I have a French hangover. Not the head-splitting, stomach-lurching variety I’d experience on a relatively frequent basis while living in France in the late 90s, preceded by happy, fun evenings spent eating, drinking and partying in Grenoble with friends and colleagues.
(Incidentally, the only time I ever pigged out on McDonald’s in France was the afternoon after a big night out when a Diet Coke and Big Mac were the best way to assuage the effects of a hangover. I’d slink over the McD’s, eyes kept down, desperate not to bump into any of the players from the night before until suitably revived.)
No, this time, my French hangover is less physical and more metaphysical. Four brief days spent in Paris and Grenoble last week have rekindled the spark that originally drew me to the country and enticed me to stay for three years. Four days of speaking French has reinvigorated parts of my grey matter that have laid dormant while living here in the US. And, like a wheel that keeps spinning even after the initial surge of energy, it is still in motion, presenting me with words and phrases first in French, before the usual English. Making me stumble. Making me yearn to carry on speaking in French and to feed that still hungry part of me.
I was left wanting more. Four days is simply not enough time to pig out on all the croissants and cheese that I really want to eat. This visit briefly skimmed the highlights of Paris and flirted with the enormity of the Grenoble mountains.
Reconnecting with my French friends, in spite of the years, was a joy. Time does not appear to have made an imprint on their faces or characters, though everyone’s lives have propelled forward – spouses, families, new jobs, new homes.
They say the grass is always greener on the other side. While I love my life in Boston, a big chunk of me will always be entwined in France, its culture, landscape, music and the French language.
Posted by samanthamcgarry on May 15, 2013
My mojo seems to have left town (along with my abs, but that’s another topic.) If you’ve been following along the last few weeks of our staycation and then my poor hubby’s sickness, this present state of affairs won’t be much of a surprise. I’ve been dragging my lazy ass around for a few days now. I sat at my office desk for 2.5 days last week and achieved nothing and contributed nothing. I’ve been feeling tired and bla every day, going to bed early and waking up exhausted.
I understand this is a temporary lull; usually my mojo is quite active and pumped up, ready for silliness, primed for a giggle. So I need to get it back – stat. I started the quest to unearth my mojo from wherever it is hiding yesterday. It felt good but we’re definitely not there yet.
So I asked some friends to let me know what they do to re-find their mojo. I’ve meshed their suggestions with several of my own re-mojo-activating tactics to create what could possibly be The Ultimate Guide to Finding Your Mojo. Here’s hoping that by Monday morning, I’ll spring out of bed, rested, with my mojo fully restored, ready for action.
The Ultimate Guide to Finding Your Mojo
- Lie on the couch and watch re-runs of Friends, Ally McBeal or whatever show or movie takes you to your happy place. Do not watch any weepies.
- Play music that makes you happy. Or in my case, music that makes you groove. In fact, I think I’m going to create a Mojo Playlist. Today, I’ve been shaking my booty to some newly discovered tracks including Calvin Harris “The Rain,” and Fun “We Are Young.” My other mood-and-groove-enhancing favourites include Abba “Dancing Queen,” Bee Gees “Night Fever,” Stevie Wonder “Living for the City,” Katy Perry “Firework,” Jackson 5 “I Want You Back” and The Pretenders “Brass in Pocket.”
- Read (I often return to Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist to set me back on the right track. Or anything by Bill Bryson for his laugh-out-loud travel experiences and wry observances of human nature.)
- A good chat with a good friend; try picking up the phone and calling someone you’ve not spoken with in a while (Annemarie, you’ve been warned.)
- Work up a good sweat (pick your poison: dancing, exercise, sex, weeding, pillow fight ….)
- Get a mani/pedi – or some other indulgent spa treatment. (I am sporting some freshly polished, vibrant purple toe and finger nails!)
- Write (a letter, a blog, a to-do list, some goals – by the way, this would be a good time to plug my pal Matty P’s great new book Goals Gone Wild.)
- Clean/organize something you’ve been putting off – might sound weird but it feels really good to finally get to it.)
- Sit on the deck and listen to the soundtrack of nature.
- Imbibe – whether it’s coffee to give your system a jolt, or a large glass of wine or sangria ( my latest addiction)
- Shoe shopping.
- Do something nice for someone else. It feels good to be both the giver and the receiver, believe me.
So there it is, the formula I’ve already started using to hunt down and rekindle my joie de vivre. What do you do to find you’re mojo when it’s left town? What would be on your Mojo Playlist?
(P.S. If you happen to find my abs, could you kindly return them – much appreciated.)
(P.P.S Here are some links to some other good mojo-finding blogs and resources:
Have You Lost Your Mojo?
How to Give Your Mojo a Boost
Finding My Mojo
10 Ways to Get Your Groove Back )
Posted by samanthamcgarry on August 11, 2012
Stamina has always been my Achilles heel. As a school child, staying awake to complete hours of homework was a challenge; I usually had to wake up early to finish it and to study for tests and exams. As college approached, I embarked upon the opposite of sleep training so that I could stay up late and party.
This morning, as I was awoken by noisy, happy kids (is that better or worse than the alarm clock, I’m not sure?) I felt like I had been hit by a truck. The day prior was spent flying to Atlanta and back for a three-hour business meeting – my day started at 4am and ended at 10pm. It occurred to me, as I groggily got up and meandered through my work day feeling spacey, wan and unproductive, that I just don’t bounce back like I used to. That I used to be able to withstand stressful, long hours at the office, then go out to drink and party – and still wake up the next day bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, able to operate like the PR ninja that I am.
