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What You Need to Know About Paris

 

First of all, you need to know that I love Paris. Like: Love as-in-I-would-move-there-tonight-with-nothing-but-a-carry-on-kind-of-love. Looooooove…..

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Recently I was asked by an acquaintance to send some information about my most recent holiday in the City of Light. It took me forever to get back to her. Mainly because I knew just how into it I would get, and therefor how much time it would take me to compose an email as full of useful information as I could muster with all of the enthusiasm I have for the city. I enjoyed every.single.second.

I went on about my favourite places, included links and maps, tips and tricks, and loads of my very own opinion. Which, of course, the world needs more of.

paris cafeYes, I adore all of the idiosyncrisies of the French. This includes terrible and rude (if not also terribly rude) service and their casual sense of elegance.  I love the tiny streets of Montmartre with the colourful shops squeezed together like hippies on a road trip. I love the billionaire-on-a-budget attitude of St. Germain, the connection to great artists I feel when I sink into the reading nooks on the second floor of Shakespeare and Company, and the thrum of those places where new worlds collide and your footsteps become unsure.

Had I only been able to make one suggestion to her though about getting a feel for what to expect, it would be this;

Find a lovely scarf which is slightly too long to wield delicately, and get thee to a crowded outdoor patio in the spring time. Order wine or coffee and a tiny glass of water, and no matter what the menu, expect an exquisite presentation of deliciously prepared food. All of this served to you by the most disinterested and apathetic server that you can imagine while your scarf blows in the wind like a prop from an Audrey Hepburn movie.

Welcome to Paris.

 

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Don’t Make Me Break Out My Mom Voice

giphy-1If you don’t know me, they refer to me as Mrs. Doubtfire at work.  I’m not as old as Mrs. Doubtfire, but we have the same boobs and demeanour.

I prefer to be kind and sweet and doting even, but don’t mess with me. I’m one mother of a tough broad, and I’m not afraid to let you know that, in a very kind, diplomatic way. In other words, I’m very good at the subtle, ‘fuck-off’, and not shy about the not-so-subtle.

Which brings me to my current state of being; extremely tired of being a whipping post for other people’s problems.

Which is draining. I no  longer want to be subtle about the fuck off. Nor do I want to be having to deal with anyone’s el poopo. I’m too old for that.

What I really want is to go about my business in a conscious way with other people who are doing the same. As one care provider who comes into our home put it, “Don’t get old and grouchy”.

I want to get old and more giddy, giggly, hippie-like in my approach, and perhaps even increase my alcohol  and muscular flexibility tolerance. It may seem like one goal is not compatible with the other, but I disagree.  Lower inhibitions and increased relaxation should surely result in a more yoga-like groove.

Also, I’m looking for a small camper van that I can paint lemon-yellow and pack full with a duvet, some good books, tea, red wine, some Jameson Whiskey, and a bottle of good bourbon. You know, for the nights you want to feel like you’re dying. Also there should be ibuprofen. I’ll call the camper Mellow Yellow and make use of the horn.

If you inspire me to feel like you’re putting me on the spot, or making me feel uncomfortable because you’re being an asshole, I will unleash the Mrs. Doubtfire fire, and quite frankly, that takes way more energy than I want to expend on you. Not only will I be annoyed, but I will be verbally annoyed.

Going forward, let’s all approach one another as if we’ve just come from the worst berating ever, shall we? Perhaps some gentleness, kindness, and common, public courtesy.

We are, as the old saying goes, all fighting battles that others cannot see.

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Paris-It’s a Love-Hate Kind of City-Part 1

Café_de_FloreI’m jerked awake  from a fevered slumber as the hotel door bursts open, ” What the f**k is wrong with these people?! I can’t get a f*****g cup of coffee!

Realizing what had just happened at the cafes next door while I was curled up in the warm blankets of my Paris hotel room makes me laugh out loud, and then I cough.

Did you ask for your coffee in French sweetie? Or did you walk in and say, ‘Can I get a large coffee?‘”

At the first place they didn’t even f*****g acknowledge me!

Did you ask in French?” I said, sitting up in bed and grinning at him.

No.”

Honey, if someone came up to you at home and asked you for something in Mandarin, you’d be pissed they weren’t speaking one of our national languages.

