Thursday, July 31, 2014

Anyone Want To Go To France?

Here on the last day of July, I wanted to post once more for Paris in July.
So many people dream of traveling to France. One of the saddest stories I've heard about someone who wanted to travel to France was about an author, in his late 30s, early 40s, who finally had a book published. In the dedication, he wrote, "To My Wife, Who Will See Paris After All." Then two months later, his wife died. She never saw Paris.
I want to shake people and say, "What are you waiting for? Go grab your dreams, whatever they are!"
So, a blogger friend of my mine, Delana Nelson, who grabbed her dream of  moving to Aix en Provence when she was 50, has started a business to help other people who may be afraid to travel to France alone.
Travel Solo Bootcamp is designed to help people who have no one to travel with. It will help women get over the fear of traveling alone. I can't explain it very well, but I interviewed Delana and here's how she explained her new business.
Q. What is Travel Solo Bootcamp?
Travel Solo Bootcamp is a week spent in Aix en Provence which is designed to give women the opportunity to learn how to travel alone. It’s a mix of fun, support, and travel-solo assignments. Our hope is that at the end of the week, our recruits will be able to say “Yes, I’m going” when faced with that great deal for a weekend in New York City, after reading an article about a colorful sea-side town in Italy, or hearing about a fabulous beach in Croatia.  There are always hesitations about taking a trip, whether it be money or time, but we don’t want traveling alone to be part of that equation. Being able and willing to travel solo is an exhilarating freedom.

Q. How’d you get the idea to start Travel Solo Bootcamp?
My founding partner, Marcia, had the idea. She and her former boyfriend had previously done week-long painting workshops here in the region. Her clients were mostly women and by spending so much time with them, she learned about their fears of traveling alone .  Initially, when she brought up the idea of some sort of seminar,  I thought it was crazy. For me traveling alone is not a problem. But as I thought about it, I realized how many of my close friends were in the very same position. They want to travel, they’re in a financial and family position to travel, but they’re afraid of the unknown and their inexperience. These are reasonable, educated, creative women.  So I interviewed them as well as others, asking questions, researching etc., and realized there really is a need for this. So voila, this baby was born.

Q. Bootcamp sounds hard. Is it?
Here's one of Delana's promotions for her bootcamp
Ha, ha! That depends on your definition of hard. Hey, a week in the south of France can never be that hard!  I have traveled a lot and traveled alone, so for me it would not be difficult. But for some women who have either never traveled or have always been with another while traveling, something as simple as eating alone in a foreign country is something to be avoided at all costs. I can’t tell you how many people say they would prefer to eat a sandwich in their room. OMG! Eating is the best part of traveling, isn’t it? Getting on a bus or a train all by yourself and going to visit small villages can be equally difficult. One needs to get these things “under their belt” so to speak.  Once that happens, freedom begins.

Q. Is this travel experience only for women? Why?
We are marketing it to women because our research tells us there are so many women that find themselves alone by chance or by choice. It could be divorce or widowhood, perhaps they have a partner but he or she is working or not willing to travel, their children have left home….or any other number of reasons. But they do not want that to deter their dreams. We will welcome men if they would like to come. But they need to be over 6 feet tall, like to cook, and be well-mannered (oh whoops, that’s another list!)

Q. How is traveling with Travel Solo Bootcamp more advantageous that traveling alone?
We allow and expect you to do things and make your own experiences. However, as we say, “we’ve got your back”. Every recruit gets a cell phone when they arrive so they can contact us for any reason. The group meets once or twice each day for mini-seminars and support. These include coffee and croissants or aperitif, so you can see we’re not exactly your average “bootcamp”.
There are many organizations they cater to women traveling solo. But they involve group travel, or “adventure” travel, or they are simply too “nuts and granola” for many. Not everyone wants to climb a mountain or see the world by mini-bus. This allows women to dip their toes in the water before they do their swan dive.

Q. What are you most looking forward to during the bootcamps?
I love meeting the recruits; getting to know them, learning their story, and having the opportunity to “play” with them.  And this also allows me to look at my world through their eyes. As a new place, an exciting adventure, perhaps a new life. That just makes me happy.

