Going Forth with Fabulousness

Mom and Me Faking It Until We Make It

Mom and Me Faking It Until We Make It

I’m back. Or at least I hope so. This is by far the longest I’ve gone without posting a blog since I started Bonjour Colorado in 2008. Even throughout the craziness of working as a ski instructor at Telluride Ski Resort during epic snow years, I’ve never let so much time pass without being in touch. But I can’t begin to explain how upended my life has been these past months.

I never imagined that the death of one parent might trigger a whole series of events that would make my brain feel like mush. Honestly. (The six months leading up to this life-changing event were extremely stress inducing, however, the last few months have been mind numbing.)

I’ve barely been able to keep up with emails let alone string two sentences together for a story. I had a deadline for Forbes Travel a few weeks ago that I just kept putting off. I’ve never blown off deadlines like that but I felt like I couldn’t compose a proper sentence. Finally, I forced myself to sit down and commit to the act of writing. What first sounded like an instruction manual ended up reading with more of a flourish after an hour of tweaking, so that experience helped me to regain confidence in myself as someone that has not become totally unhinged.

From that point on, I swore I would write at least a couple of hours every day. It has been a couple of weeks and I’m just sitting down now to jot off a few lines. So much for deadlines and goals.

What have I been doing? Well, I guess the best response is I’ve been juggling a ton of physical, emotional and mental clutter. I’ve been seeking some kind of normalcy, some kind of routine while everything around me has been shifting and transforming like an iceberg in the Arctic during the month of July.

My father passed away in March and since then, there has been an endless series of to-dos, none of which have had much to do with my own work. I spent a sweet period of mourning this spring with my mother in upstate New York, during which time we started to adjust to the idea of Dad no longer being around while writing thank you notes to the many people that sent flowers, goodies, donations and mass cards. I also accompanied Mom to a lot of her doctors’ appointments and attempted to gain better knowledge of what was happening in her world.

Then as if my father was upstairs pulling strings, we learned that there was a serious offer on our house at Lake George in the Adirondacks. After having been on the market for almost five years, it seemed as though it was now time to sell. Well, you know what they say about death and moving.

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Be Not Afraid

My Father on Lake George , New York in 2008

My Father on Lake George , New York in 2008

It has been just over four weeks since my father passed away. Even though I have been almost frightfully composed, I still feel like I’m in a blur. I think I’m in the midst of processing so much.

I do want to broadcast, however, to not be afraid. My father almost died on the eve of the millennium, then in 2008 and then at the end of 2014. So I had plenty of time to ponder his eventual passing. Plus, he was 89 years old. Yet even with this mental preparation, I always imagined I’d be in pieces upon hearing the news and then, of course, at his funeral and then in the days and weeks that followed. But no, I’ve felt a calm and resiliency that has surprised me.

I mean it–be not afraid. Do not live in fear of something that will come, something that you have no control over. Those heartbreaking moments do happen in our lives and it’s unproductive to anticipate–with dread–how we will handle them. We all have an inner strength that knows no boundaries. For me, I feel that my father’s passing has helped me to get in touch with the stuff I’m made of–I am Frank Angelo Clemente’s daughter.

He was a devoted family man, an accomplished businessman and un passionnée of skiing, tennis, exercise, food, Broadway show tunes, the English language and even French. But most of all, he was extremely kind and steady, compassionate and thoughtful and always appreciative and grateful for what he had and for what other people did for him.
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Goodbye to Dad

Dad Taking His First Look at the Grand Canyon in 2010

Dad Taking His First Look at the Grand Canyon in 2010

Yesterday was a tough day. From the first look at the notifications on my phone, I woke up sad about the news of the terrorist attacks in Belgium. My heart goes out to Belgium, my Belgian friends, Europe and to all of humanity in general. It’s hard not to feel down about the state of world affairs today.

I headed out to ski–to teach a lesson to a little boy I had been with the past few days–and experienced the worst day on the mountain of this season. It was windy, icy and horribly bleak. Fortunately I was skiing with a joyful six-year-old who was thrilled to be on the hill, no matter the conditions.

