Wishing healing thoughts and heartfelt prayers for the good people of Paris.
Back in 2012, Marcus and I celebrated our tenth anniversary, and we decided to do so with a family trip to Paris. I remember when I told Alex that we'd be going to Paris in the summer, she clapped her hands excitedly.
"We can go visit Claude Monet's gardens!"
I remember being surprised that she even know who Claude Monet was, to say nothing of the fact that she also knew he had a garden we could visit in Paris. But she was right, and one day we took a train out to Giverney to see his stunning home and gardens. It remains one of my favourite days from that trip.
And the image above remains one of my favourite images from that day. And since poppies are the flower of remembrance, it seems particularly fitting to share it with you today.
With respect to all the men and women who have served their countries.
This week is the last week that my new ecourse Advent of Light, will be on sale -- the price increases after the 15th. If devoting a few minutes of peace to yourself every day during the holiday season in December seems like a lovely thought, then this is for you: it's sort of an audio/visual "advent calendar" with audio meditations, downloadable images, and a daily date with your journal. Join me.
Song: Better way by Ben Harper
Decided to do a little Throwback Thursday for today's post -- breakfast with my favourite man back in 2012, at one of our favourite restaurants, Pondicheri.
We really need to do that again.
My new ecourse Advent of Light is now open for registration, and sale priced until November 15th! It's sort of an audio/visual advent calendar -- daily audio prompts and image downloads, and a date with your journal for 24 straight days in December. It's a commitment to being kind to yourself during the hectic year-end. Join us.
I'm writing this from my hotel room in San Diego. I flew out yesterday for another whirlwind trip -- I should be landing back in Houston at midnight tonight.
No rest for the wicked, as they say.
I have one more trip next week, and then I should be done with business travel for the year. Not a moment too soon, too: the holidays are coming up, and despite the fact that they tend to be busy, I'm looking forward to taking some concentrated time for self-care during the next couple of months. I've earned it.
I suspect that you have, too. And so, coming in December, I'll be offering a new journaling course to end the year -- similar to the one that began the year, but different, as well. Audio and visual journaling prompts that will encourage you to take a few moments for yourself every day during the weeks before the end of the year. Some moments of calm and breathing each day.
I hope you'll join me -- it'll be a wonderful, joy-filled, peaceful way to wind down the year. More very soon.
Over the last few days, I've been consumed with preparing for my upcoming talk: I'll be the opening keynote for the CLICKAWAY Conference, a comprehensive photographers' conference (I'm so looking forward to it). However, this weekend the humidity finally broke in Houston, so we went out to explore the brand new Buffalo Bayou Park.
Here's what it looks like:
I love autumn in Texas.
I leave Wednesday to head west to San Antonio for the conference. (If you're a photographer, I hope I'll see you there!)
(Aside: did you know it was possible to do a day trip from Houston to Minneapolis? Neither did I. I'm glad I was home in time to spend the night with my Marcus and Alex, but it's a pretty grueling schedule, and would strongly recommend just going ahead and staying over.)
Because it was just a day trip, I assumed that I would only have time to fly in, do the workshop and fly back out, but as luck would have it, I had two hours free. My lovely host, Emelia, took the time to show me around her home town. It was a positively glorious day, and I was charmed by Minneapolis from the very start.
Here's what my afternoon looked like:
What a magical city, man. Thanks, Minneapolis -- you were great to me on this entirely-too-short, whirlwind trip.
Soundtrack: It's alright ma (Messengers remix) by Minneapolis' other native son, Bob Dylan.
Yesterday, before celebrating the holiday with friends, Marcus, Alex and I wandered over to the mansion of Ima Hogg, the late socialite, art collector and daughter of a former governor of Texas. While she was still alive, she donated her artworks and mansion to the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and they've kept it as a living exhibit of 19th century furniture and artwork, open to the public.
It was sort of cool to see how the other half lived.
(Incidentally, yesterday I learned rumors that the poor, unfortunately-named Ima had a sister named "Ura" are greatly exaggerated. She only had brothers, and they were mercifully named William and Mike.)
Have a great week, friends.
Our dear friend Carl celebrates his birthday about 10 days after Marcus', and last year, since both he and Marcus enjoy cooking, his wife Trish and I sprang for a culinary tour of Houston for the two of them. (Houston is, by the way, the best city in the country for foodies. If you don't believe me, take a look at this.) The tour was led by Chef Hugo Ortega, a multiple James Beard award nominee and one of the most renowned of Houston's chefs, and included a tour of various restaurants focused specifically on authentic Mexican food (Chef Hugo's eponymous restaurant is one of the best in town). And while the food (and tequila) were great, what Marcus came home raving about the most was the Mexican market where they started their tour.
