Tuesday, September 2, 2014

In the waters with Alison Carson

Tell us about your first experience with body blitz?

I first heard about Body Blitz from a friend and we decided to make a day of it. I had been to spas in Europe, in Hungary and Germany, but I wasn't sure what to expect from downtown Toronto. I was really impressed by the layout, the decor, and all the little details that make the environment efficient, clean, and relaxing. 

How often do you visit the waters?
With the summer waters pass I've been trying to come once or twice a week. 

How has your health changed since using the body blitz therapeutic waters?
Overall, this year had a lot of ups and downs. I teach English, dance and drama, and on top of regular teaching and marking, I run our school's yoga club, dance team, Gay-Straight Alliance, and choreographed our school musical, which had 18 dance numbers. I also worked on a film that my wife produced, and had weekly rehearsals with a dance company of my own (PushPULL), which is a fantastic creative outlet, but puts a strain on my body. Unfortunately I sprained my ankle during one of our performances and have been working to build my strength back up. To top it all off, I got married this year, so I was definitely in the market for a new routine that would help me reset and get ready to go back to work in the fall feeling rested and rejuvenated!  

Why do you love being a teacher?
I love being a teacher because my day is always different. Although it has a lot of structure, with bells and time tables, the kids bring so much energy and unpredictability to this job that you really don't know what the day will be like. I find the environment challenging, in the best possible way, and the feedback you get is immediate. I love my subjects (dance, drama and English) and getting to share that with my students is really special. I can't think of another job where I would get to see, on a daily basis, the future taking shape. Seeing students grow, especially if I have taught them through multiple grades, is amazing and you watch it happen right in front of your eyes. They are so vibrant and even though this job keeps me on my toes, can be extremely stressful, and comes home with me each night, I love being plugged into the kind of energy that young people bring to the equation. I feel really lucky that I am constantly learning and getting to share my passion for education with my students. 

What do you learn from your students? 
By definition, I'm supposed to be the expert in my subject, but I think the learning certainly goes both ways. I am constantly gaining new insight from them and am really inspired by the students that I work with. I learn about myself by watching them learn. I think that many adults forget what being a teenager is like. On a surface level, they are always teaching me about new technology, new apps, music and dance styles (the pop culture stuff) - but what I really love is seeing them learn about communicating, building their confidence and finding ways to solve problems. As a teacher, I ask kids to do things, which are second nature to me - public speaking, sharing ideas, resolving conflicts, performing in front of their peers.  I'm constantly asking them to take risks, try new things and be brave. I should be willing to do those same things, so that I don't forget how it feels to be in their shoes. I try to model that process of risk taking and share my own experiences of success and of failure, to show them that taking chances, making mistakes and persevering are part of the process. 

If you could, what advice would you give yourself  20 years ago?
Assume positive intentions, don't take things personally and appreciate the process. You can only control how you react, not other people. I am a sensitive person, so I spent a lot of time when I was younger rehashing things that I couldn't change and worrying. I'm still working to apply the advice of just going with the flow and welcoming what life throws at you. 

Proudest accomplishment?
My proudest accomplishment is not just one moment; it's the accumulation of all the good parts of life - that amount to living well. I can pinpoint certain things that I am proud of, like going to live abroad for a year as a teenager, the scholarships and recognition that I have received academically, or the career I'm building. Mostly, I am proud of my relationships and that I have people in my life who are sweet, generous, funny and who challenge me. My best accomplishment is creating and working hard for a life that feels really authentic. Getting to be yourself and be surrounded by people who value you, as you are, is what brings me the most happiness. It lays the ground work for all the other good things to happen.

Who is your role model or mentor?
My parents are one of my most significant sources of inspiration. They really modeled the kind of dedication, patience and love that go into raising a family. My mother is such a strong, creative, charismatic woman and she has stayed involved in theatre and art throughout my life. She was also a teacher, so I grew up really admiring her talent and leadership; watching her have a career that was so personally rewarding really set the bar for me. It was impossible not to look up to a parent who was so admired by her students. My father is an engineer and although I have less insight into what his career entails, as I got older, he has emerged as the quiet hero in my life. He is a resourceful, intelligent man who always put his family first. He created this amazingly open space for me to grow and develop a voice as a young woman. He welcomed debate and raised me with unconditional love. I was never afraid to take chances because he has supported me every step of the way. Coming out as a teenager was so much easier with parents like them. My brother and I were so lucky and one day I hope to make a home that is as loving and free as theirs was to grow up in.

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