MAha: Learning from the Life Scholar

How do you handle “what now” with grace? You know, that space after the experience, but before the aha? How does that impact the ah ha? The following is how I reasoned through a “what now.”

MAh ha is conceived
I decided to return to academia to obtain a Graduate degree in English with the goal to teach in an organized educational institution. This isn’t always a great fit for someone who questions authority, or maybe it’s the mainstream metaphysical mother of invention igniting (the glimmerings of a MAha).

Attending Graduate seminars, I sometimes wonder if some institutions weed out so many resources that they teeter on censorship. I know, a bit harsh, but I began to ponder this a bit more when learning about a very old and well-thought-out process where scholars (artfully and scientifically) reconstruct original (classic) author intentions (getting close to or expressing up-front that they aren’t attempting to get close, but better express) who have long passed. Once meticulously rebuilt by acknowledged experts (who have their own filters), some of these works become relied upon as close enough to the truth — according to a committee or certain groups — and renders all other sources less (if at all) credible. My simplistic and tentative MAha is OK, I get it, I rebuild my reality — the world according to Michelle A. Payton, Mainstream Metaphysical Mom — daily, but how far does this process bleed into other — less scholarly — writing?

Yeah, sure, at this moment I hope that as I chat with you I’m applying correct punctuation and spelling. However, if you follow any of my work you know that I make plenty of mistakes, yet you continue reading. Or, maybe I spoke too soon.

Over Criticizing Snuffs Celebration
If you made it to this paragraph… In academia, some spend so much time criticizing that there is little time to celebrate. Sure, there is a professional responsibility to dissect or expose work that lack certain qualities, but how far should that stretch? I was sitting in a seminar and heard a 20-something student saying (and I paraphrase with a contemporary example), “The ‘Twilight’ series is a bunch of garbage…” I asked, “Did you read the series?” “Well, no, but…” And this is where the prejudice begins. Certain works are not only positioned as being literary messes (How dare NY Times Best Sellers or Independent Authors make money writing and not seek out peer reviews mindset), but anyone who reads them are equally less than.

A Grad student (now friend) a bit older than I (yep, it can happen) shared a story about an English professor who entered the seminar room, recklessly tossed all attendees papers on the table and complained, “I am too old to read this kind of crap!” (Frankly, if this happened in my presence I would have been escorted out by security.) Where does this type of behavior end? With the student who already suspected, but then would be thoroughly convinced, that her thoughts are not worthy of any attention.

I value my education and professors in their respective specialties, truly. However, my sentiment is one of the reasons why many students (not on a scholar path) fail to reach their fullest potential is that they are not just corrected (due to some very straight-forward errors), but are also censored as a result of feeling less than. So let’s be reminded about how important self-approved, life scholars are to learning.

Reminders of the important part we all play in history
Qualitative evidence comes to mind outside of my expressed opinion. Old American Civil War letters from men who professed their love, yet had no education, are savored due to their historical quality. Casual snapshots and family photographs, once thought insignificant, adorn museums all over the world (tracking traditions, styles, backgrounds, genealogy). Child-like cave scratchings have become scientific findings to habits of ancient man. I have love letters from 30 years ago from my (now) husband. I’m certain that my kids eyeballs will go up in flames once they read them. I wonder if they’ll make it to the Smithsonian?

The MAha
Institutional insiders can get stuck in their processes — partially to get funding and fulfill organization requirements which is important to keep the lights on — and can leave little room for invention. My first book (Adventures of a Mainstream Metaphysical Mom: Finding Peace of Mind in a World of Diverse Ideas) was meant to be a family document, for posterity (no comments from the peer review, peanut gallery that would say it should have been kept that way), but I ended up going public: self-publishing. I was excited and insecure at the same time (like I am with every book that has followed), but my suggestion is be courageous. You are the genius, the mover and shaker, the idea person of today that will make history tomorrow. You are a life scholar, the mother or father of invention. You are a valuable teacher. Bring your expressions to paper or whatever your canvas, but start now.

To learn more about my mind over matter practice, my self-help books, workshops, and techniques to create comfort for yourself and others, go to www.MichellePayton.com.  To read a bit about my academic path go to www.MichellePaytonWriter.com. Speak to you soon.

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MA-losophy in France: Little tips to keep things flowing gently

I will have a dozen or so blogs about my trip to France in the Summer of 2013.  Expect the MA-losophy style while also getting tips that you may be able to use when traveling with family in Europe (in my case with 11 people total) and my ability to maintain my sanity (most of the time).  While I receive compliments on my ability to speak French, I am far from perfect and it is a continuously humbling experience.  The following are some of my adventures as the only family member that spoke the language and was most exposed to the culture.  Wow, did I learn many lessons.  Read on…

It’s the little things by car
I mentioned in an earlier blog why it was a good idea for my family (totaling 11 with children plus an elderly woman) should have a couple of cars and pay for parking when in Paris (by the way, leave three hours ahead of time to get to the airport) vs. get a cab. For small, more confident groups, of course, there is the train. But I’ll cover a few more things when traveling by car in France. When on the highways you will see signs that say “Aire de… (then a unique name).” These are rest stops where you can find food (that can be pretty tasty and even fresh), toilets, gas, sometimes a nature park, sometimes showers.

Entering Ancient Lyon area by car (the day we went rogue).

If you don’t have the European computer chip in your credit card check with your bank on how to get one prior to leaving for Europe (while your at it ask them for a card that doesn’t charge a fee per transaction overseas). If you don’t then you will have to go into the shops to pay for gas rather than swipe outside, have to press the “attendant button” (usually a picture rather than writing with so many languages spoken in Europe) when attempting to pay expensive tolls (the blue sign with the word “peage” is the autoroute — charges tolls — and is faster than the highway — green sign — which is no charge) with your credit card because you’ve run out of Euro (we paid up to 50 Euro per car for a toll from Annecy to Avignon), and restaurants will take longer as they attempt to run your card through their fancy, hand-held processors (pretending like your card should work won’t make this process go any faster either).  And if you don’t know French? Well, add more time.

