Close Out the Year with Self Love

As the holidays approach, media and marketing will sell you on thinking it’s the most wonderful time of the year (and hoping you spend that pretty penny too). While I hope nothing but good cheer for all, sometimes this time of year brings forth heartbreaking reminders of those we’ve lost, failed resolutions, being stuck in careers, relationships, or unsatisfied life choices, or just simply feeling lonely. I’m here to remind you that even though these times may play havoc on your emotions, you’re still amazing and now, not just January 1, is the perfect time to practice some self-love.

I’ve come up with some practical ways for you to bring back that lovin’ feelin’, woah that lovin’ feelin’:

De-stress Monday’s

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There’s an account on Instagram I follow called @destressmonday and they also have a webpage here. Stereotypically, Monday’s are the “worst” but the account gives you little reminders to breathe, smile and think positively, not just on Mondays but for everyday of the week.

 

Start Saving Weekly to Give Yourself a Present/Trip

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Chanel Boutique in Paris

It may seem ironic to put away money when you know you probably should spend it towards the gifts for others this holiday, but how can you be your best for them if you don’t take care of yourself once in a while? Practicing some budgeting and rewarding yourself for making the means to grab something you really love or a getaway you’ve been craving for is not selfish, it’s making a goal, being diligent, and taking pride in your work. That’s an achievement!

 

Pay it Forward

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Be Kind from Momentum Jewelry

If you are feeling slightly guilty for thinking about yourself, which you SHOULDN’T, you can always give back to those in need or just do random acts of kindness. Smile and hold a door open for someone, buy the person’s coffee behind you, volunteer at the local food pantry, give to charity. There are literally millions of ways to help and be kind and in the long run, you’ll feel better because you brightened someone’s day!

 

Listen to Inspiring and Interesting Podcasts

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This American Life Podcast

I might get a little heavy here. Personally, losing 3 family members over the past 5 years actually makes the holidays suck, to be brutally honest. My mom was the champion of Christmas with the decorations, several little ceramic villages, lights, dinners, pies, and presents. She made the holidays feel lively, animated, and she made everyone around feel loved. This will be my 4th Christmas without her. It doesn’t get easier, but I know that by holding everything in could be disastrous. When I’m out on long runs, I like to listen to podcasts to pass the time, like This American Life with one episode in particular talking about a way to speak to loved ones who have passed and reconciling with others who are still here. The first act is discusses a documentary in Japan about the Wind Phone. It’s a non-working, old, rotary phone in a white phone booth box on a man’s garden that over 10,000 people have visited or used. It’s popularity began following the 2011 Tsunami and became a way for friends and family members, of those lost or taken from the disaster, to find a way to speak to their loved ones and grieve peacefully. I did end up watching the documentary here at this link, but be forewarned if you’re human, you’ll probably cry. The second act is about two elderly brothers, in their 80’s, who held a somewhat unknowingly grudge and hadn’t really spoken in about 20 years. The son of one helped to reconcile them, knowing time was not on their side and helped guide them to have an adult conversation about their grievances which helped to take some ‘weight’ off their shoulders. Both stories are healthy reminders to allow for time to think about your loved ones who are no longer here and to not wait to reach out to those who still matter to you while they are still here.

 

#12days12ways

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Brady the Cat, named after the GOAT Tom Brady

On a lighter note, because there are only 12 days left until Christmas there’s a hashtag going around called #12days12ways. It’s a reminder to reflect back and document, however you wish, 12 ways your life has changed positively over the past year.

