Sunday Hiking in France

Notre Dame des Neiges: Le Plateau des Glieres (La Balme-de-Thuy, France)

I took a lovely hike on Sunday with the whole family.  It was a short and relaxing trek through unbelievable landscapes and farm land.  It took about 45 minutes to reach the restaurant located toward the top and while there we had potatoes, meat, cheese, wine, and dessert. Honestly, what more do you need?  I could try to explain it all in a bit more detail, but I think the pictures speak for themselves.  This place never gets old.

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JUNE 14th, 2015: Turning 26 in France

“Everyone should be surprised on their birthday,” Michelene said on the 13th when she picked me up in Epagny in her trusty Twingo. I jumped in the car and we drove to pick up Meg (the other birthday girl) and to meet up with our other friends Jacqueline and Nico.

Jacqueline put a basket of food in the trunk- fresh cherries, a baguette, cheese, meats, chips, wine, and a chocolate cake. We jumped in and started driving, windows down, and music playing as we drove around the lake and slowly moved higher and high up the mountain. My hand rested on the edge of the window seal as I watched the lake move farther and farther away. It became smaller and bluer with every mile higher.

We stopped at the Col de la Forclaz and hiked up to a beautiful spot where the paragliders take off. We had a picnic. I felt so happy. I sat there and couldn’t help but reflect on the fact that I was turning 26 in one of the most beautiful places in the world. It was also a place I hadn’t known existed until a year ago, which is crazy to think about. I was with people I loved and appreciated, some of whom had been by my side experiencing this whole thing with me from the beginning.

We left, explored an area around the lake called Talloires, and then went north about 20 minutes up the lake and rented a paddle boat and stand up paddle boards. We drank wine, played in the water, tanned, went downtown and made lovely memories I’ll never forget.

I’m so so lucky. 🙂

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The next afternoon on the 14th my host family threw a lovely lunch for my host mom’s brother and me, and we ate amazing Thai food prepared by her sister-in-law. Despite my early morning hung over status from a night of too much crazy, after some champagne and a shot of espresso I was eventually able to shake it off and enjoy the festivities. As French lunches go, we ate, drank, chatted, laughed, opened presents and relaxed on the back patio.

Oh, yea….and they gave me a BRAND NEW CAMERA. !!!

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Again, I felt so much love over my birthday weekend.

MERCI BEAUCOUP to everyone who made me feel so special.  I love all of you. ❤

Happiness of the Pursuit

We were having one of those “What am I doing with my life,” mid-twenties kind of conversations.

If you are lucky enough to have people with shared life experiences, I think it’s not only important, but crucial to take the time to hash out your ideas with them- to pull your lives apart, to dissect them and to try your best to put it all back together again in a somewhat less-elusive type of way.

And if that doesn’t work, go get some tequila and start dancing. That always does.

She said, “I don’t know where I want to be. I don’t know where I’m headed. I want to be happier.”

Don’t we all.” I said.

There was a pause, and she replied, “You know what movie you would love?”

What?”

Hector and the Search for Happiness.”

Never seen it.”

Netflix.”

I watched the film last night. Despite my normal tendency to fall asleep with every film I start after 7 PM, this one kept me hooked. I finished the whole thing and stayed up for an hour reflecting and looking up quotes from the film. One article in particular said it perfectly. In the Huff Post blog by Peter Chelsom, (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-chelsom-/the-happiness-of-pursuit_b_5824184.html) he states:

The film’s main conclusion is that the emotion of happiness cannot really be separated. Real happiness is richness. And richness is the full spectrum of all the colors, all the emotions. Yes, we need to embrace it all if we are to stand a chance at being happy.

I think the film is also addressing the fact that life is not as successful when you spend it searching endlessly for happiness. Instead it’s fuller when you take the time to have experiences, to take risks, to listen to your intuition, to make mistakes, and to allow yourself to grow because of it all. In other words, happiness is about living life in all it’s hardship and in all it’s wonder.

I just turned 26 this month. I am soon ending my year abroad and returning home. I am in a transition that is a result of my long desire to find, in my own personal way, what it is that defines this all-elusive term. So when I heard the following line from the film, it hit me like a profound, simplistic ton of bricks: 

We should concern ourselves not so much with the pursuit of happiness, but more with the happiness of pursuit.

