It’s all a Matter of Perspective

We live in a very fast paced, on-demand world. We pay for same day delivery and we instantly stream music and TV shows or movies. We don’t want to wait for anything anymore, and when we do have to wait, we feel miserable about it.

Unfortunately this instant-gratification generation is miserable about a lot of things, because even when we do get something, our attention span is so short that this thing quickly becomes old, like the latest iPhone version every year. We are merely children with bigger toys: as soon as we get what we want, we stop wanting it. The thing we wanted so much quickly loses its original luster and we become dissatisfied again, looking ahead to what comes next.

This state of mind is extremely unfortunate, because it causes us to miss out on the here and now. And it causes us to live in a perpetual cycle of want; to constantly be striving after what we do not have instead of being happy or satisfied with what we do have.

I am not saying that we shouldn’t want or strive after things. If we have nothing to strive for: that new job or promotion, buying a house, starting a family, whatever it may be, without these things to long for, we lose purpose. However, if we are constantly looking forward to the next thing, then we can never enjoy the moment and what we have right now. And worse, what we do have gets devalued to the point of not really mattering, because it isn’t making us happy.

In order to truly feel happy and satisfied, we need to live in the moment and accept it for what it is. Even when we have to wait for that perfect job to come along, we need to be thankful of the job we do have that is paying the bills, even if it isn’t the dream job yet. It will come. If we are waiting to move to a new place until we can actually afford it, then we need to appreciate the place that we are living in now and take it one month at a time, putting money aside for the place that we desire. If we are waiting to take that vacation because it just isn’t the right timing, or money is tight, then we need to be thankful that we have the luxury in life to even think of taking a vacation. Some things can feel like a torment to wait for, but things can always be worse.

The true key to being happy is to focus on the wonderful things that we do have in our lives as opposed to focusing on the things that we don’t have.

If You Never Ask Then You’ll Never Know

I recently started a new job; my life lately has been filled with learning new things and getting into a new rhythm and trying to steadily increase my work performance. When friends asked me if I was still planning on attending trips that we had planned before I got my job, I immediately responded by saying “I can’t, I just started work, I can’t possibly ask for time off.”

However, after some time I figured the worst thing that could happen after I ask is that they say no. Which really isn’t that bad of an outcome at all and then at least I would know for sure. And then I would actually be in the same situation as not asking. By not asking I have already resolved myself to a ‘no’.

I began to think about how many times I have let opportunities pass me by simply because I did not want to ask; whether it was because I thought that I couldn’t or I was too afraid to know the answer. Wayne Gretzky said something on this subject that has always stuck with me; he said “you miss 100% of the shots that you never take”. So in other words, in being too afraid to lose to even try…I’ve already lost.

So, I decided to ask for the time off, even though I was sure it would probably be declined, and prefaced the request with a statement that I was completely fine with it being declined but that I needed to at least ask. And yes, you guessed it, I got the time off. I just got back from a gorgeous weekend in Spain with one of my best friends and we had such a wonderful time together, and good quality time to talk, which we both needed. I can’t believe I almost gave up this opportunity that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

There are worse things than asking and hearing no; whether it is for vacation time, a raise, working from home, or asking that person you like if they feel the same way. It is better to know and it is better to try, otherwise we will never know what amazing things we could be missing out on.

Published in Fusia magazine, July 2015

Plans and Improvisation

I am a ‘Type A’ personality and a bit of a control freak, so I tend to always have to have a plan. I have come to realize, however, that planning is good, but not always practical. Or more specifically, plans don’t necessarily work out the way that we intended. It is good to be able to have a clear plan in view, but it is just as important to be able to adapt to the randomness that will inevitably creep in and throw that plan off course.

I had a clear trajectory for my life, which included 5 years of university, 6 internships, and upon graduation, 6 months to 1 year of struggling to get in at the bottom rung of a publishing company and work my way up the ladder for the next 5 years into the position of my dreams. This is all well and good, but I quickly began to realize that it is delusional and childish thinking. It’s been 3 years since graduating from my Masters program and I am no closer to that bottom rung.

life

I used to think that if something didn’t quite work out the way that I intended, that I had failed in some way. If I didn’t get the job, I probably said or did something wrong in the interview. If I didn’t achieve the dream that I set out for myself, I must be somehow lacking in some desired skill or trait. So, even with over $30,000 of student loan debt hanging over my head, I was convinced that I just needed to take more professional development courses and go to networking events and somehow I would get the ‘big break’ I was waiting for. I kept telling myself that throwing away some of my hard earned low-income salary on courses and ‘networking events’ were an essential investment in my future and were a necessary step to sticking to the plan and keeping my career goals on track. I didn’t know how to think outside of my academic bubble and more education seemed to be the only answer to me.

The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result. I spent three years insanely trying to make my career take off. I finally got to a point where I realized that my life wasn’t working out as planned and I was tired of trying the same avenues, so I made the radical decision to deviate from the plan. I decided that my career wasn’t going anywhere, but I was going to lose my mind if I didn’t break the chain. I made the radical decision to STOP focusing on my career, the one thing that consumed my thoughts day and night and made me lose sleep, and focus just on me.