Here are mine:

January: Got to celebrate the new year with my friend Liz, who visited us in France from NYC

February: Watching the Patriots win the SuperBowl

March: Spending a week in the Swiss Alps snowboarding

April: Completing my 9th Marathon in Rome, Italy and during that same week watch Julien crush his PR in the Paris Marathon

May: Completing the Luxembourg night half marathon, the hottest race I’ve ever done in my life

June: Growing my influence in the running, fitness and wellness community on Instagram and having my hard work, “little hobby”, get recognized with sponsorships and ambassadorships from companies like Under Armour and Nordstrom

July: Getting a new kitten and fur baby, Brady

August: Visiting my one of my oldest friends Dorothy, in Rotterdam, Netherlands while at the same time being lucky enough to have her on this side of the pond with me

September: Twofer, sneaking home on a super discount flight for Labor Day weekend to go on, one of my best friend’s, Katie’s sailboat and completing my 10th marathon and 3rd World Major in Berlin

October: Having my Dad visit for a couple weeks and then all of us flying back to the US for 3 weeks, 2 weddings and an east coast adventure

November: My birthday in Budapest, Hungary with my American bestie here in Metz, Carmen

December: Having Julien’s family embrace and welcome me into their home for Christmas this year

Here’s to ending the year on a positive note and feeling optimistic for what is to come!

 

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Part 2: USA – Making my way along the East Coast

Last week I went over some day and weekend trips that I went on, around a little bit of Europe, after my completion of the Berlin Marathon. The purpose was to show my number 1 spectator, my dad from Massachusetts, a little bit of the surrounding areas that are near to where I live in France. You can read it here.

After he stayed with us for a couple weeks, we (me, Julien, and my dad) all flew to the USA in early October. This would be mine and Julien’s first vacation of the year together since snowboarding in the winter. We had a few reasons to make a 3 week trip…first: I was a bridesmaid in 2 weddings, second: we wanted to hit up a few spots Julien had never been to before, and third: if you’re going to fly somewhere that takes at least a half day to get to and throw in some jet lag, you should make it worth your while.

So here is a continuation from last weeks blog, part 2: USA.

Danbury, CT

Wedding number 1 of my trip back home included an old roommate and one of my best friends from Northeastern University, Jocelyn and her groom Ryan. The wedding was held at The Candlewood Inn in Connecticut. It was a blast and I wish them much love and happiness in the future!

Dress Rehearsal

Dress Rehearsal

Bride’s Wedding Party

Bride’s Wedding Party

Julien and Me

Julien and Me

Northeastern Girls

Northeastern Girls

Jocelyn and Me

Jocelyn and Me


New York, New York

Being so close to NYC, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to catch a few days in the city that never sleeps and visit my college friend, Liz. We kept the days packed by venturing out to Queens for a street art run tour with my instagram friend Marnie, who has the blog RunStreet, visiting the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, brunching with an old high school friend, and then the best part of the trip, taking a helicopter tour over the Hudson, Brooklyn and lower Manhattan. Awesome trip with awesome people and Liz just finished her second NYC Marathon yesterday while battling an injury, this girl is a champ!

Fearless Liz and I

Fearless Liz and I

Survivors Stairs at 9/11 Museum

Survivors Stairs at 9/11 Museum

NYC

NYC

Street Art Run

Street Art Run

Queens

Queens

Welling Court Mural Project

Welling Court Mural Project

Liz, Me and Julien in a Helicopter

Liz, Me and Julien in a Helicopter

One World Trade Center

One World Trade Center

Empire State Building

Empire State Building

Helicopter Tour of NYC

Helicopter Tour of NYC

Co-Pilots

Co-Pilots

Philadelphia, PA

Wedding number 2 was held just outside Philadelphia. We were able to take a short day trip to grab food at the Reading Terminal Market and see Liberty Bell and the Rocky Steps. The wedding was for my niece Kailee and her husband Chris. It was held at Normandy Farms and gave me a chance to see a lot of my family in one place. Those lovebirds are having the time of their lives in Disney World now.

Liberty Bell

Liberty Bell

Co-Pilots

Philly Cheesesteak

Dress Rehearsal

Dress Rehearsal

My great-niece Zoey

My great-niece Zoey

Bridal Party

Bridal Party

Kailee and Chris

Kailee and Chris

Family

Family



Washington, D.C.

From Philly, we continued driving south through Delaware and Maryland on our way to D.C. Another Instagram friend @clairerunsthere, graciously offered her apartment and took us on a fun run tour around the capital for us to catch a glimpse of the national monuments. 

