So Long and Thanks for All the Fish!

Well, everyone, it is time to say So Long and Thanks for All the Fish!!

And by fish…I mean support, love, unending kindness, eyeballs to read my stories, stories to share back at me…the fish have been unending for 8 years. The fish have meant everything to me. The fish have changed my life.

When I started Nerd in the City, little over 8 years ago, I had no idea the journey I was about to embark on. I had no idea at the time that I was secretly a writer. I had no idea that I would meet new friends through here and that this place would become part of my skin.

But…it has and I did and I am changed because of you, little blog. And all of you who have continued reading the weird and wonderful stories I’ve shared.

It is time to start a new chapter. Something bright and different, but still undeniably me. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking of the new direction I wanted to take and what it would mean to leave Nerd in the City in my past.

I have to say, the thought was difficult at first. Nerd in the City is me. I am it. We are one. So where do I start if it ends. But the truth is, friends, I don’t live in The City anymore. And yes…I’m still a nerd (that will never change) but things looks so different for me now. I need a place to represent where I am now. I need a space to share who I have become.

I hope you’ll come along with me on this new journey. I am only here because you have been here along side me, reading my posts, commenting, sharing and making my day brighter!!

So…thank you, reader!

Thank you, blog.

Thank you readers.

Thank you, WordPress for giving my baby a home!!

Here’s to the future!

May it be brighter and better and bolder.

If you want to come along for the next phase of my journey…come on!!

The Wonderful Thing about Lizzie
Come join me at The Wonderful Thing About Lizzie

#InfinityGauntletFitness – Intro

It’s that time again! The fog of the holidays has finally lifted (the older I get the longer it lingers.) The weather has been turning warmer and warmer down here in Florida and it’s time to gear up for a brand new fitness series!!

Themed fitness series have been the best thing for me in regards to getting on track with my personal health and fitness. From my #AvengerinTraining series to my #PrincessBootCamp, each one has motivated me beyond just meal plans and fitness routines. These are opportunities to break bad habits, discover new things and make real, lasting lifestyle changes. Even if you only take away 1 or 2 things from each series, that builds up to a really good life. And as my friend Renita always says, #babystepstogreatness.

With Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War on the horizon, I thought I’d start with the franchise that motivates me more than any other franchise out there. Do I think I could be a superhero one day? Yes! Do I think I have some work to do before I achieve superhero status? You betcha. But I don’t like to recycle fitness plans. The thing that worked for me 4 years ago with #AvengerinTraining won’t work for me now. My life is different. My schedule is different. And my body is older. So I have to move at a pace that works for today’s me, not yesterday’s me.

But like my #AvengerinTraining series, I wanted to use Marvel as my inspo. So I came up with a series based on the Infinity Stones. Which have been peppered throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe for years, if you’ve been watching closely. The stones are the McGuffins that Thanos himself has been seeking since The Avengers hit movie theaters in 2012. They are all powerful gemstones that are tied to all the power in the universe. Each one has a different property and purpose, but when they are all combined in the Infinity Gauntlet, they grant the user…

With that in mind, I devised a 7 week series. 1 week for each of the 6 Infinity Stones (Space, Reality, Power, Mind, Time and Soul Stones) and a 7th week for the full Infinity Gauntlet!

Stay tuned for a full week by week breakdown, starting with Week 1: The Space Stone.

But here’s a little tip if you want to dive into a new fitness series, or anything really…put your money where your dreams are! I’m starting each week by purchasing all my fitness classes up front and creating my schedule right off the bat. That way, I have no excuses. The money has been put aside, the classes have been purchased and it’s just up to me to do the things I say I want to do. So…stay tuned!!

Pairings Retreat: From Dream to Reality

One day, shortly after the beginning of the new year, my friend Cristina from Your Personal Producer and I were on G-chat as we normally are, sharing our dreams for 2018. She was in a funk and I was in a post-Paris high! 2017 had seen some serious ups and downs for both of us and we didn’t want 2018 to end up being the same old song and dance. You know…dream big at the beginning of the year, start off strong and lose it somewhere around mid-April.

In a moment of honesty, she blurted out: (paraphrasing) “I wish I could just get away. Go on a retreat and get my thoughts in order for 2018.”

