Wednesday, December 14, 2016

of late: September, October, November Musings


                                   1/ baby shower for M + J    2/ blue september skies and Lily Point to ourselves
                                   3/ retail therapy: sticker club + thrifted three piece suit    4/ autumn is here
                                   5/ treating my bestie to bratwurst at Bestie's   6/ oh hai 
                                   7/ evelyn!   8/ november laundry! 
                                   9/ whistler selfie as our noses freeze  10/ alta lake

Of late...

September, October and November were//

A whole epic season. One that always sweeps me up and blows me around in the air, while red and orange maple leaves get crinkled in my hair. Autumn does that to me annually-- I start going and going and by the time I stop, it's almost time to wrap presents and plan veggie sides for a turkey.

But this one specifically: It was very very very very very very everything. So big. So good. So full. VERY.

I'm still a little wide-eyed about it all, and write this as much to check in with you, as to reflect on what has been swirling around for me.

Let's get to it. 

On Clinic//

If you have been around me for even 10 minutes these last three months, I would have waxed on about Clinic endlessly, if you asked me how I was doing. I say the word CLINIC more now than I say the word 'doughnuts'. (A feat, to be sure.)

To clarify for those that are far-flung, Clinic is the practical component of the second year in our Masters course that every Counselling grad student must complete. It is a six month journey into trying out how empathy and open-ended questioning feels on our tongue; a heart experiment into how to hold space for someone when they are crying, grieving, raging, numb. 

Up until now, we had been practicing our skills on each other (or our spouses, if they are very unlucky). Clinic meant real clients, real hurt, real stakes. 

On the first night we were to meet our first client, everyone on my team had palpable energy that filled the room, if ignited. I felt like a live-wire, so squirmy, so full of nerves and excitement that I was fit to burst. It felt almost exactly like all those moments in the dark wings of the theatre, just before I entered onstage in character for Opening Night. It has been fascinating for me how the process of my past life as an actor has in so many ways mirrored my current life as a teacher, and now my present and future life as a counsellor. That arc of -- anticipation, fear, you're ON now : no time for nerves, confidence / calm, hitting your stride, jubilation, pride, collapse. 

That first night, before my cue to enter stage right, I said to my Clinic team:

It feels like I'm becoming a woman tonight. 
I mean. Of course, that's not exactly right. (It's not really like first period, first kiss, first other things...)
But it feels just as momentous, just as significant as a developmental milestone --
There is the moment Before. And there will be the moment After. 
After tonight, I will be a Counsellor. 
Everything I've worked on for so long, with so much heart, will be legitimized. 

I will never forget the experience of that night with my first client. How it felt to be with. How the theory or skills I was worried I would forget, were just there when I opened my mouth.

Since then, I have shown up every Thursday for the last three months with various levels of being: nauseous, steady, thrilled, discombobulated. What I carry with me though, that I unwrapped for myself in first year, is the sense that at all times, I am myself. I no longer try to pretend to be perfect or calm when I'm not, and as my ability to stay vulnerable grows, I get taller and wider and more and more expansive. 

It is very good. I adore Clinic very much.
(Thank the Lord.)

What Else Did You Love?//  

♥ Carving out a morning vinyasa ritual on Thursdays, to ground and centre before clients. There are years that I don't do yoga at all, and am grateful that I found a routine I like this year. It's hard to stay stuck in your thoughts when you're updogging downdogging.

♥ Discovering the trails at Pacific Spirit Park. It is a mystery to me how I never realized that there was a wooded forest so accessible to us in Vancouver, after years of going to UBC. You look way up, and all around, and everything in view is green.

♥ Reading all the books during moments when students are preoccupied: Fates & Furies, Bastard Out of Carolina, The Sasquatch Hunter's Almanac, You'll Grow Out of It

♥ Loving re-reading my daily diary for these months and seeing how many times I read "Had the sweetest students today" -- this TOC life is really not a bad gig, man.  

♥ That lovely afternoon we got to meet sweet Evelyn for the first time! Reuniting with her parents over egg salad / pastrami sandwiches wasn't half bad either. 

♥ Best friend went into labour on Nov. 4th and brought our newest friend, Ethan, into the world. So very proud of her. Meeting him in the NICU was inimate and special. 

♥ Taking solace in nature on the weekend of our 8 year anniversary of our first date. We had Zoe the dog, the many lakes of Whistler, and memorizing Beyonce lyrics in the car. 

Some Stuff that Sucked//  

- ongoing mouse visitor as soon as the weather turned cold. Poops haunting us. One mousey trapped, to our immense relief, only to see another the very night we had a deep clean. 

