It is so poingnant that I should end my cheerleading career here in Finland where so much of it started. This was the place I traveled to on my first trip outside of North America. It changed my life. I was running my first cheerleading company at the time - Canadian Cheerleading Incorporated (CCi). On the plane on the way home I wrote in my journal that I never wanted to live unconsciously again. That I wanted to notice the sky and connect with people and really live my life. That was in 2000. Right after that I graduated from University, my boyfriend of 7 years and I broke up, and my business partner and I went our separate ways. I had asked for a drastic change and received one Big Time.
I thought I had retired from cheerleading at that point. Losing my business was a horrible experience - there were a lot of things said about me in the community that were un-true and it was hard to stay present and continue to do what I loved - I wanted to give up many times. Within a few months of the business ending I was offered the opportunity to come back to Finland to work with the Funky Team Cheerleaders - a relationship that would become very important for both of us. Their support of me as a coach and a person helped me to get back on my feet in the industry and create a brand name that would, over the next 10 years, become known throughout the cheerleading world. From Finland I went on to coach in places such as England, Scotland, Germany, Sweden and China.
Today I finished a camp with a team in Rovaniemi, Finland that I believe will be my last. I wrote two routines in four days and coached for over 30 hours. The money they have paid me for these routines gave me the courage to break up with the man who had promised to help me pay my tuition to Strasberg and go to New York on my own. The Finns and their love for me is giving me the fuel to follow my dreams once again.
One of the beautiful things about this camp is that it was captured by Murmur films as part of a documentary being filmed on the team. I have been the 'inspiration' for the project and was the one who connected them with the team. My two worlds, old and new - film and cheerleading are meeting in this very special place. I am so grateful.
I am grieving the end of my cheerleading life. I had a lot of moments during the camp where I thought about cheerleading and the impact it has had on me. It was never about practicing cheerleading or participating in the sport as a competitor or coach. It was about BEING a cheerleader. It was a huge platform of creative expression for me and taught me more about life than almost anything (being a Mom has been kind of a big deal as well). I have learned to keep going regardless of the rain, sweat or pain, and to show my face in places where it may not be wanted and to understand that INTEGRITY is sometimes just about being honest with yourself. Despite the tendency of all of us involved in cheerleading to be perfectionists, perhaps the biggest thing I have learned just came to me this week-end. I learned that it doesn't have to feel perfect in order to look great. It's kind of the idea of fake it till you make it. I always tried to teach perfect technique - to the benefit of those teams I worked with I'm sure, but it sometimes stalled the momentum of skill development. Now that I am learning a new craft - my perfectionist tendencies are coming up again. My goal for my studies in New York is to not try to be perfect, and to fake it till I make it! To look confident even though I don't always feel that way inside.
So many things in the past week have been about letting go - selling my car, doing my taxes, getting the F outta dodge and documenting my last hurrah with cheerleading in the same quiet place that my adult life really began. Thank you Finland. I will miss you.
When the world is wide open your mind cannot be closed.