And I said “Let’s do that!”

The funny thing is, it’s usually me who dreams beyond my reach and usually she steps in to tell me: “That’s possible.” But on this day our roles were reversed and soon our dreaming turned into a game plan!

She threw out a concept, I took it and threw things back at her and an actionable plan formed not only in our minds and on our proverbial cocktail napkins, but also on a shared Google Drive folder that would soon become an actionable itinerary for the retreat of our dreams.

Pairings Retreat

We started off with the dream of a beachy, intimate retreat filled with instagrammable drinks paired with vision board creations. Photo sessions paired with content calendars. Adorable products from bakeries like P is for Pie and brands like band.o to inspire our own creative juices. It all came together like the stories you hear of visionaries in restaurants spit balling ideas and then…one day, we have Twitter. Or in a parent’s garage and all of a sudden…Apple is born.

In fact, Cristina and I have this thing that happens to us when we really get going on an idea on G-chat. One of us will type out an idea and hit send only to find the other person has thought of almost the exact same thing as well. Leading to a lot of “GET OUT OF MY HEAD” and “HOW IS THIS HAPPENING?”

In moments like these, we are so like-minded that our dreams and visions become transcendent. Like somehow God is planting ideas in both our heads and because He had the good sense to make us friends, He’s smiling at His handiwork when we, humble creations that we are, realize how our ideas fit together just as they are meant to!

So fast forward through all of our pre-planning and big dreaming to the retreat itself.

Road Trip Reunion:

Cristina flew in early Tuesday morning. We didn’t want to skip a beat or miss precious time enacting our respective visions. I grocery shopped and product sourced ahead of time with a handy shared shopping list on the G-Drive (the thing that helps us get all things done.)

Pairings Retreat - a creative retreat for blogger by Cristina and Liz

The drive to Madeira Beach is about 2 hours from Orlando, so we had plenty of time to get our thoughts in order and make some plans ahead of our scheduled time of making plans. Plus, we had a chance to get important friend catch-up time in there as well, which is vital to a partnership like ours! We strive very hard to strike a balance between best friends forever and business partners. And that comes with equal helpings of dream casting and venting about elements of our everyday life.

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Werk Werk Werk:

Once we reached our destination, we were in for a penny, in for a pound. We wasted no time unpacking the car, setting up our rooms and our work spaces, making our first round of drinks and getting our hair into sensible work pony-tails. We had a quick lunch on the beach of Publix subs, because Publix subs are the be all and end all of sandwiches for any home grown Florida girl (and we both are!)

Pairings Retreat - a creative retreat for bloggers by Cristina and Lizzie

Next, we set about our goal setting. With the help of some materials Cristina brought along, we began to ask really tough questions about our goals. What we wanted to achieve in life? What was stopping us? What did we allow in our lives that caused road blocks we may not even be aware of yet? What emotional juggernauts did we each have to work on and overcome in the coming year to make space for big dreams? So…no big deal. Just the extremely big, life-altering questions of the every day life, right?

Visionaries:

Following that, we set to the task of vision boarding. Cristina’s board was and all-encompassing snap shot of the life she wants to create for herself. A sensible 11×17″ format that would fit nicely in her carry on and be easy to take home with her.

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My vision board…well, you know I don’t do anything the “normal” way. Mine turned into more of what I like to call, a vision journal. Each page representing a different aspect of my personality that I wanted to highlight or work on or change altogether.  (more to come on vision journaling!)

Sunsets are Non-negotiable:

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After getting a whole lot of WERK done, we made a rule about Pairings Retreat…Sunsets are non-negotiable!! So we walked out to the beach (which was mere steps away from the front door of our beach cottage) and watched as the day sank into nighttime. Sunsets are the best way to end a day, IMHO. They remind you that there is beauty waiting at the end of whatever you just went through. And they reminded us to consider that the world has so much to offer.

Winner, Winner, Pesto Dinner:

When pairing up with a Forever Friend and future business partner, it’s nice to combine skills. Some of which I have, some of which she has and some of which we share. But making a delicious Pesto Chicken Pasta for dinner…that’s all Cristina!

