Paris 40

Paris Journal

September 7, 2010

Paris Journal from Shawn Stratmann on Vimeo.

When I found out last fall that I would be traveling to Paris for my 40th birthday, I became instantly smitten with the creative preparation for the trip. I started an on-line search for “how to make travel journals”, and stumbled upon, Mary Ann Moss’s class, Remains of the Day. I knew I had struck gold when I watched Mary Ann’s video showing her free form style of creating and sewing knowing that this style of art is my favorite way to create. I immediately signed up for the class and soon thereafter, began my Paris Journal. Before I left for Paris, I created the cover and all of the papers inside the journal to hold the photographs and thoughts from the trip. I spent extra time making the internal pages out of my photographs and scanned vintage french postcards to convey the Parisian thoughts and feelings that were constantly swirling through my brain.

While in Paris, I filled the journal with thoughts and stories which I wrote directly on the papers I created or on postcards from the places I visited. I stapled pictures I took each day using my new Fujifilm Instax MINI 7s White Instant Film Cameraand when I returned home, I had all my favorite photos printed and just “threw” them in…I LOVE IT!!!!!! This project and Mary Ann’s fun class, have inspired additional journals in the Artist Retreat this summer!

Here are a few additional photos of the Paris Journal:

Paris and Paparazzi

August 5, 2010

Like many who visit Paris for the first time, seeing “Mona” was at the top of my list of things to do.
I had heard that she was smaller than one might expect and I would agree with that statement. While I am glad to have visited her, what really fascinated me about seeing her was the sociological behavior of all of the others who had put “visiting Mona” on their list too.
I would describe it as an organized/disorganized herd of 200-300 people filling a room in a semi-circle (not a line) to get a glimpse of a great painting which is housed in a glass box. Naturally, not everyone could have a clear and close view of “the Mona” and this lead to some very interesting push and pull moments in the crowd. Little regard for personal space was observed while the multicultural mix of people ran their video cameras and flashed their SLR’s in unison trying to get “the picture”. Had everyone been yelling, “Mona, Mona, look here”, I could have mistaken the experience as a Paparazzi moment trying to get the latest shot of Justin Bieber.

To me, the observation of the people looking at Mona was as interesting as actually looking at her myself. I mean, watching hundreds of people from all over the world (push) fight for the chance to see a piece of ART… well….it was a moment that could spur a several hour conversation weaving human behavior related to expectations (thinking that the this piece of art is worth the extra trip), storytelling (the messaging that goes around the mystery of Mona), entitlement (I deserve to be in the front of the circle more than the person in front of me), and the appeal of art (what makes art appealing to one individual versus another). Of the 1,000 pictures I took in Paris, this is one of my favorites…this moment made me think.

Side note: Look behind the crowd at the paintings on the wall. In order to get to Mona, we were paraded by 10 hallways of the MOST GORGEOUS realistic paintings including a room of religious icon paintings that may have been some of the most beautiful I have ever seen.

To Paris with Love

July 21, 2010

Dear Paris,

I am writing this letter upon my return of meeting you. Before I made the journey, I had heard much about about how truly wonderful you are. I had seen pictures, read stories, and listened to others allege their love affair with you. So much so that I felt a lovely familiarity with each experience I shared with you during my short one week visit. You did indeed look as I expected you to…charming cafes on every street corner, old buildings laced with rod iron railings and flower filled window boxes, and of course, loads of epicurean delights and smells strewn about each street.

I am surprised by how imprinted I became by the details that made you so special to me.

The way you served your food at tables facing the street to make it easy for a view of the passerby and the wonderful street activity you possess. So few places I have been where I feel I have license to stare at people. I usually feel that I need to be more discreet in my viewing hobbies, but not with you. Each meal felt fancy because of the extras presented along the way. A bowl of olives, bread on a board, charcuterie as a meal, ice cream served in a cold pewter dish…so thoughtful and simple.

I too was surprised by all of the music wafting through the city, from the group of burly Hungarian singers belting out a tune in the subway, to the street performers who so confidently delivered intricate street dances, and alas, the little old man in the old tattered wool sweater strolling through the train playing the stereotypical french tune on his accordian. Music is now part of who you are in my heart.

My adventures were many. Riding a bicycle in Versailles, visiting Marie Antionette’s homage, and of course, the Lourve and Musee d’Orsay. An interesting trip to the Flea Market and dining at Ciel de Paris to watch the city night fall and the lighting of the Eiffel Tower were also some of my favorite moments.

I visited you to celebrate my 40th birthday. I couldn’t remember a time in the recent past where I felt so wonderfully young and alive. Thank you for being such a wonderful host. Until we meet again…..

Love, Love,



F.F.P. - #1

February 4, 2010

So here is the thing…I am going to get (F)it before I turn (F)orty and then I am going to (P)aris.


  • I am currently 15 pounds overweight and a bit out of shape. This condition of mine has crept up for the last 5 years….two pounds here, three pounds there, three pounds dropped, 6 pounds gained. There is no mystery to how this has happened. I eat man-sized portions. I like wine. I spend an unbalanced amount of my spare time on the computer as opposed to moving my buttocks.
  • My 40th birthday is exactly FOUR months from today. That’s June 3, if you want to add it to your calendar. I loved my 30’s but I am excited about 40+. My 40’s will be filled with adventure, new dreams, travel, and family. I want to feel good about myself physically, mentally, spiritually…and part of that is getting FIT.
  • For my 40th birthday, I am going to Paris with three girlfriends. What a gift (thank you sweet hubby) to spend a long weekend with friends meandering around the streets of PAREEE, taking in the sites, tastes, smells, and culture. I have been dreaming about my “Paris in June” wardrobe and it doesn’t involve baggy clothes that hide my mid-section….no sirry…….I plan to (F)eel good wearing the stack of beautiful clothes that are hanging in my closet that haven’t fit for three years.

    It’s time. No more excuses. I will share my progress (scary) for the next 4 months.

    February 3, 2010
    Height — 5 ft. 2 in
    Weight — 132 pounds
    Waist — WIDE
    Goal #1 — Weight — 115 pounds (This is reasonable folks…at my 6 week postpartum I weighed 117 after the birth of my second child….I am small boned)
    Goal #2 — Lose Inches

    My plan — Get off my buttocks and exercise at least an hour 5 days a week. Up my fiber intake to 35 grams a day (this means lots and lots of fruits and veges). Limit the white sugar, white flour. No wine….gulp…..(I mean not gulp…no wine remember) until PARIS.

    Putting it out to the world…well….I have just held myself accountable.

    (F)it by (F)orty in (P)aris!!!! WAHOO!!!!!


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