I’ve just returned from Paris, and I will never be the same.
That is the long and short of it. If you stopped reading right here, you’d understand the general sentiment of this blog post. I spent a week in a city I hadn’t seen in 27 long years, and in that week I found my heart and promptly lost it again.
The last time I was in Paris, I was 11 years old. It was my second trip to Europe, thanks to my generous grandparents, who splurged so the whole family could go on vacation together. I don’t remember much about the trip, beyond the sandwiches on the trains and how much I enjoyed Orangina.
Experiencing this beautiful city at the age of 38 was like seeing it for the very first time. It was cold and overcast much of the time, which I think added a bit of mystique to an already fascinating place. I didn’t have a plan for sight-seeing, just a list of “must do’s” and a little bit of money in my pocket. (Truth be told, I relied heavily on my credit cards for certain things, like Uber and Lyft when I didn’t want to take the Metro.)
I found Paris, as a friend predicted I would, much changed. There were no painters perched along the bridges on the Seine, and I don’t know if that’s because they don’t go out in the Winter months, or because they don’t go out at all any more. All of the gift shops in the heavy traffic areas carry the same merchandise. There is a heavy Muslim presence there, which I found surprising, and I worry that the French way of life is being diluted.
Still, the good far outweighed the bad. While I had heard that there were dangerous areas and “no-go zones” as well as Yellow Vest (Gillets Jaunes) protests going on, I didn’t see any of it. I, along with my husband, brother, and sister-in-law, traipsed around at leisure and fortunately saw everything I wanted to in the week I was there.
Paris as a city has a pulse. There are a LOT of people there, and it’s a lot like New York in that it’s always moving, always breathing. People walk everywhere here, and they walk quickly. I had to really hoof it to keep up. It’s no wonder they’re all thin, even with all the bread consumption. They ride bikes and take the metro, and they all seemed like they had somewhere important to be.
The people are also – in my opinion – very beautiful. (And not rude at all! So friendly.) The women wear minimal makeup and they look put together. The men were dressed in long coats and scarfs, and were so handsome. I am convinced I saw an actual supermodel once or twice on the street. Gorgeous gods and goddesses floating down the sidewalk faster than I could power walk.
What else? The food! Oh, the food! Incroyable! Magnifique! We ate at a different place for every meal, which was super fun and felt like real soul expansion. I tried dishes that I hadn’t heard of and had chocolate mousse for lunch at least twice. I used my very best French to converse with Parisians, and they indulged me as I giggled out the words.
I so enjoyed the adventure of it all. Figuring out the metro and getting lost in neighborhoods, only to find the cutest little cafes and bakeries (patisseries), and share laughs with the locals. I hesitate to share too much here for fear of giving away the magic.
Paris is a city that has had my heart for a long time, and it recaptured my heart and spirit this week. How is it possible that such a short trip could be so transformative? I think I know – Total immersion in another culture, if you’re open to it, is instantly life-changing. Simply seeing a world outside of the one you know. Realizing the world is so big and you are just a small part of it, and that people are at once so amazingly different and so very similar, leads to some shifting in the soul. I am changed. I will never be who I was before I left, and I’m so grateful for that. I am already planning a return trip, as well as trips to other countries.
Until then, I have these most amazing photos and memories to hold close to my heart.
Although well known and oft-repeated, that’s actually a misquote. Thoreau wrote, in Walden, that “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Here is the full quote, in context:
The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.
Thoreau was talking about the void we all feel and the common impulse most humans feel to try and fill it with material things. Walden is a journal of sorts, detailing his time in the woods and away from modern society, searching for inner peace and finding himself and new perspective there.
A friend and I were discussing this “quiet desperation” quote last night, as we discussed our respective marriages and marriage in general. Our conversation focused on the complacency that occurs after years of seeing the ins and outs and annoying habits of another human being’s existence. I think it’s so common for husbands and wives to leave the runway together, aimed for the stars and the experience of a lifetime, only to land early on a makeshift dirt runway in a place just outside Settle Town, USA.
Was that too obnoxious an analogy? Maybe so, but you get what I’m saying. If most new brides and grooms begin the marriage with the best of intentions – which I believe is the case – how do so many of us end up in a ditch somewhere, disoriented and disheartened and what our lives have become?
I’m not even talking about 10 years in, guys. I myself have been married for 9 years, but the trouble started brewing quite a while ago and I don’t think we’re unique in that. I talk to so many men and women – friends, colleagues, acquaintances – who are at most, content in their marriages and at worse, extremely unhappy and in some cases, depressed. Most of them are not seeking divorce. They just want to live their best lives and they want to do it with a willing partner who shares their interests and passions.
[Side note: For some reason, whenever I hear the term “quiet desperation” in my head the Queensryche song “Silent Lucidity” starts playing. Interestingly, the song is about lucid dreaming, which is being able to consciously control what happens in your dreams. So in a way, it’s related. ]
The “quiet desperation” quote came up discussing marriage because my friend and I were connecting on some shared issues. The others I’ve spoken with relate to the same issues and experiences, too. Even though all these people are having this same experience, none of them (none of us) are really talking about it. It’s a secret struggle. There is so much irony in something so commonplace and universal being something we hold inside and keep to ourselves and work to camouflage on social media.
