Monday, July 27, 2015

Le Tour de France

July has been a strange month for weather.  We've suffered through two heatwaves in a city that cannot handle heat, and yesterday we were hit with a cold spell just as strong on the other end of the temperature spectrum (from 100°F a week ago to 50°F in the wet wind).  The grey skies didn't give us pause about finding a spot to watch the final stage of the Tour de France in Paris yesterday...but then those grey skies opened up, a strong, cold wind kicked in and the weather became completely miserable...just in time for the Tour de France to begin its final day in Paris.

Yesterday afternoon, we tried three different viewing spots over the course of two hours before waiting it out between Porte Maillot and the Arc de Triomphe.  We were soaked and shivering, but we didn't give up.  When the moment came, it was so exhilarating, watching the pack fly past us as they geared up for the lap portion of the race.

The moment they passed us, we bustled to the metro and hurried home for hot showers and dry clothes, hoping we all don't catch colds in the name of Le Tour.  Hubby turned on the TV so we could watch the rest, but after about 10 minutes of watching, I couldn't stand being so close but not actually being there.  I bundled up to fight the autumnal weather and rushed out again to catch whatever I could on the Champs Elysees.  I made it in time for the final two laps.  The sun even came out for the end of the race.  Watching the Tour de France in person--what an incredible experience!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Well, hello there!

In case you've been wondering about my lengthy absence from this space, I've been out testing the hypothesis that one needs at least six months to recover from a major transition like an international move.  I ran a controlled experiment, tested on myself and my little family of four.  We repeat and compare results every 2 to 3 years.  We observe multiple factors, and I have once again reached that conclusion that yes, living a nomadic life abroad requires at least 6 months of adjustment time when settling into a new country before one begins to feel "normal" again.  If it's a place where you don't speak the language and the locals don't speak yours, bless you for trying.

Almost six months to the day, my crafting mojo returned (if you don't craft, just skip this paragraph entirely).  I hadn't wanted to knit for longer than I could remember.  I tried a few times to knit by rote, to feel the wool in my hands and to create something lovely…but my heart wasn't in it and each project was quickly returned to its bag.  A few months ago, I found and started to regularly attend a knitting group at a wonderful yarn shop here in Paris, but I only knit when I was there and even then, I knitted only a row or two while I listened and chatted.  Then, just a couple of weeks ago, boom!  It was back!  I finished two projects in three days.  Tempted to add to my stash (Aimee, why do you stock so much pretty?), I started to dig in my closet and discovered even more UFOs (that's unfinished objects for you sane non-knitters), and I wanted to finish those too!  I carted a half-finished child's sweater along to the knitting group last week, only to have everyone question my sanity, knitting with chunky thick wool during another hideous heatwave (oh Paris, you don't do heat well).  They were right, of course, so I bought a new skein of thick chunky wool to knit a cowl for my big girl and cast on for that over the weekend.  Hey, I never said knitters make logical decisions.

As soon as my crafting mojo returned, I became hyper-aware of my lag in communications across the board.  Normally, I try not to miss sending birthday and anniversary cards, but I realised I haven't done so in many months--including, I'm ashamed to say, close family.  Oh dear.  I'm not sure many of our friends and family even have our new address.  I don't actually know our landline phone number.  Remedy, remedy, remedy.  I'm considering sending out Christmas in July cards to get everyone in one fell swoop.

Which brings me to this blog.  Hello!  I've missed you too!  Over the past months, I've been taking pictures on my phone and sharing many of them on Instagram if you'd like to see.  I would like to return to this space and resurrect the joy of the big camera too.  In the meantime, we'll be soaking up summer and enjoying the freedom from scheduling that I'm sure helped make my return to normalcy possible.  I hope you've been well!  Thanks for checking in!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Gratitude cleanse

The "Rekindling the Fire" workshop I attended this past weekend was co-led by a wonderful children's author, K.L. Going, and a life-and-wellness coach for moms, Lisa Grace Byrne.  While I most certainly benefitted from the wit and wisdom Kelly shared with and organised for us, it was Lisa's presence that spurred me to enrol.  I have read her blog for years, following along as she has built her business.  I have attended one of her online courses and was a pre-reader for her wonderful book, Replenish*.  I sound well-placed not to need a whole weekend with her, right?  Wrong.

Particularly as an overstretched mother in a time of major life transitions, I know it has been my habit to treat self-care as one more item on the big plate of my responsibilities and obligations--an optional piece that is often neglected.  Meeting Lisa and sharing her wisdom with other fabulous women experiencing similar life patterns and professional longings was balm for my soul and, hopefully, a kickstart to actually using some of the incredible, simple tools Lisa shares.  One key insight she impressed upon us was to approach self-care as a lens through which to view your life.  No matter what else is added or taken away from your plate of responsibilities, the self-care lens remains in place.

Starting tomorrow, Lisa is running a (free!) seven-day Gratitude Cleanse.  Simply commit to 10 minutes each day to refocus that lens of self-care.   You can sign up by clicking through the link, and Lisa will send the daily meditations right to your email inbox.

