Posts By Jennifer
3 years ago I began feeling sick. I knew something was wrong but couldn’t put a finger on it. As time went on, I got worse. One day I woke up and my legs were balloons and I couldn’t move. I stayed this way for one year, it was devastating. I spent endless hours in the hospital, at the lab and at the doctors. Endless tests and no results. No one could find anything. Finally, one year ago, I found a naturopath who saved my life. The next year would prove to be the most difficult. Treatment made me more sick. Somedays I felt like there was no hope. It made me sad to look at my kids and not be able to play with them. It made me sad to not be able to move and dance or even go to the park. I felt like I was slowly losing myself. Today, I am walking again. I can pick up my children. I can be intimate with my husband. I am starting to feel like myself again. As I look back, the past few years is very fuzzy. There’s a lot of darkness. All of this to say: My husband PLEX has just dropped his first music video from his new album. The song is called Lucky Stars and it is dedicated to me.
“My wife, the love of my life, is the centre of our family, our anchor. Watching her struggle with Lyme Disease has been difficult to say the least. I made this video as a tribute to her. To remind her of all the great moments we have had during this dark time.”
Watching it for the first time was overwhelming. He managed to capture some beautiful moments of our family over the past few years. It is a great reminder for me that even though I FELT like was disappearing, I was very much here and still am. Being loved, feeling loved, is such good medicine. He might think that I am the anchor of the family, but I couldn’t have gotten through any of this without his support and love. I, too, thank my lucky stars.
Please watch and share.
I’ve always worked a lot. Perhaps there was a time, for a long time, that I was a workaholic. Aspects of my life suffered because I put work first. I always struggled with that balance. Then my kids came along and the struggle to balance it all became harder than ever. The crappy thing about it is that I LOVE what I do. As a producer I get to imagine and create and work with talented artists and performers that inspire me. As an actor I get to perform and use it as an outlet to express a part of myself. I also work with youth, teaching and training and THAT is always inspiring and educational.
On the flip side, I love being a mom. I am very domestic and I love cooking and homemaking and having a family. I remember being pregnant with my daughter and feeling so lucky that I would have her a few weeks before a huge awards show I produce called the Indspire Awards. It was my third year of producing it and there was no way I wanted to miss a beat. Willow entered the world as a production baby. She was on her first flight at 2 months old, with me on site and I breastfed every chance I got. Free feeding and attachment parenting become challenging when you’re a working mom with a full-time job. But I felt good doing it all…
When Raven and ShoShona, of Digging Roots, approached me to work with them on a music video for their song, “I’ve Got It Bad” … I was both terrified and honoured. Yet, as it goes with many things in my life, I decided to abandon fear and dive in. It began with Shoshona and I writing the concept. ShoShona wanted to experiment with the idea of not taking themselves too seriously so I presented her with a series of tongue-in-cheek treatment ideas and we hashed out many different concepts and story-lines. As is often the case, our original concept was a much longer story. But, as also is often the the case, we didn’t have endless funds at our disposal so we reigned shots in to utilize who and what we had to work with. Which, from a professional prospective; was a stunning well of creative professionals of which to draw from anyways.
From there, Raven, Doug (the D.O.P, co-director, editor and my husband), Sarain Carson-Fox, Shona and I just went for it. We decided on a storyline of, learning to love yourself. How do you tell such a story without being cheesy? Comedic relief. Over five days, we shot tons of footage in Longboat Key, Florida. Even when Shona was stung by a stingray on the third day, she kept going!
This video is truly a labour of love. Our children, ranging in age from 2 to 18, all helped. My mom and Shona’s mom helped and together we were able to have fun, work hard and put together a really charming and FUNNY video. Our actress Sarain was a dream. Such a great sport with fantastic comic timing and to top it off … she’s gorgeous! Her character tells the story of how a woman who thinks she’s in love, finds what she was looking for in herself instead. In her darkest moment, she sees herself and saves herself from her own heartache. She is, in essence, her own prince charming.
To be honest, those five days of production helped me forget how much pain I was in from the Lyme Disease that was infecting and attacking my body. That’s when you know you’re doing what you’re meant to be doing.
Thanks to Digging Roots for having faith and thanks to Doug for spending so much time on this project.
For the past couple of years my hair has been falling out. I had a LOT of hair so it didn’t bother me. When Lyme kicked in full force and starting attacking my body from all angles, the hair issue became more severe. As it thinned out it started getting me down. So I decided to kick this disease in the balls and show it that, even if I have to shave all my hair or go entirely bald, this BUG will not win. Anyway, I think JIM at HeadQuarters Hair Salon in Barrie did an amazing job and I LOVE my new do. Fresh start! Oddly enough, it feels and looks thicker.