Be conscious of your speed. France has radar camera boxes that take pictures, they send the information to a central office, and then mail you a ticket once they track down your information (Confession: Nearly 3 months after our trip, we received a fine for 45 Euro — going 8 km/h over the speed limit, 118 in a 110… 9 — over the speed limit in the States — and fine doesn’t apply). I speak from experience when I say that France makes it very convenient in multiple languages to pay your fine.  So be warned that France is cracking down on speeders and you can get traffic tickets up to 6 months after your trip.  See http://www.ricksteves.com/graffiti/helpline/index.cfm?topic=93380 and http://www.fodors.com/community/europe/speeding-ticket-from-france.cfm with people chatting about getting tickets in Europe. If these links don’t work you keyword search “Rick Steves traffic tickets in Europe” (as an example), or just take it from me: one of the rogue law breakers.

Tidbits U.S. drivers should know: there is no right on red, it’s illegal for a driver to use a hand-held phone in the car, driver’s come up very fast from behind so don’t make sudden lane switches, hang in the fast lane when passing only (if you are in the way you will see blinking lights in your rear view mirror signaling to get out of the way), July and August can be bumper to bumper as this is also European holiday time.

Privacy?
Yeah, well, forget it if you are traveling with family. I had a conversation with my oldest daughter and also with her boyfriend who came along on this trip and I warned, “You know. You are in your early 20′s and you’re going to be sleeping next to your hot girlfriend (my daughter) for two weeks and you won’t be able to have sex. You may want to consider getting your own place.” “We’ll be OK,” responded the penny pinching side of this youngen.

Privacy in our Avignon area rental? Forget it!

I don’t have any problem saying, “I told them both so.” Half way through the trip electricity was beginning to build. My neglected husband and I didn’t take into account that my elderly mother would have to take the room with the more soundproof door because she snored. So, it’s celibacy or get a private room. C’est la vie.

The food is great, but remember coffee is a diuretic
While I’m a tea drinker, most of my other family members enjoy coffee. In every space we rented there were always cute little coffee spoons, coffee and espresso cups, and decent coffee (and sometimes espresso) makers. Plus, you ordered coffee, espresso or tea after lunch and in the afternoon. If your body isn’t accustomed to this, expect it to catch up with you (meaning you will get the s#$ts). You can do a couple of things. One, pharmacies in France have highly qualified professionals that can actually give you prescriptions to solve your problem within a day. Another option is to bring items with you that will bind you up. Gross? You’ll be glad that I told you this before you go to Europe.

Since I’m being gross
Are you one of those people that gets a dry throat and nose at night and on airplanes? You know I’m going there. I run a bit dry so I carry sesame oil with me to put up my nose at night and on airplanes (commonly used in Ayurvedic practices). I also keep a throat spray next to my bed (water isn’t good enough for me). Keeping your nose moist keeps bacteria from forming in the dry spots in your nose. You do your own research, but when I do this consistently I don’t get sick when I travel abroad (I didn’t pay attention two years ago and was super sick for several days upon my return).

Keeping your feet warm is very important as well. Socks alone won’t do. Bring house shoes or wear your shoes. Carpet is not the norm in Europe unless it’s a chain (even then there are no guarantees) and losing warmth through your feet can (again) end up being a challenge to your immune system.

I did a couple of other things consistently to beef up my immune system while traveling to make sure my head and chest remained clear. Get advice from a trusted professional on what’s best for you.

OK, one more gross matter. Airplane food. Even with international travel, unless you are in first class pack your food. Buy a meal prior to getting on the plane, bring items that you might eat for breakfast and snacks. Or, eat when you get off the plane. Sure, there might be a few decent morsels here and there, but it’s inconsistent.

The MA-losophic message is keep your stress low and your immune system high
There are times when we do new things and say, “let’s go with the flow.” To flow, however, means that you aren’t swimming upstream but are gliding on a gentle current. Things come up, sure, but they don’t have to pull you under.

We should also consider this in daily life as we face new information, new challenges, new experiences. How can we prepare just a bit more to float rather than sink?

To learn more about my mind over matter practice, my self-help books, workshops, and techniques to create comfort for yourself and others, go to www.MichellePayton.com.  Speak to you soon.

1 Comment Posted in Asheville Wholistic Integrative Professional, Family, Natural Rythym, Walking your path
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MA-losophy in Paris: Museums of chocolate and masterpieces

I will have a dozen or so blogs about my trip to France in the Summer of 2013.  Expect the MA-losophy style while also getting tips that you may be able to use when traveling with family in Europe (in my case with 11 people total) and my ability to maintain my sanity (most of the time).  While I receive compliments on my ability to speak French, I am far from perfect and it is a continuously humbling experience.  The following are some of my adventures as the only family member that spoke the language and was most exposed to the culture.  Wow, did I learn many lessons.  Read on…

These boots were made for walkin’ and butt made for sittin’
I am not one for tour buses, but when in one of the largest cities in the world with 11 sets of feet (ages 2 to 76) it’s a way to gain a general introduction to Paris.  There is a double decker tour bus called L’Open Tour Bus that shuttles you to major landmarks and you can get on and off as you please.  Headphones are provided so that tourists can listen (in the language of their choice) to interesting facts about the sites.  If you intend to cover a lot of the city, in lieu of a taxi and to give your feet a break, consider the open air tour bus.

Small Town Gal in a Big City
When I was younger (my 20′s) I thought I wanted to live in a big city.  Thank goodness I came to my senses.