Gravelly Point Park

Gravelly Point Park

Washington Monument

Washington Monument

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

That little place is the White House

That little place is the White House

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln



Miami, FL

From D.C. we took an early morning flight to Miami. Here we finally were able to catch up on a few days of R&R.

South Beach

South Beach

Southern Point

Southern Point

Beach Run

Beach Run

Enjoying the Florida Sun

Enjoying the Florida Sun

Happy Hour and Cuban Cigars

Happy Hour and Cuban Cigars

Don’t want to go home

Don’t want to go home



Boston, MA

After a few days of fun in the sun, we finally flew back to spend our last weekend in Boston for a dinner with friends, Halloween and to attend a New England Patriots game. With a win, it was a great way to close out our trip. 

Miming it up

Miming it up

French Mimes and Cruella Deville

French Mimes and Cruella Deville

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween

Dinner with Greg and Liza

Dinner with Greg and Liza

Patriots Tailgating

Patriots Tailgating

Katie and I fit to do splits

Katie and I fit to do splits

Ray, Katie, me and Julien

Ray, Katie, me and Julien

Stacie made it too!

Stacie made it too!

Pats win!

Pats Win!

Til the next time!

Til the next time!

Work Hard, Play Hard

Hello All! I’m back!

Last you heard from me I ran the Berlin Marathon at the end of September. It’s now November. I took October off from the blog, and for good reason, as I was resting, recovering, and then partying along the east coast of the USA.  

After Berlin my father, who came to watch me run, stayed with us in France for a couple weeks. So a few trips were made around Europe until we all flew back to the US the second week of October.

In this period of time (5 weeks), I’ve visited 11 specific cities/towns, 10 states, 5 countries, and 1 district. Amazing! I can’t imagine covering all of it with you, nor do I want to bore you, but I’ll do my best to make a brief recap for ya. 

This week will be Part 1: pre-USA.

Colmar, France 

Quaint town on the eastern side of France, close to Strasbourg. Known for alsascien architecture, cuisine, and the seasonal Christmas Markets.

Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg

Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg

La Petite Venise

La Petite Venise

Alsacien Food

Alsacien Food

Colmar, France

Colmar, France

 

Nancy, France 

I’ve visited Nancy, which is 45 Minutes south of Metz, before on my own (click here to read about it). However, I liked it enough to bring my dad down to see it for a day.

My dad and Porte de la Craffe

My dad and Porte de la Craffe

Porte Stanislas

Porte Stanislas

Notre-Dame de l'Annonciation

Notre-Dame de l’Annonciation

 

Verdun, France 

Known for it’s WWI battle, the small village holds several memorials for the French Military.

Fleury-Devant-Duoaumont

Fleury-Devant-Duoaumont

Duoaumont Ossuary

Duoaumont Ossuary

Le Fort de Duoaumont

Le Fort de Duoaumont


Luxembourg 

A small country that boasts beautiful countryside and plenty of historical value throughout.

The Luxembourg American Military Cemetery and Memorial

The Luxembourg American Military Cemetery and Memorial

Château de Vianden

Château de Vianden

Beaufort Castle

Beaufort Castle

Beaufort Castle

Beaufort Castle

Dad and I at the Beaufort Castles

Dad and I at the Beaufort Castles

Inside Beaufort Castle

Inside Beaufort Castle

 

London, England 

A place I’ve been to several times, but my dad has not. We decided to cross the channel for a weekend.

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge

The Mall

The Mall

Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

 

I’ll continue Part 2: USA next week where we trekked along the east coast for 3 weeks!

Grief will Travel

It’s been a few weeks since my last post. The past 2 weeks I returned to the states, originally planned for a joyful and exciting homecoming, that turned quickly south with the passing of my 6 week old great-niece Lillian Taylor to angiosarcoma, an incredibly rare cancer of the blood vessel lining. The grief of especially her parents, along with grand-parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and family friends along with a host of social media support is still something I have a hard time accepting.  

