Monday, December 15, 2008

Carpe Christmas, Carpe Chanukah, Carpe Festivus!

I know, I know, where have I been? I've been in Calgary where i was below freezing, the home for a day of balmy Chicago to a day of more freezing and now ensconced in hotel room in Baton Rouge where it's 72. OK, enough of the weather report, I've been so darn busy trying to navigate the rocky waters of buying that second home. We've killed many trees with all the paperwork I have been subjected to. I hope it will all be worth it when I'm staring at the lake from my new condo..details after closing on the 30th.

On a brighter note, went to a fab' party at Rex Grossman's (yes, da Bears) apt in Trump Tower and I don't know what was better the apt, the view, the food, the view, the libations, the view, the band, the view, the people watching, the view...I think you got it. Saw lots of ol' friends, many EO members who had heard me speak (Young Entrepreneurs Organization) my dentist, a former member of my Vistage group and a long lost friend.

This is my last speech for '08 and I'm so looking forward to coming home tomorrow, attending my two Vistage meetings and parties this week then welcoming THE son (as my darling Jason is called) to spend the holidays with his mama, that would be me. I love the holidays...friends, cooking, presents, goodwill, I am always so happy at this time. OK, joyous, I'm always happy. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Calgary, Canada ay? Where it's 17 below...

From the balmy Hawaii to the frigid Calgary, what a fab' life I lead! Up here all week speaking four times all over Western Canada. I haven't been here in about 15 years and it brings back one memory in particular that is high on my memory scale. People often ask me, knowing that I've travel the world, "what are your favorite places?" I always say, Santorini in Greece, Sydney, Australia, Paris (and of course I have added Monte Carlo since the birthday bash this summer) and always Banff and Lake Louise outside of Calgary.

There are two times in my life that I cried over scenery, this was one. Picture this. My then beau, Dutch and I stayed at Chateau Fairmont in Lake Louise. We got up one morning so he could teach me how to cross country ski. We went out on the lake, fresh snow, not a footprint on it except for the ones we made. In front of us, surrounded by the majestic Canadian Rockies on three sides and the Chateau in the background, it was like living in a postcard. I remember falling and dragging Dutch down with me and there we were, laughing so hard yet overcome by the beauty and romance of the moment. Later we built a snowman at night, then took a horse and buggy ride on the frozen lake. It was magical. So I am here reliving wonderful memories and as always so enjoying my Canadian friend and clients. Ay!!!

Oh yes, the really big news...I got the FL condo, found out last night, hooray!!!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Seasons GrEATings!!

OK, OK, it's not gourmet but it sure is fun. At my last Speakers School, two of my attendees, Deb and Kathy and I were having a conversation at the break and somehow got on the topic of hot dogs and how we all love them. I proceeded to rant and rave about my fave at The Wieners Circle which started us on a course of who has the best dogs. Soooooo we made a commitment to get together once a month to go to the myriad of hot dog places that Chicago is so famous for and that we all crave. December...Deb's choice, Rockstar Dogs on Ashland. Ratings as follows ...dogs 5-6, fries 8-9 We took a photo but no access yet, stay tuned.


I did it! I bought my second home, well almost. I found it, now I just have to go through the real estate/bank dance. I always wanted to have the proverbial "winter getaway" not that I don't get away enough to warm wonderful places, courtesy of my work but...this is different. I never thought it would be FL, it had too much of a stereotype for me on so many levels...Boca...NY Jews (hey I'm one of them so I'm not being slanderous, South Beach, too hip, Naples, broken hips...well it's just not so. I got to know my new home area last year when my ex, Beau Joe as I referred to him, took me to his home there, when my friends Sherri, Shari and Linda all invited me to their homes, when my CEO group went to the Grande Naples on retreat, I got to love this vibrant, beautiful upscale part of Southwest Florida, rumors put to rest.

So when the market tanked, the economy slumped, I said to myself, "self, why don't you buy real estate at a time and place most affordable and sure to appreciate quicker than all the money lost this year in all my retirement accounts, arrrrrrrrrrgh. It was exactly the impetus I needed to get me to do what I had been thinking about for so long.I am knee deep this week in contracts, offers, jargon, people and actions. Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Aloha and no, I'm not at Trader Vic's Restaurant...

