Happy New Year from France…
Sending you all the very best wishes for a wonderful 2018. Thank you for being here with me. ❤
It’s not the Eiffel Tower, but here’s tonight’s fireplace view.
As old as it is, Paris is a place that never truly gets old. Walking down its historic streets, soaking in the sights, I can’t help but notice that its beauty never ceases to amaze me. The light changes with each day, casting new shadows and highlights.
Yes, in the grit and grind of any passing day, it’s possible to focus on the negatives and on the imperfections that this and every other city hold… but for today, after the 2 year anniversary of November 13th, I choose to focus on the beauty of Paris, on the courage of its residents and on this city’s resilience. Paris, Je t’aime…
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 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.
Ever experience crossing the busy Champs Elysées or La Place de la Concorde on foot? As with many big cities, it can be a bit of a challenge, even with the pedestrian lights. I’ve been caught numerous times on the middle platform clinging to my little ones until the light changed yet again, praying that they wouldn’t jet back into traffic as we waited.
This past weekend was different. We got the chance to walk in the streets of Paris… literally! What a pleasure and special opportunity. It was the first time that the city of Paris liberated its streets from cars, giving the opportunity for Parisians and tourists to enjoy the city without stress and added noise/pollution.
Although this was not the kind of day to leave your real camera at home, I decided to simply enjoy the walk with my loved ones. As many of you know, my energy levels can be inconsistent due to my illness. Unfortunately, this particular weekend, carrying my camera equipment was out to the question. That said, I couldn’t imagine not sharing this special event with all of you. Hope that you don’t mind the smartphone images… it’s the spirit of the event that counts, right? 😉
This past weekend was French Heritage Day (Les Journées du Patrimoine). Since 1984, France has opened its doors to history and culture. The weekend offers opportunities to visit government buildings, monuments, and other sites that are normally closed to the public. Entrance to these places, in addition to those that are regularly open to public, are free. Many monuments offer guided tours or special activities during the weekend. You don’t need to be French, as visits are open to everyone on the third weekend of each September… I highly recommend it!
This year, we decided to take the kids to the Château de Vincennes. We planned on visiting the château, the keep (tallest medieval keep in France) and the grounds… but we had no idea of what a treat we would get until we walked up to the front of the château. What a great surprise!
Several associations brought us on a little trip back in time, building memorable moments for our little ones. They were amazed to see the American flag waving on a military jeep alongside another jeep displaying the French flag. Their very own two cultures were present, which brought about great discussion.
Within the courtyard of the Chateau, we got a glimpse of life of as a soldier in a military camp reenactment…
Great thanks to everyone who took part in making the events at Château de Vincennes truly fabulous. Bravo!
We’re already looking forward to next year… Maybe we’ll visit the Palais de l’Elysée! 🙂
Remember: take time to break away and have some fun!
We had a blast creating this video & finding the most amazing locations in Paris.
AGAIN AGAIN – Music performed by AFTERMOON
Video – A Story developed & created by Steve Guibert & Bellanda
Thank you to AFTERMOON for trusting us to create this clip for your music.
Recorded and mixed by Benjamin Le Jean @Gaijin Studio
Mastered by Chab
Video – A Story developed & created by Steve Guibert & Bellanda
Directed and Edited by Steve Guibert
Actor – Jean-Rodolphe Laclau
Film locations : Paris, France – CD&B offices and Caveau des oubliettes
Special thanks to CD&B, Ramcesprod, Crisprod, Caveau des oubliettes, Kasia Dietz, Fanny Mikol Frequelin, Zoé Mikol and to all of you in the bar scene who helped make this clip happen.
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Steve Guibert : firstname.lastname@example.org
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