A Different Perspective

How often we go through life and make assumptions before really taking a step back to look at the other possibilities. I can say that I see myself doing this quite frequently especially since I am experiencing so many new things. Like a lot of things in life, first impressions are important BUT not always correct.

Today I had the pleasure, and yes I really do mean pleasure to babysit for a family in the center of Paris. It may have been my day off and I may have had to get up at 6am this morning, but I figured that if nothing else it would give me a chance to see a different Parisian lifestyle.

Once again an opportunity was presented so I took it. Also I had one of those “I feel like my grandmother Cress” moments and saw a way to make a few extra dollars to be stashed away for a rainy day.

Quickly enough, I realized that I had based my outlook on Paris simply on my perception of one family’s lifestyle. Today that perception changed.

I’ve realized that,

Living “in” Paris is not the same as living 10 minutes outside the center

Not everyone gets the pleasure of enjoying their weekends off like I previously had assumed, hence the fact of why I was babysitting on a Saturday

Not all french kids are brought up spoiled and fortunate as it may have come across in the beginning. I think this has to do with the area I am currently living in as well, as it’s a wealthy community.

As much as having the ability to buy fresh produce, cheese and baguettes from the market is amazing, it actually isn’t feasible for everyone to do.

The best part of my day was by the far the least expected when I had initially made the choice to babysit.

It came when I realized how much of an impact simply making a child smile can be. When the child begs you to stay and wants you to come everyday and be their “nounou” simply because you played soccer with them and showed interest in their happiness; That’s better than any kind of money can buy.

I’ll be honest, I saw that there was a family needing a babysitter and since I was free, I figured hey! It will be a good way to get some extra cash” when the end of the day came, the money didn’t matter.

The fact that I had made a child happy was more than I could have asked for.

What would you do with 10 euros

Upon stepping outside your house you realize that it’s a surprisingly mild day in Paris. The streets are bare for it’s Sunday morning which means a day of relaxation and family time for the local Parisians.

You stroll into an empty park and take in the beauty of the grounds and overall atmosphere surrounding you. A slight breeze stirs the leaves beneath your feet, blowing a piece of paper beneath your feet. Instantly you realize it’s not just paper but yet a bill; 10 euro to be exact.

The obvious action comes to mind and the bill slides quickly into your jacket pocket. You get a little high of having something you didn’t have 10 seconds ago and your mind starts to spin.

You could treat yourself to a warm croissant and an espresso.

Maybe you’d like a new hat or a pair of gloves.

You could have a couple glasses of wine at happy hour that evening

Your mind continues to discover the endless possibilities with what a mere ten euros could do for you.

You continue to walk through the park and into the quiet city and you’re thinking about what you’re going to do with that small bill. You pass cafes, shops and other pedestrians along the way none with a clue of what you found, just a short 10 minutes before.

Continuing on your journey, you come across a boy, and what looks to be his mother. laying on a mattress on the cold streets of Paris but you pass by like you do on any other occasion. Looking back you notice the empty starbucks cup waiting to be replenished with the days essential salary, but has yet to be filled.

Without thinking you return to that empty cup and do what your heart tells you is the right thing to do.

They didn’t beg nor did they talk but you know you changed their day with the faint smile on the young boys face. You aren’t aware of what how they will choose to spend it but you know they can use it. We all can use money no matter how much or how little we have.

You continue on your journey with the vision of that hot espresso and croissant long gone but the satisfaction of your choices elevated higher than you would have imagined.

Life goes on as if nothing had ever happened that day but inside you’ll never forget the smile on that boys face and how you changed his day.

As humans we are consumers; it’s inevitable, but the amount of our consumption is a choice.

Ten euros can’t buy a lot in today day and age but it’s still more than a lot of people can say they have in their pocket.

What would you do if you came across 10 euros laying on the ground in an abandoned park?

Growing up is never easy

Something that I’ve recently realized, and has been tough to actually want to come to terms with, is the fact that I’m growing up whether I like it or not.

When we’re younger all we want is to be older, have more independence and be essentially free from rules. So here I am, now a considerably amount older with more freedom than I want sometimes, and all I want is to reverse back time; when life consisted of unlimited ice cream and doing cartwheels on the soccer field.

I’ve been away from home for the past 4 years now but this time is different. I can’t just drive an hour on the weekend to spend time at home or be involved in the annual activities like I used to. I’m used to being able to do anything and be anywhere but that’s impossible in my current situation. I missed out on the annual girls trip which I have gone on with my grandparents, aunts, mother and cousins for years. Of course it’s upsetting not the be able to do everything but that’s life as I’ve come to realize. There will always be things we want to be doing and places we want to be no matter where or what we do.

