As I write this blog post, I am in a van, heading back to school after a four-day weekend in Chicago. Fair warning, this is about to get unashamedly real. The past couple months in the small town of Wilmore, Kentucky have been a huge personal challenge. From getting through reverse culture shock, to trying to be myself in a place where I don’t necessary thrive, it’s been difficult, emotional, and ultimately a beautiful learning experience.
I don’t love school, but I am good at it. I get shit done and I show up to class. The problem is that I go through each day, with a constant desire to drop-out and run away to bigger cities full of freedom and possibility. I feel stuck, and I want out. This is one thing that I haven’t figured out how to deal with or process emotionally. At this point, I just don’t see the point of being here at Asbury and studying something that I defaulted to just because I placed out of some of the classes. And besides, I am done with every class required for my French major at the end of this semester. So why am I here? Is any of this going to be worth it? Is it really necessary to keep paying money to an institution that it doesn’t feel like is teaching me anything? So, until I find answers to these questions, I will sit through class after class and be a responsible student like I know how to do. I have one year to go and maybe someday I’ll realize that it was all worth it.
Relationships with people have been tricky recently, but also have been beautiful pictures of grace and redemption that have been getting me through this semester. In the past, I’ve trusted people who said they were my friends, only to be rejected and hurt. None of that was necessarily my fault, but I didn’t love myself enough to realize my worth as a friend and as a person, so I let people manipulate and step all over me. I have learned so much from that hurt and I’m continually learning to love myself more and more. In the past few months, it’s been absolutely beautiful to see a broken friendship be reconciled and turn into an incredible support and encouragement system. So much joy has come from that healing. Other sweet friendships have grown into honest, real friendships and I am beginning to realize that I have real friends who care about and love me, and who I can trust. It’s hard to believe sometimes, but these friendships are so comforting and precious.
I love cities. There is a quote I heard once: “The city was alive and so was she.” That sums up exactly how being in a city makes me feel: alive, free and like anything is possible. I feel confident and feel like myself. I can see a joy in myself that I can’t see when I am anywhere else. I know who I am and who I want to be; everything is clear and I feel inspired. Last semester, I fell in love with the beautiful city of Paris. It changed my perspective on life and it gave me new and bigger dreams. It isn’t something that most people understand, but I will be back in Paris one day. It’s a big dream that very few people in my life know how to support. Not that people don’t believe in me, but they don’t understand and I can’t blame them. I’m only twenty years old, going around saying that I want to open my own specialty coffee shop in Paris, France. It sounds crazy, it does. But, spending this weekend in Chicago just validated and grew that dream for me, so get ready for me to sound even crazier!
This little weekend trip was a class trip for my Contemporary Art Seminar class, so we visited the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Contemporary Art while we were there. While those were interesting and good experiences, the places that I felt inspired were at a small, empty gallery and a photography studio. The gallery, called Patron, is run by a woman who graduated from Asbury and the encouragement that she gave to us was so reassuring. The photography studio belongs to a local food photographer, Kelly Allison, who had our class over for dinner and gave us a tour and talked to each of us about your dreams and goals. Her hospitality was much appreciated and she was so full of life and joy, but also realistic and down-to-earth. These two women had big dreams and they stepped out into the world with a confidence and determination that has helped them reach the place that they are today. They were the inspiration that I needed this weekend and I will forever be grateful for that. Along with these two women, my Professor, who lived in Paris with us last semester, reminded me of how proud she is of me and how she can’t see me living anywhere other than Paris. She is a huge support and encouragement in my life and I couldn’t agree with her more.
These little experiences in Chicago this weekend helped me to gain a clearer perspective on what my dream involves. The thing is that I want something to organize and manage beyond just a café in Paris. I want to help people with more than just their caffeine intake. I’ve started to realize how much I love seeing peoples’ personalities through their art. So, having a café that is within the confines of an art gallery is exactly what I want. I’ve seen it done as a photography gallery, but as far as I know, an art gallery café does not exist in Paris yet. I would love to be the person who makes this happen. Not only would I be able to meet travelers and locals through my café, but I would be making real connections in the art world in Paris, and potentially helping to support young artists. It’s a big, crazy dream, for sure, but there isn’t anything stopping me from trying.
