Scan Presents: Christmas in July

Scan

July 6, 2018

Christmas in July – a Song and a Poem

Every year  my sister, Patti, tends her flower gardens from early spring  to the first frosts of late autumn.  

As she took me on a tour of her flower beds  one afternoon, she grinned with pride when she pointed out her roses.  Every flower gardener I have ever known has loved their rose bushes and each one has shown tremendous pride in the beauty of the flowers on a rose bush.

 

Last  August, Patti  brought me a birthday bouquet she had created from her flower beds – and the prize flower in the bouquet was a very stunning pink  rose! I think no matter how much a gardener loves all the flowers they have blooming, it is the rose bushes that seem to elicit the most pride and happiness to them.  Roses are the dazzling queens of the flower bids.  They  seems to be the proverbial “icing on the cake.”

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***Photo by Lynda McKinney Lambert:

Patti’s Flowers on my Dining Room Table

Ah, yes, I contend that the rose is Queen of all Flowers!

I am certain of it! As you begin doing some research on the “rose” as an iconic image,  you will soon   find references to

Mary, the Queen of Heaven and Earth.

She is often depicted with a rose in her hand, or surrounded by roses.  Roses are used as garlands in art and sculpture and roses are used to encircle  the Queen of Heaven. Roses are a halo at times in Christian lore as well as in pre-Christian mythology.   Mary’s  son, Jesus Christ, is  symbolized as a rose.  King Solomon described Jesus  as  “the rose of Sharon.” You can find this particular reference in The Song of Solomon, 2:1. There are many other such references as well.

***

 In a popular  German Christmas song,

these  words are from an Eighteenth Century  poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe;

 “es ist ein Ros entsprungen.”  

This can be translated in English to

“A Rose has sprung.”

You may recognize this Christmas song as “Lo, How a Rose E’er  Blooming”  or “A Spotless Rose.”  This song is a Protestant  Christmas  Carol and a Catholic Marian hymn that originated in Germany.  I remember it from my childhood  when we all stood to sing carols together at the small  Methodist Church  in my village.

Listen to this song in English:

Click Here to listen

Click here SING ALONG with the music:  Yes, I want to sing a long!

 

***

I sat down to consider the pleasure of

a visit with my daughter, Ilsa

Below you will read a  poem about her visit and something we did together. Sometimes, it is unusual when we think of a child teaching a parent a lesson of some sort.  But, here in my poem, a daughter teaches  me a lesson  in a unique way.

This poem, “When My Daughter Cuts the Roses,”  marks the beginning of Advent in our home.  The bouquet of flowers on my dining room table today  reminds me  that now is the Season of Hope.  As I listen to the latest news from around the world, it feels like the  whole world is longing for hope right now – Oh, I know! It does appear the the entire planet is in deep distress.   The EARTH could be laboring  for the birth of HOPE.  Perhaps there is a longing for hope   in the souls of Earth’s people and all of NATURE.

On the First Week of Advent we can choose to keep our thoughts  and our  eyes focused on HOPE as we light that first candle.  

There is great beauty in the  symbols  of the weekly lighting of the Advent candles.   When the FIRST WEEK OF ADVENT comes this year,  we can pause to embrace the message  of the ROSE  and the  coming of the LIGHT, who  is promised from ancient times.  

 

Ah, yes!  As  I complete the writing of this essay, I am hearing a tune in my mind.

 This Flower, whose fragrance tender with sweetness fills the air,
Dispels with glorious splendor the darkness everywhere;
True man, yet very God, from sin and death He saves us,
And lightens every load.

(Final stanza of “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming)

***

  “When my Daughter Cuts the Roses”

My daughter looked

At the bouquet of fresh roses

noticed two of them were drooping.

“Let me show you how to trim the roses

so they stay fresh and strong.” she said.

Her hands held the roses firmly

one-by-one, trimmed off extra leaves

“These will make the water stink,” she said.

She found scissors in the drawer

put the roses in a bowl of tepid water

held each stem under water

sliced them all, diagonally –

“As I cut the rose under the water,

little bubbles of air come to the surface.

Now, when the rose inhales

it will only breathe water into it,

it won’t fill up with air.