Throughout our day we were cognizant of the moments when we wanted to hunker down and get through our list, as well as making room for moments when we needed a little R&R to refresh us for the hard stuff. Pairings Retreat quickly became about so much more than scheduling blog posts and creating actionable plans for our future. It was only the end of day one and already we both had the feeling that we had stumbled upon something really special.

Second Verse, Better than the First:

We awoke at a reasonable hour in the morning on Day 2. Actually, I got up a little earlier to go sit on the beach and watch the day break. Breakfast was mimosas and bagels from Brooklyn Water Bagel, a local place in Winter Park and a favorite place of mine (shop small!!!)

Pairings Retreat - a creative retreat for bloggers by Cristina and Lizzie

We analyzed our schedule for the day over breakfast and made some adjustments. We wanted to have more time for photo sessions and wanted to take advantage of the weather in the morning. Being flexible in the midst of a set schedule became really important for us. We had things to accomplish, but we also wanted to be free to move with the day as we needed to.

Snap My Picture:

Cristina has gotten very good at taking my picture. From our days of working on my web series in New York to her constantly being my photographer for fitness series and fashion posts. Me…I’m not as good at it. But this was a chance to stretch myself. I’m usually the one in front of the camera, because I like to be there. She’s usually behind it, for the same reason. But Pairings Retreat is about challenging yourself. Creating what you need. And learning that the walls you have to climb are only as tall as you let them be. Learn to climb and you don’t have a wall problem anymore, do you!

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Photo by Cristina Fowler
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Photo by Cristina Fowler
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Photo by Cristina Fowler (she really is good at this game!)

Working Lunch:

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We continued to bump things around and change our schedule as our needs dictated for the day. Lunch became a working lunch. We put the finishing touches on our vision boards and started in on our writing session. Whatever that meant for each of us. We are both bloggers, but I took that time to continue filing out my questionnaire about my future, which became addictive and illuminating. I didn’t realize some of the things that were coming up in my answers and it allowed me a perspective on my future that I had not considered yet.

Treat Yourself:

Who among us isn’t energized by a treat? The mere mention of a cupcake in the vicinity and I perk right up! Prior to the trip, I had procured a couple special treats for us. Pies from P is for Pie, cupcakes from Small Cakes Cupcakery and extra large Hershey’s chocolate bars for each of us (milk chocolate for Cristina and dark chocolate for me.) We had a drink pairing for each portion of our day and delectable meals lined up around every corner.

Pairings Retreat - a creative retreat for bloggers by Cristina and Lizzie

We didn’t over eat. We didn’t get drunk or binge on sweets to the point of sugar comas, but we did enjoyed our time together to the fullest and took time to treat ourselves as we worked hard and got our check lists done! This is now a founding principle of Pairings Retreat. TREAT YOURSELF!!

Bring Me that Horizon:

As I  mentioned before…sunsets are non-negotiable at Pairings and we took the chance to get another photo session in before the sun took it’s bow for our last night on retreat.

On the Town:

To add a big, shiny bow to our fabulous and very productive 2-day retreat, we went out to dinner Wednesday night. We couldn’t believe we had only started the morning before. We had gotten so much done!

There’s something about fresh seafood on the porch of a beach town restaurant that is especially rejuvenating. We had more fruity drinks and more delicious desserts. And we talked about how we wanted to expand our idea for Pairings. What if we offered this experience to more bloggers who were looking for what we had found here?

To the Future:

It’s funny. After a certain age, things like camp and sleep overs and getaways become hard to come by because of life circumstance or frowned upon because of age. 30-something women don’t have slumber parties anymore. Adults don’t go away to sleep over camp. We grown-ups have it all figured out, after all. But I call shenanigans!!

Pairings Retreat - a creative retreat for blogger Cristina and Lizzie

We need to get away sometimes. We need to recharge our batteries away from the people who spend the most time using our batteries up. We need time with other creatives to spark our own adventures and dreams. That is exactly what Pairings became for us.

And even better, that is what Pairings can be for you too!!

If that sounds like just what you’re looking for, then…Stay tuned!

