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Le Calendrier Arrive!

Just in time for the holidays, a new calendar with 14 images of the beloved
Dordogne region. Check this out at www.mindonfrance.com

And watch this space for new programs and new musings on
living in a different language.

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Coming Your Way- In the Lot!

Well, there surely is a lot of controversy and drama with this year’s
Tour de France. I am not going to comment on the specifics, but instead
remind you all that biking in France is a spectacular experience, no
matter what your speed. At this moment, the Tour is reaching into
the Tarn et Garonne area and tomorrow will hit my beloved Perigord,
as the Tour de France heads through Cahor. Take a tv trip and catch
a touch of the countryside and the race on Versus. Note the beauty
of the area- all yours, just a plane trip away. For more information,
look through this site, for photos, check www.mindonfrance.com and
if you want rent, check www.francebarn.com

Happy summer biking and daydreaming!

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A Sign of Weakness

I was just listening to a program on my local public radio station here in Massachusetts.
The program was about women’s health. And one of the not so surprising aspects is that women do not take care of themselves or put themselves first. The reality is that in not doing that, women who have families relying on them put themselves and their loved ones at greater risk because they are at greater risk for issues such as heart attacks. It’s pretty cut and dry. Stress is a killer. Women think they are super human and they are not. Self care is not a crime. Its a virtue that in the end, serves our families and loved ones as much as tending to them directly.

Another aspect to self care which the interviewee noted is perceived as a sign of weakness, is that as an American culture in particular, we see taking vacations as a sign of weakness. When I lived in Minneapolis, I found the work culture to be very strong. One could not get to work early enough, starting sometimes with breakfast meetings as early as 6:30 and 7:30 breakfast meetings often the norm.

My ex and I often took traveling vacations. And often we were almost scorned at our jobs:
“another trip to France?” We made traveling our personal priority, even though we were perceived as snobs. But that was long before our world become so globalized.

Our culture does not reward us for taking care of ourselves. This is one of the things I so
admire about the French culture, the taking time for time, as Polly Platt has often said.

The French are vehement about their time boundaries. Daily, in most areas outside the major cities, lunch is sacred. And the month long vacation in the summer is a birth right, not something to be ashamed of. These are good things! And you can see the joie de vivre when people take time to talk with their neighbors- stopping their cars, not just waving in passing. A five minute relaxed conversation can be a mini vacation.

A vacation is not a crime. It is a restoration. I started meta vacances when I had newly diagnosed high blood pressure as well as undiagnosed low thyroid. I was dragging through my life and wondering if I was depressed. Then I went to France for the very first time for a whole month, because I was exhausted from swimming up stream. And I was really scared. I had never had any health issues before and here I was, 54 with high blood pressure. I started to seriously meditate and walk to my heart’s content with my new puppy. I felt different. I could feel the changes in me. And I saw that with self care, I was able, within a few months, to lower my blood pressure medicine. This was profound. This was revelation.

One night at the end of the month, just at dusk, I stood looking over my little valley and realized how far I had come. I had made a difference in my life. I was finally, after 5 years, making positive progress after a protacted and difficult divorce. I looked out into the sunset and said to myself, “look how far you have come, look what you have done all on your own”.

And it came to me that perhaps I could empower and encourage other women to do the same. I had never traveled on my own before and here I was- taking a vacation and having an ephiphany that perhaps I could create a safe haven for women to do the same.

And so meta vacances was born.

Now, each time I go to France to work on the workshops or the photo site, I make sure I have some vacation time. Whether its an hour walk after lunch by the river or sitting for a good hour outside at sunset, just staring and watching the clouds roll by, I take a vacation- however mini, and it is not a sign of laziness or weakness, its a sign of self love and personal strength.

I have taken the challenge to make a difference in my life. Think about making a difference in your own. Make yourself number one, and everyone else will benefit from the result as well.

