The Way Sagittarians Think about Paris

Last month I wrote a blog called Making Dreams Reality, about a pipe dream I have/had about spending a week in Paris next year at a writer’s workshop. You know that daydream — slightly-older-than-middle-aged woman who is fairly ditzy hops on a plane to Paris, hoping to find inspiration, writing, and croissants while she gazes romantically at the Eiffel Tower or parks her derriere on the Seine River with a glass of wine and a notebook.

It sounds so good. Until you stop to think about it.

The seminar runs about $3250, not including hotel, air fare, taxis, and croissants. Add about another $700 for airfare, $1500-2,000 for hotel, $50 for at least one Paris attraction,  $100 for dinners and $50 for croissants, and you’re talking a boatload of bills.

On the plus side of all that bankruptcy, I was fine with that. Chance of a lifetime and all that.

Then I went to the website of the workshop and got a rundown of the writer workshop schedule. After breakfast at 10:30am-11:00am, there are intros, couple of hours on character development, couple hours of perspective, couple hours of writing, couple hours of working lunches, lots of sharing time, and that’s it. You get to bond with fellow writers and learn from professionals. You get some atmosphere, a lot of help, and solid interacting time.

So I made of list of “is it really worth pursing?” things….

List of positives:

  • Paris. Period.
  • Inspiration begets better writing.
  • Side trip to Versailles
  • Leaving hubby behind
  • Self discovery
  • Croissants

List of negatives:

  • Cost
  • Leaving hubby behind
  • Don’t speak French.
  • Self discovery is a life-long process; no instant fixes
  • French wine doesn’t go with chocolate croissants

Now understand that all of this — all of this — is just preliminary babble, baloney, and bubbles. It’s all in the inkling stage.

But creative people are ingenious people. We always are left of center, out of the box, making things up, wandering and wondering. Our borders are transparent, dotted lines that are always moving.

And it’s within those transparent borders new ideas spring up.

So I started thinking in a different direction. I could go to anywhere I wanted for a writer’s getaway — San Francisco, Cocoa Beach — anywhere. I could go to a BnB, Holiday Inn, to my cabin up north.

But I wanted to go to Paris.

And I wanted to write.

So my mind and body started researching hotels and airfares. I’m in the process of researching local libraries, cafes, and spots along the Seine. I’m looking for views of the Eiffel Tower, le petit cafés, and bookstores.

I could always use advice through the workshop on how to develop a character, determine place and perspective, and all.

But what I need to do, want to do, is write.

Not just an hour here and a half hour there — I need a solid 4-5 hours a day for a few days in a row. I need to develop my outline into a story.. Real chapters, real people.

If the situation were right, I could take along an escort husband companion so I wouldn’t get lost walking around the block; someone who can do something else for four hours a day while we hang out in a local library or next to the river while I write. Someone who can “oohh” and “aahh”, both at my writing and at the Eiffel Tower at night.

And I think I can do it all for not much more than the writing seminar alone.

Do I have the self discipline? The fortitude? The drive to section off my days and nights in Paris? Will I learn enough on my own? Can I do enough prep work, enough research, to really let my writing take a turn for the better?

Can I really say “no” to a second…or even a third.. croissant?

Like I said at the beginning, this is only a pipe dream at the moment. Wishful thinking. Daydreaming.

Stay tuned, followers. The journey has just begun.

 

 

 

 

Making Dreams Reality

What are we if not our dreams?

Are we any less because our dreams did not come true?

It depends on our dreams.

If we dreamed that one day we would be out of a particular situation and finally be happy and free, and never made it out of that dream, that is one type of disappointment. For as the ‘now’ generation says (and I wholeheartedly agree), all we have is NOW. Make that dream happen today or tomorrow, don’t wait until forever gets here.

But if we dream that one day we will buy a Ferrari or travel to some foreign land, and never buy that car or visit that place, that is another sort of dream. That is the dream of merely having fun stepping out and running around, rather than running away. This sort of dream is safer because, even if we don’t get that car or visit that world, we had a great time pretend planning it.

Well, I have a secret.

I have a pretend planning dream.

Well, lots of them, but this one has overwhelmed me for the past six months. A dream that, if I decide to take this gigantic step, will change my life. Kinda.

I want to go to a writing workshop in Paris next year.