The living water inside the stems

gives longer life to each rose.”

She carried the freshened flowers

In the tall glass vase

back to the center of the dining room table

darkest crimson buds, sunny yellow petals,

deep green fern leaves

and a frilly white carnation.

***

 

This essay & poem is brought to you by the author, Lynda McKinney Lambert.

Lynda is the author of 4 books:

Concerti: Psalms for the Pilgrimage Buy it!

Walking by Inner Vision: Stories & Poems Buy it!

Lynda has just completed her 3rd book

Star Signs: New & Selected Poems

AND… her FIRST CHAPBOOK

first snow, 16 Poems with a Wintry Theme.

Both new books  are now available for publication. Editors, please contact Lynda for the manuscript.

 

Thank you for visiting with us today.

Miss Opal and Lynda McKinney Lambert

 

 

Contact Lynda & Miss Opal at:  riverwoman@zoominternet.net

Your COMMENTS, QUESTIONS, and

SUGGESTIONS are always welcome.

PLEASE SHARE by Re-Blogging this article on Social Media.

 

If you are a published AUTHOR or an actively exhibiting ARTIST – Miss Opal and I want YOUR STORY for our “Saturday is for Sharing” blog features.

 

View Publications Page for updates on my stories and poems being published.

Walking by Inner Vision.

Lynda’s Author ‘s Page

this blog post is the property of Lynda McKinney Lambert.

Copyright April 29, 2018.

Copyright July 6, 2018.  Revised.

Lynda McKinney Lambert. All rights reserved.

I welcome your COMMENTS and I love it when you Re-Blog my posts!

Please share with all your friends.

Thanks you

April’s Benefits

 April’s Benefits Arrived

with the Spring Showers

Post #78 on this blog!

 

 

Today: I stand on the edge of the END of APRIL

I begin thinking of the CHANGES this time in the cycle of life can give us. I wrote a blog post  on SCAN in April 2015. I looked back at that post from 3 years ago and edited it.

 April whispers,  “Move on!”

 

Bright spring flowers flourish all around us by mid-April.

I bought a little pot of yellow tulips recently. They brightened our dining room table and made me feel happy every time I glanced at them. I am not a gardener so I enjoy buying potted plants and floral bouquets throughout the year with the changing seasons. April’s flowers sparkle with brilliance in dazzling yellow daffodils, tulips in a range from vivid red and coral, to soft pink and white. By the end of April, Pennsylvania’s grassy meadows will be covered with blankets of  purple-blue violets.

 

Our walk home from grade school took a bit longer when I was a little girl.

Our rural home was nearly a mile from the school and  we walked along a meandering path morning and afternoon. By mid-April we found the delightful blooming violets in the fields.The small, fragrant blooms beckoned my sister and me to come closer!

 

We forgot that we were supposed to walk directly home after school

on those long-ago spring days as we stooped down low, extended our eager hands, and began picking violets to take back home with us. The hot afternoon sun beat down on us as we gathered a fist full of the fragile delights. Once home with our treasured flowers, we put them in  little glass jelly jars. Our bouquets remained in a special space on our kitchen windowsill. To this day, many decades later, I still remember the joy of small wildflowers in the house

April signaled that it is now the beginnings of new life surging in Nature. 

On mornings like this one, I take leisurely walks with the dogs. I became conscious of the subtle changes today. After a long lasting winter this year, each new spring day seems especially precious as it brings warmth, sunshine, budding bushes and trees.

We forget we have several senses  that give  us information.

We dwell primarily on the visual stimulation and distractions.  I am legally blind and the entire world is a diffusion of shadowy forms that are distorted, foggy impressions. The positive aspect of sight loss is that I am more aware of  a variety of nuances I missed out on when I was fully sighted. I was too focused on looking and learning only through my eyes.

 

On my morning walk,  I listened carefully

to low sounds of an owl singing its final notes as the sunshine brought strong light to this new day. I thought about the owl and imagined it must be celebrating the end of a fruitful night of hunting for food.  It sounded content.

