Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Why to Choose Who You Spend Time With Wisely

Happy New Year, all!

In line with the theme of resolutions and the making of good choices to improve ones life, an oft ignored or minimized aspect of our lives which deserves far more careful consideration than we tend to give it.  Its one that, on being more mindful and thoughtful with regard to this part of our lives, can improve the satisfaction and joy of our life in major, significant ways.  You will absolutely notice the difference in your own life once you begin applying it.

What exactly am I referring to?

The mindful, careful, thoughtful choosing of those with whom you surround yourself and spend time.

First off, this applies to basically everyone in our life.  Friends, romantic partners, and yes, even family.  Because while you cannot choose to whom you are born or related, you absolutely can choose (though not necessarily without pain and loss) which family members you allow in your life and heart.  Just because someone is your blood, even your sibling or parent, does not mean they are a healthy or good presence for you.  For many people, they are.  And for many, sadly, these people are not.

You will need to choose, not what is easiest but what is healthiest and truly best for you.  All of this is of course, relative to the person, relationship, and situation.

With all of that said, how does one do that?  Be mindful and choosy when picking who they hang out with.  And, why is this so important to ones happiness and even, ones health?

First off, why is this such a crucial life thing?  Choosing carefully with whom you surround yourself.

Because it determines your health, your habits, your happiness and sense of connectedness, and your overall life satisfaction and joy.  We become like the people with whom we spend the most time.  Studies have shown this to be true, time and time again.

If you hang out with people who do drugs, smoke, or drink a lot, you are several times more likely to partake in those activities yourself.  Even if those things had not interested you much prior.  If you spend time with people who are into healthy eating and exercise, you are way more likely to find yourself engaging in those activities and mindsets.

If you hang in the company of people who are often negative, bitter, gossipy, mean, and/or unhappy, you are far more likely to feel less happy, more cynical, and crappy yourself.  Yes, moods rub off and are, to a degree, contagious.  Whereas, if you surround yourself with people who are joyful, contented, upbeat, grateful, and kind, you are more likely, by leaps and bounds, to both feel these same emotions and adapt a similar demeanor.

If you join company with those who are movers and shakers, inspired and hard working, creative and adventurous, you have way higher likelihood of adapting these behaviors and temperaments.  Whereas if you spend time with people who are largely lazy, or dont do much in their lives, who arent especially open thinking or adventurous, you are more likely to slide into similar ways of thinking and being.

Emotionally and mentally healthy people tend to hang out with those like them.  And by the same token, emotionally and mentally unhealthy people tend to gravitate toward and bond with those who are similar.  Because people who are truly healthy are not drawn towards those who are unhealthy.  They sense it, and keep their distance.

We often significantly under-estimate just how much of an influence and impact the company we keep has on our psyches, habits, and life satisfaction.

One red flag to look out for, if you have a relationship with someone who tends to talk a lot about themselves, their issues, their dramas, their accomplishments, their interests, their opinions, their life happenings, and show little to no genuine, true depth of interest or focus on yours?  This friendship is likely to leave you feeling left wanting.  Not connected or satisfied, even lonely.  While everyone does this on occasion, talk more than the other person (and sometimes, that is totally ok), it should generally feel balanced.  You should feel as though, overall, there is a mutual sense of sharing, interest, talking, and listening.

Though most crucial to differentiate: this isn't actually a friendship in the first place- if the relationship is largely all about the other person.  Then, its more of a using situation.  One person using the other as a dumping ground and as a means to feel a semblance of being heard, while not showing interest or curiosity in, nor hearing the other.  Not good. 

So, a "friend" is not necessarily a friend.  

Someone is not actually better than nothing.  

Quantity does not matter in the least.  Quality is where the tipping point lies.

We have both, such limited free time in our often over-scheduled and ever busy lives, as well as limited time here on earth in which to revel in life, love, and what truly lights us up inside.  We dont have time to waste on relationships that are mediocre, mostly stressful, or even crappy and downright unhealthy.

