Natural, safe & straight out of Paris!

 

daydry

DayDry Probiotic Deodorant

As some of you know, I’ve been struggling with health issues over the last couple of years. I have an autoimmune connective tissue disease. In order to slow down the progression of my illness, I need to take anywhere from 9-15 medications a day. This got me thinking that maybe I should be trying to reduce the other chemicals that enter my body via deodorants, etc. I’ve decided to share my story here, in case some of you are in the same situation as I found myself in, or if you are just trying to limit your exposure to aluminum salts, paraben, etc. In addition, this is the perfect place to share it, because my story has a Paris twist!

I began looking for natural personal hygiene products for myself and for my pre-adolescent children. They are at the age when this kind of thing becomes an issue, and I wanted to limit their exposure to chemicals out there as much as possible.  I know we can’t stop everything, but this is an area where we can actually protect them from the start.

Thus began 8 months of hit and miss research which left us feeling deflated. I searched blog after blog for ideas and recipes. Out of desperation, we comically began trying to make our own homemade deodorants. Yes, you can laugh. Thank goodness my dear sweet man felt the same way about all of this as I did, or perhaps he would have had me taken away as lunatic as I applied concoctions of essential oils and baking soda or when I rubbed fresh lemon juice on myself. I must have looked very sexy with the occasional pulp that escaped and got stuck under my arms.

It was a crazy adventure, but we took it on as a family and it left us laughing more than once as we compared nasty little rashes or embarrassing body odor stories. Nothing we made or found on the market worked, and if it did work, it left us with skin irritations. Finally, we came across a product made in France… Paris to be exact! Who knew we would find something so close to home? I knew I loved this city!

DayDry Probiotic Deodorant & Wipes

DayDry Probiotic Deodorant & Travel Wipes

DayDry probiotic deodorant actually worked! It is all natural, with no chemicals and no side effects. DayDry uses probiotics to fight the proliferation of the bacteria that causes body odors, without stopping perspiration (which is actually good for you). All four of us started using it, and couldn’t be happier. It doesn’t stain clothing. It doesn’t sting, and most importantly it works!

Now, the only problem I have is that when we are confronted with wafting body odors from others, my daughter can’t understand why I won’t go up to total strangers and tell them that they don’t have to smell like that if they use DayDry. She gives me that look and says, “So, you’re just going to let them go on smelling badly? That’s not very nice of you.” Trust me, if there was a way to tactfully tell those people, as they are pressing up against me in the Paris metro or on a bus during rush hour, I would!

I did, however, begin to talk about it with friends and family. I even talked to my pharmacist about it and she loved the probiotic aspect of the product so much that she added it to her pharmacy. Somehow I felt like I was doing my part to help people. When the owners of DayDry found out, they asked if I’d be interested in doing some part-time work for them from my home via Internet. After their success in France, they had decided to launch their products in the North American market.

They’ve just set up an English Facebook Page DayDry North America – Facebook Page & an English Website DayDry Website.

Let me know if you have any questions. Hopefully, this can help you out. I still can’t believe we found it, in of all places, Paris!

Oh, and a little word of advice… be sure your t-shirts aren’t already imbedded with body odor from previous deodorants. Consider it a good excuse to go shopping for new clothes in Paris.  😉

Getting thrown a medical curveball while living the dream in Paris, France

When living the dream throws you a curveball... All rights reserved -Bellanda

When living the dream throws you a curveball…
All rights reserved -Bellanda

As some of you know, I haven’t been as active as I was when I first began this blog about life in Paris. It’s not that I ran out of ideas, nor that I got bored with this amazing city. Unfortunately, I have been suffering from an illness that showed its first signs back in 2006. The symptoms have increased to such an extent over the last three years that my days of running around have been limited. Gone, for now, is my pink super cape that I wore figuratively to juggle my activities & different roles throughout the day. Here, is a new day… one that exposes me to things I never would have imagined… one that challenges me to rise above and to truly see what is important. Here is the day, when I will share something far more personal than my latest visit to some glorious place in Paris.

So, what’s it like being ill in Paris? Well, I guess it’s safe to say that being ill sucks no matter where you are… but I’d rather focus my attention on the positive, because I am lucky… lucky for each day that I get to spend with my dear man & supportive family. I’m lucky for each precious moment that I get to be with and watch my little ones grow up in this gorgeous city.

There are far worse places to be ill than Paris. Walking the streets of this beautiful city, while soaking in its history, always lifts my spirits. Yes, I wish I had more energy to run around and take part in all it has to offer, but knowing I’m near, gives me hope and inspiration to be able to fight this thing.

Looking at Paris from the medical standpoint… there again, I am lucky. I don’t know where I would be without the incredible medical system in France as well as the medical facilities here in Paris. Actually, I do know… I probably wouldn’t be here.

