Tuesday, February 17, 2015

People Say the Darnedest Things

Several weeks ago, someone told me my leadership skills were in need of tweaking. Coincidentally that same week, I heard some no longer wish to come to my classes. During my first pregnancy, I was asked if I ate my way to 50+lb weight gain.

But wait...

At work last week, I was asked to give high school students a motivational speech. This week, a chance yoga student one day last summer invited me to teach yoga at a big event abroad, and one of my yoga clients and long time regular of the studio at which I work stayed behind until everyone left to tell me that I am the best teacher. I am genuine. I have a good voice. She says. Dear Lord did that swell my heart.

I give a lot of myself to people I meet. What I get is an unpredictable mixed bag of reactions. Some don't know what to do with my TRUTH. Some tell me "I'm so nice." Some like to mention "I tell it like it is." Some find me a breath of fresh air. Some are passive aggressive toward me. Many are positively sublime and leave a lasting impression on me...

Such TRUTH makes you vulnerable.

In a professional setting, passion is misconstrued as emotion. We working women, especially in leadership positions, know what it's like to be dismissed as "too emotional." That's our Achilles heel. Men like to use it against us, but what is worse is that other woman use it against each other! You know? Like when we hear the biggest insults to women with words that rhyme with "booker," "bore," and "hitch" hurled at us, it's SO easy to get riled up. It's the equivalent of a sucker punch.

I am the same person at work, at yoga, with friends and with strangers (obviously, with varying degrees of intimacy). 95% of the time I hear that I'm doing amazing things, but then 5% of the time I hear I'm doing the exact opposite. (Now, I'm not talking about the constructive criticism...that part is lumped in the 95%...I'm talking about the downright rude left-field 5%)

Once, in yoga teacher training years back, one of my teachers, Robert Birnberg, said something that hit me.

Just because YOU don't think it's the truth doesn't mean that isn't the truth to someone else. Everyone has his own truth.

This fact bothered some people there, particularly when it involved faith and God, but I understood it. To some, even God is NOT a truth. There is no such thing as THE ABSOLUTE TRUTH when it comes to people. I mean, people are fighting science, too, now.  No such thing as climate change, hm? What doesn't hurt you may hurt someone else. What hurts you doesn't hurt everyone. What you consider funny may be offensive. What you think is annoying is rad to some. Right?

I CANNOT change others' perceptions or their truths, so I remain fiercely loyal to who I am and those I care about. I stink at poker face. I am horrible at pretending to be something I'm not. Besides, I'm having more fun letting things roll as they come--the good, the bad and the cray.

Why does the 5% seem to hurt so much? Because I still care. Because my ego isn't my ruler.

When I was younger, I used to get so upset when people would say hurtful things because I was frustrated that those accusers didn't even know the REAL ME. Something inside wanted to prove to the world that I wasn't those things. Little did I know then that doing so is the same thing as controlling the way people think.

Now, those wounds, while still hurtful, are so superficial and heal so quickly now. I attribute that to the fact that I'm no longer 20, but also to the fact that after you experience hurt a few times you start to wise up and start to figure people out quickly. Some just want to use that vulnerability to their advantage. Some things they may get out of it:
  • some sort of self-empowerment by squashing others around. if everyone is lower than you, then you must be better, right? (gross)
  • their way 
  • manipulating or wielding power over others' decisions or perceptions of things (toxic)
I've seen many "successes" in a wide array of fields keep to themselves to the point of being cold and calculated. I used to be so envious of that. I didn't understand why my extroverted personality had to be bigger than life, leaving a giant beating heart open for all to take a stab at. But no matter how much I tried to change myself in the past, my true self always came back.

People say the darnedest things, but I'd rather stay vulnerable. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

How Do You Know If You Don't Do: Goal setting is more than just an intention.

It's February already. I would never know. San Diego is a sunny high 70s and 80s these days. (#paradiseproblems)  Apparently, Detroit is covered in snow--pumped in from the heavens on the daily this week. That I do not miss.

As I'm from the midwest, I truly used to feel how far into the year I was. In San Diego, I can't tell February from October. This past weekend, I did a double take when I glanced at my calendar to see my deadlines for the following week and realized we're already a month in and then some in 2015. Did I set any goals for myself this year? 

I had to sit and think about that for a moment. 

