MONTMARTRE

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While in Paris you must go to Montmartre.  This part of Paris is known as the art district.  Many famous well known artist during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s found their place here.  Today many artist set up camp and make incredible of portraits of tourist.  Here are my 5 must do’s while in Montmartre 

  1. Definitely see the Sacre Coeur.  This magnificent church has some of the most amazing views of the city.  The Sacre Coeur sits at the highest point of the city.  Have a little God time while your inside and see beautiful statues, such as the Golden Jesus, and leave a little of yourself there by writing a prayer in the sign in book.
  2. Check out a gallery or 2 of some fine art.  There is an amazing collection at the Salvador Dali gallery of his wonderful and trippy work.  
  3. It seems like every restaurant is good.  Find a great cafe to dine, chill and people watch.  There are so many people all around the world to gander at.  
  4. Do get an artist to draw a portrait of yourself.  While there are so many artist to choose from they each have there own unique style.  So find the one that suits you the best.
  5. Have some gelato and walk around and check out the many shops and galleries.  

You can easily spend a day in Montmartre.  There is a lot to take in. Grateful for another day pain free.

France paris Montmartre
Photography by: Lavonne Grady
Montmartre artist district Paris France traveling with Rheumatoid Arthritis RA Blog
Images by: LaVonne Grady Photography
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Versaille

The palace of Versaille gardens Paris France Europe travel with Rheumatoid Arthritis living with RA cityscape adventure touring landscape photography
Photography by: LaVonne Grady

Seeing Versaille is a must.  It takes about an hour to get there by train and I just love taking trains around Europe to see the vast countrysides.  Although I have been to the palace in Versaille, we thought it would be interesting for my sister and I to show our niece a bit of historical facts about the Palace. To be in a part of history is priceless. Especially from another country. I like to think about the daily life. How people lived differently from how we live today. This incredible landscape says it all about how the people lived during those times. It’s very extravagant and vast.

Louis XIII went to Versaille for hunting excursions and loved the area so much that he decided to build a hunting lodge.  He decided to rebuild it in 1631.  The project continued until 1634 as the Palace that we know today.  

Palace of Versaille Paris France Europe travel adventure with Rheumatoid Arthritis RA patient mirrors selfie
Photography by: LaVonne Grady

We took a great tour in golf carts around the gardens.  This is a quick way to get around the gardens and to see more of the grounds.  They charge by the hour but you can have it as long as you like before you have to turn them in at the  closing of the day.  The hour goes by so fast that we ended up taking two hours to see the gardens but never really got to do everything.  It was fun driving the carts around.  And if you decide you want to take it somewhere your not supposed to, well the cart will stop and you can only go into reverse.  Yes, they are set up to stall if you try any funny stuff.

Paris France Sacre Coeur traveler adventure photographer cityscapes landscapes city sights wanderer black crow Versaille living with Rheumatoid Arthritis RA patient
Photography by: LaVonne Grady
Paris France Sacre Coeur traveler adventure photographer cityscapes landscapes city sights wanderer Versaille living with Rheumatoid Arthritis RA patient
Photography by: LaVonne Grady
The palace of Versaille gardens Paris France Europe travel with Rheumatoid Arthritis living with RA cityscape adventure touring landscape photography fountains
Photography by: LaVonne Grady
The palace of Versaille gardens Paris France Europe travel with Rheumatoid Arthritis living with RA cityscape adventure touring landscape photography statues
Photography by: LaVonne Grady
The palace of Versaille gardens Paris France Europe travel with Rheumatoid Arthritis living with RA cityscape adventure touring landscape photography boating
Photography by: LaVonne Grady
The palace of Versaille gardens Paris France Europe travel with Rheumatoid Arthritis living with RA cityscape adventure touring landscape photography musical water fountain show
Photography by: LaVonne Grady

This grand Palace is a great way to spend the day.  Just hanging out in the gardens was quite enjoyable.  We ate at a little cafe for a sandwich and some ice cream.  On the way out you can enjoy some macaroons and grab a little gift from the gift store.  The Palace of Versaille is a wonderful place to visit especially if it’s your first time.  

