I’ve always loved Valentine’s Day, with or without a boyfriend. I love the pervasive red and pink in shops. I love the additional flowers that seem to pop up more places. I love any excuse to have fresh flowers around.
To celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, I went out this week and took my bicycle with me for a little photoshoot next to a mural I discovered recently. I thought it was extra cute with the Valentine balloons. 💙🚲❣️🎈❣️
It’s not every day you have the streets lining Amsterdam’s famous canals all to yourself. This autumn morning, I rose early with the hopes of getting a few canal reflection shots. To my surprise, it was a very foggy morning, so the reflections weren’t so easy to get, but the fog that enveloped the bridges plus the quietness of the morning made for quite an incredible atmosphere. I didn’t mind a bit when this man cycled into my shot; I love the movement his presence brings against a backdrop of pure stillness.
Coucou, Everyone! Just had to share one of my favorite photos and its accompanying story…
A year ago, a friend of a friend told me she had a friend (are you following?) that I just had to meet, as she was about to move to Paris. Great, I thought, I love to meet others with a shared love for Paris. Patty and I agreed to meet in the neighborhood she had chosen to live in for the next 12 months: the 11th. Of the 20 arrondissements in Paris, a handful of them hold much less interest to me than others, and the 11th is one of them. I can’t say I know why this is, but something about it has never had much draw for me. I know there are many loyal onzième-ers out there, so please don’t be offended! Anyway, the good news is, Patty – even before moving to Paris – loved the 11th, so she was totally prepared to share her knowledge of the neighborhood with me.
We made plans for a morning date on what ended up being a rather wet day. I stopped over at her place near a charming small park, then we headed to the nearby and newly-opened Broken Biscuits. We chatted briefly with the two employees then ordered our goodies and settled into the front two seats. As you can see from the exterior photo, it’s a very small space, so we were lucky to get the best seats in the house.
Not too many people stopped in in the time we were sitting there, but the story that goes along with the shot of me in the window is one of my all-time favorite photo stories. You see, a woman with the red grocery cart walked up first, and parked her market purchases right out front. Seeing this, I interrupted Patty, and hopped outside to take a photo. What a cute shot, right? Within a couple of minutes, though, a man on this lovely blue bike parked it right in front, and perfectly, too. You see, it’s not leaning, it’s not locked up, it’s just perfectly positioned in front of the shop front.
At this point, Patty was 100% in on the impromptu photo shoot as well, and we knew we had to be quick about it because these customers would be served within minutes. We both jumped up and shot each other sitting poetically in the front window in what had been an already-darling scene, but the elements that came along just made it that much better.
I may have written about this before, but I’m not even going to bother going back to look to check because today’s selection is something that I am thankful for every single day: the challenge that life among different countries and cultures presents. People have questioned my life decisions since 2000 (if not before), so I’m no stranger to having questions pelted at me about what in the world I am doing with my life. That part is still a struggle for me. I have moved more times than I care to count in the last 15 years, and if my shoulder issues weren’t enough to prove it, then the cumulative hours of chats debating whether the life I desire should be. If I did count, though, no number would be too high for me to say it hasn’t all been worth it. Every encounter with French administration, every visit to the préfecture, all the time spent in lines, every moment of blankly staring at a Dutch person not having a clue what he was saying, each bout with culture shock (going and returning) has all come together to form the most beautiful collective experience of my life. I am so thankful this is my life.
✎✎✎ Side note: As I type this, I feel the urge to jot down notes, to write free-flow about how this life has changed me, turned my world upside down, confused me, thrilled me, and kept me begging for more. I shall move it to the top of my writing list (for a future book…?). ✎✎✎
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There isn’t a perfect image that goes with this particular sentiment, so I leave you with this thought and the encouragement to forge your own path, however jagged and rocky it may be.
Last year, as you all know by now, I had the wonderful opportunity to contribute to the book, My Paris Story: Living, Loving, and Leaping without a Net in the City of Light. Contributing to this book has afforded me many cool opportunities (and still is), including meeting some incredible women I probably wouldn’t have met otherwise. Our group of fascinating women includes ladies from all over the world with such diverse stories and backgrounds. Even with several mutual acquaintances, it wasn’t until this book came to be that I got to meet Mlle Tricia of the popular blog Patricia Parisienne. We finally set aside some time to chat and get to know one another better over a petit déj at Café Central on rue Cler last year. Here’s our picturesque breakfast, complete with fresh squeezed O.J., steeping tea, rich croissants, and lots of laughter.
Ever so thankful for new friends to add to my ever-growing expat family.