In 2009, unrelated to my present illness, my doctor ran a test based on a hunch… I can’t even imagine trying to explain that to an insurance company back home. It turned out that he was onto something. They found and removed a cancerous polyp, informing me that if they hadn’t removed it, I would have had no more than 5 years before it was too late. To this day, I am still too young for this kind of test to be approved randomly in the USA. As proof, even though my brother’s insurance company knew about my cancer scare, they wouldn’t allow him to have the same test performed until he was what they considered the right age, 50.

Since then, doctors have found and removed two other tumors in two other locations… and have been working hard to put my best medical interests at heart. My kids joke that I’ve been in just about every hospital in Paris, and upon seeing one I haven’t been to ask, “When do you get to go there?”

So, yes, I am thankful that if I had to have an illness, that it is being taken care of at one of the best facilities for rare diseases. I’m with one of the finest doctors in the field & can see him or any other doctor of my choice when I need to and not when the insurance company decides I do. I have access to medications that can hopefully slow down the progression of the illness with next to no out-of-pocket money, and doctors who will run tests to make sure that my well-being is priority. I’m not rich, nor do I have connections who hooked me up with these doctors. This is something available to all residents. All of these things make having a long-term illness easier, because let’s face it, it’s hard enough knowing that you’ll have to tackle health problems for the rest of your days.

I will continue to try to convert the not so great into something positive & humorous… as I did in my article: “Leave it to the French to Make Medical Stockings Sexy!” https://bellandainparis.wordpress.com/2012/12/13/leave-it-to-the-french-to-make-medical-stockings-sexy/  It’s a daily battle that isn’t always easy, but considering the alternative, I’m one of the lucky ones.

So, why so many illnesses? Do I blame it on bad genes? Probably not… my genetic line on both sides of the family live well into their late 90s. Bad luck? Perhaps, but it most likely didn’t help growing up in a small town in the USA that was poisoned by a local factory. They illegally dumped chemical toxins that severely polluted the ground, air & water to dangerous levels for almost 100 years before it ever became public.

Sadly, my story is far more common than one might expect. Remember the film, Erin Brockovich? I was not from this particular town, but their story is a familiar one. Today, people are fighting to get towns like these cleaned up. I recently read a fabulous book on this subject entitled, The Brook, by John Sinsimer. It was inspired by a true story. Having grown up in a place exactly like the one in this book, I want to thank Mr. John Sinsimer for all he has done to bring this kind of a subject to the forefront. It is both well-written and captivating.

The Brook by John Sinsimer

The tragedy that surrounds such environmental events is mind-boggling. When you have witnessed friends and loved ones die at a young age… and others who are battling disease just to get through the day, you realize what is most important. My energy is too precious to focus on being angry, and hating the world is not my style. I prefer to be a lover of people, places & cultures. I decided long ago that I could either get angry, or I could take whatever energy and time that I have on this earth and live the dream as best I can. There are things we can control and other things we cannot. How we decide to handle the things we cannot control, makes all of the difference in the world.

In this Social Network age, that links complete strangers from across the globe, we often don’t truly know what someone is living unless they decide to open up. Until now, to so many of you, I was just another gal living it up in Paris. I’m still that gal, I’m just a little more real.

Summer in Paris… the dream and the reality

Paris Romance All rights reserved BELLANDA ®

Paris Romance
All rights reserved
BELLANDA ®

Paris has to be one of the most magical cities in the world.  It’s full of romance and dreams… but like many cities there is a reality of summer that one can’t deny once you’ve lived here.  At the age of 22, I started making my almost yearly summer visits to Paris.  I thought that I was immersing myself into the Parisian lifestyle by avoiding what I considered tourist traps. I wandered the streets as far away from the map yielding tourists as possible and spent many hours in cafés writing, reading and watching people.  It was my unspoken mission to get a feel for what I thought was the real Parisian lifestyle.  As I walked aimlessly, I enjoyed the quiet streets soaking in the calm and beauty of the incredibly gorgeous historical architecture.  It was pure heaven compared to that of my busy New York lifestyle.

It wasn’t until after living here for several years that I began noticing patterns and learned that the Parisian lifestyle I thought I was living so many years ago was far from that.  Truth be told, summer is probably the least Parisian moment of the year.  The influx of people with suitcases begins in July.  Then, there is that moment around mid-July when you realize that you hear more English on the streets and in the metro of Paris than French.  The suitcases become more and more prevalent as the summer moves on and in August you realize that many of the real Parisians have already flown the coop, leaving Paris to the tourists.

