Wednesday, July 26, 2017

of late: January to .... oh man

                                   1/ sea gazing therapy   2/ from our digs on the sunshine coast
                                   3/ made for a dear friend, and her new baby  4/ visit from Rowan!
                                   5/ view from on high, at the new house   6/ in spring, the window is a green canopied painting
                                   7/ Saturna, Russell's Reef  8/ citrus
                                   9/ iced tea, clogs, backyard  10/ a joy to host in our new space
                                 11/ LA! LA! LA!   12/ school wife and I, frolicking on Santa Monica beach

Of late...

January ++++ was //

A millenia ago. I'm almost laughing and shaking my head as I write this, as I'm not sure how to sum up the past seven (?!) months for you in any adequate way. I marvel at how times passes so quickly, and how it came to be that I ceased to write to you monthly, as per tradition.

But then of course, I squint my eyes at the images of the past few months and I go Oh yes, this period was a blur and you were only holding on for dear life and where would writing have fit into that?

I was submerged, in a non-drowning sort of way, and now I have risen above to take a gulp of air and feel the salt of life on my skin and it is GOOD. It is GOOD to see you again, friend.

On Endings//

In counselling, at some point you have to part ways with a client -- because the work is done, or it's stalled and not getting done, or for so many reasons, really-- and this is often called termination. Termination of therapy: a clean and clear goodbye to the relationship. My beloved supervisor really flinched at the  aggression of the word, and advised us to say ending, instead. 

Maybe I can tell you of my recent endings so that you can begin to know of what was happening in my absence.

I ended my time in Clinic in April, and said goodbyes to the three clients that have helped shape my new burgeoning baby therapist self. I won't soon forget them. I ended with my Clinic team of feminist, badass women that supported each other every Thursday night for the past half year.

On April 1st, Bry and I ended our time at the Fraser house, because an opportunity to move to a bigger apartment with a huge, spacious backyard dropped into our laps, and I said a tearful goodbye to the place we have cherished since we first moved to Vancouver.

In a whirlwind, I started my practicum a few days later, which meant jumping into two different counselling sites with new supervisors, new teams, new styles... I closed my office door often in those first few weeks, and tried to surf my overwhelm (and also, napped). 
From April - end of June, I breathed in school and community counselling on the daily and hustled to get my 500 practicum hours completed. I saw an average of 15-18 (!!!) clients a week, ran two counselling groups, and felt my brain get fuller, just as my heart and my Counsellor spine grew stronger.

On the last week of practicum in June, I had to end with all of those clients. Can you imagine? 10 weeks together, and then in one fell swoop. My best wishes to you, goodbye. It was a lot for me. I imagine it was a lot for each one of them too, to part ways with someone who has walked weekly with them for this time. When I say it was a lot for me, I mean to meaningfully process 18 endings one after another -- with integrity, with honesty, with intimacy-- I don't know about you, but I'm not doing that a lot in my own life. I can get skittish around real life goodbyes, throw out a cheerful Hey! We'll see you soon, thanks a mill, then run away unscathed. It's a heart protector thing.

But this was different because I was holding space and helping each person sit in the discomfort (and sometimes awkwardness) of our ending, making eye contact and saying my truths

This is how you impacted me, 
I have seen this growth in you, 
I notice I have tears in my eyes,
What is it like to hear me say that,
What is our ending like for you,
You have mattered to me.

I still get goosebumps when I think about those endings, especially the ones where we both were vulnerable and said the truth in our heart, rather than shrugging or laughing off the ending. This transparency (which is scary, by the way) has taught me how clean and good an ending can be. That despite the risk, you can tell a person what they meant to you, so that you can say goodbye without walking away with regrets that you held yourself back. 

I am so grateful for this time in my life.
I never knew that I would leave this program being a better person, not just a better counsellor.

What Else Did You Love?//  

♥ Our escapes. We tried to implement a getaway weekend once a month, money be damned, to remind ourselves that life is not just work and goals. I firmly believe that the Sunshine Coast in February, Bowen Island in April, and Saturna in May saved my sanity. We brought only books of fiction, and stared at many different bodies of water and perspectives of sky. 

♥ Loving our new space. To be clear, I was deeply not in love with it at first, because I had no energy to do my usual magic. We had too little furniture for the size of the apartment, and neither of us had hung any art, so it was bare beige walls for a long time. Paint fumes that somehow lasted 2 months. Spring was also super late this year, so there was no bounty for us in the backyard, just empty soil beds and dormant trees. It did not feel like home. So I really am overjoyed that in the past little while, we have put in the effort to make this house a home, and I LOVE it now, and cannot believe I almost said 'no thanks' to this place. The garden and how peaceful it is out there is BANANAS.