- B didn't get a job he wanted, and we felt sad. Uchhhhhhh but he's such a good teacher! We soothed ourselves with doughnuts, chips, sour keys, The Good Wife, and homemade butternut squash soup. I consoled myself with the deep knowing that he inevitably will get a contract and this uncertain time in our careers will be a memory only. 

- The election. Seeing people impacted by that news, while others just couldn't grasp how much it does impact the marginalized, how it impacts us all. Feeling simultaneously heavy and committed. 

Body is//

Squawking a bit, but is doing so well for this time of year. It's letting me know I need to take care of myself, but is giving me more wiggle room to do so. I think I am learning, friends. This season, I've been softer on myself than before. Setting more limits and boundaries. Protecting my time. 

Things I Ate That Were Good//

- Family dinner for Ken's birthday at Savio Volpe. THAT STEAK. OMG. 
- I tried the Chicken, Brocoli and Cheese dish at White Spot for the first time. It wins.  
- Mom's cooking now that she's retired and has a newfound interest in it. Dad's ribs. 
- Steak Frites at Faux Bourgeois 

5 Items in my Kitchen at Any Given Time//

- Lemons
- Goat Feta
- Kale
- Butter
- Eggs


Heels and my grown up clothes on Thursdays so that I don't look like a child to my clients.

Jeans every time I teach, because no matter what I look like, the kids guess I'm 22 or 45 anyway. 


I put down my theory books and noodle my nose into the spines of literature again. 

I explore Montreal for my third time, but first time as a wife.

I get to have dance parties with my niece and hold my nephew on a farm in Vermont.

I hopefully sleep a heck of a lot.

Knowing you and this space is out there has been a real source of safety and comfort for me. Thank you for caring, for reading, for being an anchor that I tether my calmness to. I hope you are getting what you need.

With all my love,

Your pen pal

Thursday, November 3, 2016

of late: July & August Musings


                                                                          1/ Fancy double date with our BFFs ; a Sourdough hobby that was exquisite and short
                                                                          2/ Lush walks on Thormanby island ; Obsession with our godson
                                                                          3/ School wife ; 3rd anniversary dinner in fancy duds
                                                                          4/ xoxo X 1 million ; Joffre Lake
                                                                          5/ Saturna: time standing still on ferry ; 3 generations of Green men
                                                                          6/ Ucluelet getaway : walks in pouring rain ; fish tacos
                                                                          7/ Ucluelet getaway II : outdoors cures all things

Of late...

I last wrote on June 28th and now it is November.
If I was feeling dramatic, I would say: that's nearly half a year without writing to you!
But: I am mostly feeling sleepy, and a bit behind on other things I have to do, so instead I say: that will do little lamb, that will do. Good for you for starting again.

It's always nice to come back to this space.

July and August were//

A study in how one can wake up at 6am every day to go to school, and maintain a semblance (and many times actual state) of calm and joy. Quite remarkably, this Eeyore body--with its propensity for hitting snooze three times in a half hour span-- would be standing on a crowded bus by 7am, heading to class with a thought out ensemble and not too many crinkles on her brow. You get used to the things you must do, and this was the summer I fit in all the classes I needed to get out of the way by Fall.

Less carefree nights, whimsical "What should I do today?" musings, and jaunts overseas to Europe, 
but . . . you know. Everything has its season. 

What Did You Love?//  

♥ The presence that Rowan is in our lives. The way he squeaks and smiles and how we're fortunate to be his chosen family and to watch him grow up. This most recent visit, he was the biggest boy who loved chilling with his Gigi and Bry Pops (still working on our nicknames.)

♥ The magic that is Buccaneer Bay / Thormanby island, and the beautiful cabin that Cousin designed. Despite mosquitos and the roughest waters I've ever been on, it was so lovely to be on their land with sea and sand spotted from every window. 

♥ The glorious Sunday morning I attempted making sourdough pancakes topped with greek yoghurt, mango slices and coconut flakes. The sourdough hobby has since died, but that breakfast was accccce. 

♥ Dancing my butt off to Spice Girls and JLo and other 90's Gods with my schoolwife, and getting out unspent energy in a sweaty, dark club. 

♥ Meeting our nephew Luke for the first time. That long, smiley, calm hearted bug. xo

♥ Conquering two goals: putting my bike on the bus (a long held irrational fear) and biking all the way from East Van to UBC. THAT HILL AT THE END, THOUGH. Yeesh. 

On turning Three//  

Around our anniversary, I wanted to write a specific post celebrating our marriage and how it felt to be turning three years old with my husband. I have wanted to write a post on our anniversary every year, one where he participates and shares his own voice and his writer's talent, and it just never happens.
The day came and went; I wore pink heels while eating pasta and squeezing his hand. We marvelled that a year ago, we were celebrating 2 years with wind-slapped cheeks in Iceland-- and a year before that, we were feeling distant from one another and unsettled from our big move to Vancouver. Our 1 year felt sort of sad, like we had failed an important quiz, despite studying hard for it.

