Tag Archives: Paris


Lately, reminders of my strong belief in the importance and value of journaling have appeared everywhere. It began a few weeks ago when I received an email from an online journaling service called OhLife stating they were shutting down their business. Unfortunately, they were unable to grow their user base or make OhLife financially stable. By way of background, OhLife was created to help people remember the day-to-day ‘goings on’ in one’s life by emailing you old entries you’d made, which you would reply to with a new entry from the current day.

Although I never relied on OhLife for a permanent format of journaling, I often looked forward to the short statements (or high bit of emotion with exclamations attached!) of where I was in my life be it 6 weeks or 636 days ago. Even so, I was always aware of the simple fact: these online entries would never be read by my children, grandchildren or anyone else in later years. Who was I fooling? This was an online service. OhLife wasn’t offering a bond book with bits from the past 5 years of my life. Which is why I continued to keep a journal on a daily basis. I like to be reminded that a year ago I was in Paris with Nick on this very day (ahh, deep breath) and two years ago I was contemplating an online boutique (so pleased it came to fruition!).


Again I was reminded of the importance of keeping a journal after spending a few days with my Uncle Will-Bill who has dementia. He recalls bits and pieces of his younger years but, sadly, it’s slowly fading. Thankfully he kept a journal from his 20’s and 30’s which we promised to read together the next time I visit him in Ely. This is his history seen through his writing, found in the books he carried through Europe, Russia, Moab, and the Boundary Waters. These are the years which made him the strong and sweet man he is today. I want to remember these years, his history.

In the end, OhLife had the right intentions by providing an easy service for us online geeks to type out our daily activities. But why not grab a pen, say right before falling asleep, and jot down a few thoughts or activities from the day..highs or lows, dreams, expectations, goals you crossed off your forever long list, frustrations, joys, surprises, disappointments, the pleasure of your morning coffee or you child crawling into bed with you in the middle of the night. Bits of what makes your life yours. And ones you’d like to look back later in life, whatever it may bring.


A little over a month ago Nick and I headed to Paris to celebrate my 40th birthday. We’d been contemplating this trip since the day I turned 39, researching restaurants, hotels, neighborhoods, gardens, cafes, food shops and more throughout the year. The weeks before the trip were filled with writing lists, organizing kids’ schedules, stocking the house with food and creating any possible order for our home to run as smoothly as possible for my sweet mother who looked after the Brown kids for six days.


As I finished packing the night before we were to depart, I ran through my head the most important items on my packing list. Phone charger, check. Journal, check. Camera, check. Fabulous new boots, check. Passport, check…Passport up to date…pause…deep breaths continue while Nick heads downstairs to triple check. Pause. No breath. No, passport is not up to date. Reality hits hard. I am not going to Paris tomorrow afternoon, triple check. Oh wow.


8 am came fast. With a few hours of sleep, blood shot eyes from crying, and a smidgin of hope inside of me, I headed for downtown Minneapolis to the original Government Center (potentially shutting down at any moment it being October 1st, government shutdown day) to sweetly ask, but with gentle persistence, how one might receive a new passport asap. After two hours of tracking down a passport photo, filling the meter, inhaling coffee, and watching the Government begin to shut down on CNN, I met my new friend, Maria. As I wrote out a check for my not-so-attractive passport picture (seriously, no complaints), trying to hold back my tears of joy and exhaustion, I asked Maria how I might thank her for expediting my passport. After she refused any gift cards she simply replied “Just send me a postcard from Paris.” This was only the  best possible thing I could have heard at the moment, besides “Yes, you will be receiving a new passport today.” Pure joy. I gave thanks to Maria and raced to jump on a plane as fast as possible.


Four days later, as I sat at in Parisian cafe beginning to write my postcard to Maria, surrounded by French conversations, fountains and champagne, I thought this has got to be the best postcard I have ever written. And it was. It was a memorable trip from start to finish. But writing that postcard topped it all.


The surprises continued on the flight home when we received a bottle of wine from a flight attendant with a note attached, on stationery with a photo of the Eiffel Tower. What? In this day and age. Lovely surprise. We gave thanks.

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There is hope out there people. And surprises in your day, just when you think you’ve hit a wall. We have yet to receive any of the letters we sent to our children from Paris but, hopefully, one day Maria will receive her postcard, and will smile hearing my gratitude.