While the owl can settle down and relax to have a nice sleep for the day, I am just beginning my day. I breathe deeply and felt the coldness on my face and hands. My face tingled with the cold breeze and my hands reminded me they are exposed and I have not brought along a pair of gloves to warm them up on this hour-long walk.

But, I am not so concerned with the coolness of the morning today.

Instead, my thoughts move on to the meaning of spring and how each day is bringing changes to the world around me. The cold air  is just right for this new day. I reach down occasionally to tell my dog, “Good Girl! Heel. Good Heel. Good Girl!.” She glances up at me, and quickly looks back at the path before her and sniffs the air. When we come to a wooded place, near an abandoned mill, I relax her leash and allow her to enjoy tramping in the winter packed leaves that lay all around the trees. She digs down into them  and pushes the soggy leaves aside. She seeks direct passage to the scent that caught her attention. Eventually, I pull her back to heel position and we continue on for the second half of our morning travels. We turn the bend to head back towards home together.

***

I know that we often think of January as a time of new beginnings.

After all, it marks the New Year. Perhaps we might rethink this idea when we find ourselves walking in the early morning in April, with the warming of spring sunshine on our bodies. April truly is the time of new beginnings. April whispers to us,  “move on!”

April affirms life and growth

We can DISCOVER, RECOVER, and REVISE our life.

__________

This essay is brought to you by the author, Lynda McKinney Lambert.

View Publications Page for updates on my stories and poems being published.

Lynda’s  Walking by Inner Vision.

Lynda’s Author ‘s Page

this blog post is the property of Lynda McKinney Lambert.

Copyright April 29, 2018. Lynda McKinney Lambert. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

Visit me:  www.lyndalambert.com

Author:

Concerti: Psalms for the Pilgrimage: Poems, Kota Press, 2003

Walking by Inner Vision: Stories & Poems, DLD Books, 2017

First Snow : Chapbook, is ready for publication.

Editors: contact me for information & viewing.

 

 

Just SCAN it!

Just  SCAN It!

SCAN: A blog

written by Lynda McKinney Lambert.

A quiet Place of Inspiration – We Love Literature!

 

 In 2018, I AM ABIDING 

WHAT DOES it mean

~ to abide?

This is my ONE WORD for 2018.  I won’t be doing anything in a RUSH. I’m taking my TIME and WAITING to publish  special articles that will encourage you and lift your spirit.

I’ll SHARE  thoughtful articles and I’ll share the work of other notable writers, editors, authors, and artists on my pages.

Thank you for visiting with us today.

SCAN (the blog) ~ created

by Lynda McKinney Lambert.

 

Why call the blog, SCAN?

Let’s have a LOOK at the word SCAN.

 SCAN  is a verb and a noun

Definition of scan for English Language Learners

  • : to look at (something) carefully usually in order to find someone or something

  • : to look over or read (something) quickly

  • : to look at the inside of (something) by using a special machine

I am a visual artist and author who is visually impaired. Everything I do depends on the use  of equipment that is developed for BLIND and VISUALLY IMPAIRED users.

 

Scan

(quoted from dictionary dot com)

 

14 Definitions of the word, SCAN:

 

verb (used with object), scanned, scanning.

1.

to glance at or over or read hastily:

to scan a page. 

The purpose of this blog will be to TAKE A LONGER LOOK at LITERATURE, AUTHORS, BOOKS, ARTISTS, and ART. We love LITERATURE and ART here at SCAN. 

to examine the particulars or points of minutely; scrutinize.

3.

to peer out at or observe repeatedly or sweepingly, as a large expanse;survey.

4.

to analyze (verse) as to its prosodic or metrical structure; read or recite(verse) so as to indicate or test the metrical form.

5.

to read (data) for use by a computer or computerized device, especially usingan optical scanner.

6.

Television. to traverse (a surface) with a beam of light or electrons in order toreproduce or transmit a picture.

7.

Radar. to traverse (a region) with a beam from a radar transmitter.

verb (used without object), scanned, scanning.

8.

to examine the meter of verse.

9.

(of verse) to conform to the rules of meter.

10.

Television. to scan a surface or the like.

SCAN as a noun

11..

an act or instance of scanning; close examination.

