So, I want to try my best not to sound overly cheesy, but I don’t think that’s possible. Today was a gift. My entire cohort are full of friendly smiling people. We were welcomed into the studio, The Weaving House, that was created by Chief Janice George and Elder Buddy Joseph; a space that they have created to participate in resurgence and practice the skills that their ancestors held.
We started the morning off listening to Chief Janice and Buddy share their stories and why weaving is important to them and their nation. My whole body tingled as they spoke of Residential Schools, roots, family, and story telling. I was especially touched when Chief Janice said “if there is something you want to ask someone, do it now; learn while you can.” That got me thinking of my grandparents and how they have so much left to teach me about their past and their favourite stories and adventures.
We spent approximately 3 hours weaving. It was frustrating, aggravating, rewarding, meditative, and soothing. I experienced various waves of emotions as my fingers fumbled with yarn. Chief Janice shared that many weavings, especially those worn in ceremony, are filled with prayers. I am not a spiritual person, but I made sure to respect the space. I thought about my family, those still with me and those that have passed on. I weaved in stories that ran through my head and wishes that I have for the future.
At the end of our day together, we thanked our hosts and each other for such a rewarding experience. Even though it was a mere 6 hours, I began to learn a lot about myself. I came out of my shell. I initiated conversation. I bonded with Amal: a man who likes rice pudding just about as much as I do.
When I got home, I hung my woven wall hanging next to this macramé owl that my mum made when she was in high school. Although my piece is full of mistakes caused by losing my patience, I am proud of what I created.
Tomorrow is our retreat at Camp Capilano. We will be spending 36 hours together and I don’t feel as nervous as I usually am about new experiences.
Tomorrow is the big day. At 8:45am, a former classmate, Veronica, will be picking me and another member of our cohort up and we will be heading to The Weaving House in Capilano. I think I’m nervous because this is the first time I’ll be entering an environment that I don’t know anyone and the actual details of the program are fuzzy. Heading into Langara I had Duncan, now I’ll be going to a new school and am enrolled in a program that operates completely independently within SFU. I will be spending a minimum of 30 hours a week with these 19 other students. I hope they like me; I hope I like them.
I’m stressing out about ridiculous things: what will I wear, what jacket will be best, how do I do my makeup, what if it snows? I bought hummus, olives, and vegetables to bring, but after someone sent an email saying they were making gluten free vegan pizza (yes, you heard that right) I felt like I should have made something. So after looking into the fridge full of random ingredients, I concocted a sundried tomato olive tapanade. That’ll do pig, that’ll do.
I hope I’m ready for this. I wish I knew how to turn the calm up and the anxiety down. I also hope I don’t toss and turn all night and keep Duncan awake with my worries (spoiler alert: I probably will.)
During Winter break, I spent my time off being sick as well as working. For that chunk of time, I did what I often do during my time away from school: question everything. I logged onto BC Student loans and stared at the ever growing dollar amount that I will eventually have to pay back. I compared myself to people my age and younger: people that are already on their track with planted feet and a plan. I compared myself to my partner who has won so many awards and is constantly being recognized for his achievements and smarts. I experienced tsunami size waves of anxiety that just crashed into me causing my strength and determination to weaken with every hit. I am a rock that is weathering.
On Monday I will be starting the Semester in Dialogue program at SFU and I’m feeling a whirlwind of emotions. I’m terrified to jump into third year without taking any classes related to my major, I’m annoyed that I didn’t speak to an academic advisor before I applied to this program, I’m feeling overwhelmed that I waited until today to start the 15+ hours of reading and documentary watching I must complete before Monday, I’m scared to participate in a program that many have referred to as “life changing”. On the contrary, I’m excited to be in a new environment in a very intimate 20 person cohort. I’m looking forward to bonding, making friends, and learning about myself. I’m feeling like this is going to be such a challenge, but that in the long run, I will value everything I will embark on. I did something that I never thought I would do: jump into something head first without thinking about pros and cons. I knew the moment that I read the topic of dialogue “decolonizing dialogues, solidarity and activism” I had to be a part of the conversation.
So here I am a few days before the first day of class worrying as per usual. I’m trying to take notes on one of the readings, but find myself becoming more and more distracted. One positive about feeling so distracted is I am feeling inspired to write and to create. Perhaps I’ll accept these flustered thoughts and move with them by recording my emotions.