You can love someone and still have limits, even strong ones.  You can care for someone deeply and simultaneously recognize that they arent great for you to spend time around (and adjust your boundaries accordingly).  You can also generally like someone as a person just fine (say, a colleague or acquaintance), while recognizing that they are not someone with whom you would wish to invest significant time otherwise.  That doesn't make you a bad person, nor them.  You can also have a healthy, joyous, and satisfying relationship with someone for a time, even a long time, and then something changes and it is no longer a great, healthy fit for you.  This is ok, and even normal too.

The trick is remaining mindful.  Relationships are ever shifting, growing, and changing.  Its important to both: choose wisely in the first place, as well as, to continually check in and re-evaluate.

So, now we know why choosing the people in our lives is so important.

Now, how to choose carefully?

First, do not just jump into a friendship with someone full fledged, with both feet right off the bat, without getting to know someone first.  Observe them prior to making this decision, in varying situations if possible.  Listen to the words they say.  Watch how they act.  What do their values seem to be.  Are they a great listener?  Are they warm and kind?  Do they have strong morals?  Are they as interested in you, as you are them?  (Hint: their actions, not their words, will show this).  Are they respectful?

Spend time with someone a handful of times, not with the mindset of already "we are already friends.  Cool.  Done."  But instead, with the mindset of getting to know and considering this personAre they someone in whom you want to invest, and whom you wish to invite into your life further?

Next, consider the follow questions about them as you get to know this person:

1. Does this person show genuine, significant interest in me as a person, my life, feelings, experiences, etc?  Do they ask, and actually listen to the responses?  Are they curious about you, both, asking about updates since they saw you last, as well as continuing to learn more about you as the relationship goes along?  This curiosity should be obvious, and lasting.

If not, if the person is largely interested instead in talking about themselves, its likely they may be lonely and are just looking for any person onto whom they can latch (so its not necessarily a real interest in you- in this case.  They will take anyone), they might be incredibly self centered, or just not that genuinely interested in you as a person.  None of these make for someone who is emotionally available enough to be a real friend.

Because a friendship, or any relationship (romantic, familial) are all investments, and not small ones.  If someone does not show equal interest and effort towards you that you feel and have for them?  Forget it.  Not a worthwhile investment for you.  Its one that will cost a lot and drain you, without offering much fulfillment in return.

2.  Is this person, for the most part, fun to be around?  A joyous presence?  Uplifting and emotionally healthy?

Of course, no one is 100% happy and fun all the time.  On occasions, friendships will entail lending a supportive and loving ear.  Listening when it might be somewhat tiring and a bit of a downer.  Involving some semblance of sacrifice or stretching oneself.  Sometimes, friendship has periods of challenge and necessary support.  However, a friendship should be, for the most part (80-85% of it), a happy and fun thing.

If you find that a friendship has become resoundingly negative, it might be time to either have a heart to heart with your friend, and if things dont get better, potentially reconsider.  Because, while part of being a good friend means being supportive, it does not mean allowing them to drag your down frequently, or dump on you consistently and most of the time.  That results in an emotionally unhealthy, heavy, majorly lopsided friendship.

3.  Do they inspire and bring out the best in you?

Do you tend to feel, in this persons company, like your most awesome self?  Inspired?  Happy?  Prompted towards trying your best?  Encouraged?  Challenged in positive ways?  These are all good things.

Or, does someone tend to make you feel uninspired, lazy, like a crappier version of yourself, bored, or even brought down?  Do they complain a lot?  Do they bring out unhealthy or bad behaviors and modes of thinking within you?  Not good.

4.  Are they reliable?  Trustworthy?  Do they keep their word?  

Real friends, those worth investing in, are willing to invest in you too.  Thus, they are reliable.  Barring very rare occasions, they keep dates you have made.  You know that if you tell them something personal, they will hold the information with care and respect, as well as without judgement.  You can count on this person.

5.  Do they prioritize spending time with you?  Commit to and remember the date?  Is it clear that spending time with, as well as listening to and getting to know you, is important to them?

