03 October, 2011

Love is Liberating

"I don't need you to write me a song, I'll write enough for the both of us.
You said you'd walk to Olympia to be with me,
so then I promised to teach our kids how to spell real well.
I want you here for it all,
I know we wont let each other fall"

A little (much needed) wisdom from The Daily Love today:

My interpretation?

People will do what they will do, and it's just not about you.

When you release blame and expectation and instead choose to look inside yourself, then you can simply meet another right where they are. In that, you will be free enough to love them, and free enough to be loved by them.

“All blame is a waste of time. No matter how much fault you find with another, and regardless of how much you blame him, it will not change you. The only thing blame does is to keep the focus off you when you are looking for external reasons to explain your unhappiness or frustration. You may succeed in making another feel guilty about something by blaming him, but you won’t succeed in changing whatever it is about you that is making you unhappy.”

- Wayne Dyer

I am free and whole enough to have been able to let in the love of a new man in my life...a man that I can trust, and who has proved himself worthy of my love as well. Our plans are big and without fear, and I can't wait for what is to come.

I have an incredible family here that supports my dreams and visions.

And of course there is the Love of the Creator which replenishes and nourishes my spirit unconditionally.

18 July, 2011

Paris Blues

I'm terribly sad to leave Paris.

I'll write a better conclusion to my life here at some point.

But for now I'm just terribly sad.

06 July, 2011

A Moral Dilemma.

Last night on my way home after dinner (around midnight) I got a good taste of harassment from a crazy, vulgar Frenchmen.

I sat across from a man on the metro, whose penetrating eyes on my body made his misguidance evident, and within minutes he began to talk "at" me rather than to me, as I was but an object. He said some very inappropriate, crude, insulting, derogatory things to me (insinuating I was the kind of woman that would come home with him, to put it nicely), all of which elicited reactions from the other men on the train. I was grateful for the defense, as I really didn't know how to react. My first feeling was that of sympathy, as this man was clearly not right in the head. But then as he gestured to my exposed shins (I was wearing a just-below-the-knee dress, not at all scandalous) and stated, "C'est une salope," I was filled with the urge to punch him hard in the face, and spit on the ground in front of him. Instead, I alternated between laughing with the other bystanders at his impudence, and giving him stone-cold eyes for his abhorrent behavior.
The disturbing part of this situation was not the insult or debasement I received, nor was it even the disrespect for women in general that this man showed. Rather, it was the moral dilemma I faced afterwards, in trying to decide what would have been the most virtuous way to react. Was it virtuous of me to not really react to the man? Sure, it was safer and empathetic, as he was clearly not right in the head. But it also didn't feel just. I didn't do anything to teach or help the man, or even to simply defend myself against such degradation. I believe anger has its place, and I even think there are times it is important to react to the feeling of anger. But I also know the danger of such reactions, if improper.

Anyone who reads this, I would be really interested in hearing other perspectives on this situation. Please post a comment or contact me in some way :)

Biking in Amsterdam, and some other things...

So I am going to do a little re-cap of the past several weeks...

Three weeks ago I took a 4-day trip to Amsterdam! This city was absolutely amazing; I fell in love. The endless supply of canals make for a breathtaking view, no matter where you are in the city. As a Minnesotan, I of course advocate and love biking (Minneapolis is the number one biking city in the country, after-all; suck it Portland!) and thus loved Amsterdam. Their cycling rates are 10 times higher than those of the United States.
*Side note: I wrote a research paper in a class at UMN about cycling in Europe, and coincidentally focused on Amsterdam. Here is an excerpt from that paper:
"In Amsterdam, some of the reforms the Dutch government made in the 1970s hugely impacted the bike routes in the city. The bike lanes were made larger, nearly two times longer, bringing the total kilometers of bike lanes in Amsterdam to 400km. There are many streets to be found in both Amsterdam and Copenhagen—“bicycle streets”—where cyclists get the right of way and cars are forced to be cautious (Pucher and Buehler 2008, Figure 2). There has also been a major increase in a number of streets which are for bikers only—cars are prohibited from driving on them at all (Pucher and Buehler 2008: 514). Networks of paths have also been created in these cities to steer cyclists away from the busy streets. With this kind of integration, cycling is even more efficient for commuters, and eliminates the issues with congestion."

