My Paris To do list 

1. Walk everywhere. But choose an adroitment or two to really get to know.
That way you take home a piece of Paris as yours. You’ve seen the sights, but when you can name shops and streets and gardens, you feel a part of it.

2.Choose a cafe, sit out front and sip. Relax. Give your tired feet a break. Everyday. Once or coffee, once for wine.
I’ve visited Starbucks in Canada, the USA, Peru, Bali, and now Paris. I love their products the free wifi, and the familiarity away from home. They’re the only big brand I look for in faraway places. In Paris, though, it just felt wrong. There are super cute cafes on every street where one could sip great coffee (or a glass of wine) and sit and watch, instead. I did some of that everyday of my visit. Go to the same spot, or try many. It’s all good.


3. Enjoy the Art Beyond the Louvre

After the Louvre, I visited three more wonderful galleries. Each was somehow more wonderful than the last. Here they are in order:

Musee d’Orsay

Musee d’Art moderne


Centre Pompidou

4. Walk Through the original Bon Marche

It’s an amazing place for food and clothes. Think mini boutiques for designers with phenomenal names.  You’ll definitely wish it was in your home neighbourhood, just like it is …. because everyone needs these!

We Are Ahead By A Century…

…unless you’re after fashion, delicious bread and cheese, and beautiful old art and architecture…and that’s according to the Parisian sales lady at Lululemon, Paris, the least peopled store I’ve popped into here.

She specifically said the west coast of the two Americas are ahead in wellness attitudes. And, she actually did say that the women in Paris are still all about fashion, good cheese, and buttery bread.

So why are there no fat French women I thought to myself after I sheepishly answered yoga to her question about my sport. It’s got to be that they eat less, eat purer ingredients in what they do eat, and climb at least six flights of French stairs a few times a day, because they aren’t doing yoga or meditation or jogging yet! Either that or the French lifestyle is so much more relaxed than ours that their bodies actually function properly.

Did I mention that a fair few of the women here smoke and drink spritz to top off those buttery buns of theirs?

I bought a pair of the new Lulu light pants because I was the only one in the store, I felt sorry for the sales mademoiselle, and those six flights of stairs in jeans are very uncomfortable. I think they could become a best seller here if they were marketed right! Haute Couture=Lulu on the best coast!

The Luxembourg Palace Gardens

…beautiful even on a cloudy day and away from the throng of tourists in Paris.

   
    
    
   

About the Louvre With Apologies to The Masters

  Originally, I had planned on visiting the Louvre every morning of my trip. I thought I would  get up early and just go and be with the beautiful paintings. I imagined sitting and gazing and sketching. I did go to the Louvre my first day ever in Paris, with those intentions, but Louvre reality was not my vision. 

  
The Louvre is huge. Huge even for a palace…I think…but I don’t really know palaces outside of  the one at Disneyland. And it’s got layers to it. Wide titanium white passages, ups, downs, and sideways, and amazing light letting ceiling on the top floor. And in this huge space are huge masterpieces; huge and dark masterpieces. I had a really hard time believing that the crushing crowd I was part of was being trusted around so much priceless art. It made me dizzy, or maybe that was the jet lag.

  I mentioned they were huge and dark, these masterpieces. I’ve long been enamoured with the idea that language is unique for each of us because we give each word a meaning that is constructed by our own experience. For me, I think I gave masterpiece a meaning something like….best of the best, beautiful, makes me feel wonder and awe in a lifting sense. My new meaning is a highly revered work painted by a man during dark times for women. 

  
 I didn’t enjoy them the way I’d anticipated, not even the Mona Lisa. 

  
They were like looking into an abyss. They were all about religion, warring, and reclining naked women often being suckled by really ugly man faced babies. (I didn’t,t take pictures of those).

 I guess I knew this is what was at the Louvre but seeing so many of these pieces together was startling. I thought a lot about what I was seeing in this collection and what it represented as a period in art history. I noted the absence of femal artists and I wondered what they would have painted. I recognized my personal love of light and colour were needs not being met. I became so grateful for living now, when I can compare art of different periods, turn on the lights, and be free to say, the work of the old masters doesn’t really appeal to me. 

  Paris,France

   
    
    
   

Plane Travel (and general life rules)

Tip # 1

Be flexible and believe you will get there.

 Even when I think I have my flights and transfers planned and organized something often changes. This time there were mighty changes! I’d booked early on no frills Icelandair at an impossibly great rate from Seattle. From my Island in the sea, I booked my connection with Alaskaair, because it’s rated number one and another great rate. Thanks to my mom, I arrived at the airport in plenty of time but found the flight was late. Hmmmmm. The ticket agent assured me I’d make my flight. On board, delayed some more, and all the people from their next scheduled flight filled our plane. That seemed sketchy. The flight attendant assured me and the lady next to me we,d make our flights.