Now. I have no money. I am still working. I have bills and a mortgage and a hubby and grandkids to think about. I am one step away from flighty, have to write everything down or I forget it, am 15 pounds overweight, over 65, and a hundred other legit reasons to wonder why I’m even considering it.

Yet I am considering it.

The biggest hurdle has been overcome — sorta. Hubby said go for it. I don’t think he thinks I’m serious. I could take money out of my 401K plan. After all, if I leave it all to my kids all they’ll do is spend it anyway.

So why does a 66-year-old scardy cat woman think Paris is the only place I can write?

I am not sure.

I know Paris is not the stuff of movies. There is no Midnight In Paris car to whisk me away to meet Hemingway or Picasso. There is no Eat Pray Love or Under the Tuscan Sun ending that will change my life, for I’m happily married and in love with my family. There are pickpockets and tourist traps and muggings like in any big city.

Why am I even entertaining going?

Maybe it’s because there are few challenges left in my life besides illness and death. Maybe it’s because I’ve always been afraid to do something all by myself, and figure there’s no time like the present to try it. Maybe it’s because I’ve got a wonderful imagination and believe I’ll overcome my apprehensions and actually enjoy exploring a world where I don’t speak the language (except for the American-sponsored writing workshop).

Am I crazy?

Perhaps I’ve always been a bit crazy. Who else would write novels about time travel and being taken to another part of the galaxy for adventure?

It’s easy to dream these things from the comfort of my livingroom sofa.

It’s quite something else to think that one day I might be dropped off at the airport and board an airplane and travel half way across the world to learn something I already know.

Yet I know nothing.

We all know nothing.

I don’t know if I will be brave enough come open registration season to really go through with it. But I’m having a ball planning and researching and picking out clothes to wear and what souvenirs I will bring back.

We all need to dream something that is just out of our comfort zone. Something just out of reach. It’s exciting and eye-opening and makes you re-examine your own hangups and fears.

And who knows?

Je peux aller à Paris après tout!

 

 

#AppreciateYourCreativeFriendsWeek Part 6

Darlene Foster writes the kind of blog that plays to the voyeur in me. She travels, she writes, posts on other blogs, does book signings — what is not to envy?  I have been following her blog Darlene Foster’s Blog for a while now, and am loving her excursions since she moved to Spain. Darlene turns her sight-seeing jaunts into experiences we all can relate to. A little history, a lot of pictures, and I’m walking through the beautiful Ta´Pinu Sanctuary on the Island of Gozo or through the streets of Cordoba.

Looking for a little getaway that is more in line with your lifestyle (rather than the latest magazine)? Take a walk with Darlene and tour the countryside at your own pace!

*********************

Three Days in the Charming City of Cordoba

Posted on: July 13, 2017

During the visit of my aunt and her friend, we took a bus trip to the Andalusian city of Cordoba, about five hours from where I live in Spain. Originally built by the Romans, it became an important location during the Moorish occupation. The ancient city of Cordoba held some of the world´s first known universities and medical schools. The fascinating architecture throughout the city reflects the Moorish, Jewish and Christian cultures.

********************************

More of Darlene Foster’s wonderful blog can be found at https://darlenefoster.wordpress.com/. You’ll love your journey!

Cat’s Eyes

20081221134735180My life has been a whirlwind these past few weeks. I’ve taken off to North Carolina and visited my bff and a city that was fun and busy and full of Southern charm, went to work for two days, then took off to Northern Wisconsin and noshed and laughed and cackled with friends while we hid from the rain.

It seems everyone had fun these past few weeks except for one.

Mysty.

My Cat.

Do you ever get punished by your pets for going away?  I have two cats, a toughy, lovey boy tuxedo named Tom, and a once-tiny-now-balloony girl Mysty.

Tom could care less when I come and go. He sleeps with whomever is around, including sometimes the dogs. Mysty is another story.

Everytime I go away and then return she makes eye contact, barely acknowledging my return, then gives me the cold shoulder for the day.

I didn’t think cats held grudges. But this one does.

When I’m home she’s on my computer, twisting her cute little head sideways, insisting on pets. She sleeps by my head, climbs all over me when I watch TV, all that cute little cat stuff.