When I was home I dreamed about being abroad travelling and here I am abroad and dreaming about home. That’s what life seems to be all about; having to make sacrifices simply because we can’t do everything we desire. Imagine having everything in life go perfectly as planned to your utmost satisfaction. Do you think you’d be happy?

More than likely, not.

Growing up I was very fortunate to have the guidance and love that my parents gave me which helped shape me into the person I am today. At home I had a very satisfying life to be honest. I had a car, a roof over my head, a well paying job and was always surrounded by family but that didn’t mean I was happy; or at least the happiest I could be. That’s simply because my time had come to find my place in this world outside of the comfort of my surroundings. Over the past five months I’ve been able to see a whole new person emerge from this body and I’m not about to let her leave.

My happiness is determined by my own choices.

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Goals not Resolutions for 2015

I think it’s important not to set high resolutions that are unrealistic or unpractical. I know that in that past  I’ve definitely done this to myself and then wondered why they were never successful. This year there will be no resolutions just because its a brand new year. Heck I wake up every morning and its a brand new day so what’s the difference. A new day means the ability to start fresh and change the things I’m unhappy with. With that being said I am going to set realistic goals for myself for things that I would like to accomplish throughout the year.

1. Start and finish a french novel. 

2. Travel to at least 3 new cities, notice I wrote cities and not countries because there specific cities within countries I’ve already been to that I need to see. Greece is a must once summer hits, Venice in the spring and fingers crossed for Prague at some point. Oh and Barcelona… Let’s just say there’s no end to my travel list.

3. Gain 10 pounds. Yeah most people might want to start that diet they’ve been putting off for 5 years now, and here I am just wanting the opposite.

4. Read more. Having ebooks are awesome but I’m constantly distracted doing other things on my Ipad instead of reading.

5. Pay off my student loans. I’m able to comfortably do so, therefore I think I should before I watch my interest accumulate when it doesn’t need to.

6. Take a cooking class in Paris. This is something that I’ve wanted to do but once again haven’t…

photo: Codiqua

7. Enroll in the Integrative Nutrition Course.  DONE!

8. Actually start doing yoga or at least gain more knowledge on the sport. 

9. Attend a language exchange meet up in Paris. I have been saying that I’m going to do this for the past 4 months and i’m determined to actually follow through with this before I leave.

10. Go to bed before 11 every night. I have a habit of staying on my phone until past midnight because I leave it plugged in beside my bed which isn’t going to happen anymore. This chick needs sleep.

I’m looking forward to what this new year has to bring. I’ve decided to go back to school and will be starting classes in March on top on my french classes I’m also enrolled in. I’m going to be busy that’s for sure. I’m here in France till at least the end of July and then after that my plans are undecided which may sound a bit, i don’t know. irresponsible? absurd? Actually, I’m finally at a point in my life where the unknown is no longer a fear. Here’s to many new adventures.

Staying Positive when negativity arises

Everyone’s initial thought when they are told that their flight is cancelled is going to be a let down, disappointment and pure frustration because we’re human, we have emotions. I’ve currently been sitting at this airport for the past 7 hours with no intentions on leaving anytime soon. I’ve been told when my next connection flight will be which is unfortunately over a day later than planned but there’s a good chance that I’ll be spending the night in this airport along with the other frustrated passengers.

Of course this messes everything up with my arrival in Paris as I now will be coming into CDG a whole day later (the day i’m supposed to start work). I guess this means my first day of work is going to consist of a not so good performance from me. Sorry P. More than likely I’m not going to sleep and on top of that there’s the jet lag, but staying positive is the key. Seriously though what will negativity do to this situation?

1. It’s not the ladies fault sitting at the desk that this plane had mechanical issues making me miss my connection.

2. I get to stay longer in an airport with TIm Hortons, boo yeah!

3. I’m creating interesting memories because no one wants to hear about a boring story.

4. The longer i’m around Canadians the better. I’ve met so many people just by sitting here waiting for our flight.

5. There’s a good chance I will be staying all day in Montreal tomorrow in a hotel so once again, a story!

Surprisingly I haven’t been “bored” yet. Now everyone’s description of what that means is obviously going to be different but i’ve been able to find things to keep myself occupied. How long this will last is another question, but until then i’m going to keep the positive vibes flowing. All I can say is thank god for free wi-fi. I’m able to blog, keep in contact with my family and actually have started a few introductory courses of my nutrition program i’m starting in march!

