I have a dream

The France Project ~ Dreaming My Dreams in French!

I have a dream.

I’ve had this dream for quite some time now.

My dream is to live in France for a minimum of 6 months, but would prefer a year if I can swing it.

I’ve had a love affair with France ever since the first time I visited, back in 1996. I’ve been back a few times and each time I love it all the more.  I enjoy the people, relish the culture and feel more artistic when I’m there.

I have set a goal: Move to France by March 2013.

This may seem like a long time off, but I think it’s realistic. There is a few things I need to do to prepare for the move.

First, I need to brush up on my French. (Hello Rosetta Stone!)

Second, I need to figure out how to finance this 6 month to 1 year sabbatical. (PayPal donations?!? – LOL)

Third, research and work out the details of the move, i.e., extended stay visa, a place to live, part-time work, etc., etc.

Fourth, put my belongings in storage and get on the plane!

I’m sure I will add to this list along the way, as I learn more about making an International move, but for now it’s a starting point. If you have any experiences you’d like to share, suggestions or advice, I’d love to hear (read) it.  I will be documenting my journey as I prepare for and embark upon this new adventure; for all the details and updates, please see my new blog The France Project at: http://thefranceproject.wordpress.com/

Until next time, Merci and au revoir !

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Got a case of the Mondays? Play This…

Monday evokes different feelings for different people. But for many, Monday is the most dreaded day of the week. Some Mondays (especially Monday mornings) can be hectic and you may have a difficult time getting back into the rhythm of your work/school routine, especially after a weekend of staying up late and sleeping in. 

Many cartoons have been made about hating Mondays; in fact, in the Garfield comics and shows, the title character hates Mondays, and is frequently harmed during them.

 

In the film Office Space (1999), character Nina says to Peter “sounds like someone’s got a case of the Mondays” suggesting Peter is not having a good day.

For others, Monday might stir warm and fuzzy feelings upon the reflection on a wonderful weekend spent with someone you love (or are beginning to love), and make you long to see them again.

In the spirit of Music Monday, I dedicate this “Monday” playlist to all of you who are muddling through your Monday.

Hey Monday, Stafford
Goodbye Blue Monday, Jeremy Fisher
Monday, ALO (Animal Liberation Orchestra)
Monday, Monday
, The Mamas and The Papas
(They Call it) Stormy Monday, Les McCann, LTD., & Lou Rawls
Come Monday, Jimmy Buffett
New Moon on Monday, Duran Duran
Monday, Wilco
Monday Morning, Death Cab for Cutie
Blue Monday, New Order
Long Monday, John Prine
Monday Morning, Fleetwood Mac
Stormy Monday Blues, Long John Baldry
Manic Monday, The Bangles
Monday, Monday, Monday, Tegan and Sarah
Happy Monday, Melissa Reyes
I don’t Like Mondays, The Boomtown Rats
Except for Monday, Lori Morgan
Blue Monday, Johnny Lee
Rainy Days and Mondays, The Carpenters
Come Next Monday, K.T. Oslin
Permanent Monday, Jordan Sparks
Every Monday, Marvelous 3
Weekend in New England, Barry Manilow

Midnight In Paris – Just What the Doctor Ordered

Theatrical release poster

Yesterday afternoon my sister and I met up to see Woody Allen’s latest film. I hadn’t even seen a trailer, but a friend who knows of my love affair with Paris recommended the film. I only had to hear the name “Midnight in Paris” to know there was no doubt I’d see this movie – even though I’m not usually a huge Woody Allen fan.

For me, the movie was exactly what I needed on a hot summer’s afternoon. It’s a charming story about a Hollywood screenwriter, aspiring to publish his first novel, all the while wishing he lived in another time and place – the Golden Age in Paris.

This whimsical story had everything I loved; it was set in Paris, it brought to life some of my favorite writers, artists and musicians, and many scenes take place in the 1920’s.

I audibly sighed as the cinematographer highlighted one Paris attraction after the next; laughed aloud at many of the witty lines; and cringed at the negative dialogue of the supporting characters who weren’t so intrigued with Paris.  Like the main character Gil, I also love Paris at night, with all the monuments lit up perfectly, with the special glow that only Paris has. It’s quite apparent that Woody Allen has a love affair with Paris, too.