I find people in the city pleasant enough.  I get more intense and become very (Leo) protective of my family with the rush to get on buses and in taxi’s, the foot and vehicle traffic, the constant hussle and bussle.  A small experience like my daughter’s boyfriend purchasing our morning bread and pastry and witnessing a dozen teens fighting (a few had big boards and metal apparatuses on their hands as weapons) doesn’t say that I didn’t enjoy seeing the Eiffel Tower.  Glimpses of armed police or military (I can’t tell the difference) lining the toll area prior to entering Paris (maybe dignitaries were visiting), didn’t overshadow my family’s memories of seeing the Champs Elysee, Notre Dame, the Seine, and the Arc de Triomphe. Take out the word Paris and insert any large city in the world, the pace is one I would rather handle in small doses.

I don’t view big cities as beautiful.  I do, however, view cities as interesting due to their history (including well maintained museums and historical sites), and convenient because so many cafes and small grocery stores keep extended hours (one doesn’t have to eat lunch between noon and two, for instance).  The kids were thrilled because they could shop excessively and take advantage of our generosity while on vacation, and get American fast food.  I waited to take my mid-day meal at a cafe (when they had their fast food day) and enjoyed a Salad Nicoise (a French salad that includes tuna, green beans, hard boiled eggs, tomatoes, onion, capers, and potatoes), while the rest of the family had tea and coffee.

My girls as cocoa beans (considered currency 1,000's of years ago... cocoa beans not my girls) in Paris.

Our last day it was pouring rain.  I had fleeting thoughts of taking the family to the Louvre, but we had a late start, some in our group would have been too tuckered out to enjoy the artwork after waiting in a long line in inclement weather to get tickets (it takes an hour or more to get into the museum to purchase tickets depending on when you arrive).  We could have gone to the public mall that is connected to the Louvre, they could have seen ruins that were uncovered of the old Louvre on a lower level (where toilets are located…important to note), and maybe taken tea at a wonderful shop (Mariage Tea) where walls burst with an amazing selection of loose leaf teas. But, instead, we went to the Chocolate Museum — yep, anti-climatic — watched a guy make chocolate and got an awesome picture of my girls as cocoa  beans.

My brother and sister-in-law and their two boys (2 and 4) went off on their own.  They had a number of things that they wanted to cross off their bucket lists (they did go to the Louvre).  But, after the Chocolate Museum my 76 year old mother and 12 year old were pooped so we took them back to the apartment.  The 20-somethings split off and my husband and I walked to and fro, just the two of us. How about that?

Last night in Paris
All 11 of our family members came back together for dinner and Mimosa’s.  I had no idea that my mom was such a lush.  We had two bottles of champagne and I think she polished off one of them.  Maybe it was that long nap she took before dinner?  If we weren’t on vacation it would have been time for an intervention.  But, these are how memories are built.

My mother losing herself in a Mimosa in Paris

The MA-losophic message is find that magic feelin’
Crossing off items on your bucket list (things you’ve only seen in textbooks and movies), walking and riding a tour bus, fast food and French food, museums of chocolate and masterpieces, it’s all in Paris.  Keeping the limits of each family member in mind will make a trip to the big city much more enjoyable for the entire group.

Once home, I can move into a daily grind. I am focusing on how I can relive that vacation lightness on a weekly basis. That magic feeling of “what fun or relaxing things are we going to do today?” It plants me into the moment and  I spend less time thinking “how many days before my next holiday?” OK, I still do that, but I am keenly aware of the importance of having an appreciation the fullness of now.  How is the present fitting for you?

To learn more about my mind over matter practice, my self-help books, workshops, and techniques to create comfort for yourself and others, go to www.MichellePayton.com.  Speak to you soon.

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MA-losophy in France: What a Coincidence?

I will have a dozen or so blogs about my trip to France in the Summer of 2013.  Expect the MA-losophy style while also getting tips that you may be able to use when traveling with family in Europe (in my case with 11 people total) and my ability to maintain my sanity (most of the time).  While I receive compliments on my ability to speak French, I am far from perfect and it is a continuously humbling experience.  The following are some of my adventures as the only family member that spoke the language and was most exposed to the culture.  Wow, did I learn many lessons.  Read on…

Is Anyone Really a Stranger?

Avignon, France homey amenities creates a neighborly feel

Renting space with fully-equipped kitchens, patios, and other homey amenities creates a more neighborly atmosphere.  We had some wonderful French neighbors who gathered for a few days to sing, socialize, eat and drink.  They were also grandparents and when they saw my two nephews (ages 2 and 4) they sent a small plate of sweets to share.  Later, as one of our neighbors shuttled by with many bottles of wine in his arms, he handed one to my brother-in-law in passing.

Later, my brother-in-law spoke in English to one of the 8 plus in the group who studied in Mansfield, Ohio for one year.  She graduated high school in the U.S. and proudly announced (when I spoke to her) that she even wore a cap and gown.  What’s more interesting is my husband’s Grandmother and Grandfather taught high school around this time.  Could she have known them?

The next morning  I saw the jovial group as we were leaving for the day.  I asked in French, “Who attended school in Mansfield, Ohio?” A tall, graceful, 60+ year old woman stepped out of the crowd and introduced herself, “C’est moi. Mon nom est Michele ” (informal and friendly, as she could have introduced herself as Madame as opposed to her prenom [first name]…).  “Me too! [Moi, aussi!]” I responded and kissed her on each cheek.  We chatted in French and I quickly mentioned a number of small things I learn while I’m in France versus studying from a book (the difference between “plat” and “assiette” for meals, for instance).  Michele advised me to learn one new French word everyday to improve my fluency.

I now wish I would have quizzed her a bit more about Mansfield, “Did you happen to meet instructors with the last name Mitchell?” But, my family was in the van waiting and so it was “a bientot” [see you soon or until later], I thought.  Eight plus friendly French bid their farewells, and one gentleman said in a heavy French accent, “Bye.  Good to see you!”  Smiles all around, I air kissed the entire group on both cheeks, I jumped into the van and went on to our next adventures.