When I texted three long paragraphs about my dreams and realizations to one of my best friends, his reply was “So now it’s time to chase this?” The answer to that questions is a resounding YES. Dreams are meant to be chased. It is a huge risk, but it gives me joy. So, to the people who support and believe in me, thank you. And to the people who tell me this is silly and unrealistic, you’re wrong. Let me dream. It’s only a crazy dream until it’s a damn reality. And you just wait.
As a coffee connoisseur, I appreciate a good coffee and I know what bad coffee tastes like. The iconic café atmosphere in Paris is just that: an iconic atmosphere. However, the coffee is actually horrible at the cute little patio cafés on the streets of Paris.
Along with the adorable atmosphere and traditional Parisian aesthetics, you basically have three options for coffee:
So, if you go to Paris, for sure go to a classic Parisian café like in the movies, and get the Café for the Instagram, but be warned. Once you do that, be sure to check out one of the newer trends in Paris: the specialty coffee shop. There are so many great, delicious coffee shops that use coffee beans that have been properly roasted at Parisian Roasteries. You can enjoy coffee in Paris that isn’t burnt and watery! I went to so many cute hipster coffee shops and I loved every single one. I even interned for one of my favorites!
Most of the specialty coffee shops in Paris are not owned or run by French, but rather expats (“An expatriate, often shortened to expat, is a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country other than their native country.” –Wikipedia). So, within the community of specialty coffee shops in Paris, there is so much friendliness and of course some healthy competition. But everyone within this coffee community knows each other and it’s such a cool thing to see, especially in such a big city.
My two favorite specialty coffee drinks in Paris were:
Here are a few coffee shops located in beautiful Paris that I loved and frequented:
Le Peloton Café
4th arrondissement / 17 Rue du Pont Louis-Philippe
This is my favorite coffee shop in Paris. I absolutely adore this charming little place that always has such a sense of community and is very welcoming. The name “Le Peloton” translates to the word for a group of bicyclists at the front of a race. So, the décor inside the café is complete with a bicycle hanging on the wall and many Tour de France posters. The tables and chairs are a bright yellow, and every day, fresh yellow roses are placed in purple accented wine bottles on each table. And the coffee is absolutely delicious. I went so much, that when I would walk in, they would automatically start making me a latte because I always ordered the same thing! Oh and their waffles?! They are to die for. Order them with Nutella or go with a salty version, complete with cheese, egg and ham. The last day I was in Paris, I stopped by to say goodbye to this lovely little café in Le Marais, and oh how I miss those lattes.
3rd arrondissement / 106 Rue de Turenne
This coffee shop is the definition of minimalistic. The simplistic black and white color scheme and basic decor is extremely aesthetically pleasing. Even the sign’s font, which is all lowercase letters, screams minimalist. Café fringe is a dream. When you walk in, the cloud like lamps make the atmosphere peaceful and calming. The catch-phrase “coffee food photography” perfectly sums up this lovely café. The hipster food, from bouddha bowls to fancy open sandwiches, are delicious and the coffee and tea is delightful! They have a number of vegan and gluten-free options, but they are still very tasty. And to top it all off, they serve refreshing sparkling water on the house! While in Paris, I would spend hours here, editing photos among the many photographers and others who stopped by for meetings and coffee breaks. The atmosphere was perfect for a young photographer living in Paris and the walls were always filled with different photographers’ works. Café fringe is a cozy place that I will be revisiting as soon as I get back to Paris.
3rd arrondissement / 40 Rue Chapon
I found this cozy place during the last month of my stay in Paris. I wish I had found it sooner especially since it is near my favorite contemporary art museum in Paris, Centre Pompidou, and the little tattoo shop where I got my second tattoo. The warm décor and cozy benches lined with pillows invite you into the coffee shop. If you walk further, there is a little room with comfy chairs and mirror walls where I would sit and read. Even further, there are big tables and couches in a room of beautifully patterned walls. The room is perfect for the hours of studying and writing papers that I had during that last month in Paris. Their café crème is to die for and their customer service is excellent. They also have different sandwiches every week and they are always so unique and delicious. If you’re looking for a great, cozy study spot, this is the place for you.
