I was born in the year of the horse, according to Chinese astrology, but that has almost nothing to do with this post. Read on and you’ll see….
During my first trip to Santorini in May of 2015, my husband and I came across this handsome devil every day on the way to our hotel from the main beach road.
We always said hello and managed to catch this image. I’m not sure if horses smile and he doesn’t appear to be. Perhaps he’s happy and enjoying the land, visitors like us and the weather, but he’s not running free… something that made me rather sad each time I passed him on the hill. Is he grateful for what he does have? Does he have friend’s, a mate or even a comfortable place to live and sleep? I don’t know, but he is there and he looks healthy and well cared for.
Next photo victim.. Me
I’m smiling, the sun’s on my face, I’m in paradise and enjoying a wonderful vacation with my one true love. Everything is wonderful and I’m full of life.
All of this is true, or is it? (scroll down for more)
It is true however; no one really knows what lies beneath.
I’ve been smiling since the day I was born (nearly) and I enjoy being happy and doing pleasurable things. I counsel friends who are down, have a playful sense of humour, have taken care of my family and husband when they weren’t well and take pleasure in finding perfect gifts for everyone in my life for special occasions or “just because.” I give a lot, probably more than is healthy for me.
I have 3 pockets. I stuff each pocket with things that I don’t need or want while I’m enjoying life and happiness. My first pocket is close to my heart and holds the sadness of losing my father, the second pocket holds my worries… for everything and the final pocket holds my fears.. fears of health and fears of future.
The moment that I walk through my front door after a relaxing and enjoyable vacation or fun event, it’s there again. Me, the “me” that I tucked away in those 3 little pockets. The me that has been struggling “inside” with trauma that has taken over my persona.
My outside (public self) stays positive, optimistic and playful. Nobody realises, I am a great actress and my smile hides a lot of stories.
Cities, love them or hate them they are all so different, as I learned during a spring trip to ” Le Gai Paree”.
My expectations were limited and included of course the famous tower and museums but to be perfectly honest, Paris was never at the top of my list for places to visit. In my mind I essentially envisioned the Eiffel tower as a steel structure plunked in the centre of the city and swarming with tourists, surrounded by the typical street cafe’s where you can watch the world go by. I was so wrong and my new love for this wonderful European city will be captured in a flattering and emotional review.
My visit was sparked by visiting my brother who was vacationing from the states. This was a long-awaited one-to-one period of quality time with big bro, which hadn’t occurred between us since I was about 8! He booked a quaint little apartment near the Bastille area, which suited us and housed many local trinkets inside from the owner who lovingly decorated it, plus a balcony to enjoy a glass of wine and of course local cheese! Nothing too fancy, just comfort and basic necessities.
Our first day out was visiting Notre Dame and that first day became so much more, that my feet are still recovering. (more on the power of Notre Dame in a moment) Who could resist 80 degree weather and the new spring blossoms in their amazing Tuileries?! I imagined myself basking in the sun during lunch hour, just like the locals…I was jealous of this luxury and my hope is that they don’t take it for granted. There are gardens everywhere and provide a much-needed rest when exploring.
From the moment we walked out of our apartment door, it was love at first site for me and I was on a mission to explore and inhale every nook and cranny of this friendly and beautiful city. (as suggested by a friend and writer who adores France) We couldn’t resist a coffee on the way to our next destination from a cafe called “Esmerelda” could we?
Walking along the Seine river in the sunshine and watching locals enjoy time at a leisurely pace was unusual but fabulous! Cities are supposed to be fast paced, but the beauty and feeling of love in spring was magnetic. Street artists galore with memorabilia,delicately painted landscapes and a friendly “bonjour.” Next stop, the famous “Louvre” Tuileries and people watching followed by Pont De Le Arts and Pont De Le Concorde (an adult playground of sorts along the river Seine pathway) Ping Pong anyone? Day one was a full one and it didn’t stop here! Eiffel tower……calling all tourists….. it’s the big one now! Steel towered structure with great fame… not at the top of my list but WOW.. I never expected to see what I saw..(am I teetering?) sorry couldn’t resist.
The Tower is surrounded by a lovely landscaped park with perfectly placed wooden benches that ask to be sat on.. small gardens appear in a corner near the tower, which by the way has a small pond underneath it! Locals take advantage of this outdoor space by jogging, cycling or just reading a book under a leafy tree.
The lights, the language, inspiring art, the happy gatherings with picnics and wine along the Seine, lovers celebrating their marriage on the bridges… all of this made my heart and soul swell with joy.
My brother used his french daily and locals were appreciative, patient and very friendly. Before emigrating to the UK, I never imagined that I would visit so many wonderful places and my father would be very happy knowing that I was enjoying exploring the world.