♥ After almost a year without, I got a new bike! She's a beauty, and I even have a secure place to store her at our new house, so may this one have safe harbour and help me go real fast, for a long time. 

♥ That moment when I finished my last bit of paperwork, submitted it to UBC, applied for graduation, and was told that my file had been closed and I was officially done. DONE. MY. MASTERS. I don't have words for this. I am so so so many things about this. 

♥ Hopping on a plane with School Wife 4 hours after our last practicum day (we don't waste any time!) to fly to LA and properly celebrate our achievement. As it turned out, she and I were some of the first ones to be finished our practicum requirements -- the rest of my comrades will be done a bit later, and I'm thinking of you!-- and it was such a blessing to share in this moment with her. She has been by my side, both of us taking turns commiserating and revelling in our journeys these past two years, that it was just so perfect to be eating huge brunches, spontaneously jumping into paddle boats at Echo Lake, and riding along the boardwalk from Venice to Santa Monica at sunset with her. 

♥ Making things with my hands. I felted that cute baby mobile above for a friend, and am gearing up to do another. I also recently did an indigo dying workshop with Lauren, and feel so much satisfaction hanging up my art work in my home.

♥ Spending $$$ on plants and things for the home

♥ Getting my first school counsellor interview, and getting hired! Rejoicing with husband that he also got a permanent teaching job for next year!  

Body is//

Such a good, sensitive reminder of everything. When moving to a new place, clinic ending and practicum beginning all fell in the span of a few days in April (worse timing possible), Skin chirped up as usual and delivered a mighty boom that was impossible to ignore. My face was so swollen and in pain, that there was nothing to do but to take a week off to heal. I was upset and felt sorry for myself for a bit, and then came to understand that this 'break' (as hard as it was), was something that was really needed. So on the teal couch I sat.
By the end of April, after I heeded its call and slowed down my expectations of myself, and reintroduced some self-love back to my world, body mellowed out and bounced back pretty quickly.

When I look back at how long these flares used to last me, I notice that while they haven't gone away entirely, I surrender now when it comes back. I say hello old friend, and because it feels more accepted in my house, it doesn't overstay its welcome any longer. 

Things I Ate That Were Good//

- I wanted to tell you that I am no longer obsessed with doughnuts, as there are no shops in close proximity to our new place. So it was a contextual, site specific love affair?
- I actually don't know what to say here. . .

- Neither of us had interest in cooking very often, so there were lots of chicken tenders from the freezer, or Annie's mac n' cheese for a few months

- BUT! With all my free time now, I care about cooking again so: our bbq steak tacos with chimichurri, my blueberry pie, Bryan's homemade dan dan mein with soba noodles

- Tacofino Commissary's fish taco / kale/squash taco on Taco Tuesdays

- the burger we had at Cafe Stella in LA, and the chicken parm sandwich at Little Dom's

5 Items in my Kitchen right now, on the weekly rotation//

- Lemons
- Strawberries
- Blueberries
- Samosas
- Greek Yoghurt


There is still so much to tell you. But that's for another day ;)

We are looking forward to summer school being over in 2 weeks so that I can have my husband back, from the clutches of a condensed curriculum. He is working so so hard. As soon as he is done, we are hopping in Ninja Turtle and have a three week camping trip down the coast to California planned.

Oh! And canoe camping next weekend, to solidify a tradition

And we turn 4 years old in our marriage tomorrow!

So many good, sweet, pure things.

My hope for you, as always, is that the world is feeding you and keeping your heart safe.

With all my love,

Your pen pal

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

2016 in Pictures

Holy moly.

2016 feels like it was a decade ago already. Here we are, firmly in the lap of 2017, and I haven't engaged in this reflective ritual of mine.  If you've been around for awhile, you know I've done some form of this annual post since I was a wee bitty undergraduate student, living at home.

I almost bypassed it entirely, but as I was nostalgically thumbing through (it's not thumbing, more like scrolling, but the former sounds so much more beautiful and reflective) my older entries where I've reviewed a whole year of being alive, I knew that one day I would regret it if there was a gap in this collection.

I do it for my future 80 year old self; I do it for my future 17 year old daughter.

So here we go. Late as always, but still: an account of what it was like to be a 32 year old woman, in her third year of marriage to a 37 year old man, in their seventh year of teaching, their third year back in the city, her first year in a Masters program.

(If this was a drinking game, you could take a sip for every number I have quoted in this entry. For those of us non-drinkers, perhaps a potato chip.)