Let’s don’t lead lives of quiet desperation any longer. Let’s start talking to each other, and communicating with our spouses, and stepping outside the confines of the rules of marriage if that’s what it takes. The only time that exists is the present, and it’s crap to waste it wondering if we are loved, wondering if we had married someone else, would we be vacationing in Mykonos right now instead of stuck at home washing dishes for an ungrateful partner. That’s not life. That’s not what life is for!
So how to we get back in the air? How to do get out of Settle Town and back en route to our dreams and wildest fantasies (hopefully together with our chosen partners)? Honesty! Speaking our truth! I think we all have to learn to be uncomfortable for a moment in order to be blissfully happy for a lifetime.
Believing we are alone is what fosters our desperation. In truth, nothing is singular and everything is shared. We are all connected. We are all pieces of the same consciousness having several different (but oddly similar) human experiences. As Thoreau said, we would be wise not to do desperate things. We would be wise to realize that we are not alone, and the future is what we make it.
I’m rambling, so I’ll leave it there. Namaste and happy Monday! XOXO
Nosh – Red meat. Lots of ground beef with A1 (what makes me love A1 so much? I think it’s the Raisin Paste.) For Labor Day, Dad cooked ribs and barbecue and then after that we had leftovers with A1. It’s seriously delicious.
Tunes – I hate the new Taylor Swift song. I don’t meant that ironically. I don’t love it so much I hate it, or hate it so much I love it. I just hate it. At work I’ve been switching the Pandora station from Smooth Jazz to Beethoven for Studying. I love Beethoven. The channel features a variety of talented composers, and many selections remind me of attending the symphony with my grandparents. A favorite for me this time of year is, as I’ve mentioned on the blog before, Moonlight Sonata. For some reason it always makes me think of Christmas.
Wanderlust – We surprised my Dad with a trip to the Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival for his birthday. It’s an annual event hosted by Callaway Gardens, but none of us had ever been. Riding in a balloon was a “bucket list” item for my dad, and I have always wanted to see the balloons up close. A fun time was had by all, though I will say that I definitely prefer having my feet firmly on the ground. Aside from the balloon rides, they also had Disney’s Up! playing in one of the auditoriums, live music and fair food, stilt walkers, and a huge Classic Car Show. It was great fun!
Fitness – Yoga, particularly head and handstands. I have a great fear of anything upside down, so this week I’ve been practicing kicking up to headstands and just being at peace with the feeling. I’m hoping to get much better at it and progress to the next yogi level. Whatever that means. I basically just made it up.
Spiritual – Christie Marie Sheldon has some great videos on YouTube on energy clearing and raising vibration. I’ve been vibrating lower and lower, as the universe has kicked me in the teeth a few times this week, so I googled and found these gems. They are insightful and inspiring, and I highly recommend.
Dreams – UPDATE ON LAST WEEK’S DREAM::: MR. DECKER IS MY FRIEND ON FACEBOOK! He was one of my favorite teachers ever and I’m so happy to be connected with him again. Also I had a dream last night that I was in some old town in Prague or perhaps Croatia. Some Eastern European city with rich history and beautiful buildings. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau was there, and he asked me to dance in the street. We also had some inside joke going about me wearing a tiara, but I can’t remember why it was funny. Anyway he wasn’t Jaime from GoT, just Nikolaj and it felt very real but then I woke up. I wonder if it was one of those dreams where your spirit and someone else’s spirit meet up (astral projection) and you get to hang out for a while, and then you go home. I’m going to let myself believe this, anyway.
Photos – Balloons! Obviously. Also, my eldest son, The Dragon, just passed his High Blue Belt test at karate so like the proud and slightly overbearing mom that I am, I took about 1,000 photos of that.
TV and Film – Beautiful Creatures on NETFLIX. If you love the idea of an eccentric Jeremy Irons in a cream floor-length coat and a thick Southern accent, who may also be a warlock of some kind, you will like this movie. The film isn’t centered around his character, but he sure makes it watchable.
Between the Pages – On a recommendation, I’ve started (today!) reading a new book called The Disappearing Spoon (And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements). Available on Amazon here So far, I’d give it a 5/10 but I’m only about 17 pages in. I’m hoping the promised mischief, intrigue and charm are just around the corner.
Tech – Debating this week the iPhone vs. the Android. My dad got an iPhone and he hates it. I like my iPhone, though at first I thought I’d never learn everything or get used to it. My husband has an Android phone, though, and swears by it. So which is better? Livewire breaks it down.
My family and I (minus the tiniest guy) went to Chattanooga for the weekend, not knowing what to expect, but full of excitement. We all enjoy an adventure and I have a serious inexplicable need to see and touch every part of this country and other countries. I would like to put my two (bare) feet on the ground in every city in every country on Earth, if I could. I am comfortable at home, but I have a nomad’s heart.
