School with Nora

“What’s been happening?” you ask.

Or not. But in my little head that’s what I hear.

“What’s been happening, Sj? You’ve been in Spain three weeks now. You told us that it was a mind-+&^%$#k moving into another language. You sent us a short video of street music, but that’s it! Are you still alive? Still engaged? Still learning?”

y

“Kay, but what’s been happening?”

Loads. Bunches. Heaps. Muchas. All KINDS of things!

But what I’m finding is that what I most enjoy is simply being.

Being in Spain.

Being in Europe.

Being on this planet.

A walk to school is an adventure.

Turn here? Or there? Haven’t been on this street yet.

I stop. I look up. I love the architecture. The little balconies. The high windows. The clothes hanging on the accordian-like clothes lines which protrude from the base of random windows. The donging of cathedral bells. I love the city gardens. The green tomatoes I pass as I go down about 5,000 stairs when leaving the villa I’m fortunate enough to be living in while I’m here (in San Sebastián).

I love the random hazelnut in my muesli that I’m currently eating.

I love the view from this extraordinary top floor flat. That I can say hey to Jesus across the way. That I can watch storm clouds gather. See sailboats on the horizon. Barges. Rain upon the window panes. And lots and lots of green all around the mostly terra-cotta roofs to my right (which faces another hill where there are amazing hiking trails).

Yes, it sometimes makes it hard to get things done when all I want to do is stop and be silent. Observe. Feel. Smell.

But I’ve come to realize that that is what we’re really here to do. To be. To experience. To feel.

Sure, we have to do those odd things like go to school, get a job, and then work to earn money to feed and clothe ourselves.

But

But

But

The BEING, I feel, is the absolute most important thing.

The awareness of who we are.

That each and every one of us is a walking miracle.

A walking act of grace in the shape of skin and bones.

Each and every one of us.

So . . . Sj, what’s been happening in Spain? you ask.

Loads.

Heaps.

Mountainous piles of everything.

Next time I’ll fill you in with some particulars.

But for now, enjoy wherever you are. Feel the air on your skin. Notice your breath.

Ain’t it delicious?

xoxoxoxoxo

✫ Sj out ✫

p.s. Muchas gracias Silvia por los photos!

Hawaii in San Sebastian

Take a minute and listen

Just one minute

to watch what I taped today on the way home from school.

Want more now and then?

Pedrata with skull

The mind *$%*k has begun.

Yes indeedy, for real. The mind *$%k has begun.

I’ve landed in San Sebastian, and it’s extraordinary.

The city.

The people.

The climate.

BUT . . . my mind hasn’t quite caught up yet.

Simple little words in Spanish that I’ve known for years are having fun playing hide-and-seek. As of now, they’re not out in the open.

My job?

To get a really strong flashlight, heavy duty broom, and start sweeping the heck out of my mind.

Meanwhile, I’ll just enjoy the process. : )

There ain’t no way around it . . . sending a hug to all of you.

✫ Sj ✫

Lyon museum blue curtain

Sj’s Take Away from Lyon

Hmmm . . . what to write?

Number 1.

I really enjoyed my time in Lyon.

Number 2.

It was exactly the right length of time to be there (3 weeks).

Number 3.

I’m still amazed that I can converse in French at all!


 

The school I attended, Alpadia, is really a great school for folks like me wanting to get some input after learning on their own. The variety of ages and nationalities attending the school made it interesting. Bottom line. We were all there to learn French. Some because they had to (for school or work), but most (it seemed to me) because they wanted to (be there).

And this time around, I really got how spoken French is so very different from written French. I don’t mean the absence of sounds, like the s at the end of many words, but rather that they just don’t say what they write. They leave so many things out. And it seems that there’s an *unofficial way of talking that has nothing to do with what one reads, a spoken vocabulary that a non-native like me really has to search for. (Unlike spoken German which matches what we’re taught in school.)

So . . . my biggest take away is that I have to continue listening to French, spoken French, like in movies. This Harry Potter fan will continue to listen to JK Rowling’s books in French, BUT I’ll make sure to add a heaping dose of actual French conversations.

At times learning a new language seems insurmountable, with two steps forward and three steps back. BUT this gal, moi, has a tenacity that surprises even me.

I will continue.

One step at a time.

Both the forward ones.

And the backward ones.

This includes the next four weeks, which I’ll spend in San Sebastian, Spain attending another small language school (this time for Spanish) while residing with a Spanish family.

Where am I at the moment?

In Germany, not too far from Heidelberg, spending a most wonderfully relaxing week with dear, dear friends.

And . . . believe it or not, speaking in German is actually giving me a most welcome rest from intense mental activity. My girlfriend, who I call a walking dictionary and grammar guide, corrects me when I say something a little wacky. I welcome each correction and celebrate as I also recognize that they’re coming less and less frequently.

Meanwhile, here are some photos I took while in Lyon.

Enjoy!

✫ Sj✫

 *Dear Non-native English Speakers,

I’d love to know about some of your experiences in learning English. What are some specific challenges?

Thank you very much in advance for your replies.

Artist Clyv

Parc de la Tête d’Or

Pedrata Lyon view 3

Pedrata’s Take on Lyon

Pedrata portraitThat’s me, Pedrata. I’m a rat. A Mexican rat.