It's been awhile since I wrote but c'mon if you were in Hawaii would you be at your computer? Arrived last week in Kona for one of my favorite clients, California Landscapers. I was with them last year in Nashville and they invited me back, guess it was a mutual love fest. The flight is grueling or else who wouldn't come here all the time, there's a reason it's called Paradise.

Other than speaking for them for two days and attending all their great social events, far be it from me to miss a party, I have been relaxing, sunning, writing, reading, all of my favorite things and no, I haven't been shoe shopping. Flew over to Honolulu for a few more days of RnR and sadly it's been raining. Rather than dwell on that, I have made great use of my time doing more of what I love, balancing my life. See, I do practice what I preach. Two more days in Paradise and I KNOW the sun will be shining tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sick and the City

OK, OK, I've been MIA but I have good reason or else this is my story and I'm stickin' to it. It was a crazy week, I know they all are but...

I had my CEO meeting Monday, those charming folks changed our normal Thursday meeting to that day just so I could take a great gig in Hawaii. Of course, they thought the meeting would be held there but they agreed to switch despite that disappointment, lol. Flew to Pittsburgh to speak on Wed, flew to NY to have dinner with THE son. Ate at Lever House, great vibe, great decor, lousy food. I like gourmet but I don't like pretentious or too chi chi like duck breast with souffle of foie gras on top of pomegranite seeds, ya da ya da ...I made that up but you get the idea. It wasn't the important part of the night anyway, just being with my handsome loving successful son, Jason was IT!

Stayed at the W Hotel, love the hip atmosphere, OK, I just complained about chi chi and now I love hip. Had breakfast meeting with an agency looking to do creative things with "moi", then to a trichologist, a what??? Always wanted to do that, the world famous Philip Kingsley, they analyze hair and scalp and well, we know how important my hair is!!! Then meeting with media moguls who are also proposing some work together. The universe is calling me this month and I love it. Then train to CT my ol' home of 25 years, very nostalgic whenever the train pulls in to the Westport station. Had lunch with friend and fellow Vistage Chair, Vicki Thomas, off to my best friend, Kathy's salon for the best facial in North America then dinner with Kathy aka Petal. We have been calling each other Petal since the 80's when we took our first cruise together and the hostess from England would greet us every day with a "Good Morning, Petal, are we off to the loo?"

It's always great to be with Petal as we have a 40 year friendship and we always laugh, rehash, gossip, and relish our very special time together. Friday morning spoke in Greenwich then flew home with other people's germs and sure enough Sat. morning I was "sick in the city", would have much preferred sex and the city. Nursed myself with every drug, herb, vitamin, concoction known to mankind to make sure I beat it and would go to Hawaii a healthy camper. I did... Amen!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Pooped in Pittsburgh

It’s been non stop. I was training with seven other “chosen” Chairs of CEO groups at Vistage Headquarters in San Diego, the world’s largest executive organization. I was invited to be part of a group of train the trainers, in other words we were being groomed to train our peers, other Chairs around the country. As always it was a challenging and enlightening experience as we all brought to the table our own unique perspective on issues that we face in “herding cats” aka facilitating CEO’s as well as the challenges brought on by the economy affecting many of our members.

We started each day with inclusion exercises and on one day we had to finish the sentence…”I’d like to teach the world to….” and no, it was not sing, although I do think that did show up. It was more about…getting up each day with no expectations, no judgments, viewing the world daily through the eyes of a child, being more playful, respectful, outrageous (yes, that was mine☺

We shared laughter, aha’s, best practices and in the process were helping to create and define what the next Chair development program will look like when it begins in March. The theme is Keeping Current; The Journey Continues… with a lot of references to white water rafting. We didn’t do much of that in the Bronx, lol. Headed home in time to Chair my meeting then hit the road again and now in Pittsburgh for a speech tomorrow then off to NY for dinner with THE son and…well, for the rest you’ll have to…stay tuned!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

California here I come...

