V-Day Gratitude // KOE Design


Feeling like you are just slogging your way through this second pandemic winter? Same.

I personally know that it is the people I love – my friends and family – who are keeping me sane. This Valentines Day, let’s zoom out and focus more broadly on not just romantic love, but also on platonic love. Thinking of our friends and family members, the way they have been there for us, the way they have adapted to new technologies, the way they have stepped out of their comfort zones to remain connected just chokes me up!!

In this workshop I will guide you through the step by step process of making an adorable valentine that folds up into an even more adorable little envelope. As we are crafting together we will talk about gratitude for the people in our lives and the way we feel about them. We will explore how meaningful our human relationships have become when most other things have been stripped away. We will come together to appreciate the people who brighten our every days, make them a valentine card, and tell them how we feel. Lets get cheesy and leave no love unexpressed!

What you’ll need:

– 2 pieces of paper (fun colours if you have!)

– scissors – glue/tape

– writing supplies – ribbon / string

and if you have them:

– fun things to glue on

– paint

– markers

– pencil crayons

– glitter

– cute tape

– stickers

– any other snazzy craft items!

*Short on supplies at home and don’t have access to a store? Reach out to us through DM or email and we’ll hook you up with some crafts from the studio for a curb-side pick up.


The Kidney Collective – by Alex Piccolo

For the second installment of this blog write up I have been digging into what it means to
ask for help? Why do I feel a particular way when I am solo, as opposed to when I lean on my network of support ? This led me back to the body, because my understanding of looking within, is to LITERALLY look within. The body humbles, and inspires me to dig up more correlations between everyday life, and this resilient machine.

Why lean on a network? Why does it feel better to lean on others, or to be an equal part
in the global picture? Well, this is where we can direct ourselves to the kidney. Well not just the kidney (singular), but kidneys (plural). Yes, we have two kidneys located below the large,
transverse diaphragm muscle, on either side of the motor line (spine). Within the kidneys lies an interconnected system of compartments, and sub-compartments. It’s gonna get a little boring…so let’s swan dive into the information.

The kidneys function to regulate (remove if needed) water, and waste. The kidney is composed of the outer renal cortex, contained within are cone shaped structures called renal medulla, which funnel into the calyx, renal pelvis, and down into the ureter, and then bladder to be excreted. In other words, two bean shaped blobs (kidneys), attached to two tubes (ureters), feed into another hollow blob (bladder), and out the chute. Think of it as a relay system, passing the baton (excretory waste) from one station to the next.

Let’s dive deeper into the renal medulla (cone shaped structures). Within these cone
shaped structures we find little, twisted pipe cleaner like structures called nephrons. Nephrons act as a huge interconnected network of bodies within the kidney to assist in the filtration, and reabsorption of substances. To give you an idea in total we have approximately 1.2 million nephrons per kidney. Excuse me?! Did you hear that? That means per human body there are approximately 2.4,million nephrons working together. I feel like that may be important, but I’m not too sure…let us press on.

The pipe cleaner nephrons have an intricate system of removing tiny waste elements,
and assisting in removal, or addition of water to suit the bodies needs. These nephrons are
structurally identified as having a glomerular filtration site, proximal convoluted tubule, loop of Henle, distal convoluted tubule, and a collecting duct. At this point it’s like what the heck does all of this mean?

Well, in short they are just structural parts of the pipe cleaner nephrons, that
serve an individual, and collective purpose within the nephron, kidney, and on a large scale the body. The nephrons act in reabsorption of water, sodium, potassium (other elements…it’s quite a list, but you get the idea). It is also interesting to note that when the body sends a hormone signal requiring more water, reabsorption from the tubule occurs, and when there is too much water or ions, they are reabsorbed into the nephron to be removed. This systemic interconnectedness within, and around the kidney relies upon communication, and collaboration of all parts to get the job done.

Do you see where I am going with this? The kidneys have got an amazing network
occurring within the kidney itself, down to a microscopic level. Now, let us take away one of
those parts. Let us say the nephrons no longer want to participate in filtration, and would like to operate solo. How would that affect everything else? The nephrons are part of the medulla (cone shaped structure). The medulla is a component of the kidney. The kidney is an important organ in the body (all organs are important, but just bear with me).

Now…the body can function, but there is more work for each individual component. It
also takes a lot longer for the substances to filter through the kidneys, if at all. Do you see how when alone, one piece of the puzzle may have to exhaust itself to be part of the whole?
However, when this same part communicates with the whole, and relies upon its network
around, the individual structure can operator without complete exhaustion. I am not solely
speaking of this in a tangible sense, but maybe a spiritual, and emotional one.