I have a difficult time suffering emotional turmoil whether it be myself or someone close. I typically try to play the role of listener and provide as much honest insight to the situation that I can by believing in the faith of a higher power and that life is sometimes out of our control. Being strong minded and seeing a silver lining, however small it can be, is just the only way I can put this crazy life into perspective. This doesn’t mean I don’t let myself feel the negativity and graveness of the situation. I get angry, with the unknown whys. I get incredibly sad to think of my niece going through the role of planned motherhood and having it suddenly taken away from her and her husband. I hurt to think of the future lost and the complete unfairness to lose an infant to a one in a million disease. I ache at the missed chance to hold that little baby and tell her I love her. 

My small silver linings, in the unbearable sadness, allows me to see the strength only a mother and father in this situation can demonstrate. I see the amount of love families can provide in the darkest times that may not be felt or heard when times are good. I see unspeakable support through the power of prayer from strangers near and far with an online community. I have hope that the doctor’s can take something away from the rarity of Lily’s sickness and put forth research into combating the disease in the future.

My time home was spent mostly with family and friends, as the homecoming should be. Of course, with the circumstances, I lost time with others that I had hoped to see and for this I ask forgiveness. However, my trip home allowed me to be a tourist in Philadelphia, go to a beach within 40 minutes of Boston and get a lobster roll, run on my old stomping grounds in Southie, drink and reminisce with friends I haven’t seen in 7 months and feel the summer sun that is so desperately needed back in Europe. 

This was a bittersweet time. There are still no words and grief will travel. 



My first US Visitors

Last week I mentioned that my dad and sister were coming to visit me during the marathon and to do some additional sight seeing. My dad, Bob, had already planned on coming but my sister, Julie, needed needed a day of coaxing to make the decision to make her first international trip ever. I had mentioned to her that WOW airlines runs bargain round trip flights from Boston to Paris (with a short layover in Iceland). I’m talking half the price (even with the extras of checked baggage). I knew she would be hesitant because her oldest daughter was expecting her first baby (my niece, Heidi, who’s wedding I was in in West Virginia last August) and her other daughter Kailee, in Pennsylvania, is engaged and planning her wedding. But happily, she made the decision to come and now I was in the driver’s seat to help both of them see as much of Europe in 12 short days.

DAY 1-4: PARIS

They arrived on a red eye flight from Boston-Reykjavik-Paris getting in at 11:30am our time (we are 6 hours ahead of east coast time) so 5:30am their time. We were only spending 4 days in Paris with one day being the marathon and the last day leaving early to catch a train to our next adventure, thus only really leaving us with 2 days.

Friday, April 1, we checked into our Airbnb near Place de la Republique and I double checked with them if they wanted to rest or start seeing the sights and like the troopers they are, we were off to explore Paris by foot. The Republique is centrally located so we were never too far from the main sights; however, I don’t think any of us planned on the amount of walking we would be partaking in during our trip which consisted of about 10k each day.

First we had lunch on a corner cafe near our apartment with my friend, Dorothy, from home who currently lives in London and her friend, Flavia, from Rotterdam, Netherlands. Both were in town, luckily, to visit me and celebrate Flavia’s birthday.

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Dorothy, Flavia, me, Julie 

We walked from the Republique -> Centre Pompidou -> Hotel de Ville -> Notre Dame de Paris -> Musee du Louvre -> then took a Batobus boat tour past Musee D’Orsay and Tour Eiffel -> back to Notre Dame and walked back to the Republique.

We all started to crash at that point and went back to rest. I bought some Champagne, Cheese, Chorizo and a baguette. My dad stayed in for the rest of the night and me, my sister mustered up our last bit of energy to meet up with Dorothy and Flavia to celebrate Flavia’s birthday at AG Les Halles.

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Flavia’s Birthday

Saturday, I attempted a short run with Dorothy in the morning but was experiencing a combination of sciatic pain and panic attack so we cut it short and picked up some croissants. Juju arrived Saturday afternoon and we all made our way to the Paris Expo Porte de Versailles to pick up our marathon numbers. The expo was huge but thankfully with only one exit as we lost my dad for about 30 minutes, without a smart phone, and he was smart enough to wait at the exit. After that moment of panic, we could go back to enjoy the exhibitors in which we tried some wine from the Alsace region, picked up some Kinesiotape for my sciatica, my sister grabbed some new sneakers and Juju and I re-stocked on our goos and energy bars.