Left Dallas right after my last speech this morning and flew to San Diego for a weekend of Vistage training. Vistage is the world's largest executive organization, 15,000 members worldwide. I have been one of their resource speakers for 15 years and this years, Above and Beyond Speaker of the Year award winner. I also Chair two of these executive groups in Chicago and I am very involved with the organization on many levels. They are launching a new training program for Chairs and invited Chairs to apply, 50 did, 8 were chosen, I was one of "the chosen". Stay tuned for the rest of the story.

Rather than write my day's event and feelings I'd rather share something that my friend, Michele shared with me, I just love it.

This was on Roger Ebert's site (movie critic for the Chicago Sun Times)

This land was made for you and me

Roger Ebert on November 4, 2008 8:47 PM

As the mighty tide swept the land on Tuesday night, I was transfixed. As the pundits pondered red states and blue states, projections and exit polls, I was swept with emotion. Not because America was "electing its first Black president." That comes a little late in the day. It was because America was electing the right President.
Our long national nightmare is ending. America will not soon again start a war based on lies and propaganda. We will not torture. We will restore the rights of freedom of speech, freedom of privacy, and habeas corpus. We will enter at last in the struggle against environmental disaster. Our ideas will once again be more powerful than our weapons. During the last eight years, the beacon on the hill flickered out. Now the torch will shine again.
We will bring our troops home, in the right way. Am I against the war? Of course. Do I support our troops? Of course. They were sent to endanger their lives by zealots with occult objectives. More than 4,000 of them have died. Even more lives have been lost by our coalition forces than by our own.
Do I blame George Bush? At the end of the day, I don't know that I really do. I agree with Oliver Stone that Bush never knew he had been misled until it was too late. I blame those who used him as their puppet. The unsmiling men standing in the shadows. On Tuesday the righteous people of America stood up and hammered them down.
Lots of people stayed up late Tuesday night. They listened McCain's gracious, eloquent concession speech. He was a good man at heart, caught up in a perfect storm of history. He had the wrong policies and the wrong campaign. At the end, let me tell you about a hunch I have. In the privacy of the voting booth, I think there is a possibility that Condoleezza Rice voted for Obama.
I stayed up late. As I watched, I remembered. In 1968 I was in the streets as a reporter, when the Battle of Grant Park ended eight years of Democratic presidents and opened an era when the Republicans would control the White House for 28 of the next 40 years. "The whole world is watching!" the demonstrators cried, as the image of Chicago was tarnished around the world. On Tuesday night, the world again had its eyes on Grant Park. I saw tens and tens of thousands of citizens with their hearts full, smiling through their tears. As at all of Obama's rallies, our races stood proudly side by side, as it should be. We are finally, finally, beginning to close that terrible chapter of American history
President Obama is not an obsessed or fearful man. He has no grandiose ideological schemes to lure us into disaster. He won because of a factor the pundits never mentioned. He was the grown-up. He has a rational mind, a steady hand, and a first-rate intelligence. But, oh, it will be hard for him. He inherits a wrong war, a disillusioned nation, and a crumbling economy. He may have to be a Depression president.
What gives me hope is that a great idealistic movement rose up to support him. Some say a million and a half volunteers. Millions more donated to his campaign. He won votes that crossed the lines of gender, age, race, ethnicity, geography and political party. He was the right man at a dangerous time. If ever a president was elected by we the people, he is that president.
America was a different place when I grew up under Truman, Eisenhower and, yes, even Nixon. On Tuesday that America remembered itself, and stood up to be counted.
This land is your land,
This land is our land,
From California, to the New York island.
From the redwood forests, to the Gulf Stream waters--
This land was made for you and me.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Sale to the Chief

OMG, last night was incredible, I was glued to the TV as we all were. I had friends texting me who were in Grant Park asking me why I wasn't there (and I so wished I was). This morning as I read the newspaper, I was so "fahklempt" (ask Barbra:-) I couldn't stop crying. I was on my way to another speech and my poor driver felt so bad that he didn't have any tissues for me (he bought them so when he picked me up he had them in the sweet). He was an African from Kenya and needless to say, he was beside himself with joy. We bonded in our short car ride. Never have I felt prouder to be an American.

