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


  1. Love you, Jo. Happy to share a small portion of this with you.

  2. So glad your studies are rewarding....It's a big commitment of your time and energy but it sounds very positive. Happy travels..See you in 2017! Love, Karen