A Message from Jo

Going into my fifth grade year where I grew up in Quebec, Canada, my family moved from the suburbs to the city of Montreal where I attended a new school and was soon convinced by a few bullies that I was ugly. 

Wanting to disappear under my desk for the remainder of my French Canadian elementary education may have been the onset of a lifelong attempt to fly under the radar: fleeing the spotlight as an executive assistant, striving to conceal my Quebecois accent as a U.S. immigrant, surfing under my dog’s cover on Instagram, staying reserved about being reserved.

I’ve since learned to appreciate my experience from fifth grade: feeling like I couldn’t count on my looks helped me focus on inner strength and beauty. It eventually led me to develop a great deal of empathy, including for bullies whom I understand often come from challenging environments themselves. Combined with the maturity that comes with over 50 years of life, it gifted me with the desire to seek the good in people, in my surroundings, in hurdles, in everyday moments.

Perhaps fifth grade is the reason why, despite teen aspirations of one day living the dream as a freelance writer, I never shared my work with anyone… until now. I’ve come to realize that the regret I face down the road of never trying, is likely to hurt more than the remorse I risk in opening up to you. 

My story isn’t unique. We all do the best we can with the tools we have through the times we live. We’re all in the same boat navigating a painful, crazy, fantastic or other life depending on how we choose to see it.

After traveling and living in various places around the world I’ve settled in Vermont, where my former husband grew up and our two children can safely do the same; where it’s a quick drive up to see my Canadian family and reacquainted fifth grade friends; where I can find beauty in every corner; and where authenticity is not only appreciated but celebrated: Here, grocery-shopping in flannel pajama bottoms tucked into Sorel boots has been in style since long before the pandemic.

While I live this beautiful Vermont life, writing for you holds me accountable in facing my fears and uncloaking myself, being real and openly sifting the beauty out of the ugly.

Thank you for reading.

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Your Average Jo