What Paris Taught Me


I wrote this a year ago right after I returned from Paris and never got around to sharing it.  I never got around to a lot of things I learned there and meant to do when I got back - but I'm getting around to them now.  Maybe it's the bittersweet nostalgia that has taken hold, reminding me that big trips, big moments, big events are often far apart, but I have full control over what happens day to day.  So here are my words from June 14, 2016.

I recently returned from an 8 day trip to Paris which included a 5 day writing retreat with a small group of women.  It would be easy to write about how magical Paris was (true), how the sun dazzled off the 15th century architecture (it did), how both the women and men appeared effortlessly fashionable (also true) but there were also moments of doubt, saddness and fea.  My instagram photos - save one - show only the glory and perfection that I wanted to share.  They don't show mean breaking down one afternoon because I couldn't find stamps, or staying up all night at the miniscule Air BnB thinking I had a UTI, or sitting on the window ledge of Louis Voutain trying to Google Voice call my husband in tears.  There was some crap in there for sure.  The thing is, neither the perceived perfection by others or the perceived crap by me really matter.  What matters is what I learned:

  • That I love language and am willing to step through my fear of imperfection to try it out.
  • That I am resilient and can make an action plan out of the aforementioned crap.
  • That it's ok to have a good cry and call your husband [best friend, mom, enter needed person here] back in the states, waking them up at 4am.
  • Stepping out of my comfort zone makes the best stories (hammam anyone?).
  • Slowing down allows me to notice the most incredible details - the arbor of roses framing Notre Dame and their lingering smell throughout the city.
  • Two hour leisurely lunches with new girlfriends is the best therapy.
  • Champagne makes and ordinary day something to celebrate.
  • How Parisians savor the details of life - flowers in the market, red lipstick, black stockings, fresh pastries, a cup of coffee lingered at a table.
  • That there's something slightly trashy/classy about drinking mini bottles of rose in the Tulleries.
  • Small luxuries - heated towel racks, the bursting flavor of macaroons, afternoon naps - can't be beat.
  • There are amazing women out there full of fun and stories and life.

Only a few days back and I'm already sliding back into my American habits of multi-tasking and rushing through my day with too much Facebook and not enough time walking outside.  But I am wearing a lovely French perfume and I'm committed so far to my writing practice, so maybe some Frenchness will stick with me after all.

Back in 2017 - tomorrow is my birthday and I intend to wear that French perfume, take the time to put on something pretty, and maybe drink my coffee at the table, while watching the world.  One thing at a time.  More pausing and less fear. 


Things I Loved About Paris


One year ago this week I was in that magical city, Paris.  I had made the decision nearly a year before that to attend a writing retreat with the fabulous Kimberly Wilson, of Tranquility du Jour, something that seemed like a life decision that needed to be made, even though I had no idea at the time just how appropriate it would be.  It became a time to finish healing my soul, which had been badly battered over the previous year.  I didn't visit all the tourist sites or go to the well known museums, rather I spent my time recording the small moments and elements that have stuck with me a year later.  Here are some of the things I loved about the city and my time there.

  • Dark pink/fuchsia begonias at the Luxembourg Gardens
  • The cathedral of leaves from lacy buckeyes against the sky
  • Feeling connected to the world and the earth doing yoga outside
  • Fat, fat pigeons - especially when they joined us for pigeon pose
  • Peonies - their fanciful fluff and delicate pink and cream color
  • Champagne - making an ordinary day something to celebrate
  • Macaroons - an array of colors, their delicacy giving way to a burst of flavor (my favorite was rose from Laduree)
  • Mint tea - after dinner at Kimberly's, while writing in the shade at a park cafe, in the hammam after an intense steam and rubdown
  • Fresh strawberries
  • Ripe cherry tomatoes
  • The sun on my skin in the Luxembourg Gardens
  • Drinking mini bottles of wine in the Tullieries - no glass required
  • Having a Marilyn Monroe moment with my new friend Alisha in the middle of Boulevard Sant-Germain
  • The idea of a festival of people doing yoga to Pink Floyd (and getting in hysterics with another new friend, Hilary)
  • Photos of men in doorways (inspired by Shannon)
  • Two hour lunches over glasses of wine
  • Goats in the haha at the Tulleries
  • Reminders: "It's a meditation practice, not a meditation perfect."
  • Afternoon naps
  • The smell of roses
  • Tiny jazz clubs
  • Candid portraits in the gardens
  • Cheese - fromageries, for breakfast, for appetizers, for dessert
  • Heated towel racks
  • Women in black stockings
  • Men in scarves
  • The smell of basil
  • Arbors of roses, framing Notre Dame
  • Cafes every 20 feet
  • Metro
  • The smell of lavender
  • Neighborhood squares with dense trees and playgrounds
  • Living with the city, as a part of it
  • The sparkling Eiffel Tower at night
  • Giant doors
  • The Shakespeare and Co stamp in their books
  • Warm apple pastries

What are the things you love?