Daily at work, I am called upon to give students advice and plans of action. I look at their academic performances, standardized test scores, extracurriculars and such to help them GET TO their goal: their dream universities. Quite often I have to tell them things that are not so easy to hear, but that's my job to tell them what needs to happen IF they want to achieve that particular goal. I see too many who want but won't do.

If someone wants to go to Harvard, UCLA, or UChicago (to name a few top schools), he/she needs to exhibit maturity in his/her choices: work on getting high marks (quite subjective I've noticed in what that means) and push to fullest potential in the environment given. This is all relative to students' schools. Oh and there is no one size fits all answer. (more on this in a future post) But I can see what the student needs and his probability in getting into certain school sometimes even mid junior year.

But a successful student is one that has a goal in mind and disciplines himself on a daily basis to reach that goal. If a student shows up to classes but is disengaged and does the homework but cannot recall the concepts, he/she isn't actively setting his/her goal in motion. Since I also teach yoga, I see this in the studio as well. 

My students always ask me what they should do to get into a handstand this year. When I ask them how often they get up next to a wall and hold their handstands or practice kicking up, they often say only when they're in class with me. That is, maybe once a week. Hm.

Simply put, we can't skip all the steps expect the results. Heard that before, eh? 

I've slightly digressed ONLY to make my point that if there is something that we want, we need to do the following 5 things:

1. Have a concrete goal in mind. 

Too often students or clients tell me they want to reach a certain abstract goal. My question is...how does your 'intention' show you the steps towards that goal? Are there milestones you can see that exhibit your progress? There's a HUGE difference between "I want to get into a good college" and "I want to get into Columbia or UCLA." OR "I want to lose weight" as opposed to "I want to lose 15 lbs."

2. Then know the steps you need to take to reach that goal. 

...and be active in the process (nothing's worse than thinking about it coupled with inactivity...blech!) Remember I mentioned the yoga students who want to get into a handstand but only do it once a week? Yes. Even that is a process with stages. It's daily stretching to open up shoulders and hamstrings. It involves a lot of strength in the upper back so you must condition by holding yourself up for full minute drills (several sets of these per day) by the wall. It involves knowing how to engage your transverse abdominal muscles and your psoas. But. it's a commitment. Every day or nearly daily. 

3. Stick to it (even through the days that seem like "setbacks"). 

THIS IS THE HARDEST PART. Endurance of the mind when you want to eat that extra piece of chocolate because this week you haven't lost a pound IS CRUCIAL. The dry spells are usually not very long (but seem agonizingly long). No matter what you set your mind to achieve, no progress graph is a steady incline. When you look back, despite the flat lines and some small dips, the entire progress graph is still an incline nonetheless! Do you really want what you're aiming for? Show it! Stick to your goal!

4. Be positive and self-affirming. 

There are already so many things that will trip you if you let them: people around you (either competitive or non-supportive), other more tempting options that sidetrack you, and other people's achievements. Be kind and positive to yourself because too many forces may seem like they're working against you. WE are our own worst critics. It's almost always YOU who is holding yourself back. Don't judge other people's timelines or achievements as benchmarks for your journey. Know what's around to be inspired, but then put your horseblinders on and stay focused on your goals. Listen. God has something planned for each of us. It's not like the universe is going to line up and give everyone the same things. But celebrated authors like George Orwell helped us to see how suffocating and repressive that is. Celebrate you. 

sorry, i had to reference an old throwback. love me some SBTB

5.  Find joy in your accomplishments every step of the way. 

I think this very closely relates to #4. It helps you to do #3 too. Instead of making yourself upset by how much more you have to go or how tough the journey is, think on the achievements you HAVE made and pat yourself on the back. I can't stress how important this step is in my own self-motivation. I often go through mental/emotional ups and downs, but what keeps me steady is rewarding myself with the thought that I DESERVE THIS or I WORKED HARD FOR THIS. Try not to seek your rewards extrinsically (it's funny, but it naturally happens when you don't seek it by the way). 

SO what are my goals this year? 
  • Move into a new home (our family is growing...in size...not in number don't worry. haha)
  • Be more present in the community, reaching more students in the area with our educational expertise and teaching tools
  • Set plans to teach yoga abroad (in the works!)
  • Float into handstand 
  • POST more entries here (at least twice a month!) now that I have a bit of a grasp on raising my little babies...
  • Fully love on my husband and two littles when I'm with them (this is an always goal)

What are YOURS?

