It is almost time to say Au revoir to 2016. And Bonjour to 2017. 2016 had some tough days. In life, though, that’s pretty much par for the course, n’est-ce pas? That’s when we learn valuable lessons. It’s when we learn to appreciate the whos and whats in our lives. If we are smart. And then we move on. The sun comes up the next morning. Sometimes it is difficult, if not downright nearly impossible, to let go of hurt feelings, guilt, anger, disappointment, fear– all of those emotions that can bring on a middle-of-the-night panic attack if we aren’t careful. I know. I’ve been there done that. Learning to take deep breaths, forgiving myself as well as those I love, and remembering what is truly important takes practice.
Why is that those who know their days on earth are numbered teach us the best lessons? I hate to break it to you, but all of our days are numbered. Somehow, though, those who live with it daily are the wisest. Chris Rosati. The lessons I have learned from him. Chris has ALS. Lou Gehrig’s disease. Tuesdays with Morrie. Since his diagnosis six years ago, he has taught so many of us how to be kinder human beings. I saw Chris last night at The BIGG Holiday Mashup in downtown Durham.
He was able to put in an appearance at the end of the show. Dressed as Santa, in his wheelchair, speaking through a computer that is somehow miraculously connected to his eyes and types out his messages. Many of his high school friends and classmates were in attendance so it ended up being a big wonderful funny class reunion-type event for me. I taught so many of these “kids.” See, Chris, see what you are doing? Bringing all of us together for the Big Idea for the Greater Good. A lesson I promise to put into practice in 2017.
So, instead of reflecting backwards, I will reflect forwards. Think of the all the potential that awaits us in 2017. The BFF doesn’t like odd-numbered years, but I have assured her that the coming one will be filled with Goodness. Kindness. Pure joy. Hmmm…. How do I know this? Because I am in charge of how good, kind and joyous I will be. And so are you. There are indeed many, many things that we cannot in any way, shape or form control. Why focus on those? Instead, let’s focus on what we can control. Our own attitudes. Our own behavior. Terrorists will not keep me from traveling to my beloved France. The political leadership in my own beloved state and country will not keep me from hoping that good will come from this somehow. Because we can band together and “kill them with kindness” as Mama Mildred has been known to say.
My 2017 will include the following:
Kennedy’s birth. My first grandbaby. I already get teary-eyed just thinking about her.
Finding new ways to show kindness and helping others do the same.
Spending more time with my family, be they in Charlotte, Spruce Pine, Washington, Brevard, High Point or here in Durham. I am incredibly lucky. My sons, a soon-to-be daughter-in-law, mama, sisters, in-laws, cousins all close by.
At least two trips to France. January (20 days) and March (76 days). Ah oui, I do indeed count it down. Every time I board the plane it feels like the first time.
Showing my friends how much I love them. I am lucky in this respect, too. I have some amazing friends who love me no matter what.
Joie de vivre. I am very fond of this French phrase. Love of life. Joy in living. Ed the Head, used it in 2013 to describe me when he presented me with the Hershey Award. I laughed with him afterwards as I complimented his French pronunciation. I vow here and now to show this joie much more often.
Self-improvement. At home. In the classroom with the kiddos and my colleagues. With me. More walks, more quiet time, good books, good music, good food, more writing.
A good place to start. And I think I will get a week’s head start on some of those. Pourquoi pas?
I will leave you with a recipe to make immediately (or as soon as you can assemble the ingredients) and share as gifts and/or make for the family and friends who will come a-calling. A big bowl of deliciousness. I fell in love with them the first time I tasted them at a foreign language meeting. Our Latin teacher is quite a cooker. She shared the recipe. Merci beaucoup, JL.
1 pound unsalted pecans
2 Tbsp. coarsely chopped fresh rosemary or 1 tsp. dried
2 Tbsp. melted butter
2 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. cayenne or black pepper
Preheat oven to 350˚F.
Spread nuts on baking sheet (I line mine with parchment paper.) Bake 10-15 minutes- 15 minutes for crunchier nuts.
While the pecans are baking, combine all the other ingredients in a large bowl and mix together. Add pecans while still hot and toss to coat.
Serve warm or cold. Store in tightly closed container.
Bon appétit to all and to all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Here’s to 2017!
A post from the past entitled 94 and 47 popped up on my Facebook page yesterday. It was from 2013. At first, I couldn’t figure out what the title meant.