Pairings Retreat - a creative retreat for bloggers by Cristina and Lizzie

An American in Paris: Day 7

Lizzie does Paris

Thursday, January 4th, 2018

I was posting my Paris recap blog posts very regularly for a while there. But for some reason when I went to post the blog about the last day of my grand adventure, something held me back. I couldn’t hit “Publish.”

Lizzie Does Paris - blog life

What it boils down to is this…I didn’t want the trip the be over! I wanted to savor it for as long as I could. I wanted to hold on to each moment for ever and ever! But let’s face it, I’ve been back in Florida for almost 2 months. The trip has ended. That’s just a fact! But just because the physical trip itself is, in fact, over, doesn’t mean I have to lose the spirit of Paris. It’s something I now take with me every day. That experience changed me or at least I hope it did.

I don’t want to be the girl that returns to life as usual. I want to be the girl that constantly thinks “where to next?”

So…here it is! My last post about my adventure in Paris. Day 7. Because, even though the journal has been shared, just because this chapter has been written, doesn’t mean there isn’t more to my story!! After all…that’s how books work, right? Chapter by chapter.

Travel Journal Continued…

“This is it, my last morning in Paris. I’m breakfasting in Montmarte before the shops open. I found a café, at the base of Sacre-Coeur…they’ve never heard of a mimosa. But were willing to make one for me this morning. I’m pretty sure I just changed their lives for the better!! And I made my mark on Paris.

Lizzie does Paris - Sacre-Coeur

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After this trip, I’m even more convinced that fully exploring one city at a time is the way to go. I have no desire to race from country to country. I like taking my time and becoming engrossed in the culture of the places I’m going. I want to let it effect me. 7 days isn’t even close to enough time to get to know Paris…I need more! But it will have to do for now. It’s been an excellent sampling and I know in my heart…I will be back!

Lizzie Does Paris recap blog - Eiffel Tower

This trip has been everything I could have dreamed it would be and more…so much more! I am relieved that I ended up coming on my own. Not that company would not have been welcome. But I feel like this time by myself, this time apart has given me perspective. And perspective is a beautiful gift going into a brand new year. I have high hopes for 2018.

Lizzie does Paris recap blog - leaving Paris

It’s time to say goodbye to Paris. I’m on the train to the airport and I just don’t want to go. It’s as simple as that. This trip has changed me. I hope I can hold on to the person I rediscovered over here. She’s pretty great! And until next time, I’ll always have…Paris!! Because, much like New York City, once you let her under your skin….she stays there forever!”

And now for some outtakes from my camera roll. Photos that would normally never see the light of day because I’m picky when it comes to pictures, but I kinda want to share because of how purely me they are. Enjoy:

Lizzie does Paris - Palace of Versailles outtakes selfie photobomb
This moment was captured so perfectly I had to share it with you! This photo bomber and I didn’t know how perfectly her pose and my face would mesh together. But that’s the magic of the selfie taker/photo bomber relationship sometimes!! 
Lizzie does Paris recap blog - outtakes jet lag
Here I am on my first night in Paris, up in the middle of the night thanks to my jet lag. Rather than try to sleep, I used it as an opportunity to take about 35 pictures of me in my pajamas in my tiny Paris hotel room! Seize the Day…Night!
Lizzie does Paris - outtakes relationship goals
This is my new #relationshipgoals Captured on the walk from L’Orangerie to the Louvre. Couldn’t resist documenting this adorable moment.
Lizzie does Paris - outtakes Not the Love Bridge
I thought this was the Love Bridge, even though it didn’t have as many locks as I thought it would have. Everything made sense when I found the actual bridge a couple days later!
Lizzie Does Paris recap blog - outtakes awe-struck wonder
This is the face I made basically everywhere I went in Paris as I encountered monuments, landmarks, galleries and museums that left me simply awe-struck!
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Paris Mickey is the exact same as Florida Mickey, and yet there was something about meeting him over there that just made it feel extra enchanting. And Mickey LOVED my bright green hair!
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When traveling alone, you have to rely on your own scrappy picture taking skills sometimes. That means setting your camera down in the Louvre and occasionally getting pictures of your arm in motion. So many arm pictures from my time in Paris!
Lizzie does Paris recap blog - on top of the world
This is the face you make when you’re standing on top of the whole world!! 

