#15 – Claire

ClaireClaire is another one of my Twitter friends, so it’s hard to trace exactly how we got to know each other.  It was a  quickly formed friendship, one that translated into me leaving our first “in real life” visit with multiple bottles of wine.  She takes good care of me.

We’ve bonded over similarities.  A love of good food and even better wine.  Single mommyhood.  Culture consumers.  Tech nerds.  Shoe obsessions.

It wasn’t long after our first meeting that Claire started to take over, in the best way possible.  When I’d visit, she’d force me to sit down, politely tell my kids to step away from the exhausted mommy, and would help find them something to keep busy.  (She has a good mommy voice.  They listened to her.)  She got me to try fois gras.  (I didn’t like it.)  She talked me down from my high anxiety peaks. (She has a good mommy voice.  I listened to her.)  She told me that, without a shadow of a doubt,  2012 was going to be my year.  (She wasn’t wrong.)

While she is an excellent mother, she has on many occasions reminded me how strong, capable, and nurturing I am as a caregiver.  I’ve even inherited the title of her “Twitter-Mum”, which is a lot of responsibility let me tell you.  It was quite the ordeal dealing with her fear of opening champagne bottles.  And I had to keep a close eye once she started dating Nice_Jewish_Boy. They’re engaged now.  I guess I’m also a “Twitter-Mum-In-Law.”

It just goes to show your family isn’t just who you’re related to, it’s also who you can relate to.

(See what I did there.)

You can follow Claire’s Wine Wednesday blog on foodiePrints.  Check out the rest of the site too.  It’s good.  Really good.


So, hey, it’s been a long time huh?  Sorry about that.

I did want to say a big THANK YOU to the readers who have stuck by me.  I recently reached  20,000 hits on this website, which is small change compared to many others, but it’s a big deal to me.

There are still many Faces of Joy to come.  Thanks for reading!

#14 – Jes

I don’t know Jes as well as I’d like to, but I hope that will change.

I met her through a friend in the theatre community and was immediately enchanted by her wit, style, and killer smile.  I’ve known for a while now that she yearned to make the leap into self-employmenthood wanting to finally fulfill her dream of being an image consultant.  She’s recently taken the big step and I couldn’t be happier for her.  Ok, that’s not true.  I was even happier when I realised she needed to test out a new service and would offer me a substantial discount to be a guinea pig.  Yes please!

I had the pleasure of trying out Jes’s Style Direction service.  I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into at first, but now that it’s done I am so glad I went through it.  During our first session, Jes asked me a ton of questions ranging from tame to fairly personal about all aspects of my life (fashion, home, employment, health, etc.).  Then over the next week I had to do 19 pages of homework.  No joke.  19 pages!!!  And it was all worth it.  Who doesn’t like spending time thinking about objects you love, or finding inspiring images, or rewatching favorite movie clips?  Once Jes had a chance to look at all my answers, we got together for my second session.  The second session’s purpose was to narrow down my style to two words – my core word and my edge word.    With the core being worth 80% and the edge worth 20%, the idea is that I now have a sense of who I am and can make better stylistic choices.  For example, she claims that it’ll be much easier for me to shop now because I’ll be able to discount 70% of the stores in a mall instead of driving myself insane trying to find something that screams “me” in a place that is nothing like me.    Or I’ll have a better sense of why a certain room in my home doesn’t feel comfortable, because I’ll start recognising which objects don’t satisfy my emotional and practical needs.  Or it’ll make putting outfits together easier because I just have to dress with my core word in mind and accessorise thinking of my edge.

In her words this can feel like a “hippy dippy” process, but Jes does an amazing job of making the intangible become practical.  She was full of useful suggestions on how I could concretely apply this new direction to all elements of my life, from how I dress to what art I might buy to how I interact with my family and friends.

I’m not getting paid to sell you on Jes.  Jes sold me on Jes.  You can tell that, through her new challenges, she is taking the time to better understand herself and her bran.

And that confidence and enthusiasm is contagious.

Check her out:  www.jeslacasse.com



#13 – Dad (The Birthday Edition)

If you ask my Dad to recount any stories of my birth and my first year of age, you’ll be out of luck.