This movie premiered at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival in May, and stars Owen Wilson, Marion Cotillard, Rachel McAdams, Kathy Bates, Carla Bruni and Adrien Brody. I just found out that the part of Cole Porter was played by French actor Yves Heck, but the voice and piano we hear are actually Conal Fowkes, with the Woody Allen Band. (http://www.davisfowkes.com/)  It was wonderful to hear the sounds of Cole Porter, with such delightful songs as You Do Something To Me, Let’s Do It and You’ve Got That Thing.

I think Tom Long of the Detroit News said it perfectly in his review: “Midnight in Paris is a loving embrace of the city, of art and of life itself.”

I give it 5 Red Stilettos!

Couch to 5K: Week 2 Day 1

“Ouch” is the word of the day for Week 2 Day 1.

Yesterday I started Week 2 of my 5K training program – using the Running Mate Media podcast as my coach. Again, following a 5-minute walking warm up, I started my first jogging period. However, in Week 2 the program increases the jogging/running time from 2 minutes to 2.5 minutes, and decreases the walking time from 3 minutes to 2.5 minutes.  You wouldn’t think that would make that big of a difference, but let me tell you – it does!

By the 2nd jogging interval, my calf muscles were really tightening up and starting to hurt. With the encouragement of the coach telling me I only hade one minute left in this segment I tried to keep jogging, but soon the pain was so strong that I had to stop and stretch for a minute or two in order to continue. I wasn’t sure I was going to make it through the next jogging interval; but I persisted and thought, perhaps if I increase my stride a bit  it might help the muscle ache. It seems counter intuitive, but it actually helped. My pain went away, I was running faster and I was able to finished the full 30 minute session.

Increasing the amount of time running also increased my distance from 1 mile (week 1) to 1.5 miles, in basically the same amount of time (in week 1 the program is 27 minutes).

I stretched more when I returned home and drank a lot water the rest of the day –  two pieces of advice I received from a friend who regularly runs half and full marathons.

I felt fantastic the rest of the day – I was in a great mood and I had a ton of energy.  I’m really loving this program!  Thanks 5K101.com !!

Couch to 5K: Week 1 Complete, 7 more to go!

I am happy to say I just completed week one of my 5K training, thanks to the help of Todd and his 5K101 podcast. (http://runningmatemedia.com/)

I definitely see improvement in my stamina in just one week; and I’m looking forward to starting week 2 of the program this weekend!

Another really great thing about this program is their Facebook fan page. People at all stages of the program (including new runners like me) post their progress updates, and leave encouraging comments to each other. Some people ask for feedback on challenges they might be having, and other comment back with good suggestions. It’s a terrific fan page! You should check it out: http://www.facebook.com/5K101

For Adam: We Will Remember You

Adam Steinbach August 13, 1981 - May 31, 2011

It’s been a rough couple of weeks. On Tuesday, May 31st shortly after 11:00pm my friend, Adam Steinbach was killed, and I’ve been in a funk ever since hearing the news the next morning. I’m finding it hard to concentrate on my work or anything else for that matter; and I know many others are going through the same thing, or worse.

I feel very fortunate to have known Adam, and I have many fond memories of the time I was able to spend with him – playing the video game Rock Band, dancing around and singing to “I got a feeling” by The Black Eyed Peas, playing darts or just hanging out and talking about life.

I feel terrible for Adam’s family, for his girlfriend Lori, and for all the friends (including me) who will miss his amazing smile and amusing demeanor. Adam always greeted me with a smile and a hug, and said how great it was to see me – every time we saw each other – no matter if it had been two days, two weeks or two months. Adam seemed to want to make sure that people were having a good time… no matter what he was going through.

On Friday, a few days after Adam died, Mike (a long-time friend of Adam’s) and I went to visit the site where Adam died. We layed some flowers down for him and then Mike went around to speak with some of the people who live in the area, to try to get more information about what happened.

Later that afternoon we went to visit our friend Lori, Adam’s girlfriend. We all shared stories about the times spent with Adam. We laughed, we cried, and there were many hugs. We downloaded songs by Cold Play for the funeral, because that was Adam’s favorite band. It’s so strange to think we had all just spent an amazing day together at a Memorial Day weekend BBQ on Sunday, just two days before he died – and now he was gone.