Paris France

design

Paris was a dream come true.  Even though I’ve been there before, it’s always such a sophisticated stylish city for me.  Some of my favorite fashion icons are Parisians. I was in such awe of it that I forgot that I didn’t have my medication.  I kept my mind on just being in the moment and enjoying one of my favorite cities in the world.  But as a photographer, it gives me the the opportunity to capture all those special moments.  That way I can always go back and reminisce on all the wonderful adventures that I got to spend with my sister.  The weather was amazing and at times very hot.  I love the Parisian culture and their chic and sophisticated style.  The best part about being in Europe, is that people really seem to enjoy life to the fullest.

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Paris France Sacre Coeur traveler adventure photographer cityscapes landscapes city sights wanderer Seine
Photography by: LaVonne Grady
Paris France Sacre Coeur traveler adventure photographer cityscapes landscapes city sights wanderer Eiffel Tower
Photography by: LaVonne Grady

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While in Paris we stayed in a modern Airbnb apartment outside of Montmartre called Barbes.  The Parisians think it’s a great neighborhood but all the Uber drivers told us to be leery.  Hmm wonder why?  We went to a wonderful restaurant, Barbes Restaurant, on the corner of our street that had great smoothies and fresh juices.  While we were having our breakfast we notice a group of guys pick pocketing people as they got off the metro.  So, maybe Barbes was a little sketchy.  The 10th Arrondissement Barbes-Rochechouart has been raved about except for at night. Luckily the night wasn’t until 10pm.  The next time I’ll google where I’m staying.  All in all the apartment was gorgeous and I did feel like a Parisian for week.  

The first day there we traipsed along the Champs Elysees.  I mean what’s Paris without a little high end excursion?  From Chanel to Zara, everything was in the vicinity.  We walked down many side streets with various high end designer boutiques from all over the world.  They are so many top designer flagship boutiques on every corner.  Believe it or not Gucci had a line to get in and yes we stood in that line so my sister can get a Gucci fanny pack.  

Paris fashion week was also going on while we were in Paris.  Amazingly we stumbled upon the Chanel show at the Grand Palais. The Grand Palais is a grand historic site, museum, and exhibition hall.  The Chanel runway shows are usually held there every season.  Off to the side of the Grand Palais was a group of photographers taking street photographs of the stylish guest.  I thought I should hang out there, maybe I would get a glimpse of some famous and stylish attendees as well.  So I pulled out my camera hoping to get a few interesting shots.  It was cool to see a couple of famous people but, the most recognizable face for me was Tracy Ellis Ross, who is the lead actress on the hit show ‘Blackish’ as well as the iconic Karl Lagerfeld, covering his face with his fan inside his Mercedes.  The invitation was gorgeous.  I got a peek from one of the invitees, whom allowed me to take a photo of it.  That was a surprisingly memorable moment for us.

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I loved hanging out on the Seine River.  My favorite part was taking a tour cruise along the Seine and taking in the views from the rivers standpoint.  There were so many people out enjoying the weather.  Lots of different groups of people relaxing along the Seine having wine, dancing to salsa music, just enjoying each other’s company and lovers sharing kisses with each other.    It’s such a romantic spot.  The next time I go back I definitely want to stay along the Seine.  It’s such a great spot to mingle with cool and interesting people.  And yes I love the French. They are cool and friendly people.  

Let’s not forget about the food.  The food was also incredible in Paris.  We got to enjoy great restaurants in different arrondissements.  I had a hard time maintaining my regular diet but what happens in Paris stays in Paris. There was a lot to see and do while we were in France.  I enjoyed the shopping, the food, and I was completely grateful for the warm weather. There is nothing like summers in Paris.  The best week pain free.  

London

London, travel, wanderlust, London bridge, tower bridge, UK,
Photography by LaVonne Grady

What happens when you leave the most important thing behind while traveling?  That’s exactly what happened to me, I left my medication.  By time I realized it, I was already at the airport and passed through security.  All I can do now is not panic and hope that my Leflunomide will work on it’s own without the Enbrel.  This is definitely not the time for experimentations but I have no choice in the matter.  All I can do is pray that I will not experience any pain.  

