Saturday, September 27, 2008

Montreal Weekend Getaway

We decided to visit Montreal, Canada after attending a wedding in Plattsburgh, NY. Boy, were we lucky to get a room on our third try as the city was booked. We stayed at a boutique hotel in downtown (Ville-Marie) area. Although, the rooms were small, they were immaculate and decorated in classy French style, similar to our favorite hotel in Paris. A-2-K Hotel is on Avenue Rene-Leveseque at the corner of Guy Street. Say hello to Gopel. Such a courteous gentleman! The hotel is adjacent to a fine Indian restaurant that was quite busy during our stay.

Downtown Montreal (Ville-Marie), Cresent Street
Photo Courtesy of Alexis Hamel

Hotel A2K is in a great location. Although, it is on a main boulevard, the rooms are quiet and near all the boutique shops, galleries, museums, restaurants and beautiful brownstone buildings. Architectural detail is everywhere. Even the skyscrapers in the business district are beautifully designed. Besides the friendliness and French language, fashion sense and culture, one of the great treats was the visible blue sky, no matter where we went! Montreal is a great place to discover by walking. Not only did we keep up with our walking routine, but, we were doing a daily walk of about 7 miles (instead of the usual 4 mile trek at home).
Dining at '7 ' Restaurant on trendy Cresent Street was a great first night experience. The bars, cafes, and restaurants were filled with fashionistas, the hip crowd and families alike. The intermingling of all types of folks that took pride in their dress. French, English and Spanish languages wafting through the air, felt like Europe.

De la Commune Street, Old Montreal
Photo courtesy of Denis Tremblay

We spent the next day in Old Montreal, deciding to walk from downtown which is about a 45 minute stroll. We past through the Business district, China town, and came across the Notre Dame Basilica- which is a beautiful church located across from the old City Hall. The stained glass work is exquisite.

Notre Dame Basilica
Courtesy of Marie Le Conte

The streets in Old Montreal, are cobblestone, winding and narrow, reminescent of the arrondisements of Paris. You can venture through many shops, restaurants, and a museum or two.

St. Vincent Street
Photo Courtesy of Marie Le Conte
Place Jacques- Cartier is filled with artisans, street vendors and cobblestone walkways. We picked up photo artwork by one of the local artisans and found a quaint restaurant through the recommendation of the local artisan. What at lovely end to a great weekend!
Place Jacques-Cartier
Courtesy of Denis Tremblay

Make a point to visit Montreal someday by adding it to your Travel To Do List- Bon Adventure! What an enchanting city!

Bonsecours Market
Photo Courtesy of Denis Tremblay

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Treasuring Summer Days, Living Your Life in Balance

Being Loyal to Summer

Labor Day weekend represents the end of summer to many of us. There are many triggers to support this feeling-- the beginning of the hustle and bustle of the school year, the occasional cool evenings, a few leaves falling and stores displaying autumn decorations in August.
I recently read that September is a stressful time of year because of the beginning of school, many activities and the pending holidays.

Fall doesn't begin until September 22. I used to get a little sad when I would hear some one say summer is over. I would say no! No, it's not! We have more time to celebrate the beauty of summer before we relinquish it! Now, I say how can you let this be?

Honoring Your Body
In August, I went away on a retreat/bootcamp and I started a daily walking routine. When I got home, I kept it up and it now has become a daily ritual in honoring my body, my time and my thoughts.

In doing so, I have been able to cut out a section of time for myself and making it a priority. It has become a meditative time to think about my goals, visions, and dreams. Besides, getting exercise in on a daily basis, the time helps me focus on my weekly and daily goals as well as prioritize them.

Living Your Life in Balance

How can I carve out a piece of time for myself with the kids, my husband, the demands of work, and social obligations; not to mention taking care of my home? I don't have the time to take care of myself!!

If this sounds like you, I ask you if your life feels like it is in balance? Do you feel happy taking on all of these tasks, jobs, chores, obligations? Do you allow yourself some down time and be just you--not somebody's mother, wife, employee, daugther, sister? Do you feel connected to your inner self?

Living your life in balance is unique for your own lifesytle. You are worthy to find out where that balance is. First, it starts with being true to yourself.

On my retreat/bootcamp, the leader taught us about the 4 bodies within us-- the physical body, the mental body, the spiritual body and the emotional body. We as women, need to honor our body- all four aspects of them instead of absorbing life's problems like a sponge.
How to start? Have the courage to create boundaries and be consistent to those situations, people and things that place demands, needs, requests, favors, etc. on us. There is nothing wrong with setting limits on others, in order to carve out some time for yourself. In fact, it is the healthiest thing you can do for yourself! It's ok to say, " No, I can't do that for you. I need to take care of my responsibilities first." Taking care of yourself is your responsibility. For no one will do it, if you don't do it for yourself! It is only when you have taken care of yourself, should you then help someone else. Your energy will be so much more balanced!

Motivational Speaker, Brian Tracy, says living your life in balance is placing 5 areas of life in the correct priority: Family, Health, Mental/Spiritual, Integrity and Career.
A person who puts his/her career before health, family and integrity is a far different person who puts Health, Family, Spiritual/Mental, Integrity before his/her career.

Slow Down to Catch Up

We need to slow down in order to catch up! Take time to breathe. Take time to relax. Take time to hear your inner thoughts. Take time to enjoy and savor the magical moments on this earth. I still write down my to do list, goals, errands and participate in my social obligations, dates, enjoyments. I even have better and concentrated focus on my work, accomplishing more than I ever have. In slowing down and consciously setting an intention for the day and taking time out for my walks, I am accomplishing more--more of what is truly important to me. My partner is happier, I am enjoying my friends even more, I am spending quality time with my family.

We have 20 more glorious days of summer. Now is the time to savor it, honor it, and enjoy it!
Start with 30 minutes just for yourself and you will be amazed at the results!

All the best, Suzanne