Reflecting on Goals

How many people set goals or resolutions for the year and never go back to reflect on them to make sure you’re staying on track? 

Yep, I can say that typically that’s me.

BUT,

I figured there’s no better time than now to change that fact and see exactly where I am with what I plan to accomplish this year and maybe even add more onto the list! 

1. Start and finish a french novel. 

This was the first thing that I completed and surprisingly understood the basis of the story! Now I have moved onto trying to watch french tv series to keep up with the french!

2. Travel to at least 3 new cities

Done and well over 3. I ended up getting stuck in Montreal for a couple days on my way here so that was the first city I was able to see! One weekend I made the spontaneously decision to travel to Ghent, Bruges and Lille adding 3 more new places. I spent a week in Barcelona in February and just got back from Florence, Milan and Venice! 

3. Gain 10 pounds. 

How about 14! I couldn’t be more proud of myself for this accomplishment!

4. Read More.

This I actually didn’t expect to have read as much as I have but gosh, It seems like I’m flying through them lately. 

5. Pay off my student loans. 

Currently I have paid off my current school that I’m enrolled in, but those good old Canadian loans are still hanging around.

6. Take a cooking class in Paris. 

7. Enroll in the Integrative Nutrition Course. 

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

I was doing really good with doing yoga on a regular basis in the beginning of the year but since my knee injury I have taken a bit of time off.

9. Attend a language exchange meet up in Paris.

I only went once, but hey I still did it!

10. Go to bed before 11 every night. 

This NEEDS to become a priority. I know what I need to do, but the self control is not happening.

So after a short 4 months I must say, I’m more than impressed with what I have been able to cross off that list and makes me excited for what is yet to come!

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We often take for granted the things that most deserve our gratitude

We as humans complain, its natural.

Au pairs, myself included complain a lot. Once again natural, especially in our circumstances. It could be the smallest thing but yet we still have to let the world know that it’s bothering us. I don’t know if it’s the cold weather bringing me down but lately I’ve noticed a higher level of negativity towards not only my job but life in general. When I sit down and actually lay out exactly what I do have in my life, not only physically but emotionally as well, i’m beyond blessed.

I’ve decided to create a list of the things I take for granted to really show how fortunate I am to be in the situation I am in currently.

1. I have a safe roof over my head which I actually look forward to coming home to.

2. There is always more than enough food to eat and a variety at that.

3. A job that may not be what I want to be doing for the rest of my life but for now this is what I have chosen.

4. A beyond kind and caring host family. I may be 21 but it’s still nice to come home to a family that considers you their daughter and treats you as one of their own.

5. I get paid always on time or in advance which is something that the majority of my fellow Au pairs are having issues with.

6. I wake up in the morning and I’m alive and breathing.

7. Technology. t’s crazy how much I rely on it for the majority of the things I do throughout the day. I can call my family in Canada in the matter of a minute, or message my friends with a few swipes of my finger.

8. I have an abundance of clothes to wear and to keep myself warm. If you’re friends with me you’ll constantly hear me complain that I have too many clothes and I’m not going to be able to take them all back with me to Canada or I will have to take another suitcase. I’ve decided that the clothes that I don’t absolutely need I will donate before I leave instead of creating more stress than I need.

9. I’m not cheap, I’m just frugal. I’m fortunate that this was something that I acquired from my grandmother Cress, who can make a dollar last longer than anyone I know.

10. I have a voice. If you know me well enough I’m not the type that let’s things pass me by and always speak up when I am not happy with something. I know for a fact that my other grandmother Chute gave me this attribute and couldn’t be prouder.

Hearing the stories of my friends and their current situations within their families really makes me appreciate what I have. I’ll admit, there isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t want to pack my bags and head home but what I’ve learned in the past is that running away from a problem never solves anything. I’m fortunate enough to have a close enough bond with my family here where we can openly discuss issues that come about no matter what problems arise. I’ve come to the conclusion that living a life of perfect happiness may be acquirable but unrealistic, for me anyways.

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I’m in France, essentially living the dream and how many people can say they’ve done that?

The power of friendship & a trip to Versailles

I’m going to be honest and admit that these past couple of months abroad have been tough. The cold temperatures make it hard to find the motivation to even just step outside, let alone do anything. When you’re an Au pair your “free” time consists of during the day when your child is in school and then at night when the parents arrive home from work. Let’s just say there hasn’t been a night during the week I have left since before Christmas. I swear it must be the cold that makes me just want to relax every night with a hot tea and a good book.

Flashback to September and I was finding any excuse possible to leave the house. Having a schedule where your free time is limited to a block of hours a day has been extremely tough to find time to see my friends. We’re all in different french classes, love in towns on the complete opposite side of Paris and end up babysitting on different nights. Of course with technology in today’s age we’re constantly communicating but it’s still not the same as physically being together and spending time together.