Matamata Coffee Bar
2nd arrondissement / 58 Rue d'Argout
This adorable shop was one I just happened to stumble upon. I immediately loved the bright red cups and the floral décor on the logo and the wallpaper in part of the shop. It was such an inviting little place, with cute tables out front and friendly people inside. I sat and studied that first day for a while, and enjoyed a delicious café crème, my typical order. I went back a few weeks later and it was just as lovely as the first time, all decorated with live plants on all the tables. I met quite a few travelers and people just passing through Paris from all over the world- it definitely had that kind of atmosphere. Matamata is just a great place to sit and read a book or catch up with a friend.
10th arrondissement / 27 Rue du Chateau d'Eau
First off, the name of this café took me a while to catch onto. I think the idea is that it’s a play on the word “hope” and is also an acronym for “Objets / Homemade / Pâtisserie / Épicerie”. That translates roughly to “Objects / Homemade / Pastry / Grocery”. Basically, it is a café, pastry shop, and gift shop. You can sit and have coffee and pastries with friends and then wander around the little shop before you leave. The first time I went was with one of my good friends, Alexa. The pastries are created to perfection and the coffee (and tea) is wonderful. In the gift shop portion, there are handmade plates, cups and other trinkets as well as little food gifts. It is all so aesthetically beautiful and such a lovely atmosphere.
Each afternoon that I spent in a different coffee shop, made me want to start my own. Having my own café in Paris and meeting new people from all over the world sounds amazing to me. It may not happen, but for now, I will be dreaming of all the wonderful coffee that awaits me back in Paris.
When I left for Paris, as an opinionated, but timid, college Junior, I didn’t realize that Paris would change me so much. I figured that I would learn the language a bit more and have a great experience, but I came back different. I am not going to say that I came back a different person, because that is utterly cliché. But, in some ways, Paris really did change me. I learned so much from the people I met and from the culture that I was in. Paris has a way of making you see things differently. I came back on November 28th, with a solid grasp on who I am and a confidence that I had never seen in myself before. So, here are some short letters to the people and place that I learned from this semester: my host family, an amazing Professor, two sweet friends, some of the Frenchmen I went on dates with, the whole group of students who went with me, and the beautiful city of Paris.
To the family who adopted me as their daughter for three months, you showed me a generosity like no other. You included me in your family and genuinely helped me acclimate and adapt to my surroundings. Laurence, you taught me how to be the perfect French housewife while also having a career that you love. You had me help with meals and chores, and truly, I loved every minute of it. You were an amazing stand-in mother while I was hundreds of miles away from my own. André, you taught me to be much more confident and bold with my French speaking skills. Although your native language is British English, you did not once, in three months, speak a word of English to me. And you made sure that I only spoke French. I never would have improved so much without your daily questions in French over a breakfast of toast and coffee. So, to the both of you, thank you for teaching me so much and taking such good care of me in Paris.
To my Art History professor, I didn’t come to Paris excited about the art. I wanted to say that I had been to the art museums because that is what you do in Paris, but I just have never understood art. I still don’t sometimes, but I have a much larger appreciation for art after this semester. I remember wandering into the Musée d’Orsay only a few hours before an Art History exam and sitting in front of each painting or sculpture, reading over my notes for the test. It was a moment that I will never forget. For the first time since I was a little girl, I was learning something. Not just memorizing words to write down on a test, but truly learning. Not only were you an amazing professor, you were there to help our entire group with anything that we might have needed. You spent time not only teaching us, but getting to know us. Thank you for teaching me how to learn and showing me that I am loved.
To the boy I dated for three weeks and who joked that it was love at first sight, you taught me to believe in love again. I may not have actually fallen in love with you, but you showed me that even after heartbreak, love is a possibility. You taught me how to open my heart again after I had given up on love. You treated me with the utmost respect and kindness. You showed me how a man should treat me. You taught me that men can be charming and romantic in real life, even if it feels like a movie. You let me believe in the magic around me and gave me hope. Even though it didn’t work, you let me go with grace because I honestly believe that you did love me. And when you love something, you let it go. Thank you for filling my heart with hope.