When we were out we agreed that we should purchase a bottle of wine for our kind neighbors, but sadly au revoir [good bye] would have been a more accurate phrase that morning.  I noticed that their place was quiet so I went to the rental desk asking about Michele and her friends.  (In French), “I’m sorry, they are gone, but they left you a note.” On my brother and sister-in-law’s patio table was a note saying, “Have a great vacation and safe trip home… From Michele & the Frenchies.”

I would have liked to have known them better and maybe Michele actually met my husband’s Grandfather or Grandmother.  Wouldn’t that have been an amazing discovery?

I’ll bet she did.

The MA-losophic Message is that we all are connected or, at least, can be with a little effort
It may sound strange, but when I don’t feel like I have enough time to get to know or spend time with certain people I experience a type of mini-mourn. Yes, life is busy, I get over it (I did say “mini”) and move on, but I have experienced fleeting feelings of loss from time to time that catch me by surprise.  Have I known certain people before or are there just a whole lot of people who are interesting, kind, funny, clever…?

I schedule time to get to know people or catch up on a regular basis. Hearing peoples’ stories and connecting with them has been a very important part of my personal growth. Today, we know that connecting with supportive people on a regular basis increases our happiness levels. So who are you connecting with? What is your support system?

To learn more about my mind over matter practice, my self-help books, workshops, and techniques to create comfort for yourself and others, go to www.MichellePayton.com.  Speak to you soon.

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MA-losophy in Paris: The Art of Keeping it Loose Yet Organized

I will have a dozen or so blogs about my trip to France in the Summer of 2013.  Expect the MA-losophy style while also getting tips that you may be able to use when traveling with family in Europe (in my case with 11 people total) and my ability to maintain my sanity (most of the time).  While I receive compliments on my ability to speak French, I am far from perfect and it is a continuously humbling experience.  The following are some of my adventures as the only family member that spoke the language and was most exposed to the culture.  Wow, did I learn many lessons.  Read on…

Navigation Magic… Follow the Feet
Prior to leaving the U.S. my husband added Europe maps to our stand-alone navigation system (a Garmin) and he programmed a number of our destinations ahead of time. These systems are very helpful to get from point a to point b, but the last last ten or so minutes of a trip can be challenging.  In Paris (as in any large city), traffic moves fast and streets become a blur.  When I was co-pilot, my husband was looking for street names and I was looking at number of feet to turn right or left.  In other words, when the Garmin would say that a street was coming up in 300 feet I would demand, “Turn! It doesn’t matter what the street name is!”  Since I have the  power of the pen I will make the proclamation, follow the feet.  By the time you can see a street sign it has passed.  Especially when driving in Paris at 5pm (17:00 hours) and another family car was attempting to keep up.

Tension would not be lifted until we were sure we could park our vehicle in the underground parking garage with only inches to spare between our roof and the garage ceiling.

Opening the door for the first time… Where is the gathering space?
I love the Booking.com ad — http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/ad-day-bookingcom-146688.  This is exactly how I feel when I open the door for the first time… “What am I getting my family into?”  When I score a touchdown, my family compliments me as if I built the place.  If it’s just OK, then…

Short Stay Paris view from our balcony

Our view in the middle of the city (you can type in “Short Stay Paris” in any keyword search for more details), was unique and calming.  You would never know that busy city streets were on the other side of the building.

Unlike our other two apartments, house cleaners came in everyday to take out our garbage and straighten up the apartment and champagne was in the refrigerator (made great mimosa’s on our last night).  Similar to our other rentals, our dining area was very comfortable, and the kitchen well-equipped so we could prepare light dinners and ample breakfasts.  Yes, these types of spaces can be challenging to find, but if you scan sites and do this in advance (I have been know to reserve nearly one year ahead) you will get it “booking right” and get the “booking views.”  You get exactly what you “booking needed.”

For me, it is very important to have a comfortable gathering area for family and friends.  Abroad or in the States.  Whenever I’ve arranged any type of gathering, if I haven’t included this in the mix then it simply is not as successful.

One time I decided not to worry about arranging a gathering area (to sit and chat) when family met up for an informal meal (each family drove a minimum of three hours and we drove six hours).  We ended up finding some park benches on the street but awkward was the best word to describe our after-meal conversations.  It was forced, only one subject at a time could be discussed as we sat elbow-to-elbow, not all could sit comfortably, and separate conversation space was also not available (spaces within the spaces to allow for conversations to go on consecutively).  Lessons learned, but even traveling with two, having a comfortable place to have a light snack and a glass of wine makes all the ambiance difference.

Our dining room in Paris

The MA-losophic Message is there is an art to keeping it loose yet organized
While having a great space with extra amenities can be exciting, there are basic elements that create comfort and flexibility in general.  My recipe includes: a space to gather together, spaces to be safely separate (that could even mean taking a walk), spaces to be separate but accessible if needed (this could mean a closed door), ways for family members to explore on their own and together, or simply rest.  This can create meditative time, a sense that all have some sense of control over their experiences, and creates overall goodwill.

And so I drift again.  I wonder what the world would look like if we regularly thought about creating comfort for ourselves and others?  What would that recipe be?

To learn more about my mind over matter practice, my self-help books, workshops, and techniques to create comfort for yourself and others, go to www.MichellePayton.com.  Speak to you soon.

1 Comment Posted in Family, Guide, Walking your path
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MA-losophy in Paris: Conscious Connections to Differences

I will have a dozen or so blogs about my trip to France in the Summer of 2013.  Expect the MA-losophy style while also getting tips that you may be able to use when traveling with family in Europe (in my case with 11 people total) and my ability to maintain my sanity (most of the time).  While I receive compliments on my ability to speak French, I am far from perfect and it is a continuously humbling experience.  The following are some of my adventures as the only family member that spoke the language and was most exposed to the culture.  Wow, did I learn many lessons.  Read on…

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It’s Off to Paris We Go
For the past two years, Paris has been the last leg of our trip before we flew back to the United States.  Interestingly enough, the lesson we learned in Paris is the same I learned in New York City.  It is very difficult to find a cab driver to agree to take you to the airport.  The previous year in Paris, it was just my husband and I and we were in a chain hotel (vs. apartment like this year) and taxi’s were hungry to nab foreigners and cart them around the city for a quick buck.  However, when we placed our bags in the trunk and the bellman announced “aeroport, s’il vous plait” the taxi driver took our bags out of his trunk and left the scene (even the bellman was shocked).  (I have similar stories when in New York City, but one cab driver felt so bad that he drove me around NYC at no charge until he could recruit another driver to get me to the airport… I’ve digressed again).

