City of Hearts

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.

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Arriving at the CDG Airport

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.

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Notre Dame Cathedral – Stunning!

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.

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A la marche – At the market

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.

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Can you feel the joy? Radiating happiness.

 

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He Killed Himself

One semester away from his Masters Degree

But he couldn’t see

The light at the end of the dark tunnel

He fumbled

PTSD was too much, he was humbled

Split open

Overtaken

Outnumbered by just one.

He was a brother to her in every sense of the word

But just for a moment

He forgot himself and his family

Who he was

Depression held him, held the gun

Nowhere to run

Now it’s done

Despair won.

Rest In Peace, Nate.

If you know someone who is struggling please help them get help.

Hotline 800-273-8255

My book on Anxiety is here

Podcast on how to overcome anxiety and mental illness is here

I love you. Please don’t give up.

Specifically

Silly rhymes and funny puns

Were a part of you

And your life so poured into mine,

They are a part of me, too.

I miss your humor and your laugh

Booming through the air

I miss the lessons I thought were play

And simply having you there.

Sneaking turkey in the kitchen

Trips to the symphony

You were the first person ever

To place real value in me.

Remember the time in Switzerland

Pretending, scientifically

What a magical time we had,

Thinking specifically.

Pictures, stories, memories

Keep you alive even now

I hope that you remember me too

As you sing your songs in the clouds.

Losing My Religion

I’m working on a book.  It’s a pretty involved process, and I am learning a lot as I go.  Thrilling, exciting, and … anxiety inducing.  Talking about the anxiety that used to run my life kinda makes me jittery.  I wouldn’t exactly say it’s a relapse, as much as it is recalling some of the old triggers that sent me into a tailspin.

The last few days I have been thinking a lot about religion in my life.  Growing up Catholic and attending a Catholic school, I took it all very seriously. I took for granted it was all true.  Even later, as an adult in the Southern Baptist church, I was a player in an elaborate game of Follow the Leader, even though many times I had no idea who that was or where we were supposed to be going.

Eventually my  husband and I had a falling out with our church – or, more specifically – our faith.  I have read accounts of others who have moments in their lives similar to what we had – an awakening, a change, growth, transition, you might even call it spiritual death, triggered by a great trauma or catastrophe.  For others, it’s the opposite, and such an event actually moves them towards the church.

Seeking answers, seeking truth.  Looking all around us for anything that makes sense when all that is comfortable and familiar has crumbled.  I think it’s human nature to want to assign a higher meaning to things that are tragic, and I certainly did.  When what I call the Terror came into my life, I learned pretty quickly what Christians do.  My friends, my Sunday School mates, they supported us.  One bought us groceries, one encouraged me to read my Bible when I was afraid, another class donated money so that our bills would be paid.  It was lovely to feel so encouraged in a hard time, and it lasted about two weeks.

The Terror would last much longer than that, and as our time of hardship wore on, the Christianity wore thin.  Our friends lost patience with us.  They withdrew their assistance.  Life goes on, right?  Some of them encouraged my husband to take the kids and leave me.  Some said to have me committed.  One person told me, quite matter-of-factly, that the things that were happening to me would not be happening, were my faith only strong enough.  Pray more.  Really mean it.  If it doesn’t help, you don’t really mean it.  Suddenly, I felt all alone in this “family”.  It was as if I had spiritual leprosy, and the entire community took a collective step back from me so as not to catch it.

Looking back, it was a gift.  These people who removed themselves from our circle, and pushed us out of what was known and comfortable, forced us to explore other possibilities than the ones we had blindly clung to for so many years.  I started reading things that had previously been “forbidden” to me, started considering possibilities that I had always dismissed as impossible and ignorant.  I used to pity people like me, people who didn’t worship Jesus and meet up at church to talk about all the ways we were going to save the world.

Out of necessity and desperate for relief, I began researching alternative therapies.  There’s actually a pretty thin line between medicine and religion, and as I learned about healing the body I also found out a lot about alternative spiritual practices.  Meditating, EFT, chakra balancing, crystals, astrology, numerology, reiki, essential oils, burning sage, prayer bowls and beads and moon ritual and tarot cards and more have made their way into my consciousness and I am a better woman for it. I walk barefoot and talk to the moon if I feel like it.  When I talk about animals and spirit guides, no one makes fun of me.

The irony is, by taking the first step into a spiritual truth that feels so much more aligned with who I am, for the very first time I am actually changing the world.  If everyone had the courage to be their authentic, unapologetic selves, the world would be a different place entirely.  Now, I feel free.  I am growing in new and exciting ways, without limits and without guilt.  New and trustworthy friends have filled the voids left by the people who couldn’t deal with our pain.  Best of all, by dipping my toes into a spiritual ocean I had never been allowed to visit previously, I feel united with every other person in the world.