I was particularly moved by the parents telling their children how America is the land where anybody can achieve whatever they want. I was overjoyed at the number of parents who woke their children up to share the news. I was proud of the turnout for voting, prouder of the young ones in our country who showed up in droves, proud of our country, our democracy. As a professional speaker I am in awe of our President Elect's ability to articulate, his passion, his presentation skills. As someone who believes in change and hope, I am excited about the prospect of our future as a country.

So why "sale to the chief"? I celebrated by going shoe shopping:-)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Patriotic Pulchritude

OK OK, I'm a wordsmith and love alliteration. Yes, the physical beauty aka pulchritude of our flag, our country, our election process! Why does this emotionally overwhelm me? Because I was born on the 4th of July and I cry at America the Beautiful. I voted early as I knew I would be out of town today as I am still in Texas and I like the actual process as opposed to mailing in an absentee ballot. In between speaking this afternoon, doing my phone coaching in the morning and enhancing the Dallas economy this evening (yes, I shopped, I admit it) but heck, I'm staying at the fabulous Westin Galleria, that's like putting a drug addict loose in a pharmacy, I have been glued to radio and TV.

I don't discuss politics so I will at all costs avoid any particular political bias or favoritism and just say that I am grateful to live in this free democratic society with all its flaws and foibles. Or as the song goes, "I am proud to be an American..."

Monday, November 3, 2008

Tired in Texas

You know you're doing too much when someone tells you to donate your adrenals to science to study the overabundance of adrenaline that seems to ripple through my over energetic pores. Hmmmm, was that a compliment?

Anyway, here I am in Texas where they love us gals with big hair and big jewelry. Arrived in Houston yesterday for work for a client who monitors weather patterns for international flights (that's a very condensed elevator speech, mine not theirs). Met the 15 guys and 2 gals for dinner then transferred to a meeting room where I conducted two post dinner group inclusion exercises.

Today I spent a full day with them doing Part One of my Whole Life Trilogy, A Balancing Act: Walking the Tightrope of Life and this afternoon I did my DISC profiles program, You've Got Personnel-ity. They were very attentive and quite playful as an audience. Their fabulous CEO Ralph heard me speak at his Vistage meeting and hired me for this retreat. Ralph is a recovering NYawker as well so we had bonded immediately. When you have a bunch of guys together you get some great "badinage" (fabulous word, look it up:-)

Well they wore me out, in a good way and when I got to the airport, I actually paid 5 bucks to luxuriate in a massage chair, that was a first and it was damn good. Now I am the happiest of campers at the Westin Galleria in Dallas. I love Westins, I am indeed their poster child, I love the Galleria, all that great shopping that I have no time to do and I love Dallas for my "sisterhood". As Bugs would say, "that's all folks". Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Halloween Voyeurism

I guess that's really the only reason I like this holiday is that I love to look at the costumes, the creativity and the complete zaniness of those who do participate. The only memories I have of Halloween is remembering that some people used to "go as ME" which I found flattering ("imitation is the sheerest form of flattery") and funny.

My friend, Michele was in Miami for the International Boat Show so we got together for dinner at Ola in The Sanctuary Hotel for great tapas and the best mojito's. Also in Miami was my friend, Tamilee Webb aka Buns of Steel, from San Diego who you've seen countless times in my ezine. She and her friend, Jeannie were en route to vacation in the Cayman Islands so stayed over in Miami on my last night. They met us at Ola and we walked over to Lincoln Rd, the pedestrian area to watch the Halloween craziness. We didn't have to wait for crazy, I took a major fall on the way there, none of us know why, was I pushed in the massive crowds, was it the 4 inch stiletto's, was it the one mojito? I was not in shape to continue the walk in the heels so we stopped in to a store to buy a pair of flats, imagine that, I was "forced" to buy shoes. We found a purple pair encrusted with big purple rhinestones (what a surprise) and off we went. It was a zoo, reminded me of Greenwich Village, NYC on any typical night. They ate, we drank, we watched, laughed, gossiped, just your typical gals night out...on Halloween!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Miami and me!

Broke my "retreat-ness" last night and succombed to my social side and went out with my friend Jeff, a former American Airlines pilot, now a semi retired actor/model. We drove along Collins Ave where all the Art Deco hotels are (I am crazy for Art Deco) then parked at Lincoln Road, the pedestrian area. It's filled with shops and outdoor eateries and tons of people and people watching. All the early Halloween revelers were out and most had their dogs in costume, I missed my Brat, my lovable li'l Llasa.