My good friend Ida and I (who joined me for my adventures in Holland) rented bikes for two days, and were able to see most of the city in that time. I highly recommend this city to anyone travelling through Europe; I found Dutch people to be extremely friendly and helpful, and the acceptance of English-speaking was very welcoming as well. Contrary to popular belief, the city is not defined merely by the Red Light District or the hash-bar Coffee Shops :)

Upon returning to Paris, I had the pleasure of welcoming my newlywed cousin Jesikah and her husband Jon into my home to stay for four days. We had a great time together, and I was glad to be able to show them around Paris. They have been traveling around the world for a 6-month honeymoon (how cool is that?), and wrapped up their travels here with me. We spent a day at Versailles, which I had not done yet. The palace was incredible. It was really interesting to learn about the state of things leading up to the French Revolution, and see first-hand how extravagant the lives were for the royalty, while the rest of the country lived in deep poverty. It was especially interesting to make the comparison to today, and to see how the same issues are still happening. People are richer than ever, and meanwhile people are also suffering more than ever. But I digress....
Jon and Jesikah have mastered site-seeing by this point in their journey, so we were able to see all the most important places very efficiently, leaving plenty of time for mindful conversations, lazy picnics, gooooood wine, and some live music. One day we got bikes and toured the city, and it was not nearly as convenient as cycling through Amsterdam was.
I loved having them here, and it definitely got me excited to see all the other people I love back home!

Early Spring I met a French-woman that asked me to give English lessons to her three children, and last week was my final week teaching, as they are now in Israel for summer holidays. Yet another tough goodbye, because of course I got close to the family over the past few months working for them. Last Thursday I brought the kids to my restaurant so they could practice ordering in English, and then this Monday we had our farewell picnic.

Yesterday (Tuesday) I went to another farewell picnic for my friend Donna (another au pair, from Canada) just outside Paris at Bois de Boulogne, and last night went to the Paris Opera house for a Ballet with my friends from Kiwizine! It was magnificent, and definitely made me miss my days as a ballerina.

Now I have exactly two weeks left here in Paris, and I am really disoriented about the fact that my life here is coming to a close. And on that note, I gotta go spend the little time I have left exploring this vast and intricate city :)

Stay real, and do what you do.

♥ hannah lee

30 June, 2011

The Men with the Flowers

I have so many things to write about at the moment, but as I was about to start, I was interrupted, so I am not even going to talk about the several subjects I need to touch on (SOON!). As I write this, I am sitting at Culture Rapide (my favorite local, très bohemian cabaret) waiting for the Blues Jam night to start (which has become my Thursday night tradition).
I love this place; I can sit in peace, writing and thinking, without being disturbed by rowdy fellas or obnoxious gals. That being said, there is always the disturbance of the "Flower Men" (not an official title, just what I have labeled them). This disturbance has just happened, but it was welcomed :)

Here in Belleville (the 19th arrondissement of Paris, if you forgot) anytime you go out to eat, you can expect for there to be several men who will enter the restaurant throughout the course of your meal, attempting to sell you flowers. Some of them are très pénible, as in they will just stand in front of you while you try and enjoy your entrée of skewered watermelon, feta and smoked salmon (with a Greek mint sauce), repeatedly asking you if you will buy a flower--yes, this is our entrée (appetizer) this weekend.

Working in a restaurant, I know all the flower men, as they come into my restaurant every night of service. Whenever I'm out-and-about in the neighborhood at other bars and restaurants, I run into them. Tonight I chatted with one of my favorites; he is never annoying, doesn't speak much French or English. In French he knows how to say "How's it going?" and "Is it busy tonight?" and "I will return later." and of course, "You want?" (beckoning to the flowers in his arms). I felt so proud tonight, as he carried on a long conversation in French, using phrases and saying things that he has learned in the last few months. Every Friday I buy a flower from him, to decorate Kiwizine, but when I'm outside the restaurant he always offers me one as a gift. After our chat tonight he gave me a flower, smiling and bowing as he continued on his way, a long night of walking up and down the hilly neighborhood ahead of him.