12..

a visual examination by means of a television camera, as for the purpose ofmaking visible or relaying pictures from a remote place:

a satellite scan of the dark side of the moon; video scans of property listingsavailable to customers.

13.

a particular image or frame in such video observation or a photograph made from it.

14.

a blog written by Lynda McKinney Lambert

 Meet Miss Opal. She is my writing companion and together WE SCAN the BEST BOOKS and INVITE the BEST AUTHORS to TELL THEIR STORIES on our blog, SCAN. 

IF YOU are an AUTHOR with a recently published book – in the past 2 years –

 

Miss Opal & Lynda

want you to tell your story

on SCAN.

Visit our INVITATION PAGE to learn more about how YOU can be our special guest on

“Saturday is for SHARING” feature.

Click Here to get your INVITATION NOW

Contact Lynda and Miss Opal at:  riverwoman@zoominternet.net

 

 

 

 

_____

Brought to you by Lynda McKinney Lambert.

Copyright 2018. All rights reserved.

Visit me at Lynda Lambert’s Website

Find my latest book at 

My Authors Page.

 

Finding Home: Advice to a New Expat

Meet my Guest Blogger for November:

Carrie Delecourt

November 1, 2016

 

Finding Home: Advice to a New Expat

Every man has two countries, his own and France.  (Thomas Jefferson)

America is my country and Paris is my hometown.  (Gertrude Stein)

When good Americans die, they go to Paris.  (Oscar Wilde)

 

Expat in Paris. The words conjure up an image of Ernest Hemingway sitting in a smoky café on the boulevard du Montparnasse, scribbling in a well-worn notebook while rain beats steadily upon the sidewalk. Or maybe the words bring to mind the Lost Generation — Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, T.S. Eliot, John Steinbeck, Henry Miller, and all the other novelists and poets who came to Paris after the First World War to find themselves. And then there’s me.

My story is fairly typical. I grew up in the suburbs of Orange County, California, home to endless beaches, palm trees, and Disneyland. Full-time sun and eternally blue skies, frequent heat waves, vast freeways, shorts, flip-flops, and surfers in wetsuits. So you can imagine how exotic Paris seemed when I spent my junior year studying at the Université de Paris Sorbonne. Oh, the thrill! The adventure! Winter coats and gloves and wool scarves! Real French people!

The grass was definitely greener in Paris. Every day was sparkling and fresh, and I discovered something new and exciting around every corner. Lectures were held in the ancient Amphithéâtre Richelieu at the Sorbonne, and grammar classes met in classrooms with old-fashioned wooden desks with inkwells. I sat in cafés in the Latin Quarter with fellow students of different nationalities and discussed worldly matters over doll-size cups of strong, thick coffee. I visited friends in their tiny chambres de bonne — maids’ rooms — on the top floor of buildings without elevators. I went to the theater and to concerts and saw intellectual French films in art-house cinemas. It was all so different from California.

Paris was a feast of glorious sensations: the mouth-watering odor of baking croissants wafting out of a boulangerie and the salty smell of seafood laid out on ice in front of a restaurant; the taste of farm-fresh butter and apricot jam spread on half a baguette, the warmth of a warm patch of sun on a frosty day; the melodic ringing of church bells on the hour; the buzz of scooters dodging cars like matadors; and the cacophony of car horns, sounding like Gershwin. I wanted to soak it all up and bottle it, like an essence that would fade with time.

The year went by in a blur, and suddenly it was time to pack my bags and head home to California. So it was with a heavy heart that I returned to my former life. But as soon as I got back I discovered that California had not changed, but I had. I was the same person, and yet I was not. Something was wrong, something was missing. I felt out of place, and I was filled with a sense of longing. And I knew why.

Paris kept whispering my name, and every heartbeat urged me to go back. I felt I had no choice. Six months after I graduated I emptied my savings account and bought a one-way ticket to Paris. With my whole life crammed into two overstuffed suitcases, I pulled up my roots and left my family and friends for the land of over a thousand different types of cheese, where I joined the approximately 100,000 Americans who call France their home. I was going to pick up where I had left off during my year abroad. I was determined to Frenchify myself and embrace the French way of life. A new chapter — a whole new book — in my life was about to begin. I was on the road to becoming a witty and cultivated citizen of the world.