To keep me sane and not worry I like to meditate on Scripture and thank God for another pain free day.  Here are a few of my favorites to meditate on.  Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God, Psalms 146:5.  You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in you, Isaiah 26:3. This is perfect when I want to freak out.  So I thank God that He will keep me in perfect peace and not be anxious for nothing Philippians 4:6-7.  

Ive been gifted a trip to Europe by my beautiful and gracious sister.  I am traveling through London, Paris, Dublin, Brussels, and Amsterdam.  I am so excited for this opportunity and hope that while I am away I don’t have any episodes of pain.  There’s nothing more frustrating then being away from home and having pain.  I remember the last time I was in Venice Italy, I had the worse pain while I was there and searched for a pain reliever.  This was when I had flair ups in one joint.  These days I’ve experienced full body pain and it’s the worse.  It just brings everybody down around me when I’m in pain.  My mood shifts to this unbearable monster.  So far it’s been great!  I know that Enbrel can work up to 2 weeks without taking the next dose, so here’s to believing till I get back home.  

Day one of the trip I was in London.  It was such a beautiful day.  The weather was perfect at 88 degrees.  Though I was only in London for a day, I was able to do a hop on hop off tour throughout the city, that way when I go back later on this trip I know what to do next.  Here are a few highlights of the London.

London, travel, wanderlust, London bridge, tower bridge, UK,
Photography by LaVonne Grady

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London, travel, wanderlust, England, Uk, Buckingham Palace
Photography by LaVonne Grady
London, travel, wanderlust, England, Buckingham Palace
Photography by LaVonne Grady

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London, travel, wanderlust, England, China town, UK
Photography by LaVonne Grady
London, travel, wanderlust, England, China town, UK
Photography by LaVonne Grady

Staying Focused

Boney Mountain Santa Monica Mountains Ventura County California Flowers hiking scenery outdoors nature
Photography by LaVonne Grady

 Last month my friend and I decided to hike up Boney Mountain before summer came.  We love doing many long and advanced hikes.  A few weeks before that we did Tri Peaks a 9.7 mile hike to the peak, so round trip it was almost 20 miles.  A good one, but not as steep and rugged.  This particular day was a hot day and it never dawned on me to check the weather, since it had been such a cool month.  What I thought was going to be a cool day was an 88 degree day.  When I make a plan to do something I usually stick to it and my mind was set on doing this hike.  I had been mentally preparing for it for 2 weeks.    

Boney Mountain Santa Monica Mountains Ventura County California Flowers hiking scenery outdoors nature
Photography by LaVonne Grady
Boney Mountain Santa Monica Mountains Ventura County California Flowers hiking scenery outdoors nature
Photography by LaVonne
Boney Mountain Santa Monica Mountains Ventura County California Flowers hiking scenery outdoors nature
Photography by LaVonne Grady
Boney Mountain Santa Monica Mountains Ventura County California Flowers hiking scenery outdoors nature
Photography by LaVonne Grady

  

Boney Mountain is the third highest peak in the Santa Monica Mountains in Ventura County.  The elevation is 2825ft.  It’s not very high for people who are true mountain climbers but for me, it is a very difficult hike.  When we started the hike we saw the county helicopter and we were thinking is this a rescue already at 9 am. When the helicopter kept going back and forth we realize it was practice runs.  

Usually when I’m not feeling well and sometimes that just means I’m feeling fatigued, I am not able to take on such a trek.  What usually helps during the fatigued season is being mentally prepared.  It gets my body ready and allows me to keep pushing.  Along with being spiritually prepared first.  I am thankful to God for allowing me to move and to be able to do advance hikes.  I love to mediate on scriptures daily to motivate me when things feel difficult.  I tell myself that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me Phil 4:13.  He gives me strength in all things.  Believing that He will carry me through and I will see it to completion.