Certainly, it is possible to take a couple of trains to and from Paris and the airport.  Especially with two people that are accustomed to walking and travel light.  For this trip, however, we knew it would be hair pulling to schlep ages 76, 2, and 4 (with car seats and luggage) and the balance of nearly one dozen family members on a train which also included a connector.

Our van made it into the garage with the weight of 8 people and luggage. Once vacated...

When renting the apartments (complete with kitchen and laundry washing machines) in Paris (called Short Stay which I highly recommend… great price and accommodations), reserving parking spaces for about 25 Euro per day was a bargain.  We would never get an ample number of cabs to fit all of our luggage and people at the same time.

We were lucky to fit our 8-seater van in the Paris garage.  Once eight people vacated the van and removed all the luggage, we couldn’t get the vehicle out of the space, but we made it and wouldn’t think about it again until it was departure time.

Saving a Few Euro by Pre-Planning
With any big city, prices for certain types of food are going to be higher than in smaller towns.  Plus, it takes a little research to find the location of a reasonably priced grocer nearby (when at the Short Stay, there was a small grocery stores within a block or so).  Before we drove from Avignon to Paris we stocked up on just in case items: milk (which comes in boxes rather than the refrigerator section in the U.S.), large containers of yogurt, fruit (it is much more expensive in the city), wine (bien sur… we came from the wine region where we could get a truly great bottle of wine for 5 or so Euro), fresh lettuce and other vegetables… items that we didn’t want to take a chance of not finding for our evening and morning meals or pay an arm and a leg for.

Bread and baked goods?  Those simply must be purchased not long before you are about to consume them.  The fluffiness of a fresh French baguette or chocolate croissant (pain au chocolat) must be experienced every day if you truly want to enjoy the culture.

In French Food I Trust
In the United States many are shying away from white bread or gluten in general.  Why?  Much of the wheat is genetically modified in the U.S.; however, in France and much of the EU GMO’s are banned.

I was in my local EarthFare in Asheville and my trusted baker commented, “the French use bleached flour.” While my understanding is the EU (European Union) doesn’t permit bleaching or bromates, my quick response was “maybe they do but it’s real wheat.” (Of course, this isn’t my baker’s doing, I really do like him.) But here is what really drove the point home for me. My 12 year old has had stomach issues since she was an infant.  We had her tested for both gluten and dairy in the U.S. and the doctor said she was not allergic to either.  However, we went to Italy when she was 6, she ate gelato and had no issues.  When she returned home and had ice cream she would, literally, vomit.  When she went to France this year she ate bread and cheese to her heart’s content.  When she returned home and ate wheat and dairy as usual she was up for several nights in tears and finally agreed that she can’t live like that anymore.  She is willingly gluten-free and dairy-free in the U.S. (she can have soy ice cream and raw cheese and has no issues) and her stomach issues have disappeared.

One of our Paris dinners in our apartment which included bread with no gluten ramifications

So, why do we have food sensitivities that adults my age never witnessed when we were kids?  Our children’s bodies are refusing to accept the decrease in the U.S. food quality and the additives that the body doesn’t recognize as sustenance.  Do your own research.  In my little lab — the Payton household — health abounds. I believe I’ve just ranted.

The MA-losophic Message is Pay Attention to Differences
Differences in the way you feel, differences in the way you purchase, differences in the way you eat, even differences in the way you park your vehicle!  How do the differences impact routines when you return home?  Maybe they are just great memories, but I believe that we never step in the same stream twice.  We evolve with every experience from the most tiny to the most grand.  Add a consciousness element and where does that take you?

To learn more about my mind over matter practice, my self-help books, workshops, and techniques to create comfort for yourself and others, go to  www.MichellePayton.com.  Speak to you soon.

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MA-losophy in France: Being Cordial, Appreciating a Sense of Humor, and Speaking without Words

I will have a dozen or so blogs about my trip to France in the Summer of 2013.  Expect the MA-losophy style while also getting tips that you may be able to use when traveling with family in Europe (in my case with 11 people total) and my ability to maintain my sanity (most of the time).  While I receive compliments on my ability to speak French, I am far from perfect and it is a continuously humbling experience.  The following are some of my adventures as the only family member that spoke the language and was most exposed to the culture.  Wow, did I learn many lessons.  Read on…

Lessons in Wine, and the Cordial and Humorous French
The smaller villages are generally my favorite.  The people tend to be friendlier, you are not elbow-t0-elbow, and it can be easier to sit in a cafe or for a meal to just name a few things.

Charming little spaces in small cities

In the Cote de Rhone region, Gordes (France) was built into a mountain, Rousillan is known for its red clay buildings (from the earth of this area), and Tavel is a wine producing area (many vineyards).  Small shops, beautiful views and well-kept architecture litter Gordes and Rousillan.  These two small villages were close to one another so once we had our mid-day meal we move by car to taste wine for our early afternoon treat.

We visited two excellent wineries: Domaine Le Malaven which included the proprietor’s son and daughter each creating own their blends; and the Domaine de la Mordoree that produces organic wine.  Both were more than generous with their time.  The Domaine de la Mordee shared how they keep pests away naturally.  In particular, there is a type of butterfly that lays eggs on the leaves then the larva burrow into the grapes.  To fool the males, they add a female aroma to an area in the vineyard and the guys hang around looking to get lucky; however, they die waiting.  In the meantime, the ladies are looking for their men in another area but to no avail and they also perish.  This became a very funny exchange and this was a dry sense of humor that I have found with many French exchanges (especially when joking about derivations of intimacy).  OR it may be me and what I attract (very possible as I can be a bit inappropriate in certain circles).

