Jessica Hutchison lives in the flint creek neighborhood of Barrington with her husband, Dan, and children, Annabelle (6) and Austin (3). Her world was turned upside down in 2011 when she learned that her father had taken his own life. Newly out of graduate school then, she experienced the isolation that often follows a suicide loss as she worked to understand a world that no longer made sense. Now, as a licensed clinical professional counselor, Hutchison “walks alongside others as they work to find purpose in their pain.” In her practice, she specializes in couples, grief, and life transition counseling (jlhutchison.com). Hutchison also speaks publicly about her own experience, has trained psychologists around the country on what grief really looks like, and co-founded the blog, oursideofsuicide.com. She finds much joy in being a mom to Annabelle, “who keeps me on my toes (or laid out on the ground) with her spunk, curiosity, and overall zest for life;” and Austin, “who has an amazing gift of calming those around him, and reminds me to stop and just be me.” She describes husband Dan as “my biggest fan who believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. He has helped me become the person I am today.” Here are some of this inspirational lady’s favorites around the country and the town.
Mantra? My dad ended every card the same way. “Just keep dancing, don’t sit any out.” It has become our family mantra. There is little a good dance party can’t fix.
Best grooming tip? Two words … dry shampoo.
Guilty pleasure? The cookie jar at 9 p.m. Sorry, kids.
Favorite foods? Green chile, which is unheard of in the Midwest. When I go back to Colorado, I literally eat it with/for every meal.
Music you love? The Colorado girl in me loves her country, but old-time rock n’ roll speaks to my soul.
Best advice ever given to you? I carry a letter with me today that my dad wrote me many years ago. “Realize that the journey from here to there will never be complete. Such is life. Have compassion for the distance between where you are now, and where you are going next. Patience is enjoying the journey. Enjoy the process of your life. If you don’t have fun while getting there, you probably won’t have fun when you arrive. And most of all, keep on dancing … don’t sit any out.”
Best advice you’ve given? Find purpose in your pain, which is inevitable in life. Don’t waste your time trying to rid yourself of pain; it won’t work. Instead, redirect it into something or someone that gives your life purpose.
Earliest memory? The day I learned to ride my bike, I turned around to wave to my family after I got going. Seconds later, I ran right into a parked car. Funny, I don’t remember anyone telling me about that car!
Before bed, you? I always wash my face, even when I was in college. I also must have my coffee pot ready to brew and my kitchen cleaned up. There is little we can control in this world but a clean face and hot coffee first thing allow me to feel like there are a few things that we can control.
What’s on your bookshelf? Several books my husband would title, “Books Jessica will never read again.” I love to learn and I am always trying to be better, probably to a fault.
You can’t live without? My family. I know it is a cliché, but it is true.
Love to escape to? The beach or anywhere there is water. I am at peace when I am next to the water.
Advice you would give to your younger self? “This too shall pass” but with the caveat that this statement applies to the good times just as much as the bad times.
WHEN IN THE COUNTRY
Your style is? When I am not heading into my office or out on the town, you will find me in leggings with my Colorado hat on. I love to be comfy!
Can’t leave the house without? My sunglasses.
Transportation? Red wagon, with two kids in the back.
Driving music? Depends on my mood, but if I need a good pick me up, I love songs that I can belt out like, “Summer of 69” by Bryan Adams, “Born in the USA” by Bruce Springsteen, or “Wake Me Up” by Avicii.
Place to eat? We love breakfast, so I go anywhere there are cinnamon rolls. The places I love to sit and catch up on life are Cook Street Coffee and Pine Food Company.
Shop? My iPhone, usually in bed when I should be sleeping. Angelina is another favorite for gift giving. I can always find something special, and often a thing or two for myself.
Best thing about country? My neighborhood. The sense of community and compassion for one another is irreplaceable.
Worst thing about the country? Limited food options and having to drive everywhere you go.
The perfect day is? Sitting with my husband on our back porch on a warm summer day, watching our kids running around screaming and laughing with a herd of neighborhood kids, and firing up the grill for an impromptu get together with neighbors.
WHEN IN TOWN
Your style is? Chic with a little more sparkle and bling.
Can’t leave the house without? Coffee.
Transportation? Uber for the win. I would love to be driven around daily. Any volunteers?
Driving music? If the kids are in tow, its likely Kids Bop Kids. If it is just my husband and I, the music is usually off as it is often the only time we can have a conversation without being interrupted every 15 seconds.
Place to eat? I don’t even know how to pick a favorite place to eat. When we lived in the Southport Corridor, I would frequent Southport Grocery. I love farm-to-table and this was one of my favorites. Shop? State Street.
Best thing about town? The hustle and bustle, the energy, the food, the sounds (I secretly love the sound of horns honking), the architecture, and did I mention the food?!
Worst thing about town? The schools and cost of living.
The perfect day is? A night with my husband in the heart of the city, where we can pretend we are still those carefree 20-somethings.