Boney Mountain Santa Monica Mountains Ventura County California Flowers hiking scenery outdoors nature
Photography by LaVonne Grady
Boney Mountain Santa Monica Mountains Ventura County California Flowers hiking scenery outdoors nature
Photography by LaVonne Grady
Boney Mountain Santa Monica Mountains Ventura County California Flowers hiking scenery outdoors nature
Photography by LaVonne Grady

The hike half way up is a climb, but a smooth climb, whereas the 2nd half is no joke.  I feel like I’m just doing the stair climber up 50 flights of stairs.  Honestly I had to take breaks, many breaks.  I was moving slow getting up there and I wasn’t allowing myself to be okay with that.  I had a few moments when I prayed that I would make it.  I started to not be able to breath well.  I was sweating so bad due to the heat that day that I was losing a ton of electrolytes.  All I could say was, “God please allow me to make it to the top.”  Am I going to have a signal to get a helicopter?  I started to worry, which caused me to panic.  I kept telling myself, “don’t panic, just breath, your going to make it. Then I felt the energy to move on, like a second wind.

Boney Mountain Santa Monica Mountains Ventura County California Flowers hiking scenery outdoors nature
Photography by LaVonne Grady
Boney Mountain Santa Monica Mountains Ventura County California Flowers hiking scenery outdoors nature
Photography by LaVonne Grady
Boney Mountain Santa Monica Mountains Ventura County California Flowers hiking scenery outdoors nature
Photography by LaVonne Grady

Boney’s Bloom IV

We finally reached the top.  Oh, how it felt so good to get there.  I was proud that I kept myself under control.  Getting there was a challenge but when you get to the top, it’s magical. The views are incredible.  I can see Channel Islands, Catalina Island, Conejo Valley, Camarillo, Oxnard, and Ventura.  There was 7 of us up there taking in this spectacular view.  My friend and I started to boulder climb around the top to see more.  It was such a beautiful day.  It was still green from the rains and the flowers were blooming.   It was just nice and peaceful .  We were up there for about 20 minutes and all of a sudden one of the hikers started to vomit profusely.  He was already looking kind of out of it when we got to the top.  When we heard that we knew he was dehydrated.  Some causes of dehydration can include heat, excessive activity, insufficient fluid consumption, or excessive sweating.  I was under all of these conditions. Out of nowhere comes the helicopter for a rescue.  What was a routine practice run became the real deal.  This guy was in serious condition.  He had lost some much fluid that the paramedic said they got there in time.  I had the opportunity to see a full on rescue and I was glad that this RA girl made it up there with all that was going on in my own body.  Come to find out the patient  was a wilderness expert.  The two nurses that was with him said it can happen to anybody.  This is why it’s so important to keep hydrated.  It was a wake up call and a reminder to take electrolytes like Pedialyte.  

Boney Mountain Santa Monica Mountains Ventura County California Flowers hiking scenery outdoors nature

Thankfully everything turned out well.  For safety percautions I always let people know where I’m hiking and it’s always good to take a friend if your hiking mountains or even for miles.  And to always stay hydrated.  We had a good time and great memories.  To many more and bigger adventures.

Borage Oil

 

I was in my local Sprouts and saw in the sale section borage oil. So I decided to research the benefits of Borage Oil. Borage Oil is used for multiple treatments, ranging from treating skin flare ups to lowering pain. The best way to use borage oil is either topically or orally in a capsule form due to its strong anti-inflammatory effects.

Borage oil is becoming popular as an anti-inflammatory supplement due to having the highest amounts of GLA of all the seed oils such as, evening primrose oil. Borage oil supplies a higher dose of linolenic acid. You can take less and lower your risk of side effects.

Borage oil works due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It can be helpful in treating a long list of short and long term illnesses, such as:

Rheumatoid Arthritis
PMS symptoms
Bones loss
ADHD symptoms
Menopause symptoms
Fatigue
Stress
Managing diabetes
and more…..

Check out the 7 borage oil benefits here

The benefits of borage oil ant-inflammatiory, Rheumatoid Arthritis, plants, health, healing, aging, holistic, herbal, supplements, omegas
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When looking for a good borage oil make sure that your borage oil is free of pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA), a carcinogenic liver toxin. Exposure to even small amounts of PA may cause severe veno-occlusive disease, so opt for borage oil that’s certified “hepatotoxic PA-free.”
Always check with your doctor before taking any supplement. Living everyday pain free.