The funeral was on Monday, a week ago. It was eerie walking into the church knowing this was for Adam. The auditorium was filled with heartbroken family members and friends trying to make sense of this tragedy. We all sat there wiping tears away as the Minister gave the memorial talk trying to bring comfort to all of us mourning this great loss. Then, family members and friends went to the podium to say a few words about this young man taken before his time. Adam was only 29 years old.

It was so difficult to watch as his father, Mike, and his mother, Janet, tried to contain their immense sorrow as they spoke about losing their only son. As a parent myself, I can not even imagine the pain or what they must be going through.

Following the funeral, our group of friends went to a local watering hole, propped a large picture of Adam up on the bar where we were all sitting, and we toasted our friend. The manager let us play the Cold Play CD on the jukebox and we honored Adams memory with drinks, stories, laughs and tears.

This past weekend a group of us went out again to the site of Adam’s death, to visit a memorial that had been built for him.

Memorial to Adam

Lori brought some of the flowers from the funeral that still looked good and we placed them beside the cross that had been erected for him. It appears that other people had been by and had also left flowers and even a stuffed animal. We stood in silence, our heads down, our hearts in pain. Each of us deep in our thoughts, prayers, or silent conversations with Adam. Soon a few passersby stopped and expressed their condolences for our loss. Those of us who hadn’t yet signed the memorial wrote our last words to him on the cross that marked the place Adam took his last breath.

The most difficult part about Adam’s death is that he was murdered. Adam was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Detectives believe Adam was parked on the side of the road sleeping in his truck’s camper because he was between residences at the time. They suspect a man named Dawayne Lawrence tried to burglarize his vehicle, which woke Adam, and a confrontation occurred. During the altercation, Lawrence (allegedly) stabbed Adam multiple times, and then left him to die. A man who was riding by noticed Adam lying there. He called 911; then sat with Adam and held his hand until Adam took his last breath. The ambulance and police arrived soon thereafter.

The District Attorney’s Office filed charges against Lawrence on June 14 and he was charged with murder. It brings a little comfort to know that they have arrested someone for this heinous crime, but it doesn’t bring back our friend, or Mike and Janet’s dear son.

Adam and me at Pop's in the Park, June 2010

Adam we love you and miss you. We will always remember you!

5K Training – Week One

I had planned to start this program over a week ago, but some obstacles in my personal life made it impossible; so Saturday morning was day one of my 8 week Couch to 5K training program.

I got a good nights sleep Friday night which made it easier to get out of bed at a decent time.  I drank a cup of coffee to assist in the wake up process, donned  my running shoes, ear buds and iPhone and set out for my first training session. (You can find this Running Mate Fitness program/podcast at www.5K101.com or download it from iTunes – it’s free!)

I started the podcast as I started walking and immediately heard the sounds of motivating music and then the coach came on to talk me through the next 27 minutes.

The program starts off with a 5 minute warm up walk and then takes you into a series of 2 minute jogs and 3 minute brisk walks for the next 20 minutes or so, then concludes with a 5 minute walk/cooling off period.  The coach is there in the background every few minutes letting you know when you are at the half way point of each segment; I found this encouraging and it really helped keep me going. In addition, the up beat music helps keep you at a good pace as you walk and jog.

I am fortunate to live near a great park that has a running/walking  trail around the perimeter and many people utilize it to keep fit. As I walked and jogged along the path, I noticed people at all fitness levels out on this gorgeous summer morning doing something to get or keep fit.  The usual Saturday morning Yoga group began arriving, and with their mats and water bottles in hand, they arranged themselves on the grass and began their routine.

As I passed the tennis center there wasn’t an empty court to be found. In fact there appeared to be a group of people waiting for courts to open up.

And of course the trail was packed with other walkers, joggers and runners getting their dose of fitness – first thing in the morning.

All these active people out early on a Saturday morning made me feel invigorated!  Even though this first training session was only about 27 minutes, I felt like I got a good workout.  The coach instructs you at the end of the session to repeat this  podcast at least three more times this week, before moving on to Week 2. I must say, I can’t wait until my next training session!