It is nothing short of incredible what three years since the wedding and communication can do. 

Three years in, we remain each others' greatest ally and soccer-mom-cheerleader. We continue to ask for what we need from the other, while being aware of our own baggage and hidden landmines we each bring to the table. We host imaginary talk shows in our living room, with only ourselves as the audience, and laugh all the time. Sometimes I cry too, or his heart feels sad, and both those things are OK because we never feel the need to hide either. 

Maybe next year we'll write that special post together, but for now, I am quite content that there exists a man in this world who has a giant lemon pie tattooed on his hip for me. 


Remember how I get sort of weird and squirrelly around my birthday? This year I did the best thing. I celebrated earlier in the month with my best friends at my favourite restaurant at a long table, and then a couple weeks later when the real deal was happening, Bry and I just skipped town. 

Ucluelet had biblical amounts of rain the ENTIRE time we were there, but my god were we happy. I am at my very best when it is just me and him and nature, and that's what it was like for four days. We stopped to hug Red Cedars and Douglas Firs, traipsed around wet forests getting drenched, stuffed our gills with mac n' cheese hot dogs, gazed into a horizon of nothingness and endless Pacific ocean, and watched epic amounts of TV at night. Literally, my favourite. 

And, in an epic Herculean feat of our marriage, B convinced me to try surfing. In the rain. In an ocean. (Have I told you yet of my fear of open water and lack of swimming capabilities?)
He was such a good, patient teacher, and I was such a willing and excited student. In my diary on August 30th I wrote: I LEARNED TO SURF IN THE RAIN! I am a powerful goddess!!!!!! :D

If you know me, this is proof that anything is possible, and that magic exists in the universe. 

I'm 32!

Things I Ate That Were Good//

- Hank's BBQ in Ukee
- Zoe's Bakery in Ukee
- Fish tacos from the place in Ukee that isn't Tacofino 
- Lamb gnocci and green tomato salad from Savio Volpe
- Chicken banh mi from Ba Le
- Sausage rolls from that guy at the Trout Lake farmer's market
- The most amazing fermented cinnamon sticky roll from @annabellechoistudio 

Things I Ate That Were Overrated//

-  Wolf and Fog in Tofino (sorry)
-  Maenam in Kitsilano (sorry X 2)

A bummer//

That time my bike got stolen from the side of my house. I think I am still mostly in denial about it. I don't go to the scene of the crime very often, and I'm back to mainly walking around. 

Go straight to hell, bike thieves. 

Please Don't Leave on a Low Note//

Oh, okay. Well. Here's a dorky picture of me and my surfboard! 


I start Year 2 (and hopefully the last year, fingers crossed) of grad school. I write to tell you all about it.

I get back into the rhythm of packing lunches and going to bed by 10pm. 

I see real clients for the first time, and feel so nervousexcited that I have to lie down.

I try to decide whether to abandon my last and final post of the euromoon, because at this point, it's been a million years since. But it's London! So.. we'll see.

All this and more . . . coming soon!

Absence or not from this place, you are often fondly in my thoughts. I hope the world has been real, real sweet to you lately.

With all my love,

Your pen pal

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

of late: April, May and June Musings

                                                                          1/ Portland, J style: flowers & pies
                                                                          2/ Portland, B style: ciders & mac n' cheese hotdogs
                                                                          3/ Spring: our garden, our picnics
                                                                          4/ School: celebration & mes noveaux amis
                                                                          5/ Peonies: before & after
                                                                          6/ Sunday adventures: Dog Mountain views
                                                                          7/ Babies: Marge's new little love & the twins
                                                                          8/ Indian Arm: views & berries
                                                                          9/ Celebration: so much to rejoice over
                                                                        10/ Hope: solstice & end of year margaritas

Of late...

April, May and June were//

A whole season of joy. 

Does anyone out there not like these months? What spring can bring? Every year, it is a time where I bumble around saying to the blue sky: I can't believe it! You're back; to the flowers and the bees: I love you, marry me!; to the sun and the rain: Thank you for everything.

Life was so full this season that I had to get out my daily diary to see what had happened, why I have to lump all the months together this time--and I could barely get through a week's worth of entries without wanting to share some snippet or memory.

There was a lot. I have a lot. 

Even in the moments when I am very tired, so overwhelmed, inexplicably sad... I am just plum dumb lucky to have what I have. 

