A Tour of the Heart: Getting Personal

A Tour of the Heart: A Story of Fun, Adventure, Hope and Inspiration

OK, time to get really personal. If you or anyone you know has experienced the pain and sadness of miscarriage, consider reading my new book, A Tour of the Heart:  A Seductive Cycling Trip Through France. Sure, this story is filled with lots of fun and adventure, food and wine, romance, travel and love. But to me, one of it’s most powerful messages is that there is life after miscarriage; there is hope.

People don’t talk about this “m” word much. They seem to more easily relate trials and tribulations surrounding infertility/in vitro issues rather than speak of miscarriage. But the truth is there are many women (and consequently their men, too) that suffer tremendously from both the physical and mental pain of miscarriage. There was little that could console me years ago after having experienced this myself—far too many times. I’m proud that I’ve written a book that I strongly believe brings comfort to women (and men) confronted by such disappointment, such despair. I noticed recently that amazon includes one of the more raw scenes that deals with this subject (at the end of the second chapter) in their excerpts from my book. I felt a big WOW on that one but hopefully in so doing, it will serve to get A Tour of the Heart into the hands of people it might help most. (Thank you to Deb Dion, my copy editor, who encouraged me to dig deeper in revealing my emotions around this most sensitive matter.)

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World Cup Adventures: from Yoga to Yowza

Birds of Prey World Cup at Beaver Creek

I love travel. Yes, it can be terribly tiresome but it usually brings about some of the most unexpected and exciting happenings. Case in point:  Last week I stayed at The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa at Beaver Creek Mountain, one of my favorite properties in Colorado. It was to be a stopover with my friend, Mary Dawn, on our way back from combined promotions (for my new book and her delightful alpine goods) in Denver and Breckenridge as we made our way toward Telluride, Colorado, home base for us both. I was planning to just chill and recover from almost five weeks away, soaking up all the amenities of this first-class resort. But what an adventure it turned out to be!

The stay started out quietly enough. We had both settled into our luxurious digs replete with full kitchen and glorious beds piled high with comfy pillows in a variety of sizes, half of which we wanted to take home. I padded down to The Westin’s newly renovated fitness center the first morning to see how I could begin to restore myself after way too much time at my desk followed by extensive travel. This beehive of fitness fiefdom was still buzzing with activity at 11 a.m.—no wonder since it’s one of the preferred athletic clubs of the Vail Valley. I peeked into their fully-equipped pilates and spinning rooms before opting for the solitude of their yoga studio where I was thankfully in time for a much-needed class. Susan, the yoga director, took special care to address my needs, those of a weary travel writer that hadn’t devoted much time to being fit since last ski season ended. Thanks to her and the calming surroundings of this specially-designated yoga oasis, I felt one step closer to being whole again.

The Westin Riverfront’s Yoga Studio

After chitchatting with the staff about all the doings at the hotel, I learned that the resort was in a flurry of activity largely due to the Audi FIS Birds of Prey World Cup Men’s Race that was taking place at Beaver Creek during that period. “Yes, I saw the gates and skis piled up in the lobby when I checked in last night,” I said. “I had totally overlooked the fact that that was going on. Then someone told me the Austrian team was staying here,” I added.

Skis & Gates in The Westin’s Lobby: Sure Sign of World Cup Doings

“Come back later in the afternoon to see the athletes working out,” a couple of the staffers exclaimed practically in unison. “It’s quite the show—with all those good looking guys lifting weights and swirling in their hula hoops,” one chuckled.

Sadly, my afternoon passed all too quickly up in my room at my laptop and by the time I sauntered down to the fitness area at 5:45p.m., all the studly dudes had left. Darn, I thought. There’s nothing like checking out world-class athletes in action and I missed it.