I sure do love people making an honest living.

Stay real, and do what you do.

♥ hannah lee

17 June, 2011

The Routine of Clean

Eliminate the clutter

clean up the dirt

vacuum the dust





Did some much-needed house cleaning today, and realized how symbolic it is of the journey of inner-work!

Stay real, and do what you do.

♥ hannah lee

16 June, 2011

In All The Secret Places

Hey loves of mine, this entry is just a photo update, nothing more. I realize not everyone I know is on Facebook (Barnabas, your anti-change mentality must end; cave already!) so here are some pictures from recent adventures.

*The lovely Eiffel Tower; never gets old...especially when one has great editing tools!

*I just love this one of Lilia and I walking; taking a pause for a kiss.

*This is my dear friend Ida; this coming Sunday this lovely Norwegian and I will be meeting up in Amsterdam!

*My friend Amélie was kind enough to kidnap me from the city and let me join her family for a day at the sea How gorgeous is she? She has already birthed two beautiful children, and has her third coming this August. Both births were natural and painless for her (wow!) and she and her husband just published a book on childbirth :)

My kind of powerhouse woman!

*Au bord de la mer (at the seaside).

*This is Ètretat, a city located in the region of Normandy, known especially for these famous falaises (cliffs) from which many famous painters found inspiration (Monet, of course). Très belles!

*Even while sporting my hat, shades and scarf, my skin managed to get its fill of sun.

*It is officially my dream to one day own a little cottage in the hills...

* Such a gift to get out of the hussle-and-bussle of the city.

*This is Donna, an au pair from Canada

*So, for the most part I think that's about it. Last week I had a friend (from my days at Minnesota) who came and stayed with me. We did the classic touristy places (Louvre, Eiffel Tower, etc) and also made our way to several lovely local bars/cabarets where we found some amazing live music.
Yesterday I went to the Musée de l'Orangerie, created to exhibit Monet's Water Lilly paintings. UNBELIEVABLE. Favorite museum by far. With my visa I get in free to all the national museums, so I only had to pay for the audio guide; I was the nerd who took notes the whole time.
Now it's already time for another great weekend of work at the restaurant. My friend Jordan just finished updating the website for Kiwizine, check it out if you like www.kiwizineresto.com .

Here is an amazing video of Lilia

Here is another one of her freaking out about a balloon. So adorable, she already knows how to entertain.

Stay real, and do what you do.

♥ hannah lee

29 May, 2011

Get Your Fix...or Not.

Several days ago I discovered a group/product/service that was created by a guy who was “looking deeper for more insight on how to improve the human condition.” As I see myself and my role in the world as a healer, it sounded much like my own quest. This man, Mastin Kipp, started sharing quotes and tidbits of wisdom and life lessons to his friends via Facebook, Twitter, and Email. Two years ago someone famous discovered his feed, suggested it to their followers, and his went from 1,000 to 10,000 overnight, and now has over 300,000! The Daily Love sends a daily email (or Twitter update), filled with quotes and stories that are created with the intention to spread love, wisdom, and overall consciousness. Check out the site and consider getting daily love updates via email at http://thedailylove.com .

I have had several days of receiving these emails, and already I feel the waves of energy that have begun to stimulate my soul. There is a commonality amongst the posts people create (Mastin is not the only contributor), and I have certainly been spoken to.

Do your inner work. Learn the lessons. Get your thinking right. There is a recovery process. Your life is a gift. You are worthy.

"Some of us would rather keep suppressing our emotions and working on ourselves, so these folks keep stuffing down parts of themselves that are dying to be seen, recognized and expressed. The path to self-destruction is filled with avoidance of yourself. That’s what addiction really is – avoidance of ourselves to our own detriment. There are LOTS of ways to be addicted. You can be addicted to substances, alcohol, people, work, fame, success, attention, flirting with people, sugar, food and lots of other things.

When we hit a rough patch in life, instead of just letting ourselves feel, we can choose one of the above addictions and keep avoiding what’s within us. This is not what The Uni-verse has in mind for you. No amount of chocolate, sex, alcohol, success, people or drugs can silence the Whisper of The Uni-verse within you OR your emotions." (http://thedailylove.com/bummed-heres-12-tips-to-bounce-back/)

So how do you get your fix? What way, no doubt ingenious, have you found to distract yourself from yourself? To numb yourself to the pains of the world, to the pains of your world?