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A First-time Mother on her FIRST year

Several people have recently reminded me: You haven't posted anything in SO long. In order to maintain your blog, you need to keep up with it and have regular posts.

They are so right.

But here's the thing, I just use the blog as my excuse to vent or celebrate. If people come by to read things and enjoy my writings, I'm actually SUPER blessed. I never intended it to go viral or get a lot of readership. Although, having people comment and to converse with on topics of my choice does sound quite interesting and fun. Maybe....someday....

My last post was early December 2012 and Arya Jean Denton was born on 12/21/12 @1:21

That's our little Arya at 3 weeks old.

And now, she's ONE today! 

Everyone told me that being a mom would change things and I expected that with obvious major things. But there are subtle things that I hadn't realized until they hit me, one by one. EVERY mom knows this, I'm sure, but I'll share the things that I went through:

  • Your belly doesn't retract in the timely manner you thought it would. I worked on rebuilding my core (I had a c-section) for 6 months and my belly was still bloated looking. The worst part: I have Asian friends that had kids and a month or two later look like nothing happened to them, and they didn't do anything. I'm not that kind of Asian I guess. ALSO, whom are you doing a favor when you post FLAT belly pics of yourself three weeks post-partum?? Good for you, but it makes other women feel like that time frame is normal
  • You barely have time to yourself especially if you work full-time. In other words, in the morning you're on baby duty and when you get back from work you're on baby duty. So if you're on baby duty, when do you work off the 50-lbs you gained? It's a miracle if it happens. 
  • Your single friends suddenly feel uncomfortable around you. I don't sit there and talk incessantly about my daughter, if at all, with my friends, colleagues, or clients, UNLESS someone asks. A lot of my single friends suddenly feel as if they have to ask me about Arya, but they don't. I am still perfectly capable of listening to their relationship drama, work problems, world issues, and celebrity gossip. I found that either they think I'm at a different stage in my life and maybe trying not to "burden" or "bore" me OR since I'm not going out to bars and clubs with them these days, I'm just out of the loop?
  • Your mom friends suddenly have so much more to say to you. It's funny how much my friends that have been moms for a while were waiting to share their experiences or give their advice to me. They ask so many questions so that they can say, "Oh yea, I remember when so-and-so did that! I miss that stage." I love it! I just sit back and listen because it's SO MUCH more informative and personal than when I GOOGLE everything.
  • Not going out as often as you used to ISN'T necessarily a bad thing. You'd almost rather stay home and watch your baby fall asleep. I work so hard every day that I don't mind just winding down and falling asleep next to my daughter. I am such a social being that I know some day soon I'll get back into "fighting" shape and be out and about painting the town red, but for now I'm seriously enjoying this quiet time. There is a time for everything. 
  • Your guilty conscience creeps up and nags far more than you thought it would. I know that there are so many moms out there that want to show off that they maintain the best household and family--making their houses Jonathan Adler approved and meals Giada de Lorentiis-fied and pinning their DIYs on Pinterest that put even Martha Stewart to shame (i endorse none of these characters; they are so the antithesis of my style)--perhaps to somehow encourage other mothers out there to follow suit, but it instead makes the rest of us feel like we're inadequate. HOWEVER, the largest fault lies on ourselves. None of us mothers need to blame other "perfect" moms out there. Good for them! I applaud them 'cuz it ain't easy! We just need to stop putting that kind of pressure on ourselves and simply enjoy what you're doing to the best of your ability. I all too often have the dirtiest house, hampers overflowing with laundry, un-ironed clothes, and takeout. I used to feel guilty until I realized I'm doing the best I can to be a good person and mom, and those things that don't get done on my list don't define me. UNLESS YOU LET THEM. 
Today, I am also 6 months pregnant with my second child. A boy! We are so excited to be blessed with one of each. Having "Irish twins" was not in my life's repertoire but now at 36 I am happy it "accidentally" happened this way. It may be hard for a bit, but they will be besties and in school together most of the time. Everyone tells me some version of "1+1 is MORE than 2" but I'm ok with it (check back in a year on this very blog and perhaps I'll have another opinion. LOL!) because I am not really focused on being "perfect" but rather being more of another "P" word: PRESENT. 