With every unexpected situation you have two choices. You can complain and be negative about the problem or take it as a opportunity to create memories to last a lifetime. Okay, maybe spending 2 days in an airport isn’t quite a memory but it’s defiantly the first time that I have had any issues with travelling.

What do you do when you’re stuck in an airport?

It’s the little things in life

You know when you were little and sang Christmas songs at school in front of the school, but you really only had one objective; to catch your parents eye and waive at them with that proud feeling. Today I was that parent.

“I will take P to school this morning because the cake needs to be dropped off for her Christmas concert” the mother proclaimed as I brewed my first cup of coffee this morning.

“Oh I can do it considering i’m going to watch her” I replied.

The mother stared at me with a strange look then said “oh really?” I explained that P had invited me the day before probably knowing that her parents both worked in the mornings and was used to not having anyone there. The mother was more than pleased with my decision to go and seemed more surprised than anything. When I was asked to attend there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that I would miss it, especially considering her parents couldn’t make it.

I stood in the farthest back row of the parents but managed to stand on my tip toes t catch a glimpse of P on the stands singing her little heart out. When my eyes finally found hers a big smile appeared across her face followed by a 15 second period of waiving to no one other than myself. My heart melted in the thought that here I was, the only one under the age of 40 in a crowd of parents, and this little girl was singing for me. My hand shot up above the crowd with an equally long waive to let her know that I could see her among the other children.

Once the group of children were finished singing their Christmas carols, they all flocked to the tables full of delicious french pastries and cakes. Apparently as I’ve learned that cake is 100% acceptable to consume anytime during the day, especially chocolate. I felt a tap on my back and quickly turned in hope that it was my little artist. Sure enough I was greeted, some could argue attacked, by P with her arms open ready for a hug and a big bisous.

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These are the moments I will remember when i’m looking back on my life.

Also, I’d like to point out how amazing this family has been. To any Au Pairs out there that are skeptical about starting their journey because of horror stories they have read. Don’t be afraid and go into it with an open mind because you never know where the experience will take you. This evening the family and I celebrated the ending of the school year with 3 bottles of delicious red wine might I say, traditional french sausage, fois gros and macaroons. Do I like these foods? Not particularly, okay red wine and macaroons taken out of course because who doesn’t like those. The point is that they are trying to make this the best experience possible for me and god am I ever appreciative. Upon everything they have already done for me a petit pere noel  surprised me with a present, but not just any little gift. Saint Laurent perfume… first a cashmere galleries Lafayette sweater for my birthday and now this? I”m truly blessed.

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Mom, if you’re reading this I now understand the excitement and joy you had when you sat and cheered me on at every sporting event. I never appreciated the fact that my parents would take time off work or rearrange their own plans in order to be there for me but now I realize how lucky I am to have such a dedicated family.

 

 

 

The importance of siblings, in my eyes

She’s only 6. I need to keep telling myself this.

Tonight I explained what student loans were to Perrine and the fact that I had just made my first payment today. She responded with “Why aren’t your parents paying for your school?” I was taken off guard considering that’s not something that i would have even considered being a possibility. I then clarified that 1. I don’t expect my parents to have the obligation to pay for something that I choose to do with my life 2. The fact that I have three other siblings that will too someday be going to university. You wanna know what reaction prevailed from my reasoning?

A big old “sucks to be you”

This is when I became a bit infuriated, okay a lot. I tried to stay calm because she’s 6, only 6 but still! My response probably could have been a bit nicer put but it went a little something like this:

I could care less if I have to pay back my student loans for the rest of my life, work three jobs, or sacrifice my hobbies I will NEVER, and I mean NEVER regret those children coming into my life. I’m a proud big sister and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Yeah maybe things would be different if I was an only child, but in my eyes different being worse off.

Growing up for the first seven years of my life I was an only child and not until now do I realize how lucky I truly am that my 3 siblings came along. Of course having everything to yourself if great but never having those sibling rivalries, sisterly fights or constant arguments. I mean who wouldn’t want those right? Actually, the answer is right; more than right to be exact. Siblings are a blessing at least I know that mine have been. Yes we argue, a lot, but that’s part of the fun.

I often sit here and watch Perrine and think of myself when I was in her situation and her age. I played alone, she plays alone. She’s competitive with everything whereas competition was what I lived for. She strives for perfection; that might as well be my middle name.