We stopped for drinks then walked into some art galleries. If you've never seen the colorful photography of Australian wunderkind, Peter Lik, do not hesitate to go to his website The magnificence of his use of colors took my breath away. Then we visited the sculptural talents of another great artist, whose name escapes me (does that make him an escape artist?) cheesy joke, sorry, couldn't resist:-) before we settled in for some great sushi at The World Resource Center( (strange name for a restaurant). Jeff is off to Italy to pick olives at his friends Villa, what fun and I am off to my last day on the beaches of Miami and one of my most rejuvenating weeks ever. In the course of reading yesterday's book, The Experience Economy I came up with a great idea for a monthly subscription series, stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Matter of Life and Breath

I'm exhaling! This glorious week of relaxing and rejuvenating is so good for the soul and I am committed to doing this every year. Just another day at the beach. Read another great book, "Discover Your Destiny" by Robin Sharma. Yes, I tend to read self help and business books, don't we all go through various phases of our lives when you can tell where we are by the books and magazines that we read? I can always tell how much I like a a book by the amount of highlighting that I do and this one was almost all yellow:-)

Part of my enjoyment of this book was the affirmation of my own set of beliefs and also some magnificent new quotes that I had not heard before. I am a sucker for quotes which is why I published my own book of them this year called Mikki Mouth, Quotations I've Said and Some I Wish I Did Say. I have always loved, collected and used quotes, they've been part of my DNA. I also love metaphors and one in particular resonated with me. "When a jug of water falls to the floor and cracks, what was hidden within begins to pour out. When life sends you one of its curves, remember that it has come to help crack you open so that all the love, power and potential that had been slumbering within you can be poured into the world outside you." Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Exhaling in Miami

Since I posted the French Riviera blog I thought it would kick off regular blogging...obviously it didn't, until now...I am on a "it's all about me" week in Miami. Time alone with me to eat organic, work out daily, lounge in the sun (I know, I know), read books, ponder the universe and just exhale. I have been traveling so much, giving speeches almost daily that I needed a break just for me. The kind of break without shopping (and temptation is rampant, there's as much bling here as there is in Vegas), no going out to dinner or socializing (well maybe once...or twice) and just plain ol' vegetate. I've got my routine down pat (what does "down pat" mean anyway?)

Get up without an alarm or scheduled time, that is usually 7ish, breakfast, walk along the beach, work out, emails, beach, read, walk to Whole Foods to get dinner, relax, more emails, some paperwork, TV, sleep...pure heaven:-) Just finished reading "Epilogue" a memoir by Anne Roiphe but will save the details for my monthly ezine. Brought five books with me for the five days, so it's a reading marathon and one of my favorite of all activities. Stay tuned:-)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


I celebrated my birthday this year (I was born on the 4th of July - did you expect me to be born on any other day??) with eleven fabulous, fearless female friends on the French Riviera for a week of festivities (ooooh, so much fantastic alliteration!). In case you didn't know, the trip was ALL ABOUT ME! (of course) and I warn you, it’s a long one, so take a looooooooong break, put your feet up and come relive it with me.

I started planning this trip almost a year ago. Five years ago I made myself a party to be remembered, almost like a wedding; a sit-down black tie affair atop the W Hotel in Chicago, replete with purple twinkle lights, purple eyelash tablecloths, blinking lip lights in the red and purple flowers, music from the decades of my life and people seated by those decades and oh, so much more shtick. You know how I love shtick!! The theme was formal
black and white with a touch of purple (my favorite color). The gals wore long gowns with purple flowers or scarves, the guys resplendent in their tuxes with purple cummerbunds or ties. And moi, in a red sequin gown with the requisite purple boa and life before blondness.

So now I had to top that. Oh, what would I do? My first choice was to charter a yacht and cruise the Greek Isles. But the more I researched the more disheartened I became in realizing my champagne taste was suffering from beer pockets. In the style that I like to experience life, it was cost prohibitive, especially with oil prices, yes even in Greece. My second option was a villa in Italy and no, I have never been there, deliberately. Ah, but

that’s a topic for another time. It was not doable because I needed a commitment from a number of people to know what size villa to reserve and that was an impossible task.