An American in Paris: Day 6

Lizzie does Paris

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018

Travel Journal Continued…

“It’s my last full day in Paris. I’ll have some time in the morning tomorrow before I have to get to the airport, but this is it. And I just don’t want to leave! Forever may not be long enough for me and Paris and 7 days certainly hasn’t been.

I’m sure I miss home on some level, but right now it’s really deep, deep down. That familiar feeling of knowing I could be ok on my own for the rest of my life creeps in in moments like this. I’m sure it isn’t true. But today, it feels a little bit true.

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I’m back at the Eiffel Tower this morning. I wanted to see her in the daylight too! It’s funny, this whole area from the Eiffel Tower to the Arc du Triomphe felt so much farther apart on New Year’s Eve. Goes to show you what a difference proper footwear can make!!

Lizzie does Paris - Eiffel TowerThe Eiffel Tower is absolutely magical (there’s that word again) in the daytime too! I could just sit and stare at her all day long, all over again! I opted not to go up her. The line is really long and I want to save some things for when I return one day (and I will return one day!)

Lizzie does Paris - Eiffel Tower map

Lizzie does Paris - Eiffel Tower

Instead of going up the Eiffel Tower, I think I’m going to go up the Arc du Triomphe instead. After all, I’d rather see Eiffel in my bird’s eye view!

Lizzie does Paris - Arc du Triomphe

Lizzie does Paris - Arc du Triomphe

Lizzie does Paris - Arc du Triomphe tickets

From the top of the Arc du Triomphe…WOW, what a view! Highly recommended! Of course, it was sunny before I went up, rainy when I got to the top and perfectly sunny when I got back down to the bottom. It was like a time machine…an entirely different day was waiting for me at the top.

Lizzie does Paris - spiral staircase Arc du Triomphe

Lizzie does Paris - bird's eye view

The Arc is also a sight I’m glad I’m seeing in the light of day, with the blue skies flanking it and the sun shining brightly. I’m glad I came back for both Eiffel and the Arc in the daytime!

And now lunch.

A rather late lunch. I don’t know why I keep waiting till I’m faint with hunger to actually eat. I think I’m just so eager to soak it all in that eating occurs to me later than my stomach would prefer.

Lizzie does Paris - Lunch time

For lunch…Ravioli des Fromage…extra Fromage! And Vin Rouge (don’t forget my one rule!!)

I’ve been eating only 1 or 2 meals a day and I actually have enjoyed this practice. I don’t feel weighed down by heavy breads and cheeses as I’m touring the city and walking my ass off (LITERALLY.) If I need an extra snack here and there, pain du chocolat and macarons do the trick nicely! But saving real meals for nicer sit down places, where I can really delve into their menus and order food, wine and dessert has been delightful. And monetarily, it’s working for me too!

Lizzie does Paris - Laduree

Lizzie does Paris - Laduree macarons

Lizzie does Paris - Laduree dessert

I stopped at Ladurée for macarons, macarons, more macarons and a freaking magical cheesecake. I’m taking them all to go and will save them for later.

Lizzie does Paris - Montmarte Village

Ok…I LOVE Montmarte Village!! So many little shops! This was a suggestion from a friend back home (thanks Shirley!) and boy does she know me well! This is my place! In fact, I daresay, this is actually my favorite place in all of Paris!

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Bonus…I got to see the Moulin Rouge. And yes…I sang as I approached it! I couldn’t help myself!! I would have loved to take in a show at La Moulin, but I think I’ll add that to the growing list of ‘Next Time I’m Here.’

Lizzie does Paris - Montmarte Village

I spent hours just walking up and down these cobble stone streets tonight. And it’s settled! I’m coming back here tomorrow. My flight doesn’t leave till 4:30pm. I already asked and the hotel is able to hold my bags for me, leaving the morning wide open for more shopping and exploring. Plus Sacré-Coeur deserves to be seen in daylight just like Eiffel and Arc!! (Like they’re all people and those are their names. But that’s sort of how I feel about these monuments. Like they are living, breathing parts of Paris. With names and feelings and everything! Friends that soon I’ll have to leave behind.)