I am present in that I may be flawed, but I am doing my best.
I am present in that I may miss my former yoga practice, but I love my current practice.
I am present in that I have to learn love my body's misshapen form as it is a vessel for my baby boy.
I am present in that although at times I miss dancing all night long with my girl friends, I will never be able to relive these milestones with my daughter. 
I am present in my work because I love to spread knowledge and awareness to other families and individuals as an educational consultant and yoga teacher because not many people get to "change lives" with their work, and because I'm away at work for a big chunk of the day, I am an even more present mom to Arya and wife to my husband when I'm home.
I am present in sharing my life with you, reader, whomever you may be. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

I am Superwoman.

Oh boo...it has been 2 months since my last post. Pregnancy has been taking a toll on my down time because I am now so much more tired than I was in my second trimester. I am still working full-time and teaching 9 yoga classes around my work schedule all the up until the night before I deliver. Not only am I running an educational business as my day job, for the last month and a half, I helped 7 students with their college applications and essays: inspiring and editing is a round the clock job thanks to Google docs and online editing meetings!

Am I tooting my own horn? Ok it might seem like it, but there's a point to it all.

Over the years and quite recently again, I overheard several never-been-pregnant ladies rave about their friends who continued their Ashtanga or vigorous yoga practice or ran half-marathons all the way up until their child was born. Recently, I also heard someone go so far as to say, "So, spread the word! It CAN be done." People sound so unaware. So clueless. 

Then, there's that incredible pressure on the modern mom to breastfeed the baby until he/she is at least 2 years old (have you seen the Time magazine cover?). Now, I can't wait to breastfeed and I will do my darnedest to do so, but I know quite a few women who've told me they tried their best and couldn't for physiological reasons beyond their control or had to work so had to mix in pumping and some formula. The worst part is that these women were judged by other moms for feeding their child formula. My poor sister-in-law was bombarded by preachy church ladies because she opted out.

What's more, women also now have to juggle being working moms and excelling at their careers while creating the perfect environments in which their children can grow up. One thing falters at work? She must be preoccupied with the kids. If something goes wrong at home, it must be because she's a bad mom since she spends most of her time at work. And with the myriad products that are all-natural, organic, baby-tested and safe and the best day cares/schools for children's development out there, people freely give out unsolicited advice as to how you should go through your pregnancy and motherhood. Lots of "you should....you SHOULD....YOU SHOULD....."

My point is this.

1. I don't know that anyone DIDN'T know that it was possible to keep up a pre-baby workout regiment throughout the pregnancy. Duh. Everyone knows it's possible, but does that mean that it IS actually possible for every one? No! And you never know this until you become pregnant and see where it takes you. I was so exhausted and sick my first trimester, I was catching up on sleep outside of my often 12-hr days. But I tried to be SO active even in my crazy schedule all the up until the 31 wk mark. It hurt my ego that I had to surrender a lot of physical activity mostly because I started to pop early and my 5'2" frame can't really maneuver around a slightly above average size baby! Even my OB, who sees pregnant bellies on a daily basis, keeps telling me that she thinks Arya looks so big on me. But, when she actually measures my belly, I'm right on schedule just like everyone else. Something much like optical illusions. What looks and feels huge on me might look normal on someone 5'6". Someone with longer legs probably can maneuver around their belly a LOT easier than someone with short legs like me. 

2. Birth processes and breastfeeding? There are three women in my family that couldn't breastfeed and were made to feel guilty for it. God knows they wanted to and tried. Along the same lines, Caesareans. For heaven's sake, why do women make other women feel so bad about getting a c-section? I see it on forums on all the pregnancy sites and I've experienced it myself as well, as I'm scheduled for one in less than 2 weeks due to complications. Even if anyone just wanted to schedule one, I don't think it should be a source of making someone feel less of a "woman" for doing so. This goes for child-rearing as well. My friend told me that a total stranger scolded her to put socks on her son. To home school or not to home school? It's really not anyone else's place.