Take an inventory of yourself; figure out what you use;

and stop.

Receiving a daily devotion such as The Daily Love is healthy; it is good fuel for the soul. Start the transition back into health by recognizing what healthy doses actually look like.

Ultimately, the resounding message of the co-creators of that site is that we must be proactive. We must actively choose to do life. Actively choose love. Actively co-create our lives with the choices we make. We can choose to replace unproductive and negative thoughts with productive, positive true thoughts. We must start to recognize that every addiction and negative habit we have, at its root, is an avoidance of ourselves.

This all made me think about a woman (Jen Lindwall) I heard once who spoke about the idea of peace. She said true peacemakers are people who are willing to sit down in a storm, find a bit of peace, and spread it. In order to do this on a large-scale (in the world of chaotic storms), we have to first be able to sit down inside the storm that is within ourselves. This leads back to all the discourse on inner work.

In maintaining honesty and transparency, I do not put enough energy into my inner work. I am a master at distraction and avoidance. That being said, living here in Paris, I don’t have “my people” surrounding me, I don’t have my compulsively-busy life, I live without roommates, I am neither in school nor working a time-consuming job, I have consciously chosen to abstain from any romantic situations, thus the path has been prepared for me to actually give my first fruits of energy to my inner work. What does this mean for me? I’m still discovering that. Writing, purging my thoughts and feelings, dancing, sitting still, breathing, studying the Wisdom of the ages—al l of the above. Awakening consciousness, recognizing each day as a gift, attempting to see the lesson in every relationship and growing, transforming, setting intentions and sticking with them, being present with every moment while maintaining thoughtfulness for my greater visions…these are all vital practices that I have thus far adopted.

It is not easy. Doing your work is full of uncomfortable expressions and discoveries, and that is only the beginning. From there, you have to choose to learn, use the experiences, and change.

And of course, always remember, there is a Divine source behind everything (some people say God, Uni-Verse, Spirit, etc), which longs to help you with it all, and bring you the best for your life. Start There.

Stay real, and do what you do.

♥ hannah lee

15 May, 2011

expats, empathy, and a very important rule to live by...

My life has been exceptionally busy as of late, thus I have abandoned the ever-important practice of writing regularly. I'll be back to it soon, as I move into my new apartment tomorrow! I will be living with none but a ferret; the change of pace will be very drastic, but I'm looking forward to the next couple months of new adventures and lessons.

My heart is broken right now for a dear friend of mine from the restaurant next door. This person (whose name I cannot say for his sake) has been living in Paris for the past 5 years, as he has been exiled from his country for writing things his government doesn't approve of. He was forced to leave his wife and two daughters, found work here as a cook, and works long days and long weeks to support his family financially. His daughters were 1 and 3 when he left; they are now 6 and 8, and he has been robbed of being a father and watching them grow up. He had many problems his whole life, which he wont discuss, but finds this situation actually good. He doesn't complain about missing his family, or about the fact that he is stuck here (he can't even leave France at this point); he is just grateful he can give his family a house and food.

This last week he came over to the restaurant, and told us that his wife's heart is bad, she is in pain, and she needs a surgery (which will be the second one she has had) in order to live. He did his best to hide the tears that have lived behind his eyes for so long, but the shaking in his voice as he calmly wondered aloud why someone so young and beautiful will have to leave her family prematurely, he could not cover. Even if the surgery goes well, she may only have a few years left before her heart is too weak.

My friend is faced with the uncertainty of when and how he will return to take care of his daughters, and the impending question of how long their mother will be around remains.

Things feel hopeless for him. He is mad.

At one point he looked up at the sky, and shouted,
"What are you doing?! Where are you!?"
Then to me he said,
"Yeah, I've been on my knees talking to Him all week. It's all I can do, you know?"

I thought of how kind he is and how hard he works (thanklessly) and how real he is.

I smiled and said,
"Friend, be angry. There are things in the world to be angry about. That's ok. You've got the right idea though; there's One who is just as angry about things not being right, and talking to Him about it is the best place to start."

