a unique perspective on this crazy world

Posts tagged ‘relationships’

apparently I am part of the 1% :)

Not the famous 1% of 2012 fame.  The 1% most people probably find a little strange 😉

I’ve embraced the fact that I was a weirdo from a young age.  Some people get concerned when I say this and hurriedly assure me that I am NOT weird!

But I am… and I’m OK with that.  I just didn’t used to understand my inner weirdo in an analytical way.  And INTJs LOVE analytical explanations!!!

What the hell is an INTJ you are likely asking?  A valid question 🙂  And, unless you have done a Myers Briggs questionnaire recently, the initials will look like ancient Greek.  And it was the Greeks – or maybe the Egyptians – who came up with the first analysis of personality traits.

Katharine Briggs and Isabel Myers were devotees of Carl Jung.  Much like economists, it seems psychologists don’t agree – and their subject matter is so subjective it’s easy to look right… but Myers and Briggs seem to have been more focused on the cash grab personality theory might yield.


This all began a couple of months ago when I was trying to encourage my niece to pick a career over a job.  In my 20s I knew almost nothing about the world and would definitely have chosen a different career path had I approached the endeavour more systematically.  So I am hoping to use my experience – and mistakes – to help her find a more rewarding path.

My altruism has had funny rewards as it’s got me talking about Myers Briggs – and how to deal with the world if you are a weirdo…

I thought of Myers Briggs because many years ago I had an argument with the HR Manager at the company I worked for because he thought I wasn’t  insanely rational.  He told me I would be an “F” in Myers Briggs, not a “T”.  (For the uninitiated, “F” is for “feeling” and “T” is for “thinking”.)

I took the test to prove him wrong – and quelle surprise – I was right 🙂  But what I remembered being cool about the experience was that I read the notes about my personality type and saw myself reflected back in a way I had never experienced before.

I couldn’t remember what my type had been so I went on-line to see if I could find a test.  Of course, they want to upsell you so they tell you it’s not REALLY a PROPER Myers Briggs test but it was close enough and I was definitely an INTJ.  So figured I could send it to my niece to get some insight that might help her career planning.

The only letter we share is “I” (introversion vs. extroversion) so it is very valuable to know that she and I should likely have completely different careers.

What was most entertaining to me though was the discovery that I AM indeed a weirdo.  Somewhere along the line I came across some statistics as to how the personality types split across the general population (there are 16 possible personality types).

Apparently INTJs make up about 1-2% of the general population – and female INTJs are about as rare as unicorns!  So it makes total sense that I have frequently felt misunderstood…

and have had to work on faking acting like a “normal person.”  A lot of human behaviour mystifies me.  I use my observational and analytical skills to try and figure out how to act more “normal” and not freak people out.

The line in my personality profile that made me laugh out loud was “perhaps the most fundamental problem that INTJs face in relationships is that they really want people to make sense 🙂  The INTJ will expect inexhaustible reasonability and directness.

Like I said, weirdo 😉  But I have learned to accept and embrace my oddness.  Feeling misunderstood by the world has made me more compassionate.  And I use my analytical skills to try and fake it at being a real person – and I’ve become quite adept at it 😉

What really turns INTJs on is finding simple solutions to complex problems and making stuff HAPPEN!  NOTHING makes me happier.  A little sad maybe…  But, as is likely obvious by now, I am using this blog to sort out the world and plan my next half.

Reading my personality was illuminating.  I really want do something to make the world a better place before I die.  I always thought it had to be big and flashy.  But my new goal is to be “the great facilitator”.  Like all INTJs, I prefer to work behind the scenes.  I love to synthesize gigantic quantities of information, make sense of it and put a nice, clean action plan in play – that I monitor because I only really get excited when I tick stuff off the “to do list”.  So, solving all the world’s problems?  What could be more enticing? 😉

It’s kind of dull being normal, right? … 😉

let them eat cake! :)

I am typing this from the land of Marie Antoinette!  Sometimes one’s life really exceeds one’s expectations.  I am back in Paris – for the SECOND time in a single year.  The stuff of dreams in my childhood.

