Peppering Paris with love

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I intended to go big with my Parisian Random Act of Joy. I really did. My wonky-wheeled suitcase was full of stationery, stickers and rubber stamps and I had visions of peppering the city in notelets left with love.

But then I got distracted.

Distracted by the spiced scent of incense in Notre Dame; distracted by the golden curves of the cellos in the quartier musique; and distracted by the quest for the perfect Parisian hot chocolate in every café we passed.*

In fact, it wasn’t until our dejected walk from the apartment to the metro on our last afternoon that I finally remembered to leave my solitary little note. Mon Dieu!

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One note. Hardly peppering the city in love. But as I left the pink envelope peeping out amidst the secondhand books, I decided that one note was enough.

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Yes, the Joyful Revolution celebrates giving to others but it also celebrates the joy of giving to ourselves. How can we possibly give anything of value when we’re overstretched, jaded or spent? And when we do give, whether it’s to a colleague, family member or friend, what are we really offering if we’re dispensing it from a place of lack?

I was recently likened (affectionately I hope) to a Stepford Wife and having never seen the film I watched it at the weekend. Taut bodies and perky breasts aside, there were a few similarities. It’s quite conceivable, for instance, that I have uttered the line: “I know I shouldn’t say it, but I just love my brownies” at some point in my life. And it’s pretty likely that I will use it again in the future too. What can I say? My brownies are good.

But looking at these women reminded me of the vision of perfection that I used to strive for. Robotically giving, giving, giving with little connection or return. I had programmed myself to think that this was the most generous way to be, but in fact it was miserly. No one was able to truly know me and I denied anyone the pleasure of giving to me. The giver’s biggest risk is that it’s all to easy to become a martyr. And no one likes a martyr.

So I’m happy that I was distracted in Paris; happy that I gave myself the gift of a wonderful time; and happy that I realised leaving my one little note was enough. Until next time. In which case I really am going big. Adorning the Eiffel tower in daffodils and crepe-paper fringe? I think so.

* Found in a hidden café near St. Paul, but still not quite as good as the homemade version to which I’m occasionally lucky enough to be treated.

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It’s appropriate that my little note ended up nestled in books as today is World Book Day. If you’d like to be giving in an entirely non-Stepford Wife way, please leave a comment below with your best book recommendation for me and the other MMJ readers. I’ll pick one of the recommendations for the MMJ mobile library and send it to one of the comment leavers. The tobola will spin next Tuesday, 12th April.

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    43 COMMENTS

  1. Emma

    Gone with the Wind. It is magical.

    • Make Me Joyful

      Ok Emma I need to read this. It’s been on my shelf for years and I’ve only ever seen the film. Must dig it out.

  2. Jo

    ‘Anne of Green Gables’ was my favourite childhood book and I still read it now when I need a nostalgia fix.

    • Make Me Joyful

      I only read that for the first time last year but I really enjoyed it. Anne is such a minx. Love her.

    • Make Me Joyful

      Oh I love that one too. So evocative. Good call Natasha.

  3. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller.
    I don’t know how to describe it. It is so raw and real and I just love it. I take it out to read it from time to time just so I can remind myself. 🙂 x

    • Make Me Joyful

      I’ve never heard of that Fiona, but I’ve just read the synopsis and it sounds like exactly my kind of book. Thank you for introducing me to something new.

  4. Ellie

    ‘Restoration’ by Rose Tremain.

    • Make Me Joyful

      I’ve just read a review of this and it sounds great. I do like a historical novel too…

  5. Karen

    Memoirs of a Geisha is a favourite of mine. X

    • Make Me Joyful

      I love Memoirs of a Geisha too, Karen. I remember being really sad when I finished it, but not quite as sad as after I watched the terrible film adaptation of it. This is definitely one to re-read.

  6. Amy

    The Alchemist. Pure inspiration.

    • Make Me Joyful

      Totally agree. Every word of that book is excellent advice. Love it.

  7. Martha Dever

    One Hundred Years of Solitude

    • Make Me Joyful

      Another one I haven’t read but I’ve always meant to. My list is growing longer!

  8. Martha Dever

    The Pilgrimage

    • Make Me Joyful

      By Paulo Coelho too? I should definitely try this given by love of ‘The Alchemist’. Thank you!

  9. This is the first time in my life that when asked “What’s a good book?” that I’ve named a non-fiction book: Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed.

