With a cherry on top

Seeing red (and pink)
I once knew a beautiful woman, tall, with dark hair and sparkling dark brown eyes. She dressed to own the room, and she knew what she was doing. She once told me that she only wore red twice a year: on Christmas and on Valentine’s Day. Many years later, I’m still puzzled by such a rigid dress code outside the military, but I once saw her in red, and she absolutely owned the room that day.

Well, sartorial rules aside, we find ourselves between my friend’s two official “red” holidays (plus a third that she didn’t mention), and in honor of that, I’m posting a selection of red and pink, flowers and hearts, plus a few pithy quotations, all in the name of love and romance.


Citou Rose
An outrageously luscious rose in the tiny village of Citou, France.

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Living from the heart


About a dozen years ago, I made a single New Year resolution: to live more in my heart and less in my head. It turns out this one single thing is a lifelong process, at times frustrating, always fascinating.

In school, I earned A’s in math classes and was told I should consider a career in engineering. For a long time, my hobby was architecture; I used to design wildly bizarre floorplans, and even built models of a few of them. But engineering never interested me, and eventually I chose not to pursue architecture either.

I studied graphic design in college, and that was my first exposure to the cultural division between following one’s head and following one’s heart. We saw the painters and sculptors as the spacy ones who would probably never earn a living with their art, while we were the “smart” ones who used our art to find a better-paying job. I’m pretty sure those “spacy” artists thought we had sold our souls.

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The usual time to talk about affairs of the heart is around Valentine’s Day, which of course is next month, but first I have something to say about heart that doesn’t have so much to with chocolates, flowers and lacy valentines. As we begin a new year, this January post is a voyage of discovery about other meanings of the word “heart.”

A little over a year ago, I decided to take action on something I’d been pondering for a while: living abroad for an extended time. Somewhat like stepping into a dressing room to try on a pair of pants, I tried on the idea of this new adventure by occasionally checking in with myself to see if the idea still “felt” right, while continuing to live the life I had in Colorado. I started to go public with my plan about the time I realized that not only did I definitely want to give this a try, but also that I might be a little disappointed with myself in twenty years if I hadn’t tried it. My mantra became, “if not now, when?”

As the adventure became ever more real, people began to say things to me like, “I admire you for doing this. It takes such courage.” I was puzzled by this comment, because at the time it didn’t feel like courage to me. It felt like a lot of work, a lot of details to attend to, and a dogged determination to make it happen. But not courage.

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