You wouldn't know where he has been and what he's going through by looking at him. You couldn't possibly know the pain he lives in, and the survivor that he really is, without taking time to see him, to sit down and exist with him. When you remember that everyone has a story (and no less than an amazing one), and that the only place to start is listening, you're on the right track.

So be slow to judge, slow to decide, slow to make up your mind about someone, slow to dismiss, slow to classify, slow to write off.
And be quick to listen, quick to sit down, quick to see, quick to notice the unseen, quick to speak up for the unheard, quick to remember.

Rule One

by Philip Booth

Rule One of all
rules one:
No one ever knows
how much another hurts.
Kate. Ray. Randall. Me.
The nurses
who were kind to you, the gas-pump kid
across the bridge, the waitress here
this noon.
No one ever knows.
Or maybe in a thousand, one
has the toughness to,
to care,
to give beyond a selfish pity. Even
any given day,
given weathers, detours,
chances of what look like luck,
if we feel bad
we refuse the givens.
What blighted lives we lead.
Or follow:
showering, feeding, changing shirts or
pants, working, as one used to say,
to make ourselves presentable.
strangers to our painful selves,
we're still stranger to
diminished friends
when they appear
to hurt.
How much we fail them,
failing to come close:
a parent,
newly single, in Seattle;
an upstate poet in intensive care.
You. Blanche. Alvin. Sue.
Who hurts
and why.
Why we guess we know.
How much we never.

"Rule One" by Philip Booth, from Selves: New Poems. © Viking, 1990. Reprinted with permission.

Stay real, and do what you do.

♥ hannah lee

11 April, 2011

French Picnics, American Concerts, Naked Phalanges, Dutch Cheese, Irish Pubs, Australian Walks,

A lot has happened that I haven't written about. Apologies. I'll do my best to briefly recap some things that are memorable...

There is a beyond-perfect picnic in a park, almost weekly. I had a sunny day picnic, with a bunch of fabulous ladies from all over the world, eating chocolate and drinking tea. There was a drizzly day picnics, with a French-press, fruit, and pain au chocolat sitting between me and my lady-friend Desireé. The other night a few of us had a hookah and beer picnic overlooking the city, talking about dreams. Today a friend and I enjoyed the typical wine, bread and cheese picnic under theTour d'Eiffel. So much goodness.

Several weeks ago an amazing woman and friend of mine (Emma Vasseur) was here in Paris, because she is touring with Joan Baez. Emma went to school with my brothers, and even though we always sort of ran into each other back home due to our mutual friends, we never really got to know each other...until our rendez-vous in Paris! I had a great couple of nights with Emma, and even got to meet Joan and see her perform! We had so much fun!

I had a faux-engagement. Not explaining this one :)

Had some lovely visitors from Holland and (along with my roommates from Norway and Spain) spent time discussing our cultural differences.

I spent an entire day walking around Paris without shoes. It was so fou. The streets are covered in excrement and garbage, and I walk so much that several days after-the-fact my phalanges are still hurting. The idea is sponsored by TOMS, an organization that sells shoes to consumers such as myself, and donates shoes to children without shoes around the world. It's one-for-one, which is pretty sweet, and all around the world on April 5th people walked barefoot, to raise awareness and support the cause.

(All the different states! Spot the Canadian?)

I ate Raclette for the first time. And Tartiflette. Two classic French meals, prepared for me with love by Claire. Such delicious nourriture, and really great quality time.

Went to a couple Irish pubs on St. Patty's Day. It's definitely not celebrated here like it is back home in the States, but we managed to find a few cool spots here in Paris :)

The restaurant connected to Kiwizine is known for its top-notch wine, and they invite us over for "a glass" after service every night. This last weekend our glass went until 4 in the morning. It's nice building community...

I still play at the bookstore every Monday, and though the experience is never the same, it's always exactly what I need, and I always meet someone fabulous. This last week was no exception. Elijah, a nice Australian actor traveling with his mum through Europe at the moment, fancied my music and sat with me for a bit. We have got on quite well in the short amount of time we've had.

This morning my roommates and I did a photo-shoot at Jardin de Luxembourg, it was très chic; so posh.

