Reflections of Paris

  • Paris is a beautiful city. There is no where in the world like it. I pondered over why, and some reasons are less savory than others (read: colonialism and oppression of the common people). But another reason, and the most enduring reason, is because every generation of people who have lived in Paris have done their part to make it beautiful. Creating and preserving beauty. I believe that partaking in beauty elevates and refines the soul. This last visit strengthened my resolve to do my part to beautify my own community. Americans (especially Springvillians) notoriously vote against bonds and measures to make our communities beautiful. I want to be the opposing voice, to stand up for art, because it makes us better.  
  • There are legions of pint-size dogs all over Paris. Every time I saw one trotting along, so self-importantly, weaving in and out of human traffic, it made me laugh. 
  • For my last three ultrasounds with Eloise, there was such an abundance of amniotic fluid the radiology tech could not measure one end to the other. I had enough space for four babies. Recovery from this has not been easy or short. You can literally poke me in the stomach with a needle and I won't feel it. Besides my trips to the emergency and operating rooms, my stomach muscles and entire torso have been so maximumly stretched, no amount of dieting and exercising will return me to where I was. This is a hard thing for me to come to terms with, and seeing other women my age who have not had four children, who have not had twins, who have not had enough amniotic fluid for four babies because their baby didn't have an esophagus, I am jealous. I'm jealous of the women who have had an easier motherhood. There's no point wondering why, but I've started to pray to feel like its worth it. Because right now I'm not feeling like this tremendous sacrifice is worth it. Seeing how easily I could slip into a European lifestyle brought this all to the fore for me.
  • I have a new appreciation for art nouveau, especially in furniture design. The heaviness of baroque, the straightness of neoclassicism and the frills of rococo make art nouveau breath-taking.
  • Malmaison brought the Napoleonic era alive. The Musee Carnavalet helped me visual history in a more fluid way. Versailles almost made me want to scream it was so controlled and measured. 
  • I gave money to beggars. I don't care why they are begging - they are less fortunate than I am.
  • My efforts to get my girls into the French language immersion program have been worth it - being able to navigate in a foreign country in their native language is a high.
  • My dad and I have similar energy for travel (my brother would say, "Yeah: Non-stop.") I think we actually maxed out. I didn't know that was possible. But three and a half days of leaving with the sunrise and staying past 10 pm, walking walking walking, actually wore my dad and I out.
  • France 1400-1500 is still my absolute favorite period to study art, architecture and history.
  • I love the French, I love all of it. I don't know why I wasn't born in the old world. 
  • Even through all of this trauma with Eloise, with having four children under five-years-old, I'm still here. I'm still passionate and energetic and ready for adventure. My brain hasn't gone to mush. This is a good thing :)
  • At the last passport check at Charles de Gaulle, the gentleman said I looked tired. I said no, I am sad to leave France. Then I started crying, and as embarrassing as it was, I cried and cried. I have so much responsibility, so many hard things to do ahead of me, so much work to do, and I don't know the next time I will be in the still of a 13th century cathedral, or be able to read a whole chapter of a book, or sleep uninterrupted. It was harder coming back than it was leaving, and it was tremendously hard leaving. 


  1. Welcome home. So happy to have read this post. So happy you've had this experience.

  2. I'm so happy that you got to go on this trip, Shelley! When I got to go to Turkey with some friends a few years ago, I really appreciated having the time to reflect and assess very difficult things that were going on in my own life. I also appreciated being REMOVED from those difficult things as well. My trip was also very restorative because I got to do the things that I passionately love to do. I felt like ME again. It sounds like your experience was similar, in a way.

    I hope you have been buoyed up for the months ahead!