"I really need to take you there," Marcus gushed. "It's where Chef Hugo gets all of his ingredients. It's amazing. And it's huge. And there's this bakery that has ... well, everything. It's a photographer's dream. We have to go."
It took almost a year for me to make it there, but this weekend, Marcus finally took Alex and me to see it. First, we stopped at the bakery to pick up a couple of pastries for breakfast.
El Bolillo Bakery is one of those places that smells like what I'm sure heaven smells like. Everything is fresh, made right on the property (one of the employees told me that they have a team who bakes all night before opening at 5 a.m. every morning), and it's sort of difficult not to be paralyzed with indecision, everything looks so amazing. But I chose a fresh bread roll stuffed with cheese and jalapeños, and Marcus and Alex chose something equally delicious, and once we paid, we headed across the street to the market, while we munched on our very delicious breakfast.
Canino Market opens up into a gigantic (and immaculate) produce hall, with just about every fruit and vegetable that you can imagine -- both locally grown, and clearly shipped in from more tropical climes. The variety was astounding.
And then ...
... once we made it through the produce hall, we entered the real market. This area was full of the more exotic fruits, as well as kitchenware, medicinal herbs, dried peppers, children's toys, handmade pottery, piñatas, Mexican and Latin American candies -- everything. And while the clientele was clearly predominantly Mexican and Central American, I couldn't help but be strongly reminded of Trinidad, especially the open-air markets that we have there. There were fruits I haven't seen in years: green -- green! -- avocados the size of my head (as opposed to the small black wrinkly ones that are more popular here in America), and we bought the most delicious mangos I've ever had in the United States. Biting into it, I was instantly transported back to my grandmother's garden behind her house.
I was kicking myself for not having visited this place sooner. It was amazing.
Both the bakery and the market have been in Houston for decades, and I can't imagine how I missed visiting these places earlier. So if you're in Houston, don't make my mistake -- go see them both. I'll definitely be back (especially around Christmas time, when my hankering for making Trinidadian food is strong.)
Rising Strong Day, the official book launch of Brené's book, Rising Strong, was an unmitigated success: the day began with a trio from the Grand Ole Opry playing amazing bluegrass, and then Brené welcomed the crowd of about 800 (!) people, and gave an overview of her new book (to a standing ovation, of course). After lunch, I shared with the audience how my journaling practice helps me directly incorporate Brené's teachings into my life. The charming Miles Adcox, CEO of Onsite, spoke about trust and boundaries. The Grammy-award winning songwriter and Nashville native Josh Kear performed a few songs, many of which you likely know. And finally, the lovely Jenna Walker and Katie Thurmes of Artifact Uprising (the hands-down best company for printing photographs that there is -- I've been using them for ages), spoke about the importance of photography.
It was a beautiful, inspiring day. I'm so grateful to Brené for including me in her celebration, to Miles, Josh, Jenna and Katie for making it such a fun time, and to all of you who attended, especially those who made a point to come up and introduce yourselves to me. Your doing so made this absolutely one of the best days of my year.
Soon after my talk, a car service showed up to take me to the airport so I could head home. On the way, I mentioned to the driver that even though this was my second trip to Nashville, I had yet to actually see the city. "I've always been either at the hotel or working," I moaned. "And I hear Nashville's a great town -- yet I've never gotten to see it."
"Oh, that won't do," he said immediately. "What time is your flight?"
I told him.
"Okay, so you've got time. I'm going to take you the scenic route, down Broadway, so you can at least see the city. It'll only take you about 10 minutes out of the way, and you'll see where tons of famous country musicians got their starts."
And so said, so done. While I didn't have time to get out of the car and sightsee, I certainly did have time to stick my arm with my camera out of the window above the SUV we were riding in so that I could take a few photos.
Thanks to my lovely driver for the impromptu tour. And have a great week, friends.
Soundtrack: Josh Kear, performing one of those Grammy-award-winning songs that he wrote, Need You Now. Josh is a truly lovely soul, and I think it really shows here. Click here or the image below to watch.
I'm in New York City! I'm in town for some whirlwind meetings, but when I landed yesterday I had a few free hours, so I contacted my friend Alice to see if she was free for dinner. Happily, she was.
Over the last few years, it has become a bit of a tradition for Alice to show me a part of New York I haven't seen before whenever I'm in town - one year she took me to the Meatpacking District; last year, she took me to DUMBO. This year was no exception: we walked around Soho and the West Village.
And as always, it was lovely.
New York, you're a pretty special place.