Off the subject but it sparks a memory (here I go again), one time I was talking about a meal I had with my mentor (in French) and I said that our meal included “petites pommes” (I meant to say pommes de terre which is potatoes).  My teacher snickered and said this would be a slang term for a man’s gonads (it literally means small apples).  Oh, the mistakes I make (did I mention that the French don’t laugh at me, they laugh with me?).

View from Gordes, France

Experiencing Larger Cities in France

In direct contrast, the next day we would travel to Paris.  This was my and my husband’s least favorite stop.  The speed of the people and the region increase substantially (similar to contrasting New York City to Asheville, NC).  But, no-one else in our family had been to Paris and if one goes to France one simply must see the major landmarks, at least once.  It was important — from my perspective — to share France in smaller settings first so that my family could get to know the people in a more relaxed settings.  Too many have said to me (in America) that the French are rude and impatient.  This, simply, has not been my experience (even when I didn’t know the language), but (categorically) city people anywhere are city people.  It’s the speed in which we move that impacts our behavior, in my opinion.  How can we create calm to bring out the best in ourselves and others?

The MA-losophic message is notice how your environment impacts your behavior
When in high speed environments or situations that require you to make decisions more quickly, how does that impact your personality?  Who is rushing you?  How can you slow them down so that you can share your wonderful and kind self?  Body language and tonality — according to Neuro-linguistic Programming — is 90+% of communication.  If you don’t know the language how can you approach a situation in a gentle way?  What if you, at least, know bonjour (hell0), merci (thank you), and please (s’il vous plait) and then point with smiling eyes and a soft voice?

Now, how do you do this in your native tongue?

To learn more about my mind over matter practice, my self-help books, workshops, and techniques to create comfort for yourself and others, go to  www.MichellePayton.com.  Speak to you soon.

1 Comment Posted in Asheville Wholistic Integrative Professional, Guide, Neuro-linguistic Programming, Walking your path
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MA-losophy in France: Dance to the Rythym

I will have a dozen or so blogs about my trip to France in the Summer of 2013.  Expect the MA-losophy style while also getting tips that you may be able to use when traveling with family in Europe (in my case with 11 people total) and my ability to maintain my sanity (most of the time).  While I receive compliments on my ability to speak French, I am far from perfect and it is a continuously humbling experience.  The following are some of my adventures as the only family member that spoke the language and was most exposed to the culture.  Wow, did I learn many lessons.  Read on…

Psychic Connections
An interesting phenomena began to develop after more than a week of constant contact with 7 people in one apartment.  One morning I was hearing in my head “Beat It” by Michael Jackson then my son began humming it, and my husband responded, “I was just thinking of that song.” It’s not that this doesn’t happen at home, but when you are in such close quarters the connection becomes more obvious.  This is also why it’s important that we knew when to cut a cord (even in close quarters) when a member of the group was not in balance — not feeling well, was in a bad mood, was being negative.

We were all moving on the same schedule in our apartment.  In a type of rhythmic dance we would chat about the next day’s activities, took military showers (in this apartment due to the limited hot water) to be courteous to one another, ate breakfast around a similar time (by now we knew who would want coffee, nutella with bread, pain de chocolat–a bread with dark chocolate baked into the middle, fruit, bacon, eggs, tea…), then would transition to our new experiences together (sometimes separately).

We found that having a day of rest, calm and sleeping in after a couple of high activity days was a great way to rejuvenate and remain healthy.  This meant that while we had a later start than other days, we still made it to our destination by lunchtime (no later than 1pm or 13:00 hours to get our large group seated).  Arles, France was our destination with Roman ruins with well-preserved and marked ancient theatres, stone streets, historic entry ways.

3 Generations at our midday meal in Arles, France

First our midday meal.  Our server was a bit abrupt, but he warmed up a bit when he noticed we had three generations at our table.  Intially, I took the picture (I have a tendency not to be in pics because I’m usually the one snapping them) and our server saw this and gruffly commanded (you know, the kind of voice that says I’m kind, but I won’t admit it), “Vous vous asseyez!” (basically, take your seat).  To the left is the fruit of his labor.

When walking into the walls of Arles I immediately noticed the public toilets and got a little eye-rolling when I announced this, but having to eliminate… creates a dark cloud over one’s experience if what she is doing is the Pee Dance or worse.  Just sayin’!  How else could my 12-year-old do cartwheels in Roman Ruins?

My 12-year-old carthwheeling in Roman Ruins in Arles, France

This area — at least, in early June — was not overly crowded.  The ruins were well-preserved.  There were plenty of places to just sit and reflect on 1,000+ year old ruin stone slabs and stairs.  I would say that when going to Arles purchase the tickets to go into the theatres (don’t just peer in through the fences).

My 76-year-old mother attempted to connect to the stones, hear their stories.  While she was viewing her Roman soldier, it was a sunny day and I had no interest in “talking” and over taxing my mind.  I rolled up my sleeves and shimmied my skirt up a bit (making it more interesting for the ghosts of the past) to get my Vitamin D dose for the day.  My husband and kids went running in out of corridors and exploring.  I finally found them a number of stories up as they gave their champion poses.

We are the champions of the Arles ruins!

I, as usual, found my 3 to 4ish pm cafe and had my tea (in a great little plaza with many restaurants and cafes).  Others had ice cream in another shop in the same plaza.  Some went for beer.  Still others walked on to do whatever they wanted to do.  Arles is very easy to figure out, to walk, and felt very secure for our 2 to 76 year old tribe.  If you’re in the Provence area, keep this ancient city in mind.

The Gotta See (but Quickly) Mode
It was a good thing we rested up, because we headed into the “gotta see” mode.  Keep these quick and intuitive opportunities in mind.  It doesn’t mean you remain for the whole day, but it may be a place that you want to return to in the future.