A genuine friend is someone who makes it obvious that spending time with you is important and a joy in their life.  They are willing to commit to a date and time.  They stay in touch with you.  Reciprocate interest, not with words but with action.  They make the time to hang out with you and enjoy your company routinely.

6.  Are they lovingly honest?

When you truly care for someone, you will tell them the truth, even if it might be difficult.  In reference to the bestselling book "The Road Less Traveled" by Scott Peck, when you care deeply for/love someone and witness them hurting either themselves or others with their actions or choices, you say something.  Essentially being willing to "risk the relationship" if you will, to tell them where you see their hurtful choices happening.  Even if it pisses off or hurts them.

When you genuinely care about someone, you cannot and do not stand by silently and say nothing.  If you choose to say nothing?  They isn't care or love, its taking the easier, less caring, more cowardly route.

However, important note on honesty, some people think honesty means uncensored, harsh, strident, even cruel.  No.  This isn't love either.  Its nastiness and cruelty, even a form of hatred.  You can be honest while still being loving and kind.  While still choosing your words mindfully.

7.  Do they accept, love, and celebrate you for who you are?

Real friends who actually love you, they do not try to change you.  They do not criticize or put you down.  They do not judge or condemn you.  They are open hearted, supportive, and celebrate you for the person you are.  Its obvious, via both action and word, that this person likes and even loves you for the person you are.  That they see both your strength and awesome traits, as well as your challenges and crappier ones, and they love you anyway.

To conclude with two quotes I love and feel strongly depict genuine, emotionally close, healthy and positive, truly great friendships (which are rarer than you think- but again, this is largely in your control.  Dont just grab anyone who seems cool off the bat.  Get to know them first slowly, observe and consider their character as you get to know them, and choose wisely):

Friday, January 4, 2019

The Courage to be Disliked

What does this mean?  Courage in the face of not being liked?  And more importantly, why would anyone wish to be accepting of such?  Don’t we all long to be liked?  Isn't it preferable to try our best to be liked by most others, if possible?  Who is truly comfortable and cool with people not liking them?  Most of us tend to feel sad or shamed, disheartened or bummed, on learning of others disliking us.  This is natural, to yearn being liked by others.  And yet, it’s a yearning that can ruin your emotional life, adding boatloads of anxiety, sadness, and dissatisfaction to one’s life.  It is an aspect of life of utmost importance that you become accepting and even comfortable with being disliked.

How so?

Why is it crucial to garner the courage to be disliked in life?

Some crucial questions to ponder first:

--Is being disliked (to a certain degree) inevitable in life?  Or, might we possibly be able to make the vast majority of others like us, in how we act and speak?
--Is being ok and even completely alright with being disliked important?  Or misguided?
--Is being disliked a reflection on our worth or actual likability?
--How, if it’s true that being disliked is normal, and even sometimes good, might being at peace with being disliked, make our lives infinity better?  Freer?  Lighter?  More focused and confident?  
--Why is it important to be comfortable with being disliked?

Being disliked, to a certain degree, is inevitable.  One can bend, twist, impress upon, and attempt making themselves likable to an extreme degree, and yet, even then, there will still be people sometimes who will not like you.  Why?  Because this is part and parcel with life.  We all have different tastes in friends, people, colleagues, romantic attractions.  We all have wildly differing perceptions of one another, most of which are inaccurate to some degree.  We all gravitate toward and vibe with particular people, and not with others.  We each have different preferences, personality types of our own, varying levels of personal emotional health, and personal temperaments, all of which affect to whom we are drawn towards and like.  This is a normal and unavoidable aspect of human life and relations.  And thus, there will always, ever be at least a few people who, try as you might, will not like you.  

And it can be for any number of reasons.  Some of which may be based on fact, and others which will be based on incorrect perception and assumptions.  Haven’t you ever disliked someone, felt rubbed the wrong way by a person, and been unable to explain why?  Even felt slightly guilty about it?  Knowing you had no concrete reasons for such, but you just find this person kind of meh or ick?  Well.  We have all had this experience, both in feeling it towards others, and being the recipient of such in people feeling it towards us.  Its life.