Losing my religion became the catalyst for finding myself.  I’m a better wife and a better mom because I no longer operate from a place of “not enough”. Instead of trying to force myself to fit into someone else’s box, I’ve broken free of all the boxes and I make my own way.  I am more than enough.  I am everything I was created to be.(Yes, I still believe in Creator/Source.)

The path I am on is one of total joy and truth. I have met so many fascinating and kind people. I continue to learn about other beliefs, world religions, and I feel connected to my fellow man.  There is no judgement or pity in me for them.  Instead, there is love.  REAL love.  Unconditional love.  I am stronger, genuine, and aware.  Where once my life was a nightmare, it’s now a dream.  I am finally awake.

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Hitchhikers

There was a meteor shower last night.

Did you see it?  Did you notice them?  Were you, like my family, standing outside, looking up, ignoring the icy cold in order *hopefully* catch a glimpse of something magical?

We stood in the parking lot, the four of us, looking up.  We laughed and talked and danced.  Yes, we danced to stay warm.  We counted twinkles, identified constellations, and hugged each other while giggling about the possibility that if we kept our gaze up long enough, our necks might get stuck this way.

We connected and played and enjoyed each other, imagining dragons as we exhaled smoky white clouds of breath.  We talked about distant planets and galaxies and the undiscovered life that might be staring up at us at the same time.  There were jokes about aliens, stories of great Roman warriors who now live among the stars, and scientific questions about just what those stars are made of and why they appear to twinkle.

I saw one!  I was looking in the right  place at the right time, and I saw a star go from here to there, ever so quickly and quietly.  Before I could point it out to anyone, it was gone.  I mumbled a belated wish to the heavens, but the truth is that in that moment, with my tribe, I was already living my best life. What else could I ask for?

The Gemenid meteor shower came and went, and we lugged our chilly bodies up the stairs to our front door and into the warm, welcoming space we currently call home. Each of us tiptoed like baby birds to our respective nests, and without any more mention of stars, prepared for bedtime.

As I lie in bed waiting for sleep to come, I realized the depth and importance of what felt in the moment like goofiness…

Moments like this are what make childhoods worth reminiscing on.  Moments like this become memories that will amuse us, comfort us, remind us for the rest of our lives of the happy, silly time we had “that night”, looking up at the sky, cracking up at what the neighbors must be thinking about us, musing that we might be waiting for our mother-ship to come and whisk us away to the next universe. (Did we bring towels?)

Yes, the stars showed up and twinkled brightly for us, but it was we who brought magic to the night.

Shooting-Stars

 

 

Just Another Storm

All that panicking over Hurricane Irma was for nothing, folks.  We have lots of water to drink, which won’t be a problem, and BOY am I glad we didn’t buy anything else in bulk.  Thankfully we never even lost power.  That said, being stuck inside with hubs and kids for a couple of days, I was probably more in danger of losing my sanity.

Menu:  Vegan-ize all the things!  After my second bout of stomach flu in about a month (I know, right?!) I decided to go into “Immunity Improvement Mode” and eat all the fruits and veggies I could get my hands on.  I generally feel better when I cut out meat, which I do a few times per year, sometimes for weeks and sometimes as longs as 6 months.  Normally I do it as a cleanse or as a way to raise my energy and vibration.  Try it, it works!  Even the mood is lifted, which I think has something to do with the hormones in our food and the emotions of the animals before and during their slaughter.  I know what you’re thinking and yes, I’m basically the Mister Wizard of nurition.  Sha-zam!  [All of that said, I’m really not promoting one way of eating or lifestyle over another and I don’t call myself vegan at any time because it’s offensive to people who actually live it 100%.]

Music:  Tchaikovsky!  Particularly the Sleeping Beauty Ballet.  If you’ve never heard or seen it, that’s basically a crime against humanity and your parent and/or guardian should be punished.  Allow me to rectify this situation:

Also, I learned this week that the song in Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, when Aurora is singing in the woods, “I know you, I walked with you once upon a dream…” is from Tchaikovsky’s Ballet.  Isn’t that cool?  Yes it is.

Travel:  The Great Wall of China has just been added to the list.  As I type this, though, I’m reminded how badly I’d like to go and see Hadrian’s Wall, which stretches across parts of Ireland and England and has great historical significance as well.  It’s also the wall seen in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.  Hmm.  Which Wall?  I guess it depends on where Kevin Costner is at the time?

 

Gym Rat:  I took a break this week and did mostly yoga and sleep. It was glorious.

