A few pictures from Lille, France

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Here are a few pictures from Lille, France. I had them on my phone and I meant to post them on my blog, so that I do not forget the places and what I felt then. The first one are the two expressos in the morning. One after the other. And the city waking up.

There is Lille in the morning when I went jogging from 6 to 7am. The streets and plazas were empty. The cafes and boulangeries were closed at 6, and were putting their croissants and breads in the windows at 7. And staring at me when I made the pictures. In the mornings the streets were wet from night showers and the dumpsters smelled badly. But the streets were empty, so you could chose on what side to run.

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There is this smell from the childhood. The smell comes from the trees in the park. The little yellow flowers produce the smell. And I remember our┬ásummers at my grandma’s place in Lipetzk (Russia). And those trees are called Lipas. And the smell is very sweet and it makes me smile and want to fall asleep.

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And then there is a slightly everyday Lille. With people. Shoppers. Tourists. The buzz of the downtown.

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And the Lille at night, when the cafes are closing.

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The blue doors and shutters. I always had this thing with doors. I love doors. They tell a story. But they do not tell the full story. They leave the most important behind.

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And there is Lille that made me think of my two kids. The sweet Lille. My kids would have loved that.

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Lille from inside of the cafe when it is raining outside. In the morning.

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And the sky.

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Lille, July 2016

Barcelona My Love

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It was a perfect day today.

While unhappiness is complicated, happiness is very simple. It is visual, it is physical, and it consists of small acts that make us happy. I am talking about things like walking down the street, having a coffee with a friend, working on an interesting project, looking at the flowers in the flower-shop window, and talking to new people.

The day started simple, I walked down the Muntaner street all the way to Diagonal. It was sunny. I got a coffee at Le Crusto and walked with the coffee. Walking in Barcelona is a blast. It is one of my favorite cities to live in.

The streets look beautiful. I love the trees in bloom and the flower shops. And I like people who like flowers and flower shops.

I turned down on Passeig de Gracia and walked two blocks against the light. I stopped at a small store to get the rubber bands that my daughter is crazy about. It seems to be a fad in her school and in the whole city. All the moms, teachers, grandmas, dads, brothers wear those handmade colorful rubber bracelets.

I turned at the corner of La Pedrera and reached Pau Claris street. There was the cafe, Jaime Beriestain, where we held our focus group. The place was full of green sofas and flowers. The meeting was a good one, I learnt a lot, specially, I got a lot of insight on how to run a better focus group next time. When the coffee is good and you get to learn things that interest you, you are happy. At least I was.

Once done with the meeting I headed to Valencia street, where my favorite bookstore is located. Jaimes, the French bookstore. And I stood there and read the titles in the children section and held the colorful books in my hands. I got some books for my kids. The Barbapapa for my daughter and Boucle d’Or et ┬áles Trois Ours (The Three Bears) for my son. He studied this tale in detail during the first term in his school. This book will be full of great memories for him.

Things are not always smooth in life. In the past years I realized how difficult the things can be. I went (still going through) the separation process with my husband. It is not a fun thing, and those who have lived it, know it. However, through all the pain we were able to stay friends and make it the best for the kids and us. Every day I realize how grateful I am for having him as a friend and as a father of my children. I also appreciate the patience and ability we both put in to make our relationship during and after the separation better and not worse.

From where I am right now, I see that pain and unhappiness are small tunnels in our souls, that we dig ourselves. We are alone in those tunnels, we are the only ones digging them. And happiness is like sunlight. It is very simple, very generous and we want to share it with others. Happiness is walking down the street and stopping to look at the flower-shop window, and some times making a self portrait to make it more fun. Happiness is to just live and to enjoy small things. Like the fact that in ten minutes I will see my kids; and that my son got a haircut yesterday and I will probably almost not recognize him.

DSC_7834Walking down Muntaner Street.

DSC_7842On the corner of Muntaner Street and Diagonal Avenue

DSC_7844Walking along Diagonal Avenue

DSC_7846Diagonal Avenue

DSC_7851Rambla de Catalunya where it touches Diagonal Avenue

DSC_7852Diagonal Avenue close to Passeig de Gracia

DSC_7854Bus stop on Diagonal Avenue

DSC_7860Flower shop on Pau Claris Street

DSC_7888Cafe Jaime Beriestain on Pau Claris Street

DSC_7867Entrance to Cafe Jaime Beriestain

DSC_7868Inside cafe Jaime Beriestain

DSC_7875Our focus group meeting at Jaime Beriestain

DSC_7882Coffee and sandwich at cafe Jaime Beriestain

DSC_7892On Valencia Street

DSC_7895Walking along Valencia Street

DSC_7899A flower shop on the corner of Valencia Street

DSC_7900Flower shop on the corner of Valencia Street

DSC_7906Jaimes French bookstore on Valencia Street

French books March

DSC_7924Small rubber bands that my daughter uses to make bracelets

DSC_7907Flower shop on Valencia Street (right next to the French bookstore)

DSC_7909Cafe on Valencia Street

DSC_7910Houses on Valencia street (close to Passeig de Gracia)

DSC_7916Lamp posts on Passeig de Gracia

DSC_7921Passeig de Gracia

On Spring

The spring began today. For me, that is. Today was the first day I saw the sharp shadows on the plaza. Yesterday I spent six hours working inside a cafe, because it was cold and raining, and I did not have an umbrella with me to walk home.

Today I noticed it was spring. This afternoon the sky was blue, the houses looked bright, and I sat with my laptop outside, getting tanned for the first time this year. Sunshine! I know it is spring when the shadows become sharp. I first see the shadow and then realize what object it belongs to. Living in terms of the spring shadows. Living outside.

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Barcelona, March 25th 2013