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 ad —  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  Speak to you soon.

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