That evening, however, on the tail end of a most enjoyable dinner at Cima, the Westin’s signature restaurant and a Richard Sandoval creation, Mary Dawn wasted no time getting in on the World Cup fun. “Would you please tell those guys over there Grüß Gott?” she kindly asked the waiter. Already it was clear they were part of the Austrian ski team, so why not send the classic Austrian/Bavarian greeting from the Alps over to them? Why miss out on some Euro schmoozing? Three guys bopped over to our table and sidled into the curvilinear booth faster than you can say hooray. We enjoyed trading cross cultural stories and experiences until the wee hours of the morning. Since MD lived in Germany six years and is fluent in German, she particularly enjoyed the exchange. My French experience (eleven years in Paris) brought less to the table yet we were all in a bon vivant mood nonetheless. Fortunately our Austrian ski team companions were comprised of the director, a coach and a technician or else I can’t see how they would have been able to race the next day.

Cima’s Curvaceous Decor

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A Tour of the Heart and KOTO Love

My New Book: A TOUR OF THE HEART

Last year around this time, I celebrated a milestone birthday. I was grateful that I was feeling healthy and well, the most fit I’d been in ages and ten pounds thinner (a rarity for me since my weight never fluctuates). Here I am a year later having perhaps gained back five of those pounds—I don’t really know since I stopped weighing myself (a good sign of maturity). And now I’m two days away from another b-day with something far more significant to celebrate—a new book!

Twelve years. Yes, twelve years. I can’t believe it myself. It was twelve years ago that I began to plan a trip that would forever change my life. I actually took that trip in the fall of 2000. We all have transformative events and travels in our lives. I just happen to take a lot of notes on mine. “A Tour of the Heart:  A Seductive Cycling Trip Through France” is the fruit of all that note taking and so much more.” Click here to see a preview and download excerpts. I hope you’ll enjoy the read. Books are rolling into bookstores now; be sure to ask for it if you don’t readily see it on the shelf. You can also purchase it as a paperback through amazon now or as an eBook on kindle.

Since it’s KOTO fundraising time and I love my NPR-station here in Telluride, Colorado, you can receive a free e-book with every $20. donation and a free paperback with every $30. donation. Books sell for $8. and $20. respectively. Contact me directly through this site to make your donation. Also, if you enjoy Travel Fun, my talk radio show on travel, and the podcasts of those interviews I post here on this blog, please make a pledge or donation to KOTO as well. For that also, it’s best to contact me directly. Community radio is a rare breed in the U.S. and ours is almost entirely supported by caring people like you.

I will be talking about “A Tour of the Heart:  A Seductive Cycling Trip Through France,” on Travel Fun tomorrow, August 21, at 6 p.m. mountain time. You can also tune in on the Internet at KOTO.org at the time of the broadcast. I hope to post that interview as a podcast on this blog within the upcoming week.

One more thing:  Click here to become a fan of A Tour of the Heart on Facebook. 

Merci!


I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change

The Perfect Cast of Perfect Change

Men. Women. Will we ever understand each other? Probably not. If we did, life would be boring. It’s best just to make fun of our missteps and miscommunication. That’s exactly what goes in in “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change,” playing at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. It’s been such a smashing hit that performances have been extended through October 14, 2012.

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Reaching Out to Victoria, Paris and Wolff & Descourtis

Toucan Rouge Scarf

I’ve been thinking tons about my friend, Victoria Wolff, lately. Perhaps it’s because with the change of seasons I brought out my marvelous collection of scarves and shawls. Silk, cashmere, wool and challis wonders that exude all the charm and sophistication of Paris. My collection of them grew throughout my eleven years in Paris and I know they will be an essential part of my wardrobe until I’m old and grey. Most of these jewel-toned creations come from Wolff & Descourtis, Victoria’s shop in the Galerie Vivienne, a highly-regarded, family-owned textile business dating back to 1875.

