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2011/08/16 von Marilou Lavallée

Marilou Nº1: "Roots to grow. Wings to fly."

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Marilou is the team‘s whirlwind with her energy, her excitement and her love of life. Always ready to try and discover new experiences or new directions. Her positive attitude keeps her grounded and people around her seem to feel this vibe and we guess they like it - just like we do. Or maybe it‘s the small green eyes and the giant smile charming them. That is part of the reason why this blog is 100 percent dedicated to Marilou.

When the team told me about this project, I was really enthusiastic with this whole new idea. I find that it’s a creative way for the riders to share their experiences. I didn’t hesitate for a second in writing this and jumped straight into it. My role in this project, as they told me, is: ''simply be you... you know it... write about the lifestyle, the travel, your perception of things, and give us your girly input!" In sum, this column shall be dedicated to my colourful world of kitesurfing. Most importantly, I will be taking you on a journey full of life learning experiences and inspiring people. Ultimately, this blog will give you the chance to connect with my vision: life is an endless world of possibilities.

In order to introduce this column, the guys kindly asked me to write about...'who I am' and 'what I’m up to'. This way, you - the readers - can discover the girl behind the kite... Shall I start now?

At this exact moment, I’m writing from Montreal, my home town (actually Outaouais to be more precise). I am a 29 year old native french speaker from Canada (so it is possible that my English sounds funny - you will have to excuse me). I have been kiting for the past seven years and I have been sponsored by CORE kites and Carved plus Rip Curl for the past three (hence all the cool apparel!). I did a few competitions during PKRA events in  2008-2010, as well as, traveled the world in search of new kiting spots. Filming, and photo shoots, are often a part of our travels with the CORE team, that take us to splendid kitesurfing paradises.I am also an occupational therapist by profession, which translates into working too many hours indoors in private clinics and hospitals. Soon after, I realized that I was meant to be living with the wind rather than living to work in the practice of my profession.

Consequently, my life track has taken many different directions. And now, it's 100% directed by the wind and the waves so it changes from month-to-month, even day-to-day. It makes me feel like a little bird...flying around with my eyes open on this magnificent view. After more than five years of being away from Canada, this year proved to be different due to my two knee injuries. I was forced to settle down and stay put in Montreal for about 11 months. I instantly thought to myself  'No more flying little bird', as I went back to work as a therapist. Except this time... I started working in community mental health, and this was a radical change for me. Meaning no Brasil with all my friends in fall, no Christmas trees to sell in New York, no Venezuela in winter time, and no more cool destinations! I soon realized that this time out of the water was short, life still moved in many directions, and that feeling of being this little bird remained, as there were plenty of surprises that followed me! Moreover, this what you could call 'forced slow down' gave me the chance to be grounded still with some warm destination on set.

Now lets talk about these injuries, which involved two operations and a brace, as this experience may just help you see a part of who I am... Like many other kitesurfers, I had torn my ACL (anterior cruciate ligament). It started with a ‘mini tear’ that happened during a PKRA event in Germany and soon led me to 2 broken ACL's and a meniscus one year later! I had 2 operations - of course one knee was not enough injury for me! This is a typical ‘Marilou’ thing... Can’t stop when I like something, which probably drove some boyfriends a bit crazy, but hey, it’s just me. I wish I could be more balanced (Do I really wish that? hummm? maybe sometimes, but not too much.) I need to have surprises, intensity, adrenaline and new challenges, as they open up my view on life and keep me grounded! Anyway, I get too much into it and then I let the passion win over the risk or possible consequences. Addicted to kite, not taking time to rest and going hard on my body. I started with a small cut on one ligament and finished with 2 broken knees (ligaments-meniscus-all together, big mess up!).

According to my parents, I am a big kid, except maybe with bigger projects and ambition. For example, one week before my operation when I could hardly walk, the surgeon made it clear that I had to be careful of inflammation and my knee swelling (otherwise I would not be operated on the scheduled date). Of course we decided to go kayaking on a lac... nice view, nice set-up, easy on the knees - all the family is happy. But you know...after 20 mins I became desperate for more action... any rapids maybe? I don’t know something more exciting? Hence, I decided to use my kayak in the same way you'd use a stand up paddle. Ok now... not the most intelligent idea! But anyway, I tried once and it nearly worked, then I tried again and this time Not As Good. And then a third time... totally bad crash, consequently, hurting my knee and then running to hide and cry. What’s the point?... you must think. Five mins of fun and my father brings me some ice looking at me like "little girl, don’t you ever learn?". Luckily, the pain and swelling went away. The next week, my friends asked me to join them for a wakeboarding session. This was only 2 days before the operation...what could I have answered? "Ok, but I need to be careful, it’s important, maybe I’ll just watch you guy". I’ll watch you... pfffff! Like if I was ever capable of doing that!! Luckily, no tears this time, and I went for the operation the next day...  

Ten months of rehabilitation gave me a sure solid time of reflection. People like me that need 'the water' to recharge and renew their energy, understand both the physical and mental hardship of staying dry out-of-the water for such a long time! During this 'time off' I discovered 'hot yoga', which became the next best thing I threw myself into (learning the hardest position in a sweaty 45 degrees, but mostly learning to breath and meditate a lot was a positive experience). It really helped me stay focused. I slowly got back into kiting and now that summer is here, wind is 'on and off' and I'm planning my next trips. Writing those lines, I got back from turquoise/paradisaical Bermuda last weekend, and I’m working, jogging, and surfing almost every night, a bit of wakeboarding, but not enough yoga. As my activity level has increased... so have the risks I take - once again! Oh yes, did I happen to mention that the surfing in IN the river, IN the rapids. See, the way it works, is that you swim about 100m away from land, with no life jacket - of course... then you surf this amazing static wave, and once your done, you swim back crossing massive rapids, trying to survive in the arms of your surfboard...this surf experience calls for another article, as even I think it's insane!

And besides that, I'm packing and flying out tomorrow to go to the North of Canada for a kite event. (Not yet with ‘Inuit’ but it will be cold!) Then, I'm back here and leaving for Germany (time to practice my few deutsch sentences) followed by some more kite clinics in Ocarina, Brasil maybe... we'll see...

Finally, all that to say: challenges that come with sports and kitesurfing are the source of my constant motivation; pushing myself and challenging my own limits keeps me awake and happy in life (and certainly leads to funny stories and anecdotes). So, I hope you will all enjoy reading this new column, as much as I enjoyed writing and sharing it with you. No big stories, my experiences, cool destinations, friends, kiting, questions that I sometimes have, parts of me in this enormous and extraordinary world of infinite possibilities.

This one's from my last trip to Cuba. But that's another story ..