Pamela Macdonald is one of those amazing humans that walks the walk. Pamela is a Burbank mom who isn’t just setting an example for her three children, but for every single one of us. It’s never too late to try something new. Trying something new for Pamela, led to a career literally performing in the circus. Recently, I found out about a fundraiser she’s doing for a couple of our local schools where she’ll be performing these acts at Luther Burbank, and when I realized it was one of our own moms doing the stunts…I HAD to ask her a few questions. What an inspiration!!! Here’s our interview!
Where did the inspiration to try this particular activity come from?
“In 2017, my family decided to attend a show at Circus Vargas when they came through Burbank. My husband and I and our kids (we had 2 at that time) walked into the tent. As we watched the amazing aerialists and flying trapeze artists in the air, I felt this feeling in my heart, a huge ‘pull’ that said, “You need to try that.” I was 30 years old at the time, a mom of 2, had no background in gymnastics or anything circus, “was I even afraid of heights?! I hate ferris wheels!”, but all I could think was, “I NEED TO DO THAT.” When we got home that day, I googled aerial classes and signed up for one at a local studio. I took a class probably 2 days later. As soon as I started, it was scary and fun and super awkward at times,but I continued to feel that tug in my heart saying I needed to keep going with it. It felt completely me and completely right.”
How did you step from an inspirational idea to ACTUALLY doing what you’re doing right now?
“I was previously a registered nurse, worked in Labor & Delivery/Postpartum straight after college and up until I had my first child. After that, I became a stay at home mom. In the years that followed that, I would try many different things that I felt inspired to do – I started an Etsy shop crocheting baby hats, I got into photography and started a small business, my husband and I started a small non-profit that we ran for a few years, and I got into fitness and became a certified personal trainer and taught women’s bootcamp classes. I think I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit, and being an aerial performer/aerial instructor is certainly that. Throughout all that time doing those other things, I still always felt like I was ‘searching.’ While all those things were great experiences, I still felt pretty lost and had prayed for years to find something that felt completely me and something I could do some good with. That’s why I always say finding aerial was an answer to many prayers. After discovering it, I decided to train and learn all I could. I would take multiple classes a week, train with some of the best L.A. aerial coaches, and practice and practice. After about 2 years of this, I knew I wanted to keep doing it, so I attended the aerial teacher training program at the very studio I started aerial in. I was then hired and taught my first aerial class there, which was a full circle moment for me. Coaching was always something I loved to do (I used it in nursing when encouraging patients delivering their babies, and I used it as a fitness trainer), and so I knew I wanted to coach aerial in addition to performing aerial. I decided I was not going to go back to nursing and make circus my living instead (cue “you’re crazy” looks from everyone). I taught classes at the studio where I started and started building my own private lesson clientele. Some wonderful performance gigs and contracts have also come my way. A big one this past year for my career was being the featured aerialist in Splash Cirkus, a traveling circus,which I am very proud of (this was a full-circle moment for me, because a traveling tent circus was what inspired me to start all this in the first place!) Transitioning from an inspirational thought to reality took a lot of discipline, patience, setting goals, and planning, but it has been totally worth it and I don’t regret my decision to change careers one bit.”
How has doing this changed you?
“It has definitely made me want to be a better person all around. I have been able to show to my kids (we have 3 now) that it doesn’t matter what age you are, you can always learn something new, and if you practice something (even when it’s hard at first), you can get better. I want them to believe in themselves and I knew I had to set an example of that by also trying to believe in myself. I have been able to use my aerial career for some good in the community – such as these fundraisers or doing public speaking performances where I perform aerial and then tie it into a motivational message (I especially love speaking to youth and reminding them of their worth & endless potential.) Aerial is something I do in front of audiences, but it is also something I do for myself and when by myself. It is my outlet and having that has helped me to be a kinder mom and wife, more confident, and to have moments where I can think about how I can use this art form in meaningful ways and to help people around me.”
Do you truly feel this was a calling you had no idea existed?
“Without a doubt, yes. I feel like while I was looking for something for myself all those years, I eventually learned that I could also do some good with it for others. All of the things I mentioned previously that I had done in the ‘searching’ years leading up to aerial all somehow tie together to benefit what I am doing today. The etsy shop and photography business helped me learn entrepreneurial skills I would need in aerial. The non-profit helped me learn how to network with others and work with youth and people in need – those things I still try to do in my aerial work as a speaker/performer. Becoming a certified personal trainer helped me come into aerial with some strength, and I brought with me knowledge on how to coach individuals and classes. My nursing career helped me to be organized and also understand anatomy and be able to teach my aerial students in a safer, healthier way. ALL of it came together and I don’t think it was a coincidence. I believe we can use everything we have learned in life to help us with where we are now.
Had you been an artist before?
“Not professionally. It wasn’t a surprise to a lot of my friends and family that I ended up in the performance/circus arts world(though to many, it was a surprise I made it my job) because I have always loved the arts. I played piano as a child, enjoyed music and dancing (no formal dance classes though-except for ballet/tap when I was like 4), and pretending I could sing. In college, I enjoyed dancing and acting in our Filipino Cultural Club.”
You were a nurse…why did you persue that? Do you miss nursing?
“I am Filipino which means when you are born, you are wearing a nurse’s hat. (semi=kidding). I pursued nursing because my mom and my aunts are all nurses, and honestly, I knew it would be a stable job. I loved how rewarding it was to work with new parents in Labor & Delivery/postpartum and I genuinely enjoyed the teaching/coaching aspect of nursing. When I had my first child, I knew I wanted to be a stay at home mom if our circumstances allowed, and I’m grateful I got to do that. When thinking about going back to work, I was hoping for something where I could set my own hours and still be with my kids and husband as much as I could, and I found that with aerial. While it was amazing meeting some great patients and people, I do not miss nursing at all ;)”
What kind of motivational work do you do with women?
“I create these aerial performance/speaking presentations where I tie aerial and a motivational message together. I have done this for girls camps, women’s conferences, universities, and church groups.”
What is the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself through aerial work?
“This is a hard one as I have learned so much. I would say the most important things I’ve learned about myself are: 1) my family is most important to me and they have not been my limitation in this journey, but my motivation and inspiration. 2) When I trust God, even during hardships, He provides guidance and help in the ways I’ve needed (even if it was in ways I didn’t want or expect). 3) Looking outside one’s self and using strengths to strengthen others makes the world a better place. 4) I believe this quote to be true: “The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul.” by Dieter F. Uchtdorf”
Stay Connect With Pamela And Upcoming Events
Some links/info for the November 18th aerial showcase:
~Kids and adults of all ages welcome!
~Proceeds go to Luther Burbank Middle School Vocal Music Association and Thomas Edison Elementary
~If there are any businesses who would be willing to let us put a flyer on their window or social media, please reach out to info@VisionAiRyAerialArts.com
~Tickets Available Now Online: http://visionairyaerialarts.com/events.html