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A Little Dessert

For a taste of something new, visit www.mindonfrance.com and check out the new series I have been working on called Winter Idylls. The Oxford English Dictionary defines an idyll as a short poem or piece of writing describing a picturesque scene or incident from countrylife.

Check out the little Trife I have created – both in the English dessert sense or its other
meaning, a little something of no particular importance. Don’t you just love these ancient
French marbles?? Enjoy!

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Last Chance Before Christmas

This is a small reminder to invite you to look at our photo site, www.mindonfrance.com.

We are unable at this time to offer any more custom orders but we do have a small group
of prints available and ready to ship within the next 36 hours, first come, first served.

Please visit the “Current” page of the site and you can see a listing of our dwindling inventory.

Owing to the feature in the New York Times, things have been moving rather swiftly out the door!

The coffers will be replenished after the holidays…

And remember, especially as giclee prints, these images make fine gifts for important
occasions such as big birthdays, weddings or anniversaries. The limited edtioned 19thC
interiors are a big favorite with interior designers to finish off a room. The response has
been incredible to them- from hushed wows to “exquisite”

Keep checking back on the site as we will be adding new images from our next visit to France which ties in to the spring metavacanes programs.

Happy Holidays everyone!!

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Visit www.mindonfrance.com

In my previous post, I described what it has felt like to suddenly have one’s private world of travel imagery explode in the New York Times and in cyberspace. This has been quite a fun ride this past week. I am getting such a kick out of the wonderful phone conversations I am having with people who describe the images as “phenomenal”, “breathtaking” and “incredible”, to name just 3!

I invite you to visit the site for yourself and read why I began taking the photos. Then sit back and imagine yourself right there, really right there. Then go back and have another look at our new programs and make yourself a gift to jumpstart the new year with a meta vacance.

Take Marianne Rohrlich’s suggestion in the New York Times and give an unusual gift this holiday season. Please note the ordering deadlines as printed on the “current” page of www.mindonfrance.com.

Have a Happy and Safe Holiday Season!!

Again, our sister site: www.mindonfrance.com

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Secrets Out Of The Box

Its a strange gray end of November day and today, my very private world
of solitary walks in the Dordogne beamed across cyberspace thanks to the
auspices of the New York Times.

With a small but powerful mention in the 30 November House and Home section,
I found myself filling orders for pictures that are my very personal experiences
and feelings.

A woman from Atlanta purchased a photo of my neighbor’s donkey and a rather
scary, forceful looking dog I encountered on a randonee with a group of French people.
The flags that fly on a nearby Mairie will furl in someone’s office or living room.

Views I encounter daily, just down the hill from my house, are now going to be holiday
gifts for people I will never meet. Will they ever be able to feel the sweetness and
serenity that wells up inside me when I walk these paths?

Its odd to think of one’s memories out in the world, on such a mind boggling scale.

Viewed almost 133,000 times, in less than 24 hours, my private world, shaped
by another language, by instant and almost profound memories; these are my secrets,
out of the box.

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Slumber Party, Anyone?

According to the Detroit Free Press on October 22, 2006, slumber parties are in!
Staying at home with friends, snacks, cable, and flicks is becoming a nice way to relate-
Whether you are a teen, a tween OR an adult woman, cozying up at home is the way to go!

How about getting your favorite college roomies. sorority sisters or your younger and
older sibs together and let’s plan a very special time of it, in a magical place. Expand
on the notion of staying at home. Stay at home in France, complete with massage,
hiking, biking, quiet yoga, great organic food, trips to markets, antiquing, you name it.

With a hand picked variety of lovely, special venues in which to hold our workshops, we guarantee you a personalized, custom made trip to the Dorodogne, set in a dreamy home based location. So call your sis or your best friend and let’s start dreaming.

Get out those jammies and get on board!

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Hatching Some Plans II

I am really excited! I continue to have amazing conversations with my teachers
as we brain storm the new workshops for Spring ’07 and Fall ’07. The dates are
still not firmed up yet, so you will just have to sit tight.

