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.