Sometimes the universe decides for you. Too "Ghandhi" for y'? Well this ex-New Yawker says, “get over it.” I went on vacation to Prague with my friend Chris from Wales this past Fall and we stayed at one of the small leading hotels of the world. I love boutique hotels especially Relais and Chateaux. Whenever you check in or out of these places they always have a book of all their member properties around the world so I grabbed one to read on the plane. I dropped the book as I was leaving the hotel and it fell open to the funkiest, hippest, most unique, colorful place I have ever seen. It was the Hotel 3.14 in Cannes on the French Riviera where they have the famous film festival. This was indeed fate.

I have always dreamed of going to the Cote d’Azur, the South of France, specifically Monte Carlo. It seemed like the ultimate topper. What if I got friends from all over to go with me?
Hey, you have to dream big! I plotted, I planned, I asked, I researched, I Googled, I gathered info from every source and then some and here are the results.

Monday, June 30, 2008 - Day One

They came from NY, Wales, Detroit, San Diego, New Jersey, Washington, Virginia and Chicago to stay at the more-than-fabulous four-star boutique Hotel 3.14 that all the gals swore I must have decorated. And the riddle of the month...why was it named that?

The hotel was the brainchild of the daughter of an airline pilot who was able to delve into civilizations and cultures as varied as they were captivating. She wanted to bring them together in one place and the result was the Hotel 3.14 in Cannes, an establishment that invites you to explore five floors with different scents, colors and atmospheres belonging to the five continents. You simply MUST visit this website to get the true experience of it,

Anyway, while the gals mixed, mingled and introduced themselves (they did not know each other) in the bar area of our hotel, I slipped out to the hotel restaurant next door to set up the opening night dinner and told them to meet me there in 15 minutes. All weary from travel, I planned a casual dinner at The Carlton Hotel adjacent to our hotel and close to La Croisette, within walking distance.

I had gift bags made for their arrival, which was on their seat when they arrived at the restaurant. Black tote bags emblazoned in rhinestones Mikki’s Bday Bash July 2008 French Riviera (did the rhinestones surprise you?)

There was an event card at their table setting and a cookie that had my picture and the date, and a place card for assigned seating. Every night I would change the seating arrangements so they got to meet and know each other. Inside their gift bags was a journal to keep for the week with Carpe Diem! (another surprise?) and their name in calligraphy on it (thank you, Michele). They had a lavender candle with an engraved cover and a silver frame engraved so they could put the group picture in it when we returned AND a hot pink luggage tag that said in French, "Est-ce que mon derriere semble plus grand avec cette valise?" which translated means, “Does this luggage make my butt look big?" A good laugh and a good beginning to the week!

But wait, I digress. In the middle of dinner there was a fireworks display over the yachts cruising the Med, as good as any we'd ever seen. We sat mesmerized knowing full well that the French celebrate July 14th, Bastille Day, so we could find no reason for this but enjoyed the synchronicity of it.

I had them all introduce themselves by how they all knew or met me.

We had relationships as long as 47 years and some as new as under a year. I had a different question planned for each night, the opening one was, “Tell us about your worst date ever." We laughed, we ate, we drank, we shared stories as only women do. We crashed from jet lag.

Tuesday, July 1st - Day Two

Cap d'Antibes, Nice

We got up and did our morning exercise with a walk along La Croisette.It is basically this huge long street lined with palm trees and on one side you have the sea and all the private beaches with lovely yachts and cruiseliners in the distance and on the other, unbelievably beautiful fancy hotels and expensive shops like Chanel and Dolce & Gabbana. I did not plan the days, only the nights as I knew they needed free time. I knew some would sightsee, some would sun, some would shop and some would just be. It was a fortuitous insight.

Tuesday night we went to the Bond-esque Cap D’Antibes and the famous Hotel Du Cap Eden Roc, the hotel to the rich and beyond famous (Tom Cruise is a current guest) where a week's stay could buy a small house. Eden Roc, set into the coastline below the hotel, presents a jaw dropping venue. From here earth, sea and sky seem as if physically arranged for maximum-WOW!