To the two boys that I went on disappointing dates with, one of whom said, “when a woman says no, it doesn’t always mean no” and the other who got a bit too personal with the questions, you both taught me to stand up for myself. The two of you pulled me back into reality with your demeaning actions and words and showed me that life isn’t always magical. You showed me that French men may be charming, but they can simultaneously be the absolute worst. That probably isn’t what either of you meant to teach me, but I learned that some men, like yourselves, don’t know how to act like men. Instead they act like immature boys. Thank you, for, well, mostly nothing, but in some twisted way, thank you both.
To the boy who believed in himself, you taught me that sometimes the best outcome is friendship. You helped me see myself as a strong woman and you showed me how to be confident. You taught me that love isn’t easy and that you can’t give up. But, you also showed me that sometimes you have to let go to live. And most of all, you taught me how to be a friend. For that, I am forever grateful. See you in Paris in a couple years.
To the two girls who were a steady stream of encouragement and love, I couldn’t have done this semester without you. You two were always there for me. From helping me with hair and makeup crises to letting me yell about dumb boys, you were always there. I know I was crazy and annoying at times, but I am ever thankful for your love and support. I felt cared about and valued by the two of you and I couldn’t be more grateful. Thank you for giving me a safe place to talk, share, cry, and laugh. I love you two.
To the group of people who went on this adventure with me, I never knew how much you would feel like family. We learned together, laughed together, and grew together. I am thankful for each one of you. You challenged me to be a stronger and better person and you showed me love, acceptance, and friendship. I would not be in the place I am today, if it weren't for each of you beautiful humans. We had the adventure of a lifetime because we were strong together.
To Paris, the city of lights, you taught me to be myself. As I walked along your old cobblestone streets, I learned to be independent. When I sat in your gardens with a good book, I learned to be still and be happy being alone. Each time I practiced your beautiful language, I grew a little more confident. As I visited your boutiques and shops, I learned to not care what people think of me. When I sat in your cafés, I learned to enjoy everything and everyone around me. You taught me to hold my head up high and be confident in the woman that I have become. So, to the beautiful city of Paris, thank you for introducing me to some of my favorite things and teaching me so much. I will be back to visit you someday. Maybe I’ll even move back to live there.
I may not be a different person, but Paris changed me for the better. I’m a little more pretentious, a bit more independent, and a lot more confident now. I wouldn’t change those three amazing months in Paris for anything. Thank you to every single person I mentioned for teaching me life-long lessons of love, confidence, friendship, and hope.
Fashionista: not a word that I would ever use to describe myself. Yet, somehow, I wound up going to a Paris Fashion Week show, any fashionista’s dream. A good friend told me that I could send emails to different designers begging for a press invitation, so I took her advice and went for it. I figured it would be an awesome opportunity as a photographer and blogger. Maybe I would even get some recognition in the online photography and fashion worlds. This has yet to be determined- maybe this blog post will help. I wrote over sixty emails to different designers and four days later, I received a reply from one designer. The email only included a time and an address. The show happened on the very last day of Paris Fashion Week. The designer, a lesser known, but extremely talented, Paris-based Korean designer has two shops in Paris. This show was to introduce her Spring and Summer of 2018 collection.
I spent the week before the show finding an outfit with the help of friends here in Paris and the day of the show, my amazing friend and stylist, Sophie, did my makeup. I felt beyond glamourous that evening. Then the waiting began. I stood outside the Moon Young Hee show location, Paris Université Descartes, for over an hour before the show actually began. My favorite part about it was watching the people who had come to watch the show. Some women wore dresses and heels, while others wore jeans and sneakers. Some men wore ties and suits, while others wore leather jackets and jeans. Some women, and men for that matter, wore makeup, while others were au naturel. All the different styles were entirely different.