This past Sunday all of  my three best friends here in Paris finally found a day where we all were free. It only took a month but better late than never! We all were coming from different directions so we decided on meeting at the entrance but I got lucky and found Katie on my walk from the train to the castle of Versailles!

Katie and I started our tour around the castle with our free audio guides might I add. Thank goodness for them because I learned A LOT, and I mean a lot. When it comes to learning about history typically the information goes over my head but this was short, sweet and fairly interesting.

Courtney and Julie met us in the hall of mirrors until deciding that we all really just wanted food; priorities. 

The day started off beautiful only to turn to rain at the exact time we were heading out to the gardens. Just our luck, but it didn’t stop us from attempting to see as much as we could.

We ended the tour with a trip the gift shop for the essential postcards! I’ve sent one home from each new city that I have gone to so far so i’ll be able to see what I’ve seen and done when I get home. Versailles is new city number 3 of the year I’d like to point out, which means another goal crossed off the list for this year! I’m also 1/3 through my first french novel which is another thing I want to accomplish before the year is up!

You decide your own destiny

People are going to talk, no matter what you do in life so please, don’t allow comments to dictate your life. What I’ve learned is that it’s your life, not theirs. Truth be told it took my 20 years to figure this out, but I`m finally at a point where I`m confident in myself enough to trust my choices in life.

In the past I always had a figure that I followed for everything I did in life but this time was different. I needed a fresh start, a new beginning and an adventure of a lifetime.

A common response I heard from people when they heard of my decision to be an Au Pair was “You’re just going to throw away your education?” I’m not quite sure how to exactly throw away my education considering my diploma isn’t going anywhere nor is everything that I learned throughout my years in school. There’s nothing saying that I can’t go back into that career field later on in life but for now, this is what I want.

Before I moved abroad I had many people that made comments on my ability to follow through with this. Fast forward to today, those same people have approached me a second time, but instead with a more encouraging outlook as they’ve been able to see how positive this experience has been for me. For 21 years I was always given a choice but a guided one with support in how to get there. Making the decision to change my life completely like I did was all made by me. Did I know what I was doing? Nope, but that’s why I’m here to learn more about myself and what I actually do want to pursue in the future. Maybe I`ll end up wanting to be a nurse or an entrepreneur when i`m done here or maybe I still won`t have a clear idea by the end of this journey. Finally I am able to accept that it`s okay not to know exactly how my life is going to plan out tomorrow, the next day or even the next year.

You’re only young once so use the opportunity before you have reasons not to.

Weekend trip to London via Eurostar

Day 1 – First train ride, Christmas Markets & fellow Canadians

The morning started off very hectic; between the daily task of getting Perrine off to school and trying to pack a week in a bookbag (leaving space might i add for purchase of course). I was actually pretty excited to take this trip. Thankfully the station for the eurostar is relatively easy to get to from my own train station which took no time at all.

Thank god I took my host dad’s advice and came to the station early because they allowed us to board 30 mins before we were supposed to leave. At this point I was feeling pretty confident in that fact that I had made it through immigration and to my proper quai with time to spare. I descended the stairs to the train and entered the first door i saw and found a seat with my number 21 on it. I was sitting for probably 2 minutes before a couple came and told me that I was in there seat. I showed them my ticket in annoyance with my seat number on it which they proceeded to show me that the word “voie” actually means something and wasn’t just an extra number on my ticket. Apparently there are different cars so I happened to be in 18 when I should have been all the way in 10. Whoops. Why I thought that there would only be one seat numbered 21 i have no idea.

Anyways, let’s just say it all worked out for the better anyways. Car 18 is actually for “business class “ members which apparently my ticket was for. Another whoops. I swear my blonde is showing more and more lately. so you may wonder why I have a business class ticket considering that’s so not my style but my host dad willingly offered me one of his tickets he gets through work. Another reason why I am so god awfully lucky to have such an amazing host family. Business class, consisted of only half of the seats being filled of english speaking businessmen and then there was me, a poor Canadian au pair; gotta love it.

Along with business class came the free food. My favorite part of travelling! Sadly because it was only 11am I turned down the free wine regretting it after the fact of course. The trip was a fast 2 hours and before I knew it we were there.

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Shockingly they do have buses like I’d imagined!

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What a beautiful view

IMG_0484  Yeah, he was a bit bigger than I expected!

Arriving in London I instantly knew that I was going to love the city, maybe not the prices, but the atmosphere was completely different. The people for one thing were NICE, which is refreshing to say the least when comparing it to my experiences so far in Paris. Once again I didn’t have internet access but I downloaded an offline map before leaving which was going to be my guide for the day. I knew that I was going to be alone all day which was honestly fine by me because it gave me a chance to walk and adventure the city by foot. I swear that I went into every store possible that I thought would have been the least bit interesting. Thanks to my grandfather Cress I have a HUGE love for running errands and am always running between shops to scope the best deals. There weren’t many “deals” but I sure did find some pretty neat things that I know I can’t get back home.