And then, slowest luggage and body scan in the world in Seattle’s terminal. I ran (sort of) to the Icelandic gate. Don’t leave, I’m here I called out! The gate just closed she answered. But the plane is still right there I said. My connection was late! You missed it by one minute, she said. Oh. I answered… because expletives were too hard to say in that moment.

Tip#2

Be Humble

Is there anything you can do to help me I asked, while looking up to pour the two tears back in. Give me a minute she said. And then, Icelandic wants to charge you the whole fee to rebook for tomorrow’s flight. That’s not very nice, I said. There was a pause. And I said, well, I guess I can try to get on a different flight out tonight. Give me a minute she said. Go sit down. And so I did and trusted the universe.

Finally she said, British Airways, is flying out at 7:40 and you’ll be on that flight but you’ll land at the other Paris airport. Okay I said. Thank-you so much. And I offered her a hug, which she took.

Tip #3

Be Grateful

Upon landing at Gatwick, yes that happened, but British Airways was very comfortable and they fed me so I am just filled with gratitude, I found out thanks to a young Brit security guy that my connection to Paris left from some other airport in the city, too far to make it to. A trip to the British Airways desk fixed that and I was off immediately to Paris. All of this change happened at no extra cost to me. Unbelievable really. This little plane was delayed. No problem though, Paris was close.

I found my way around the airport and onto the squishiest subway ever without too much trouble. (Okay, I couldn’t figure out how to work the turnstil pay thing fast enough for the French lady behind me who put her ticket in and pushed me in ahead of her giggling.) And from the station closest I found the entrance to my little (I now know tiny houses are not a thing for me) Air BnB. The hired “friend” who was to meet me there had not given up on me despite me being 45mins later that expected. I was so grateful that he offered to carry my suitcase up the sixth floor walk up. That help was the icing on this cake of a trip. I now know that six floors in France are more like 9 Canadian floors. My training was insufficient! But I did it finishing all huffypuffy.



 Tip #4

Be Kind

The “friend” a young guy around 30, didn’t speak any English. He showed me how the apartment worked, it’s as tall as it is wide, and I offered up my French. He laughed, a lot, at my efforts and left in a right jolly mood after showing me how the weirdest room key ever worked, again.

It’s like I said in my last post… people are good and kind.


Tip # 5

Fear is highly over-rated. Get out here, be kind, and live your best life.

And so, I’m here. I’ve ridden the hop on and off bus as my sister suggested, I’ve been to Louvre once which was enough and I’ll write about that next, I’ve explored the Luxembourg Palace Gardens once and I’m in love with the place, and I’ve enjoyed the bread without the effects I experience in Canada. So that’s a bit of heaven.

It’s On!

Airport food! Bound for FRANCE! Alone? Are you kidding me? There are over 7 billion people on the planet; almost all of them good, kind people.

Collaboration

This was completed in five stages by two people. What do you feel?