3.  Career. I am extremely blessed that I work for a brilliant educational consulting company. The senior execs of our company appreciate my hard work and always acknowledge me and have been nothing but supportive of my new journey into motherhood. At my branch, I'm the director. I have a lot of responsibilities not only to my employees, but also to all my students and parents as they entrust their academic careers in my hands. I pride myself in the fact that I have created an environment that is supportive and welcoming, yet disciplined. Professional, yet compassionate. Fostering this type of environment is one thing, but I have employees that are considerate and so hardworking, and even more so since they discovered I was pregnant. Oddly, it isn't until I step out into the yoga community that I experience judgment. Females especially. WOMEN! We need to rise up to support one another! Stop tearing other women down because of their choices! Stop raising the bar so incredibly high and imposing strange one-size fits all patterns on others that the picture of a perfect woman is unattainable. 

YOU cannot assume what many can do is something everyone MUST do. It's like this. Do you ever tell someone who went through trauma that they need to get over their past in 6 months because you got over your trauma in that time frame? When someone says that they're in pain, do you just scoff and assume they're being a wuss because you happen to have a really high pain tolerance? Your reality is NOT their reality. Their truths are also truths.

Om Asatoma Sat Gamaya
Tama Soma Jyotir Gamaya
Mrityorma Amritam Gamaya

Lead us from the unreal (transitory existence) to reality (of self), 
from darkness (of ignoracnce) to light (spiritual knowledge)
from fear of death to the knowledge of immortality.

I chant this after class a lot in hopes that I (and in turn inspire in others to) can become a more understanding and aware person in my community. In hopes that I can stop myself in my tracks when I start to think that the way someone does something is sub-par, especially for my fellow ladies out there that are expected to be beautiful, thin, sexy, maternal, AND successful, I will always be vigilant in saying my piece. In the ways that you choose to do it.....


Friday, October 5, 2012

Find Your "Pretty"

While responding to a short interview questionnaire for Zen Girl Activewear (I am October's Zen Girl), I was spurred to write something that explores the topic of what my bestie and I call "finding your pretty."

What I've noticed is that the people who've always grown up beautiful and have been praised for their beauty rely on that exterior endowment to "skip" many necessary developmental steps along the way of growing up. Many such women and men have always breezed through life because someone else always did the hard work for them. Social and interview skills did not have to develop due to the fact that qualifications were overlooked for their good looks. They never had to fend for themselves because they never knew how to be alone; someone was always by their side looking out for them. Once they cross into their late 30s and 40s, gravity and loss of elasticity take a toll on their skin. They aren't getting the same reactions or results from people that they're used to. And...they panic. Sometimes, even throw adult-sized tantrums in the forms of binge drinking, substance abuse, multiple elective surgeries, and heavy demands on their significant others to dote on and spoil them as they would have been in their teens and 20s. Soon, relationships meet dead ends and sifting through partners year after year becomes a norm.

One Oprah show (you can read a summary and catch some video clips here) I caught a while back, Cybill Shepherd had mentioned something like this and it made total sense to me why I witnessed so many of my handsome peers go through these dramatic ups and downs. They only relied on the outside pretty and never built up their inside pretty. You see, your inner pretty gets better with age and outer pretty alters at an alarming rate. There is a verse in the Bible that even talks about that. Proverbs 31:30 says "Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting..." and then it goes on to talk about the character of a woman. I have also noticed that the external beauty of the people with true inner beauty catches up with the inside.

I understand when people are "late bloomers" or just figuring their lives out. But when the process looks like years of ongoing nomad-like inability to settle into what one truly is meant to be, it's a lack of finding their inner "pretty."  For example, Sandy has been dating Mark for a while now and had a life-changing epiphany and wants him to become another version of her: she's a vegan and does Kundalini yoga. So, he decides to cook more vegan dishes and goes to yoga with her once a week. He doesn't particularly subscribe to either ideal completely, but he sees the validity in her passion for them and loves her so meets her halfway. 6 months later, she realizes many are allergic to glutens, but since she loves it, demands that it not be allowed in the house because maybe she, too, is allergic. She starts to preach the gospel of yoga to his friends and pressures them into coming to classes with her or makes them feel "on a lower plane of evolution" whenever she talks about her enlightening yoga practice. Suddenly, she starts harping on other yogis around town and gossiping to her friends about the un-yogic ways of so-and-so. Soon, Mark notices that all she talks about is yoga and all she wears is yoga clothes. Somewhere down the line, their next goal has become to free the community of all meat eaters and non-yogis and perhaps start an ashram. Mark decides he has had enough and opts out of the relationship. He wants to talk about politics, the Lakers game, the economy, his career aspirations and dreams for his future family. He suddenly found a completely different version of whom he met years ago because she was constantly uncomfortable with where she was on a daily basis.