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A Heartwarming Day Trip to Western Massachusetts and the Norman Rockwell Museum

Autumnal Scene in Stockbridge, Massachusetts

I was back east recently visiting my parents in upstate New York. Mom and I had on our agenda a “day out” to ourselves, one just like the old days. To us that meant planning a jaunt to a nearby destination such as the Hudson Valley region, southern Vermont or the Berkshires in western Massachusetts, all scenic and fairly rural destinations within about an hour’s drive of my parents’ house in Troy, New York. These were the places we would travel to throughout the years, especially when I was growing up. Together we would marvel at the pastoral landscapes while chitchatting the day away. Lunch, a bit of shopping and often a museum visit were all key components of a successful day trip, the perfect female bonding experience for two gals living in a house full of men. (I grew up with five brothers, a father and no sisters.)

It was during these joyous excursions that my love for unique places full of personality and charm emerged. I could hardly tolerate department stores or malls when I was a girl and still have a hard time with them today. Yes, these trips to soulful sites full of history and tradition planted the seeds for the shopping service I founded in Paris some years later and the four books I came to write on shopping and touring in Paris and the French provinces. My philosophy is and always will be about the whole shopping and touring experience—it’s not so much about what you buy, it’s about how and where you buy it and what you learn along the way. Truth is, I’m not even a big advocate of buying, but we all do, so why not have it be something special that you’ve procured in a memorable manner?

This special day to ourselves was more challenging to organize since we don’t leave my eighty-five-year-old Dad alone much any more. With a hearty, microwavable meal prepared in advance at the ready, cell phones listed in plain site and the reassurance that his Life-Alert was in working order, we said “Hasta la Vista,” knowing full well that we’d all appreciate the much-needed time away from each other.

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Elizabeth Bard Talks About Lunch in Paris, Love and Provence

Elizabeth Bard

I don’t think there’s a woman out there that hasn’t dreamed about falling in love in Paris. C’mon, admit it to yourself. See, I told you—I’m sure you’ve allowed just a shred of this fantasy to play out in your head at least once in your life. Many women indulge themselves with full-blown visions of strolling hand-in-hand with a lover alongside the Seine or sharing a tête-à-tête in a cozy French bistrot over a savory coq au vin and a good Bordeaux with the man of her dreams. Others just allow a glimmer of a romance flash through their minds. I bet there are some men (those sensitive types!) that have thought wistfully about love in Paris as well. I may be biased but Paris is surely the most romantic city in the world.

What makes it so? Well, it would take a whole book to divulge that—the decor, the mood, the ambiance, the food and wine. Elizabeth Bard does just that in her book “Lunch in Paris:  A Love Story with Recipes.” I found it to be a terrific read. And I know Paris, love and the whole bonne salade of it all. Elizabeth has done a wonderful job at describing the sights and tastes of the moveablefeast that is Paris. (I haven’t yet tried the recipes she shares, but they seem wonderful and quite easy which is actually what most French cooking is all about.) And of course, Elizabeth meets a love, a Frenchman, and we are swept into their lives like a tourist on a fourteen-day European tour. Fortunately she provides many opportunities for us to savor their moment as well.

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Play

Duking It Out with the Dukan Diet and Then Opting for Octavin

Octavin:  My Knight in Shining Armor

Octavin: My Knight in Shining Armor

For some people one of the hardest things about dieting is giving up favorite foods such as chocolate, cheese and wine. Deprivation depresses me, but I was also feeling pretty bummed out about my tight pants and an emerging muffin top this past April. It seems totally unjust that by the end of each ski season my jeans can barely make it over my thighs and my butt feels like a little trailer albeit a more solidly-built one. But still.

No, you don’t see many skinny ski instructors. We feed on a steady supply of chili, pizza, French fries, hot chocolate and après-ski beers. You need that kind of fuel when you spend extended hours out in the cold. This year though I could tell the extra poundage was creeping up faster than ever before (must be that age thing!). My ski pants were so tight by early March that I began to feel like the Michelin man.

So around the time of the royal wedding—after having heard about Kate Middleton’s dieting success and after having consumed umpteenth celebratory scones—I decided to go on a diet. I, of course, opted for the Dukan Diet since that’s the one that allowed Kate to go down a whole dress size. Plus this much-talked about regime was created by Pierre Dukan, a Frenchman. I had tried the Montignac, another diet designed by a Frenchman, years ago when I lived in France. So I figured I owed it to my all-around French experience to attempt this one as well.