None of this is of course, allowance nor reason to throw up one’s hands and say, fine, then I don’t care what anyone thinks.  I won’t even try.  I will just be a rude jerk since I cannot control what people think of me anyway.  Not so fast.  One should still strive towards being their best self throughout daily life, and the whole of their lives.  Strive towards growth, personal betterment, and being the most optimal version of yourself every day.  However, do not do this for the pleasing of others.  That is where the mistake comes in- because it’s a futile effort and will only result in a disheartening emotional roller coaster- feeling awesome when people like or approve of you, and awful when they don’t.  Ever emotionally at the whim of others opinions.  

Learn to stand strong, regardless of outer circumstances.

Instead, be your best self because you want to feel good inside.  Because you want to present your utmost self to the world and to others.  In this case, the right people will gravitate towards and like you, and the ones who aren’t so much "your people," will not.  But then that’s ok anyway.

Remember, when you bend yourself to everyone else’s whims, and are ever rushing to please, this results in you living life for others.  Ever attempting to mold yourself into a person you are (often) not.  Almost begging by means of sacrificing yourself, in order to earn liking and affirmation by others.  There is nothing wrong with wishing to be liked.  We all desire such.  And again, strive toward being your best self.  But to conclude, this means being your best self for you.  Making choices based on your morals, beliefs, and life compass.  Not for others.  And all the while, knowing and accepting that for you, as with everyone, there will always be people who will like you, and people who will not.  That this is ok and an unavoidable part of life.  And that basing your happiness around such is a recipe for misery, and living your life at the whim of others.

It is ok, and even crucial, to become at peace and accepting with the aspect of life that sometimes, you, all of us, will be disliked.  In fact, if one isn't at peace with this idea, it will cause significant personal insecurity, worry, emotional ups and downs, as well as sadness.  One constantly worrying then: did I please that person?  Does this colleague like me?  What do they think when I skip game night because I am tired after work?  Was my boss mad when I didn’t stay late, even though my home life is equally important to me?  Did my friend think it was lame that I only stayed two hours for coffee?  Was my mom mad that I didn’t want to go out with her on Friday?  Was my dad disappointed that I didn’t go to the college he wished I would?  Did the girl I just went on a 3rd date with think my joke was lame?  

All this line of thinking is unnecessary and can be avoided on accepting that sometimes, people will not like you (or, maybe not dislike you personally, but the choices you made or things you do), and that this is ok.  Yes, sometimes even your friends and closest loved ones will rub you the wrong way, piss you off, disappoint, or hurt you.  This happens too.  You will also do the same for them sometimes as well ;-). 

This acceptance of such is also part of having healthy boundaries.  When a person is perpetually thrown and deeply affected by what everyone else thinks of them, this is having incredibly poor personal boundaries and is a recipe for much emotional struggle and strife through one’s life.  Yes, strive to be your best self.  Do not though allow others opinions of you to dictate your sense of self-worth or mood.  Be your best, and let others opinions go and rest.

“A way of living in which one is constantly troubled by how one is seen by others is a self-centered lifestyle in which one’s sole concern is with the “I.”
Ichiro Kishimi, The Courage to Be Disliked: How to Free Yourself, Change Your Life, and Achieve Real Happiness

Being disliked, the vast majority of the time, is not a reflection on you.  Instead, it’s a reflection on the other person (whether a positive, negative, or neutral one).  Maybe their perspective or personal tastes, which are different than yours or you.  Possibly their lack of openness.  Maybe a reflection on their own emotional health, moods, you name it, the reasons can go on and on.  Also, some people are not especially nice or happy and thus, feel bitterness and anger towards those who are, and tend to dislike people who are happier and more contented with themselves with a combination of jealousy and resentment.  Some people are just not very kind, warm hearted, or open.  

Regardless of the reason someone may not like you, none of this reflects on your worth though.  And as just mentioned, sometimes it reflects not so nicely on them, even.  There will always be people who will like you, and always be people who will not.  This stands true for everyone.  It’s not a reflection of that particular person’s likability but instead, a reflection of peoples varying tastes and perceptions.  That’s all.  

