Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Cure for the common cold

January's Letter of the Month (shown above) was all about eating citrus. A lot of good it did me because February was all about being sick. I had a mean case of The Influenza.

The symptoms started out innocently enough with simply feeling run down, but soon raged into nose-blowing, kidney pain, barfing (and the like), and a cough that wouldn't quit. Now, I'm delighted to announce that my dry hacking repetitive drowning cough has morphed into a wet hacking repetitive cough that spews substances of varying consistency and color.

Who would have known that the shift from dry hack drowning into gross wet blob would be so satisfying. But it is. 


I'm used to it.

They say a bad day for your body is a good day for your soul. In the middle of my TheraFlu/NeoCitron stupor, an angel visited me in a dream and told me this sickness was releasing old heartache and anxiety that I don't need to hold onto anymore.

I can't quite explain how all this spiritual healing mumbo jumbo works, but I woke and felt fearless. And I got down to all the little tasks that I was putting off due to fear or anxiety.

Prepare more paperwork for my French visa? Bring it.
Send off that article to a big magazine? Done.
Scrub the scary dark corners in the apartment? Scrubbed.

The Can-Do attitude remains even days later as I hack up more of the goo that was allegedly pent up heartache and anxiety. I'm left wondering what I was so afraid of before.

Sometimes the cure for the common cold IS the common cold.

Now I'm off to buy a dress. All that hacking has done wonders for my abs and made me feel svelte and sexy. Or maybe it was releasing the heartache. Beats me. All I know is I'm thinking... soft pink, short sleeves and flowy. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Photos of the Week

Street artist ANO.

Zipping through Jardin du Luxembourg.

Sensible warning outside an exhibit at Centre Pompidou.

Interesting choice for sleeping quarters.

Dare devils at sunset.

Bee cloud!

There are no words.

Nice view.

When I grow up...

The location of the stairs in Midnight in Paris. I'm being invited into the car at this point.

Nice one, Space Invader.

DaVinci Code spoiler alert.

Invasion of the bus tour.

Taking a call at Centre Pompidou.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lent OR New Year's Resolution Part 2

Lent has arrived. 40 days of doing something more or less to prepare for risen Lord.

If you're a good Catholic like I am, you've used Lent to prepare less for the risen Lord and more for bikini season. A priest once said, "Lent is not Weight Watchers?"
Tell that to these thighs.

Last year I endeavored to practice my guitar every day for 40 days. Epic fail.

I managed to turn guitar PLAYING into guitar WORKING.

Though there is something to this whole Lent business. Even if you're not Catholic, Christian or a believer in anything in particular, there is one thing you know: You're going to die. And there is always some prep work that can be done in this regard. If you feel compelled, take time to ponder these deep thoughts over the next 40 days:

What can I do to make the world better before I leave it? 

Who can I forgive? (That person you just thought of? That one. More on this here.) A traveling priest said once that if you do nothing for 38 days and on the 39th day, you forgive someone that you've held a grudge against, you've done better than all those people who give up chocolate. More on his talk here.

How can I be kinder? More open? Develop a stronger love muscle? 

All these questions are good fodder for the Lenten season and I endeavor to ponder them during my daily meditation practice, which I hope doesn't go the way of the guitar practice from last year.

If you decided to give up chocolate anyway, might I suggest a gander at this video. Bwah ha ha haaa!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Guest Poet Fame at Bentlily

Big news! I'm a guest poet over at Bentlily today. Head over there to read it. But in the meantime...

For a long time I yearned to love it
Lap up the heavy hitters
Whitman, Yeats, Neruda and the like
But fatigue took over
And guilt that I didn't make it beyond
A Rumi quote here and there

But then came Bentlily
Her insights are stitched together
In a pattern that is easy on the eyes
And warm to the heart
By the end of each poem
I sigh with satistfaction
She is my first sip of coffee
On a cool February day

--Janice MacLeod

Don't lie. You've felt the same way about poetry. Trying to be into it. Thinking that it's important to be well-read. Agonizing when you look over at Yeats but grab Danielle Steele. Don't worry. I've been there. It can be our little secret. You like how she writes the smutty parts. I get it. Been there.

But Bentlily writes the most beautifully accessible poetry. And while you're over there, you can read my poem as I am the super lucky first guest poet EVER on Bentlily.

Oh that gracious Samantha Reynolds and her poetry empire. How generous. How kind. How delicious. While you're over there you can get a poem generated just for you, too. I'm not sure how it works. Some computer bots or monkeys must be typing up personalized poems to bring nothing but pure joy joy joy.

Speaking of joy, joy, joy... not to bring it back to me but it's a blog after all... the Letter of the Month was created simply to bring joy, joy, joy through the traditional miracle that is the postal service. I'm creating my March letter now. Sign up to get a real letter in a real envelope every month. You can choose between 3, 6 and 12 month subscriptions.

What can you create that is made for the simple act of bringing joy, joy, joy to the world?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Quelle nightmare!