Why Mexican?

Because I came from Mexico. On a boat.

All the way to Hawaii from Mexico. On a boat.

Darn tootin’ that was fun!!!

But I’m not just any rat. I’m a rat who loves to travel, a bit like my gal pal, Sj. We two females love to travel. Si!, I’m female. If I were male, I’d be PedratO, but I’m not, I’m PedratA.

I enjoyed Lyon. To da max. Here are some of my fav memories.

Enjoy!

✷ Pedrata ✷

p.s. for whatever reason, these 4 pix didn’t want to be part of they gallery . . . so they’re here all by their lonesome. : )

And especially a concert . . .

And especially a concert . . .

Pedrata at flea market

I’m not sure why Sj bought this old briefcase for all of 4 Euros.

Pedrata Penguin 2

had so much fun together !!!

Pedrata wall art 1

Hmm . . .

Lyon lightning

School’s pau …

for the moment.

Leaving Lyon tomorrow for Germany. Gonna hang with good friends and change the channel on the language network.

Time to really mess with my brain. ;-)

Coming soon:

Pedrata’s Take on Lyon

✫ Sj ✫

pau = finished

wild flowers in Lyon

Summer arrived today in Lyon.

Just like that.

Without nary an announcement that this non-native could decipher, summer arrived and set up camp in every corner of the city.

Just two days ago, I was wearing the silk long underwear that my mom lent me as PJs; it was that cool at night. Now, I’ve taken the comforter out of the duvet cover. And I may not even need that (the duvet cover, that is).

Earlier today, sweat was running down my arms rivalling that of my experience in Cambodia five years ago.

Summer has arrived.

And with it are some of the most magnificent flowers. They can be seen all over the city in various public gardens.

And smelt . . . at the Parc de la Tête d’Or, next to the roman theatre, and in the rose garden near the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière. All over the city, the sweet odour of roses has been catching my attention.

Here are a few of my favs.

Enjoy!

✫ Sj ✫

Josephine

She caught my eye. 

Last week Saturday

around 2 p.m., after wandering around Lyon and ending up in Croix Rousse (one of two collines in Lyon, the one where people work btw), I realized I was hungry. Just then I saw a pizza joint and decided to check it out.

Below you can see what I ordered.

What I ate.

What I enjoyed completely. : )

I sat next to the window at a high two-top where I happily chomped on my pizza while observing the world outside.

That’s when she caught my eye.

Sitting alone. Also watching. Observing. Looking like a force of nature itself. Confident. Comfortable. Curious.

Three awesome Cs of uniqueness.

A woman with a presence.

In our world, youth and vitality is most often idolized. The absence of wrinkles. The presence of chic clothing. An air of not caring. And yet, in my experience, that very persona revolves around caring so very much what others think. Caring so very much that their very presence mirrors everyone else.

But here she sat with her hat and fluorescent sun glasses, looking like she didn’t have a care in the world. And looking like no one else. Uniquely herself.

When I left the restaurant, I started to walk past where she sat when something inside me called me to stop. To turn around. Approach her. And say hello.

In much less time than it takes to spill ones coffee and then clean it up, I was sitting with her at her table having a lively conversation.

Was she confident? Curious? Comfortable?

She seemed to be. She certainly wanted to know all about me and why I was in Lyon.

Each one of us is so very important. To ourselves. To our families. To our friends. But mostly, to the world.

Because each of us creates a ripple in the world. Whether we realize it or not. Whether we want to or not. We do.

Last week Saturday, Josephine sent a ripple my way. A tap on my heart to stop and say hello. To listen. To simply be present with someone who an hour before I didn’t even know existed.

Josephine et Sj

She reminded me of the protagonist in The Elegance of the Hedgehog (L’élégance du hérisson) by Muriel Barbary. Someone who’s enigmatic. Not at all as they appear. Someone who is completely oneself.

And yet, isn’t that who each of us really is? At our core? Uniquely ourself?

I think the answer to these rhetorical questions is a resounding, “Yes.”

And so for perhaps the millionth time, I feel the need to throw out the call to BE YOURself. In whatever way feels right to you. For no one but you can possibly know how it feels to be you.

So please, wear it proudly, that skin of yours. And if not for YOU, then for the rest of the world.

We need you.

Exactly as you are.

✫ Sj ✫

Lyon red blue white lingere

Soccer on the brain

Practically ALL of Europe has travelled to France for the soccer competition. 

Red, blue, and white can be seen everywhere . . . 

Soccer logo 2016

This logo is EVERYwhere. Even on the toilet paper.

French candles

. . . in the cathedrals . . .

A French lei ala le fut

. . . and in store windows.


On a side note, I decided to stop at Starbucks today to have a real coffee. It seems that instant coffee with chicory is the café prefèré these days at French houses. In the way of going with the flow, I’m drinking it and also adding the cocoa meant for the 16-year-old Swiss girl who is also staying at this house. What I discovered this morning at Starbucks is that they actually have a separate reading room with complementary books to read. There was even a Harry Potter there en francais. Pretty cool for this Harry Potter fan/nerd. ;-)

Sj Daisy and Pedrata que

My cuz, Sj Daisy, is here too from time to time . . .

You can check out her and Pedrata at her blog or on YouTube. Be sure and click on the CC button for closed captioning.