That night we all met up with Dorothy and Flavia at La Massara for an Italian carb loaded dinner before the race. We went to bed early and JuJu and I got up around 8am to head to the start of the marathon while my dad and sister met up later with Juju’s sister, Magali and boyfriend, Jeremie, and their daughter to do the spectator routine. After the marathon and recovery we went the the bar across the street from our apartment and celebrated with everyone.

Day 4-6: HOLLAND

Monday morning we checked out of the Airbnb in Paris and headed over to Gare du Nord to catch our train to Amsterdam. It was a 3:30 hour journey but the trains are pretty comfortable and stocked with food and beer 🙂 We passed through Brussels half way and made it our final destination around 3:45pm. I booked a really cheap room at The Frisco Inn, only a 5 minute walk from the train station. Upon arrival, we soon discovered why it was so cheap. I had requested a double bed and cot for a 3rd person. They missed the cot comment and put us up in the smallest room they had. First, the flight up the stairs was a challenge as the steps were as narrow as rungs on a ladder, so bringing 3 heavy suitcases plus ourselves seemed to be an acrobatic feat. Then the room…it fit a double bed. And that’s it. Needless to say, the other rooms were completely booked and I slept on the floor for 2 nights. Not my first time and probably won’t be my last – all the the namesake of a bargain, am I right?

Monday night we walked a bit to see the Anne Frank House, canals, and, of course, the Red light district. We were told to get the best dutch apple pie in the city at Winkel 43. Upon arrival, there were several picnic benches for outdoor seating that was minimally full. We opted to eat inside as the weather was spring-like but cooled off a bit when the sun went down. The place was pretty quiet and I was concerned that the only food options were bar apps. The waitress put away our fears and brought out the chalkboard menu with an array of options, that I guess is an ever changing menu. I went with the dutch speciality of mashed potatoes with broccoli and Rookworst sausage. My sister opted for the goat cheese salad and my dad got the sweet and sour chicken. And of course all 3 of us got the famous Dutch Apple Pie that was not the least bit disappointing.

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Tuesday we got up early to reserve a bus to Keukonhof where the Tulip festival is about 45 minutes away from the city. This festival only occurs between March and May. It’s like a Theme park for flowers. Before we had a hearty pancake breakfast that literally could be made up of anything you wanted, think more crepe style. I got veggie pancake with fresh mint tea, my sister got bacon and cheese, while my dad opted for apple and ham. Then we started the party early with some morning alcoholic beverages at the bar at our hotel and sneaked a few nips on the way in the bus. We were feeling good! At the festival, right off the bat we were able to grab a couple bottles of Rose and prance around the festival. It was beautifully entertaining and we did as much touristy things imaginable. After a couple hours, we ended up in the cafe and had some beef stew and started to make our way back toward the bus. Catching the bus close to the last minute, because we had to buy our dad a collection pin, we made our way back to Amsterdam and spent the rest of the evening talking it up with the bartender and some patrons in the hotel bar and, due to the “pungent air”, ended up having McDonald’s. That’s what a day of drinking will lead to, not my proudest moment but better than dealing with a hangover.

Wednesday the weather finally took a turn for the worst. I think it was really our only day with rain but it was just miserable, cold and windy. We decided to take the covered boat cruise through the canals. We made one pit stop to see the I AMSTERDAM sign. Last time I visited the Netherlands the sign was behind the Rijksmuseum. Unbeknownst to me, the sign moves every year and this year it was on City Hall grounds. Because of the weather we were lucky enough to get pictures with the whole sign without anyone else in the picture. I was pretty happy about that. The fatigue was starting to set in and we opted to forego seeing the Rijks and Van Gogh Museums and the Heineken Experience and also, we were running out of time. We then took our train back from Amsterdam to Paris, walked two blocks to Gare de l’Est to get our train to finally my home in Metz, France where Juju picked us up at 10pm and had made lasagna for us.