At first I was star-struck, then reality struck me like a brick on the head. Once the honeymoon was over, once the novelty and excitement of living and working in Paris had worn off, I realized that, unlike the carefree student life I had led, expat life was a challenge. It wasn’t always la vie en rose, and my rose-colored glasses slipped right off my nose.

The romanticized Paris you see in the movies or read about in books or on someone’s Facebook page, that picture-perfect city you visited during your European holiday, does not paint the whole picture. Despite what you might imagine, living in Paris is not always glamorous or fun. Unlike tourists who spend a week in Paris, or a student who stays for a semester or two, when you pack up all your worldly belongings and move to a foreign country you have to adapt to a whole new way of thinking. You are rebuilding your life from scratch, and it’s not always easy to come to terms with being a foreigner. As an expat you are expected to understand all the unspoken rules, those tricky “do’s and don’ts” of another culture. You don’t spend the afternoon people-watching and discussing existentialism in a sidewalk café, or strolling along the banks of the Seine while accordion music plays in the background. In the real world there are errands to run, and you can’t just pop into a big U.S.-style store and pick up everything on your list. There are sheets to wash and hang up to dry, toothpaste to buy, the utility company to wait for, long lines to stand in. Life goes on, just like back home, only in Paris everything is more complicated.

Life just seems harder here, and the frustrations of everyday living can be an exercise in patience. Nothing is simple or straightforward, and many things are downright mind-boggling. Everything is time-consuming, and the smallest of errands seems to take forever. So you learn to be patient, especially when it comes to the seemingly insurmountable administrative red tape you find yourself battling. Sometimes it feels like you are being asked to leap through a flaming hoop. Your wallet swells with five, six, seven oversize photo identity cards. Official papers needing your immediate attention pile up alarmingly on your desk. The woman behind the counter sends you away because you are missing a vital paper that was not on the list of documents needed. The only way to get through it, I’ve learned, is to do like the French: give a good Gallic shrug and tell yourself: c’est la vie. French people know this, hence the shrugging.

There are times when you miss the convenience of America. Everything in Paris is so much smaller — apartments, refrigerators, washing machines, soft drinks and coffee cups — and a lot more expensive. Shops close early and on Sundays, and many are shuttered up during lunch, so you have to plan ahead. There are frequent strikes — transit workers, Air France, the post office, sanitation workers, radio stations, administrations — and there are pot-banging and megaphone-blasting protest marches through the streets, turning whole neighborhoods into gridlock. Truckers and taxi drivers and farmers with livestock block the freeways. Streets are chaos; there are no stop signs, only yield signs and traffic signals at intersections. Pedestrians and drivers fight for the right-of-way, and cars, motorcycles and scooters are parked helter-skelter on the sidewalks and in crosswalks. Everyone smokes. You find yourself longing for tumble dryers, public drinking fountains, customer service, ice cubes, window screens and air conditioning. But these are little things, minor inconveniences. Annoyances. And when you think about it, do they really matter?

I don’t think they do. Paris may not be perfect, but it is a great city, perhaps the greatest city in the world. Paris is a mixture of ancient and modern, a vibrant and unique place that continually delights and surprises. Paris is the Ville Lumière, the city of enlightenment, rich in history and culture, renown for its breathtaking beauty, its statues, museums, monuments, and parks. Paris is the world capital of fashion and chic, and even French dogs have a certain je ne sais quoi when they trot down the sidewalk in their winter trench coats with their heads held high.

Paris is a morning walk through the mist in the Jardin des Tuileries, a hot chocolate with whipped cream on a cold winter’s day, a Vivaldi concert in a centuries-old church, or a moment sitting on a bench in a hidden square listening to the birds enjoying themselves. These are times when Paris really does belong to you.