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Toffee infused vodka!
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The beautiful Christmas Markets

I arrived at the hostel 6 hours later than when I arrived at the train station so needless to say I was tired, cold and in desperate need for some type of alcohol beverage (sorry mom!) I was in a room with 13 other people who turned out to be an amazing crowd mostly Americans to be honest. When I was walking down the stairs to the bar I saw someone wave to me outside the doors which through me for a loop considering I had just arrived and knew absolutely no one. Turns out he thought i was someone else but hey! he was Canadian and i ended up spending the whole evening with him and some Australian ladies I met! When I first entered the bar I was alone but if you know me well enough i’m not the shy type or haven’t been lately since being abroad.

I saw a group of 4 girls who looked about my age laughing and drinking, kind of making me jealous more than anything, so what do i do? Grab a drink and introduce myself as the Canadian who’s actually living in Paris but travelling in London. Introductions are always interesting that’s for sure. Their response to my spontaneous action? “you know what girl, I like your confidence”

Confidence.. something that I recently just acquired. I mean, I’ve always had a hint of it but for different reasons. Growing up I used my ability to play sports as my confidence booster but once those days ended, I kind of lost myself for a while. Since arriving in Europe I’m learning who I am again, what makes me happy and how to simply enjoy life, all because of my new-found confidence. I’m not afraid to try and speak french and be wrong or make decisions that may not be the best choice, but that’s finally okay with me. Perfection is invisible.

Day 2 – Hop on hop off Buses, pee breaks, and cards

I woke up around 9:30 thinking that I was going to be late to meet my friends Julie and Courtney who had arrived at midnight the night before. Come to find out London is an hour behind Paris, who knew. After having a horrible breakfast of toast and ham, (shame on you belushis) we met our other friend Katie in the lobby to plan our day. The girls found this hop on hop off bus that happened to be 10 pounds cheaper than what the hostel was offering but it wasn’t the easiest procedure thats for sure. We each bought the tickets on our dying cellphones and then had to forward the tickets to the hostel staff where they thankfully printed them out for us. Next task was to find the closest hop on stop, which was only 10 mins down the street; go us!

I’m going to admit that when my friends told me that this is what they wanted to do I was hesitant. First off because it was 23 pounds which is $44 in Canadian dollars. Secondly because the route was the same landmarks that I had seen the day before on my walking trip. Fast forward to a couple hours later you would’ve heard me saying how awesome I thought the bus trip was. Needless to say, if you’re in London splurge a little and get the bus ticket! They take you to all of the popular monuments and areas of the city while providing a audio playback of history and facts throughout the journey. We jumped off by Hyde park but were starving so instead of hitting the Winter wonderland we took a stroll which ended up taking almost 2 hours to find a place to eat with seating. After stuffing our bellies we went back to Hyde Park thinking we were going to be drinking mulled wine and eating chocolate all night only to see how insanely large the lineup was changing our plans a little. Okay a lot. We caught the bus again and headed back to the hostel.

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Winter Wonderland!

I swear I have the bladder of a pregnant woman. I knew as soon as I hoped on that bus there was no way that I was going to be able to last the hour ride back without having to go. About 20 mins of suffering later I had left my friends on the bus and I hopped off at a random stop to find a bathroom. Stupid? Probably but when a girls gotta go, nothing is stopping her. Needless to say finding another bus wasn’t all the difficult and before I knew it I was back at the hostel joining my friends.

So what kind of shenanigans do 4 young girls do on a Saturday night in London? Oh boy, prepare yourselves …. We played rummy, drank cider and ate food in the hostel bare. I know, pretty crazy right? This is what happened when you’re an au pair and work all week! On the weekends you just want to relax which was fine by me last night considering I was recovering from my karaoke session the night before and I had a lovely cold. We called it a night around 11:30 and parted our ways for the night.

That night I just couldn’t sleep, probably a mix of the temperature of the room and my growing sickness. I decided not to waste the day and headed out exploring before my friends had even gotten out of their rooms. Once again I spent the day walking the city and finding things that I hadn’t seen the day before. It was drizzling but that wasn’t going to stop me from seeing things.

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Chocolate tools at the market!

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Tea Testing was a must!

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The covert garden market- A must see!