I’ve noticed here in Paris that the everyday street style is actually quite a personal decision. Comfort is key and as long as you walk with confidence, no one really cares what you wear. It was the same with the fashion show attendees. But every single person there held themselves in a very confident manner. Another note on street style in Paris is that people don’t own loads and loads of clothes. Parisians buy few, good quality items. Unlike the general preference in the United States, Parisians tend to prefer quality over quantity. Parisians wear what is comfortable, but they also wear name-brand. Even in the metro or bus, you can always see a variety of styles. Some look like they aren’t trying and others look like they are trying too hard, but they all look confident and somehow fashionable. As my three months continued in Paris, and having brought only a limited amount of clothes that I could fit into my two suitcases, I learned to dress like a Parisian. I wore the same outfits every week and added a couple items to my wardrobe. Sneakers with tights and a leather jacket with a blanket scarf are only two examples of fashion choices that I brought back to the United States with me. And to be honest, I don’t really care what people think about my fashion choices, now. I wear what I want to wear and I keep my head up with that French confidence that I learned those three months in Paris.
The fashion show was short, but quite entertaining. Rows of people dressed in all sorts of outfits sat on either side of the magnificent room, sunlight spilling through the beautiful, old windows. Being part of the press, I was directly facing the show. Bleachers were placed at the end of the runway for photographers and videographers to set up their equipment. I sat in front, on the floor with a few other photographers and an excellent view of the show. Calm yet steady music began and one by one, models walked down the stairs and straight towards me. Some paused at the end for a moment to let us take photos and others just kept on walking. From the moment that the show began, until the very end, the sound of camera shutters opening and closing was overwhelming. The collection was simple in color, mostly shades of blacks, whites, and greys. The designs were a deconstructed yet feminine look with many layers and different types of fabric. After each unique outfit had its turn in the spotlight, the models filed out for the finale followed by the designer stepping out for a just a mere second. And just like that, it was over. People immediately walked out of the walked out the doors. I assume, pleased with the collection they had just seen. It may have only been a short fifteen minutes, but my Paris Fashion Week experience is not an experience I will forget anytime soon.
A couple weeks later, I went to a fancier area of Paris than I usually hung out in for an afternoon tea outing with some friends. While in the area, Place Vendôme to be exact, I stumbled upon the Louis Vuitton Maison Vendôme with the recent installation of a golden sun on the exterior of the building. I had seen photos on Twitter earlier that week, but I had no idea I would see it for myself. As the sun shone down on Paris, the golden sun on the House of Louis Vuitton glittered with radiance. It was an incredible sight to see and for a mere second, I was taken away to the world of Paris fashion and glamour filled with memories of my Paris Fashion Week experience.
In the words of the lovely French fashion designer, Coco Chanel, "Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself." In true French culture, wear what you want and be confident. Believe in yourself and live your life to the fullest. And if you are ever in Paris, visit Angelina's for the best hot chocolate you will ever taste and a view of the table Coco Chanel would sit at in the mid 1900's between meetings and fashion shows.
I’ve been here for a little over one month. The first two weeks were a whirlwind of experiencing the magic and charm of Paris. The third week was filled with travelling to small French towns and getting used to day to day life here. The past couple weeks, the charm started to wear off. They were stressful weeks because I had two tests and a paper due and I didn’t get a lot of time to explore or enjoy Paris. All I saw was a dirty, scary city. And then someone handed me a book that started putting the charm back in this magical city of lights. I was sitting in the beautiful Luxembourg gardens disappointed in myself. Before coming to Paris, I had vowed to stay off Netflix while I was here. But, I was so exhausted after studying all week that I broke and Netflix is all I wanted to do. But as I sat in this incredible garden, looking out at the Luxembourg palace, book open to a chapter about this very place, I started showing myself grace and the charm of the city started coming back. The wind blew my hair across my face and I closed my eyes, content and filled with joy. Paris was magical again and my rose-colored glasses were put back in place.
Here are 10 of my biggest accomplishments this month:
Now, I’m headed to Barcelona for the weekend with 5 of my favorite people in Paris with me. We leave at 3 am on Thursday morning and are staying on a yacht! Look for a post about Barcelona soon!
I came to France dreaming of ways I could get a French visa. I wasn’t intending to start down the path that may lead me to that dream, but as the French say C’est la vie! (life happens)…
Paris is magical place to fall in love. It may be the city of lights, but the romance is far from lacking in this beautiful city. And my little story is full of this romance and magic. It started out as a single date in this enchanting city and turned into a whirlwind romance that lasted only a few weeks. It just wasn’t meant to be. However, the magic of Paris grew and it helped me believe in love again. It was a wonderful two and a half weeks. But I’m getting ahead of myself, let me start at the beginning.