Back when I was climbing trees and hiding in wheat fields I ferociously hoped my adult life would be more dramatic and interesting.  But none of those prairie girl dreams could have ever prepared me for the astonishing reality it would become.

I will have to finish this after my late night Thursday shopping romp at Galeries Lafayette… but I am drinking free champagne as I type… apparently joining I Prefer is a great idea.  I highly recommend it!  And thus far, the Hotel Original Paris has exceeded my expectations.  I definitely recommend it.  Especially if you are traveling by train, as I was.  A few steps from the métro at Bastille.  From Gare L’Est or Gare du Nord, a piece of cake 🙂


And, since we did reference cake, I guess I should provide the explanation…

It is one of those stories that did not have the happy ending I anticipated… but, maybe more importantly, really taught me about the complexities of life and how to embrace it and enjoy it.  As I think Joni Mitchell said, very poignantly, I’ve looked at love from both sides now.”

I think she said “life” but this story is about “love”… in all its complexity and messiness…

How we all take our weaknesses – and our strengths – and combine them with others into a mischung that is at all junctures part success and part failure but always human and engaging.

Yes, a bit philosophical… blame the free champagne the hotel supplied.  You gotta love it when someone knocks after check-in and you hesitantly open the door and he has an ice bucket and a small bottle of Lanson Rosé.  This is serious champagne!  Absolutely delicious 🙂

But the champagne is only a small part of the equation.  It is mostly fueled

my days in Deutschland

by the days I recently spent in Stuttgart.

Unless you are into Mercedes or Porsche, Stuttgart is likely not at the top of your list for a tourist destination.  But it is an industrial metropolis and part of the great Deutsch economic machinery.  Most people come to Stuttgart for work… but I was there for something more complicated.

The entire story is a bit too long and complicated for a blog post so we will cut to the chase and just say that the Germans are wonderfully hospitable and some German guy named Wolfgang wanted to repay my hospitality in Vancouver so I ended up on the Ammersee in Bavaria where I was reacquainted with the cute guy I had admired from afar at a company event earlier in the week… and – unlike normal people – I ended up marrying him and moving to Germany.

It’s a long and complicated story that may find its way into the blog at a later date.  But the purpose of my recent trip to Germany was to finalize our divorce.

There are not a lot of great divorce stories out there.  But not that many

it all started on a beach in Antigua…

people marry German engineers 😉

So very few people are trying to follow a conversation in a foreign language while joking with the lawyer just prior to going into a court room to get divorced.  It was ridiculously bureaucratic and very German.  Some lady named Doris is going to officially receive my divorce decree so it can be mailed to Canada without going through some complicated, expensive process.  The system isn’t designed for you to have it sent to your ex so he can pass it on to you…

The lawyer was highly entertaining.  Once we had finished in the court, he shook each of our hands and said, “you are free!”  And then we had to decide what to do.  We had already wandered the streets as I took photos of some of the cute German buildings before our court hearing.  So we had our plan set.

We went for cake!  If you have never been to Germany (or Austria) for cake, you should really put it on your bucket list.  It was one of my favourite parts of living in Germany.  Hot chocolate (a wonderful bitter version completely different to its North American cousin) and Eierlikor cream cake.  Like egg nog in a solid form.  Delicious.

It wasn’t really a celebration.  Just us hanging out and doing things that we knew worked.  Later that evening I took him for dinner at Olivo.  I am pretty sure the chef has at least one Michelin star.  It was one of those meals that will definitely make my top ten list.  Technically six courses… but with two pre-courses (the first with six separate little bites) and then a petit four course AND a truffle course.  We emerged feeling like the foie gras duck that had been part of our meal.


And now I am in Paris.  With no regrets.  We both agreed a few months ago as we were working through the details that we would both do it all again – even knowing how it would turn out.

I’m not sure I’m made for marriage.  But getting married – and moving to a foreign country where I spoke possibly five words of the local language – added many wonderful dimensions to my life.  And completely changed its direction in countless ways.