Vacation is considered a right that all people should enjoy in France and many companies even impose this vacation on their employees.  That said, we are not talking about the one week or even two-week vacations Americans might be lucky enough to get. Vacations here can total anywhere from one to two months.  This in itself is actually an incredible concept.  One must not leave out that vacation is taken so seriously that it even includes the unemployed, who at times go on even better vacations than the working people… but I’ll leave that subject for a later post.  😉

Many shops, restaurants and special art expositions are closed during summer and your favorite places to buy bread, meat, fish and croissants will also close at one point or another.  This in itself can be quite frustrating if you like good food and enjoy cooking.   On a more serious note, you really don’t want to get sick or God forbid need surgery in August, because of course, your regular doctors are also entitled to their vacations.  If you are smart and can hold out, you might want wait until September.

On the plus side, those quiet streets I mentioned enjoying as a tourist are actually that.  Everything slows down, especially in August, and you can truly enjoy the beauty of this city.  In addition, you can actually take your car out and find a parking space directly in front of where you want to be instead of going round and round in search of a spot only to finish by parking in a garage.  One must not forget the metro.  If you can get over those summer metro odors that at times make you squint in pain, you can actually get a seat during rush hour and don’t have to worry about someone rubbing up against you.  As for you photography buffs, summer will be perfect for you as deserted side streets photograph brilliantly with no worries of a passerby getting in the way of your shot.

All rights reserved BELLANDA ®

All rights reserved
BELLANDA ®

Back in the day when I was a tourist, I didn’t have the benefit of reading blogs or typing ‘Paris in summer’ on Google.  I had to go with the flow, in ignorance of course, but in retrospect that wasn’t half bad.  I always stumbled upon something while wandering the streets of Paris that will left me in awe or made me laugh.  My mouth dropped when I saw a man-made roadblock during a 14th of July Bastille celebration.  It was actually made of police officers who stood in a line across the Champs-Élysées.  I stood there watching them and kept thinking, can’t they just use barriers?  Don’t those officers have something better to do?  Then, there was the Porta Potty with a VIP sign hanging on it during the arrival of the Tour de France.  I couldn’t understand what made it so special at first because it looked like a regular Porta Potty.  I was tempted to go inside to take a peek, but it was roped off.  When I saw the door open, I realized that this Porta Potty was exactly the same as the others but apparently just for Very Important People.  Silly me to think that they could use the same bathroom as us normal folks!

One of my very favorite discoveries was the ability to rent a bicycle in the Bois de Vincennes, as well as a row-boat that I took me around the water surrounding two little islands in the Bois de Vincennes.  Who knew Paris had such natural beauty?  Oh right, probably you since you now have Internet and Google.

Bois de Vincennes Paris, France All rights reserved ~ BELLANDA ®

Bois de Vincennes
Paris, France
All rights reserved ~ BELLANDA ®

Anyway, if you do come to Paris in summer just keep your eyes open.  Sit back, take in the sights and enjoy.  As a tourist, Paris is beautiful anytime… that is if you stop running around trying to see everything in a day.  Yes, most of the Parisians do skip town and life is indeed slower, but soak it all in… for Paris is beauty in itself.

Leave it to the French to make medical stockings sexy!

As many of you know, I disappeared for a while for health reasons, but I’m back now… back with a bang!

At my age, or pretty much any age, I don’t think anyone likes to be told that they need to wear medical stockings, perhaps for their entire life, in addition to medications.  I sat there as my doctor explained some of the benefits of these medical stockings and how they would help keep my blood pressure from dropping so rapidly.

Immediately, I imagined those horrible thick opaque nude colored stockings and thought, God help me… actually, God help my poor sweet man who will have to look at me!  For goodness sake, it wasn’t bad enough that I was walking around with a cane; now I have to wear these things?  Then, the optimist in me shined through and I thought, at least I’m not dying!  Somehow a little giggle even escaped me.

I dragged my feet a little, so to speak, and let one week go by and then another, but knew in my heart that I truly needed to take that step… literally.  I brought my prescription to the pharmacy, telling myself to suck it up and just deal with it.  The pharmacist took one look at my prescription and said, “Follow me for your fitting.”

A fitting? What on earth was she talking about?  I need a fitting?  Okay, I must admit, I am obviously clueless.  I followed her to the “fitting room.”  I had no idea there was even a fitting room at this pharmacy and I have been going to the same one for over six years!

The pharmacist measured the length of my legs, as well as the measurement around my upper thigh, calf and lower ankle area.  With a, “Wow, you are thin… I think we will need to order your size.”  As I was dreading the idea of having to wear medical stockings, I didn’t mind the idea of waiting and I must admit that I was rather amused by all of the fuss.

It was at this moment that the Pharmacist asked me which style and color I would like.   There’s a kind?  Once again, my cluelessness was more than obvious.  The pharmacist saw my puzzled face and pointed me in the direction of the manikin legs, all displayed in a row.  My eyes opened with surprise… those are medical stockings?