One caveat: there are of course, some people who are truly bad inside.  Cruel hearted, nasty, untrustworthy, manipulative, aggressive, or maybe just angry people.  Often, these people have stormy relationships, filled with ups and downs, if they have lasting or truly close relationships any at all.  These people likely find themselves frequently disliked and at odds with others.  In this case, it can be a sign for inward reflection and careful consideration of oneself, if finding one’s personal relationships frequently in strife, with many ups and downs, or often even ending altogether.  More often than not though, someone not liking you has nothing to do with your likability, as literally all of us are disliked sometimes, as is life.

Acceptance of the knowledge that throughout life, you will be disliked, allows one an amazing sense of personal freedom inside.  Think about it.  When one is perpetually occupied and concerned with what everyone thinks of them, not only is that majorly emotionally consuming, it’s also tiring and distracting.  This takes up a lot of space in one’s heart and mind.  Adding much worry to a person’s life.  

When you let go and accept that, even in being your best self, some people will like you, even love you, while others will not, this takes an immense weight off one’s mind and heart.  It allows for an amazing and crucial sense of freedom in your life.  To be who you are, revel in the relationships with those who do love and like you, and not worry about the ones who do not.  

This might be the most important skill and mindset you learn in life.  Accepting and being at peace with the idea that there will always be some people who will not like you.

Side note: sometimes, this can even be people you love dearly.  Such as, a parent disagreeing or disapproving with a choice you've made, or a friend being disappointed in something you have chosen or done (or, not done).  Again, same logic still applies.  When people love you, they may be disappointed or upset for a time when you have done something of which they cannot understand or do not like, and yet, if they truly love and like you, they will get over it.  Assuming it’s not a moral or ethical issue, in which case, that might result differently.  Sometimes people even, at its most extreme, part ways over things like this.  And that is ok too, on both sides of the situation.  

However, if someone whom you love deeply and to whom you are quite close is incredibly upset by a choice you have made or are making, by all means, consider their point of view.  Maybe they have a perspective you hadn't considered.  Maybe their concern is worthwhile or well founded.  If so, think about such.  However, if not, if they simply do not like something you are doing which in no way harms you or others, and isn’t really a moral or ethical dilemma, then it is likely something you should still pursue with confidence and just allow them to get over it on their own.  As ultimately, it is their issue and not yours.  

This is part of having healthy and strong boundaries.  You must live in a way that is in accordance with your own deepest moral, values, and dreams, for a life of utmost happiness and fulfillment.  And sometimes, these choices will result in people not understanding or liking you for it.

Why is it important to become comfortable with being disliked?  Because it results in a far more joyous, free, and fulfilling life.  Because you aren’t living for the sake of and pursuit of pleasing others, so instead, are living for the fulfillment of yourself and your own highest values, goals, and morals.  Because being comfortable with being disliked means not feeling filled with anxiety or continually disheartened when someone may not like you (which will happen throughout every person’s life.  It’s inevitable).  

Instead, it won’t bother you.  You will feel lighter, free, unconcerned or distracted by such as you usually might be.  When you live a life in which you don’t mind being disliked, it infuses one with confidence and courage.  Of being unafraid to be oneself and pursue one’s greatest dreams and goals, even if others may not like or agree with such.  That will not matter to you, when you decide to let go of worries over what others think and if they approve or not.

“The courage to be happy also includes the courage to be disliked. When you have gained that courage, your interpersonal relationships will all at once change into things of lightness.”
Ichiro Kishimi.

“Unless one is unconcerned by other people’s judgments, has no fear of being disliked by other people, and pays the cost that one might never be recognized, one will never be able to follow through in one’s own way of living. That is to say, one will not be able to be free.”
Ichiro Kishimi, The Courage to Be Disliked: How to Free Yourself, Change Your Life, and Achieve Real Happiness

Being able to let go of concern over peoples approval is like stepping outside a cage of anxiety and ever pressing worries.  It is to live freely.