Word to the wise: A trip to the mountains – any mountains – is refreshing to the spirit. If you’ve ever felt like your soul needs to take a good, long, tingly fresh breath, the mountains are the place for you. If you don’t believe in that mumbo jumbo, well quite frankly, Chattanooga may still be the place for you. After all, some things are true whether you believe them or not. *wink, wink*
The drive from our house to the Noog (as some of the locals call it) was an easy, painless, traffic-free 5 hours. I love a good road trip and I always like driving through Atlanta and daydreaming about the people who live and work in the beautiful buildings there. (I see you, Tyler Perry.) We arrived and met up with my step-dad, and then promptly drove over to see Mom at her wordplace. Now, I’m going to keep this place anonymous in order to protect her, but we have this running joke that she actually works at a CIA Front Operation (ala Sydney Bristow in Alias) because there is no way any workplace can be this wonderful. It’s a beautiful glass building that sits on a cliff overlooking the river, complete with coffee shop and neatly manicured courtyard including infinity waterfalls, where she’s encouraged to take yoga classes ON THE CLOCK because wellness matters. I mean… WHAT?! This alone is reason to move to Chattanooga. We took a tour of the building and I tried to get the elevator to go to the “bottom” floor, but it wouldn’t. Probably because I don’t have the security clearance and wasn’t willing to do a retina scan.
Since our trip was just for the weekend, we had to try and squeeze a lot of activity into just a few hours. We were up to the challenge, and we started with Rock City on Friday Night. I have been to Rock City once, but it doesn’t count, because it was the middle of winter and I didn’t get out of the car. My 7 year old son has been once before, so he was my official guide. Rock City is one of the most well-known attractions in Chattanooga, and I recommend it. Because we arrived somewhat late in the evening, we pretty much had the place to ourselves, which was great because we could wander and chat and it felt very relaxed. There’s a lot of walking through beautiful foliage and ancient rock formations, and at the top of Lookout Mountain, you can “See 7 States”, which is really rad. There are garden gnomes all over the place and a rickety bridge that unfortunately doesn’t come with an alternate route. I felt a little like Indiana Jones, if Indiana Jones was a complete coward.
(At the end there’s a small gift shop that has some really kitschy gifts. I chose an agate slice to use as a coaster on my writing desk, and some small vials of blood stone and citrine, which I’m very excited about.)
Saturday morning started early with a 6:30 am wake-up to run in the city. I had planned to go alone and use my MapMyRun app, but Mom wanted to run too, so my step-dad drove us over to the Walnut Street Bridge and off we went. Firstly, the weather was fantastic! We started just before sunrise, and I tried to take some photos of what I was seeing but the photos don’t do it justice at all. It was cool, not humid at all (a big change from home), clouds hovered around the mountains and there was a nice breeze. Ideal running conditions. Walnut Bridge itself is fun to run, it’s made of wood and forgiving on the joints and it’s over half a mile long. My legs felt fresh and breathing was easy. Excellent way to start the day, and running is a wonderful and underrated way to explore a new city. We ran through the Bluff View Art District and Coolidge Park, saw several interesting works of art, and smelled tons of baked goods being prepared for the day. The run was so good, we repeated it on Sunday morning!
That brings me to two other great things about Chattanooga: The food and the architecture! The amount of coffee shops and bakeries here is mind-blowing and extremely pleasing to the fat girl inside me. I’m sure I could eat my weight in delectables at Rembrandt’s Coffee. (If you’re ever there, try the Nutella Macaroons!) Many of the buildings in C-town have a German feel to them. I lovingly refer to them as gingerbread houses. My husband lived in Germany for several years as a kid, so I was particularly excited for him to have the opportunity to see something familiar and tied to happy memories.
Beyond patisseries, there are LOTS of places to eat in Downtown Chattanooga (we mostly stayed around the downtown area for this trip). We chose to eat at Sticky Fingers BBQ, and it was a magnificent choice, if I do say so myself. Here in Georgia we use Sticky Fingers sauce and until we drove past the building, I didn’t realize they even had restaurants. I chose a sampler plate that included a pulled pork sandwich, ribs with sauce (you can also choose them dry), veggies, and sweet potato soufflé that will make you say Hallelujah. The food was satisfying, the ribs in particular were very well cooked – tender and flavorful – and the sweet potatoes were some of the best I’ve ever had (which is saying a lot, given my affection for my aunt’s Senator Russell potatoes) and our server was very friendly. I can’t wait to go back and have more ribs.