Weekend Get Away at Torrey Pines Lodge

I was blessed this past weekend when my sister invited me to San Diego for a girls weekend. San Diego was a place I went a lot in my 20’s.  It was the place that I got my belly button pierced, no longer pierced now.  It was a fun place to get away, while living inland in  West Covina.  I love going to the beach.  The beach calms and relaxes me.  I always feel like I’m on a vacation, even if it’s just for a day.  Because we decided to go on one of the busiest weekends of winter, we had to stay in 2 separate hotels.  My favorite stay was by far Torrey Pines Lodge.

Torrey Pines State Reserve at Torrey Pines Lodge San Diego California Spa golf and hike nature exercise outdoors beach ocean pacific coast
Photography by: LaVonne Grady

Torrey Pines Lodge was incredible and exceeded all my expectations.  The service was impeccable and my experience in a 5 diamond hotel is definitely a game changer. I can get spoiled very quickly there. As soon as we arrived we were greeted by valet promptly. Our room was ready on time and we were excited to start the r & r that we desperately needed. We decided after we settled in to unwind from all the traveling, poolside.  The views from the pool is the beautiful golf course.  If you like to golf this is the place for you.  What makes this place so great for me is the Torrey Pines State Reserve right next to the Lodge grounds.  There were so many mini hikes.  So many to choose from and with various levels.  I love to hike hills.  Having various trails to hike on was definitely the highlight.  I hiked to some cool vantage points and a trail down to the beach.   The hikes on the cliff side had incredible views.

Torrey Pines State Reserve at Torrey Pines Lodge San Diego California Spa golf and hike nature exercise outdoors beach ocean pacific coast
Photography by: LaVonne Grady
Torrey Pines State Reserve at Torrey Pines Lodge San Diego California Spa golf and hike nature exercise outdoors beach ocean pacific coast
Photography by: LaVonne Grady
Torrey Pines State Reserve at Torrey Pines Lodge San Diego California Spa golf and hike nature exercise outdoors beach ocean pacific coast
Photography by: LaVonne Grady

After the hike I was treated to a wonderful spa treatment. The spa was amazing. It had an aromatherapy room with sage. It was very relaxing to sit for awhile and just breathe in the aroma from the sage. I had to try everything. Next stop was the Sauna. The Sauna is daunting for me. I like feeling the heat, till I don’t like feeling the heat. Plus my mind goes to, what if I’m trapped in here? So I was out and decided to wait for my massage in the waiting room with a cup of hot tea.

trail mix and water for the Torrey Pines State Reserve at Torrey Pines Lodge San Diego California Spa golf and hike
Photography by: LaVonne Grady
Torrey Pines State Reserve at Torrey Pines Lodge San Diego California Spa golf and hike nature exercise outdoors beach ocean pacific coast
Photography by: LaVonne Grady
Torrey Pines State Reserve at Torrey Pines Lodge San Diego California Spa golf and hike nature exercise outdoors beach ocean pacific coast
Photography by: LaVonne Grady
Torrey Pines State Reserve at Torrey Pines Lodge San Diego California Spa golf and hike nature exercise outdoors beach ocean pacific coast
Photography by: LaVonne Grady
Torrey Pines State Reserve at Torrey Pines Lodge San Diego California Spa golf and hike nature exercise outdoors beach ocean pacific coast
Photography by: LaVonne Grady
Torrey Pines State Reserve at Torrey Pines Lodge San Diego California Spa golf and hike nature exercise outdoors beach ocean pacific coast
Photography by: LaVonne Grady

Now I was ready for the much needed massage.  I wanted to relay to the massage therapist about my RA condition and although I had a pain free weekend, I still wanted to make sure that it wouldn’t trigger pain in my shoulder joints. My shoulders have been very painful for a couple of weeks. She worked really well with my muscles surrounding the joints. After that hike, It felt so good to release all the tightness in my muscles. I told her how I had a really bad allergy that weekend and she really worked out the areas around my sinuses.  I could feel it loosening.  It was wonderful.  I liked how she listened and was receptive to what I had to say about my body.  Next stop was the Steam room with eucalyptus.  That opened up my sinuses so much.  I am so thankful for this opportunity.  I am mostly thankful that I was pain free.  I got to see much and do so much and that to me is the blessing.

Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim His Greatness! Psalm 105:1