Then, looking at the smiling faces of La Blonde et La Brune, it dawned on me. The countdown until my 2014 trips to France! I posted the countdown until my 2017 trips on my classroom whiteboard at about 10:00 yesterday morning. Coincidence? Non! I don’t believe in them. It’s just where my mind goes at this time of year.
In French 8, we are studying food vocabulary. A couple of days ago, I posted the following activity for the kiddos in the class Evernote notebook:
C’est jeudi 1er décembre. Tu es maintenant à Paris. Tu as vraiment faim et il est midi et demi. Regarde ce plan de Paris et dis-moi où tu es. Tu es tout(e) seul(e) ou tu es avec un(e) ami(e)?
Qu’est-ce que tu viens de faire? Visiter le Louvre? Faire du shopping? Visiter le Panthéon? La Tour Eiffel? Trouve un café ou un restaurant près de cet endroit sur le site TripAdvisor. (Refine your search by scrolling down and choosing a neighborhood near where you are.)
Tu veux dépenser 35 euros ou moins pour un repas français traditionnel.
Réponds aux questions suivantes.
Comment s’appelle le restaurant?
Où est-ce? La rive droite ou la rive gauche? L’arrondissement? L’adresse?
Il y a un site internet?
Il y a un menu du jour?
Choisis une entrée:
Choisis un plat:
Choisis un dessert:
Et comme boisson?
Quand tu as fini, tu as aimé le repas? Pourquoi ou pourquoi pas?
C’est combien l’addition?
Le service est compris?
Write a short review for TripAdvisor (Look at their form, but do not write it on the site- write it below- en anglais:
I told them that they are helping me plan my January trip to Paris. I am always looking for new cafés and restaurants. It’s a short trip, only 6 days– oui, that’s a short trip in my book. But, hey, I will go for only a weekend if someone offers me the opportunity. Passport always ready, bags packed. Especially now that Delta has a direct flight from Raleigh-Durham to Paris-Charles de Gaulle.
I have already made plans for one night while I am there. I have signed up for a food tour of the Marais with La Cuisine Paris. From their website:
Join us on a Marais Soirée as we immerse ourselves in a typically French experience: l’apéro! Take a sip and a bite of French culture as we enjoy the sociable pre-dinner hours that are such an important part of Paris life. With a glass in your hand and a tempting array of all things delicious, you’ll soon see why the term apéro is a fitting one: derived from the Latin word aperire “to open,” we’ll be doing just that – opening up our appetites and starting an evening in Paris – santé!
Right up my alley, n’est-ce pas?
The January trip is mostly paid for by ACIS, the student travel company I use. They invite teachers who have tours booked with them to spend a long weekend in one of several spots. I always choose Paris during the MLK, Jr. weekend. I asked my middle school director for a couple of extra days. I plan activities for the March student trip. Really. I do. This, mes amis, is professional development for me. And therapy as well. I’ve booked a little hotel in the Quartier latin for two nights, near the RER-métro station that will take me directly back to the airport the morning I depart. The ACIS hotel will be out of my budget range, I fear, so I will move after three nights. I got the idea for this neighborhood from a friend who is going over for Christmas with her daughters. It will be their first Christmas without dad/husband who passed away this summer. She found an AirBnB apartment in a great neighborhood and then we discovered it is near an RER B-métro stop so they can easily take the train into the city from the airport. I sent them my Paris cheat sheet, as I like to call it. I’ve been compiling a list of my favorites. If you are planning a trip and are interested, just let me know and I will post it or email it directly to you.
So, for the next 42 days I will daydream and plan a few things that I want to do/see. ACIS will have activities planned for us. For the recap last year’s trip, read ACIS and Paris 2016- Exceptional. J’ai vraiment de la chance.
Mon amie Mme M sent me a link to this video yesterday. She knows that I am on a Spread the Kindness kick. I showed it to my classes. It is from francetvzoom. I can only get it to play in U.S. on Facebook…
As we prepare for the March trip, I always read David Sedaris’ story about the métro to my 8th graders in an attempt to make them realize that we need to learn to be less loud while roaming around France. And to make them laugh, of course. It’s from his book Me Talk Pretty One Day. I love that man. Listen to David tell it–
From my classroom, thanks to the grand-mère of one of last year’s students–
Bon appétit! Here’s to Paris daydreaming and planning trips! That’s what keeps me going some days! Happy Friday and Bonjour, Décembre!