After our exhilarating run, we headed over to the Tennessee Aquarium. For my son, the Otter Whisperer, this is a big deal. We arrived to see that the Saturday Market was going on right outside, so that was fun. We shopped and met local artisans and crafters and I was reminded that we humans are creative. We are wildly imaginative and talented, and I’m proud of us. High five, homo sapiens! Inside, the aquarium was a little crowded but the place is huge so the crowd moved freely. There are escalators to the different floors, which is nice, and the air was on “Arctic” setting, which after standing outside in the sun for a while was a welcome break. Sadly, the otters didn’t feel like playing, but we did see penguins and the gator feeding show, and I pet something! I honestly do not remember WHAT it was, probably because I was terrified, but on coaching from my son I put my fingers in the water and touched some kind of gross fish! Check that off my bucket list! It was softer than I expected, and kept swimming back for more loving. It acted like a cat, but was definitely not a catfish. I learned some new things while there, which I love doing, about jellyfish – the Sea Walnut (which reminded me a lot of a flux capacitor) and the Upside Down jelly, in particular. I also was a magnet for the Sea Horses, which just reaffirms my belief that I am Snow White. Even though it wasn’t an outside activity, this aquarium was one of the highlights of Chattanooga for me. If you get a chance to go, please do!
I touched it!
Sea Walnut Jellyfish
That night we went by Publix, ate at Mom’s and watched Jurassic Park. It was lovely to get a rest and some family time just relaxing. Everyone slept early, which was also nice.
Sunday after the run, we packed up and went to Shoney’s. Step-dad wanted us to go and Emmett is nearly dumbfounded at the idea that you don’t have to wait for your food, you can just go get it! The breakfast bar was delicious, and I ate way too much. For our last stop before driving home, we hit up Build-a-Bear at the Northgate Mall. We don’t have a Build-a-Bear Workshop near us, so this is a special treat that Emmett gets each time he travels to a place that has one. After some deliberation, he chose a Pokemon outfit for his bear, and we hit the road.
The Noog was fun, refreshing, and educational. I really have nothing negative to say. Some things were a tad bit expensive, though someone pointed out that it might have been due to large crowds traveling up to view the eclipse. We didn’t get to see Ruby Falls because of an enormous crowd, and I’ll also blame that on the eclipse. The great news is, the tickets we purchased are good for a whole year! So we’ll be back to Chattanooga in the Fall to see Ruby Falls and Christmas lights. There was a LOT of art and friendly people (and dogs!) and we walked 4-5 miles each day. We saw the Trail of Tears and a handful of other historical places, and I got a hug from local radio DJ Joe Cook, my mom’s friend who I’ve known and loved since I was around 5 years old. Shops like All Things Groovy have a special place in my heart, and while I didn’t photograph them I did shop them. Highly recommend the Chattanooga experience to anyone who wants to feel a mix of down home and big city, shore town and mountain hideaway, hipster-friendly with an appreciation for history.
Noms – Barbecue! This weekend has been lots of good Southern food, thanks to our friends in Chattanooga, TN. We stopped by and ate lunch on Saturday at Sticky Fingers and it was incredible! I cook with their sauce a lot and never knew there were restaurants. Highly recommend the ribs!
Tunes – Coldplay. Coldplay just calms me down and makes my spirit sing, and it’s what I needed this week. I’m mostly playing this one and this one on repeat.
Wanderlust – Chattanooga is in the books, and was WAY fun. We didn’t have time to see everything, but we sure tried! (I’ll be posting about this later in the week.) Right now we have no concrete plans, but we will get back there before the end of the year, I’m sure. I am suddenly itching to go to Greece, so I’ve been stalking Google Flights to find affordable rates.
Fitness – Lots of outdoor running. I convinced my mom to run with me in the Noog, and we had 2 excellent sunrise runs through some historic areas. My legs felt good and the weather was ideal for running. I’ll continue with running this week (focus on hills) in order to build my base.
I also spent a day to myself relaxing and watching the Wake Board Nationals at Callaway Gardens. I love having a beach in our backyard, without all the hassle of living in a tourist-clogged area! I can go, be fabulous for a while, then drive home to the forest and hibernate. It’s the ideal situation.
Spiritual – Lots of Law of Attraction speak this week, as Mom likes to discuss manifesting. We went shopping for gems and I found a new one – Bloodstone – and purchased. From what I have read it’s highly effective for healing, and great for Pisces, so I’m super excited to have it. I’ll be doing a separate post on gems later this month. Also, I’ve read about a dozen interesting – and convincing – reincarnation stories told by kids and parents of kids who believe they’ve lived before. Some of them are truly creepy. There’s even a woman who has claimed for most of her life to be Anne Frank reincarnated. (How have I never heard of her?) Anyway, click here to read a little about her.
Dreams – I have had one dream about HRH Prince William, and one other that I delayed in journaling and thus, have lost to the abyss of my mind, likely for all eternity. But a week with a dream of Wills is still a good week in dreams, I think.
Photos – Architecture and interesting sculptures! I love art, not so much modern art but even that has its place. One of my favorite things about visiting a new place is seeing some of the art. I’m saving most of the photos for my Chattanooga post, but here’s some chalk art I passed while walking around town.
TV and Film – Zip, Zilch, Nada. I have seen maybe 2 episodes of Law & Order: SVU this week and the beginning of the original Jurassic Park.
