Monthly Archives: September 2006

Paris – Day 3 – Sacred Ground

Note: I wrote this blog post on a plane using cellular technology. I love this kind of stuff. You can be connected any where and any time now. The world will never be the same. (for the better of course!)

After the Louvre we took a bus again to the Montmartre area and began walking the streets again. We stopped at just about anything that looked interesting, which in this area can be quite a lot. We finally meandered over to the Funicular (spelling?) so that we could ride it to the top to visit the Basilica at Sacre Coeur. It sits on the highest point in Paris and you can see for miles around.

Once at the top, we were amazed at how peaceful this place felt even though there were hundreds of people milling around and musicians playing. It felt sacred and we sat on the steps of the Basilica and soaked it all in. I love to “people watch” and this was a good place to do that as there were people from all over the world here.

We went inside the church and walked around while listening to the nuns sing. The sound quality was incredible and the church was beautiful. The peaceful feeling continued inside. After a short stay in the church we went outside and listened to a musician playing some Bob Marley.

Strolling around the streets near Sacre Coeur is a lot of fun. There are a number of great places to eat, lots of art, lots of interesting people and many places to relax and have good conversation with friends. After a nice glass of wine and a crepe (fromage and jambon) we continued walking around the area until it was late. We were somewhat subdued during the train ride back to the hotel mostly because we had done a lot today and it was the last night in Paris.

As stated in earlier posts, departures can be challenging whether they be from friends or places, but the memories never leave.

The adventure continues!

Paris – Day 3

Note: I wrote this blog post on a plane using cellular technology. I love this kind of stuff. You can be connected any where and any time now. The world will never be the same. (for the better of course!)

We started off our last day in Paris by having an espresso and croissant near the Louvre. After we were fortified with the proper French nutritional supplements, we walked to the museum. The Louvre itself is quite impressive in scale. The buildings are enormous and go on for several city blocks. The entire collection has over 35,000 pieces of art. According to one of the guides, if you stood for 3 seconds at each piece of art, it would take you over 3 months (24 hours a day) to see everything. It’s hard to fathom. I like to call what we did in the Louvre, a running tour. We walked for about 4 hours and tried to see a little bit of things we liked including Italian, French, and Dutch paintings spanning several centuries. We also saw ancient Egyptian art and artifacts plus Mesopotamia and Levan cultures. We ran out of time to see the statue collection. That will have to be another trip.

Highlights for us included the Venus de Milo and Rembrandt paintings. The Mona Lisa was obviously a popular work and there were hundreds crowding around. Patience gave us the opportunity to stand near the painting and observe it from several feet away. I had always heard that the eyes of the Mona Lisa follow you no matter where you stand. I tried it from several angles and I have to say that the stories are true. I tried this with several other paintings and none had the effect that the Mona Lisa had. How did Rembrandt do that? I find that fascinating.

Finally, after our feet were complaining and our heads were packed full of art, we stopped in one of the Louvre cafes and had a late lunch.

We are now off to sacred ground which I will detail in the next blog post.

Paris – Day 2 – Take 3

After the boat ride on the Seine, we decided to take a bus during some incredibly busy rush hour type traffic. I mean bumper to bumper as far as you can see. Our destination was the Moulin Rouge in the Montmartre area of the city. This was quite a colorful place and was rich in culture and variety of other things. We found a lovely bread shop near the Moulin Rouge and had a croissant and an espresso. The pastries here were quite good and the lady behind the counter was extremely funny. We also enjoyed just looking at all of the shops along the side streets.

Next stop was the Eiffel Tower which we got to by another metro. I must say until you get under or really near the tower it looks smaller than it actually is (note:The Eiffel Tower is 1000 feet high!) We quickly got our tickets and were on the elevator to the top. You can take the stairs if you are really interested. We opted out this time. The sun was setting near the time we were there, so the views were fabulous once we got to the top. You can get a great idea of how big Paris is by seeing it from above like at the top of the Eiffel Tower. It stretches from horizon to horizon. After lots of photos we took the lift down and walked across the street to buy a crepe from a street vendor along the Seine.

As we were eating the crepe, the Eiffel Tower light show began which was a wonderful surprise and quite spectacular. After the light show, we walked along the Seine for about a mile and then caught our train to the hotel.

The day was quite long, so our feet were tired from the many miles of walking, but our spirits were high because of the great adventure we had created. As reflect back on the entire day, I was pleased at how perfect the timing of our adventure had been. We always seemed to get somewhere right at the most interesting time. It was great!