On another side of the spectrum, Mirabel decides she wants a good looking younger boy that treats her like she's the sexiest woman alive. She wants to date someone that has enough money to take her out on dates and a house preferably because she wants to settle down soon. She is not in her 20s anymore, so she thinks she NEEDS to close the deal soon. She talks about marriage all the time to her friends and to him as well. They unofficially do say someday they want that, but her guy seems to be dragging his feet which is exacerbating to her, but she doesn't want to be thrown in the dating pool yet again. You see, he feels the pressure coming from her more than it feels like his idea, so he's not so keen on the idea anymore. Plus, he's younger and a man...he feels he has a lot more time before he settles down. For now, it's just good to chill for the time being because she's cute and they like similar things.

Still another sample in the spectrum is Giordana, who is gorgeous and successful. She wants only the boys that look exactly like her: fit, trim, strong, athletic. She also wants someone to blow her mind intellectually and to tame her headstrong tendencies with machismo. She's social so she wants someone social, too. Oh yea, he also has to be a runner just like her so they can go running together and he needs to know how to dress well. Thing is...she also has to be physically SO attracted to him in spite of including all of the above. Guess what? She's a serial dater can't seem to love herself enough to know she is capable of loving someone deeply, flaws and all. That much intolerance of the other translates to some or much intolerance of oneself, no?

These are mixtures of cases (mostly girls, some guys) of random acquaintances that I've encountered over the years and all names mentioned here are made up. When you are comfortable with who you are and know exactly where you want to go, someone who wants to go to the similar path will suddenly merge paths with you. One's path shouldn't overlap the other's. The two paths merge. Love shouldn't be like a forced jigsaw puzzle. If it looks like it fits and almost does but it doesn't quite just click into place, move on. Even though you're lonely, you have to learn what it is that YOU need to live a happy and honorable life before you factor in anyone else. It happens when you're ready. Find your inner pretty. Be proud of what you're good at and see if you can make a living out of it. Touch lives with your talents. Know your limits and love them. Improve yourself don't become someone else. When you find your pretty and your capacity to love yourself is when you'll become the best giver of love. Otherwise, you're faking it and there is no happiness in that. And people can tell fake eventually. Your unhappiness surfaces a lot more than you think, even if you are a great actor. There is a Korean proverb that says: There is no lie in this world. Meaning, eventually truth will be revealed at some point; it's only a matter of time.

When others keep having to tell you your worth, one day it'll stop because it becomes tiresome. You can go find another group of friends to keep this up for you, but then after a while, the jig is up again....and so repeats the cycle. Do your community but most importantly yourself a favor:

 Find your pretty.

Monday, September 24, 2012

What do I think of YOGA?

Have a look at an old article to get to know more about why I love what I do.....


Je suis Americaine (part two)

You know? I learned French for 4-5 years, but that was 15+ years ago. It came in so handy as I'm really good at understanding not only the basic things the servers and store clerks ask us, but also the signs and announcements on the trains. Whenever I tried to speak in my very best French accent (I'd been told by all my French teachers that my French pronunciation was wonderful), they spoke back to me in English. HA! So I kept my speaking to a minimum because I noticed they just spoke back to me in English. I appreciated the ones that humored me in French and I'd continue with them for a brief moment. 

Day 3
Musée D'Orsay. Mostly 19th cent French art: Monet, Manet, Van Gogh, Chavanne, Cezanne, Gauguin, Rodin, you name it....it was lovely. The train station turned museum was definitely one of my favorite museums of all time. It was raining a lot that day so we chose to do mostly museum and whatever shopping there was to do. Apparently, so did everyone else because the line looked like we'd wait for at least 2 hours to buy tickets only to stand in another line to be let in. Luckily, we had already obtained tickets from our Parisian friends and I never waited in a line in Paris (see Pregnant in Paris post below).