He carried on his rant, letting the truth of what I just said sink in knowing, but not admitting that I was right. “At the second place they just said, “Non” (imagine the worst french accent ever), “Cafe this big“. He holds up his fingers like he’s going to pinch a baby.

You may want to try using your French while we’re here honey, or find a Starbucks.

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Less than half an hour later he discovered there was coffee at the hotel, and he lugged up three cups to our suite while I got ready to go out for the day.

My partner was appalled by not being able to order a drink without food, a mammoth sized coffee and the slow service at restaurants. His discomfort was my entertainment. You see, I love the complexities of French service, social interaction and just being in such an amazing city.

To watch someone rage against their own ways while being hosted by ‘others’ was rather entertaining. While he was stewing about how he was going to score his next ginormous caffeine fix ( this morning he had two pots of coffee ),  I was marveling at the architecture, lounging in the warm comfort of the reading room at Shakespeare & Company, and people watching from the famous cafes on Boulevard Saint-Germain. I was in my glory.

My partner now fondly refers to anyone from France as a Euro-Weenie. We differ in our perspective regarding the French as we differ with regard to our politics.

The French, like any nation/culture have their own way of doing things. A way of eating, drinking and socializing that has earned them a place in history as gracious host to a generation of writers and artists who shaped the western cultural world. I can respect that.

Merci pour la petite cafe.

 

 

 

 

 

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Planning Your Dream

drum beatingPlanning your dream? What’s up with that?

Aren’t dreams supposed to be pie-in-the-sky, never-gonna-happen fantasies?

Well, in my opinion they are not.

Some dreams are possible and some would take something akin to a miracle to make help them come to life. I get that. But I’m a dreamer, and a bit of a lush, so I like to think that some of the things I dream about can and will in fact, come true.

I dream a lot. I often find my mind hiking well ahead, in the future somewhere, playing out some fantasy like the latest blockbuster.

Planning a dream means you have to choose one. One. Maaaaaaaybe two.

Which one to choose? Hmm? Humph!  Don’t worry, one thing at a time my sweet little plums. Once you make the first dream come true, you’ll be inspired to work on the next one, and the one after that.

Whichever of your dreams you choose, there are a few things you need to do to put the often slow, rusty wheels of the dream-making machine into motion;

quityourdaydream1) First of all, hang out with people who have similar hopes and dreams. You want to be a business success? Hang out with people who are business minded and enjoy sharing information and ideas. If you want to be a writer, hang out with other writers.  Much like getting into a new fitness routine, it’s nice to have a partner to keep you motivated. Surround yourself with people who will be your, I-think-I-can-I-think-I-can cheerleaders.

2) Research. Do some research. Do you have to save some money? Do you need to prioritize your time differently?

3) Talk about it. Talk, talk, talk, and talk some more. The more you talk about what you want, the more likely someone who can help you will hear you, or someone who knows someone will hear you. Don’t be afraid to voice your hopes and dreams out loud.

4) When it feels impossible, out of reach, and foolish, seek support from someone who will encourage you to be fearless.

If you’re a dreamer like me, sometimes it’s difficult to quiet your mind and focus on one thing that you really want. More difficult still is to become as fearless as possible.

Do your best to coax the root of your anxiety into the light, and make a really honest assessment. Most fear can be overcome if you get your ego under control.

The new year is no longer new. We’ve already lived out the first quarter. It’s time to make the remainder of the year matter.

Dream on sweet dreamers, the world needs more of that!belowthem

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Customer Service: The Art of Joy

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Goose. Yep. That was the message delivered from the ‘Animal Spirit Guides’ deck that was gifted to me this past Christmas.

Goose? When I think of a goose, I think of the absurd waddling they do, their plump bodies, and the way that they disguise their natural survival instincts with the appearance of total oblivion to anything other than pooping on paved park paths and wandering in circles.

This was my first week back to reality after two weeks of holiday time, away from the office, social media, housework, parenting, and anything else that required attire more formal than a bathing suit.

Having been a good-girl, I came home with some extra spending money, and decided that I could afford to treat myself to a dress that I saw while visiting The Bitter End. So, I ordered it. What ensued has been a miserable experience with HiHo Clothing’s Customer Service department, and an even more frustrating time with UPS. Lessons learned; just buy the damn dress, use FedEx, buy local.