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Day 7: Metz, France

We finally took a break from travel but that didn’t stop our 10k per day walking excursions. We took the local bus to the Metz Gare then walked our way -> Centre Pompidou-Metz Museum -> Porte des Allemands -> Cathedrale Metz -> Le Temple Neuf   -> Place de la Republique where we shopped met up with my American friend, Ashley, and her son who live in Metz. The presidents of France and Germany were in town celebrating the Franco-Allemande relationship and closing off some of the streets in the neighborhood. That night Juju came home and cooked us salmon and we all went to bed early.

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Metz, France

Day 8: Reims, France

Friday morning we woke up early to catch a Megabus (same as the Megabus you would take from Boston to NYC) from Metz to Champagne-Ardenne/Reims. This is the champagne region of France. The bus dropped us off at the main train station a little bit outside the city. We discovered the 20 minute tram that would take us into the city. Once in the city we would, of course, walk to the closest Champagne cellar we could find. On our walk we passed the Notre Dame Reims cathedral, which was like a miniature version of Paris but was being renovated. Our walk ended at Champagne Taittinger. We made it just in time for the beginning of the hour long tour. It started with a short video then a walk through the 13th Roman Century chalk caves that houses 2 million bottles of champagne that take anywhere from 15 months to 10 years to produce. At the end, of course, were tastings and this stuff is the best, sorry Korbel, but you have some work to do 😉 After the tour we had just enough time to walk, catch the tram and take the 2:30 Megabus back to Metz. At this point, the traveling was starting to catch up with us and my dad in particular, who was getting a head cold. We all passed out early again Friday night.

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Champagne Taittinger

Day 9: Strasbourg, France

With my dad staying home to rest, me, Julie and Juju drove 2 hours to Strasbourg, France. It’s part of the European Capital and home to the half timbered houses, le petite France, and Cathedrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg. We experienced alsatian gastronomy in Winstub Meiselocker which included escargot, foie gras, and the best Cordon Bleu I’ve ever had in my life. We then took the petite train tour around the city to get a view of the distinct architecture. We came back after a couple of beers and my sister rested and Juju and I went out in Metz with our French friends to again celebrate our Marathon completion.

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Day 10: Hestroff, France

Sunday Funday in France is mine and Juju’s favorite day of the week. We typically start off the morning by hitting up the farmer’s market across from our flat and to get fresh fruits, veggies, baguettes, eggs and cheese. We cook up a brunch accompanied with champagne. In the afternoon, we drove 30 minutes to Juju’s parents home in Hestroff, France located 12 miles from the German border. Here we drank more Champagne and walked around the village to a point in the forest that brought us to a WWII bunker called Fort aux Fresques Ligne Maginot Hestroff connecting local villages by underground tunnels to protect from Germans (that thankfully never came). After this history lesson, we had a 5 course meal made by Juju’s mother and did as much communicating as you can between English and French only speaking families with the help of more wine and some sign language and, of course, Juju’s translations.

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Hestroff, France

Day 11: Trier, Germany and Luxembourg, Luxembourg

Monday was our last day of touring and what could be better but to have all 3 meals in a day, each in a different country. We started with breakfast in Metz, France, then took a 45 minute train to Luxembourg, Luxembourg and switched to take another 55 min train to Trier, Germany. Walking continued to get from the gare to the city center where we saw Porta Nigra -> Hauptmarkt which contained shopping, colorful architecture, cathedrales, and a delicious traditional german meal of dumplings and meatloaf -> Kurfurstliches Palais -> and Imperial Roman Baths. We were able to grab a beer stein for my nephew, Nick, and we speed walked .8 miles to catch a 3:30pm train back to Luxembourg.

In Luxembourg, we took the bus to city plaza and walked to the Chemin de la Corniche and to Place d’Armes and drank a beer out in the open. We hopped on the bus and I showed them Kirchberg and stopped by Auchan until Juju was done with work. We had our last meal at Chimichurri which serves platters for meals, so needless to say there would be doggie bags of food being brought home.

