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Tranquilosophy: Parisian Flair

A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of life.—Thomas Jefferson

A few months after graduating from college in 1995, I found myself on an overnight train heading from Brussels to Paris with a childhood friend. Passengers slept on their backpacks as the train chugged along, but I was wide awake, tossing and turning in my upright seat, unable to get comfortable enough to sleep. I pulled out my journal and alternated between writing and staring out the window into the darkness for the next few hours.

Backpackers stirred as the train made its way into Paris’ Gare du Nord station. Remembering Monet’s train station paintings, I visualized him with his easel, paints, and brushes capturing the trains coming and going in this early morning light. We hopped off the train with our backpacks stuffed with essentials: clothing, a six-inch thick Let’s Go Europe guide, toiletries, shoes, passport, train tickets, Walkman, cassette tapes filled with favorite recorded songs by artists such as The Cranberries and The Goo Goo Dolls, and journal.

Consulting our guidebook, we decided on a hostel in the Fifth Arrondissement. Exhausted, I stumbled the few blocks out of the Saint-Michel metro one exaggerated step at a time to a large white cinder block building that stood out among the city’s Haussmanns.

We made our way through the light and airy lobby filled with couches, big windows, and a chandelier and up to the desk to reserve a room. Eager to drop our packs, I couldn’t wait to go horizontal after a sleepless night.

Without realizing it, we’d chosen to visit Paris during Bastille Day celebrations so the city was covered in blue, white, and red. During my time visiting da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and Monet’s Water Lilies, I became an avid consumer of baguette sandwiches, learned “Parlez-vous anglais?,” and struggled with counting francs. I fell in love with the City of Light. The bookstands along the Seine, fine art, architecture, pastries, and style won this Oklahoma girl over.

I returned again in 2009, nearly 15 years later and am lured back each year. Paris is my happy place. My time there serves as a battery recharge—a sacred opportunity to step out of routine and into an environment that exudes beauty. I’m often asked, “Why Paris? What makes it so special?” Trying to answer this is both simple and complicated at the same time.

Let me start with simple. It’s the beauty that infuses daily life in Paris. Author Vicki Archer says, “Paris is a poem of adjectives and a list of superlatives.”

Open-air markets filled with fresh produce displayed in colorful rows. Iconic arched bridges enhanced with gold leaf statues and iron lampposts. Lingering at sidewalk café to sip pots of green mint tea for hours. Black clothing and ballet flats. Flower markets filled with peonies, roses, and lilies displayed by color.

Passion for physical books. An abundance of bubbly and rosé. Rows of Hausmannian buildings. Details inside these buildings: crown molding, fine linens, crystal chandeliers, antique furnishings, colorful front doors, wrought iron balconies filled with flowers.

The encouragement to stroll aimlessly—flâneur—entirely on foot. Gertrude Stein and Hemingway’s homes. Rose macarons, Pain au Chocolat, crêpes, and frites. Moroccan hammams, spas, and lingerie enhanced with lace, bows, and ruffles. Gothic churches, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Eiffel Tower.

Pharmacies filled with skin care potions. Well-manicured gardens filled with greenery, statues, and flowers. Perfume. Croissants. Scarves. Men in red pants. Dogs allowed in restaurants. Bikes, motor scooters, and kick scooters as common forms of transportation. Museums filled with masterpieces. Edith Piaf and Carla Bruni. The sounds of an accordion. Red lips. The Shakespeare and Company bookstore and café.

Now for the complicated. Without being too cliché, it’s the je ne sais quoi. You know, the quality that cannot be named or easily described. I feel it as I walk through the halls of Charles de Gaulle and sink into it as the cab pulls into Paris and I spot the iconic Eiffel Tower on the horizon. There’s an energy there that’s different than the bright lights and frenetic pace of any other big city. It’s more of a feminine energy whispering, “Savor me, slow down, drink me in.”

When I return from jaunts to Paris, I try to keep the feeling alive. I walk or bike to and from appointments. I spray my face with a vitamin C infusion and dab on eye cream. I listen to Paris cafe music. I pick up flowers and produce from the market. I meet friends for tea. I wear noir, red lips, cat eye liner, and a colorful scarf. I have rosé during dinner. I sip green tea with mint. Before bed, I spritz perfume and crawl under soft linens with a book in hand.

While I may not live in Paris more than a week or so each year, I long to infuse my days with these little gems that make life special. As Annie Dillard says, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

I’d like to live mine with Parisian flair—attention to details, appreciation of beauty, passion for pleasures, a slower pace. Bisous. x

P.S. Below is a 25-minute video I recorded while in Paris last month introducing my new friend François, a peek into the Penning in Paris retreat, and words of wisdom from the book Paris Letters.