What Did You Love?//  

♥ The amount of times B has come through for us in his humble, hard-working, nurturing way. I can't cook dinner or do laundry because of a deadline? No problem. He's on it. I'm stress crying again? He holds me like a little lamb.
♥ The best friend is having a baby, which means another nugget to love and love and love
♥ Dancing in my sky-high green Amsterdam heels with my lovely new friends and celebrating the end of  intense UBC classes
♥ New recipe: BBQ zuch/spring onion salad from My New Roots with lemongrass sausages was an A+ home run
♥ Snow and sunshine and mango guacamole on a hike up Dog mountain.
♥ Every time I chose to bike to work.
♥ Having the whole side of an island to ourselves and eating chocolate under moonlight on our canoe trip up Indian Arm
♥ Spending time with my parents learning about their childhood for a family therapy genogram project. They are rad.
♥ Spontaneous date nights to Anh and Chi, Tacofino, Noodle Box, Red Wagon-- pretty much any time I get to eat with my husband and no one has to cook or clean. GROWN UP HEAVEN.
♥ June celebrations: sis turns 30! dad turns 65! parents' marriage turns 37! momma is officially a retiree! 
♥ The teaching school year coming to an end, with both of us bone-tired but with more compassion, more skills, more confidence. This marks seven years of us in the profession. 

On School, this Round//  

I was that student in undergrad that would put off her papers until literally the night before, start at 11pm, and write until 7 in the morning. Then, I'd skip class to sleep and eventually bus to school to hand in my paper, and slink away. I always got A's. 

I don't do that anymore, and yet, each major assignment still twists my brain into a sailor's knot, and my spine into a pretzel. Like every time. I procrastinate over written work, and obsess over presentations. The entire back of my head becomes a heavy slug. I binge watch comfort TV and eat commiseration doughnuts (not to be confused with celebration doughnuts). 

All of it is rooted in my specific brand of perfectionism and I am trying to unlearn some patterns. It is hard when bad habits still yield top scores, and you misthink: Clearly, this seems to be working...

Both /And (as opposed to Either/ Or) : I am proud of myself for being such a hard working, thoughtful, & creative individual AND I need to chill the fuck out.


YAAAAAAAAAS. What a gift we gave ourselves! I know a lot of you who go semi-regularly, but I haven't been in a few years and Bry has never been... 
It was just delightful. Maybe one of the top three highlights of the whole year. 

My second morning, I soaked in the gorgeous tub at our Airbnb, dumped vast amounts of epsom salts in the water, as I quietly wept to myself. Just kidding about the last part. I read a food magazine about stuff I was about to eat in Portland. I played Bon Iver from my phone. They have a rain shower the size of my office at home, where I rinsed off. It was like the most romantic solo date ever. 

I think B's top moment was either when we walked into Portland Cider and his face slackened as he realized there were 28 ciders on tap (versus the 1 or the 0 in Vancouver), or when we went to Fred Meyer and there was a city-block's worth of craft beer and cider in their fridges, a bar, and a guy who gave him taste tests of everything on tap. 

I almost penned a whole separate blog post on these three days, but I eventually couldn't summarize how it all felt like such a haven from the long days of work and school. Everything I was writing felt inadequate.

So, trust that we will be saving nickles and dimes to go again, and as a general public service announcement: the burgers we had at Deschutes Brewery were the best ones we've had since New York.

On Feminism//

On April 13th in my journal, I wrote: I am feeling the patriarchy lately. 

As I get older, the systems that conspire to separate us become more and more palpable. I become more furious. I don't want my godson to grow up in a world where he is told he has to man up, that tears are for the weak, that chasing girls is an integral aspect of his boyhood. I don't want any future daughters to think her body is anything but her own (not from the school administrators that police her spaghetti strapped tank top; or politicians that say what she can and cannot do with her own womb; not from someone at a party who finds it encouraging that she is just a bit too drunk to say no.)

It's weird and insulting when I say something and it gets dismissed, just to have B say the same exact thing again, and have nods all around. (This truly happens more than you think.)

I am tired of us vs. them, cats vs. dogs, emotion vs. logic, venus vs. mars.

I want to be listened to, and I want to listen to you.

Privilege based on gender is an important thing to recognize: whether you have it or you don't. 

On a lighter note, this response to a Dr. Seuss story made me LOL. 

Current not-real-but-real problems//

- Making lunch
- What length to cut my hair
- How to get my bike on a bus


I wear birkenstocks every day and give fashion a break for the summer.

I bike up and down and up and down and grow very strong indeed.

I swim / flail in the ocean in my blue bathing suit, and watch salt dry on my skin while squishing Rowan's cheeks. 

I try Aquafit!

The days are long now, and so is my fondness for all of you.

With all my love,

Your pen pal