Lizzie does Paris - Sacre Coeur

I really haven’t had the chance or taken the chance to do much shopping in Paris till today. I’ve been single-minded in my purpose and today in Montmarte I was actually able to think of people back home and get some treats for them. But I know there are more treasures to be found when I come back tomorrow!

Lizzie does Paris

And for now, I’m heading back to little room 105 to eat my desserts and survey all the treasures I’ve bought today.

It was a great last day in Paris!”

Lizzie does Paris - Eiffel Tower.jpg

An American in Paris: Day 5

Lizzie does Paris

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

Travel Journal Continued…

“Before coming to Paris, I was starting to feel, or rather have felt for a while, like I lost my adaptability, my spontaneity. Things are so routine at home for me most days. And sometimes often times, I’ve found myself stuck in my ways. And I greatly dislike that feeling. I also think…that’s not the real me!!

Life is what comes at you. And what you make of each moment. I’ve felt like I haven’t made very much of what I’ve been given. I’ve taken a lot for granted. Maybe I’ve rolled with the punches, but I’ve whined about being punched in the first place.

But along comes Paris and ‘Hello, old girl!’Lizzie does Paris - travel blogI got lost on my first day. I found myself wandering in circles around the Paris Opera House and all of a sudden where I was going didn’t matter, cause look where I was! And hey, I saw more of the city that way, then I did from knowing exactly where I was going and making it there in one piece. Sure my pinkie toes are still busted from New Year’s Eve, but along comes over the counter Paris Advil and we’re back in business.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way. And I guess what I’m trying to say is, my will is stronger over here, in a place I’ve never been, in a country where I don’t speak the language, when I’m on my own and lost, than it is when I’m comfortable and settled and home. Over here adaptability is my middle name. Over here I am Nomad, I am Wanderer, I am giving directions to lost Canadian tourists.

Hello, familiar feeling of being capable as H-E-Double Hockey Sticks!! I am much more capable than I give myself credit for in my every day life.

But…this is the challenge. To bring this spirit home with me. I need to find this version of me in my own backyard. I need to keep all this in my mind’s eye and in my heart’s memory and recall it every single day. I need to draw on this strength of character. And I don’t have to wonder if it’s there…I KNOW IT IS!

I know that the every day life needs to be tended to. Bills need to be paid, routines upheld, commitments fulfilled. But, oh yeah…Life is a grand adventure. I was starting to forget that or maybe I even made it all the way to ‘forgot.’

At the same time that I know I have a life back home worth living…I also know that I could be happy living life on the run.”

Lizzie does Paris - Versailles

Interjection: All this existential life searching happened while I waited in a 3 hour line to get into the Palace of Versailles. It was cold and rainy and the line was discouraging at first. But then I put my headphones in, listened to The Greatest Showman and started writing and all of a sudden I was walking through the doors of the Palace!

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“WOW! Versailles is the epitome of French to me. Walking through these palatial hall, I can’t imagine anyone, even a King, living here. One could get lost simply trying to find the closet.

Lizzie does Paris - Palace of Versailles

Lizzie does Paris - Palace of Versailles

Lizzie does Paris - Palace of Versailles

What I can imagine, are the kinds of royal parties that must have been held here and in the gardens outside.

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This was worth every freezing cold minute I spent standing in line this morning. I would love to come back and see these gardens in the Spring (I’ve added that to my to do list for when I return, and I will return!)

Lizzie does Paris - Palace of Versailles

I opted not to have the audio guides as I walked through the Palace today. I’m sure they are illuminating. I’m sure they add a lot to the history and understanding of this place. But I have enjoyed using my own imagination and thoughts as I’ve wandered through these rooms.

Lizzie does Paris - Palace of Versailles

Another banner day! Will Paris ever cease to amaze me? Probably not!!

I ended my Versailles day with dinner AND dessert crepes. Can you have too many crepes…the answer is no! Trust me! And a side of Rosé Cider.

Bon Appétit…Literally!!

One year ago, almost to the day, I gave up weighing myself. It was as much a gift to my mind as it was to my body. Contrary to what you might think, the devil does not live in the details. He lives in the numbers! Especially when it comes to a woman’s weight.

