The case of the Empty Paper Bag on Valentine’s Day

What I love most about Valentine’s Day are the memories.  Valentine Day memories from grade’s 1 to 6 where in our innocence we made Valentine’s Day cards, Valentine’s Day Garland, ate red frosted sugar cookies and cinnamon hearts.

I fondly think of the pink and red construction paper, diligently cutting out heart shapes, stringing together our creations, white paper doilies, glitter and glue.

This Valentine’s Day I spent with my family.  What better way to celebrate the day of Love.

My nieces were pretty excited to show me their paper bags full of Valentine’s when their dad dead panned, “I was that kid who usually had an empty Valentine’s Day paper bag.”

“Seriously!” my sister and I said in unison.  I could hardly imagine my brother-in-law going home empty handed each Valentine’s Day.  It made me sad to think some child might be going home without Valentine’s Day cards!

Both my nieces sat quietly, contemplating.

After a few moments of trying to think up all the possible reasons for her dad’s Valentine’s Day misfortunes as a child, one of my nieces posed the question.

“Dad” big pause, “did you used to fart then too?”

Dad didn’t hear the question and asked her to repeat it again.

“Did you used to fart?” she emphasized.

Joie de vivre

It’s past my bedtime, but I am so tempted to post today, plus tomorrow’s lunch and dinner is in the oven and it would be very wrong to go to bed and let it burn. I know this post is going to go a little all over the place and I apologize in advance.

This weekend turned out to be a little bit like a parabolic graph and it’s a wonderful feeling when strangers, acquaintances, friends and family all mysteriously come together to add sunshine and sprinkle a little humour here and there.

We wont talk about the low point of the parabolic (I just love this word, sorry!) weekend, because it’s really unimportant. The important part was learning something and well, seeing the bright side of what looked like a lot of doom and gloom 🙂 . We don’t like doom and gloom, they are terrible words and even worse feelings.

What was so wonderful about the weekend? It’s really hard to explain. It’s more of a collection of events at the beginning and end that are linked together by a connection of belonging, attachment and a certain kind of Joie de vivre.

I spent two evenings out with girlfriends, both long overdue and needed.

However, it was the second evening’s coffee adventure that we ladies were interrupted by the unlikeliest (another word I rather enjoy) gentleman who couldn’t resist sitting next us (we were hogging the couches). We warned him that the material we may end up discussing would more than likely be a little offside and maybe offensive for his ears! He said he was prepared. He had two older sisters, a girlfriend who shared more than enough with him and besides he was going to be listening to his MP3 player.

Must I tell you, more than once we saw him smirking at our conversation that included a game of comedic charades. We were laughing so hard that no matter how high he turned up the volume of waves crashing into the surf, he eventually gave in and joined the discussion. I just wanted to tell this story, because well, never sit beside a gaggle of women! You will either get annoyed and leave or be forced to join the hokey pokey conversation!

What I really wanted to talk about was the Joie de vivre. I am sure it can mean different things to each of us individually.

Just over three months ago I decided I had too much free time and needed to fill in my off-days at the dealership. My sister highly recommended taking up a part-time job at Pier 1 Imports. I landed a Sales Associate job, was given a nice blue apron and spent a few days going through training.

If you are like me you are thinking training, really, it’s a Retail sales associate job. Why would anyone need a few days of training, don’t you just have to greet people, cash them out and send them on their merry way?

You’d think that right? I certainly did.

Well Pier 1 Imports it turns out is more than just a retail sales job. I like to call it my paid volunteer job because that is exactly what it feels like. Who knew that working in a retail store making minimum wage could have any impact changing how one views the world?

It has for me.

It’s this job that I have met many intriguing women; from the people I work with to the customers who come into the store looking for something new to spruce up their space. Everyone has a story, something learned and most are willing to share a tidbit here and there.

The store is more than great merchandise that has a rich background. It exudes a culture that permeates the entire organization that I can only imagine a handful of companies ever truly get to enjoy. It is one giant army spread across the globe marching towards a common goal. I have never experienced anything quite like this unity, their message and vision is consistent, authentic and believable. They have One Voice.

What amazes me the most is Pier 1 has perfected the process in which to induce a positive emotional response from their employees that draws out their strengths and creates a strong team.