Le Baux de France took us only 15 minutes out of our way back to our apartment.  Another walled village but with really great views as we had to drive up into the mountains a bit, we did a little shopping and made it back to our place for a light dinner.

After our meal, something for everyone, in the evening we sat on the patio and chatted, had various beverages (which also included a group of french neighbors bringing over a bottle of wine and small candies for the children in our group), upon my 12-year-old’s insistence there was some card playing, our family with children retired to their room, my mom (the kids’ grandmother) went into her bedroom to read, and I wrote.  I almost said it doesn’t get any better than that, but it does.

The MA-losophic message is notice the rhythm
Notice the dance and decide how it fits for you.  Understand that it might fit differently for others.  Enjoy the sameness of movement when it feeds you, is comfortable, energizing.  Be OK when you feel like shimmying away from a situation is best.

To learn more about my mind over matter practice, my self-help books, workshops, and techniques to create comfort for yourself and others, go to  www.MichellePayton.com.  Speak to you soon.

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MA-losophy in France: Thinking Ahead and Creating Infrastructure for a Richer Life

I will have a dozen or so blogs about my trip to France in the Summer of 2013.  Expect the MA-losophy style while also getting tips that you may be able to use when traveling with family in Europe (in my case with 11 people total) and my ability to maintain my sanity (most of the time).  While I receive compliments on my ability to speak French, I am far from perfect and it is a continuously humbling experience.  The following are some of my adventures as the only family member that spoke the language and was most exposed to the culture.  Wow, did I learn many lessons.  Read on…

History Creating Mindfulness
I mentioned in another blog that I don’t remember learning anything but American history in grades K-12.  It wasn’t until graduate school and traveling abroad that I was exposed to European or other history.  With many on this trip, I suggested that various family members research areas that we visited to expand our awareness.  Towns and regions became more meaningful, interesting, and sacred as a result (at least, for me), my son’s Latin studies came in handy when reading more ancient text in ruins and on 1,000 year old churches, even his interest in ancient empires gave us bigger picture glimpses (when France wasn’t France, what was it?).

Palaise de Pape in Avignon, France with my family in the shadows

The Palaise de Pape exterior is grand and well-preserved, but the interior requires a bit more imagination.  Knowing the history, however, created an added perspective.  In the 1300′s a number of Pope’s — who also happened to be French — lived in France rather than Rome.  Avignon to be specific.  Over time the Pope relocated to Rome to centralize administration (among other things), but power struggles developed and another line of Pope’s attempted to emerge in Avignon (rising up against Rome).  This clearly didn’t work out for the French, but I feel just a bit fuller by having been exposed to these stories.  Ultimately, don’t we watch these types of stories play out in our everyday lives?  Humans being?  And with those models, can we not predict certain if/then, cause/effects a bit more comprehensively?

When my husband and I have talked about politics, history, and cultural habits with my French mentor (also a political science PhD), I can tell you that I have heard more than once, “Didn’t you study this in European history class?”  Other examples… I didn’t know what Hadrian’s Wall was until I visited England.  Understanding the history, relationships developed, and bloodlines as a result of Roman men forming attachments with love interests in England (for instance) expanded my awareness.   Or what about when we — my children, hubby and I — noticed penises gone missing from statues in what Rome considers their central park?  By order of certain clergy, a chisel censored artistic expression (hmm, think I’ve witnessed that one before).  Thank goodness they didn’t to that to Michelangelo’s, 17 foot tall, David in Florence!

Sure, you can read these things in history books.  But, if you are going to travel, gain some background knowledge prior to your visit.  Not just abroad, but anywhere.  When I visited the 2,000 year old Roman Colosseum in ancient Rome, I read information about the structure after I returned to the States.  It didn’t have the same impact as touching, walking, and breathing in the area while also understanding the background information.

Food and Tea Strategies
Yes, it always circles back to food for me.  When I sit down to a meal — especially midday — I want the good stuff.  So, number one, don’t tour a major historic structure hungry.  You waste your taste buds on food that is usually not as good as if taking a walk a few blocks away from a historical landmark.  Yes, there are exceptions.  But if you don’t know the language and you are there for the first time, keep mealtimes as top of mind as landmarks.

By the time we made it to Avignon (more than one week into our trip), I was wearing the french language like an old shoe.  Sure, I would break into my Franglais (English in some of my sentences because I didn’t know the French word), but I was feeling much more confident.  We had a big family lunch in town, everyone went shopping, and I got antsy at about 3 or 4pm (15:00 or 16:00 hours… something you should get accustomed to in Europe as they run on military time).  I wanted to sit, relax, people watch, and have my tea at a cafe.  I found just the right place, three other members of our party decided they might like a little afternoon treat, and I was the super smooth Mainstream Metaphysical French Mom when I ordered for myself and everyone else at the table.  What do you think my family did?  They totally blew my Franco cool and applauded.  Oh well, back to having a sense of humor.

My Theory on Why the French are Slim:  Oh Wait, They Aren’t All Skinny!
Clearly, I am a foodie in France, but does post-suffering need to be attached to this (i.e. dieting once returning home)?  If one is gluttonous in any country expect to gain weight, so be clear that not all the French are slim.

One of our many dinner spreads (this one in Paris)

Certain European friends will say it’s because American fast food made its way into Europe, but it is nothing like the epidemic we have in America.

Many in the wholistic and integrative community would point to processed foods and GMO’s in the United States that are fed to people and livestock. I know that my youngest has had ongoing stomach issues since she was an infant, but when we took her to France (and to Italy years prior) she ate dairy and bread (for instances) and had no discomfort.  This encouraged her to willingly choose new foods after her return to the U.S., because as soon as she made it home stomach aches returned.