Paris – Day 2 – Take 2

It was quite a busy day. We started walking the streets near Gare de Lyon. After a bit we stopped to eat a local cafe near some very nice art shops. The waiter was quite friendly and we had our first lunch in Paris. Yeah!

We took a metro to the Saint Michel Notre Dame metro station and began our tour of Ile de la Cite. Notre Dame cathedral was our first stop and it was absolutely breathtaking. I had no idea how big it was. We toured the inside. The stain glass windows were extraordinary. In fact, just one of the largest contained over 30,000 pieces of glass.

We left out of the cathedral and headed towards Point Neuf. Before getting there, we passed the Conciergerie and Ste-Chapelle. It had been quite a day already just getting adjusted to the city, so we decided to take boat tour of Seine. This was an excellent idea as we got to see and hear about the history of Paris and also glimpse several points of interest along the way. We had no idea just how many bridges there are over the Seine and we only saw a handful of them. The boat went slightly past the Eiffel Tower and looped back to Point Neuf after going around the two islands, Ile de la Cite and Ile St. Louis. Our guide on the boat trip was quite colorful and kept us smiling the entire time.

It is hard to believe that it is already 3:00 p.m. The day has gone by very fast.

Paris – Day 2 – Creating our Own Experience

Day 2 in Paris (Sept. 26th, 2006) was a whirlwind day. We covered a lot of ground and had our patience tested many times, but only because of never being in the city. The people we met on our journey were quite lovely, very friendly and quite helpful. Which brings me to a point I’d like to discuss.

As friends and acquaintances I know found out that I was going to Paris, I heard one story after another about how rude the Parisians could be. Only one person out of many said anything different than that negative story. So, I was presented with an excellent opportunity to believe what others were telling me or create my own story. So, as we traveled the city, not speaking very much French nor speaking it well, we met one wonderful person after another. It was the exact opposite of all the stories I had been told. From the warmness of the cafe owner near Gare de Lyon to the old lady who didn’t speak a bit of English and helped us get on the right bus to where we wanted to go. And the list goes on with people that showed a wealth of generosity, wit, humor, helping hands and a welcoming air about them.

So, this entire adventure made me think of an old parable. Unfortunately I can’t remember where I heard it.

At the top of a high mountain pass a traveler comes across an old man sitting on the side of the road. You can see down in the valley the lights of a village. The traveler asks the old man, do you know what that town is like down there? The old man says, “Tell me about the village you came from.” The traveler tells a very negative story about how the town is riddled with crime, how the people are all depressed and how a dark cloud seems to hang over the village.” The old man tells the traveler that the village in the valley down below is much the same, so he better find another town to visit.

A little while later, another traveler stops near the old man. He asks, “What is that village like down in the valley?” Again the old man says, “Tell me about the village you came from.” This traveler tells a story of a town of very happy people, where everyone helps each other, the children sing and play in the streets, and there is very little crime.”

The old man says, “You’ll find much the same in the village down below. Enjoy your stay.”

I like this story because it is a great example of how your attitude dictates and creates your experience. I feel that is what I had to do to overcome the negative stories I heard before my trip. By being open and believing that I would have a great time and meet wonderful people, the experience I had was quite different.

Have a great day.

On the Train to Paris – Take 2

We are traveling through Belgium now. The miles have silently rolled by as my friend and I have shared this part of the journey together. I have, at her request, exposed her to some great music that has touched my soul over the years. It is always interesting to me to see what people get out of a particular piece of music. And I love sharing what I enjoy with someone else and visa versa. That’s one of the wonderful things about friends isn’t it?

One close friend is worth a host of acquaintances. I am very fortunate to have a few really close friends and I count my blessings every day for their friendship.

This was a short note, but I want to get back to the adventure!

On the Train to Paris – Living in the Present Moment

It’s Tuesday morning. We left Amsterdam about 9:00 a.m. on a train to Paris. Departures can be both a bit sad and exciting at the same time. One door closes and another opens. That really is the way life expresses itself also. Continuous change as the road unfolds beneath you. It’s all about the journey and not getting from one point to another. I try to see what is around me as I go through life just like I observe the countryside as the train speeds down the tracks. So, I don’t necessarily focus on the place I’m going to, but rather focus on the experience that is revealing itself in the present moment. It makes for a richer experience and in my opinion much more enjoyable.

I find that many people, including myself until recently, seem to live either in the past or the future. But, the present moment is where everything is happening and where your “power” is located. The present is where you have the power to change you attitude. It is the present where you have the power to change your direction. It is the present where your journey is unfolding before you. It is the present where your creativity and imagination exist. It is the present where you experience all of your emotions. It is the present where “magic” occurs and miracles happen.