He saw me enter the world through the hospital room window.  After much false labour, it only took a couple of hours of “real” labour for me to make my appearance.  He almost missed it.  Too busy in the smoke room or playing cards with my uncle I guess.   I’m told he did hear the roars of a woman down the hall, wondered if it was my Mom, but assumed it couldn’t be.  He was wrong.

It wasn’t long after Mom and I came home that Mom had to return to the hospital.  She was very ill.  Kidney failure.  Lots of hours away from home ensued.  Not only did he have to regularly drive over an hour a day to see his wife sick, but he was all of sudden in charge of newborn, and still had to put in his hours at the office he had called his second home since he was 16 years of age.

Once Mom came home, she was really weak and couldn’t take care of me on her own.  Dad quickly learned about diapers and bottle feedings and developed his own soothing tricks.  Though, don’t ask him to tell you any of them… he doesn’t remember.  He does remember waking up in the middle of the night, sitting in a rocking chair, with me in his arms, and freaking out at the thought that he could have dropped me.  He never did.  (That I know of…)

My Dad was always strongly present, but definitely on the sidelines throughout the rest of my childhood.  I had an extremely strong relationship with my Mom (with only the slight “fuck off!” yelled at her when I was 16 to tarnish our near-perfect record.)  I always knew I could trust him and go to him about anything, though I rarely had to because I suspected my Mom told him everything already.   I wouldn’t have known just how vital Dad was to my upbringing when I was a baby if it wasn’t for my Mom.  I think, deep down, she might have felt oddly guilty about missing out on some of the early baby craziness, but she never hesitated to sing Dad’s praises.  I also would never have known that Dad cried every time he watched me perform in Crazy for You when I was 18 if Mom hadn’t told me.

And when my life took a turn for the worse, he was my white knight, taking my girls and me to safely.  Now he continues to make us feel safe, and cared for, and loved.

It’s cliché, but my Dad is the best Dad ever.


#12 – Pier

While I was waiting in line to grab a coffee before my meeting with Kate, I ran into Pier.  I don’t think he and I have properly spoken in a long time.  Maybe even years.  Sure, we’re friends on Facebook.  I stay up to date with his company’s work, but it’s been a while since we… talked.

This is strange in some ways.  He hired me for my first major professional acting gig.  I stage managed and assistant directed on a beautiful Brecht piece he worked on.  DD5 and I saw him perform at her school.  He was a witness at my first wedding ceremony and sang at my second.  (Same guy.  Long story. Don’t ask.)

I’ve always been in awe of him.  I hesitate to call myself an artist, but wouldn’t for a second hesitate to give him that moniker.   I greatly admire his passion for children’s theatre and his organic creative process.  All of this admiration can be scary though too.  One day, I watched him in rehearsal release an actress’ voice so much that she was sobbing by the end.  I was afraid I’d be next!

Pier has a way of bringing out vulnerability in people.  Getting to the core of what they didn’t know they were capable of.  Thankfully that often translates to depth and truthfulness on stage… and not just tears in the rehearsal room.

Our brief chat while I waited for my coffee was typical Pier.  A bit of a whirlwind.  Charming.  Slightly self-deprecating.  Always creating.  He said he was at the cusp of something new in his life, and that he’d really like to reconnect properly.  He said something along the lines of he thought it would “do him some good.”

I think it would do me some good too.

#11 – Kate

Looking fierce! (And yes, my youngest daughter was born with a mohawk.)

My friend Kate has given me an amazing opportunity: the chance to direct again.  I’m not just directing any play.  I’ll be working in the theatre for young audiences realm, specifically for kids 5 to 9.  Wheee!


I feel like Kate and I have a special bond.  We have daughters near the same age.  We both did the single mom working theatre contract to theatre contract thing.   We both have twisted, and often dirty, minds.  (Which we would never bring into our theatre for young audiences work, of course.  Ahem.)  We’re both hard-working, driven women with nice faces and yummy gooey emotional centers.    Nom.