Between the Pages – I am still trying to read Bull Mountain by Brian Panowich. I thought the North Georgia mountains would be the perfect setting to crack this one open, but I was feeling rushed and uninspired. Maybe this week I’ll get to it. If not, I’ll choose something else.
Tech – A couple new apps have been brought to my attention this week. (Note to reader: when I say new, I mean new to ME.) One is PostMates, which I heard about from Bob & Sheri on their podcast. Apparently, PostMates allows you to order food from one of several different restaurants and have it delivered for a nominal fee. Unfortunately, it’s not available in my area and it wasn’t available in Chattanooga, so I haven’t had a chance to use it. The other app I learned about is PICO Digital Film. I spend a lot of my time taking photos with my iPhone, so this one is of particular interest to me. PICO allows an iPhone user to select different types of film (MAX, Noir, Kodak Gold) and shoot photos using that setting. It’s a little like Instagram filters, but more specific and detailed. I like it.
Eats: Fluids! No, it’s not a new diet. It’s the stomach flu!No kidding, everyone in the house was sick this week so I indulged in such delicacies as Lemon Lime Gatorade, Canada Dry Ginger Ale, and Fruit Punch Gatorade.
Pandora: Celtic music is my jam. This week I’ve been listening to a lot of it. This is possibly because I watched Braveheart a few times while I was sick (as one does), but I’ve always had an affinity for the fiddles and bawdy lyrics. If you haven’t before, search “Celtic” in Pandora, choose “Station” and give it a listen. I bet you’ll be doing an Irish jig in no time.
Michael Flatley – Irish Jigger Extraordinaire
Wanderlust: Nothing new to report, sadly. It’s a dream of mine to go to a film festival, though, and I might be close to making that happen. Fingers crossed!
Workouts: Because of the sickness, all I managed were Gatorade curls and sleep. I will say, though, that the sleep was glorious. Also, my older son is a blue belt in karate right now and I get a “kick” out of watching him practice!
Spiritual: Lots of talk about magic going on in our house this week, thanks to the Harry Potter books and Hogwarts at Universal Studios. My son and I had an interesting discussion about magic, in which he stated he didn’t realize that “real” magic existed. “Of course it does!”, I told him, hand to chest in faux dramatic fashion. I let him know the secret, as I understand it: The less a person believes in magic, the less one sees it. The more a person believes in magic, the more he or she will be able to recognize it in the world around him. He was delighted in this truth, and I was delighted to share it with him.
Dreams: Animals! I’ve had dreams about baby pandas and an avalanche of black sheep this week. I am SURE they mean something but also sure that I probably don’t want to know.
Photographing: Lots of screen shots of quotes this week. I’ve been kinda grumpy and stressed, so I keep things to help me remember nice thoughts and encouraging words.
Movies and TV: I’ve been waiting to write this portion of the blog all week! Rumor has it (and rumor actually confirmed by Vanity Fair ) that the original cast of The Karate Kid will be reuniting for a TV special! Words cannot express (at least, not any words in my limited vocabulary) the elation I experienced when I heard his news. For many reasons these films (ahem, the originals only) hold a special place in my heart. Of course, there will be a gigantic Pat Morita – sized hole in the special, but I’m hopeful that his character will be treated with honor and respect. Ralph Macchio is by all accounts quite a nice guy, and I hope this is a hit for him and Billy Zabka. I will definitely be watching!
Library: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Seriously, I’m only 2 pages in. This week I’m taking sabbatical from work (don’t worry, they know about it) so I will try and sink my teeth in and share with you guys if I catch feelings. Or start speaking Parseltongue.
Tech: Words With Friends, mis amigos. I’ve been challenged this week by friends, former English teachers, and total strangers. I’ve won, I’ve lost, I’ve pitched my fists into the air in frustration. It’s a great way to keep the mind sharp, or to get upset about how dull your mind is. It’s one or the other. Also, check out the Robin Hood App. It’s a FREE stock trading app, and it is quite user-friendly. Aptly named after the legendary outlaw who “robbed from the rich to give to the poor”, this app promises to help the “little guy” who isn’t educated on trading to build his portfolio. Does it work? I have no idea. Right now they have a promotion going and if you sign up RIGHT OVER HERE you will receive one free share of mystery stock. You can also receive free stock for any person who signs up using your link. Free stock is free money, so go get some!
One last serious note: Rest in Peace, dear Robin Williams. It’s been three years already. Your life touched me. Your death shook me. Your legacy inspires me. **If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or considering suicide, please get help. You are not alone and you are worth fighting for. You are unrepeatable. There is a magic inside you that is all your own. (D.M.Dellinger)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Magnet
My favorite picture of this brilliant, kind spirit
A La Carte: Let’s see… A lot of my focus has been on cutting out snacks and sugars. Pure Protein bars are an “old school” favorite of mine, and I’ve had one with a piece of fruit or some cherries every day this week. Also EAS AdvantEdge shakes are great. As far as ACTUAL food, sweet potatoes are life right now. Any way I can get them, especially fries.
