Well it appears that things are starting to settle out a little with blogger and my email. After not being able to comment on other peoples' blogs, and having emails lost in cyberspace (yet again!), I seem to be back on track.
It's a bit unnerving to have story assignments and images lost without a trace, but thank goodness for understanding people and email forwarding so that you can show that you really DID try to send things on time.
To all of you who have been so kind to comment and send me emails without a reply, I want to say thank you, and I'm sorry my messages back were often never received.
After a bit, I just kind of gave up and turned my attention to other things, like trying to bring a little life back into my house after putting away all of the holiday decor.
This year cleaning up after Christmas was pretty easy, and I wasn't really tired of looking at anything since we had only put most of it out on the 21st of December...including our tree. I also used a lot of natural elements this year, like big magnolia branches, cypress, and pine, so clean up was a bit of a breeze really, but I am glad everything is safely tucked away for another year.
I used to dread putting away Christmas and that "empty" house feeling that came with the lack of decor, but now I find it invigorating. I feel as though my family room has doubled in size now that the big huge tree is gone, and a sofa table that used to be in there will now reside in our son's old bedroom since I'm liking the pared down look of it being gone.
The one thing I do miss though are all of the greens. Having something living, even if it was going to die eventually made me feel like nature was alive and well, and I like that. So I started to force some hyacinth bulbs in an attempt to remind myself that before I know it spring will be upon us.
Because my kitchen window sill only gets light for a few hours each morning, I have placed the blubs on a silver serving tray so that I can move them around the house to take advantage of the light in other rooms throughout the day.
They looked a little lonely on the tray by themselves, so I added some of the many postcards I picked up at various flea markets while in Paris last month. I intentionally selected the floral ones for their pretty pictures and punch of color.
I think I'm craving personal growth right now as well, and it's something that hit me while riding the metro the first day I ventured out on my own in France.
I've always been adventurous in some ways, never afraid to go places on my own, or worried that I will get lost. I'm a people person in every sense of the word, so I know that I can always stop someone to ask for directions...and I have to say that both Parisians and non Parisians alike were more than helpful, they were kind beyond measure whenever I had a question.
But as I ventured down through the winding hallways of the metro I was suddenly a bit self conscious. I worried that I didn't look quite metropolitan enough, or up to the standards of such a chic city. It's my Achilles heel really, to worry about how I look, or how others will perceive me based on my looks, which is why you almost never see pictures of me on this blog.
Now don't think that it kept me from venturing far and wide, but that nagging little voice in the back of my head has always been there, and on that day it was chirping a little loudly. Just as I was fidgeting and telling myself that I was lucky to be there and that I really should think of something WAY more important than if my shoes were up to snuff, an elderly man and his son got on the train.
They both clung to a pole in the middle of the somewhat crowded train car and I quickly realized that his son, who was close to my age, had some disabilities that likely prevented him from traveling and living on his own.
I began to think what daily life must be like in a city such as Paris for someone with disabilities. There are stairs, crowds, swaying metro cars, confusing interchanges, and everything that comes with living in a major metropolitan city...and the thought of trying to navigate that, or worse yet the worry of being your child's only guide as you age must be terrifying.
Yet there they were, father and I assume son, riding along, smiling, chatting, and taking it all in stride. Not worried if their scarves were fashionable, or if anyone was watching them, because for them, being stared at and judged is an every day occurrence.
That set the tone for the rest of my visit around Paris on my own. I vowed right then and there to stop holding myself back from living life and instead to choose to grow as a person, and to drink up every single moment of being there.
I quit worrying if my images would be saleable, or if anyone would even like them. That I would snap photos when the sun wasn't just right, or if I thought it would be too dark for them to turn out. I just lived, and embraced the beauty around me, instead of focusing on my own beauty or lack thereof.
I was changed that day, in a way that maybe someone else would have missed, and it has carried through to this very minute, and I truly hope it never goes away...this feeling of wanting to grow, learning to accept, and enjoying what really matters in life. So when I say that I love France, and I gush about every morsel of food we ate, or wandering down narrow streets, and show way too many pictures that I took, please know that for me it is more than a city...for me it was a place where I grew a little and expanded more than my photo catalog!
Have you had a growth moment of your own...I would love to hear all about it!