We recently got together for our first brainstorming session about the new play.  I’ll be honest, the first time I read this piece I put it down after the first page.  It did not grab me, at all, but I gave it a second chance.  After all, I trust Kate.  She wouldn’t give me a bad piece to work with.  Right?


I’m always a bit intimidated when, as a director, I meet up with an Artistic Director because I want to make sure I impress them.  Confirm that they made the right choice in hiring me.   Reassure them that, though I couldn’t remember to bring a change of clothes to my daughter’s daycare, I’ll most certainly meet all deadlines with verve and creative gusto.    I had no real reason to be worried about meeting with Kate.  Within a few minutes, I confessed my original uncertainty with the script and she told me she felt the same way.  The more we talked, the more I realised we had a lot of the same questions about the narrative, the characters motivations, about costuming…  I mean, really, does he need to have a full-body fish costume?  I mean, can’t he just say he’s a fish and we’ll believe him?  Anywho, I digress.  The point is Kate is an artist and a being an artist involves having a lot of questions, and worrying that you’ll never find the answers.   The creative process ends up being trial and error mixed in with random silliness in an attempt to make sense of things.  And often the end result is an artist’s best attempt at making the answers interesting and beautiful enough for an audience to soak up.


I love doing all these things with Kate.  I think she’s a pretty talented lady and, when I’m around her, I feel just a bit more talented too.

#10 – Aron

After over two years of not seeing each other, we finally meet for coffee.

He uses the word “cunt” in one of his first stories, and then apologises for his language.

I laugh.  Has it been that long?  Has he forgotten who I am?  Cunt doesn’t bother me… neither does any of the other expletives he throws out at me during this storytelling.

Same old Aron.

We’re known each other since university.  I had a huge crush on him, though he never knew that.  (I guess he does now… if he reads this.)  I played both his lover and his mother, not in the same production of course.  It’s the lover role that I remember the most.

He was my Romeo.

My crush had vanished by then (no offense Aron) and was replaced with awe of his natural talent and spunk.   (The energetic/vibrant type… not the biological fluid type… though I never had first-hand knowledge of the second.)    We were couple together for classic scene study class: the famous R&J balcony scene.  I could tell Aron wasn’t pleased.  I don’t think he minded working with me, but I don’t think he saw himself as much of a romantic lead.

You see, Aron is a clown.  In all senses of the word.  Always has been. Normally I dislike clowns.  Correction:  I dislike BAD clowns.   Aron, I adore.  So you see how good he is at what he does.

Our scene finally clicked once our prof got us to see the nervous energy, the eagerness, and the humour in the scene.  Once it became fun to play, Aron couldn’t be stopped.

Funnily enough, he eventually performed the role for Company of Fools.  I was insanely jealous of his Juliet.  😉

Our paths have crossed a few times since then.  I did some silly choreography for one of his first clown shows in Ottawa.  But then he left town.  Went on to study in Italy.  Did his MFA in Calgary.  Went on to learn from some dude…. Philippe Gaulier or something.  He’s now working for Cirque du Soleil.  You might have heard of them.

Aron is a deeply intelligent, artistic, and passionate person.  He’s a creator in the grandest sense.

He’s worked around the world, and he’s still as grounded as he’s ever been.

And when I’m around him, I feel grounded too.

Aron and I in The Lark (2001)

#9 – Melanie

So I had a date with my friend Andrew to see a play at the University of Ottawa. This girl saw us in the lobby and essentially tagged along for the rest of the night. I didn’t mind. It’s theatre. It’s a social occasion. It’s not like we’re going to be talking during the performance. She seemed nice enough.

We were introduced. I found out she was doing the MA program at the U of O theatre department.

Huh. Bonus points in her favour.

Eventually we get to chatting and, I don’t remember the exact wording but, she said something like: “Oh, I know you. You directing that play I saw the other day. I didn’t like it at all.”

Huh. Well then.

Not one to miss an opportunity to debate with a fellow academic, we all went for beers after the play and had an amazing discussion about the play I had directed, about the form, about my directorial style and about our love of theatre. Turns out, she actually really enjoyed my direction. She just wasn’t a fan of the play itself.