There is a certain art de vivre here. Even though they can be as harried as other big-city dwellers, Parisians know how to pause and enjoy the little pleasures of life, things that really matter, like friends, family and good food. Sit-down meals are still the norm. They can last several hours, especially on Sundays, when the whole family gathers around the table. Food is savored and commented upon, wineglasses are held up to the light, and wine is sipped slowly, with pleasure. Cooking is taken seriously, and most people do their shopping daily. Neighborhood markets teem with fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetables arranged in perfect pyramids like works of art. There is fresh butter, milk, cream, and flats of brown eggs straight from the farm. At the fromagerie there are dozens of different types of artisanal cheese to choose from. Some are pungent, some are delicate, some come in individual wooden boxes, while others are cut like slices of pie from enormous wheels. Legs of ham and strings of sausages hang from beams above the charcutier’s stall. And where else in the world can you walk to the boulangerie around the corner and buy a warm, just-cooked baguette or a pain au chocolat?

Southern California weather is predictably sunny, so the changing seasons in Paris are a delight. Summer brings warm thundershowers and daylight until almost 11 p.m. The city sleeps through August, when Parisians flee to the countryside; Paris slows down and you can stroll along the sidewalks and navigate narrow store aisles without getting jostled. In autumn the days are crisp and dry leaves crunch underfoot as you cut across the park. Street-sweepers gather up fallen leaves with fluorescent-green plastic brooms, and the city smells of roasting chestnuts and sweet crêpes. But nothing compares to the joyous feeling of the first rays of the springtime sun after a long, bleak winter. Parisians sit outside on café terraces, loosen their scarves, and turn their faces up to the sun like flowers. Birds serenade the early morning light, forsythias explode into bloom, and tulips and daffodils poke their heads out of the earth. Your mood lifts instantly and you are glad to be alive and living in Paris.

For me, Paris is not just a home away from home. I have put out roots and built a life here. I have my own family here. But I often feel tugged in both directions, split in two, with one foot in France and the other in the U.S. Sometimes I wonder if I am still considered a “true” American. Actually, I’m not exactly sure what I am. I have the blue passport, I file my U.S. income tax, I vote in the U.S. elections, I celebrate Thanksgiving with turkey cutlets and gravy, and I read and write and think in English. I wouldn’t miss my American news podcasts for anything. But there are times when I feel more French than American.

I’m far from being a Parisienne, but I have picked up a few French customs over the years. I’m no longer a fashion faux pas — I can drape a silk scarf around my neck without it looking like a noose, I wear good shoes whenever I go out, and my wardrobe comprises mostly black clothing. I kiss my friends on the cheeks when I greet them, and when I’m annoyed I have been known to mutter, “Oh là là,” which the French really do say. I drink my coffee bitter and black. I have even tried (once) the breakfast ritual from the north of France, which consists of dipping bread and strong-smelling Maroilles cheese into a bowl of coffee. My English fails me sometimes; I accidentally insert French words into English sentences, or I’ll forget an English word and give a dismissive wave of the hand to fill in the blank. I have never bungee-jumped or explored the Amazon rainforest, but I’m more adventurous, in my own way. I have done a lot of exploring — and getting lost — so I know the city and the métro like the back of my hand. I prepare French dishes (with variable results), and I have eaten veal head and sea snails and frogs’ legs and various other creepy-crawlies. I can pick out the best camembert by gently palpating it, and I’m learning how to appreciate fine wine. All these things are part of me now. Although this country often leaves me scratching my head, and even though there will always be a part of me in California, I feel at home here.

People often ask me, “Don’t you ever get homesick?” and I tell them I do. Of course I do. Like most expats, I miss my family and my friends back in California. I miss out on all the milestones and the celebrations. I miss Thanksgiving and Halloween and the Fourth of July. When a loved one is ill or going through a hard time, I am filled with sense of guilt and selfishness for not being there. Sometimes I would like to reach out and give a hug, but I can’t. When people ask, “Would you ever move back home permanently?” I tell them the truth, that I don’t know. I really don’t.

Anyway, where is home for me? Many expats ponder this question. What exactly defines “home”? When I say “home,” do I mean California, where I grew up? Or is it France, where I have spent so many years? Is home the address on your passport? Is it where you were born? Is it where you keep your toothbrush and hang your hat? Is it the place where you sigh and put your feet up? Is it, like Robert Frost said, “the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in”? What if your heart is torn between two places? Does one’s heart have room for more than one home? Must I choose one place over the other?

