Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My Hallelujah Song

One of Mom's many angels
When my eldest graduated high school I, along with the help of a dear friend, made her a dvd of several videos throughout her growing up years and we played it at her open house.   When my son graduated, his skills in video post production were so far superior to my own that I decided instead to create a cd of meaningful songs - both those we shared while he was growing up, as well as though I wanted to share with him as he left home.  When Mandy graduated this spring she requested a cd as well and it was a lot of fun trying to find songs that she might enjoy now and years to come.

One of my Google searches for "popular songs for 2011 graduation" led me to this one by Julianne Hough.  Now I must confess that I am not a Dancing with the Stars fan, nor do I listen to much country music.  However, when I first heard this song the melody was so upbeat that I could not help but smile.

As I shared yesterday, I tend to focus on beat and melody first in music, and it is usually as a last resort that I actually listen to the words (strange for an English teacher, huh?).  But over the past few days I have really heard the words that are spoken here and I must say that they mimic where I am in life right now:
I think I finally made it here where I belong  .... 
Life is more than the breaths you take; it's the moments that take your breath away ... 
It took some time but I was never by myself, there were angels helping all along.
It has been just a little over three months since Mom passed away.  She collected angels.

Perhaps some of you might find this song as uplifting as I do.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What to post...

I have started no fewer than five different posts over the past two weeks, but never felt comfortable enough to actually upload to the website.  A part of this is due to the fact that I still think of this as a "book blog" despite the fact that I haven't written a book review in months.  I feel as though I am not being true to "the blog"

But Molly, this is your can post what you want?  Well, yes, but still.  There is this marvelous book blogging community that I love and I am not sure that they have an interest in reading my personal dribble.

Another reason for my absence is that I think I have found the "scratch" to my "writing itch" in the morning pages discipline.  Ever since I discovered the website, 750 words in April, I have written nearly every day (I have only missed 4 days and that is because we were on vacation with no internet access).  While this kind of writing is not helpful in honing the craft, I have found it incredibly useful in ordering my life.  It seems that if I write down a goal, I am far more likely to actually take the first step in achieving that goal.  Funny how that works, isn't it?

So now that the writing itch has dissipated, I am left with making decisions as to what to actually post on the blog.  Here are some possibilities that I have considered:

  1. Rosetta Stone - I am working my way through the French course (at least levels 1-4) in the hopes of conversing with the locals in their native language when I go to Paris next month.  Lately I am spending about two hours a day immersing myself in the language.  I thought of writing a review of the software as well as my personal discipline.
  2. Water - funny topic, huh?  But I have resisted drinking water for years and I fear that it is now taking its toll.  In an effort to develop healthy habits this summer that will (hopefully) remain with me once school starts, I have tried to drink more water.  Two things have helped:  buying a 32 ounce water bottle, and using a squirt of MiO peach/mango drops.  I have thought of writing about this new lifestyle change.
  3. Wine Tasting - yes, another new interest.  I know that wine is more plentiful in France than soda, and I have always enjoyed pairing wine with food (although that interest was put on hold while raising a family).  I have read several books on the topic and watched a few instructional videos.  I thought of writing a Weekend Cooking post on this topic - which perhaps might lead to future food/wine posts.
  4. Menu Planner at - while I have only had access to this tool for about a week, I must say that I am absolutely in love with it!  At first I had to get over the fact that I had to pay for a website that I have used for free for years....but once I analyzed the benefits, I felt that it was well worth it.  I love that there are hundreds of pre-designed weekly menus that I can choose from - but also adapt to my own taste.  It is the jump start to getting back into the kitchen that I have needed.  I thought of writing a review of this culinary find.
  5. Playlists - when I was in high school music was a huge part of my life - but once I had children my rock and roll albums gave way to Barney cassette tapes. I am trying to reconnect with this side of me this summer and have developed a few playlists -- some based on beat and melody (what I tend to focus on most) and others based on meaningful lyrics.  I thought of posting my playlists in an attempt to perhaps hear some of your favorite songs as well.
  6. Photography - yes, this continues to be a focus, although I seem to be stuck in "head" knowledge and I can't quite seem to make myself go out and gain practical experience. I simply must change this before I leave next month.  I have read several books (which I could quickly review) - but last week I took an online PhotoShop Elements 9 workshop that was FABULOUS!!  I thought of writing a review and for those who might be interested, you could download the workshop at CreativeLive.
  7. Unraveling - another online class that I am taking this summer.  This class is amazing - although rather deep and introspective (which is what I was looking for).  Susannah Conway has managed to create a very safe, compassionate Flickr group where we learn to get in touch with ourselves through photos and writing.  My sister-in-law recommended this perfect class for me - and I have thought of writing reviews of what I have learned so far.
  8. Writing - still a major interest of mine and I continue to read more about writing than do it (do you notice a pattern here).  I have been focusing more on writing memoir (as I truly do believe that everyone has a story to tell) as well as learning to write with the senses.  I would like to hone this craft so that when I eat those memorable meals - or taste that memorable wine - I can recollect it accurately in the written word.  I have thought of possibly writing reviews of those books I have enjoyed most.
  9. Paris - of course most of my free time has been focused on preparing for this trip.  I have done quite a bit of online research, as well as reading a few travel books.  Since we may choose to return to Paris for our 30th anniversary next year (hard to believe I have been married that long!) and have other family members join us, I have researched a variety of tours that I would not normally consider just for myself.  I have considered posting links to those here - and I will probably work on posting a few travel articles while I am actually there.
So this is the way I have kept myself busy for the first month of summer.  Yes, I am still here, but just not sure that the activities that keep me busy will be of interest to you.  If you find any of the points listed above suitable for a full length post....please let me know and I will be happy to oblige.  Otherwise, I hope that all of you are staying cool as we head into this Independence Day weekend.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Paris.....Je viens