I have this reoccurring dream.

I'm back in California. I'm offered another advertising job, but this time at quadruple the pay and with all my favorite coworkers. I think to myself that taking this job would be a smart financial move. Suze Orman would approve. She'd remind me that I'm in my big money making years and now is the time to contribute more to my IRA. Shit she does go on about IRAs.

Anyway, she'd remind me that right now, instead of making money during my big money making years, I'm spending 4,65 Euro on chai tea lattes at Starbucks in Paris (ya, judge. They have a great chai and I spread the wealth at plenty of other Parisian caf├ęs). When converted into the US dollars I'm spending, I'm rockin' a $6.11 latte. Suze would not approve of this. Anything over the $5 mark for a coffee just seems irresponsible.

Back to the dream. I'm considering taking the job. Not because I want it, but because it would be a smart move financially. That Suze and all her O Magazine articles got me frazzled.

If I took the job, I'd have to haul me and my Polish Frenchman back to California and hope it would be all like The Alchemist or Wizard of Oz happy-ending-journey-worth-it.

I walk through the halls of the advertising agency and see my favorite studio people (Gregg! Bob!), my favorite IT guys (Oscar! Nilesh!), account people (Joanna! Becca! Mason!), and co-conspirators -- the creatives (Sharon! Jan! Jeff! Ilham! Chris O!). The list goes on (and if I didn't mention you, I adore you but just can't mention everyone -- it's like those Academy Award speeches when the whole world is listening and instead of making the moment relevant to most, they rattle off a dozen names of people 99.9% of the world doesn't know. I say, if you've got a global platform for 30 seconds, use it wisely.)

So I'm walking around the agency seeing all my faves. I even sit in on a meeting. This is when my stomach starts to do that weird thing. It's not a good thing. It's the baseline stress building back up again. I start to sweat and wonder what decisions I made that led me back here. How did this happen?

As those in the meeting talk about campaigns, I start to think about IKEA. If I moved here, I'd have to get a lot of stuff at IKEA because I'd start with zero household items. I'm not schlepping my ladle from Paris, dig?

They keep talking about budgets and timing of the campaign. I start wondering how I'll fit the IKEA load into the car. Oh gawd! I'll have to buy a car and get wrangled back into that hot mess of car payments, insurance, gas, car washes and the bait-and-switch negotiations at EZ Lube.

The meeting is over and a group lunch is suggested. Group lunches have always filled me with anxiety. Someone always orders more. Someone always orders less. The bill is split evenly. And resentment hangs like a stale fart in the air as we drive back to the office clown-car style.

It occurs to me that I always have lunch with Christophe in Paris. Don't I? Or was that a dream? Did Paris happen? I thought I lived in Paris but now I'm not sure. Maybe I just dreamed it like Demi Moore in Passion of Mind.

And that's when I wake up in Paris next to Christophe, relieved that I don't have to decide on any job, relocation, IKEA, EZ Lube or group lunch. I am here. In Paris. I can breathe again, and I do. I stretch into a full body yawn, hop out of bed, and skip off to the kitchen to make coffee.

And I applaud myself.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Buy yourself flowers... just do it or I'll punch you in the arm real hard

My geraniums have finally bit the dust.

I should have brought them in last night. Apparently -7 is too cold.

Inside, my orange tulips are feeling the pressure and making up for the loss by blooming extra big today.
Sometimes I look at the flowers I buy at the market each week and wonder how I ever lived without them. There was a time not so long ago when I couldn't justify the expense. How could I possibly pay $7 for a bouquet of flowers that I would enjoy all week? Yet I would spend three times more each day on dinners and drinks with friends that left me broke and drained. WTF self?!

I'm 37 years old and finally getting wise.

I used to hope boys would buy me flowers. Now, I grab the jar of coins collected from the week and buy my own. Some of those coins are Christophe's, too, so I yell, "Thanks for the flowers!" as I walk by the butcher shop with my bouquet. He yells back, "You're welcome, darling!" I yell back, "Good English!"

Sometimes happiness wells so fully at the sight of my flowers that I actually get flustered. As if I don't know what to do with this new emotion of elation. It's a new muscle I'm strengthening. To be strong enough to carry a boatload of bliss. I'm strong with fatigue, overwhelm, pain, grief, hopelessness and sorrow. I've had plenty practice at those. But happiness? Oh, this is new. At times, here in Paris, bliss strikes me so fully that I fear my chest will expand outside of the bounds of my skin. That my body will not actually be able to handle it. That I'll explode.

So I swallow hard to reign it in.

I'm getting there. It's a process to stay fully present when the moment happens.

And when those flower moments butt up against other beautiful moments, even swallowing hard doesn't work. Today for instance, there was a letter in the mailbox for me. I saw that it was there when I zipped out to buy oranges but I left it there. I knew that my lovely man would check the mail at lunch and bring the letter to me.

The look on his face as I squeal in delight when he hands me the letter is worth the wait.

Bliss. Uncontainable bliss.
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