I am in awe of my talented and interesting workshop leaders. They know their stuff but more than that, they are fun, low key and great company to spend time with. I am so impressed with each one of them, not only for what she has accomplished, but for whom she is.

Next spring, we will welcome back Karen Arp-Sandel and this date is set:
Saturday April 21- Saturday April 28. Karen’s program is called: Planting Seeds in France-Yoga For Joyful Living, and with what is usually superb weather at this time, we will be practicing in all sorts of wonderful outdoor venues and combining our practice with wonderful activities in the region. Bring your mat, hiking boots, water colors and cameras. And be prepared to laugh.

As mentioned, we do not have dates set yet but the next two programs are progressing. Each has me really jazzed for its fantastic content.

Santi Meunier will be back with What Do French Women Know? This will be
a workshop examining the paradigm shifts between American women and French women; our different takes on body culture, taking leisure time, and making the most of the last 1/3 of our lives. This is guaranteed to create fascinating, lively discussions, so don’t miss it. Santi’s list of accomplishments is more than impressive: author, Phd, coach, PLUS, she’s a great cook and lots of fun to be with.

Our next program, is called Walking In The Footsteps Of Merwin. The Merwin in question here, is definitely a magician, but his magic wand consists of words. I hate the word resonate, but in this case, my word, his words, really truly do.

W.S. Merwin, Pulitzer Prize winning poet and author of more than 40 books of poetry, prose, and translation including books on the area titled The Lost Upland, Summer Doorways, The Vixen, and The Mays of Ventadorn, lived a period of his life in this incredible landscape. He lovingly articulates his epiphanies both in his prose and poetry. No matter how many times I reread his work about this landscape, I am dumbstruck by his subtle way of getting at its essence. Reading and discussing his evocative words in situ, we will then roam the countryside on foot in search of them.

Pending further discussion, I might like to run this program both in the fall and
spring as each season brings new magic for all the senses.

I am thrilled to have 2 authors as our guides on this adventure. Michelle Gillett, poet, author and writing teacher in her own right, also happens to be a devoted fan of Merwin, so she was thrilled when I proposed this idea to her.

Hayden Carruth, said of Michelle’s book called Blinding the Goldfinches, ” What one finds in these poems is the truth. It’s as simple as that…. I reccomend these poems for their wisdom and insight, but even more for their steadfast initiative and independence”

Elizabeth Mollison, author, poetry anthologist and also a Merwin devotee (she actually introduced him to me many years ago), just happens to have this landscape under the treads of her walking shoes. She has hiked these hills and valleys for over 40 years and now makes her permanent home here. For the last 25 years Molly has taken me on some of the most incredible hikes I have ever experienced. A lifelong big thank you to Molly and I am so pleased to be able to share this gift of walking with her, with you. Molly is the author of a book, sadly only in French and Dutch at the moment, called Le Roc (also made into a French tv documentary) and it is a portrait of her village, a stones throw from the Dordogne. If you read in one of these two tongues, try and get a copy.

So start your reading now! I am sure you will want to read and reread as
we prepare for our walks and hikes.

Dates, and particulars will be posted on the program page, once they are finalized. Any and all comments as we plan these programs would be more than welcomed.

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Hatching Some Plans

Fall may be settling in here and there, but we are well on our way
to planning out our new programs for next spring, beginning mid
April. I am really excited about some of the new things we are going
to do, so watch this space and our program page for the particulars.
Note: not yet listed, still firming dates!

To all of the yoga teachers attending the KYTA conference this weekend at Kripalu, please feel free to contact us about bringing your own students over
and tailor making programs of your own choice. We continually seek out and
encourage teachers with new ideas and creative strengths to join with us in
broadening our base of experiential adventures. This is a wonderful healing
landscape, not unlike the Berkshires, so if you have enjoyed your weekend
in Lenox, then consider the possibilities across the pond. The weather is mild
for much of the year, so anything is possible, from hiking and biking all year
round to indoor creativity by a roaring fire. Dream or meditate on this, and let
us hear from you!

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