You have no idea what a feat dieting is for me. I am such a non dieter. Fortunately my weight doesn’t fluctuate much but any attempt at taking it off is like trying to get a French chef to cook your steak anything more than rare. (That’s seldom possible, especially in the finer restaurants.) I actually don’t believe in dieting. I subscribe to healthy eating and regular exercise. I’ve also been influenced enough by the French way of life that I’m careful about portion control and not eating between meals. But this spring I was feeling so puffed up that I felt more drastic measures were required.

So how has it been? Well, I followed the Dukan Diet religiously for three weeks, a record for me. I’ve eaten enough eggs, egg whites, poultry, fish and meat to last me all summer. I think I only snuck one piece of cheese a couple of times, since my cheese cravings were quelled by a seemingly endless supply of nonfat yogurt. I came to feel so stuffed with protein that the days when veggies were allowed I ceremoniously served up less heralded vegetables such as brussels sprouts, leeks and bok choy on my fine Limoges china. Each meal—no matter how sparse—became a grand affair. I solved my chocolate crisis by adding abundant quantities of cocoa powder and stevia to my milk, yogurt, cream cheese (all nonfat), you name it.

But wine—the beloved drink of the Gods and most of us mortal beings—was not part of the program. Thankfully I’m not a big drinker but I do like a glass or two of wine a few nights a week. This time, however, I was ready to go dry until I could graduate to a more lenient phase that would permit occasional sips. Perrier has become my drink of choice. I serve it in my Baccarat glasses with a wedge of lemon or lime or sometimes in a highball glass, cut with water. (It gets expensive.) Either way, I’ve made it quite festive. I’ve found it refreshing to go about with a clearer head in the evenings, a new-found state that’s allowed me to read and even meditate more than before.

Yet two weeks into the diet, I started plotting how I was going to manage a glass of wine here or there once I came close to my ideal weight. It is after all wasteful to open a bottle and let it spoil as you parsimoniously pinch a glass out of it from time to time. This is especially true for people that live alone. Would I reserve wine consumption only for times when I’d go out? I pondered.

Ah-haa! That’s it—I’ll go the Octavin route. I remembered that I enjoyed some delicious wine from Monthaven Winery a few months ago, fine nectars from the Central Coast that lasted extremely well for weeks, preserved in the Octavin Home Wine Bar. I think I had a Chardonnay, a Cab and a Merlot on hand for as long as two months. This unique three-liter packaging—the equivalent of four bottles—allows wine enthusiasts to tap into artisanal wines without worrying about spoilage. At about $24. per Octavin, it also represents good value. Yes, that’s it, I thought. I’ll go the Octavin route and will feel no obligation “to finish the bottle.”

Not long after I put this plan into place, I came home one evening and desperately craved a nip. I was smart to have cleared out my fridge and cupboards of all forbidden temptations before embarking upon the diet. Although I toyed with the idea of racing to the store, I was settled in enough to nix that thought. But then I spotted the remnants of an old bottle of white wine toward the back of the fridge. I figured it was close to vinegar since I only used it on occasion for cooking. What the heck! I served it up with a few cubes, a lemon zest and a generous splash of Perrier and enjoyed one of the best wine spritzers of my life. A holiday weekend followed, filled with more carbs, including a few more wines and a generous slice of chocolate cake.

I had become fed up with Dr. Dukan’s program by now anyway. It did serve, however, to bring me into better alignment and many of his principles have already been incorporated into my eating habits. I lost five pounds the first week, but not an ounce the second or third. How demotivating! I woke up two pounds thinner, however, after my holiday foray. This new total seems to be holding steady and now that I’ve picked up some Octavin, cheese and many more bottles of Perrier, my program is looking up. With this renewed enthusiasm and more hiking, I just might reach my ten-pound weight loss goal. And I will have created what works best for me in doing so. Touché!

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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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