Lake Barkley: End of Year Reflection

I love the line between the old and the new, so much so that New Year's Eve is my favorite holiday. This time of year, without fail, I begin to crave reflection. What did I love about the past eleven months? What did I learn? What did I accomplish that I'd hoped to? What is still on the list? And with reflection comes looking forward as well. What do I hope to achieve next year? What actions will I take to make it happen? What will I let go of? Where will I go? What will I create? 

It's easiest to focus on answering such thoughtful questions when not distracted by the to do, to clean, to call lists that we live with every day, so an escape is necessary. Last weekend I headed up to Lake Barkley for about 48 hours, but you don't even have to travel. Consider an afternoon at a coffee shop you don't normally hang out in, sans laptop, as a simpler option. Here are some questions to answer during your escape:

  • What will my life look like in one year? (Describe one ideal day in as much detail as possible.) Follow your description by listing goal-related things that jump out at you from what you've written, like waking up earlier, having a new project at work or a new job or career, living somewhere different, buying a home, mid-day workouts, growing vegetables, etc. 
  • Where will I travel? 
  • What are the big things I will accomplish? 
  • What are the small daily habits I will master?
  • What will I learn more about or learn how to do? 
  • Come up with any other list categories that suit you, maybe people to know, or events to attend, or things to save money for.

Let me know what you learn about yourself! Does anything come up that surprises you? What's your biggest goal? 

Here are some pics from my time away at the lake. Happy reflecting!

A D V E N T U R E | travel guide to Paris, part quatre

Vendredi - jolie choses

There was very little left on my list of things to see, which made knowing where to go pretty simple. I took the metro to Opéra and circled the Palais Garnier (The Opera House). This is where the ballet performs, which makes it an especially magical place for me. On my next visit I must see the Paris Opera Ballet and of course see the inside of the building. I did pop into the gift shop  to see what pretty things they had.

Then I walked just a few blocks to the Musée du Parfum, perfumeur Fragonard's collection of perfume bottles and trivia from centuries past. This was one of the coolest things I did all week! They paired me with my own guide who spoke English (my French isn't good enough to discuss history and chemistry) and to tour the museum is free. Win-win! I learned about the long, slender bottles women would put down the front of their corsets in the days before handbags, about how the placement of a beauty mark could signal to a man your intentions ("one here" my guide pointed to her face "meant a kiss on the lips is ok, or one here" she pointed again "would say 'I'm busy tonight but not tomorrow.'"), and about how perfume is made. 

Next I stopped by Chanel to drool over the watches, and imagine my surprise when on my way out they handed me a shopping bag.  I knew there wouldn't be a watch in it, but I walked a few blocks before hungrily peeking to see what I'd been gifted: perfume and a catalog. Wondering if my stroke of luck would last, I stopped into Hermes and asked if I could visit the fabled rooftop garden, but was denied as it's private for the family. I did at least, in asking, confirm its existence!   I have yet to do that for the lake under the Opera House. My shopping continued in the prettiest gourmet mustard shop, a second Ladurée location for more macarons, and Monoprix to pick up some treats for a picnic - cheese, crackers, and wine - which I took on the metro to the Luxembourg Gardens where I ate in the grass and watched the kids sail boats in the water. 

It was my last evening in Paris, and my friend whose flat I was staying in invited me out for Spritz and frites (translation: an Italian cocktail that's all the rage in Paris this summer, and fries) with some friends of hers from work. I watched the sun set from the café chairs outside while I sipped my Spritz and dipped my frites in mayonnaise (when in Paris?). Then my friend and I walked to the canal and sat along the water.

Samedi - le fin

Luckily my flight didn't leave till 9pm, so I still had part of a day ahead of me. My friend and I went north to Les Puces, the flea market. Here I dug for buried treasure, considering bringing home coffee spoons or a copper pot, wishing I could safely transport a blue tea set, fawning over incredible furniture that one day I'll be able to ship home, and finally settling on a very sparkly bauble for my right hand.

We grabbed lunch in the market at Le Paul Bert, where I tried escargot for the very first time and was surprised to discover that I loved it! One final café au lait, and I was off to gather my things and journey home. 


A D V E N T U R E | travel guide to Paris, part trois

Jeudi - les morts

Big day! I've been waiting to visit Les Catacombes since my last trip, when they were closed. So determined was I, I waited in line for something like 3 hours. Luckily there was a couple standing with me who were traveling from America and were a delight to talk with. (Jack and Jane - if you're reading this, email me about the bicycle trip!). Finally, we descended into the caves beneath the streets of Paris. I had heard all about the catacombs and even seen As Above, So Below, and yet it was nothing like I had imaged it. Six million bodies is a lot of bones. I'm still not sure how to put the experience into words. When it comes to history, this is the kind of thing worth studying. I tried to read the inscriptions on the wall and though with most could only pick out some words, there was one I understood completely: Sometimes it is better to be dead that alive.

So hungry after my long wait and the walk through the caves, I grabbed a croissant au chocolate for a snack and headed to find Shakespeare & Co, which a writer friend had told me was the best bookstore in the world. The place does have a sense of magic!

Last stop for he day, I relaxed at Pamela Popo for a glass of wine (ok, two) and some tapas. This place is so cute, and so are the men there. I had to sneak a picture to show you. Noticing their helmets, I spoke to them in broken french about the motorcycle garage I'd been looking for on the Seine. They either weren't interested in chatting about it, or didn't understand me. Maybe they're scooter riders.