While all the words in this article are entirely my own, the concept was found in a book about this very concept, which is a major bestseller in Asia.  Having recently been published and made available here in the US.  I have read it, and while some of the writing and prose was meh, the message and moral of the book was superb.  I recommend it, purely for the messages within.  Not so much for the way in which the message is delivered, which is a bit juvenile and lame.

Monday, December 31, 2018

The Ultimate Winter Getaway- Mont Tremblant in Canada

Happy Holidays, all!

I hope everyone had a relaxing, joyous, happy holiday.  That each of you was able to unplug, recharge, experience respite, have a chance to reflect and relax, as well as do things which brought you contentment and joy.  Whoever your time was spent with, I am hoping it was a fulfilling and wonderful experience.  That you were able to connect and spend time with the people you most love, and revel in such.

For those who were able to take a trip, whether a small or longer one, I wish that each of you had a fabulous time.  Whether somewhere warm and luxurious, or wintery and magical.

Having ventured to Mont Tremblant in Canada myself, I would highly recommend such.  For those into skiing, snowboarding, or even just for a romantic, winter wonderland esque retreat, this is a top-notch place to trek.  The activity opportunities are endless: dog sledding, snowshoeing, heading to a spa for the evening, eating delicious food, holing up in a cozy cafe, and as mentioned, all manner of winter sports.

The village of Mont Tremblant is colorful, picturesque, fantastical, and eye-catching.  Throughout the village, you will find a smattering of sweet shops selling all manner of candies and enticing goodies, a couple of quaint cafes, and restaurants which personally, I found to be a bit lacking.  The restaurants within the village itself were touristy, overpriced, and had a chain-restaurant feel to them.  Not especially high quality food.  So for meals, I recommend venturing outside the village, which lies at the base of Mont Tremblant.  That aside though, it is an incredibly romantic place to adventure.

Maxx and I drove 5.5 hours one way, from New York up to Canada.  We arrived in Mont Tremblant around 3pm on Christmas Day.  The afternoon was spent wandering and strolling the village together.  Despite the two of us remarking more than once of the bitingly brisk cold, we were enamored.  We stepped onto a little aluminum can shaped gondola, which whisked us up to the top of a small hill at the peak of the village.  Myself gasping in delight as it picked up speed, akin to a minor rollercoaster takeoff in my mind ;-).

That evening, we went to the restaurant Patrick Bermand, a cozy little French Canadian restaurant, akin to a little log cabin.  We ate by candlelight in the dimly lit restaurant. For an appetizer, we dinedon creamy roasted vegetable soup, which we both agreed was superb.  Our second course was a duck liver pate, which after one bite of, I skipped, though Maxx seemed to find decently yummy, so I offered him mine which he gladly accepted.  Our main course was turkey with a cranberry and herb stuffing.  And finally for dessert, we sampled a small slice of yule log cake.  This, we agreed, was tasty, though left us wanting.  What we both liked best about this meal were the soup and the ambiance.  We rated the food a 7.5 out of 10.

The next day, December 26, we hit the slopes of Mont Tremblant!  The day was spent skiing, which both of us absolutely loved.  Despite that the day was absolutely freezing, we had a blast.  Maxx, who refused to wear a scarf, had a beard caked in snow come late afternoon.  We raced down black diamonds together, a few blue squares, and a couple leisurely green circle rated trails.  At the mountain peak, snow billowed and blew about.  We were feeling pretty good though with our hand and feet warmers.

We skiied from roughly 9:30am until 3pm, with a 45 minute break around 1pm for little chocolate mousse cakes and teas in a cramped cafe close by.  We agreed the break was much needed, which felt totally cozy and wonderful.  The two of us sitting close in freezing stupor, de-thawing and relaxing into the cafes warmth.

That evening, we had dinner at Cest La Vie, a French/Canadian/European restaurant.  Maxx had a pasta topped with pork and a zesty tomato sauce.  I dined on salmon with a goat cheese pesto sauce, which was quite yummy.  For an appetizer, we each had French onion soup, which we agreed was good (loved the slice of cheesy bread it was served with), though concured we had eaten better of this dish before as well.  For dessert, Maxx enjoyed an extravagent cherry ice cream sundae, and I had a slice of rich chocolate cake to go (though, most of which I devoured in the car ride ;-)).  We agreed this meal was also about a 7.5.  Possibly an 8.