The best things in life are rarely good ideas

“The best things in life are rarely good ideas”
I came across this quote while reading my current novel Stay with Me by Jennifer Armentrout and it instantly made me think about how true this really is, or has been recently in my own life.During the past two months, I have done things and made choices that I would once have considered “bad” not even a year ago.
How do we differentiate whether an idea is good or bad? What characteristics would make one better than the other?
We base our perceptions of ideas on what were told by society is the “good” or correct way to pursue things in our daily lives. Looking back at the past several months, there were a lot of decisions that I had to make where I ended up choosing the options with the most unknown outcomes. When judged by what society would consider a good idea, I failed and chose the majority of what would be considered as bad ones, but did they turn out bad?
The three letter word Bad doesn’t even exist my my current life. I am the happiest that I’ve ever been and did I chose the “good” path or what the world thinks we all should be? Not even close.
The best things in life are rarely good ideas
  • I turned down a career in my educational field to accept a job as an Au pair
  • Bought a one way ticket to paris
  • Attached a lock on the love bridge in paris
  • Jumped on a plane to rome to spend a weekend with someone I met for two hours, at nonetheless a bar
  • Went on my first party bus in Rome
  • Became a big sister to a little girl who never had an opportunity to have one before

Now this isn’t to say that good ideas aren’t exactly what they are said to be. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it wasn’t for the multitude of positive and responsible decisions I made the past. I went to high school, played multiple sports, graduated college, kept a close bond with my family, and even bought my first car. Every single one of those events were made possible from good choices that I made order to achieve these results. After college graduation my life felt off balance; missing a crucial part of happiness. I was living every day in such a structured lifestyle with a familar foreseen outcome. I can’t say that i ever pictured myself living the current lifestyle I am today especially in another country but I finally am starting to feel true happiness all from being spontaneous and adapting to change.

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10 questions of Paris

1. Why do women not wear bras, when they should? Hello people, they aren’t supposed to hang that low. 

2. Why are kids here allowed to pee in the park wherever and however they want? 

3. Why don’t people smile or say hi? Nothing can compare to the friendliness of Nova Scotians. 

4. Why is it simply normal to indulge in 5-10 macaroons at one time? ( not complaining) 

5. Why is bread served with every meal? I swear I have never ate so many carbs before. 

6. Why do people pay ridiculous amounts of money for items at specialty stores? I mean 5 euros for a spoon, or 5 euros for one pen? Dollarama, where you at? 

7. Why is coffee served so small? They say its expresso but it’s not even that strong! I need to drink 5 in order to make a small sized cup.

8. Why do my host parents insist on giving me wine at dinner? Heck, give me the bottle while you’re at it! 

9. Why are their gates enclosing every house? 

10. Why are there lights at street lights to tell you when its safe to walk if no one watches them anyone and just walks whenever? 

 

How to go a shopping vacation without buying anything

Well folks, the long crazy process of becoming an au pair has finally come to an end. My visa has arrived back in my arms! Thankfully I didn’t have to schedule an appointment with the consulate like many other au pairs have had to do, so I sent my documents last Thursday and here it is the following Friday and it’s back here in Nova Scotia from Montreal. It’s crazy how fast they completed it considering how much trouble i have had with them in terms of customer service. 

So now there’s nothing left for me to do here but wait oh and the lovely process of packing a year’s worth of things I need into two small bags; no biggie. 

My family is planning a trip to Maine a couple weeks before I leave and obviously shopping in Maine means lot’s of outlets…. I LOVE the shopping down there, and unfortunately I’, not going to be able to buy anything because my bags are already stuffed as it is. So the question becomes, how will I still enjoy my vacation when my siblings are all able to indulge in what they want and I cant? 

1. I have been in charge of mapping our route of where to go and what to do so my main focus has been on planning non-shopping related activities. This includes a must stop to Old Orchard Beach for a day in the sun and a trip to the amusement park of course.

We do have a day planned to shop at the kittery outlets which we haven’t gone to before, and this is going to be hard for me especially with a Lululemon outlet.. kill me now! I am obsessed with this brand, and it’s going to be tough, but i’m praying they won’t have anything I like or in my size! 

One thing I will not feel guilty about buying at Lululemon will be wunder under leggings in black. These are the perfect travel pant and since I already own 3 similar pairs I know that I will wear them! 

2. Make a list of the things you actually could use and may need. For instance I know that I need to get a pair of new pj’s and a couple pairs of underwear to take with me so I will focus on finding my favorites of those items. I also need a few smaller items like locks, a water bottle, a journal, etc.. 

3. I’m a huge foodie so I have been researching restaurants and cafes that I want to check out. By knowing what is there I’m looking forward to checking them out as opposed to shopping and buying clothes I don’t need. 

The Holey Donut is one of the places on my list of must-eats in Portland! Their donuts are made with maine potatos and are apparently to die for, so i’m going to have to check it out for myself! 

4. Leave your extra money at home! I will only be taking my debit card with me and no cash or visa eliminating the urge to splurge!

5. Try and enjoy spending time with the people you are with and plan things that you can enjoy together without spending money. I know that my sister will be looking for back to school clothes so I will be able to help her find clothes without having to buy anything myself.