Like in 2015, we started off the shiny new year on Saturna. This time, no pipes froze, we didn't bike onto the island, but it was still as full of trees and mouthfuls of quiet as it usually is. As someone who is fairly allergic to the festivities of NYE, my heart was delighted.

In January, I went through a pretty rough time without talking about it much to anyone. Essentially, I was trying to be an academic/professional/counsellor wonder woman who could still make roast chicken dinners mid-week, be light hearted and generally hilarious to everyone who had a conversation with me, and wash my hair regularly.


(I literally just gasped when I remembered that that was the semester I was taking THREE so-heavy-on-the-brain-and-heart counselling courses while fulfilling all the other roles in my life. I take one course right now -- which is LIGHT ON READING-- while doing my Clinic, and am so tired, so hair unwashed.)

To practice self-care, I started drawing and practicing calligraphy, which were things that were just for me. Not my clients, my professors, my husband, my friends, my pre-frontal cortex. 

I also started telling the truth to those who would listen, and it would be an understatement to say that choice shifted my life, that it continues to impact me in rippling waves of peace and care.

In February, the BFFs came down from the Yukon to visit. We met this precious child for the first time. We became backup legal guardians / godparents to Rowan, which explains why I am now a gushing, obnoxious person who can't just choose one picture to post of a baby, and had to put up all of them.

Evolution is so smart: you make 'em so cute, so that you have no choice but to protect them forever.

Spring came in the nick of time to save my sanity, and it was warm and colourful and full of opportunity. I continued to be obsessed with flowers in 2016. Please note: I was wearing short sleeve shirts around March (as I stare forlornly out the window at the 57th snowfall of the year, at the time of writing this to you.)

In April, after 9 (yes, 9) assignments were handed in over a span of a month, we celebrated in the best way we know how: a road trip. This time, a decadent long weekend in Portland, where cider, pie, burgers, ice cream and mac n' cheese hot dogs were our most favourite companions. Bry turned a year older, and got a whole library full of whiskey and tequila to celebrate.

We remarked afterwards that amongst all of the trips we have taken, in all these years of being together, it stands out for how happy we were, the whole time we were there. For me, sometimes the planning of a trip is better than the trip itself, but sunny Portland in the spring was just pure light.


We spent much of this season outdoors, continuing our 2015 mantra of adventures in nature. If I wasn't behind a book or a computer, I was staring at something green, or lying down on something scratchy. Bry had been working his butt off in a short term contract since January, so we needed oxygen and photosynthesis to augment our sedentary days. It was so warm and alive outside.


In May, we rented a canoe and took her on a weekend camping trip up Indian Arm. I will never forget how easy it was, how many jelly fish we saw, how dark chocolate tastes under a moon. It was a highlight for sure, and one that I hope we replicate as often as we can.

The school year came to an end, heralding summer, and we were flipping stoked. I swear, teachers have got to be more excited about the break than the student. I must have had a handful of 'celebration' dinners in quick succession; any reason at all to raise a glass, put on lipstick. It wasn't a free summer for me, since I was in school Monday - Thursday, but there's always time for the beach after studying!

In July, M & C and Rowan came to visit again, and this time he was twice as big. Cousin hosted us at their cabin at Buccaneer Bay, and it was sandy and briney and a respite from city living. We love our chosen and actual families.

August came, and summer school ended. (I really don't know what I'll do with myself when I get my summers back this year. What do you meaaaaaaan I will get to do what I want M-F, with no one to answer to, no books to crack open?) I got to choose my birthday trip getaway, so to Ucluelet we went! With stops in Tofino and Victoria, and so much rain and water all around us, it was the calming celebration I was looking for. That, and surfing ruled.

I turned 32 with friends and laughter and dancing, bidding adieu to 31 and a full summer.


Fall began, rather abruptly, and we were in the professional saddle. I started my second (and hopefully last) year in the Masters program, and also started Clinic. This meant I was seeing real client for the first time in this capacity, and it was nerve-wracking and everything I had hoped it would be. Counselling, in the flesh, was and is so humbling.

Another trend of this year. All the amazing baby friends my life :

And this baby, too. 2016 felt like a really solid year for our marriage. 

We ended our year with a trip out east to Montreal over the Christmas break. I think all we did was eat and sleep for three days . . .

. . . Before driving across the border into Vermont, to visit our family on their beautiful farm. We had a sweet Christmas with the excitement of two little ones under foot, and lots of cuddles.

We rang in the new year by going to bed by 11pm after watching TV, and called it a truly lovely year.

2016: thanks for your challenges and your grace.

I'll tell you more about how 2017 is going soon.

A look back at : 2015/  2014 2013 2012