*I definitely love the feel of a book in my hand, a book I can return to time and again, so I keep a copy of Replenish on my nightstand.  A little secret is I also have it in my car: Lisa read her book in a podcast format.  In this way, she offers her entire book as a free audiobook!  (Didn't I mention how awesome she is?)

Friday, November 14, 2014

A full day

The workshop day started at 6am when my alarm went off in time for a (wonderful)(optional) morning yoga session and concluded after 10pm with a (wonderful)(optional) session about publishing.  It has been a day of fantastic information, learning and inspiration.  Now, my brain is full and I am ready to put this day to bed, but alas, I opted for a coffee after dinner, which means I'm still awake as the hours roll by.
Will I ever learn? 
(apparently no)
For anyone else up too late and seeking fun finds online...

Have you seen this artist's work?  Incredible.

All right, this just made me happy.

After hearing much hype about this new podcast, the first 5 episodes of Serial made my extra-long drive yesterday very interesting.  I'm not sold on the subject (I don't care for crime stories), but the story-telling is excellent.

This font for dyslexics really impressed me.  I taught dyslexic kids once upon a time, and I do believe this font would be a welcome tool.

I would like to try making these with the girls.

Lasting relationships hinge on kindness and generosity.  The studies analyse couples, but the lessons can be applied to all important personal relationships (with your kids, parents…).

Have a lovely weekend!  Keep warm!

links found via chookooloonks, swiss-miss, naomi bulger, and designmom

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A fresh journey

Today I spent nearly all of the sunlight hours (such as they were) in the car.  After the morning school run, I hastily packed a bag (greatly worrying the cat), tossed things in the car and headed out of town.  For the next three days, I will be attending a writer's retreat at the Highlights Foundation.

Google Maps told me the drive would take around 5 1/2 hours, but that wasn't counting on trucks and snow.  I readily admit I was feeling rather frazzled the last 20 miles or so, and yet somehow that melted away almost the moment I arrived.  I cannot explain it.  One moment, I was in my car wondering how I would ever manage a positive first meeting with the group here, grumbly as I felt, but the next, I felt quite simply here; I felt present right away.  There is a magic here I can feel.  I won't presume to guess what that magic will mean for me, but for now, I am happy to have enjoyed these first hours and am looking forward to the days ahead.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Monuments to learning

Felicia of The Craft Sessions recently wrote a post about ripping out a (beautiful) cardigan she had knitted years before simply because she recognised the inherent waste of that yarn in a form she never wore.  This rang a (loud!) bell with me and my Tea Leaves cardigan.  I love that yarn.  I loved it enough to finish a project I had started two years before…only to discover that the pattern does not suit me at all.  I am not a buttoned-up cardigan wearer on the best of days, and this one had the added dysfunctionality of a boat neck.  The edges of the cardigan sat close to my shoulders, and it simply wasn't my style.  I loved the yarn.  I loved the buttons.  The knitting was beautiful.  The finished project was lovely.  But none of that changed the fact that it was sitting unloved in my drawer.  I couldn't face ripping it out, no matter how much I loved the yarn.  That cardigan was an excellent "monument to learning." I did learn a lot about what I should be knitting for myself as a result of that project.  It deserved my respect; however, it doesn't really deserve a spot in my drawer.  Every time I looked at it, I thought of a dear friend whom both the colour and the style would suit, but I didn't want to give her a "reject" sweater.  Felicia's "Let It Go" challenge spurred me to action.  I would take the sweater to my friend, fess up about the fit issues, and see what she thought.

She swooned over the colour and the style!  She loves it!  She loves that it is handmade.  She loves that I gave it to her.  I love that it has a good home.  So…I didn't rip as per the challenge, but I did "let it go!" and give that cardigan new life, which feels great.  Thanks, Felicia!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Restarting the creative juices

One of the themes I noticed as I was taking stock was all the projects in my mind that I wasn't starting. My creative energy had stalled of late. Stress does that to me, but after a while, not creating becomes a stress too. I feel more like myself when I am creating, but for many weeks, I wasn't writing, journaling, knitting, sewing or even working in art time with the kids. Taking stock made me even more aware of how ready I was to get started again, and really, all I needed to do was start. I had fabric cut for a tunic for my big girl (cut weeks ago!), so I started with that.

The fabric is Liberty of London tana lawn. If you don't sew, you might not know that this fabric is the stuff of heaven. It is gorgeous to the touch, reminiscent of silk, but is cotton. The prints range from traditional to modern, and I've wanted to work with it for years. The hefty price tag left me afraid to cut it. What if I did something wrong? It would be wasted! Well, it was also being wasted sitting in my stash. Now, it is a beautiful tunic.

The pattern is Oliver + S class picnic blouse, lengthened.  It's pink, her favourite color.  It's perfect for the newly changed school dress code, requiring my leggings-lover to wear longer tops.  I'm guessing that means she won't wear it (le sigh), but I am happy to have sewn it.  This morning, I laid out the fabric to cut a flannel Tova dress for myself.  A scroll through the Wiksten flickr pool has changed my thinking towards another Tova top instead (the dress so easily tips into looking like a nightgown, especially in flannel), but I'm ready to sew!

Are you working on anything that makes your heart sing?