Et voilà, there you have it. Maybe happiness isn’t one attainable tangible goal, but a fluid, organic thing that happens when you are not thinking about it. When you are living life in the truest, most authentic way possible.

Cheers to turning 26, to a year older, to another year of experience, to being closer to 30 than 20, but to still being able to cling to that mid- twenties identity.

…To the happiness of the pursuit. ❤

A bientôt, ma chérie! <3

Sam Hunt played through the speakers. We were in the Twingo at 2 AM on the first of June, driving home from Finn’s, passing along the perimeter of the lake, windows down, hands dancing, seat-belts unfastened, voices unapologetically blaring- when it hit me all at once. This thing is almost over.

I started to tear up, when Mich glanced back from the driver’s seat and I noticed a similar tear rolling down her cheek.

“Guys, stop it!” said Val from the passengers seat. She reached back to grab my hand, and lifted it up to keep it dancing.

“I just can’t believe it is already June,” I said. “and I can’t believe you are leaving tomorrow.”

I dropped her off at the airport the next day, said good bye, pulled the roll of toilet paper out from my purse and dabbed my eyes as I walked toward the parking garage.

I drove home on the back roads, without a GPS, the windows down, music loud. I reflected.

It has been a year of unbelievable sights. Of growth, challenge, lessons, cheese, wine, mountains, children, and lots of photographs, but most importantly- it has brought me together with a group of like-minded people who understand each other’s restless desires to keep moving and to keep searching.

These types of real friendships are important. You never know when you’ll meet them. It could happen by the neighbor’s fence, at band camp, at work, at school, or halfway across the world in a foreign country that you have to learn how to navigate together.

Wherever you find them, stick with the people who challenge you, who love you, who make you feel funny and important, who can laugh at your flaws, and cheer you on in your successes.

Hold onto those people, because trust me, life is a lot more bearable if you have someone to laugh about it with.

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Justin’s Visit

When you leave someone that you’ve spent 5 and a half years with to take an adventure on your own, people judge you. Some tell you it won’t last, or they tell you it will because they think it is what you want to hear. Others genuinely believe it is going to. Then there are those who shoot it to you straight, honest, and perhaps a little more real than you are ready for at the moment. ‘Who knows what will happen. Growing apart somewhat is inevitable, but it doesn’t mean you guys won’t make it. Take it one day at a time.’

It has been 9 months since I left for France. After 8, Justin made it to Europe. I waited for him at the gate and felt sharp restlessness in my stomach alongside a severe knot in my throat. He hadn’t even walked off the plane yet, but I had to bit my lip so I wouldn’t burst into tears before he arrived. All around me people had signs, they were embracing, smiling, speaking a mix of English and French and full of emotions I knew and understood far too well.

I saw him first from across the gate. I smiled and waited until he caught my eye. We moved towards each other in what felt like slow motion and embraced. I didn’t know what to expect in that moment, and when he was there in front of me, it felt new but also as though nothing had changed. We took a cab to our hotel, settled in and spent the next few days exploring Paris together. Tuesday we took a flight to Geneva so he could see and experience the place I have called home since August. Despite my obsessive compulsive urge to make sure we did everything possible there, we enjoyed ourselves by exploring old town, laying out by the lake, bar hopping at night, eating croissants and gelato, and drinking espresso and sparking water like the classy kids we are.

Saying goodbye was difficult, but unlike the first time in August, I managed to stop the tears after a couple of minutes. The moment felt bittersweet in a couple of ways- first that it meant only a matter of time was left until I met with him again, and second, that I only have a matter of time left to get my life together and to say goodbye to this experience. Knowing I have him to come home to, however, makes me know I am ready for that.

Goodbyes, no matter who or what they are for, are difficult, challenging, overwhelming, and sometimes extremely poignant. Long distance is just as difficult as they say it is. I would be lying if I said the year went by fine. It didn’t. There were many fights, many tears, but also many moments of laughter and conversations that kept us connected to each others insanely different lives. I don’t think we will really understand how the year has shaped us until we are back living together again. But I am excited and ready for that.

It is only one month until I am home, back in his arms, sharing the same bed again, eating breakfast together on the weekends, driving around town, walking the dog around the neighborhood, and me falling asleep during late night Netflix binge watching. I cannot wait. ❤

I miss you everyday. 🙂

Paris Photos:

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Annecy photos:

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