Fair enough. Still, bonus points for the compliments. .

Our next major exchange occurred over makeup shopping at Sephora. And that’s all it took. Girlie stuffs and theatre… we left each other with hugs and “I love yous”.

I know good stock when I see it. Someone who challenges me, stimulates me, and makes me laugh.

That’s Mel.

And she’s got fierce rapping skills too. Don’t believe me? Check this out.


#8 – Shane

Shane with his beautiful daughter and wife.

I have a strange way of making friends.  I mean, I meet people pretty much the same way everyone else does, but I go about choosing my “keeper” friends oddly.  #8 and #9 are such people.

Do I remember exactly when I met Shane?  Nope.  I know he did community theatre with my Mom and I was involved backstage somehow.  I was quite young and don’t have the clearest memories of my community theatre days.   Once I got involved, I got heavily involved, and one production blends into another.

What I do remember clearly is that Shane was part of a group of crazy boys (men?) that I admired and loved very much.  They were (are?) smart, witty, creative, rambunctious, and fiercely loyal to each other.  They all pretty much treated me like a little sister (though I thought most of them were hawt!) and protected me.   Our families knew each other well and spent a lot of time together, but I was still the “kid” through most of it.

There was a lapse in time where Shane and I didn’t really speak or see each other.  Too long of a story to mention, but he was back in town when I turned 20 (or was it 21?  Again… a blur) and he took me out for an amazing day that resulted in drinks and getting my navel pierced.

Though we were good acquaintances up until that point, that one day of sharing, confiding, hugging, and celebrating made us brother and sister.   One day is all it took.

And it’s been that way ever since.

He lives on the other side of the world now with his beautiful family.

But he’s still my Big Bro.  Taking care of me from afar.

#7 – Amanda

I was desperate last year. Fringe time was upon me. I had three major events that I needed to attend and I didn’t have a thing to wear. What does a desperate clothes-less woman do in those circumstances (other than the obvious “go shopping”)? Turn to Twitter, that’s what!

I put out a simple call, asking if any of my followers might have something they could loan me, and that’s how I met Amanda. A woman I had never met in real life offered to come by my office and let me try on a few of her dresses. A few! Not one, but a few! And two out of the three were a perfect fit! I couldn’t believe my luck.

It turns out, Amanda is as sweet in person as she is on Twitter. And her photography… amazing.

Thank you so much Amanda for making me look good!

Fringe Gala 2011

#6 – Les Sicottes

They were my tormentors, my best friends, my classmates, and will forever be my family.

Mélanie and Mélissa (twins… can’t ya tell?) are my age, and Marc is one year younger.  My mother babysat all three of them at our home after school for too many years to count.  We were as close as cousins could get.    They teased the hell out of me when I was younger, but now I know that’s because they loved me so much.  Right?  RIGHT!?

Marc and I would play “house” in the basement (not as dirty as it sounds.)

Mom would get out her “tickle trunk” of costumes and us girls would do a fashion show.

We worked with our Uncle Michel to create detailed choreography (ahem) for live musical performances during family gatherings.  (The highlight in my mind was Bryan Adams’s Everywhere You Go the Kids Wanna Rock for Mother’s Day one year.)

We’d have sleepovers at their place and sneak out in the middle of the night to go to the school yard… a whole half a block away. (Sorry Tante Hélène.)

We’d walk around the library together, that is until one of us (hardly ever me) got a boyfriend and found a quieter hallway elsewhere.  (Only Plantagenet grads would know what I mean about the library.)

We’d share gossip and be a shoulder to cry on during the long bus rides to and from school.

They supported and comforted me through recent crazy times.

We spent so much of our childhood and teens together… and then we graduated from high school.  All three of them went on to marry amazing people and have a wackload of beautiful children.   We made new friends.  We lived in different cities.  We grew apart.

Still, I will never forget how our friendship helped shaped who I am today.  Growing up, they were the siblings I never had.  And when we do get the chance to see each other, there’s a certain soothing feeling that comes over me.

Like I’m coming home again.