Then comes the difficulty for me as I constantly have to come up with things to occupy her because she’s alone. That being said she is extremely independent as I was and still am today so she is able find things to do but playing alone is only fun for so long. She never complains about having to occupy herself or independently find things to keep herself busy but I know that she wonder what it would be like to have another sibling.

When I get annoyed at her, there usually a good reason, but then I have to think about the reason of why she acted out. Maybe she’s bored, annoyed, hurt, who knows. What I do know is that she didn’t ask to be an only child and it’s not her fault she’s spoiled beyond belief. Her parents longed for a child and they were blessed with one and only one, making her their miracle child. Logically speaking this could be a great reason why she is so fortunate but that’s how she’s been and no matter what I want to do about it I can’t. I too was once her too.
What I can do is to be there for her as not only an au pair but a big sister, a friend and a role model. I can’t change the facts or the situation but I can make this year one for her to remember.

winning the jackpot when it comes to finding a host family

Winning the jackpot, now wouldn’t that be nice. Though, I’ve come to realize that money doesn’t always mean happiness and that winning the so called lottery can actually refer to many other things in life, such as family. I really enjoy this quote as it’s been ever so true in my life so far here in Paris. The only reason that I’m even here is the fact that I essentially gambled with finding a family, not knowing what they would be like before arriving. In this instant I won but only because I made the decision to chance the unexpected in hope of hitting the so called jackpot, and here I am a winner.

I don’t want to sit here and boast about how amazing my life is here in Paris but boy, is it ever good. I’ve taken way too many things for granted in my life and being here is something I’m not about to let myself do again. I have the most amazing family here and am ever so fortunate to have found them or for them to have chosen me of all people to be apart of their family for the year. I’ve heard horror stories from other au pairs with their own situations resulting in many of them leaving which makes me that much more grateful.

This past Saturday, which is typically a day off for me, I was awakened by a slight knock on my bedroom door only to find that it was the father, inviting me to go to the supermarket with him to grab some groceries. Some groceries meaning 2-3 weeks worth. Of course I was more than enthused at this idea as it’s become a bi-weekly event for us, actually more like a language exchange date. We talk English on the way there so he can practice and than french on our way home for me. Following our expedition to Auchan we ate an Indian styled lunch that the father prepared and might I say was very proud about. That afternoon the family invited me to go to the cinema with them to watch Paddington, and I accepted the invitation of course. The movie was by far one of the cutest family films I have watched in a while, and being able to experience it with the three of them made it that much better, especially since I’m missing my own family over this holiday.

Yesterday morning, before I left for Paris the family asked me if I would be home for supper this evening and as the majority of Sunday evenings the answer is yes. They were more than thrilled at this response for some odd reason and therefore explained they would be cooking my favorite sweet potato fries which I haven’t had in 4 months, accompanied by a new red wine he had bought of course. This family has no obligation to do these small things for me, but gosh am i ever appreciative. The fact that they are making such an effort to make me feel as comfortable as possible in this foreign country is beyond what I expected when being welcomed into their family. While the mother did the nightly routine with Perrine the father and I enjoyed a bottle of red wine and had a pretty in depth conversation about the importance of spending time with your children. That’s one thing I notice with this family, is that they really focus on making the weekends family time with just the three of them.

It’s just the small things that really make the difference for me.

– Coming down stairs every morning to a fresh cup of coffee already prepared for me.
– the dad gave me his train ticket to London and back (okay this one is a bit more than a little gesture but very appreciated)
– they make an effort to make meals that they know I will enjoy
– after my showers at night there’s always a cup of green tea waiting for me in the living room
– they invite me to their family events and social gatherings as if I’m another member of the family
– they are never more than a day late with my weekly pay

It’s as if I was given the best of both worlds here; a good job and a great family.

We all need a break once in a while

Rest. A four letter word that isn’t frequent enough in my life. I come from a family of people that are constantly on the go so it’s just been instilled in me as being the way to live. Yesterday was a remarkable moment in my life. I relaxed and did absolutely nothing but watch some good old Netflix.