It is impossible to know what would have happened had I not said “yes.”  But I know my life would have been a lot less inspired… and I would not have learned about kaffee und kuchen.  I didn’t get married for the cake… but there was a lot of sugar and cream in the whole adventure… literal and figurative…

money for mouse shoes

Money gets a bad rap.  Being poor is honourable – especially if you aren’t poor 🙂  Being rich is vulgar.  But being sort of financially secure is just boring.  The lot of accountants and financial planners.  But some of those boring people know how to use money as a bullet to happiness rather than despair.

That is my goal in life.  Yesterday I used my ability to buy a pair of designer shoes to great effect.  While there is certainly virtue to knowing how to save money, the real hidden secrets of life are in learning how to spend it!

We’ve done a lot of talking about my dad lately but I learned some good stuff from my mom as well.  My mom is likely a little too generous.  But it’s one of those faults that is tough to find fault with.  There are certainly worse negative traits 🙂

No matter how many times I tell her ONE present is enough, I know it will never happen.  Something else will catch her eye that you just have to have.  Long ago she gave up trying to cram all the goodies into conventional Christmas stockings so we all know the plastic bag with our name on it sitting under the tree IS a Christmas stocking – you just need to use your imagination 😉

But the most memorable gift I ever saw her purchase was on a Christmas Eve many years ago.  The store was almost closing down around us but we had to get some more toys.  She was quite insistent about it.  I thought, “oh my god, she has gone bonkers.  There is NO way we don’t already have so many gifts you can barely see the tree!”  But this was not part of the usual Christmas bounty.  Instead we pulled up at some mysterious address and left the toys on the doorstep like some anonymous Santa a little off his schedule.  As we drove away, she explained.  The family was going through tough times and the kids might not have any toys for Christmas.  But it was a small town where everybody knows everybody’s business and people have a lot of pride so we had to make it look like Santa was just a wee bit early.

My mom has always taken great pleasure in doing nice things for other people.  She doesn’t do it for the thanks or the adoration but just because it gives her pleasure.  It’s one of my greatest life lessons.  And it’s really heart-warming to see my niece taking up the torch.

Ask not what the world can do for you but, rather, what you can do for the world.  Give it a whirl.  You may be surprised how great it feels to do something nice for someone else.  And the best news.  You can spend less than $5!  The price is totally NOT the point.  It’s how much thought you put into finding just the right thing to do.

What really turns people on is being noticed.  I used to send my friend Yvonne chocolate covered peanut butter eggs every Easter – cause it was our thing and you could only get them at Easter.

So… the mouse shoes.  I have already mentioned Morgan earlier – she is the teenage daughter of one of my best friends.  She (and her mom) share my obsession for shoes so we spent a lot of time over my birthday weekend+ talking shoes… and anyone who cares about shoes knows about Marc Jacobs mouse shoes.  I think I saw the first version in Paris (the best city in the world to shop for shoes!) back when there was only one.  Over the course of the weekend, we talked mouse shoes a number of times and I learned her shoe size.  As I noted in the previous post, she has emerged into this wonderful young woman doing all the right things despite the fact that she is a teenager.  So I decided she deserved some mouse shoes…

Through the beauty of the internet I confirmed her mailing address, send the invoice to her mom in case she needed to do an exchange and organized for Fedex to deliver a pair of size 8 1/2 gold glitter Marc Jacobs mouse shoes to her front door in Toronto via the Brown’s Shoes website.  I could track the whole process via my computer in Vancouver so sent her a note yesterday afternoon to look for a package when she got home.  And then I got the email.  The shoes had been safely delivered…  Some of the best money I have ever spent!

So, Morgan, I was wowed by your effusive thanks.  But you should also thank my mom.  Without her wonderful example, there would have been no mouse shoes for you 🙂  Given her obsession with everything Disney and the concept that Mickey is more or less one of her children, what could be a more perfect tribute than mouse shoes…

dead at 66…

This is likely not the headline you may have been anticipating for the birthday post but the general concept has been floating around in my head for over a week and thinking about my birthday provided the final link.