Life and the present are waiting for you. Go have some fun!

Amsterdam – Day 3

It’s the beginning of Day 3 in Amsterdam. I am having a wonderful time. A close friend from Barcelona is traveling with me. We have many walked miles all over the city and seen some very cool things. For example the Rijks Museum, street performers, The Red Light District, miles of canals, Coffeshops, beautiful parks and I have taken loads of photos. More sightseeing is on the agenda for today.

What I like about my friend from Barcelona is that our conversations always seem to make both of us grow in positive ways. We enjoy deep conversations on the nature of the world, relationships, spirituality and etc. I also like that we laugh a lot. We have a lot of trust so we can tease each other and have fun with it. She is also into adventure like me, so we never know exactly where we are going to end up when we are together.

Short post for this morning. It’s time to get on with some more walking around the city.

Remember, you don’t have to wait until you are on a nice vacation before you can be happy. It’s a choice for the moment. Why not make your present moment in time as pleasurable as possible? It will just make the "big" adventures even more fun.

Have a lovely day!

Amsterdam Adventure Begins

Well, I’m sitting in the Warsaw, Poland airport. It’s about 6:40 a.m. and I was just reflecting on how much I love life and how really very fortunate I am.

I find each day to be exciting and I look forward to waking up in the morning. It hasn’t always been that way. Most of my life in the past was riddled with fears, anxiety, apprehensions, depression and just the feeling of never being comfortable with who I was. I had very little confidence in myself and each day was a struggle. Over the last several years I’ve made significant progress towards being happy the majority of the time. When I get a negative thought now, it generally doesn’t last that long, because I immediately begin transforming it into something positive, one small step at a time.

Let me explain about my feeling of being fortunate. It’s not because I have a job I like, or I get to travel a lot, or that I have some great friends, or that I have a wonderful daughter. Though, all these things do contribute to what I consider a “rich” life. So, it’s not the things that make me feel fortunate, but the confidence I get from enjoying who I am and that at any moment I can shift my desires knowing that they will immediately start coming my way. This may sound strange to some of you, but we are all born with this ability and just need to learn and practice some very easy and simple techniques. It has taken some years of practice, but I’m getting more confident in my ability to get what I want by simply believing that I can and that I also deserve it.

More on these concepts in future posts. I have to get on a plane now.

Have a great day!

Happiness

I was looking through the web for good quotation sites and ran across this one called: The Quotations Page. So, I did a search by category using the word Happy. I found several interesting quotes:

Happiness depends upon ourselves. – Aristotle (384 – 322 BC)

Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. – Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 1865)

If there were in the world today any large number of people who desired their own happiness more than they desired the unhappiness of others, we could have paradise in a few years. – Bertrand Russell (1872 – 1970)

The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance, the wise grows it under his feet. – James Oppenheim

At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities. – Jean Houston

I thought that these quotes were very relevant for a couple of reasons. Influential people have stated for millenia that happiness is basically a choice. We have control over our attitude. Why not be happy then? Aristotle clearly says that over 2000 years ago. Depending on ourselves for happiness is a much more secure state of being than depending on any outside influences. We don’t seem to be taught that. What would happen if we start teaching our children to depend solely on themselves for happiness. What sense of freedom and love of life would we promote in them? Hmmmmm.

The last quote by Jean Houston is a very important concept. At the height of happiness, joy, laughter and etc., not only do we see more possibilities but actually more possibilities exist. If you think a few moments about this you will agree. Think back to when you were having “bad” times and/or negative thoughts. Do you remember that your choices seemed very limited? But at times when you were in a state of ecstasy, happiness or joy, the world seemed to have unlimited possibilities. And I know that you have met people in both of these extreme categories.

So, try it for a few days. Work ever so slightly on keeping your mood elevated (not artificially!). Don’t try to go from depression to joy. That’s too big of a jump. Just try going from depression to anger for example. Or from being overwhelmed to hope. Baby steps. Once you reach a slightly better place. Take it another step. The book called Ask and It Is Given: Learning to Manifest Your Desires has some simple techniques to help this process.

Make a choice right now to be a little happier than you were 5 minutes ago. Continue that as far as you can go. Don’t work too hard at it. That defeats the purpose.

Remember having a negative is not a bad thing in itself. It’s just giving you an opportunity to pick up your attitude before things get worse. Take advantage of this “early warning” system.

Have a great day!