owl collaboration

Things I Count On

pexels-photo-371285.jpegThings I Count On

  1. Fingers – From time to time, even now and probably always.
  2. Death – Despite the news about longevity and gene editing, it’s inevitable. I’m here for a period of time. I try to live accordingly.
  3. Firsts – I love noticing a new ‘something’. I look for it in my everyday. Often I’ll call it a first out loud and it lights me up. For example, today, I’m in the bath and I notice a black spot on the enclosure behind me. It’s a spider. One of those compact jumping kind. They’re quick and it’s heading down the wall toward my head. I have a thing about spiders. It’s better than it used to be thanks to the people around me carrying them outside in their hands to rescue the leggy arachnids from me. So I didn’t scream when I saw this one. I talked to it and it stopped moving, for a second, and then came a little further down the walk. I tapped the shampoo bottle on the wall under it to try to get it to turn around. It did, until I stopped tapping. What I really wanted to do was finish bathing before the water got cold. I tapped a little again. Well, the darn thing jumped! Not onto me or anything but closer. Needless to say I also jumped out of the bath over to the tissue and flushed the spider. It’s not raining now. It’s snowing. That’s a first!
  4. Kindness – Even when I’m feeling worn down, if I take a breath and choose to act out of  kindness, more often than not, it comes back to me.
  5. Taxes – They seem to always give back to me, now. I like that.
  6.  The Roof – Speaking of snow, a few years back we had a huge, deep snowfall, followed the next morning by very warm weather and torrential rain. We have a  flat roof and it couldn’t handle the water that was up there. I remember waking up and saying to my husband…I hear a tap running. Rain and snow melt were running down the inside of walls everywhere! It was traumatizing to have the safety of my house suddenly taken away. I imagine this would be the same feeling of vulnerability people might feel after a fire or a home invasion. It was a pure pandimonium.
  7.  Birds – They are the messengers of a higher power. I’ve had western tanagers and ravens guide me in the right direction, and chickadees cheer me on. Their songs and mannerisms make me smile, and quiet the inner chatter that I don’t want to hear anyhow.
  8. Change – It’s been a pretty intense not nearly finished lifetime. I remember thinking a half hour of Gilligan’s Island reruns in black and white was just awesome and a sixth channel, when it happened, was over the top. I remember life when I was little feeling black and white. I’m living in a technicolour world now and it’s absolutely amazing! The topics we are discussing and opening up about  aren’t quiet or easy. They are loud, important worldwide issues and because of  that, change is happening fast. Change is inevitable. How you view it is a choice.
  9. Enough – I have never really experienced anything less than enough. Even that time in Europe when we were down to our last dollar and had to go a week on water, a little salt, a loaf of bread and a little olive oil, even then I knew more was coming at the end of the week. I feel so very lucky.
  10. Mistakes – I used to hate them. Now, I don’t. Now they are just side-steps on the journey. The meaning I’d always given the word mistake: wrong, bad, or loss,  stirred up old feelings of unworthiness in me and that helped no one, ever, but calling them sidesteps and noticing what they were in themselves has brought joy from new firsts, led me in new directions, and has helped me to love myself. Really, it’s all about the lessons isn’t it? 2013 463

Paris And A Champagne Chateau

france-landmark-lights-night.jpgIt’s getting closer!!!! My art residency in France has me planning despite the disruption of my father’s heart attack and bypasses. I just can’t believe that I’ve been invited to witness France in the spring! I feel so blessed! And the rainbows lately, has anyone else been noticing them?

So, I’ve booked a teeny tiny sixth floor walk up in Paris for my pre residency week. My plan is to spend every morning (after a steamy hot chocolate and french pastry) in the Louvre. Those paintings have been waiting for me to come see them my whole life…. The Mona Lisa….

Funny story, not really mine to tell and you can guess what decade it happened in…the wonderful teacher next door to me was introducing her young students to the works of Leonardo Da Vinci. She held up the Mona Lisa and asked her wide-eyed students if anyone knew who the lovely lady in the painting was. A little hand went up with I know! I know! and then it’s The Monica Lewinsky.

Ironic, isn’t it? The Mona Lisa, so famous for her little secret smile.

And seriously people, do we not all need to provide a huge apology to Monica and beg her forgiveness? She was so young, subservient, and publicly shamed and damned for something women now are seeking retribution for. I am so, so sorry for her pain. The

Mona Lisa’s smile, what did it really hide.

Da Vinci’s masterpiece is not all I’m looking forward to at the Louvre. My plan is to be surprised by what I love most once I’m there. I’ll weigh in on every wall and ask myself these questions:

Which painting catches my eye and draws me closer?

What is it about the painting that captured my attention?

Who painted it and when?

What does the painting make me feel?

I’ve always believed that the job of any artist is to communicate feeling effectively.

Last night I went and watched The Post. At first, I was a little bit bored, but the story drew me in. Meryl Steep and Tom Hanks; their angst, they drew me in. Tom Hanks, wife, the artist…the touchstone…the most honest character in the movie, her wisdom, her definition of courage will stick with me; and so will the faces of the young girls who turned to look at Meryl as she walked down those steps. Oscars for those three please. And if you haven’t seen the film, go. It’s an important movie.

When I left the theater I felt full. Full of thanks to Russia and Trump (keep reading) for waking up the voices of women who are saying ‘times up!’ It’s THE courage revolution that needed to happen in North America. And if you haven’t seen a news program on how Russia rigged the American election, it’s out there.

wedding-dress-bride-paris-602224.jpeg

When I’m finished in the Louvre each morning, I’m planning to walk the city. I have an old school map and I just want to take pictures and discover and love every moment of  my adventure in wonder and awe and gratitude. Before dark, I’ll  find my way to some food and then head up to the sixth floor to rest my feet and sketch and journal. vintage-kitchen-window-berlin.jpgI feel confident that this is how I want the days before the residency to be. It will be like fuelling up on French culture. I want my body and mind and soul filled with the place. I want my cells oozing before I get to the Chateau.

And then I’ll be ready for the stillness I find when I paint, and paint and paint.

Truly, A Dream Come True.

Château Orquevaux France