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NYC Artist Date

I have an immense appetite for solitude, like an infant for sleep, and if I don’t get enough for this year, I shall cry all the next.—Thoreau

After nearly three days of plant-based lifestyle training at Main Street Vegan’s master class and a four-hour meetup in Midtown, last Monday was all mine. A chance to hit my favorite jaunts at my own pace without an agenda.

I stayed at a beautiful, reasonably-priced boutique hotel in Midtown, The Mansfield—located steps from the New York Public Library and Bryant Park.

Monday morning I woke up with a glow after a fun, four-hour meetup the night before and hopped into the tub. A morning soak is a delightful way to start the day. Before leaving the hotel I sent a thank-you email with photos to the event’s attendees, dropped my bag with the concierge, and headed for a green juice spot.

Since Bryant Park was across the street from Joe & the Juice, I got my acai bowl and green juice to go and sat at one of the bistro tables pictured above to enjoy it outside.

My next stop was New York Public Library to browse their darling gift shop filled with journals, books, and literary-themed bags and to sit in the Rose Reading Room and pen some thoughts.

I’d done lots of research to find a beginner ballet class happening on this day and Ballet Academy East had a noon drop-in option. I took the Subway to the Upper East Side, slipped into my pink ballet slippers, and waited outside the studio on a bench with other middle-aged women while the young teens finished their practice inside. A twinge of envy bubbled up, they were so good!

The class included a live pianist and a former American Ballet Theater teacher who had lots of patience and broke steps down in helpful language. They included a lot of arm and head movements with the barre practice while I’m still learning the foot placement of the barre exercises. Head and arms add a whole new dimension. I became teary while doing work in the center while practicing a balancing move and during the waltz (I just can’t quite get thse darn steps—especially when we turn while doing it!).

Moments like this bring me back to seventh grade special honors math class which I should not have been in. I couldn’t grasp, well, anything and the teacher would come to my desk to try to help and all I heard was “wah, wah, wah.”

After the ballet class, the teacher and another student stopped while I was changing shoes to acknowledge my efforts and offered encouraging words. The fellow student said it took her an entire year to get the waltz. Thank god it’s not just me and I so appreciated their kindness!

From there I headed toward Union Square on the Subway to make myself feel better at Peacefood Cafe. I over-ordered—pizza, tempura veggies, chocolate mousse pie—and loved every minute.

Next stop was Strand. Oh Strand, how I love thee. I came away with a 500-page out-of-print biography on Anaïs Nin. This woman has captured my curiosity since hearing about her and Henry Miller in a Jewel song back in the 1990s.

From Union Square I walked to Ace Hotel. Sweaty and out of balance from hauling my laptop on one shoulder all around the city, I sank into a large chair to write in their lobby for an hour or so.

I launched Tranquility Salon and began penning a “One Year Later” post about selling the studio while there. The transition to YogaWorks anniversary was last week and the post is still in draft form.

Time passed quickly and I realized I could walk to the hotel to grab my bag in 20 minutes, so I might as well keep moving. Before hitting the hotel I took a few moments on the steps of New York Public Library to begin reading my new book. This has become my new favorite NYC spot.

I grabbed my bag and walked another 25 minutes to Penn Station for a total of 19,000 steps (nearly nine miles)! Rolling a bag through the 7th and 8th avenue crowds near Times Square was no easy feat. I felt like a ping pong bouncing around bodies.

On the train home I prepped this month’s Mindfulness module for Year of Tranquility and wrote the final week of the Self-Care module.

It never ceases to amaze me how much I can accomplish in one day in NYC—writing, exercise, healthy nosh, time in nature. A daylong Artist Date is a helpful tool for inner reconnection and creative flow. Bisous. x

You’re Invited: NYC Meetup

Late August I’ll be hopping on an early morning bus bound for New York City with a tote bag, notebook, and pens. Last year I signed up for Victoria Moran’s Main Street Vegan Master Class and the time has come to spend three days immersed in learning!

On Sunday, August 26 I’ll host a casual meetup at a Midtown hotel, The Mansfield, in their M Bar. I LOVE the literary theme and old world glam style, so I thought this would be a magical place for connecting.

It’s described on their site as . . . “The M Bar is one of the most quintessential bars in midtown NYC. The beautiful venue is known for its classic cocktails and live music, featuring a domed skylight, mahogany bookshelves, Beaux Arts lighting, and comfortable lounge seating, creating an intimate and elegant atmosphere reminiscent of days gone by.”

If you’re able to join, please RSVP because, yes, there will be goody bags. I can’t wait to see you! Bisous. x

P.S. This is a free event. I’ll provide light vegan hors d’oeuvres. If you’d like a drink, you can purchase one (or two) at the bar.

Details

When: Sunday, August 26 at 7:30pm

Where: The Mansfield Hotel at 12 West 44th Street

Why: Because it’s fun to connect in person

 

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.