These are difficult questions and I don’t think there is a simple answer. The way I see it, home is not just a house, a physical place with four walls and a roof on top. Home is not a geographical location, an address on a mailbox, or a thumbtack stuck in a map on a wall. Home is a feeling. It is where you want to be when you are not there. It is the place you can count on, the place where you are happy, the refuge where you feel safe, whether it’s California, Paris, or Timbuktu. Home is where you are surrounded by loved ones who understand you, and where you have built lasting memories. Maybe the answer is that home is within you, wherever you happen to be.

When I visit my family in the States, California is a mixture of foreign and familiar. I’m disoriented and a more than a little overwhelmed. I feel like a tourist from the planet Mars, an outsider who doesn’t know a thing other than the language. Being able to wear a silk scarf, or eat chicken wings with a knife and fork, is no help. I’m completely out of the loop — I don’t know the latest local news, the slang, or the celebrities. New stores have popped up, old favorites have closed. Hearing English all around me makes me feel like I’m hallucinating. I don’t know how to do the simplest tasks, like swipe my Visa card, bank at an ATM, or how to tip in a restaurant. Everything is enormous. Supermarkets are chock-full of items you need and don’t need, and the shelves are well stocked, the wide aisles free of boxes of merchandise being unloaded. It feels wrong to eat barbecued ribs with my fingers, but I can eat my fries with ketchup instead of mayonnaise without being teased. I hand over euro coins instead of nickels and dimes. I’m amazed you can buy medicine or Band-Aids after 8 p.m., or pick up a forgotten item at the grocery store on a Sunday afternoon. The whole world seems upside-down, and by the time I have started to turn myself right-side up, it’s time to go back to Paris.

Being an expat is not always easy, but I would never trade it for another way of life. Yes, it was tough in the beginning, and still is sometimes, but following my passion and living abroad is has been an enriching and rewarding experience. It has shaped me and changed me into what I hope is a better person. I don’t look at things in the same way I would if I had stayed in California. I have expanded my horizons and developed a broader view of the world. Being an expat allows you to see America in a different light, and you understand and appreciate it even more. I have discovered a lot about myself as well. I am more accepting and respectful of other cultures. I have grown stronger, more self-confident, and independent. I have learned to be humble and how to open my heart. And I have changed my priorities. I know how to slow down, let go of things, and make do with less. I have learned to focus on the positive and embrace new experiences. I feel blessed to have met incredible people, and I am thankful to have two places to call home.

If you are an expat struggling with culture shock or feelings of loneliness, whatever you do, don’t be too hard on yourself. If you are homesick, know that it’s perfectly normal. Homesickness is something almost every expat experiences; it’s part and parcel of living in a foreign country. Remember, it takes time to adapt to another way of life and bloom where you are planted. It helps to be curious, flexible, and open-minded. Don’t compare countries. Laugh whenever you can. Be brave, challenge yourself and climb out of that box in your comfort zone, but don’t be afraid to seek help if you need it. Try to speak French whenever you can. Make small talk, even if you mangle your words and your accent is cringeworthy. Eat everything on your plate and always carry an umbrella. Banish all negativity, find joy in everyday things and be delighted by what you find. Even though not everything makes sense in the beginning, when you are feeling lost, as though you are standing on the other side of the Great Wall of China, know that some days are tougher than others. Nothing in life is ever a smooth ride, no matter where you are. There are ups and downs and not everything goes according to plan. But if you are patient and willing to learn from your experiences, good or bad, I believe the journey is worth it. If you take it one day at a time, eventually things will start to fall into place, and one morning you just might wake up and realize that Paris, too, is home.

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My guest Blogger  for November is Carrie Delecourt , a writer who lives in Paris.

carrie.delecourt@memoirsofanordinarygirl.org

@carrieinparis

This guest blog is provided by courtesy of Lynda McKinney Lambert. All rights to this essay belong to Carrie Delecourt, Paris, France.

I present this piece with gratitude to Carrie for her generosity in sharing her thoughts with SCANdalous-Recollections Blog. Thank you, Carrie!

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Contact Lynda Lambert:  riverwoman@zoominternet.net

Website:  www.lyndalambert.com