I was approached by a woman on the playground last week who asked me if I would be interested in helping her three children to speak English. I went there tonight and started working with them. They live in a beautiful apartment overlooking Parc des Buttes Chaumont (the biggest park within Paris, which is conveniently 5 minutes walking distance from my home here), and the kids are going to be fabulous to teach. Feeling really grateful for this opportunity to get close to another family here in Paris, and to have a little more support for the duration of my stay here.

Ok, I'm sure there's more, but I am beat from walking a total of 13km on this beautiful sunny day we had (walked from park to bookstore to Eiffel Tower back to bookstore).

Stay real, and do what you do.

♥ hannah lee

31 March, 2011

Tip From Across The Sea # 1

France (and Europe in general) has a lot of good ideas, most of which don't seem to reach home until after-the-fact. This is fine, but throughout my time I'm keeping a mental list of trends that my fellow readers can choose to adopt if they want to get ahead. Well, starting today, I am going to make an actual list here on the blog.

I'm not saying Europe is better than North America by any means, so don't feel like this is an insult to the States and the many cultures she holds. The things I'm observing are small day-to-day things that I see as having a positive effect on the environment and people's overall quality of life. Today, for example, it's grocery bags. France has been doing policy work to reduce the waste created by plastic bags at grocery stores. In the majority of markets, there are no plastic bags to be handed out. You bring your own, and if you forget, you buy a new reusable bag. Apparently this year the legislation is heating up, and there are proposals to completely ban all plastic bags at grocery stores and convenience stores--forcing consumers to remember their reusable, biodegradable bags from home. Here's an article about it http://www.connexionfrance.com/plastic-shopping-bags-ban-supermarkets-hypermarkets-recycling-2011-11500-view-article.html. I know loads of people back home that live "the European way" in a lot of aspects, this one in particular. But for the most part, people are still taking an innumerable amount of plastic bags every week (month, year, lifetime) when they frequent their local market of choice, namely because it is an option, and a convenient one at that. My second or third time getting groceries here, I forgot my bag. I didn't want to fork out any money to buy one, so I crammed my groceries into my purse, carried some under my arms, and even resorted to having Lilia hold a bushel of bananas! It was very difficult, irritating, and teaching. I haven't forgotten a bag since then. Lesson learned.
Tip From Across The Sea # 1 : buy (or make!) several reusable grocery bags, and find a way to help yourself remember them anytime you take a shopping excursion!

Today I woke up early (06:15) to the sound of rain. Paris sees a lot of rain in the spring, but most days start sunny and the rain shows up around 16h (4pm). Sometimes I like the rain, sometimes it drives me nuts (like when I am wearing my boots that soak up water), but I always love waking up to rain. So today was a treat :)

Every Thursday morning Lilia and I get groceries for the weekend. Our outing starts with us getting bundled up, especially when it's raining. We then make our way down the three flights of stairs into the entry way, which is a pretty exciting feat when you're a 21-month-old discovering your body's full-capacity. Lately I've been avoiding the pram because Lilia is very able to walk a good distance now, all the while curiously exploring the many intricacies of the city and it's sidewalks that most commuters would never notice.

With the rain today though, I loaded her into the pram, secured the grocery bag (yay!) and my purse around the handles, shielded her from the rain with a plastic covering, got out my umbrella and headed out. Our first stop is always Lidl. This German discount supermarket chain has most of the items we need; we buy all organic, natural and fresh foods, and at extremely low prices. It's phenomenal. As long as we go at a good time, it's not too crowded and cues aren't unbearable. I select whatever given vegetable or cheese I'm checking off the list, hand it to Lilia, and she sets it in our bag. It's a good system, though not entirely efficient. BUT, we have loads of fun, and she attracts a lot of "ooh la-la's" the whole time.

Next we head for La Vie Claire, the co-op nearest to Claire and Jono's apartment. Co-ops are really common here; there are 3 or 4 within a few blocks of my apartment alone! Here we get some grains and soy-milk, neither of which Lidl carries. Again, Lilia helps my carry the items around the store and tries her best to hand them to the cashier. She's such a helper!