Eden Roc is a restaurant where staggering food is only the start and the rest will leave you legless. It’s difficult to imagine this being normality and in a way I’m happy to keep it like that because we know, I don’t do normal.

Wednesday July 2nd - Day Three

The pool at our hotel on the rooftop overlooked the Meditteranean. We spent the day there, in the hot tub, in the pool and no, we are not sharing the topless photos.

I arranged for drivers every evening so we were picked up and taken to St. Paul de Vence in Nice. Saint Paul de Vence is a charming hilltop fortified village in Provence, filled with art galleries, boutiques and sidewalk cafes. It's hard to find something ugly about this quaint village. A walk through its winding streets reveals elegant fountains, vine-covered stone walls and statues tucked into nooks in the walls. There are breathtaking views of mountains and sea. Even the ground below is attractive, as the cobblestones are laid into the shapes of flowers. The fortified village itself is a site, with its medieval fortress walls surrounding the city. The entrance was erected in the 1400s.

As you walk through the village, you look up and see some of the artwork embedded in the walls. If you walk towards the south side of the village and climb the steps to the view, it overlooks a gorgeous cemetery, surrounding hills and mountains. At Bastion St Remy on the west side, you can glimpse the sea. In Saint Paul, you can see the snow-covered Alps to one side, and the glistening Mediterranean Sea the other direction. From there we went to dinner at Le Clos des Arts, one of the small luxury hotels of the world and dined on the most breathtaking patio with views of the village in the distance and a landscape equivalent to a still life portrait of a Tuscan countryside. Once again, the cameras emerged as the gals embraced the magnificent scenery, the delicious food (I mean, realllllllllly, having a bad meal in France is an oxymoron) and… the perfect weather.


No one was told of the plans other than that the evening would be spent in Monte Carlo.

Everyone dressed up for the glam night and our drivers first took us to Eze to the Fragonard perfume factory. Suspended above the sea on the Moyenne Corniche between Nice and Monaco stood this perfume, soap and 

cosmetics factory equipped with the most modern laboratories and workshops. We had a tour and saw how the perfumes were made, then we got to shop for all the “goodies,” and shop we did.  You can’t expect to let 12 gals loose in a perfume and cosmetics shop and not expect us to enhance the local economy.

The word ‘perfume’ is derived from the Latin per (through) and fumare (to smoke) because, long before the use of modern techniques, the first perfumes were obtained by burning woods, resins and other complex mixtures. Fascinating!

In the parking lot of the perfume factory I revealed to the gals what the evening would be. explained that ever since I can remember I always dreamed of going to Monte Carlo. I didn’t know if this night would exceed the “wow” of the others but I knew I wanted to share this special birthday with these special friends in this special locale. It turned out to exceed allour expectations including my own.

There are some exceptional palaces which one day cease to be merely an address to become a legend. The Hôtel de Paris is one of them. We arrive at this fairy tale-looking principality, Monaco, which is no larger than Central Park. It is pristine, it is almost surreal except for the incredible display of arriving cars…the Bentleys, Rolls, Maseratis, Ferraris and some we’ve never seen or heard of. What yachts were to St. Tropez cars are to Monte Carlo. Prince Rainier’s palace sits on a hill overlooking this hamlet and the gals wonder if I’ve arranged for Prince Albert to stop by. We pass the curve of the hill where Princess Grace was taken from them and we cannot believe we are living this dream. 

We enter the opulent lobby of the hotel after a major amount of camera clicking and proceed to the eighth floor to Le Grill where we are dazzled by the elegance of our surroundings, awed by the view of the harbor and overwhelmed by the circle of chairs set up for us in the bar to enjoy Bellinis (champagne and peach nectar) and pre-selected hors d’oeuvres. 

My eyes meet my friend Pam sitting opposite me and her eyes are filled with tears of sheer joy as she will be sharing her big birthday with all of us tomorrow. I glance over at Sharon, my college roommate who has never ventured past Florida or the Poconos, her eyes also filled with tearsand I am sharing in her wide-eyed wonder like a little child at her first amusement park. I am overcome with emotion. 