We stopped for a hot chocolate break. I settled my little guy into his seat at the table with another instructor and his young charge. Just as I was plopping the marshmallows into the chocolate at the beverage counter, I got the call. Yes, THE CALL. The one I had always dreaded, the one that informed me of the passing of my father. It was, of course, from Mom. We spoke no more than a couple of minutes and although this was unexpected news, I got it right away. Mom and I connected on this and then we let each other go.

I almost passed my boy off to another instructor but I decided to keep him; I chose to complete my assignment, largely because we had done some serious bonding and I didn’t want the last part of his Telluride Ski School experience to be with someone new. I shed some tears with other members of my Ski School family while my little dude twirled ice cubes in his frothy drink. We then headed out to ski.

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Paris Attacks Hit Home

View from My House in Telluride

View from My House in Telluride, Colorado

It’s sparkling white here in Telluride, Colorado. We’ve been graced with bright blue skies after a major storm dumped about three feet of snow on our already snowy mountains. Normally my heart would be singing with the excitement that comes with the start of each ski season. But despite the glorious scene that lays before me, I feel cobbled together with a jumble of emotions I’m doing my best to manage.

I did some work with hospice about twenty years ago and learned in the training that each loss brings up a past loss. I suppose by the end of our lives our hearts are filled with an accumulation of losses. A grim thought, but hopefully we find out along the way how to balance our complexities of emotions. But still, there are times when the bottom seems to fall out of our hearts.

This has been one of those times for me. The horrific events in Paris of just one week ago have touched so many of us. They’ve triggered thoughts of 9/11and other PTSD moments, big and small. They’ve made us weep for a beautiful city loved by many whether we’ve traveled there or not. They’ve made us feel the ultimate violation of enjoying a sense of safety in the most civilized parts of the world. They’ve made us feel like one. We are one, we are one with Paris, one with France, one with the whole world.

In a city of over two and a quarter million inhabitants, I wanted to make sure that everyone I knew there was safe last Friday night. On ne sais jamais. It’s bad enough that this horrible violence was happening but I prayed that all my loved ones and contacts from having had a close connection with the City of Light for almost four decades were safe.

And then it came. The news that my ex-husband, Stéphane de Bourgies, had lost his wife, Véronique Geoffroy de Bourgies, in the attack on the little bistrot, La Belle Equipe, rue de Charonne. I felt shattered. Vraiment boulversé. No, no, please God, don’t let it be true. I had been checking Steph’s Facebook page all night for news and finally the unimaginable was posted. I had already written on Véronique’s timeline that I was thinking about her and her family and hoping everyone was safe. Oh God, please let this be a mistake.

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Glamping Through Breast Cancer Fears

Doing the Two-and-a-Half-Hour Drive to Grand Junction for My Mammogram First Time Around

Doing the Two-and-a-Half-Hour Drive to Grand Junction for My Mammogram First Time Around

Serving Myself a Wine in Fruita, Colorado

Serving Myself a Wine in Fruita, Colorado

My world shifted into a surreal-like state of uncertainty three weeks ago when I learned that I needed a second mammogram after my first one revealed troublesome findings. I was called back for a second mammo a year and a half ago, so at first I wasn’t overly concerned.

This time though I could clearly see the area that the radiologist told me appeared suspicious. “Your breasts look like chocolate milk, so it’s hard to see clearly,” she continued. I studied the section she indicated and thought that indeed the spot in question looked like flecks of cream clumped upon my frothy chest.

My heart rate quickened despite the fact that I exchanged casual small talk with her as she performed the second mammogram. Calm down, I said to myself. There’s nothing to worry about. Don’t automatically think about breast cancer.

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Skiing Beats Moving

Snowy Telluride

Snowy Telluride

That would be moving to a new place, of course. Because as a general rule, I do believe motion is lotion and you get some of the best motion when skiing.