In fact, he was there with me during my second visit to Notre Dame. I’m not a religious person, but the beauty and peace as I stood inside admiring the sun gazing through arches of stained glass was awe-inspiring. As I started to follow my brother whilst he was capturing this beauty on film, I walked by a display of candles that you would typically light and say a prayer or remember a loved one. I kept walking, but something pulled me back… I thought of my father and stood there for a moment and decided to choose a candle just for him. I lit the candle and thought to myself, “Dad, I will take you with me on my travels from here on in and this one is for you and I love and miss you.” I placed his candle in the centre, because anyone that knew my Dad knew that he loved being the centre of attention, especially in the later years.
So there you have it, Paris has the power to bring out love in many forms…beauty, art, lovers and unconditional love found with family and memories.
Hello readers! I was contemplating writing another business related article and then I thought… Nah, I’ll write something that everyone can relate to.
I’d like to add that the tips I’ll be sharing with you is not rocket science and as an added bonus, its environmentally friendly too!
Tip 1) Save your suds- Instead of rinsing out your shower gel, shampoo or bubble bath bottle’s when it still has some product left, use it to clean your hand wash only items. (your clothes will have your favourite scent and at the same time you’ll be saving money by not purchasing a separate hand wash liquid)
Tip 2) Plastic fantastic- What about those plastic bags you get from the supermarket for your fruit and veg? You throw them out right? DON’T…. use them instead to wrap your lunch sandwiches or to protect certain leaky items from spoiling your clean fridge. (saves you from buying special sandwich bags and wasting your cleaning liquids to remedy spills you could have prevented.)
Tip 3) Walk this way- Light coloured canvas trainer’s.. we all have them and the moment they get muddy or stained they end up in the trash. A little loving care will add a few more months to their delicate life. Pre-treat them with your normal laundry soap and machine wash them by placing them in a pillow case with other items such as; towel’s or bath mats. Once they are dry they will be clean, fresh and ready to enjoy again!
Tip 4) Fill-er-up- Travelling? Looking for travel- sized toiletries? No need to buy special mini brand shampoo’s, shower gel’s etc for nearly the same price as a full size bottle. Save those little bottles from Christmas gift sets OR if you’ve already used the gift set items, rinse and save the bottles, which can be re-filled with your products. (saves buying expensive convenience products and those little travel set bottles that are impossible to fill)
Tip 5) Shine a light on me- Okay so I was saving the semi-festive tip for last…the holidays… wonderful as they are, many of us go all out when decorating our front windows to try to out sparkle our neighbours. The problem is, as it gets colder and we draw our curtains to keep the draft out we realise that our windows get neglected and that includes cleaning them regularly. Time to clean the windows! But what will you use that doesn’t leave particles of paper towel dust behind? Your local newspaper will do the trick! I’m sure this is not “news to you”, but think about it… in the age of recycling instead of throwing paper towels (money) away, you can put your window cleaning used news in the recycling bin.
Estimated savings for items used per month based on my own calculations = £11.70 Feel free to convert to your own currency 🙂
Personally, I could use the savings for almost 4 round-trip journey’s through the tunnel or treat myself and my husband to a take out meal on a Friday night!
So there you have it.. 5 money-saving environmentally friendly helpful tips from me
My morning commute to work is pretty much the same every day, but today I decided to observe people behaviour instead of checking my Twitter account for updates. I scanned the area in front of me and found many similarities and many differences.
In the distance, a well dressed man was crying and I couldn’t help but watch carefully to make sure he was okay. Did anyone else notice this? Probably not… because most of us “tune out”. Tuning out is a skill I think.. some of us just stare straight ahead into nothingness and focus so hard on nothing, which makes us feel invisible I suppose. Others “plug-in” to devices to drown out the travel noise and to avoid interacting. A small percentage of us chatter to the person we’re travelling with and the rest us either read a book, paper or engage in a phone conversation for business or personal reasons.
I also noticed a guy smiling and talking to himself, but was he talking to himself or someone who wasn’t visible to me? What was going through his mind I wondered? Was he lonely, confused, lost? At the end of the day, my observations disturbed me because there were far more people tuning out than in.
Remember the guy I mentioned who was crying? I wondered what happened and thought to myself, would anyone muster up enough courage to ask if he was okay? I didn’t and It bothered me.
The point is… how many of us engage with people in a public but non-social environment? Do we help an older person when they’re struggling to lift a suitcase into the hold section? Do we say good morning or hello to the person we’re seated next to or in front of us? How about offering the paper you’ve just read to a stranger? In most cases… we stare straight ahead and “tune out”.
I don’t want to tune out… I want to tune in! Tuning in is even harder to do these days. How can we as a society learn how to do this again, after we’ve been reconditioned by technology and modern behaviours?
We share this world with one another after all… we are thinking, feeling, responsive people… Let’s try to tune into the world just for one day and see what happens.