Galleries Lafayette. The dome and the old elevators and all the shops there were certainly a sight to see, but with all the tourists and lines... I hate malls and crowds of people shopping back home and this was bustling with even more people than Christmas Eve at Macy's. We got my favorite tea Mariage Frères, some Pierre Hermè macarons, my Longchamp Planete bag-black on black- (cheaper than in the states), and we were out! 

...and they say we Americans make abnormally large sizes (and we do...)! This is the largest Nutella I've ever seen!

Day 4:

Musée du Louvre for 2+ hours. We took the plan and hit only the things we wanted to see: Mona Lisa, Victory of Samothrace, Venus de Milo, italian painters and sculptors, and some Egyptian works. The rooms alone in the Louvre are majestic but some are filled with some massive paintings that I felt so small. 

do you see something that doesn't belong? :) 

The Mona Lisa had such a mob of people like papparazzi with their cameras held up high to take a photo all pushing their bodies up against each other to get to the front that the real estate on the walls surrounding were cheapened as those artworks were completely overlooked. 

the mob of people in front of Mona Lisa; the kind security guard let me in front of the ropes of this mob!

Notre dame. We got to the famous cathedral and the sun was mostly covered by big semi-gray clouds, an ominous warning of sorts as we sat down to eat lunch. Within 5 minutes of ordering, two young boys noisily placed a paper with scribble all over it on top of our table and shouted something briefly. It wasn't French.  We simply  ignored their sudden raucus, but we should've known better. Our friend Laure told us to be wary of pick pocketers who distract you by creating a diversion with either fake jewellry or by pointing at something for you to see and then swipe your belongings. In this case, it was James' iphone. He had all of his Paris photos on there. As my husband is an architect/designer, he takes a lot of pictures of little details all around the city for inspiration in his work. Much of the time we travel, he takes pictures more than 5 tourists combined--sometimes, I wait, but mostly, I just keep walking because I can't stand the constant stop and go--, but it's an occupational hazard. All those images swirling in his head help inspire projects and his beautiful creations. Needless to say, it put a damper on our mood for a bit, but we kept on going. I was told I shouldn't do the towers as it is 360 some odd steps altogether by the gaurd at the front, so we just walked through and around the cathedral. Those flying buttresses and gargoyles, I had to take photos. 

Bateaux Mouches. Right along where we were is the Seine and we boarded a boat tour on Pont-Neuf. This hour long boat ride was the icing on the cake because from it you had a view of the city: all the places we'd walked to and discovered up close all passed by like rolling memories. It was absolutely romantic and a savior to my dying legs. 

dubbed the most beautiful bridge in Paris: Pont Alexander III 
La Conciergerie (can't believe this was a prison)

All museum tickets range from 6 to 9 euros per person. The Eiffel tower is 14 euros (has different price points depending on how much you want to walk) to take both stages by lift. James and I got lucky because through our friend Sebastien, we received all of our tickets as a gift.  If you do a short trip, these are all doable in 4 days without killing yourself. I organized them based on the location. If you're willing to walk, do it. Walking through the city was a large part of the experience. 

Finally, we went back home to Rue Vielle du temple, and there happens to be a restaurant called Chez Robert et Louise that Anthony Bourdain visited on one of his No Res episodes. It's so unassuming (as most good eateries here seem to be), quaint, and deilcious. The sign outside says "Restaurant" so don't go looking for Chez Robert et Louise. You just have to know the address (click the restaurant name). The exposed kitchen and open fire, wooden interior and furnishings, and about the size of an American living room add a french country feel with its rustic potatoes, charcuterie, escargots, ribs, and lamb chops on the menu. Delicious. 

By the way, the French respect that you'll spend a few hours eating so they don't book tables by the hour. So even though they don't accept your reservation, you can go and sit at the bar until something happens to open up. They turned away guests while we were eating with no false hope to the anticipating new guests nor pressure to the guests already dining. In the states, we focus on turning tables so fast that we're given the bill as soon as we look like we're eating and we don't take our time to enjoy the food and have meaningful conversation. I love socializing with food so this was a breath of fresh air. Speaking of socializing, we met another American at the bar who happens to be from Carlsbad. Small world. 

Feel free to do what we did if you only have a few days and add more if you have more energy. If I can do this mostly walking everywhere at nearly 7 months pregnant, then anyone can. All of this helped me to fall in love with Paris in roughly four days. 

Au revoir Paris. A bientôt!