Tunes: Elvis! That’s right, I’m tuned in to the King this week. My 7-year-old saw a book at the store and said, “Who is Elvis?”, and I knew I had done him a great disservice. So this week we’re blasting favorites like “Teddy Bear”, “Blue Christmas”, “All Shook Up”, “Viva Las Vegas”, and “Hound Dog”. I have fond memories of dancing around to Elvis in my mom’s room, and we’ve had a fun time re-creating it at our house.
Where I’m Going: I want to go somewhere new for Christmas. Well, maybe not ON the day, but for Winter. It doesn’t snow here. I’m fantasizing about somewhere white and romantic. New York? Paris? Heck, I’d even consider somewhere out west. I like to ski! Maybe Aspen? I could ski with Tom Cruise and we could discuss our mutual disdain for vitamins and how we both do our own stunts.
Flesh: Elliptical cross-training! I forgot how much fun the elliptical can be. The ones at my gym have a setting called “X Train Backwards”, and on this setting you go 4 minutes forward, or regular, and 4 minutes back. It’s great for working quads and hamstrings, and it’s FUN. If you know me, you know fun is a necessary component in fitness. Life is too short to have it otherwise! So if there’s an elliptical at your gym and you’ve never tried it, please do! Challenge yourself with the settings, too. I like to go to the very highest level for a minute, then turn it way back down and get high reps, and repeat. (It’s a lot like doing intervals in spin class.) Another bonus: The elliptical simulates skiing motions, so you’ll be prepared for that ski date with Tom!
Soul: I did a blog post the other day about the small eclipse this month, and already I have seen a few eery things happen (ALL good) in my life. I’m reading about the BIG eclipse that’s coming and doing my best to prepare, without stressing or planning everything. I like for things to happen organically and naturally, and not be forced.
Dreams: Both dreams I remember this week took place in my grandmother’s home. She is heavily on my mind this week, and I am supposed to go and visit her, so this is probably why. I’ve also been researching our family tree and thinking about getting some oral histories from her. One final explanation is that I miss her and her home, and the time I lived there, terribly some days.
Photographing: SCHOOL IS IN! My phone is full of photos of my big 2nd Grader.
Movies and TV: I have discovered a show for children called Pocoyo. It is available on Netflix and it is adorable. Very simply animated, and narrated by a man whose voice is quite similar to the guy from Winnie the Pooh (from the 80s), it’s the only thing my toddler will pay any attention to. Before this, he would not watch TV at all.
Library: My own book. Two years ago I wrote a book to honor my grandfather and to process some of my own grief. The end result has been sitting on my computer since, and I’ve been inspired by some writer friends to go ahead and self-publish on Amazon. The issue I’m having is that it’s full of religious/spiritual references that I’ve moved on from, and I don’t want to be a phony. I’ve attempted several different edits, but none of them feels authentic to who my grandfather was. So… I’m stuck. I’m sure it’s only temporary. The next step will be figuring out how to format from Word to e-reader, and so far I can’t even get a successful download (thanks, Firefox!)
Tech:Duolingo is my best friend. I’ve been sitting up at night becoming fluent in French, in preparation for our inevitable Paris take-over. If you want to learn a language, consider using the Duolingo App. It’s fun, free, and easy to learn. Duolingo offers a variety of languages, and the lessons are short and fun. You can track your progress, earn rewards, and share Fluency percentage with friends or even have it posted on your LinkedIn profile.
Grub – Maybe because it’s Summer Time, and maybe because I live in Georgia where if the humidity doesn’t bother you the heat and humidity combination will make you question everything you thought you knew about the melting point of human flesh, I am super into ice cream this week. Two favorites are Ben & Jerry’s Urban Bourbon (delightfully indulgent) and Halo Top’s Mint Chip (light and guilt-free). The Halo Top could use more chips, but I just add some Ghirardelli baking chips and I’m good to go.
Straight Outta Pandora – artist I’m super into is BORNS. I heard the song “Dug My Heart” and it was all she wrote. Check it out here. Their music has a very… mystical quality to it. It’s 80s but it’s also modern. “American Money” is mesmerizing. Another band on my list this week is Young the Giant. Listen to “Something to Believe In” and get back to me with opinions and suggestions.
Globetrotting – Found a great deal for flights to Rome, Italy. I think it was posted by Conde Nast Traveler magazine, but don’t quote me on that. Trying to get my bro and sister-in-law on board. I’d love to be there this winter! We’ve been to the Colosseum once before but unfortunately Gladiator hadn’t come out yet, so I’ve not had the opportunity to stand inside it and scream, “Are you not entertained?” So. Life goals.
Body – My focus right now is on sleep, rest, self-care, and hydration. I notice a real difference in myself when I drink lots of water and when I get lots of quality sleep. On the fitness end, I’m spending tons of time outside, touching nature and breathing fresh air. Highly recommend this to all my fitfam/gymrat friends.
Heart and Soul – Psychometry has been on my mind this week. The following is from Wikipedia:
(from Greek: ψυχή, psukhē, “spirit, soul” and μέτρον, metron, “measure”), also known as token-object reading, or psychoscopy, is a form of extrasensory perception characterized by the claimed ability to make relevant associations from an object of unknown history by making physical contact with that object.