As her parting words, a friend back home suggested I get a French dating app and go on a couple dates. I am in Paris, right?! Why not meet some nice French guys and practice my French? So, jokingly, a friend and I downloaded dating apps just to see what kind of French men we would find. Most of the guys were either boring or dumb, but then I happened on one guy who seemed a bit different. From the very first message, my two friends began planning the wedding. It was to take place in Notre Dame Cathedral followed by a River Boat Party on the Seine River. These two seemed more interested in this budding romance than even myself and thus, the teasing began.
Anyways, after messaging for a couple days, he asked me on a date to a café the following evening. Plans were made, and we met at the beautiful Luxembourg gardens at dusk. Four of my friends, who are here in Paris with me, followed me, taking photos along the way, to make sure the sweet Frenchman wasn’t a serial killer. I mean, he had two master degrees and worked on the Champs Elysées, the most fashion/luxury street in Paris, so how bad could he be?! This first date consisted of lots of walking around the city and quite a bit of awkwardness. The date with the handsome Frenchman ended well and I was even kissed under a beautifully lit Notre Dame Cathedral. That was a bit of a surprise. Before the date, I had done a lot of research on French dating, just in case I needed any of the information. I didn’t that night, but only days later came of the most French things I have experienced thus far.
The following week was filled with walks through the gorgeous streets of Paris and sitting in gardens and parks talking and getting to know each other. From that first date, his French accent had me smitten. A favorite phrase he said to me in broken English: "You're the best thing that has happened to me since a long time." Unfortunately, he didn’t speak much French to me, because he had just returned from a semester abroad in America and loved speaking English. Nonetheless, Google Translate was our friend and often mediator. On the other hand, he thought my French accent was “cute” and I still don’t know whether to be offended by that or not.
Well, only four days after that first date, the words “I love you” came out of his mouth and I have never had more culture shock than in that very moment. In America, you would never say those three precious words unless you were sure that you wanted to be in a serious relationship with someone. But alas, this is France and the way of life here is a bit different. So of course, “I love you” or as the French say "Je t’aime" doesn’t mean the same thing in France as it does in America. Here it just means a very casual, “I like you and enjoy spending time with you”. I still don’t really know what I replied, as I was so much in shock. I quickly said goodnight and headed back to my American friends to discuss the night’s events. We all began researching and messaging people who may have some information as to what he actually meant by these three words. Eventually, we found out the French meaning and were all put at ease.
The cliché Parisian dates continued. We ate at cafés for lunch, drank chocolat (hot chocolate) in the afternoons, walked hand in hand along the Seine river, ate pains au chocolat (chocolate croissants) in gorgeous French gardens, walked along the glamourous Champs Elysées, and kissed under a sparkling Eiffel tower. The charm of Paris grew and he laughed at me every time I said something about Paris being magical. We were falling in love in the city of lights and it still think it may have just been a dream.
He was charming and respectful. He was romantic and sweet. He never failed to remind me how beautiful I looked in both English and French. They say that French men are romantic and let me tell you, they are not wrong! I was charmed by this French way of romance and admiration. The “I miss you” and “I love you” texts were unending and the flirting was abundant, but welcomed. The French nicknames began from “canon” (literally translates to canon, but is a slang for gorgeous) to “mon cœur” (my heart). He was over the top enamored with me and I don’t know how that happened.
In only three weeks, I fell in love with him in French, and had even started falling in love with him in English. But alas, I’m sad to say that it didn’t work out. We met in yet another beautiful Parisian garden on a beautiful sunny day, only for me to tell him that I couldn’t continue to see him. Our beliefs didn’t line up enough to continue the relationship and I had decided to end it. He didn’t say much and I may have cried, but he kissed my cheek, said goodbye. I watched as he slowly walked away, my dream of a French visa dying with every step.
I’ll never forget my whirlwind French romance that almost got me a French visa. It may have ended quickly, but it was magical and memorable. Oh, and for anyone especially interested, I live tweeted the entire thing (including a photo). Link here.