I have been sick for two years. For the first year I didn’t know I was actually sick, I thought I was just overworked and experiencing adrenal fatigue. The second year was different. I woke up on morning about a year and half ago and my knees were swollen; hot and red and all of my muscles ached. This is when I began the long road of searching for an answer. From several ER visits, to even more doctors visits, then switching doctors to get a second and even third opinion, to going to the US to see another doctor. No one could come up with anything. My inflamed and swollen knees never went down. My ankles ballooned shortly after, my right elbow locked into a permanent bent position and my muscles began to ache and burn all day and all night. Being a strong believer in alternative and natural medicine, I decided to everything I could do on my own since I was not getting ANY support from conventional medicine or the system.
The very first thing I did was entirely spiritual. You see, I have always been an A Type, workaholic, Wonder Woman type. I never knew how to relinquish control or allow people to help me. SO, the most logical first step was to surrender and ask for help. I started with my husband who quickly became the hero I never knew he could be. I did a lot of surrendering, crying, praying and forgiving. I don’t remember crying so much, I think I cried for about 2 or three solid hours a day. As I did that, I felt so much pain escaping my body. I went to the chiropractor, physiotherapist, acupuncturist and naturopath. I also had a deep intuitive sense that I needed to detox in every way I could. So I ordered an Infra Red Sauna (about $1400 from Costco), and I decided to reboot my system by juicing for three weeks. Both of those things, likely in combination with the other things I was doing, seemed to work well. I felt that I was slowly on my way to recovery.
I found this short post I wrote on January 1 2012 . Seems so long ago, so much has happened since then. Man, I was deep in the fog back then. Fun to read and see that the old saying is true. ‘When you’re going through hell…..keep going.’ I did, I am here and I am committed to loving ME more deeply every day. Happy Thursday everyone. Love Yourself.
Women In Film and TV: On Creating Content That Represents Women In The Three Dimensional Fierceness They Deserve
It’s been a year since my first feature film, as producer, Empire of Dirt premiered at TIFF (The Toronto International Film Festival). So much has happened for this little film since then, including a theatrical release in Canadian cities, play on Air Canada, iTunes and Rogers On Demand. All great platforms that I’m grateful to have been showcased on.
But, I have to say that some of the most exciting times for me and this film have taken place on the festival circuit. It has travelled around the world and I’ve accompanied it to some. (These days I don’t travel as much as I used to because I want to be with my kids as much as humanly possible.)
Turning forty took its toll on me. For whatever reason, my body, mind and spirit decided to wait until the big 4-0 to tell me to fuck off. Although I have always been health conscious and alternative in my beliefs about health and wellness, I struggled like many other people, with food and other addictions. I was a smoker since I was 15 (I quit while pregnant and breast feeding but then started right up again as soon as I was done), I put drugs and alcohol into my body and I harboured self hatred and guilt. All things that will eventually catch up to you… I mean, me…
That is how “we” the Native population in Toronto, are referred to. There are 80,000 of us yet we go unnoticed.
It is for this reason, that I do what I do as a filmmaker and storyteller. I believe in platforms. I believe in the power of storytelling wherever possible. When we share stories we find our common ground.
The documentary Moccasins And Concrete is a collection of stories of a few of us who would fall into that “invisible minority” category. I didn’t make this film, but I participated in the creation of it. The filmmaker, Bobby Brown, did a wonderful job in a very limited time. The first time I watched it, I bawled my eyes out. I related so deeply to the piece my sister Tamara wrote for the intro; it hit home.
I was also hit by the story that Gabrielle Skrimshaw tells. So many of the details from the personal stories highlighted just hit so close to home. I suppose I still have a lot of grieving to do. Grieving for the injustices still being committed against Indigenous people right here in Canada and grieving for those who came before me.
I suppose I believe that harnessing platforms to tell these stories will somehow bring people closer to the truth. I believe that and that is why I continue to produce and participate in telling my story whenever possible. You never know. It MIGHT just change someones mind.
Below is the promo video for the doc…now you can watch the whole film on CBC’s website!
Click for the full feature length below. I look forward to your comments!
The day I had my first child, Willow (4), was the day I stopped sleeping for a long, long time. I know that my situation isn’t unique and I know that it also isn’t shared by everyone but what I know most of all is that TODAY I am over the MOON! A few weeks ago, while we were on vacation, BOTH of our kids officially began sleeping through the night. To be honest, it took about a week for my body to adjust to it. I guess I was in such a state of anxiety during sleep mode that my body forgot how to truly relax and really SLEEP.
When I had Willow, everything changed for me. Before her, I was a strong, independent, self aware, focused woman of 36. The moment she was born I became anxious, second-guessed almost everything. I became insecure about my mothering style and choices.