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Signs of Summer (Soon to Disappear)

27 Aug

The lifeguard stand.  A classic symbol of summer (for Northerners, at least).  As it sat, empty, my mind raced ahead to what will be coming.

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To be honest, I’ve had some subversive thoughts lately: dreaming of (longing for) snow.  This makes me unfaithful to summer and to all of the people who aren’t ready for summer to end.  (And there are a lot of them.)

Don’t get me wrong: I dislike bitterly cold weather.   But there are other things about winter that are (in my opinion) worth the low temperatures.  Things like the pure beauty of a snow-dusted lawn.

But with highs forecasted to be in the upper 80s this week, lovers of dog days fear not!

 

À mercredi,

k.

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A Little Gem: Being Good at Something

20 Aug

À la Martha Stewart’s “Good Things” and Neil Pasricha’s “1000 Awesome Things“, I’m starting my own little expression to reflect on splendid things, called little gems.  (Yes, the jewelry reference is intentional!)

I’ve been especially cognizant of little gems lately, as I seem to be lacking too many.  As my friend Boops would say, “that’s not a complaint, just a statement of fact.”

The latest little gem that I’ve “discovered” is Being Good at Something.  I mean REALLY, HONESTLY GOOD at something.  I realized a few months ago when I started on my current path of completely re-thinking my life and moving toward living my dreams (lofty indeed!), that there might be some bumps along the road.  Well, last week I hit some huge potholes.

Launching a new life:

* First of all, I moved to a new city.  Although it’s my hometown, so I do have family and good friends here, it’s still not a place I’ve lived since I was a teenager – 17 years ago.  So there have been some major adjustments to make.

* Then, I decided that I would launch not one but TWO NEW CAREERS.   Yep, so I’m freelance writing and designing jewelry.  I’ve dabbled in both before, but let’s face it, I’m not a pro at either.

* On the urging of a friend, I joined CrossFit, which I LOVE because it has whipped my body into amazing shape in three months, but for which I’m now having to painstakingly learn how to correctly (or optimally) perform dead lifts, clean and presses, squats, and more.

All of this to say that it has been a tough couple of weeks, as I’ve tried to dramatically improve my skills at all of these endeavors plus handle of life’s regular, everyday trials.  I realized that I was setting myself up for a lot of potential challenges/failures, and I take responsibility for that.  But I will never again take for granted – personally or professionally – BEING REALLY GOOD AT SOMETHING.

À bientôt,

k.

Reading and Writing in Peace

26 Jul

 

In The Artist’s Way, author Julia Cameron recommends ending writer’s block by abstaining from reading for one week.  The idea is that it will force one to observe his or her surroundings, rather to be drawn into another’s thoughts.

I completely agree with the observation portion of that piece of advice.  Any time we remove ourselves from our daily distractions, our senses are heightens and our minds come up with new ideas.  (One reason why vacations are so mind-opening!)  I question the part about not reading, however.  At least for me.  The more I read great writing, the more I want to write, and the more my thoughts flow!

Case in point: this very moment.  I’m writing this post while up at my family’s cabin in northern Minnesota.  There’s no tv, no movies or electronic games, no internet. (And, of course, you’re reading the post a few days later because there’s no internet up here!)  So while I’m up here I’m actually reading much more than I do in the city, yet I find myself drawn to the computer to attempt a bit of decent prose.  Which I’m not sure I’ve achieved yet…

True, there are very, very few distractions up here.  Besides a vintage cabin with only a deck of cards and a few 1980s board games, it’s raining and there’s no shopping or entertainment to speak of in the nearby town.  That kind of withdrawal from modern life certainly helps sharpens one’s observations, and the reading that I’ve been catching up on is fueling my writing, rather than detracting from it.

earlier in the week, before the rain set in…

sunset. too bad you can’t hear the loons calling in the background.

Hope you didn’t mind a bit of rambling today ; )

À demain,

k.

Staying faithful (to blogging)

30 May

This SHOULD be me.

If you’re reading my blog this morning hoping for photos of vintage home décor, fashion designs or my latest jewelry find, you might as well stop reading now.

Contrary to this blog’s mission, today’s post is not going to be about anything stylish.  It’s a self-indulgent post, but hopefully one that you’ll find amusing, at least.  (You might be laughing at me, or with me, I’m not sure.)   So, my issue.  I’ve really been struggling with this blog lately.  Errr, maybe I’ve been struggling with it since I started it.  Nonetheless, I’ve hit the skids again.  I told myself that I’d blog every day – every weekday, at the very least.  Do you remember that New Year’s Resolution??!  Blown that!

WHY?  Laziness? Maybe.  Occasionally.  Fear of sounding boring or like an idiot?  Yes.  Often.  Worried that I don’t have professional photos for each post and that I’ll look like a total amateur?  Um, yeeesss.

Why am I even writing today’s post?  Well, I was reading Vogue magazine just now – really reading it.  It has excellent writing.  But it also started me thinking (again) about how people can write about the most inane subjects, and if the words flow smoothly and the subject evolves, voilà, a good piece of writing.  It also made me think about writers who can make me laugh.  Or even smile.  That’s worth a lot.  And if I can empathize with the author, that’s golden.  It’s like when friends tell me about crazy dreams they’ve had.  It makes me feel less insane about my crazy dreams.