But when I’ve been gone a few days — worse, when the whole family has been away and the cats have been left alone — well, hell hath no fury like a kitty scorned.

Of course, things are back to normal after a long day. I don’t think cats have that long of a memory span, and besides, they want to be fed. And pet. But for those few first hours, I swear my cat pouts and looks forlornly out the window, dreaming of a house where her master momma stayed home and played with her every day.

Maybe that’s why I didn’t leave my first born until he was 2 or 3. Just think of the dramatic sigh a toddler would make, looking forlornly out the window, dreaming of a house where his momma stayed home and played with him every day.

That is, until grandma or grandpa gave him popcorn or a Butterfinger or took him to the park. Which was instantly after I drove away.

Maybe I should offer a Butterfinger to Mysty…

 

Sunday Evening Art Gallery Blog — Atmosphere, Art and the Biltmore — Part 3

George Vanderbilt’s 250-room French Renaissance chateau is a true marvel, the largest undertaking in residential architecture. Over a six-year period, an entire community of craftsmen came together to create America’s premier home and the environmental wonderland that surrounded it.

20160807_105127

…original art by Pierre-Auguste Renoir and John Singer Sargent..magnificent 16th century tapestries, a Library with 10,000 volumes, a Banquet Hall with a 70-foot ceiling, 35 bedrooms, an indoor pool, and a bowling alley. Almost all of the priceless objects that you see throughout the house are from George and Edith Vanderbilt’s original collection.  ~~ Biltmore Estate History

20160807_110352

Can you imagine a world where you could wander room to room and constantly be dazzled by antique furniture, paintings, tapestries, crystal, and more?

20160807_110526

Can you imagine a world where servants attend your every need?

20160807_112329

Flowers burgeoning from every garden, fires crackling from 65 different fireplaces, and lavish dinners on the Vanderbilts’ burgundy-and-gold-bordered china made in England by Minton and Spode Copeland, silver flatware featuring an engraved Old English pattern from Frances Higgins, London, 1894, and delicate, feather-light crystal from Baccarat. (~~A Very Biltmore Thanksgiving).

20160807_105737

It was a different time, a different world, far removed from the air and light we breathe today.

20160807_112743

Everyone should visit a castle once in their lifetime.

20160807_112906

We may not want to live there, but we can, for a brief moment, experience the opulance of days gone by.

20160807_103611

*

All photographs were taken by Claudia Anderson,© 2016.

*

Read all about the Biltmore Estate at http://www.biltmore.com/

Off To See the Wizard (of Biltmore)

6d3fa623e931a5471085ff1a8f7651afSagittarius personality traits

Sagittarius is a fun and exciting sign. The explorer and philosopher of the zodiac, they are typically interested in new experiences, new knowledge and new places.

As it is written, so it shall be.

This weekend I am taking an adventure I’ve not taken before. I am meeting my creative, crazy fun friend in the artsy city of Asheville, North Carolina — home of the Biltmore Estate.

No husband. No kids. No grandkids. No dogs. No cats. Just temporarily, you know.

Already I’m happy.

It has taken me 63 years to be able to go off and take a trip through the creative world with my bestie by my side. I can finally submerge myself in art of all kinds — painting, sculpture, jewelry, textiles. Something my hubby could not (in truthful conscience) enjoy.

It has taken me 63 years to get to this wide-eyed amazement point in my life. 40 years ago I was working downtown Chicago, too busy trying to make my way in the business world. 30 years ago I was busy being a newlywed and first-time mom, losing my downtown job and looking for a part-time one so I could be home with my son. 20 years ago I was busing being a full-time mom, trying to my hand at running a B&B while being a full-time soccer mom and baseball mom.  10 years ago I was busy working full-time again, trying to run from bankruptcy and dealing with one son’s college years and the other son’s high school years.

There wasn’t time for unique art galleries or writing blogs or going to live concerts. Guess I was just busy living.

But now the kids are working and raising their own kids and bankruptcy is nothing more than a bad dream as is the B&B experiment. Now is the time for me to reconnect to who I’ve always been. I’ve always been a painter, a writer, a stenciller. I have always had a love affair with the creative side of the world. From faeries to role-playing, from making my own jewelery to writing poetry. I’ve stuffed it into pockets of time and under the leaves on the wooded paths I’ve walked and in the drawers of dressing tables.