Soul: With Hurricane Irma being in the forefront of everyone’s minds this week, I wondered (out loud) whether in times of crisis people are more or less in tune with each others needs.  I think both are true. Some of us are natural caregivers, so when disaster strikes we are even more empathic than usual.  Others of us are selfish, and panic amplifies that selfishness to a degree that makes it difficult for us to even see other people.  Just my opinion, though.

Dreams:  Nothing I’d like to share this week.

Photographing:  Also nothing to share.  (What? We were prepping for a storm!)

Movies and TV:  Law and Order: SVU and all the marathons on all the channels.  What can I say? I love it.

Library:  Aside from GQ magazine, not much.  The current issue has an interesting interview with Steven Soderbergh and a pretty good profile on Robert Pattinson.  Both of them are pretty talented and I enjoyed reading.

Tech: Two new apps this week: Stone, which is fascinating and wonderful and very, very useful if you are into and own a lot of gemstones (which I do).  Stone is a user-friendly guide to gemstones, with photos, historical factoids, and what each gem can be used for.  The other is Golden Thread Tarot.  It’s a fun digital tarot deck that does much more than just give general readings.  It explains each card and even allows the user to log and journal about cards and readings.  I don’t know anything about tarot, and I like being able to choose emotions to go with my daily card, like “hope” or “frustration” and knowing I can later search for cards or readings by emotion.

Up, Up and Away!

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!

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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.

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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.

H.A.P.P.Y.

Summer is winding down, and Fall is on the way!  I’m completely indifferent to Pumpkin Spice, but so excited about the cooler (less humid) weather.  Here’s what’s going on with me this week:

Menu –  Semi-homemade chicken salad.  I use a rotisserie chicken from Fresh Market or Publix, shred the meat with a fork.  Add mayo (Duke’s, obviously), mustard, chopped spinach and onion.  My secret ingredient?  A little pickle juice and some chopped up hamburger dill chips.  Eaten over some blue corn chips, it’s currently my favorite thing.

Tunes – Heard a new song by Jack Garratt called Water, and it took my breath away.  The Revivalists, who I love, are coming to the Tabernacle in Atlanta and I’m really hoping to get to this show!

Wanderlust – Disney is almost paid for!  I’ve moved on to buying our shirts and silly fun things for the trip.  Next is the beach, hopefully Gulf Shores, before it gets too cold.  In the meantime, we’ve been going to Callaway for day trips with the kids, and it’s a terrific way to get the beach vibes without all the time in the car and other hassle.

**Shopping** – I don’t normally include news about purchases here, but I bought some rad new workout gear at Target.  I bought cute leggings, a sports bra, and a tank top, all for about $30.  They have an amazing clearance going on right now as Summer apparel gives way to chunky sweaters and pumpkin everything.

Fitness – I’ve been reading about Buti Yoga, and there’s a local gym that offers free classes on certain Saturdays so I’m talking myself into trying it.  According to MapMyRun I’ve run about 80 miles since I started running outside, which is GREAT.  I know I have a long way to go, but 80 miles is 8,000 calories and lots and lots of power gains in my legs!  I feel good about it.

Spiritual – Everything is circular, not linear.  I keep thinking about the phrase “Everything comes full circle”.   I have believed for a long time, and still believe, that all things are connected, but now I am starting to see that the connections tend to be circular, in that our understanding of them has a beginning (confusion/noticing/wonder), a middle (generally when something happens again, or we experience deja vu), and and end (light-bulb moment, connection is made, we see the result).

Dreams – My 8th grade English teacher, Mr. Decker, was a guidance counselor and he hugged me and talked to me about what was bothering me.  Rather benign dream, but nice to see he’s doing well.

Photos – Aside from kids and beach, mostly horoscope screenshots. Nothing new here.

TV and Film – To The Bone on Netflix.  SEE IT.  SEE IT NOW.  Also lots of Chopped on Food Network, Cooks vs. Cons, and Beat Bobby Flay.  What can I say, I like food.

Between the Pages – Still nothing. I’m in desperate need of a new good book.

Tech – Perusing podcasts this week, and learning to use SnapChat to actually chat instead of just playing with the filters.  I both like and dislike that the conversation disappears so quickly.  I am considering buying a MacBook, but I have always been a computer user so I’m afraid I’ll hate it.  Thoughts?

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H.A.P.P.Y. family

 

Sticky Fingers, Sting Rays, and Strides

[Chattanooga Recap]

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.

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Allow me to inquire about your health insurance.

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!

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Panorama at Sunrise, Walnut Street Bridge, Chattanooga (photo: me)
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Sunrise at Bluff View Art District (photo:me)

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!

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.

Mountain High

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.

C-town run
We are SUCH morning people.

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.