So what’s all this post have to do with the Joie de vivre.

I realized tonight while sitting in our late evening staff meeting that it’s pretty nice to be part of something that holds so much positive energy (I have no idea if energy is the right term here :)). To not only have a strong, positive social network of women and men in my life, but also to have the opportunity to work with a group of people who have a Joie de vivre. People who are looking beyond status quo and have choosen to be part of something that values who they are and what they can offer.

I am doing my best to be realistic and not romanticize this job but perhaps it’s giving me an avenue to consider my dreams a reality. I have not always chased my dreams, I am guilty of putting them in the cupboard, shutting the door and leaving them there to collect dust.

It wasn’t until last year when I was hilariously chased down Queen Street by a gentleman looking for my number that I realized what a terrible mistake I was making. I honestly believe some of the most ridiculous things happen for a good reason and that story is one of them! You are all wondering, yes he did get my number and we did share an afternoon or two at the local ice cream shop talking about life. It was a curious conversation worth having with a man twice my age that got me thinking about my Joie de vivre.

To me, Joie de vivre is when we are able to let go of the pressure and the expectation to be anything different than who we are in our hearts.

When I left home for college, my mom had sent me a note that said something like this “We will miss you and I am sure that the people you meet will enjoy you as much as we enjoy you.” I discounted it for many years, what joy could I possibly bring anyone when I was not even happy myself.

Today I realize that we are most enjoyed when we are at our best and being at our best is when we are willing to be ourselves and by being ourselves we will find our Joie de vivre! 🙂

Sunday With My Double-First

Sunday With My Double-First

What a productive day! It has been over 2 years since I have owned a fan and well, today I made the decision to purchase a new one. I was tempted by the Wind Machine 3300, it does looks fairly aggressive and would do the job, but I feel that my new Blizzard fan will suffice.

Now you are all wondering what could my double-first possibly be, well it is a little bit like a syndrome that needs plenty of explaining and believe me, this is not the forum to adequately clarify, suffice it to say double-first means double the crazy. My double-first and I spent Sunday doing not a lot of anything besides reminiscing about past adventures.

One particular adventure I’d like to share is the Hilda Street adventure. I can only imagine those looking through the glass at our disconnected situation and saying “those poor girls…” but instead I look back and say “where were their parents hahaha” Well we all know where their parents were…likely in the dark 🙂 but isn’t that where parents are a lot of the times when we first leave home looking for adventure and a place to spread our wings (and hopefully not come crashing down).

Here goes “The story of pilfering curb side furniture – like convicts on the lam”

We were poor new graduates and student, living in a dark basement (it does sound like a prison already) but inside our prison the walls were painted bright yellow and some other colour I can’t remember. There were three of us tucked into the basement, joy-riding on the weekends and being responsible young adults during the week.

One fine night on our way home from someplace important, we caught sight of our neighbours old couches on the curb side – obviously put there for (I can’t believe I am admitting this!) garbage pick-up. You see we didn’t have any couches in our fine basement apartment, the 4th house mate up and got married?! and took her furniture back to the store where she’d bought it one year prior. Folks it is possible to return almost anything!! The floral loveseat and couch looked pretty appealing in our situation.

Between a cement floor and padding for our buttocks, well let’s just say the padding won out. I admit I can’t remember all the details clearly, but we secured the love seat and were ready to dash back across the road to get the couch when the folks decided to open their front door. We likely were making a racket, giggling and whispering loudly about our covert operation that wasn’t so covert at all.

As soon as that door swung open, we scampered away from the light and behind cars parked on the street. Can you envision three heads poking up from the hood of a car checking to make sure the coast was clear?! That was us. When the door shut we counted to 10 and rescued the couch.

Now the couch was pretty long, it was like an extended version of a normal length couch and getting it down the stairs and around the corner to our lovely living room was a bit of a challenge. If I recall correctly we did take out some drywall on the way down the stairs. 🙂

Our couches turned out to be great finds, they travelled to a new apartment and eventually found their way to the…garbage. Who knows, we never stood vigil with the couches at the back of our building when we did part ways, they may have been rescued a second time to a third, fourth, fifth loving home!