Day 361 - Janice

Day 361 - Janice (2nd person I approached)

December 27, 2014 - Some things are worth waiting for. Whether it's opportunities, people, jobs or any number of situations. Some of them are worth the wait. I saw Janice sitting comfortably on a couch near one of the coffee shops I frequent. I made a beeline to chat with her, and just as I got about five feet away, she lifted her phone to her ear. She was making a telephone call. Without even thinking about it, I sat down in a chair next to where she was. She looked at me, I smiled and said ‘I have a question for you, but it can wait.’ 


As she continued her call, I wondered what was going through her head. I imagined her saying 'some guy just sat down next to me, he's waiting for me to finish this call.' It wasn’t long before I was able to explain to Janice all about The Stranger Project, and ask if we could chat. Once I showed her my website, Janice agreed.


“It’s spelled J-A-N-I-C-E. I always wanted it to be J-A-N-I-S like Janis Joplin, but it’s not,” she said with a smile, shrugging her shoulders. 

“I was born here in Vancouver. When I was five years old, we moved to Burnaby. I have one brother who is four years younger than I am. We had some conflict between us growing up. Typical sibling rivalry stuff. We were competitive. Each of us thought we should be the one in charge,” she said. 

“We get along okay now. I was just at the gym, and he was there.”


When Janice was six years old, her mother insisted that she try taking piano lessons. 

“She told me I could stop if I didn’t like it, but that she wanted me to try. I stopped after six months. I did start playing the flute though, and was in the school band. I still play flute,” said Janice. 

“Band and English were my two favourite subjects," she said. 


"I knew I wanted to be a therapist. I remember talking with a guidance counsellor at school. She told me that if I wanted to be a Psychiatrist, I’d have to go to medical school. She said she didn’t think I’d be able to go through with that, and that I didn’t have the marks either,” Janice told me.


After graduating from high-school, Janice started working. 

“I waited six months before going to UBC (University of British Columbia). I knew what I wanted to do. Why did I wait? Oh, I know. Money! I needed some money for school. In those days, a semester, with a full course load, was $149 dollars,” she recalled. 

“I went to UBC part-time. Studying psychology. It was wonderful the first year, because I was doing entry level courses in everything, so I was only in class about fifteen hours a week. It was great! I took my time getting my degree as well. I would take time off and go travelling. I went to Europe for the first time when I was twenty-one. I think my parents would have preferred I didn’t go. Not just because of missing school, I think they were concerned in general abut me travelling. But they would never stop me from doing what I wanted to do by then. It would take two weeks for a letter from me in Europe to arrive, the news was always late,” said Janice. On her first trip, she knew some people on the charter flight she took, but travelled alone. 

“I did Europe a few times and Mexico as well. It was either Europe of Mexico when I travelled.”


“Although I had my undergrad degree in Psychology, that wasn’t going to get me a job in counselling. I did a few different things including working at an out of school daycare. At least I was working with little people,” she said. Janice moved to central BC (British Columbia). 

“I went and got married. My husband wanted to go live off the grid. I continued working and in time, started back at school, to get my Master’s degree,” she said. 


Simon Fraser University (SFU) had summer intensives, offering condensed courses, in a shorter span of time. 

“I would come down and go to school for a summer. I had both of my children while getting my degree. I was pregnant twice while in classes, and had my daughter, who at that time was a toddler, with me during a semester. I stayed with my parents, and they helped out,” she said. Janice remembers another student reminding her that she was doing a lot of school work, was away from home and raising two children. 

“I thought, ‘Oh yeah, I guess I am taking on a lot’ but I knew it was what I wanted to do,” she said.


Seven years after moving to central BC, Janice decided it was time for her to head back to the city, permanently. We talked about how long it took to get her degree. 

“Well, it took me eleven years to get my undergrad degree. Because I kept taking time off to travel. I also worked for a while and didn't go to school again for a few years. Then it took me seven years to get my Master’s degree, in Counselling Psychology. I said I was going part-time,” she said with a laugh. 


Janice has worked as an addictions counsellor for several years. 

“I love what I do. I consider myself blessed to be doing something that I love, as my job. So many people don’t have that," she says. 


"Sometimes a client will tell me that they feel they're too old to start something new, at say, forty years old. I can tell them I didn’t have a real job until later in life. And it’s true! I’m sixty-five now, just turned last month, and I have no intention of stopping work. I would only ever consider it, in order to do something else. My work is very satisfying,” she told me.


In her down time, Janice plays the flute in a regimental band. 

“We play all kinds of music; jazz, swing, contemporary. There’s some marching tunes, and yes, we march in formation. That’s not my favourite. I’m there for the music. not the marching,” she tells me, with a slight shake of her head. 


She has been in her second relationship for twenty-five years. Her partner has a daughter, the same age as her own daughter. 

“The three kids all consider each other to be brother and sisters. We are a blended family,” she says. 


When we were talking about Janice’s piano lessons as a child, I mentioned that when I was a child, we had an electronic organ in our living room. I mentioned that I wished my parents had been a bit more structured in getting me to take music lessons. I would like to have learned to play the piano. 

“It’s never to late to learn, or start to play an instrument. You can start anything you want, at any time,” she said. Janice knows what she’s talking about too. #notastranger