    • Make Me Joyful

      I’ve just looked this up Victoria and it sounds perfect for me. I’m going to have to read it. Thanks.

  10. Robert Adamson (a.k.a. Dad)

    “Tale of Two Cities” Dickens. Gripping from the first sentence of the preface, a tale of love, unrequited love, heroism, tragedy and joy. Combines action and romance using the cement of beautiful flowing descriptions. The “two cities”? … London & Paris. What more could a book want?

    • Make Me Joyful

      Great review there Dad and I’m ashamed to say I still haven’t read it. I need to get over the fact that Dickens’ books are so long!

  11. Amy

    Another Cheryl Strayed recommendation: Wild. I think it is intense and awesome, and I’m not even finished reading it yet! Just got it from my local library last week. 🙂

    • Make Me Joyful

      “Intense and awesome” sounds like a fabulous review Amy. Love it.

  12. Clive

    The Bond: Connecting Through The Space Between Us by Lynne McTaggart

    • Make Me Joyful

      This looks fascinating Clive. I’m really interested in this idea so will check it out. Thanks.

  13. Becca

    For a girl that’s all about the little things you ought to check out “Pleasure: an almanac for the heart” Nikki Gemmell

    • Make Me Joyful

      How have I not seen this one Becca? Another one to add to the list. Thank you.

  14. Angela

    East of Eden is in my top 5. 🙂

    • Make Me Joyful

      Oh good choice Ang. I love Steinbeck.

  15. Sarah

    I’ll second Amy on “O Alquimista” by Paulo Coelho. Ishmael by Daniel Quinn was a book that changed tge way I think of myself and the worl around me.

    • Make Me Joyful

      I agree avout the Alchemist too. I love the section about love and the quote: “So, I love you because the entire universe conspired to help me find you.” Although everything in that book deserves to be quoted. I haven’t read the Daniel Quinn book but now I’m going to have to!

  16. tracey

    “Mrs. Miniver” by Jan Struther.

    Nothing at all like the movie (I think they just used the characters) but charming vignettes of daily life in pre- war England. My favorite story is “The New Engagement Book”. I could totally be Mrs. Miniver in that story.

    My favorite line from the book: “In fact,” said Susan, “it’s just as important to marry the right life as the right person.” So very very true!!!

    • Make Me Joyful

      I love that quote Tracey. So, so true! I’m intrigued about your Mrs Miniver connection in ‘The New Engagement Book’ so I’m going to have to track down a copy.

  17. Cheryl!!! Your sweet note in Paris was perfect!!! I loved it, and how exciting for someone to get an unexpected treat!

    My favorite book (I read when I was 13, hiding behind the couch to avoid learning to cook, clean or in preparation to move to Salem, OR), and that is Gone With the Wind. It literally held me spellbound. I really enjoyed the “NON” Margaret Mitchell book, ” Scarlett” as well.

    Childhood book favorite was “The Secret Garden” by Francis Hodgson Burnett.

    My secret absolutely favorite book is what I lovingly refer to as my “smut” book, “A Knight in Shining Armor” by Jude Deveraux. I swear I’ve read it 100 (or more) and it is the best book. I love the message– and it has one, even with that title!!!!

    I’m glad you had a great trip and you didn’t stress about what you thought you should do, but instead was at peace with where and what you did.

    Blessings,
    Roxanne

    • Make Me Joyful

      Ah thanks so much Roxanne! I’m glad you agree that one note was enough! Now I’m all the more inspired to read Gone With the Wind. I really need to watch the film again too. Love the Secret Garden. It’s set near where I grew up I think. Magical. And I shall have to have a look for the Deveraux book as well with such high praise.

  18. Life of Pi – Amazing! I’ve read it four times!

    • Make Me Joyful

      After seeing the film I know I need to read this one Laura!

  19. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. The book is beautiful – the film not so much, But don’t let that put you off. The book is a gorgeous read which made me miss an entire night’s sleep when I just had to finish it. And boy did i cry that night at the bitter sweet ending.

    • Make Me Joyful

      Oh I need to read the book for sure. The film made me cry so I’d definitely be sobbing.

  20. Jan Seenan

    A New Earth by Erkhart Tolle, a spiritual book, but don’t let that put you off! I’m listening to the audio version. Truly life changing and inspiring, It makes so much sense of our world and creates hope, something we cannot truly live without.

    • Make Me Joyful

      Thank you! I love Eckhart Tolle’s ‘The Power of Now’, so I’ll have to take a look at this. Thank you!