After all, there was definitely more to me than my job (or lack thereof), but somehow I had lost sight of that. I had gotten to a point where I forgot who I was outside of my self-imposed title of failure ‘three years and no career in sight.’ I didn’t like this about myself and I didn’t like how much importance I was placing on my career. I was stuck in the delusional thinking that ‘everything will be better when…,’ and I was placing all of my happiness on this ‘thing’ that seemed to keep alluding me. Self-confidence and happiness is not a goal for the future with prerequisites; happiness is a personal choice in the present.

So I thought, what makes me happy? What do I enjoy the most and is something I would do with my free time that has absolutely nothing to do with work and building a career? The answer was travel. So, although it wasn’t planned, it definitely was needed. I saved up my money for a flight instead of for more courses and networking events, and I applied for my work and travel visa and came to Germany (which I have mentioned in many articles already).

The thought overwhelms me even now. Take some time to think about this. What if every time our plans don’t work out and we feel hopeless, defeated, and lost…what if we have actually succeeded at moving our life boat one step closer to the finish line that is just out of view? What if in the moments that we fail, we are really succeeding in getting to the very point that we are supposed to be heading towards?

I like this idea very much and am now thinking about ‘failure’ in a completely different way, and I think a much healthier way. Plans are good. Thinking your plan has failed, though, isn’t. So maybe, when things don’t go according to plan, think of these moments as not failures, but improvisations; necessary deviations that are directing you in the way that you should go.

In the words of the very wise John Lennon, “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.”

IMG_1814

Mallorca, Spain

Whenever I think of the word vacation, I think of warm sunny weather, a white sandy beach with turquoise blue water, palm trees, and a cocktail in my hand while I sun tan. I’m sure that I’m not alone in this imagery.

So, when I was asked by a friend to go on vacation with her, this is the image I had in mind. We decided on a 4 day long weekend on the Spanish island, Majorca, and believe me; my vision of avacation was indeed fulfilled.

IMG_2853IMG_2893IMG_2902IMG_2903

We languidly laid on a gorgeous beach until we were pleasantly tanned. Days consisted of sun, sand, and food, with the occasional ice-cream and cocktail thrown in for good measure. All in all the vacation was everything that I hoped it would be.

We stayed at the Hotel Delfin in Santa Ponsa, since we were intent on relaxing and staying away from party central. With only a 2 minute walk to the beach, we were in an optimal location. Though the food from the hotel left much to be desired, there was a wonderful selection of restaurants around town that more than sufficed.

Taking a half da y away from the beach, we decided to tour Old Palma city. I am so grateful that we did. Not because I wasn’t enjoying myself on the beach, I absolutely was; however, in general I found that Mallorca is one of those overly tourist destinations and I felt like I was missing out on getting any real impression of Spain. Luckily, Old Palma delivered on this account. The tall and regal architecture and narrow streets were iconic of old Spanish cities. Coupled with the most exquisite gelato, shopping in Moda boutiques, and enjoying Tapas at a quaint café for lunch, I feel like we fit in the best Spanish experience that Mallorca has to offer. The city itself was breathtakingly beautiful and I would recommend venturing out for a tour if you find yourself in the area.

IMG_2811IMG_2841IMG_2912IMG_2814

 

 

We topped off our city touring day with a stop by another beach in the area. It was one of the most beautiful beache s I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting, nestled in a cove of rocks like a wonderfully kept little secret. Again, it’s worth the trip out if you have the time. Just beware though that everything beautiful, like a rose, has its thorns. Apparently this beach is inhabited by a type of fish that hides in the sand and bites your ankles or heels when you get too close. Both my friend and I got bitten. Not to let that scare you off, I would still do it all over again even knowing what lurks below.

If you are hoping to be immersed in Spanish culture, then Mallorca probably isn’t the destination for you. However, if you want to relax on gorgeous beaches in the sunshine, leave with a glorious tan in only 3.5 days, and have a bountiful variety of food at you disposal, Mallorca should be your next vacation destination.

Published in Fusia magazine, July 2015

A Stroll Around Old-Town Colmar, France

featureimage

When I found out that the border to France was only a 30 minute drive from Freiburg, I naturally thought it was imperative for me to take advantage of the close proximity.

IMG_1536IMG_1558As you may recall from my last article, I was in Freiburg with friends who were attending a wedding. We were sitting around eating a very normal breakfast the day after the wedding when I mentioned “you know we could be in France right now eating an amazing breakfast, since the border is only 30 minutes away”.  Everyone replied, “What!?!?! Why didn’t you say something sooner?” Well of course I assumed they already knew, but since it was a little too late for breakfast, we decided to plan the next best thing. Like a page out of a book of someone else’s incredibly swanky life, we all decided to drive to France just to have dinner and then drive back. And all of this time I thought that the only people who could say “I had breakfast in Germany and Dinner in France” owned their own a private jet.

Being French-Canadian, any time I go to France it feels like I am returning to the promise land or something; it feels like coming home. This is precisely how I felt when we crossed the border into France.