I wasn’t the girl who spent high school desperately looking forward to turning 18 so that I could get a tattoo. Yes, I couldn’t wait to turn 18, but getting a tattoo was far from my thoughts. I didn’t start even thinking about it until the end of the summer, that’s when the excitement grew. I had so many ideas for tattoos that I might possibly want, how to choose?! I also battled the idea that if I did get a tattoo it would always be on my body, forever. Well, decisions were made and on September 26, 2016, I got my first tattoo. I had a friend draw it out 3 weeks before getting it done. Then, one week before, I went with another friend (who has plenty of awesome tattoos) and made an appointment for the following Monday. Shoutout to my roommate for making me think about the design for an extra week AND going with me to get it done! It hurt like CRAZY, but only took about 5 minutes total!
People still ask all the time what my tattoo means to me. Here is a longer version of what I tell them.
First of all, it’s based on two bible verses:
“I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine…”
Song of Songs 6:3a
“…her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.”
In the summer of 2016, my dad went to Israel. Among the beautiful gifts that he brought back for my mom, sisters, and myself, there were five identical silver rings with Song of Solomon 6:3a inscribed on them in Hebrew. He told us that he got them for us to remind us that not only are we his beloved, but more importantly, we are Yahweh’s beloved.
I’ve always loved the English word “beloved”. Have you ever noticed the two different ways that people pronounce it? The first way is /bee-loved/ and the second is /bi-love-id/. The first one reminds me of someone calling you out and saying, “Hey you, BE LOVED!” The other one feels like a gentle, loving term of endearment. Both are exactly the reminders that I want at different moments in my life.
For the two months before I got my tattoo, I had been getting so many tiny reminders that I am beloved. A couple people prayed for me and asked Papa God to remind me that I am His beloved. Then at a worship night on campus they played a song that quoted Song of Songs;
“And I am my beloved’s and He is mine, so come into Your garden and take delight in me.”
-Cory Asbury, Where I Belong
My last reminder came from hearing a song I hadn’t heard in two years. The singer, Jason Gray, only once explicitly says the word “beloved”, but the video “says” it clearly.
“If I’m your beloved, can you help me believe it?”
-Jason Gray, Remind Me Who I Am
One of my life goals is to see and treat every person that I encounter as Papa’s beloved child. That’s how He sees each and every person that he created: as His beloved child.
I’m still learning to live like Papa’s beloved daughter, but that isn’t something that I will or want to ever stop learning. Each morning when I wake up, I look down at the beautiful script that says “beloved” on my foot and I’m reminded again that I am Papa’s beloved and that every human he created is a beloved child of His. I’m so grateful that I get to live in this concept of “belovedness”. I’m thankful that I get to spend my life learning what it means even more than I already know. I am Papa’s beloved and that will NEVER change.
So with that, happy 1 year to my little tattoo that means so much to me.
I've been in Paris, France for almost an entire week. It has been the most exhausting, exciting week. As soon as I arrived, my team began orientation immediately. I slept very little this week, but the jet lag wore off after a few days and I'm thriving here.
I adore the French couple that I am staying with. They have already taken me in and made me part of the family. I even have my own cloth napkin, something très French, I'm told. Every morning at 9 am, I enjoy a breakfast of bread, honey, and coffee with my host dad. They only speak in French to me, which means my brain is always very overwhelmed, but it will help me learn the language faster. I love their little apartment in the most international part of the city. I have my own room, with a gorgeous view of Parisian windows full of flower boxes. It takes about 35 minutes for me to get to school on the metro every morning and return every night. The first few times, I got very lost, but I know how to use the system and feel like a real Parisian using the metro now!
I love our little group here in Paris. It's so fun to explore together, learn the culture together and enjoy life here in Paris together. It's shocking how quickly you have to rely on people you may not know so well when you are all in the same new situation. At one of our group dinners we gave each person a superlative, so for example, "most likely to be taken", "most likely to be pick-pocketed", "most likely to become addicted to French bread" and more. I was voted "most likely to marry a Frenchman", something that has turned into one of the group jokes. Everyone is on the lookout for my French husband; it's quite amusing. Classes started for all of us this week and I already love the ones I have had. They are all so interesting and unique courses. Next week I will begin my internship, with my friend Stephen (above), at a local coffee shop/bike shop.