Point being: I love good writing and good writers, and I’m not saying that I am a ‘good writer’, but if I can bring people along on a pleasant (perhaps inane) journey through my thoughts, maybe make them laugh with me, and feel slightly better about themselves and their own lives, then I’ve accomplished something.  ‘Good’ writer or not!

My next thought is: “Katherine, just sit down and write more, d*mn it!”

So here I am.  And I’m not foolish enough to make more grandiose promises that I’ll blog every day.  I’ll try my best, but no resolutions.  (I haven’t balanced my checkbook every week or whatever silly, unrealistic financial goal I set for myself on January 1st, either.)

À demain (I hope – just kidding!)

k.

PS.  In response to reason #3 above for not blogging every day, I did get a SLR digital camera last week. (It was a very late Christmas gift – I decided I need that more than I needed a high-quality scanner, although I need one of those, too.)  Hopefully I’ll learn how to use it in the next couple of weeks.  That should inspire me to post more often.  And the posts will be prettier and more original, too.

 

the next golden year

1 Jan

HAPPY 2012!!

image: cover of Vogue Gioiello (Italy), Sept/Oct 2010. (Click on image to see anniversary party!)

 

You might be wondering why I chose this image.  First, it is a thrilling tribute for the 30 year anniversary of Vogue Gioiello (Vogue Jewelry), which is a stand-alone Italian Vogue publication.  Second, it represents what I hope for the year (that’s one year, not 30!) ahead.  2011 was a tricky year for me.  I lacked direction (it happens) and in many cases, energy (unforgivable).  Thus, I’ve set the bar high for 2012.

 

I’ve got quite an ambitious list of adventures and goals for myself:

* Move back to the US from Paris

* Choose (with my boyfriend) a city to live in

* Outline a career path for myself – and act on it!

* Write more: publish at least 5 blog posts every week

* Buy a high-quality camera, and learn how to use it properly

* Choose an organization that’s important to me and start volunteering

* Plan a fabulous birthday party for my boyfriend

* Be more financially responsible (i.e. balance my checkbook every month, stick to budgets…)

* Give yoga another try.  In that same vein, meditate at least 3 times every week.

* Loose my flabby stomach

* Embrace uncertainty as an adventure and don’t waste valuable time and energy stressing out about things

I know, so banal to make (much less publish) a list of resolutions on January 1st.  Oh well.

Here’s to the best year yet!

À bientôt,

k.

as the sun sets on 2011…

30 Dec

Two weeks ago, before my boyfriend and I came back to the US, we set out for one of our last adventures in France before we move.  We chose northeastern France, near the German border for two reasons: first, neither of us had been there in over 15 years, and second, there are few better places in the world to spend a pre-Christmas weekend.  (More about our trip to Alsace-Lorraine in a future post.)

I took this photo (below) while driving just outside of Colmar, France.  I like how you can still see the low-hanging clouds that had earlier brought snow (as we passed through the Vosges mountains) and rain, while glowing yellow and pink as the sun sets over the steeple of one of the hundreds-years old churches that appear throughout the countryside.   The steeple is a very small part of the picture, but is immediately recognizable to me.  Seeing church steeples across the landscape is one of my favorite parts of driving through Europe.  It’s remarkable, as many of the towns that are home to these architecturally exceptional old churches, are tiny – sometimes only a few hundred residents.

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The realization that my boyfriend and I will be moving back to the U.S. at the end of January hasn’t quite hit me yet.  The reason for the move is utterly practical: lack of working visas, more and better career opportunities (especially for me), higher income, greater purchasing power, etc, etc.  I know relocating is the right choice, but I will dearly miss being able to pick up and drive for 3 hours to another country!  We’ll still travel to Europe, I’m sure, but our exploits will only begin after an 8 hour plane ride.

So as our time in France comes to a close, I’m making a list of everything I want to do in the next month, and going through my mental photo reel of memories from the past almost 2½ years.  I would imagine that everyone is reviewing their own reels from 2011.  May you appreciate your accomplishments and the opportunities you’ve had, and have the fortitude to achieve your goals for 2012.

À demain,

k.

Many thanks

24 Nov

Even though none of the natives here are celebrating my favorite American holiday, I am in Thanksgiving mode.  We’re having dinner with some friends (some American, some not) here in Paris this evening.  We’ll try to stream the (American) footballs games while we eat our turkey and stuffing and drink our lovely French wine and maybe some champagne, too.

Come to think of it, every nation should have such a holiday – no gifts required, just food on the table and your family.  One could argue that people in other countries spend more time on a daily basis sharing time with family and friends and appreciating what they have.  I would agree with that statement.  But even so, Thanksgiving is a pretty neat holiday and one thing the U.S. does right.

But really, the whole point of this day is to take time to consider all of the things that we’re thankful for, which I have spent the morning doing.  A few specific things come to mind:

my boyfriend (with me) in front of Paris' Opéra Garnier

Rather than embarrassing them with silly photos, here is my homage to my beloved family and friends. (It's the best drawing I can do, honestly.)

my two sweet kitties, Oscar (left) and Amelia (right), whom my parents have been kind enough to take care of while I've been living in Europe =^._.^=

Our little Parisian adventure.

And there are a million other little things, too, that I won’t list here.

Hope you’re enjoying some laughter and good food with your friends and families ~

À demain,

k.