The headline refers to the death of Davy Jones.   When I was 6, I had a Monkees lunch kit and would argue they were better than the Beatles (I know… I know… but I was 6 and they had a TV show – and we had a colour TV!)  I heard Brian Williams say these words as I was passing the TV that night and it caught my attention – because my dad had died at 66.  It is definitely very young in the developed world and it’s an age that catches people’s attention.

Of course my father’s death didn’t make the national news.  He lived in a small prairie town.   But in that locale he was as famous as Davy Jones and his funeral was huge.  There was almost an overflow crowd outside the town hall.  It really showed me how we can all be celebrities within our own social groups.

Certainly more people know who Davy Jones is.  But, was he genuinely loved by more people than my dad?  Did he have a more fulfilling life?  My guess would be that the answer is no.  It discourages me how crazy the cult of “celebrity” has become – and what pathetic role models so many of these so-called “celebrities” are.  It’s a crazy world, people 🙂

But anyone can choose their values and their path and decide what their impact and legacy will be on the greater world.  I definitely learned a few things from my father – and saw the impact he had on other people and the legacy that he left in the world.

Today’s date was the last time I talked to him four years ago.  It was my birthday but I was in a board meeting.  When I got out, I checked my phone and my parents had both sung “happy birthday”.  Especially since my dad couldn’t really sing, it was a huge treat after having to work so hard on my birthday.  So I called them back to thank them.  My mom was off at one of her many extracurricular activities so my dad and I chatted for over an hour.  Normally he would just hand the phone to my mom.  We have had an incredible, extremely complex relationship that involved some significant conflict so it was really cool to have that call where our wonderful old relationship seemed to have been restored.  Nine days later he was dead of an unexpected heart attack that shocked everyone.

Two of the friends I invited to my birthday party recently lost parents.  We are all at the age where it is inevitable.  There is no right way to cope.  I gave my dad a theme song (“My Way”), have little conversations with him on significant dates and pass on his wisdom and his values to others as a way of maintaining his legacy.  Talking about him keeps him alive for me.  So, a toast to my dad on my birthday 🙂

the DNA of your everyday life…

Yesterday I was speed walking through Waterfront Station at my usual frantic pace, distracted from lack of sleep, and suddenly realized I needed to pay attention.  Because I wasn’t on my way to the client – but to the German Consulate –  so I couldn’t just operate on auto-pilot.  I have been traversing this same route a lot in the past couple of months and a routine has been established that I had to break.

It got me thinking about our everyday routines and how ordinary places become part of our life whether we are aware of it or not.  I think lots of people don’t realize there are places and rituals that have become an important component of their life – and that they would miss them if they didn’t do them.  This is why some people feel a bit lost the day after they retire.

Having moved likely about 40 times – changing everything from neighbourhood to town to country – I have always been very conscious of my daily environment.  And have found quite ordinary places and experiences imbued with great meaning and inducing much nostalgia.

Back in 1990, I lived in Sydney, Australia.  When I went back in 2000 for my first return visit, I took the train to Artarmon.  It’s a residential suburb that no one but a local would know and has nothing to attract tourists. But I wanted to get off the train there and retrace the route I had taken so many times.  Check out magazines in the news agent.  Walk by the TAB without placing a bet.  See if the Indian restaurant where I used to look for my boyfriend if he wasn’t in the apartment was still there.  Gaze up at the high rise where I had lived then.  Just soak up the atmosphere of my everyday Sydney life and try to re-live some memories.

Moving so much has taught me to value my everyday life and the relationships I develop in each place.  My hairstylist, my drycleaner, my tailor.  They all KNOW me.  It’s a personal relationship, not just a business transaction.  It makes everyday life sweeter and more meaningful.

The thought loop finished at the German Consulate, which as I expected was in the same building as one of my other clients.  They have moved to a new building but it still feels familiar to enter the door and know where to go.  Which made me think of the fun of new routines.  It’s good to break habits and explore new things.