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Chemin de la Corniche, Luxembourg

Day 12: Back to US

The last day approached and we sadly had to send my sister and dad back by train to Paris. They were able to get a quick look into EuroDisney before reaching Charles De Gaulle Airport. It was great to show my family where I lived and the neighboring attractions that makes Europe so great. And we got my sister back in time before her first grandchild and my great-niece, Lillian, making a 4 week early arrival on April 17th. Congrats to mom, Heidi, and baby who are both healthy and the family of 3 are doing well.

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My great-niece, Lillian Taylor

A West Virginian Wedding

The Bride

The mother of the bride and my sister

Bridal Party

Working the dance floor

So I’ve been traveling for the past 2.5 weeks. My trip started domestically in Beckley, West Virginia for my niece’s wedding on August 8th. The yellow and blue themed wedding (Go Mountaineers!) was a blast and I got to hang out with my family for a few days before heading to the South of France for vacation and then onto Luxembourg for some tourism, food, and interviews. More on the international travel in the next blog post!

Flying to Beckley from Boston is not an easy task. You must take a commercial flight to Charlotte, NC then a small company called VIA Air will transport you to the one runway airport in the small town that has about 5 employees (TSA agent, ticket agent, flight attendant, pilot, and baggage carrier). Honestly.

My dad had driven down so he was able to pick up me and my sister’s longtime friend, who had also flown in from Boston with me. We stayed at a reasonable Courtyard a few miles down the road and started the evening out with a few beers at my niece’s favorite town bar called Sir Walter’s Tavern. A cute, lounge below a theater with good craft beers and cheap liquor drinks. Affordable and fun and her friendship with the bartender allowed us to have control of the music.

The next day was the rehearsal and dinner with family and bridal party. Don’t worry, I got a quick workout in at the hotel with Beachbody on Demand (Get your free 30 Day trial here). Luckily, my groomsman was taller than me (good for pics) but kind enough to slow down his steps so I could keep up down the aisle. Now, there were 7 bridesmaids and 7 groomsmen in a small church that had stairs at the podium. We actually had to practice 2 placements during the rehearsal, which meant my fear of high heels and these stairs were soon to meet. I being the stronger and more able bodied human, defeated the stairs without falling. Twice. This improved my confidence to master heels on stairs for the real thing to come the next day. Dinner was at a lovely small Italian restaurant that I can’t remember the name but had good enough red wine to help me fall asleep easily for a 5am wake up call to get hair done the next day.

Morning of the wedding required 8 women to get up-do’s, mimosas and delicious pastries to hold us over until the reception. The photographer came to do some getting ready shots and the bride, maid of honor and mother of the bride were off to the church. The rest of us were on our own. Never to fear, dad was near!

The wedding ceremony was short and sweet with the beautiful Ellie Goulding song “How Long Will I Love You” to bring the bride and father of the bride down the aisle to bring a happy, tearful moment to watch. The groom was dapper and had only eyes on his princess bride. It was a proud moment to be a part of. Then…the unity candle not lighting brought about some comedic relief to break the happy tears. My niece being on TV as a meteorologist, quick to react to improv, took one of the combining candles and blew it out, leaving a single candle to continue to burn to symbolize their love. And then there was the ring “the circle”, it’s a circle because it is not a triangle. A kiss, more pictures, a hungry and thirsty bridal party, and we were off to the Tamarack to party.

A buffet Italian styled dinner, a keg, some nips in purses and free soft drinks from the bar, a 90’s themed DJ and rocking afterparty back at Sir Walter’s until midnight concluded the happy day.

The new married couple were off to a Caribbean Cruise the next morning at 6am and the rest of us had a day to relax and recover. A college friend of the bride brought my dad and I on a hiking tour of the New River Gorge Bridge with a majestic view of the Gorge. A good 4 mile hike to sweat out some of the partying that had occurred the past few days. Then Pies and Pints for Traveler Grapefruit Shandy and Siracha Pizza concluded my domestic vacay. I’m truly feeling the effects of 2.5 weeks of diet and nutrition change from not having daily ShakeO, eating not-so-well and disruption of my regular fitness routine, which was still muddled on my next trip internationally but with less restrictions of having to do something every single day, I was able to modify back to a healthier routine. Next Blog!

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