Now it’s my turn to play.

Now I get to discover and explore and dream and live the Bohemian life of an artist with someone who is as Bohemian as I am.

If only for 4 days.

I get to meet all kinds of people, people who heard the calling of the Art Muse and did something about it. I don’t need to live the dream to be a part of it.

If only for 4 days.

Make a point to take a side trip out of your reality too, now and then. It’s good for the soul. It’s good for the heart. It’s good for manifesting your creative future.

And it’s damn good for your friendship, too.

 

 

 

It’s A Small World After All

mickey_mouse_tired_wallpaper_-_1024x768In a couple of weeks my crew and I will be heading for the sunny confines of Disneyworld. Besides the fact that for the first time ever I’ve been able to pay for my vacation ahead of time, I am looking forward to visiting the world of Peter Pan and Lightning McQueen. The last time I paraded through those hallowed gates, the father of my grandson was barely older than my grandson is now.  Cosmic synchronicity aside, I am so looking forward to a week of not making my own bed and no extra charge for air conditioning.

Alas, the world of vacation in general and DW in particular is not the same as it was 22 years ago. This spritely body is not as spritely as days of yore. So I think I’d better update my To-Do List.

  • Be prepared for average day temperatures in the high 80’s and lows in the mid-60s. No sweats needed, as DW’s lows equal Wisconsin’s highs.
  • Bring a small, portable container of baby powder. No reason to stick together more than necessary.
  • Less is more. A week’s worth of underwear (Plus 1 method) is okay; 7 pairs of jeans, not.
  • Get a haircut now so that it has a couple of weeks to grow into something civilized.
  • Moving is relative. I can still cross distances as I did in the olden days. It just takes a little longer. Therefore, map out bathrooms and misting stations ahead of time. Note air conditioned venues as well.
  • Food rules from home count double here. No creamy, spicy, or burpy delights. Stock up on imodium and Pepto.
  • No need to try the lobster look the first day. Xtra duty sunscreen at 200+ suggested. ChapStik a bonus.
  • Reinvent your idea of what water play is. A 4-year-old does not hang around the shallow end of the pool for any length of time.
  • There are enough adults in the group that each one can schedule a time out. Use it. On yourself and others.
  • The Smartphone is the new camera. Keep it close. Preferably in your pocket. Also doubles as a patience-building tool, as in Jet Pack, Jewels Saga, and Swamp Attack.
  • Water is the lifeforce of DW. Pack many and refill often. Leave the imported beer until you get home.
  • You will undoubtedly leave one important thing behind. Put something to the side (that you can buy down there) and purposely forget it. Break the curse early.
  • Give up any idea of bringing a purse. No need to always take up two spaces. If it doesn’t fit in a fanny pack, you don’t need it.
  • Granola bars are your best friends at the park. Just make sure to get your system used to all that fiber about a week ahead of time.

I’m sure you have your own dots you can add to my list. Any thoughts, experiences, or reality checks are appreciated.

Let’s hear it for the Mouse.

Where Do You Want To Go?

I know most of you peek in and out with a whiff of the air; life is busy like that. I am the same way. Too many things I want to do, too little time. The story of all of our lives.

As you know, my passion (outside of my family, grandbaby, cooking and the latest Star Trek movie), is writing, followed by reading. I have been trying to read the Grey thing; I think I’m too old to be impressed by it (although I must say it goes where no one has gone before). Everyone likes to read different things: everyone has their own style, topics, and interests. That’s why reading is ssoooo much fun.  

My bigger obsession, though, is writing. My style is all over the place, but the bulk of it is more on the imaginary side. A favorite theme iof mine is the “middle age woman” traveling through time, in one direction or the other, exploring the new worlds from a middle age woman’s point of view. (Original, eh?)

So……a question for you.

If you were whisked through a “veil” into another world, what would it be like? Know that you would know nothing (or little to nothing) about the time period, or, if it were another planet/world, their society.  What kind of world would you like to explore?

I’ll go first.

My most current novel is about a middle aged, New Age woman who is whisked away to another planet where the inhabitants are a mixture of Ancient Rome and Spaceship City.  She does her best to try and adapt to a society who are based in ancient superstition and futuristic technology, while trying to solve a murder.

Your turn!