July in Review

The people that I liked and had not met went to the big cafes because they were lost in them and no one noticed them and they could be alone in them and be together.—Hemingway

Month in Review

Last month’s jaunt to Paris truly was a moveable feast. From riding a carousel, to eating a vegan rhubarb kiwi crisp, to writing in Luxembourg Garden, to doing yoga in the Tuileries, to sipping pot after pot of green mint tea at sidewalk cafes. Suffice it to say, the experience was sensory-filled and I’ll be writing about it here shortly.

July provided a few exciting opportunities such as signing a lease on my own office space (I’ve been subletting the past 1.5 years), seeing Ain’t Too Proud at The Kennedy Center (SO good), meeting Jamie Cat Callan, and spending 10 days in Paris.

In addition to these experiences, I made it to the other side of a 10-day summer cold, enjoyed two belated birthday teas with girlfriends, shipped 70 Year of Tranquility care packages, conducted interviews for upcoming podcasts, hosted two Facebook Lives, handled TONS of Paris logistics from hotel to transport to programming to goody bags, hosted five weeks of the Year of Tranquility yoga module, spent hours online purchasing furnishings for my new office (blush or gold?), took numerous ballet classes and am FINALLY seeing some improvement, hosted a five-day Paris writing retreat with a GREAT group, penned numerous thank-you notes, sent a Love Note,  co-hosted a Pigs & Pugs Project board meeting, released three podcasts, collaborated with therapy and mentoring clients, and did my best to navigate jet lag.

I chose the Hemingway quote at the top because I resonate with the people in the big cafes. There’s something about being solo in a group of people that feels comforting and anonymous. It’s my favorite place to be. As an INFJ I crave alone time, desire to go unnoticed in public places (wearing all black helps with that), and am quite private (despite blogging since 2004).

At some point during the last five months of 2018 I want to go on a quiet, contemplative getaway that involves getting lost in Parisian cafes, a Redwood forest filled with ferns three times my size, or a cabin in the woods surrounded by snow-capped firs. Alone, yet together with other cafe goers or wild creatures inhabiting the woods. If you have any location suggestions where Gizmo can tag along, I’m all ears. Bisous. x

August Wish List

Settle into my new office
Daily reading time
Finish Happily Ever Esther
Read A Moveable Feast
Cultivate backyard garden
Savor walks with pups
Lots of girlfriend time
See McQueen
Take three weekly ballet classes
Organize Tranquility du Jour and Year of Tranquility feedback into projects
Learn lots at Main Street Vegan Master Class in NYC
Finish Module 2 and 3 of Journal Therapy program
Finish Module 1 of Veterinary Social Work
Daily greens
Collaborate with therapy and mentoring clients
Pen blog post about Paris, my new office, and my “uniform”
Consider home kitchen and bathroom renovation
Schedule self-care {Year of Tranquility monthly focus}
Update therapy website with new photos

Savvy Sources

Forget a Fast Car: Creativity is the New Midlife Crisis Cure
Why You Should Be Revisiting Your New Year’s Resolutions
8 Outdoor Spaces to Inspire Your Own Small Space Oasis
Taking Control of Your Distracted Mind
Beginner’s Guide to Boho Glam
Reinventing Yourself
10 Wellness Tips to Live Like a Parisian
50 Ways to Cultivate a Creative Habit

Tranquility du Jour #426: Breaking Up with Busy

Breaking Up with Busy with Yvonne Tally. In this week’s edition of Tranquility du Jour, we discuss the overscheduled woman, tips to break up with being busy, and ways to understand what’s driving our behavior.

New to Tranquility du Jour? Learn more here.

TDJ #426 - Breaking Up with Busy

 

Direct download: Tranquility du Jour #426: Breaking Up with Busy

Upcoming Events

Year of Tranquility: Join anytime

Softening into Fall Virtual Retreat: October 20

Writing in the Woods: October 26-28 in West Virginia {4 spots left}

Tranquility in the Topics: February 16-23, 2019 in Costa Rica

Tranquility in Tuscany: July 13-20, 2019 {8 spots left}

Featured Guest:

Yvonne Tally is the author of Breaking Up with Busy and leads meditation and de-stressing programs for corporations, individuals, and private groups in Silicon Valley. An NLP master practitioner, Yvonne cofounded Poised Inc., a Pilates and wellness training studio, and is the founder of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Scarves, a charity that provides headscarves to cancer patients. She lives in Northern California. Visit her online at YvonneTally.com.

 

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