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Maybe it was because I was still recuperating from my trip to London or the fact that I’m sicker than a dog but all I really wanted to do was to shower and watch tv, another thing I haven’t done in the 4 months I’ve been abroad. If you know me well enough you will know that this is something I NEVER do. No matter how hungover, sick, bored, tired I am… I always feel the need to leave the house and wander or do something. I like to think I get this on the go demeanor from both sides of my family. I mean, good luck EVER reaching my mother at home or my 75 year old grandmother who doesn’t stop from 4am on wards when she’s starting her mail route. I feel so blessed to have such hard working women in my life as role models because I wouldn’t want to be any other way. I can say it’s defiantly made me more productive of a person but at some point you just get worn out and need to rest.

So what did I learn from taking a day to just reposée as the french would say?

That I need to do more of it. I feel rejuvenated and so much less stressed, even though there really shouldn’t have been any in the first place. I watched a whole series of The Mindy Project, baked muffins for tomorrows breakfast and did a load of laundry. The whole laundry is actually quite a big accomplishment considering it takes a whole 3 hours just for the washing cycle to do its process. Oh, and why I just decided today to get hooked on this amazing TV show is beyond me. Mindy, my friend you are one funny chick. Upon picking my girl up from school I realized how much better of a mood I was in than I typically am when rushing from Paris to make the train in time. Since I had the whole day to do what my heart desired all I really wanted to do when we got home was to entertain her, which hasn’t happened in a long time since being here. Today I’ve finally realized that while I’m constantly trying to be as productive as I can be with the time i’m given, sometimes the most productive things are actually done with the least amount of effort. This relates back to my struggle with perfectionism and always trying to be the best, make good decisions, and accomplish as many things as I tell myself i’m capable of doing. We often put ourselves such a high pedestal of having these unrealistic expectations of ourselves and then when we fail we’re disappointed. If we lower those expectations ever so slightly and accept that no matter what we do in the course of a day, we will not find perfection, happiness will be found.

Let’s just say, these whole rest days will be happening more often.

10 Reasons why london is better than Paris

I think I have come to the conclusion that I need to stop taking these weekend trips while living in Paris simply because it’s making me become quite negative about the city. Before adventuring to other parts of Europe I thought that Paris was “all that” but sadly in my opinion that’s not been the case. Don’t get me wrong I love Paris without a doubt and am so grateful to be living here for the next 8 months but boy did I ever underestimate the rest of the continent!

In comparison the two cities are pretty similar. They both have well known attractions such as Big Ben the London eye and the tower bridge in London, whereas in Paris there’s the Eiffel tower, the Louvre and Notre Dame. The temperatures are relatively the same with Paris being every so slightly warmer. I’ve put together some of the reasons why I fell in love with London to share with y’all.

1. The people are 110% nicer.
I can’t sit here and sterotype all of the parisians for being rude but i’ve had some pretty unpleasant experiences that have led me to believe so. Upon arriving in London, I didn’t have one person purposly bump into me and if they did ther was a sympathtic sorry to instantly follow. When paying for items at the stores you’re actually greeted with a smile as if they actuall care about their customers; so refreshing from France.

2. There are coffee chains EVERYWHERE.
When I say everywhere, i mean it. I can’t even count the number of pret a manger’s that I passed or the numerious hidden starbucks throughout the city.

3. H&M stores aren’t on every street corner. 
Don’t get me wrong I like a good shopping day at H&M like any other girl but the temptation in Paris is way too much!

4. It doesn’t smell like pee everywhere.
I think I can speak for everyone when I say this scent has something to be desired.

5. It’s clean!
The fact that smoking along the streets just didn’t happen was a blessing let me tell you. I’m not a fan of having people either blow smoke in my face or having a cigarette flung into my face. Another fact was that I didn’t see one person on the streets begging for money, this being said I didn’t experience the metro system so that could be a different story.

6. The museums are FREE.
Oh the magical 4 letter that makes me happier than the bees. One of the main reasons I haven’t made more of an effort to go to ones in Paris yet is because they cost money unless I want to attempt to enter on the first Sunday of the month.

7. The men on the streets selling chestnuts in Paris? Yeah I didn’t see any in London.
I’m sorry, but I really don’t enjoy men trying to pressure me into buying their hot chestnuts that they cook in a shopping cart. It’s dirty, annoying and plain weird.

8. People speak English, my mother tongue.
This is completely biased towards any English speaking people but it was refreshing to be able to understand everything.

9. There are free WiFi phone booths throughout the city.
These converted telephone booths saved my but a couple of times when I needed to connect to WiFi and better yet they were free!

10. I’ll take fish and chips over foie gras any day

The negative?
It’s god awfully expensive that’s for sure. Currently with the conversion rate between CAD and GDP is doubled.

I’d love to know your thoughts on the two cities!