In one stream of thought I like to think it is the power of the group mentality functioning within the body. Please understand this is my own interpretation, which is continually changing. This blog write up is only meant to find beauty, and inspiration in the simple things provided to us.

If you have any questions please contact me alexandrapiccolo3@gmail.com

Words by Jennifer Iacobucci

“How old were you when you remember first having these feelings?” was a question that began to cause notable physical tension in my shoulders. I was most recently asked this question by my psychotherapist during our bi-weekly appointment last Thursday. The first time I was asked this question was in October 2017 by my Nurse Practitioner as I broke down in her office begging for a medical note to take a stress leave at work and for the first time ever, opened up about my addiction. Addiction. That was a tough word to say out loud. 

It isn’t so much the question itself, but rather, the answer to that question that is causing this great deal of physical tension. Back in 2017 my answer to this question was, “a few months”. However, the more I continue to understand myself, and dive deeper into past trauma and suppressed emotions the answer has transformed into, “I don’t remember a time when I didn’t have these feelings”. 

The earliest I can remember the overwhelming dark clouds and depressing thoughts that loomed over me was in grade 9. My parents’ divorce. My brothers and I were sat down at the kitchen table by our parents to talk. Communication was never a strong foundation in our family. 

Flash forward to my worst experience with these dark clouds and depressing thoughts in 2017. Between the years of 2016 and 2017 I was searching for a deeper purpose in life, without even knowing what that meant. I had a great job, friends, family, and money in the bank; and still something was missing. It was an overwhelming feeling, this sensation that something was missing, and back then it seemed the only way to deal with it and fill that void was to get high or go out partying. So that’s what I did. I lived for my days off. 

Long story short, it didn’t take long before I hit rock bottom. After more than a few breakdowns, I shook my head and knew I wanted way more than this life I was currently living. 

When I asked for help from my Nurse Practitioner, I was given anti-depressants. I have been on and off them for a few years now. There was a time when the best I could do is shower each day…it seemed like such a simple task. But eventually, that shower turned into getting out for a walk, spending some time moving my body on my mat, enjoying quality time with my brother and sister-in-law, and weekly counselling sessions. 

When I first started to take the medication prescribed to me, I thought I had solved all my life problems. I was naive, and I didn’t think about the amount of work I needed to put into my healing and better understanding myself. It was exhausting. Spending countless hours with my thoughts, having to make amends with people I still wanted in my life, and having difficult conversations with those who I knew I needed to cut ties with. I could write pages upon pages describing my roller coaster of healing, but I believe the most important thing to understand is how different this looks for each individual person. 

Just when I thought I had fought all the battles with my mind, I suffered a minor concussion in the summer of 2019. This traumatic brain injury caused my depression to come back swinging. 

And this time, it brought anxiety along for the ride. It was an overwhelming feeling when all of these emotions seemingly came out of nowhere, and they were so powerful to make matters even more challenging. However, I decided to approach the situation differently this time, immediately being open with those I lived and worked with to help them understand how I was feeling and what I needed during this tough time. It was one of those moments where I realized I wouldn’t change a thing about my past, because it has brought me to this great realization and where I am today. I had learned so much and came so far, that I was able to better help and support myself in a healthier, positive way this time around. 

Presently, depression and anxiety are not terms that define me. Sometimes, I present with physical symptoms of an anxious mind. But I know the tools I possess, and professionals I continue to work with can help relieve some of those symptoms. Some days I don’t feel like doing much at all, and I choose not to, and that is okay. 

I currently work with a psychotherapist to help me unpack suppressed emotion and trauma. I work with a homeopath and a naturopath to ensure I am functioning optimally daily. I receive energetic healing. I meditate and journal. I am mindful of what I put in my body. Most of all, I make sure to move my body. I teach and practice yoga. I love going for walks with my dog and being in nature. It’s a sure way to move my energy around and put a smile on my face. 

I would not be where I am today without the help and support of many people around me. Whether that be emotionally, physically, mentally, or financially. Some of these people are my closest friends and family, and some of these people I don’t speak to anymore. And that’s okay, not everyone is meant to be a part of your journey for the long haul, sometimes they are brought into your life to help you learn and grow, and then you each grow and venture down seperate paths. 

Working to understand your mental health is not easy and the path to healing is not linear. It’s messy, exhausting, isolating, and a goddamn roller coaster. There is no finish line, no list of boxes to check off. However; the more I learn about myself and my mental health, the more confident and proud of myself I am.