I don’t know if I believe a person could pick up an antique and discern things about its previous owners, but I do wholeheartedly believe that all things are energy. (Notice I didn’t say all things “have” energy.) Living things like people, plants, and animals as well as non-living things are all made of energy. Some people call this vibration. I refer to raising vibration a lot, because I believe positive things in life vibrate at a higher level than negative things, so the goal is to always raise or keep high vibration, so that you’re always energetically on the same wavelength (so to speak) with those things that are most desirable for you. For more information on attracting, check out Agnes Vivarelli on YouTube. Her videos are about vibration, manifestation, and radiating love.
What Dreams May Come – The only dream I had this week was a nightmare, so I’m not going to post about it. Hope to have a better dream story next week.
Photographing – Trail runs, nature, animals, moving away from selfies and people photos. Also, painted rocks, both hidden and found. Haven’t heard of the rock-painting phenomenon? Get Involved in Your Community!
Slow and steady wins the race.
Big and Small Screen – I have only seen a couple episodes of Criminal Minds this week, but they were good ones. The relationship between Derek and Penelope is everything. I watch this, totally enjoying their back-and-forth dialogue, and half-hoping for a hookup. Also watching SDCC footage here and there. Love the new Justice League trailer, especially Jason Momoa as Aquaman (you can follow him on Instagram ) and Ezra Miller (also on Instagram) as Flash, who my son is most exicted about. Momoa has been my main guy for a while, I’m so excited to see a spirit like his succeeding in Hollywood. Miller is a talented actor and I’m curious to see where he’ll go. Flash also seems to have all the funny lines, but maybe that’s just the trailer. Oh, and you can see the Justice League trailer from ComicCon 2017 right over here.
Between the Pages – This week I read Shakespeare’s “The Merry Wives of Windsor” for the first time. A self-professed Shakespeare lover/buff/geek, I am ashamed that I haven’t read everything he’s written. I’m not into the comedies as much and the language (and therefore the humor) can be difficult for me to digest, but I got through it. I also went to SparkNotes.com and read the synopsis. It’s a helpful website as it also gives context, informing the reader of what was going on in England at that time.
Tech – My only news here is that I finally played Pokemon GO. It was underwhelming, but thankfully I didn’t walk off any cliffs.
Eats: Craving lasagna this week, and all things Italian. Think Joey from Friends – “Fried stuff with cheese!” I’m also trying to make a peach cobbler, a la Gone With the Wind. Baking is my culinary “sweet spot” (excuse the pun), so I’m expecting it to be delicious!
Tunes: Infatuated once again with Sheppard, after hearing this song on YouTube. “Keep Me Crazy” is another Sheppard favorite. I suggest creating a Pandora station centered around them. Coldplay, Chainsmokers, and Jeff Buckley because he’s eternal and if you don’t know him, you should.
Wanderlust: Disney and Chattanooga are booked! Looking at NY at Christmas or early 2018, and Vegas in the Spring for my HS Reunion.
Body: Running roads this week. Morning, afternoon, whenever I can fit it in. My right hamstring is sore, so I’ve been doing yoga, applying ice and heat, and generally going easy on myself.
Heart and Soul: Forced laughter turns into real laughter, if you do it long enough. It’s actually very good for you, and can be contagious. This is known as Laughter Yoga, or Laughter Meditation. This week I have been working on spontaneously laughing. Frustrated? Laugh. Sad? Laugh. Doing laundry with the kids? Start laughing. It leads to all kinds of pleasant things. In our house, it led to telling jokes, which evolved into an impromptu crawling-on-all-fours tickle war, an experience every family should have at least once. There’s no quicker way to raise your vibe, or to feel connected to someone, than to lie on the floor and laugh with them. Good times.
Dream News: Not much to report here. I’ve been so tired this week, and yet not sleeping well. I’m not sure there have been any dreams at all.
Photographing: Leaves, plants native to Georgia.
My Eyes are Watching: Game of Thrones, DUH. Actually didn’t watch on premiere night, but did watch the next day and without giving anything away, I’ll say my mind was blown before the intro music even started. My allegiance has been with House Stark from the beginning (except I do totally love Khal Drogo and Khaleesi). The North Remembers!
Bookshelf: I’ve only read blogs this week, especially Abundant Mama, who features a whole series for highly sensitive moms. I am currently in desperate need of book suggestions, if anyone has them. My oldest just discovered the Magic Treehouse series and he’s totally enchanted. We also picked up some Solar System flash cards from Target and they’ve been fun for the whole family. I can boast that I now know what an Eagle Nebula is. Do you?
Tech: Today I figured out how to get the “Mail” app/shortcut back on the iPhone, in the event your 15-month-old grabs the phone and deletes it like the little maniacal genius he is. See How Here. Also reading up on creating a podcast, and might have something going in this department in the next month or so.