The beautiful little village near the France-Germany border is Colmar, with Old-Town Colmar being a particular draw for tourists.

IMG_1604IMG_1592

 

 

 

 

 

 

Located so close to Germany, you can definitely make out German influences in the architecture; however, the atmosphere is distinctly French.

IMG_1566IMG_1565IMG_1539IMG_1532IMG_1553

 

Furthermore, there was an impressive display of archways and waterways thorughout the old town that particularly captured my attention.

IMG_1560IMG_1642IMG_1644

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1638IMG_1635IMG_1618

 

 

 

 

We walked down the beautiful cobble stone streets and I let the sound of my second language flood my ears. It is always a very interesting experience when you get to take one of your stored away, rusty, old languages out to play.

IMG_1663596px-Martinsmünster_Colmar_Vordere_Seitenansicht

 

 

 

 

We toured around Colmar appreciating all of the little things and doing some harmless window shopping. We got to the main town square, by the St Martin’s Church, and noticed that there was a spring fair set up, which we spent some time perusing even though the vendors were packing everything up. Colourful booths lined the square, spring decorations hung from all of the trees, and there were flowers everywhere.

IMG_1583IMG_1575

The set up seemed to be quite festive for a seasonal celebration; however, as Colmar is a major tourist destination, with great foot traffic comes great opportunity. Not to mention, these little festivals lend a little extra flare to the place and only add to its touristic charm.

And yet, I think that this Old-Town is always bustling with life, no matter the time of year or time of day. This square, even though it was getting late, was full of people, and of course you had the stereotypical French cafés and restaurants that were consistently busy with a stream of people. The café culture is one of the things I love the most about France; sitting on a patio enjoying a coffee or wine in the middle of the day for no other reason than because you want to. Vive la France!

IMG_1608IMG_1664

Aside from doing the drive simply because it seemed absolutely ridiculous not to, we were there with an aim…and a very important aim at that: to eat! I will never trash German cuisine, but it simply cannot compete with French cuisine. Not very much can. We French people, we just know how to enjoy life through food. Unfortunately, all of the patisseries were closed by the time that we got there (which is why we should have gone for breakfast), but there were still many high-quality restaurants open to choose from. We found a gorgeous little place and I got adventurous enough to try what I thought sounded like the most French thing on the menu: grenouille (which is frog legs for those who don’t speak French).

IMG_1657

The grenouille tasted like a mix between fish and chicken, there’s really no other way for me to explain it, but it was cooked to perfection in a delicious tomato sauce. Overall the food was fantastic.

I was a little sad that I didn’t get my traditional favorites, like crème brulee or my staple patisserie favorites, but all in all the trip was well worth it, especially for a spontaneous trip that we took on a crazy whim. The timing may not have been perfect, but Old-Town Colmar was definitely worth it.

 

Published in Fusia magazine, June 2015

Strasbourg, France

Chess Game in the Square

I very much enjoyed this city. It had quaint cultural elements that gave it a certain joie de vivre. When we got to the centre square, we were greeted by a gorgeous carrousel as well as an extensive chess game where tourists and locals could take on a local master. The square was so full of life and vibrancy, it was impossible not to fall in love with it.

IMG_1853

We also took our time perusing the Cathedral Notre Dame de Strasbourg, which is not as beautiful and famous as its Parisian counterpart, but it was nevertheless impressive. Much of the architecture, like most European cities, was quite remarkable. Being so close to the border of Germany, you could still see German influences in a lot of the buildings around Strasbourg. However, there was also something so uniquely French about this city. There were numerous beautiful waterways and canals, as well as stone bridges. It is really a wonderful city to leisurely walk around.

House covered in Lavender

One thing that really impressed me was a house that we passed by that was covered in lavender. From plants ascending the outer walls of the house, to an entire lavender canopied walkway leading up to the house, it was a pleasure for both the eyes and the nose. Lavender is just about as French as it gets.

Of course, the most impressive thing – and it always is about France – was the food. As you may recall from my Colmar article, what I missed out on in my last trip to France was all of my patisserie favourites. I more than made up for that this time around! I will first note that anyone who has never tried Millfeuille has not lived! This is my absolute patisserie favourite. It is layer after layer of flaky pastry goodness paired with a delicious creamy custard and topped with a chocolate and glaze like finishing layer. It is out of this word! It is the perfect treat because it is not too sweet and just bursting with flavour. As a cautionary note, it is a little difficult to eat, since when you bite down on all of these delicious layers everything gets pushed out of order, but the mess is worth every single bite.

Patisserie Favourites

My other favourite include Macrons, which I bought from Paul’s bakery. If you are ever in France you should try to find a Paul’s somewhere. It is some of the most extraordinary baked goods that you will ever come across. There was also, of course, an impressive selection of breads and other baked goods. We also passed by a patisseries that had a wonderful selection of chocolate and candy. Have I succeeded in making you hungry yet?

All in all, the trip was fantastic because the weather was beautiful, the food was absolutely fantastic, and the company was amazing. As long as you have good weather, good food, and good people to share it with, nothing else really matters.

 

Published in Fusia magazine, July 2015