A D V E N T U R E | travel guide to Paris, part deux

Mercredi - J'erre

I woke up again not sure in which direction to start my day, but while catching up on emails and things I noticed that it was couture week in Paris. A little fashion sleuthing helped me discover that the Chanel show was happening at Le Grand Palais, so my compass pointed there. I circled the building and watched the paparazzi accost several of the models as they came out of the building. (I did not see Rosie Huntington Whitley nor was I mistaken for her, probably because I'm 5'4".) Oh, and on the way, I trotted past the Louvre. 

From there I hopped the metro to Montmartre, where I let myself wander (see this post all about it!), watched the painters, enjoyed lunch in a café on the square, enjoyed the view from Sacre Coeur, and toured the Musée de Montmartre

After a break at the flat, I went to see the love locks bridge (which has many less locks now because the weight was causing the bridge to fall into the city) and to dinner at Loup (translation: wolf). What a cool looking place! The servers were wonderful and the food was incredible. If you're in Paris, make this a must-go for dinner. 

I had le burger


A D V E N T U R E | travel guide to Paris, part un

“Et si on se promenait à Paris." Translation: And what if we walked around Paris?

Lundi - Je suis arrivé!

I actually slept on the plane, thank goodness, then arrived in the afternoon and navigated myself from the airport to the metro and from the metro station to my friend's flat. I grabbed a rosé and a croque monsoir at the café downstairs and got settled in. 

Mardi - le chemin 

I woke up nervous about being in a place alone with no sense of direction here. There's very little of Paris that I know my way around, and it's been over five years since my last visit. So to ease my fears a little I started my day with what was familiar. I took the metro to Cité (the stop nearest Notre Dame which is right near "point zero," the center of the city) and challenged myself to find my hôtel from last time by memory, which I did! I also got a Starbucks (parce que je suis moi) and felt my confidence becoming more restored. 

From there I set out in search of some of the things on my list that were in the area: Ladurée for macarons and gifts, then lunch at 13 - A Baker's Dozen, which is a tiny little spot hidden off a corridor away from the street that's owned by an expat from South Carolina. I ordered wine ("surprise me" I said and they brought me rosé - so they're mind readers) and the chicken and mushroom pie. When the plate arrived it smelled so good I legitimately almost cried. Laurel, the owner, came to sit and chat with me and made me eat with my hands (something I don't usually prefer to do) so that I could break off pieces of the pie crust and dip it in the filling. Somehow it tasted even better that way!

(Want to see all the pics? Wait till the end of the post!) 

I walked off my lunch along the Seine, observing the house boats and dreaming of living on one while I looked for a little hidden motorcycle garage I had heard about. I found the door, but alas it was closed at the moment. My walk continued on to La Tour Eiffel and des Invalides before I called it a day. 

See all of the pictures from PARIS - PART ONE,
and come back each day this week for all the travel guide posts!

I N N E R | wandering Montmartre

In lieu of today's Sunday Paper, I'm sharing some thoughts from my week in Paris. Coming up throughout the week will be all the pictures and travel guides!

When I was in the forth grade or so, we learned to diagram sentences. It's one of my favorite things I've ever learned in school, which I'm aware makes me a weirdo. It's because every word had a purpose and a place, and you could map it right there in front of you. That became a sort of theme to my life. For the most part my decisions, my time, and even the things in my home all have a purpose and a place, and I could map it if you wanted me to. I don't wander. I destine. 

Wednesday, July 8. I'm writing this from Paris. Last Friday around lunchtime, I booked a flight completely on a whim, and less than 24 hours later I was on the first of three planes to get here. From the very onset, this trip has been a lesson in living outside of comfort zones, for although I love adventure and even challenges, I prefer calculated ones that I have time to prepare for. 

Today things went to a whole new level. I got off the metro at Montmartre and started walking. Just walking. I wasn't sure what I intended to find first from my mental list of things-to-see there, and in fact, I wasn't even looking for any of those things to begin with. I just wanted to... see... whatever there was to see. My inner sentence-diagrammer argued with me about using time efficiently and the dangers of being lost, but as I turned onto a quiet, tourist-less street and the thrill of embracing the unknown tickled me like a mild electric shock, she shut up quick.

A side street cut out from my side-street and I could see that it was a dead end. I turned down it, to see what there was to see. French Kimberly, I thought to myself, is very different than regular Kimberly. The houses were beautiful! In the prettiest colors, with vines growing on them and curtains in their big windows and little gates out front. I took pictures. 


This feeling, I told myself, is what I need to return to when things go off the grid in my life. When there's a situation I can't control, when an outcome is unknown, I want to recall this feeling of thrill mixed with calm. This chaotic confidence that what I may discover on dead end streets matters more than getting to a pre-determined destination on time. Or at all.

I think the best moment at all was when my quiet street came right out to the back side of the place du tertre, the square where artists sit and paint. It was just where I had wanted to eventually end up, though I got there from the opposite direction.

Il est vrai , je suppose: Pas tous ceux qui errent sont perdus.
(It's true, I suppose: Not all who wander are lost.)

Want more from my Paris trip?
I'll post a different part of my travel guide complete with pictures every day this week! 

 French Kimberly on Montmartre. 

French Kimberly on Montmartre.