There was a row of medical stockings on manikin legs, in an array of colors, all thigh highs with gorgeous lace at the top.  Those are medical stockings?  They ranged from opaque to transparent.  I immediately thought; leave it to the French to make medical stockings so sexy!

All I can only say is that if you need medical stockings today, times have obviously changed (and I hope not only in France)!  While mentioning my need to wear medical stockings with my French friends, both male and female, they all immediately said, “That man of yours is one lucky guy!”  Obviously, I was indeed clueless.  Who would have thought medical stockings could be so sexy?  A great big thank you to, “Sigvaris – Les Intemporelles Diaphane.”  You made a sick woman not only feel better, but made me look good at the same time!   Good-bye to my oh so ‘trendy’ foldable flowered cane that made all of the old folks jealous with envy.  Hello to sexy medical stockings!

I'm wearing those sexy stockings in this photo. I know, I'm a little shy - this is about as close a shot as you will get.

I’m wearing the “sexy” medical stockings in this photo.
I know, I’m a little shy. This is about as close a shot as you will get!

 

Tribute to my Grandfather, a man who lived almost 100 years…

 

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Imagine being born in the year 1913… when Ford’s Model T cars were rolling around, fresh off of the assembly line, and women suffragists were demonstrating for the right to vote.   I’ve tried to imagine all he has seen throughout these years, but it’s almost incomprehensible to have been witness to all he has.  Not only has my grandfather lived all of this, he has done so with grace, hard work and a wonderful sense of humor.  Less than 2 months away from his 100th birthday, he was still joking, still dancing, still playing the piano, and still flirting with all the pretty young ladies.

Edward was a child born into a wealthy family, not because they had always been, but because his father left Italy to make his fortune by living the American Dream.  As a child, Edward went from being taught that it was polite to leave a little food in your plate at the dinner table to wishing that he still had that food as he walked away from the table hungry when the market crashed in the1920s.

His family was considered one of the lucky ones, as they didn’t immediately lose everything in the market.  They owned blocks of Real Estate.  Yet, when the time came, his family’s kind heart saw the despair and tragedy of tenants who could no longer pay their rent.  They decided not to put these people out on the street, and in doing so caused their own financial disaster.  My grandfather had to leave school and begin working… and work he did, hard and long to support his family.

In his lifetime, he saw a changing world and moved with the times, evolving not only his way of life, but his way of thinking, which is not always easy for those of our elders.  He was even considered a man who was born ahead of his time, with his liberal thinking and family values.  When his wife died, leaving their two small children behind, he went against the rules of society.  He fought to keep and raise his two children alone, which was totally unheard of in this day.  True, my Mom’s hair wasn’t always perfectly arranged, nor her clothing, but he did the best he could while working full-time to support his family.  To him what was most important was that they were together.

He lived through World War I, World War II, Vietnam, Charles Lindbergh’s first trans-Atlantic flight, the Wall Street Crash of 1929, the Empire State Building opening in New York City in 1931, The Great Depression of 1933, Prohibition in 1920 and the end of Prohibition in 1933, Segregation, Integration, Brown versus Board of Education in 1954, Civil Rights Acts of 1960s, Neil Armstrong setting foot upon the moon… This list can go on forever, but Edward never stopped learning and moving with the times.

At the age of 99 Edward went into his first swimming pool, and was even introduced to the internet.  Although he never made it over to Paris, France, his very first internet video chat took place with his great-grandchildren, as well as with me and my sweet French man.  His feet never made it here, but his face appeared on our computer screen here in Paris a few weeks ago. He kept saying, “I can’t believe it! This is incredible!”

One of the very last things Edward did before he passed away was to walk into an election center and proudly cast his vote for Barack Obama.  He, as well all around were so excited to see someone of his age not only be able to walk in, but cast his vote so very proudly.  When they put the, I Voted Sticker on his jacket, he proudly walked out and showed everyone.  His smile couldn’t have been bigger.

Edward died suddenly, after a fall, while he was planning a big party to celebrate his 100th birthday.  Even though his spirit has gone, his life is indeed something to celebrate.

To my Grandfather… I am so very proud of how you evolved with the times and how you laughed and lived life to the fullest, while keeping your hard-working values.  I am so very grateful to have had a grandfather like you, for you were indeed a treasure who will live on forever in our thoughts, hearts and minds and spirits.   You will live on in your three children, one step child, nine grandchildren and thirteen great-grandchildren… some of who have your magical musical ear & piano ability.

A candle burns for you in Sacré-Coeur Basilica, in Paris France today… You did indeed make it over here grandpa. We love you.

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Photo/Editing Credits: Bellanda ®