I realize I have been absent for far too long to truly call myself a blogger - but I am hoping to rectify that this summer.  Rather than delving in the past and writing a litany of reasons why I have been absent - I thought I would abide in the present for now.

It is official....I am going to Paris for two full weeks this summer!  As is my usual Mode of Operation, I conceived the idea, researched the idea, followed through on the idea - and now that it is set, all the anxieties of "what have I done?!" are starting to surface.  While I am quite excited - I am also wondering how I could possibly expect to traverse a foreign country, where I know only the basics of the language, on my own?  How will I get through customs by myself?  How will navigate from the airport to the apartment by myself?  How will I buy necessities like toilet paper by myself?

Taken from Isabelle's listed photos
While there are a million questions like this running through my mind at any given time of day, I can also attest to the fact that I am ready for this next adventure in life.  I discovered this adorable one bedroom apartment in the Montmartre section of Paris on in March.  I contacted the landlord, Isabelle, via email and within minutes she responded with open dates.  Since that time we have corresponded numerous times and she is always willing to share her expertise.

Taken from Isabelle's listed photos
I told Isabelle that I wish to experience Paris as a Parisian this time.  I have had the opportunity to visit this City of Lights twice in the past:  once in high school in 1977 and again for about 36 hours in 2006.  I have seen most of the tourist attractions, and while I would like to visit the Tour Eiffel and Arc de Triomphe again - I really want to visit the out-of-the-way cafes and local street markets.  She said that she will have three pages of her favorite spots ready for me when I arrive!

Over the past few weeks I have researched Paris day trips on my own as well as on  I have found a couple of Photography courses/tours that I think sound perfect to do within the first couple of days:  Photo Tours in Paris and Better Paris Photos.  Not only would I have the opportunity to see some of the premier sites of the city, but I will also learn some valuable photography tips that I can use for the rest of my vacation.  Of course these courses are rather expensive, but I think that the double benefit of a semi-private tour as well as practical instruction might make it worth the cost.

In addition I have investigated some possible side trips including a wine tour.  I absolutely LOVE the wines from the Beaujolais region, but seeing how Lyon is about a three hour train ride from Paris, that will probably not be a part of this trip.  However, the Champagne district is nearby (and who doesn't like champagne) as well as the Loire Valley.  I am leaning towards taking a tour with Wine Day Tours which provides a 12 hour tour of the local wine region including visits to family run wineries and vineyards.  Again, this is rather expensive, but I also view it as a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  I just want to ensure that I go on a sunny day rather than rainy one --- and I will definitely have to overcome my shy, introverted way around strangers.

So after much deliberation and quite a bit of daydreaming - I finally booked the flight.  I will leave the states on Saturday, July 23 and return on Sunday, August 7.  There is no turning back now, so I best start practicing with Rosetta Stone in order to build my very weak confidence.

In the meantime....I just noticed David McCullough's newest book is now available, The Greater Journey, and while I have not read any of his non-fiction masterpieces in the past, I think this one is calling my name.
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