Next, we headed to our last excursion of the day.  A major splurge for both of us.  The Scandinave Spa of Mont Tremblant.  After parking and walking from the car toward what appeared to be a collection of large log cabins clustered together, we wound our way along the winding walk lined with evergreen trees, each swirled with white lights.  All of the trees were blanketed in glittering white, as it had snowed throughout the day.  The entire scene feeling like a hushed, dream-like, twinkling, from-the-forest magical nighttime scene.  Maxx even exclaiming, "ok, this is awesome."  (Usually I am the far more outwardly expressive one, especially of excitement ;-p).

We paid and were handed towels and plush hooded robes, then directed to separate locker rooms to change.  The locker rooms were warm, heavily wooden, and cozy.  After changing into our bathingsuits, we met outside on the stone lain patio where there were several steam wafting pools of water, lit in varying colors.  Maxx and I initially walked over to one, which we didnt realize was ice cold, dipped our feet in and, jerking them back out, rushed over to a pool on the other side of the patio which we hoped would be hot.  It was.

We hung out in the pool for some 20 minutes, luxurating in the heat and bubbles, until it was time for our massages.  The massages were one hour long, and in the same room together.  I had never experienced this before and was unsure what to expect.  It was marvelous though.  The massage was absolutely great.  Certainly too expensive for what I would normally pay, but for a one time splurge, it was fantastic to be sure.  Totally relaxing, cozy, swanky, and just a great atmosphere.  I loved this experience with Maxx.

Then, we headed back to our room, which was decked out with a fireplace :-D.  We got incredibly lucky.  They offered us a free upgrade on checking in!  On looking up the normal room rate cost, this one exhorberantly priced, and not one we would ever be able to afford.  So this was a pretty sweet and unexpected surprise.  Both nights, we laid by the fireplace for a few hours.  Side by side, on a blanket lain out on the floor.  I read my book, Maxx read articles on his phone, we played board games, talked, dozed, and just absolutely reveled in it.

On Thursday, December 27, we awoke and, after wandering the village of Mont Tremblant one last time (we stopped for tea and sweets at Oh La Vache Cafe in the little village- the pastries here look DIVINE), headed into the city center.

Oh La Vache, the little blue and white cottage on the left.  So cute inside, with enticing looking French pastries in all manner of assortment.

There was a cafe I was dying to check out after having seen it online, Couleur Cafe.  It looked right up my alley.  Cozy, rustic, trendy, not overly priced, homey, with great ambiance/atmosphere, and delicious.  It turned out to be just that.  The food, we both agreed, was delicious.  Our most flavorful meal of the trip.  I had a Cesar salad, which was gigantic, and loaded with all sorts of yummy ingredients.  Maxx had the Croque Madame with Thai soup on the side.  To finish, we had slices of chocolate mousse cake.  So tasty.  We gave this overall meal an 8.5 or 9.

During the drive both to and from Canada, we listened to BearTown by Fredrik Backman.  Both of us are officially hooked.  Each of us agreed the character development is rich and gripping, incredibly well done.  You become invested and very interested in several of them, most of whom are quite compelling.  We are really enjoying it thus far.  Personally, the character development, relationships, and "world" of the story remind me something of Friday Night Lights (the Emmy award winning TV show, and one of my favorites ever).

The trip was superb.  Maxx exclaimed, "this is like the best vacation ever."  I agree.  It was a stellar, memorable, romatic, cozy, totally relaxing, absolutely awesome trip.  We unplugged, were totally relaxed and tuned into one another, we laughed a lot, lounged, were never in a hurry or on a strict schedule.  It was a welcome remove from the routine of daily life.  We loved every minute of it.

If you have the opportunity, absolutely check out Mont Tremblant for a few days!!  Its a great place.