I once dated someone who used to not take the most direct route when we were walking – but the most interesting or pleasant.  I am all about efficiency (the German Consulate felt like home 🙂 but I had to concede he had a point.  And while I generally take the efficient route to run errands, when I explore new cities or have a day off in my own, I just wander and see what happens.  In Paris, I might find a wonderful patisserie.  In Amsterdam I might encounter someone dressed like Darth Vader.  And here at home I might end up helping a lost tourist find the right bus.  Going beyond the DNA of my everyday life always offers unexpected pleasures…

the origin of friendship

This afternoon I had a wonderful, much too brief, visit with an old friend on his way from the airport to his mother’s 90th birthday in our favourite city.  I first met him when I was dating his best friend, 20 years ago now.  Yikes!  But we know I’m old so the interesting part of the story is that when I broke up with his friend, he asked if WE could still be friends.  I am pretty unconventional so it was fine with me.  But not a very typical way to acquire friends…

For whatever reason, that seems to be my norm.  I never gave it much thought until friends started playing a party game called, “how did you meet Marla?”  I had this eureka moment that most people develop their friendships from a very limited set of channels.  The typical ones are school, work or sports.  There is nothing wrong with these channels, of course, but it means that most of the people at the party will already know each other.

And likely have a lot of similarities.  How I started throwing parties is another story but I have thrown a lot of them and it’s always a diverse group.  People have commented on how much they enjoy my parties because it’s such a broad mix of people.

I think that stems from my lifestyle.  I have always been a gypsy child.  I spent my first six birthdays in a different town every year so I became used to new people.  But I guess I also yearned for more stability in some ways so once I got old enough to afford stamps, I would stay in touch with anyone I met who really caught my attention.  My criterion was an interesting conversation rather than shared interests or contacts.

I never really set out with a plan to acquire friends.  Just to meet people and treat them well.  But it’s ended up being a wild, wonderful ride.  Some of my best friends have rarely ever lived in the same city as me.  One friendship developed because we always brushed our teeth at the same time in university residence and would invariably end up on the sink counter with our toothbrushes chatting into the night.  Another was my random roommate for six weeks during a summer job in Calgary – we didn’t talk very often but when she taught me the longest word in the English language I knew she was one of my tribe 🙂   Yet another was acquired after I had been instructed to meet new people at an Australia Day party – by another friend who I acquired via a friend I met on a boat cruise by mistaking him for someone else…

You get the idea!  I would encourage everyone to make a goal to try and acquire at least one new friend each decade that you didn’t make via the normal channels… someone you met randomly at a bus stop maybe… we’re still going strong 30 years later… and I am really hoping she will be able to fly in for my 50th birthday party 😉

architects love chicago 🙂

I’m with the band :)

Will Hoge popped up on my ipod today in the random mix.  “Rock n’ Roll Star” – about a young kid being lured by a recording contract.  Made me smile.

As previously noted, music will be a serious element of my birthday party and this song will be part of the soundtrack.  Will is famous in Tennessee but I expect it will be a pretty obscure choice for the Vancouver crowd.

It all started when my friend and I were pleasantly surprised that the opening band for Midnight Oil were so good.  We started seriously listening and bought their CD in the lobby at the end of the show.  I bought a couple extra to force on other people to support Will 🙂

At that point they were four young kids touring North America to promote their first CD.  I have this habit of engaging people in conversation so my effusive enthusiasm scored us a place on the guest list for the next evening’s concert.

It was the first time a band had put me on the guest list!  My friend had a bit of a crush on the bass player so I managed to convince her to leave the house for a second night in a row – on a Sunday.  To support my boy Will – and to see Midnight Oil for a second time (they have a whole story of their own…)

Just goes to show.  Channel my grandmother and engage young people.  Be supportive when they are starting out in their careers and they just might put you on the guest list!  And even if they don’t, you will have connected with someone and helped to give his career – and self-esteem – a boost.  It’s a reward in its own right.


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