I don't know how interesting grocery shopping is, but I realized I haven't done much writing involving practical living here in Paris. Happy Thursday everyone.

22 March, 2011

Old, Dirty Sweatpants.

Missing people is weird.

I don't have much to philosophize about at the moment; things are flowing just as they should. I continue to feel the rhythm of this city, send out a daily intention to further sync myself with it, all the while keeping my heart and eyes open. I meet people that challenge me, and force me to go to my depths. Adversely, I meet people that feel like a deep, much-needed breath, where I can just rest.

I'm not dancing, religiously (now, dance isn't my religion, but it is a practice, necessary for me). I still find time to move my body and feel the beats of daily life, but I'm not adequately taking care of this need. Hopefully we'll see this shift in a post in the near future...

I had a birthday here last week, that was cool. I set some good intentions, had a nice time thinking over the past year, and overall feel really good about saying adieu to my teens. It's a milestone, really, moving past the teen years. Well, you can make it one. I did. I made some conscious decisions to let go of some traits that I no longer feel are appropriate. I guess we call this growing up? I sound pretty monotone in this writing, but worry not. I'm alive. And much more mature ;)

Anyway, missing people. Strange. For me, life has been one chapter after another--a series, if you will--of missing people. As of late, I find myself in a new spot on the planet, missing people from my former spot. But in the new spot, I unconsciously build new relationships, and when I predictably leave this spot for the next new one, the cycle starts again. I don't know if it's me being unsatisfied, or if it's just normal, but I have done poorly at being present. On that note, for the first time I'm seeing a part of myself that is timid in my social-behavior; I'm being relatively slow to get close to people. My last session of goodbyes was painful, and it's following me around. I wear those goodbyes like my favorite pair of sweatpants; so comfortable in them, I don't want to take them off.

In the case of my sweatpants, I should really throw them out. Let go of them for good.
With my goodbyes? Not so true. When it comes to people, you have to find the middle. The place where you honor memory, let it exist, but you don't live in it.

Alas, the sun shines brightly here. I have been blessed and taken in by an amazing family that I love. I am constantly meeting new people, that challenge and comfort, and I don't have to forget the old. All is well.

BUUUTTT, missing people is still weird. There are some people you miss, even when you're with them. That's the worst. Word of advice? Count your losses and move along. If you miss a person when you're with them, that's a sign from the Divine that they are UNAVAILABLE, and are not about to be.
Then there are those whom you wouldn't expect to miss...but then the minute they're no longer within arm's reach, everything feels wrong. The longing is painful, but realizing the intensity of your heart's ability to love is startling and comforting. It's bittersweet.

"Your beloved and your friends were once strangers. Somehow at a particular time, they came from the distance toward your life. Their arrival seemed so accidental and contingent. Now your life is unimaginable without them. Similarly, your identity and vision are composed of a certain constellation of ideas and feelings that surfaced from the depths of the distance within you. To lose these now would be to lose yourself."

10 March, 2011

Miss Lady and I.

We start out cool...
...stay relatively normal...
..act like weirdos...
...settle down...
...with a cuddle...

...and we're back to being awesome.

So grateful for all the time I get to spend with this little bundle of Light. She teaches me more than anyone knows.

23 February, 2011

Lesson 2: How To Get Lost In Style

Every time I leave my neighborhood of Belleville here in Paris, I get lost.
No exceptions.
It is always the same. Take, for example, my quest for Shakespeare and Co last week. First, I should give a little background on this temple of awesomeness. The independent bookstore, located in the 5th Arrondissment/Left-Bank/Latin-Quarter, has quite the detailed history, both classic and romantic. Founded by an American expatriate in the beginning of the 20th century, it was a place of inspiration for both the "Lost Generation" and the "Beat Generation", and was once stated to be "a socialist utopia masquerading as a bookstore." It's aim now is basically to maintain the culture that is so specific to the Left Bank, and to act as a home-away-from-home for thousands of artists from all over the globe. Filled with bunks for passing writer/artists to crash on, Shakespeare and Co. is the backpacking, starving artist's dream. It draws me in, in part simply because it's comforting to be in an English environment; it truly does feel like a home-away-from-home to hear other English speakers, making jokes that make sense, using slang that I can understand, etc. This little haven also appeals to me because of the beautiful piano tucked away upstairs that calls my name from all the way across this city.