Not so much today.
The sad reality is that I’m just not as young as I used to be. And when I think more about this, the signs are clear and staring right at my ever-so-slightly wrinkly (those are laugh lines) face. Because:
- Wearing heels more than 2″ high doesn’t just make my feet sore – it makes my hips and back ache.
- A stressful day or a late night makes me feel hung over – without any of the fun.
- More than two glasses of wine gives me heartburn.
- I can barely see straight when I drive at night.
- To put mascara on, I have to get really, really close to the mirror.
- Thoughts come into my mind and then ….. oh wow, I have no clue what I was going to write ….
- I get into the car bum first, then swing my feet in. And in reverse to get out.
- Songs I love are now referred to as “oldies.”
- Fashions I used to wear are now either retro – or making a comeback.
- The belly pooch is here to stay, no matter what.
- Several of my work colleagues are technically young enough to be my offspring.
- Policemen are getting younger and younger (that’s a British expression, I think.)
The good news however, because I like to keep the glass half full is that, despite my age, I am still silly and I don’t take myself too seriously. I can hang with the young’uns at the office and hold my own. I’m down with at least 30 percent of what’s hip music-wise. I will see The Hunger Games and be culturally relevant. I still get checked out from time to time. I’m on Facebook lots (that’s still cool, right?)
And so, despite my advancing years, I guess it’s better to adopt a Mark Twain attitude than complain.
Posted by samanthamcgarry on March 22, 2012
Remember when ….
- There was enough time.
- You spent money mostly on you.
- You had a waist.
- Weekends were lazy.
- The pre-party was a critical part of going out.
- It was possible to drink more than two glasses of wine without embarrassing yourself.
- You could stay awake later than 9pm.
- You danced around your handbag.
- 6am was sometimes the end of a great night.
- Going to McDonalds was a hangover cure.
There’s so much stuff to be nostalgic about. But that was then and this is now.
Now is so much richer.
Posted by samanthamcgarry on March 17, 2012
Last evening, a good friend and I were talking about LBK (life before kids.) Remembering wistfully the days when we had the energy to go out – and stay out – beyond 9.30pm. The days before a rushed slap of mascara and lip balm, and tussling your hair as you run out the door, were sufficient for looking and feeling presentable. These days, the reality is that the babysitter usually arrives just as the kids are eating the dinner you hastily prepared while your husband is looking at his watch reminding you that “we have to be there in 15 mins” – which leaves you precisely minus two minutes to get ready.
Think back to LBK. Remember the pre-party? Those languorous 60-90 minutes spent getting ready were almost as much fun as the night out itself.
Moms, I say let’s re-instate the pre-party!! And here’s how:
Option 1: Have the babysitter arrive an hour earlier than you usually do. Surely the extra $10-15 bucks will be worth the indulgence of your me-time in the tub, perusing your closet, picking your accessories, checking yourself out in the mirror, detailed application of make-up, and yes – a large cocktail or glass (or two) of wine throughout.
Option 2: Get your partner/spouse to cover the kids while you spend the time getting ready, before the babysitter arrives. It’s a cheaper, though not always as serene, option. It’ll be important to lay down some rules for the family and for you i.e. they must not disturb you, and you must let the mayhem – I mean dinner time – happen without your intervening.
I’ve decided to give it a go. Not only will I be in a decent frame of mind for a fun night out with my husband and/or friends, but maybe I’ll even look better for it!
Posted by samanthamcgarry on February 24, 2012
February 2012 marks 12 years since I moved to America from Grenoble, France, a picturesque town surrounded by three masterful mountain ranges. Three hours by train from Paris, one hour by car from Lyon, two hours by car from Geneva and just shy of four hours to the Cote d’Azure, Grenoble was the perfect town in which to live “la vie francaise” from 1997-2000.
Those were three of the best years of my life. I find it hard to believe that I have lived in America now four times longer than I lived in Grenoble. Those three years were packed full of emotion, experiences, adventure and ambition. It was a small town life but it was big with fun and friendship.
Frequently, as I go about my day-to-day life here in the U.S., I get pangs for France. It’s more than just longing for times gone by, my “misspent youth”, memories of good times. It’s visceral. When I’m missing France, I’m missing:
- How my brain feels energized by speaking and thinking in French, my second language
- Amazement and gratitude for the multi-cultural friendships created and sustained
- Viewing the world through a European filter
- The powerful seductive smell of cheese shops and patisseries
- Discovering – and being completely swallowed up by – the voice, lyrics and harmonies of Francis Cabrel and Lara Fabian
- The serendipity of being introduced to works of author Paulo Coelho
- Experiencing the mountains, lakes and countryside in all their overwhelming raw beauty
- The cobblestone streets, the ever-flowing wine, the boutiques,
- Living within and among history and architecture
- Hunting for chanterelles and then making omelets with them
- The deep sleep that follows a day of skiing in the Alps and a cheese fondue
- Did I mention the ever-flowing wine?
The urge to go back, not just to visit but to stay, is powerful. Life in Grenoble made an indelible mark on my soul.
Posted by samanthamcgarry on February 8, 2012