So what are you waiting for? If you want to go to France, go!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Good Karma

By 10 this morning, I was ready to go back to bed, and this was supposed to be my day off.
Last night around 10, another teacher texted and asked if I'd substitute for his 8 a.m. class. I had no real reason not to sub, so I said yes. That meant I set my alarm for 5:30 so I could go to the gym to work out before class.
But when I got out to the car and tried to turn the key, the plastic fob that holds the key had cracked. It wouldn't turn all the way. I played with it for a few minutes trying to figure out how to turn it off or on. I got it out and went back in the house. I found some tape and wound it around the plastic. It wasn't strong enough to turn the key either.
So I grabbed the keys to the other car, knowing I'd be back in time for Spencer to drive to work at 8 too. I planned to stopped at the hardware store on my way home from the gym to have another key made.
As I raced into the parking lot at 7:20 a.m., the store was dark. I walked to the doors any way, hoping to see the store hours. The doors were locked. I walked away dejected and texted my neighbor to see if I could borrow her car. Then I heard a knocking on the window of the hardware store. The woman inside motioned me back to the door.
They didn't open until 8, but she could probably help me, she said. I showed her my broken key.
"Oh, no. The guy who does those kinds of keys doesn't come in til noon," she said.
The key has a computer chip or something, which makes it extra expensive and hard to duplicate.
"Okay," I turned back toward the door.
"Here he comes now," the woman said.
And at 7:30 in the morning, the man who wasn't supposed to work until noon came in the hardware store that didn't open until 8 and was able to make me a new key.
"Let's go try it on your car," he said.
But when I explained that I had to drive a different car, he said, "Take it home and see if it works. If it does, come back later and pay."
And that's what I did.
I ran into the house at 7:40 a.m., threw on some eyeliner, showed Spencer how to work the coffee maker and made it to campus by 8 a.m.
I paid for the $60 key on the way home, proud that I had solved my car issues without waking my husband and forcing him to take care of it.
It might have been bad luck that the car key broke, but I must have good karma because all the planets aligned to let me fix the problem.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Dreaming of France -- Nice

Please join this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France. Did you read a good book set in France? See a movie? Take a photo in France? Have an adventure? Eat a fabulous meal or even just a pastry? Or if you're in France now, go ahead and lord it over the rest of us. We can take it.
My friend Leah went on what she's calling "The Trip of a Lifetime." Her son graduated from college in May and so they decided to travel to Europe. They began their vacation in Nice then moved on to Arles before heading to Spain then Algiers.
She agreed to let me use her photos for my Dreaming of France meme.
Here's a beautiful shot of the beach.
I'm sure you can tell from this photo that Leah is an artist. I can't wait until she finishes some artwork from her trip. 
Don't you just love this reflection? 
You can see some of Leah's artwork on her Facebook page or her Etsy page. 
Thanks for playing along with Dreaming of France today. I hope you'll visit each other's pages so that you can enjoy more pieces of France. 

Kid Adventures

This has been a crazy week, and I may have 100 blog ideas a week, but didn't have time to write them. This weekend, I've had a bit of time to relax, so I'm back to share a story with you.
My 20-year-old is home from college in Florida. He started out working a restaurant job and now has switched to a landscaping job to make money this summer. He comes home tired and dirty, but he doesn't feel the need to lift weights as often.
The other evening, Spence had an opportunity to make some extra money doing something much less physical. He got to be a model in a photo shoot. That would not usually be something that he wanted to do, but the photo shoot was in the new locker room of the Ohio State football team. Spencer is a big fan of OSU football, so he was anxious to walk where some of his favorite football players practice.
Apparently, the university built a new practice facility. Yes, the amount of money spent on college sports is ridiculous.
Spencer took only two pictures on his phone and shared them with me.
He posed in front of the locker of OSU player Noah Spence. Obviously, he posed there because his name is Spencer.
The locker room leads to an indoor practice field, so Spencer took a shot of that too.
The boys got to pose in the hot tub too. They were in the pictures posing as football players for the architects who designed the new facility. So their pictures won't be in magazines, but used to promote the architectural firm.
Spencer made $40 and that wasn't bad for an evening of posing for pictures rather than manhandling mulch and weed whacking.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

First Paragraph -- Gone Girl

Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the first paragraph of her current read. Anyone can join in. Go to Diane's website for the image and share the first paragraph of the current book you are reading.
Everyone has already read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, right?
I hadn't. I was afraid it would be too graphic, too bloody or something. I was wrong. I got captured by it and stayed up late into the night reading it, which is rare for me.
Here's the intro:
When I think of my wife, I always think of h er head. The shape of it, to begin with. The very first time I saw her, it was the back of the head I saw, and there was something lovely about it, the angles of it. Like a shiny, hard corn kernel or a riverbed fossil. She had what the Victorians would call a finely shaped head. You could imagine the skull quite easily. 
This book was a psychological thriller. And it definitely had me going in the wrong direction. It's funny that I haven't even heard many people giving away the twist in the book, which isn't at the end necessarily. The only part that felt unsatisfying to me was the end because it didn't wrap up everything. But I definitely love the mind games throughout.