So part of the answer could be that France has banned GMO’s, but they have the infrastructure and cultural habits in place that allow them to eat the lion share of their food by 4pm (16:00 hours) then have a light dinner.  A number of my family members said, “I’m eating so much food.  I’m going to gain so much weight.” To the contrary, for another example, my husband actually lost a of couple pounds.  I could go on about childhood obesity, my issues with American school cafeterias, the poor substandard of food, and the herding of children in and out of the lunchrooms with sometimes (literally) ten minutes or less to actually eat (I fought this battle in my book “Soul”-utions), but I will move on.  The bigger point is I am re-creating my own infrastructure.

A pattern we are playing with this summer?  Eat a decent breakfast (which we generally do in our household); have a good sized lunch (I was skipping lunch on a regular basis) which includes packing a good quality lunch during the school year for our youngest; enjoy a sweet if you like before 4ish; and have a light dinner.  My french mentor said there is a new diet amongst her sisters, extended family and friends in 2013 (all living in France).  Another myth debunked.  Yes, the French do diet, being lean doesn’t always come naturally.  The idea is to eat cheeses (dairy) in the morning, have a good quality protein with up to two cups of a complex carbohydrate for lunch (for energy during the day), then a good quality protein and up to four times the amount of vegetables compared to the protein for dinner.  I haven’t read up on the whole concept so that isn’t the full program, but I am more interested in reporting that the French are NOT ALL skinny and DO diet.  All have to show some restraint to live a healthy life.

Another reason for dwelling on this is that I recognize how much I celebrate good food in my life and how I love to share it with others.  It increases my quality of life when I’m “mmmmming” due to the joy that I feel when I’m having a good meal.  Good means quality proteins, vegetables, fruits, carbohydrates, sweets, tea, coffee… Not gorging, bursting at the seams, and overdoing.  When you stop tasting your food then you should stop eating (this is one of my mind over matter focuses when working with clients on relationship with food).

The MA-losophic message is why not find limitless joy in what you do?
Rich history.  Rich food.  Rich people.   Rich culture.  Rich lessons.  Feel good during and after experiences.  Why not “mmmmmmm” when you eat.  Soak in the why’s that certain structures and regions existed.  Abroad and in your own hometown.  How can it apply to your life in the now?  Count the ways.

To learn more about my mind over matter practice, my self-help books, workshops, and techniques to create comfort for yourself and others, go to  www.MichellePayton.com.  Speak to you soon.

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MA-losophy in France: A gal’s gotta eat, but does she have to shower?

I will have a dozen or so blogs about my trip to France in the Summer of 2013.  Expect the MA-losophy style while also getting tips that you may be able to use when traveling with family in Europe (in my case with 11 people total) and my ability to maintain my sanity (most of the time).  While I receive compliments on my ability to speak French, I am far from perfect and it is a continuously humbling experience.  The following are some of my adventures as the only family member that spoke the language and was most exposed to the culture.  Wow, did I learn many lessons.  Read on…


My husband and kids at lunch in Roumillan, France

Food Glorious Food:
Having breakfast and a light dinner in our apartments as a general rule, this meant that we could splurge for lunch and we did just that.

A beautiful French entre (which is the beginning of the meal, not the main course as we might call it in the U.S.).

We made it to the next town — Roumillan which is near Pont du Gard — but it was a bit late for lunch.  Being a small town English was not spoken, but my French confidence was higher and the staff was willing to seat our family of 11 on their back patio (rather than muffle their white table cloth dining room which was a win:win).

Surrounded by four walls but open air (no roof), the ambiance was perfect, we were one of only two tables being served, and the servers were good humored even with our late arrival.  A perfect example of French hospitality.

Hunting and Gathering:
Bellies full, it was time to hunt and gather (i.e. find the local grocery store that would close by about 7pm, and where we can get our fresh bread and sweets).  Oh, wait, we weren’t even sure on the location of our next apartment (this is why we were late for lunch)!

So, after finding our apartments (just minutes away), taking stock of cooking and eating equipment, and refrigerator space we zeroed in on our food sources and loaded up our pantry shelves.  Top non-food items on our list were toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning sponges, dish and clothes washing soap, and did I mention “Just One Drop” that we brought from the States?

I mentioned this in another blog, but wow does that make a difference when you have 7 people that poop, at least once, everyday.  You add one drop to the toilet water, do your business, flush and the smell is (mostly) eliminated.  When the toilet closet sits next to the kitchen table (like it did in our first apartment) it’s a real sniffer saver. I think I digressed again.

Brrrrrrrr-Environmentally Thrifty:
The French (and much of Europe) have laws that require them to be thrifty when it comes to energy usage.  In our first apartment we had plenty of hot water, but we had to (literally) flip a switch every morning on the breaker panel to warm our water.  When we made it to apartment #2 we had a very cold dose of reality — limited hot water — so for the next 5 days we all took military showers (wet ourselves down, turn off the water, lather up, rinse quickly).  I congratulated the 7 members of our platoon for doing their parts (right down to using cold water when washing the dishes) and we all were sure to remind ourselves that we weren’t roughing it after all.  We were in France for Goddess sakes!

The MA-losophic message is to give the amazing life experiences more power than the skid marks.
I have arranged many family gatherings in my 31 years with my husband/life partner.  There have been times that I have subtly (and sometimes not too subtly) coached certain family members to be grateful for the experiences we have when we’re together, because bringing other family members down or not being gracious simply isn’t acceptable.  Sounds a little rose colored glasses and maybe tough, I know, but how do you feel when negativity douses your light? Your amazement? Your gratitude?  And, we do this to ourselves, at times, too.

Similarly, when clients say “I am failing” they no longer view this as acceptable so we look to their successful experiences (we have all had them in some shape or form, at some age), remember how they moved through life when they achieved them, and re-apply those movements to re-create more amazing life experiences today.  It all connects.

To learn more about my mind over matter practice, my self-help books, workshops, and techniques to create comfort for yourself and others, go to www.MichellePayton.com.  Speak to you soon.

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