Lizzie does Paris - travel blog

And as vigilant as I try to be on a daily basis, when I was in Paris I said “Screw it!” This trip was about enjoyment and about celebration. Joy has no patience for calorie counting in a foreign country and a modern day fairytale of my own making.

So weights and scales and eating “right” was not on my radar at all. Imagine my surprise, when I weighed myself on a whim at my parent’s house, after returning from Paris and finding out I’d lost 5 pounds. How could this be? I ate foods that were heavy in cream and cheese. I ate a plentiful amount of bread every single day. And dessert? I had that after every single meal, not to mention a generous amount of wine to go with it.

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The way I ate in France was not indicative of someone who had lost weight. Sure, I’d averaged about 20,000 steps a day in Paris and that had to account for some of it. But believe me when I say, I ATE while I was over there. I assumed it would all even out. I never thought it would leave me with a pleasant amount of lost weight.

But here’s the secret…bon appétit, in French, means “enjoy your meal.” And that’s just what the French people do. Other European countries like Spain and Italy subscribe to this notion of enjoyment as well! Food is not something to be scarfed down as we run from thing to thing, never stopping to savor. It is literally meant to be enjoyed to the fullest.

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As I sat in a little cafe for dinner, my first night in Paris, I looked around and noticed people taking their time with their meals. Bills weren’t brought to rush people out. Waiters gave each table the space needed to truly savor the moments in between bites. And I absorbed this tempo immediately upon my arrival. I indulged in 3 course meals and stayed an extra 30, 40, 50 minutes sometimes. I read my book while I ate and I wrote in my journal. Every waiter knew at least 3 things about my life by the time my meal had ended and we parted ways better for having shared a little company.

I wish I could say this would continue in me forever! I know that it won’t. Because I do move from thing to thing with the frantic nature of an American dreamer. But…from now on, when I sit down to a true meal, I will truly strive to inject the French spirit of “bon appétit” into dinner time and breakfast and the occasional lunch (that happens to be the meal I most often rush through in order to get things done.)

I think that food eaten out of pure enjoyment and true contentment gets digested very differently than food consumed out of utter necessity or carelessness. I’m no scientist, I only know what my body tells me. And it told me quite a story when I returned home from Paris, down 5 pounds and feeling happier and lighter than I have in years.

Some things are meant to be felt with our hearts, to the tips of our fingers and our crafty, analytical little minds only manage to get in the way. Trust your body. Trust your instincts! And pick one meal this week and add an extra 30 minutes onto the time you spend with it. Eat out of pure joy and see if it makes a difference! Take a little France into your mealtimes…I brought some back just for you!

Lizzie does Paris - Lunch time

Bon Appétit!

Star Wars Boot Camp Redo

Star WArs boot Camp fitness series

Well, the best laid plans of mice and men…amiright?

The day I decided to start my brand new Boot Camp series was the day that we found out our friend Wally had died. After attempting to keep on keeping on despite the mounting grief washing through my soul, I finally came to the point where I couldn’t just keep on. I had to stop. Stop what I was doing. Stop and take stock of why I was doing it. And in the aftermath of tragedy, my body didn’t care about getting back into shape. The Dark Side had taken over.

I’d be lying if I said that the Darkness has left…it hasn’t.

But this past Monday, I decided to give my Star Wars Boot Camp a do-over. The desire to tune my body back to healthy has resurfaced and I feel extra motivated to make the best of my life. Especially remembering that there are people who don’t get one more day. It really does put your grief into perspective. It puts your fears and failures into perspective. And for me, it makes me stronger. It makes me want to fight for the best life I can have.