What does this experience have to do with the Goose totem? Well, frist of all, I thought of the saying, ‘Silly
Goose’, which in my wee little girl brain means a doddering woman who is naive, and weak. Drawing the Goose totem also meant just taking an inward glance at my own attitude. A return to ‘real life’ always means kicking into high professional, domestic, and everything-else high-gear. In short, it sucked.

But why?” I asked myself over and over. Why did it feel so icky to be back to a life that I had created for myself? I love my job. I love my kid. I don’t live in a castle, but I also don’t have to shovel my own snow or mow my own grass, so it all evens out.

Satisfaction. That’s what I think it boils down to. I am very rarely satisfied with what I have, and continually strive to be better, to have more, to do more. What a lunatic!

Which leads me to believe that the atrocious lack of customer service at HiHo and UPS is a result of people showing up do to a job, get a pay-cheque, and leave to get back to their real life. It also likely means that the employees likely don’t have a great working environment, but that’s just my opinion. Rarely do satisfied employees metaphorically flip you the bird by hanging up on you or not responding to email. Satisfied employees have time to address customer questions and respond in a way that makes everyone feel warm and fuzzy.

Newsflash; Your job is your real life. Those moments on the clock are about being yourself and being of service to others, whether it’s solving problems, creating something brilliant, or cleaning up a bathroom stall so we don’t all die of some poop-bacteria-related disease.

So, as I caution you against the exceptional lack of customer service which abounds, I also challenge you to take a little look inside and ask yourself if you too are being a customer service asshole (that’s French for being useless).

Watching myself transform into an uptight-bot within 24 hours of arriving back to my ‘real world’, I took the advice of the Goose. I slowed down, took a look around and marveled at just how far I’d come, and with that attitude, I carried on with my week, trying to be kind, at work, home, and everywhere else. Most importantly, I reminded myself that it’s ok to relax, breathe deeply and trust my own value.

Doing that doesn’t make me a weak, naïve woman. It makes me healthy, helpful, and energized.

So go on ladies, dare to be a goose. Dare to create a life you life with joy.

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Departures & Arrivals

"There is a time for departure even when there is no certain place to go." ~Tennessee Williams~
“There is a time for departure even when there is no certain place to go.”
~Tennessee Williams~

When I was a younger lady, I used to love spending time at the airport people watching. I was fascinated by where everyone was going and why. I loved to try to figure out  travel-companion relationships, and how people behaved while they were neither here nor there.

When you travel alone, airports offer a place to be in limbo.  Mothers and fathers try to impose order; naps, snacks, washroom rituals, but adults who travel on their own are a fascinating bunch to observe because they have no one else to be but themselves.

This morning at my spa appointment, I learned about my aesthetician coming to Canada as a refugee. It’s always fascinating to hear stories about how people came to be who they are, and what hard lessons they learned along the way. Outside of the waxing room, with my tootsies being pampered in a lovely, hot foot spa, and my shoulders being massaged, I relaxed into watching the movie that was playing.

Today I was almost tempted to ask for a manicure to go along with my pedicure so I could watch the ending. But I kinda had it figured out already, so I saved my twenty bucks for an airport breakfast tomorrow.

The movie was about a successful adult woman who woke  one morning as if just waking up from her 13th birthday party. It was a sweet story about reconnecting with her childhood sweetheart, and how the meaning of success gets twisted into something unrecognizable as we mature into adults.

Flashback to my 13 year old self. Where was I? Who was my best friend? What did I want out of life when I was 13?

Sometimes it’s hard to remember what we wanted when we’ve been through so much living and heartache. What we seem to forget as adults is that we need as much love and nurturing now as we did when we were those starry-eyed kids.

I think about how much I work to be ‘successful’, and how one-dimensional that word has become in our culture of glorifiying being busy and having ‘stuff’.

Success, I suppose, means being in the present, and realizing that today, this very moment, might blend in with other memories of living, but at some point, if we’re lucky, we will remember today as one of the best days of our life, from a time when we were younger, more energetic and still had our friends with us.

We depart relationships and life-roles to arrive at others, sometimes years later, without having realized how much time has passed, and who we have become.

As I find a quiet place at the gate, waiting for my connection, I think I may find my mind wandering to those ideas of success I once had, what success means to me now and how I might go about finding more balance between being nurtured and expending my emotional energy.

For a good number of sunsets over the tiny islands in the Caribbean Sea, I will be toasting my vitality, and what it means to live from the heart, with integrity and joy.

Bon voyage my friends! xo