I went running this morning at one of my favorite parks. It’s close to my house and the scenery is breathtaking, so when the stars align and I am able to get there for a workout, I feel grateful. These days I’m trying to be outdoors more (and on the treadmill less) in order to improve my fitness and raise my vibration.
This park has several miles of woodland trails for running and mountain biking. I normally run the mountain bike trails because they’re wider, and because there’s a nice canopy of trees that shields me from the sun a bit. The downside is that there are tons of giant tree roots, and the canopy seems to hold in all the humidity, so some days it feels like running through a giant sauna obstacle course.
Today I decided to run a different route, to challenge myself and keep the ol’ neurons firing. I parked at the exit, grabbed my pretty pink pepper spray and my cell phone, and set off down the road. Little did I know, spiritual growth was waiting right around the corner for me.
Having grown up in this city, one might expect that I know a thing or twelve about this park. The number of trails, the length of those trials, elevation, length of the road, etc. Useful things. I don’t actually know any of that. The positive to this is that so far I have learned something new on each run, which I actually find exciting, so I’ve decided to stick with this “discovery-running” strategy. I have heard that there are 5-7 miles of trails in this park, though it’s also possible that I have made that number up completely. (A quick Google search did nothing to help clarify.) Anyway, I started running knowing I had somewhere between 5 and 7 miles of road to go on, and I wouldn’t make it that far anyway, so my plan was to run as far as I wanted and turn around and run back to my car.
Running through a gorgeous park on a Saturday in Georgia is a glorious experience. I said “hello” and received similar greetings from walkers, runners, bikers, kids, grandmothers, disc-golfers, and a lady carrying a casserole in one hand and a baby in the other. I could hear country music coming from the speakers of a pickup parked down by the lake, kids laughing as they played in the waterfalls, and friends encouraging each other as they cycled up a steep climb. The whole place was abuzz with activity, and I was buzzing along in the middle of it. I felt like I was in a movie, in one of those opening sequences where the camera starts out in space, and slowly zooms all the way into the town where the story takes place, until the focus is on the main characters. That thought made me smile.
As I was making my way up and down the hilly pavement, mindful of cars and trying to keep my breath steady, I thought about how far I might run today. 1 mile? If I turn around then, it would be 2 when I reached the car. It was pretty hot out. Maybe 1.5? That makes 3 total. Maybe I’ll just go .75 and then turn around, but I’ll run it faster than I’m used to.I have to go to work tonight and I don’t want to be tired and sore at the beginning of my shift. I knew I couldn’t run the 5-7 miles to the entrance even ONCE, let alone do it and turn around and run all the way back to my car.
Suddenly, just as that negative “I can’t” thought was forming, other thoughts popped up, as if to banish it before it planted roots in my brain. These other thoughts were encouraging, motivating thoughts. For example:
The story about Bruce Lee and his friend running 5 miles, and Bruce’s philosophy on life. (The story can be found HERE.)
Kathy Freston’s bookQuantum Wellness, in which she says you should always go farther than you believe you can.
The reality that part of me was trying to give up before I’d even truly begun.
What happened was simultaneously anti-climactic and miraculous:
I simply decided to run the entire path, from exit to entrance. My legs felt strong, my breathing was pretty good, and even though I had never done it before, I decided that I would do it.
That’s it. Hardly worth mentioning, right? And yet, in that millisecond that I made the choice to “just do it”, my life changed a little bit. My mindset rotated from “can’t” to “will”. There was never a question after that whether I could make it, just a quiet, confident knowing that I would.
The rest of the story is that yes, I ran it all. Guess what? The road in it’s entirety ended up being a little over two miles, beginning at the exit gate and going “all the way” around the the entrance. Yep, this thing that I had negated and barred myself from ever doing was only two miles. I had never taken the time to find out the actual distance, because I already believed it to be further than I could run!! I had counted myself out of the race without ever starting. This got me thinking – How many times in my life have I done this? With work? With friendships and relationships?
Here’s a funny thing about enlightenment, acceptance, and finally letting go of old beliefs: oftentimes we are standing on the precipice of greatness, and once we step off the edge, we can finally see the beauty of where we are headed. Before we take that first step, though, all we see is the edge. We see danger. The unknown. The unattainable. We see the can’t, won’t, shouldn’t signs all around us that discourage us from trying. So we don’t. We don’t try, we stay safe, and we continue to live our lives as we’ve always lived them, because that’s comfortable.
I’m writing this blog today to encourage you to GET UNCOMFORTABLE. Whatever edge you find yourself standing on today, take the leap! Take a step. Do something outside of your comfort zone and just see what happens.
Small picture, I ran 4 miles. This, in itself, is not a big deal, I know. The bigger picture is that I came away from this run with just a smidge more enlightenment than when I entered. A mental barrier was overcome. My perspective was significantly altered. What is can’t? What is too hard? What in life is truly unattainable? I learned an invaluable lesson about belief, ability, and being willing to say “Geronimo!” and jump off the edge, even and especially when I can’t see what’s coming next.