Enter…

Week 1: Sith Apprentice Week (Anakin Skywalker)

I’m altering the routine I had previously shared just a bit (pray I don’t alter it further.) 😉

Here’s a look at my morning routine, which I will do every morning this week:

1 min of each

  • Jumping Jacks
  • High Knees
  • Squats
  • Butt Kickers
  • Leg Lunges
  • Jog in Place
  • Crunches
  • High Kicks
  • Plank
  • Jump Rope

Arm Routine

  • Dumbbell Shoulder Press (4 sets, 8 reps)
  • Standing Dumbbell Curls (3 sets, 12 reps)
  • Reverse Curls (3 sets, 12 reps)
  • Dumbbell Lateral Raises (3 sets, 12 reps)
  • Hammer Curls (2 sets, 15 reps)
  • Tricep Press (3 sets, 12 reps)
  • Upright Dumbbell Row (3 sets, 12 reps)

Here’s another look at my playlist this week:

 

Bonus Rounds

To add a little extra oomph to this week’s workouts, I’m adding some YouTube videos that will focus on some Sith skills, such as lightsaber combat, Kendo and martial arts.  I chose one of these 4 days out of the week to try. Take a look:

No guarantee that I’ll master these in a week…in fact, it’s a safe bet to say that I won’t. But that’s not really the point of Boot Camp. This Boot Camp is supposed to give me focus. Every morning, I’ll be narrowing in on what’s happening with my body. Where the pain is, where I need to push myself. And by focusing on those things, it will take my eyes off of the unhealthy habits I’ve been forming in the last month or so.

As of today, I’m 2 days into it and I’ve had successful morning and evening workouts each day since starting! Now it’s time to add on these extra bonus workouts and push more…just like a Sith Apprentice would. Channeling my inner Anakin!

tenor.gif

Here’s a look at some of the training Hayden Christensen did for Episode III to get you inspired!

I Know the Power of the Dark Side

Photo from TeePublic.com

I gotta tell you, after the news of not one, but three shootings in the last 2 months, as well as (and more emotionally jarring for me) the murder of a friend, I understand the power of the Dark Side. I understand the temptation to lean into that power and the strength that comes from my anger. It gives me focus…makes me stronger. (where have I heard that before…)

It’s a righteous response to hearing about a crime that strips innocence and kindness down to a headline in a newspaper. There is power in the feeling, in the emotion.

It’s why the Jedi teach peace over emotion. It’s why they teach serenity over passion.

But today I don’t want peace and I don’t want serenity! I don’t want to seek knowledge. I don’t want harmony. I don’t want to understand or forgive. I want revenge.

I do.

In my heart, in my head, down to my fingertips, in my gut I want swift justice for the men and women mowed down by yet another gunman whose story somehow gets amplified above the stories of his victims. I want swift justice for one of the kindest, most faithful men at my church who was brutally killed. That’s what I want.

The Dark Side calls in moments of high emotion.

The Dark Side seems to have all the answers.

The Dark Side beckons!

But that’s why we (I) have to take extra care to fight for the Light. We (I) have to be vigilant in times of high emotion, in times of pain because these are the times when that Darkness feels comforting. Think of your warm, safe bed. All the lights are off. It’s safe there. It’s comfortable to be wrapped up in that blanket of Darkness and block out all Light.

I’m sure that’s what the congregation of First Baptist of Sutherland Springs wants to do. I’m sure it’s what the citizens of Las Vegas wanted and probably still want to do. And the families of the people mowed down in New York City and on and on and on.

These stories aren’t going away. The world isn’t going to just heal on it’s own. And it is so damn easy to just become numb to it. That’s what the Dark Side will do. It allows numbness to filter in till you can’t feel the pain anymore. And even worse…it tells you that numbness is what you need. It tells you it’s normal.

So, yeah…I know the power of the Dark Side. I feel it, even today, coursing through me. If I could tap into the power of the Force, I’m not sure I’d use my powers for good today. To be honest…it would be a struggle.

But the Emperor hasn’t won yet…the Dark Side has not taken over! The Light is still there and it reminds me of who I am. I use this Star Wars analogy today to add lightness to the pain of these tragedies. But the truth is that these are heavy weights that our country seems to carry more and more of around our collective necks. Salvation rests in believing that we were meant for more and loving beyond our understanding.

The Darkness lets me wish the man who killed my friend would meet with “eye for an eye” justice. But the Light…the Light challenges me to find compassion for the 23 year old who took his own life in a jail cell last Friday after having committed the crime against my friend. One path is much easier…one path is swift and far less complicated. Far less messy. Last week, the Darkness won my thoughts, but today I feel the Light remind me of what is good and pure and beautiful about this world and I think I have it in me to forgive.