Anyway, back to me and my wandering.

I generally look at my destination on a map before I leave my flat, get a vague idea of where I'm headed, and proceed to not write down directions or even the address of where I'm going (always my biggest regret, "what street was it on again?"). Once I walk up the stairs from the metro and surface on the rue, I'm always surprised to find that I have no real clue as to what direction to go.

Aside from when I first set out on my adventures, I try to not even look at a map. Pride issue--I don't want to seem like a stupid tourist, even though I am.

I tend to walk in circles, though unlike most people, I find this to be productive. Gradually, I start to recognize cheap crêpe-stands and street-vendors that sell seemingly pointless knickknacks and that neat little crack in those stairs over there and those hobos that seem sort of happy...It's only natural that I would recognize these landmarks, considering after roughly an hour of strolling along I will have walked by each spot anywhere from 3-6 times.

**This would be a good time to mention I had been to this bookstore before with my brother Barnabas. That made my trek even more interesting, as I was recognizing things my brain had processed years before! I really did have a "déjà-vu" experience, when I found myself drawn to the same corner cafe that I had bought an overpriced sandwich at almost exactly three years ago. It was really strange to stand in the same spot on the sidewalk, feeling like a totally different woman...in a good way.**

Oh, also, on this particular day it had started raining, and I of course was unprepared and without any kind of protection. Side note :)


After a good hour and a half of walking in a purposeful zig-zag fashion, I found a trail that I felt right about, and BOOM!, stood in front of the most beautiful site I had ever found, simply gazing in awe...ok, not entirely true. I wish I could say it was that grandiose when I finally reached my destination, but it wasn't. I wasn't even thinking about the depth of my voyage, how I got there and the symbology (yes, it's a word) of my choices. Nope. In real-life, I frantically pushed my way through some people jabbering in German (blocking the door, I might add) because I was SO cold and ready to get in and maybe find that book I was looking for...

Most people reading this probably think I really am an ass, considering the entire route itself is 20minutes total, not two hours. BUT, in recognizing and registering the arbitrary things that I passed by numerous times that afternoon, I began to familiarize myself with that specific set of streets, which enlarged my understanding of that specific arrondissement,
which has thusly brought me one small step (or one "afternoon's worth of walking") closer to understanding this enormous and mysterious city.


Now during afternoons like the aforementioned, I think about what it would be like to start writing down bloody directions; to somehow start mapping out my plans. I could get a lot more done, appear more productive on paper--and, to use a cliche, "keep my eyes on the prize."

I'm sure anyone who knows me can see where I'm going with this.

In speaking to something larger than simply my quirks in exploring a city, in my own way of doing life,
I don't tend to make big plans,
or map out where I'm going,
or follow a set of directions.
Sometimes I listen to what others tell me. Sometimes I trust my instincts. Sometimes I use reason...
each situation is different from the next.

The one thing I rarely do, however, is to follow a way of life that keeps me so narrowly focused on one destination that I don't notice the guy who works at the cafe on the corner from open until close, or the Chinese prostitutes that are out on the street every hour of every day that I walk down the hill to get Lilia, or the homeless man that had his entire life on that sidewalk before they ordered him to move, or the lady that gives me a discount on my baguette every morning, or the sidewalk that I stood on three years ago, having no idea what life was yet to come. What is the purpose of getting to all the "places" I'm looking for, if I miss all that I pass by?

Even though I don't know what city I'm going to be living in six months from now, what job I'll have, what school I'll study at, or what people I will sip my morning coffee with, I choose not to lose sight of the LIFE that is going on around me constantly. I choose to say "yes" to really seeing people everyday, and to truly loving what I get to see. Even if that means I get to the bookstore a little late.

(This ^^ is the cafe I had re-found. Recognize it Barnabas?)

This is Shakespeare and Co.
(photo by Jake Heinitz)

17 February, 2011

Mornings ♥

Sucking our thumbs...or rather, sucking each others' thumbs.
Giggly girls
She's pretty amazed how weird I am...

Also wanted to share some videos that capture Lilia's full-personality :)