The food here is absolutely incredible. Everything is smaller, but more delicious. Cheese is better and cheaper. Coffee is different, but I love it so much. It's more like shots of espresso rather than large cups of coffee. The bread and pastries are to die for. I've already found the boulangerie in my neighborhood that I love and I frequent it often. Even the food at the school cafeteria is tasty! I will be well fed while I am here.
Here are some things that have surprised me/made me laugh:
With all that being said, I love it here. It's a beautiful city, full of life. And it's my home for the next three months! I feel so lucky and grateful to be here. If you want to see more photos, check out my galleries.
My parents lived in a town called Chambéry in the French Alps for a couple years before I was born. They were there to learn how to speak French before going to French-speaking Africa. I only lived there for three months after I was born in January of 1998. Now almost 20 years later, I am going to live in France for another three months. This time I will be in Paris, the city of lights!
This past spring, I applied to go on the Paris Study Abroad Semester through my school. Being both a French major and Photography/Graphic Design minor, I figured that this would give me a lot of class choices in Paris. I got in and was ecstatic! It almost seemed surreal at the time, and it kind of still does! I leave in less than a week and will be there for three months. While I am there I will be taking classes at St. John's University. These classes include: Art History, French History, French Religion and an internship at Bike About Tours/Le Peloton Café. I speak French somewhat fluently, but I am very excited to use French and learn more.
While most students going on this trip will be staying in the dorms at the university, I was given the option of staying with a French family. This will give me the opportunity to be more fully immersed in the French culture and language. I am so excited to meet the couple that I will be living with for the next three months!
Some of the places that I am looking forward most to seeing are:
During the last week that I am in France, my mom and sister get to come see me. We will get to go back to the town I was born in and visit my "French grandmother" (pictured above), who I haven't seen since I was a newborn baby.
I read this quote in a book a couple years ago, but it is exactly my goal for this semester in Paris:
Dance in the streets.
Take French lessons.
Walk the wrong way home.
Don't play it safe.
-from Passing Love, by Jacqueline E. Luckett
I am so grateful to everyone who has supported me and encouraged me. This has always been a huge dream of mine and I now that dream gets to come true! I will be updating this blog as a primary way of communication with friends and family, so make sure you follow!
I've been super excited about this post! Instagram is my absolute favorite social media platform, which makes sense considering I love taking pictures. I have two accounts that I run, my personal account @chantymaria and my photography account @chantalmphotography.
The accounts that I follow consist mostly of friends of mine, awesome photographers (some that I know personally!!), and bloggers. I'm so excited to share my current 12 favorite accounts with you!
This account has some of the most magical photos that I've ever seen of the beautiful country of France. That top middle photo is my absolute favorite!
The framing of each photo on this account has me inspired. She also has an awesome blog that just launched! And she goes to my school, so that's awesome.
This incredibly photographer captures every adventure he goes on with skill. Follow him, you won't regret it!
The first time I met this photographer, I fangirled a little too hard. But, he is an awesome guy and an even more awesome photographer. I love the black and white aesthetic of this account. Also check out his other account: @maxwellboileau!
This wedding and portrait photographer has some of the most beautiful, sunny photos of brides. How she works with lighting is incredible.
This guy takes the best landscapes- especially at sunset and sunrise. He also does this thing in his story where he breaks down his Instagram aesthetic and it's equally entertaining as it is awesome.
This guy lives in Paris and takes the most incredible photos of famous places all around the city of lights. The reflections in so many of his photos are beautiful. Also, his Instagram story is pretty fantastic.
This lovely lady goes to my school and her Instagram is goals! The gorgeous white aesthetic of her account has my attention.
I love this account. Beyond running a beautiful, Parisian account, she is the author of the book "The New Paris".
My wonderful friend, Betsy, runs this account. She is an incredible portrait photographer (among other things). I am so grateful to know her and be around such talent!
This is one of my all time favorite accounts. Carin, who runs the account, is an incredible photographer, blogger, model and traveler. Her account makes me want to go to Paris ASAP.
Mallory's account is the most lovely account. Beyond her many artsy coffee photos, she has the cutest family and a wonderful hipster aesthetic.
Thanks for reading and make sure to follow these accounts!