Ski season is off to a great start here in Telluride. It snowed a ton in November, then we had a dry spell, now with fifteen inches of fresh over the weekend, we’re set up nicely for the onslaught of holiday visitors due to arrive late this week.

I’ve been working out early season glitches such as numb toes, goggle marks and other assorted woes. It takes a while for my feet to become accustomed to wearing ski boots again and damn, I just can’t seem to adjust my goggles on my helmet the way I did last year. I’ll work it all out and as a Telluride ski instructor, soon I’ll be spending eight-hour days in my ski clothing and equipment for stints as long as ten to fourteen days in a row. In the beginning of the season, I sometimes wonder how I do it, but fortunately I throw it into gear, work through the initial aches and pains, and then fall into the swing of things like skis gliding on the snow.

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Highlights from My France Trip 2014

Steve and I Capping Off Our Last Night in France at Julien in Paris

Maribeth and Steve Do France: Capping Off Our Last Night in France at Julien in Paris

Oysters and Vin Blanc at Lake Hossegor:  One of Many Delightful Meals in France

Oysters and Vin Blanc at Lake Hossegor: One of Many Delightful Meals in France

Hossegor Surf at Sunrise

Hossegor Surf at Sunrise

Pâtisserie Française

Pâtisserie du Golfe in Hossegor

Biarritz at Night

Biarritz at Night

Glorious Contrasts:  Steve Headed Out to Surf at the Hôtel du Palais in Biarritz

Glorious Contrasts: Steve Headed Out to Surf at the Hôtel du Palais in Biarritz

Tapas at Bar Jean in Biarritz

Tapas and Wine at Bar Jean in Biarritz

How silly of me to think that I could work in a few blog posts while traveling through France during these past few weeks! Really.

That was my intention but I’m afraid I failed mercifully at the task. Instead, I was busy experiencing life in France rather than taking time to write about it sur place. Sure, I took tons of notes and I will be churning out stories from this trip–both here at my blog and in updates of my guidebooks–in the months to come. (I’m also doing a downloadable guide for A Tour of the Heart:  A Seductive Cycling Trip Through France, so the information will serve there, too.)

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Grant Me a Higher Love this Valentine’s Day and Forever

Cindi Sansone-Braff:  The Romance Whisperer

Cindi Sansone-Braff: The Romance Whisperer

Ugh, love relationships. It’s crazy how they can be so off-the-charts wonderful and at other times so down-in-the-dumps horrible. Who among us has not ridden this roller coaster of love at least once in his or her life? Whether you’re looking for your perfect soulmate or trying to elevate the divine love you’ve already found, help is on the way.

I chatted with Cindi Sansone-Braff, author of Grant Me a Higher Love:  How to Go from Relationship from Hell to One that’s Heaven Sent in a recent Travel Fun interview. Cindi started out by talking about the importance of travel and getaways with people in love and how travel can be a test of compatibility. She quickly segued into more meatier stuff and emphasized the importance of people having either “two feet in or two feet out of a relationship.” It seems as though many people in today’s society only approach relationships halfway.

“Being granted a higher love is not so difficult,” Cindi explains, something that most of us can likely attest to if we’ve been fortunate enough to be hit with the thunderbolt of love a few months into a relationship. “Maintaining love is the hard part,” Cindi continues. “It does demand work or it’s going to go bad.” It seems as though many people are on cruise mode and allow dysfunction to destroy the love they’ve been granted.

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    This blog is a personal blog written and edited by Maribeth Clemente. This blog sometimes accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation. The compensation received may influence the advertising content, topics or posts made in this blog. That content, advertising space or post may not always be identified as paid or sponsored content. The owner of this blog is sometimes compensated to provide opinion on products, services, Web sites and various other topics. Even though the owner of this blog receives compensation for certain posts or advertisements, she always gives her honest opinions, findings, beliefs or experiences on those topics or products. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blogger's own. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider or party in question. This blog does not contain any content which might present a conflict of interest.
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