sunday in Sunnybrook Park at 10 am for the annual Heel ‘n’ Wheel-a-thon!

My New Pie Of Life

Almost exactly a year ago I wrote a post about the effect of being part of Generation Y and the various components of my life. I used a pie chart to illustrate the main segments of my life pie1and alluded to some of the changes that I was looking ahead to in the future. At that time I still believed I would wait for more than a year to go to school rather than quit my job in November and start school in January. I can’t believe that I thought I would wait so long AND do it in the evenings and miss out on performing for two years.

In the last 6 months I’ve come to realize how amazing it is to have a balance of things that you love in your life. Quitting my job was one of the best things I ever did and every day I am so thankful for this dream life that I am living. My new pie of life goes something like this:graphMy job no longer consumes half my life and my new work doesn’t usually feel like work because it’s Weight Watchers and I adore it! I am so pleased with the balance between work, school and play. I also have more time to perform, audition and be on stage which makes me really happy!! For the first time since musical theatre school I really feel like I’m thriving in this regard and have time to actually work on my craft (rather than squeeze it in between everything else that I’m doing)

My new pie of life was demonstrated on Friday within a chaotic, but successful day. Normally on Fridays I lead 1 meeting in the morning and then have the rest of the day to myself. This Friday was an exception due to the fact that I had a one-off Friday class and one night only show in the evening. Add to that some pretty amazing people and some yummy food, and it meant that basically everything I love was wrapped up into a single day!!

With everything going on, I went prepared with breakfast, lunch and snacksSANY3953 Quinoa flakes with apple & cinnamon for brekkie, spinach salad with tempeh & balsamic/flax dressing plus a banana, orange, blueberries & carrots with hummus.

I led a great little meeting and then rushed off to school for my second to last class of Advanced Nutritional Research. I was stoked when we got our marks back for the test we had written on WednesdaySANY3982 and when our teacher let us out early – success! It meant that I had more time to get down to Buddies in a Bad Times theatre for the tech rehearsal for Cabaret for a Cause 11. SANY3955 Tech went off without too many problems and it was good to sing through the group numbers with everyone. We were singing some great group songs like “All the Men in my Life Keep Getting Killed by Candarian Demons” from Evil Dead the musical, “Seasons of Love” from Rent, and Lilly Allen’s “Not Fair”. Once everything was good to go we all went for sushi. SANY3966 SANY3968SANY3967 I shared some edamame and veggie rolls with Lindsay and our musical director.  I loved the little mushroom ones – so good!  With our tummies full of sushi goodness we were ready for a great show.  For my solo I sang a really fun song called My Party Dress. (Seen here performed by the lovely Jenni Barber) It went over really well!! Lindsay and I also performed the super fun duet “What is this Feeling?” from the musical Wicked. SANY3975Lindsay sang the Elphaba role and her witches’ hat made me laugh so much. She is such a good friend, it was really hard for us to hate one another!! The whole evening was a great success and I had a lot of fun being onstage with an amazing group of talented people AND finally having an opportunity to sing with Linz. I practically fell into bed at the end of the night (especially since I was getting early up to lead 3 meetings in the morning) but it was such a wonderful day that I didn’t really care. It was a great reflection of my new pie of life and I couldn’t be happier that it contained so many of my favourite things.

So far this year I’ve realized that having such a balance of things in my life makes me really happy. It shouldn’t be rocket science, right? Do things that you love. Cut out the stuff you don’t. Live in the moment and pursue things that you feel passionately about. My pie of life kind of rocks and I look forward to continuing to live it on a daily basis.

Have you examined your pie of life lately? What’s there that makes you really happy? What’s missing? What can you do to change that?

Lotsa Fun In May, Looking Forward to Being Busy in June

A few things I discovered (or remembered) this month… I’m addicted to quinoa flakes SANY3886 (with cocoa powder, sliced banana, cinnamon & Barney Butter all the way from Florida…)

On the subject of breakfast…protein in the morning helps keep me full (scrambled tofu with spinach, onion and mushrooms)SANY3895Raw vegan brownies make me very happySANY3931I’ve been performing and auditioning a lot more lately including an 80’s themed show last Sunday, SANY3934 SANY3933"Cabaret for a Cause" with the lovely Lindsay coming up on Friday and a Fringe show(!!) in July – (see the Facebook page for more details until it’s up on the Fringe site).  I’m going to be writing a blog post later in the week about how my pie of life has changed drastically as of late with all this performing… and how ridiculously happy I am as a result.

One last thing that makes me happy? People named Ashley (other than me!) and dressing up.  Top hats and corsets should always be required in life. cropped ashx2Speaking of Ashley…  We’re planning a yoga class on Sunday (12:00 - east end Toronto location - $10 suggested donation) in support of the Heel’n’Wheel-a-thon!ashyogaDigestive health is vital to our health and well being. Approximately 70% of our nervous system is attached to our stomach, small intestines and colon, so when our GI tract is not functioning at optimal level, we are out of balance. Inspired by the theme of The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, we will explore the balance of our bodies inside and out, with a 1 hour yoga class open to all levels. It will focus on, you guessed it...our tummies! Through the practice of yoga, we can learn to not only strengthen and tone our mid-sections, but through breathing techniques and a series of specific postures, we can help to calm the nervous system and promote proper digestion and detoxification! You will radiate from the inside out!

Ashley Overholt is a student of Holistic Nutrition and a certified Ashtanga Yoga Instructor. She has studied with Diane Bruni and Ron Reid of Downward Dog, as well as Danny Paradise and Chuck Miller and Maty Ezraty.

Please send me an email (wwleaderashley@gmail.com) if you are interested in attending. Can’t attend, but would still like to donate? Check out my Heel’n’Wheel-a-thon donation page. The event is now less than two weeks away and I couldn’t be more excited!!