Photo for Thought (from Paris)

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You know those moments....the ones that quite literally take your breath away? Like, in the very best way? The moments you are certain you won't ever forget. The ones that are etched in your mind and your heart so vividly and sweetly? The moments that surprise you and catch you off guard and stop you in your tracks? 

Have you had any of those moments lately?

I sure have. 

I recently traveled to Europe. It was my 30th (belated) birthday present to myself. I had never been but had always wanted to go. Luckily I have some friends doing life on the other side of the pond and so it all just sort of fell into place. 

{an excerpt from my journal en route from Switzerland to Madrid}

"I left my pajamas in Paris. Well, actually in a quaint little town about 4o minutes outside of Paris, but still. 
This trip felt so far away for so long and then all of a sudden it was here--and I'm here--on the other side of the ocean like I've always dreamed at nearly 30.5 years old. Seeing friends and going on grand adventures and soaking up culture and collecting life experiences. 
I walked almost 39,000 steps in one day of Paris and who even knows how many the next (since I killed my Fitbit with day one.) I saw Paris in the springtime from corner to corner. Quite literally. From Bastille to the Eifel Tower and back. We just walked and wandered with no real agenda, just open minds and open hearts. We just stumbled upon Paris pieces and magic as we walked along with crepes and macaroons following the Seine. 
It was every bit as magical and inspiring as I always imagined it to be. It captured me and took my breath way so many times. It is just as it's always pictured---old and historical and classic and fancy and grand and artistic. There's this magic and loveliness that sort of hovers around it. It's busy and it's fast but it's also somewhere that time slows down and it sort of just takes you for a stroll. It's bright and edgy but soft and romantic at the same time. 

I ate macaroons that tasted like a fresh French boquete and filled my mouth with floral in the most delightful way; vilot and rose and lavender.  I wore stripes and ate avocado toast in the Latin Quarter (I was so wrong about what that even meant for the record) and navigated the Paris underground like a local--mostly. 

years ago my bedroom full of Paris dreams. Light switches and lamps and tiny figurines. Paris somehow in my heart and eyes before I even knew her. Long before. But I always knew I wanted to know her. I think she has that effect. One little glimpse of her sparkle--even from afar--and you can't get it out of your system. Not until you find her. 

And now I'm back in the clouds. Flying into the Spanish sun to Madrid. My journal pages splattered with Swiss chocolate."

You go to Paris to see the Eifel Tower. Everyone knows that. I mean you go to see other things too, but it's obvious that she's the main attraction. We got off the train and decided to just forget the map and walk until we found her towering in the sunshine above the city. It took much longer than we expected and a few wrong turns. We saw a lot of Paris in pursuit of her. Just when we thought we were nearly there, we would lose her sillouhete in the skyline yet again. 

And then she surprised us. We turned down a quiet little street a few blocks off of the main road and away from the river quite sure we were lost once more. And there she was--just peeking out at us in the loveliest and simplest way. We didn't approach from the main entrance or the touristy gates, just from a tiny little rue off the beaten path. And I wouldn't have had it any other way. I just stopped--frozen--my neck straining backwards to take it all in. The height and the detail and the blue sky background. The sunshine sparkle all over her. I snapped a photo in exactly that spot and that state of mind. I didn't move to get the building out of the shot or to get a focused, straight on shot. I wanted to capture it just as I had seen it--mostly how I had felt it in that moment. The peeking, the surprise, the perfection of it. The way I knew it was etched in my mind and my heart. 

Here's the truth. You don't have to be in Paris or Madrid or even on the other side of the world to have these moments. Not in the slightest. They are all around, I think more often than not, in the everyday ordinary just waiting to be discovered. And while I love having them in Paris, I sort of love them more in my own neighborhood--the way they lighten and brighten up the most mundane days. It only takes open eyes and hearts and minds to see them and to let them take our breath away and to capture us. 

The truth is that it's easy to be looking for them when we're in Paris or Madrid. It's trickier to keep those open eyes and hearts and minds when life is chaotic and routine and mundane and we are just scurrying and hurrying through. But that's when we need them the most. To remind us that life is indeed very beautiful and it's just waiting to capture us and to take our breath away! So let go of the map sometimes and just go for a wander. Eat the cookie, buy the coffee, follow the river, and wait for life to peek out at you in the sweetest ways <3

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