We proceed to the dining room and our table at the edge of the wrap around terrace when the most magnificent display of fireworks begins and we all dash to the balcony to capture this moment on film, on video, in our memories, in our hearts. We sit down to dinner and turn over our menus which reveals a watermarked photo of me with the menu printed over it and the title and date of the event. It is packaged for all of us to take home. 

proceed to toast each gal individually as to what they eachmean to me and to thank them for sharing this night and to let them know that they are my guests for this evening and I am making the party for them.There is not a dry eye at the table.

After a truly gourmet dinner and great conversation they wheel out an indescribable piece of art called my birthday cake and again the audible gasp (or was that for the waiter?).

We cross the courtyard to the adjacent, famous Casino de Monte Carlo. It is hard to imagine that in the middle of the 19th century this prestigious square - known all over the world - was nothing but overgrown grassland under which, according to forebears, were seawater-filled caves. The visionary François Blanc, founder of the Société des Bains de Mer, transformed it completely within three years. In 1878 he gave this huge project to architects Charles Garnier and Dutrou in keeping with Marie Blanc's wishes, and in a record time of just seven months they were to build an opera house and a new casino in Monte Carlo. They did it and the dazzling inauguration ceremony was attended by the celebrities of the epoch. Dutrou was in charge of the Atrium; he created a magnificent vestibule featuring columns supporting a gallery with balustrades.

We spent an hour watching the international jet set throw countless bets on the blackjack table. We walked through the silence of slot machines so un-Vegas like. It was the quietest casino we ever experienced, minimum bets starting at $500, more beautiful people, it was a feast for the senses. The only interruption, much to the delight of my gal pals, was a handsome Italian from Milan, shouting, "Bella, bella, bellisimo," and to my surprise he was captivated by me. The gals all stood to the side smirking with glee like 11 pourd mamas as they watched and listened to this beautiful man try to get me agree to a date, a lunch, a dinner. I politely told him that I was there to spend my time with my friends but certainly did enjoy the compliments and attention. Soooo when I do get to Milan someday..., I will be sure to look up Franco with the number that he gave me.

From there we were whisked to the most famous of all nightclubs, Jimmy’z. It’s the rendezvous for the international jet-set. A portion of the nightclub is situated outdoors which helps deal with the incessant smoking of the French.

Jimmy'z has seen every celebrity and sports star in Christendom pass through its doors and models and millionaires are ubiquitous.We drank champagne, danced till dawn and returned to our hotel at 4 a.m. The only time I see 4 a.m. is on a trip to the bathroom. To say a good time was had by all might be the understatement of the year.

Thursday July 3rd - Day Four

St. Tropez… and my second favorite part of the itinerary, Nikki Beach. Of course, you have to know that the South of France is the glitterati, the glamour, the glitz capitol of the world; the most beautiful people, the wealthiest, the jet set to the max, any wonder that I always aspired to go there and loved it so much?

Located on the bay of Pampelonne in the center of the Riviera, Nikki Beach Saint-Tropez has a vibe and clientele that is quintessentially jet set. This is an exquisite location, and a favorite vacation destination of the world’s most beautiful, celebrated, rich, and powerful people. Hosting one of the most renowned party scenes in Saint-Tropez, Nikki Beach is the consummate see-and-be-seen party places for guests, visitors, VIP’s and celebrities alike. For relaxation, we lounged on the famous beds of Nikki Beach while soaking up the sun of the French Riviera while a DJ played all the beats and sounds of international dance and house music and we sipped champagne and renamed it Mikki Beach.

Nikki Beach has the undisputed reputation as being the “The Sexiest Party on Earth”. It is one of the few places on the planet that champagne & cocktails begin at noon. Designed in simplistic elegance…furniture made of natural woods from Vietnam, throw pillows made of organic fabrics, free flowing white linen curtains and plush champagne beds. I LOVED it! What followed was a casual meet up at a sidewalk café for afternoon libations, then a walk along the harbor and the spectacle of the 100 million dollar yachts moored in an endless array of beauty and untold wealth. Then to a casual dinner at The Strand under a big, beautiful flowering tree and too many mosquito bites later.