Be a Catalyst
Sow Seeds of Connection
M I N D B O D Y S O U L S P I R I T
As January draws to a close, the famous southern California sun was peeking through clouds as I began this post. How are we doing? No matter who we are – artist, parent, global observer, we see much going on in the world. The topics that appear on our screens daily— sports, academics, weather, politics, war, health, justice—tug at our hearts and time.
And we are part of a community. Our friends and neighbors are affected by our attitudes and behavior.
As a northern hemisphere dwellers—a global view now displays life in the southern hemisphere- friends – enjoying summer as we complain about cold.
We can benefit from the exchange between hemispheres! We benefit also from sharing between generations or different seasons of life.
Today we can eat a spring peach from the opposite hemisphere. Some argue that it’s not good for the environment, but it is certainly a treat to taste summer fruit in the dead of winter.
Most of us can name an older relative or mentor who shared his/her personality, wisdom, humor, habits and our lives are forever changed. In 2021, I published Lessons From a Life Well-Lived about my pragmatic and brilliant aunt. Interaction between generations enhances our culture. Transmission of the artis, history, language from seniors to youth and youth to seniors makes life rich.
Today, as never before, sharing between continents and countries happens in real time. Instagram not only shares visual art, dance, music, theater—it can quickly translate. Although I have studied art for many years, I’m overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of what I can see and amazed that I can interact with those creating it. I can respond to favorite authors-and often receive comments back. We can ask questions….
As January draws to a close, I urge you to ponder how we use these for seeds for encouragement, as catalysts .
-What have been your favorite older/ younger person experiences?
-Do you indulge in food treats from other continents ? hemispheres? What are your thoughts?
-Can you name artists, musicians, actors, writers from other hemispheres?
-How do the seasons positively affect you? Winter is not my favorite – and I live in mild California—but I try to embrace the beauty of winter light.
from a recent hike at Hidden Valley, Joshua Tree National Park
This week I held the first meeting of the Desert Traveling Women of a Certain Age Club – I am kidding, but it’s not a bad idea!
A friend came over for coffee and travel suggestions for a trip to Paris. Recently, she spent several months in Italy and wants to visit Paris.
I answered questions, asked a lot about her recent experiences, and we shared anecdotes about solo adventures. I promised to make a list of recommendations and thought I’d share a few here. I am neither seasoned as a traveler, nor a novice – but somewhere in between and LOVE to talk travel. I had no idea her visit lasted three hours until I looked at my phone! Time well-spent flies!
I find we all develop a passion for places that stir us!
She recently connected with roots in Italy. Another friend cannot get enough of the Hawaiian Islands and has studied hula and Hawaiian culture for many years. Whether it is in our DNA or because of an indefinable magnetic pull, certain places on the planet pull us.
I can’t prove that I am French. Ancestry.com tells me I’m about 84% from the UK, with smaller percentages from Germany, Austria, Ireland and Sweden. Ireland and Sweden were pleasant surprises, and I’m hoping to prove I’m part French!
On recent travels, I sketched (my Paris Sketchbook Calendar 2024 is already sold out, but cards and prints are available at my Etsy shop, French Press), took extensive notes and reported frequently to a small private Facebook Group of friends who wanted to follow along. My posts and photos now serve as a chronological collection of notes, anecdotes and photos.
I had no idea until 2018--Paris is divided into 20 arrondissements or districts. They spiral from 1 at the center out. People often refer to them as the 7th or 6th and know what they mean.
I wish I'd taken French in school! However, as an English teacher, I am picking up odd rules. The French have a space BEFORE an exclamation or question mark!
Before you travel, familiarize yourself with these districts! I was very fortunate in 2018 and discovered a lovely flat in the 7th through sabbaticalhomes.com. I have stayed with the same property owner on my subsequent trips and recently in her lovely flat in the 6th! Saint Germain.
You can find descriptions of each district here:
I had been fortunate to sketch throughout City of Light and the French countryside during 2018 and 2019. Alas 2020. I began scouring the Internet to learn more about French art, culture and travel.
One thing led to another—and that is how the fun of connecting happens!
I had admired paintings by Dreama Toelle Perry and soon found her podcast interview with Krystal Kenney at La vie Creative where each week, American born Krystal interviews an English speaking creative person living in Paris or follows the path of history with her friend/co-host, Claudine Hemingway, Bleu, Blonde, Rouge.
This wonderful wealth of information kept me alert, entertained and inspired throughout 2020 and beyond.
Janis, Claudine, and Krystal at Le Nemours, Paris
My travel dreams came true when I met both Krystal and Claudine in Paris in 2023. I scheduled a photo shoot with Krystal (more about that soon) and booked a Louvre tour with Claudine. Both were fabulous.
As an art and literature teacher, France has always fascinated me.
About 2.2 million people live in central Paris today. It was home to more (2.9 million) one hundred years ago when Paris when it attracted Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Cole Porter, Josephine Baker, Aaron Copland, George Gershwin, Isadora Duncan Pablo Picasso, James Joyce and dozens more.
Slowly, I am learning more about Paris, a walkable city. One would certainly not try to walk Los Angeles, where I was born, or London. In Paris, walking is a thing!
The French even have a word for it: Flâneur
Flâneur is noun referring to a person, literally meaning "stroller", "lounger", "saunterer", or "loafer", but with some nuanced additional meanings (including as a loanword into English). Flânerie is the act of strolling, with all of its accompanying associations. A near-synonym of the noun is boulevardier.
Flâneur is derived from the Old Norse verb flana "to wander with no purpose".
Whether you plan to travel – or will, this year at least, remain an armchair traveler…I hope you enjoy knowing more.
Plan a visit with a favorite older/ younger person.
Try a food or learn something about a place in another hemisphere.
Research an artist, musician, actor, writer from other hemispheres.
Enjoy a winter hike and savor winter light OR enjoy those summer moments where you are!
I’d love to hear from you!
Inspired by all of you,
If you are new to my SUBSTACK (heck, I’m new to my Substack!) you can visit my website and blog here.
I am pleased to be included in a community exhibit, “History of Joshua Tree: A Legacy of Conservation and Preservation.” works are available at their online shop My three paintings are available here:
The Joshua Tree National Park Association Shop – West is located in Old Town Yucca Valley at 55922 Twentynine Palms Hwy. The exhibit will remain open until March 9. Proceeds from this show will directly benefit Joshua Tree National Park and its protection and conservation efforts.
My portraits at The Friends & Faces exhibit at the Beatnik Lounge in Joshua Tree runs through Feb 4th