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Guest post: Anna David

September 30, 2011

I’m thrilled to welcome Anna David, the author of several books, including the soon to be released Falling For Me.  Her wonderful guest post makes me really excited about her new book.

For Falling For Me, I had committed to spending at least a year following everything Helen Gurley Brown recommended in 1962’s Sex and the Single Girl. And I’d decided to end that year by traveling by myself for a month to a place where I didn’t speak the language because it seemed the ideal way to put into practice all that I’d gleaned. But there was also quite a bit that I could only learn once I really tried to fend for myself in Seville, Spain—all of which could serve any foreign traveler. Such as:

It’s important to befriend people who want to practice their English. This was key, as it transformed me from that ignorant American who couldn’t say much beyond “Hello” and “Thank you” in the native tongue to a wise and utterly patient ambassador of the English language. On my second day in Spain, a new friend explained that her greatest desire was to become fluent in English and asked if I would mind allowing her to practice with me. This not only meant that all the conversations at all the events she invited me to took place in English but also that I got to feel like I always knew the answers to difficult questions; basically, whenever anyone started a sentence with, “And what is the word for,” no matter what followed allowed me an opportunity to feel like a genius.

Setting myself one—and only one—new task every day was key.  I don’t know about you but at home, my To Do lists typically contain a good 30 or so tasks, the majority of which a team of 10 couldn’t complete in a week. Because I was on vacation, I knew I needed to cut down on that number significantly (because I’m, well, me I knew that excising a To Do list altogether simply wasn’t in the cards). So I decided that every day I was there, I was going to accomplish something—whether it was to locate the local gym (and then exercise there), find the poster store all the websites devoted to the city raved about, or get a cook book and make the local delicacy. I can’t believe how fulfilling it was, for once in my life, to pick just one thing I wanted to accomplish in a given day and do it to the best of my ability.

I could brush up on my vocabulary—and feel better about myself—at the gym! There are, I discovered, serious advantages to working out in a gym in a foreign country—the first one being that it gives you an unexpected language lesson. Because I assumed—correctly—that exercise was enough of a universal language that I could pick up everything I needed to know for my work out simply by watching and mimicking the movements of my teacher and fellow students, I went to aerobics, spinning, stretching and yoga classes that were all conducted in Spanish. What I hadn’t accounted for was what a great Spanish class it was going to be; whether I was doing tres leg lifts or cinco squats, it gave me a chance to work out the brain and body at the same time. And more delights awaited me on the gym’s treadmill: because it tracked kilometers instead of miles, I could put the machine on a much higher number than I ever could at home and pretend that I’d somehow transformed into Lance Armstrong overnight.

Books I didn’t want to carry home made great gifts. I’m as guilty of wanting to pack light as the next person but I discovered when I was in Spain that because I’d brought books both on my Kindle and the old-fashioned way­—as in those antiquated things called books—the actual books made excellent gifts for my new local friends when I was finished reading them. Since they were eager to practice English (see above) and books in English were more expensive there, something I didn’t want to lug home anyway made a personal and intimate gift. On a related note, while there, I loved reading books that focused on where I was—not whatever outdated Lonely Planet guide I could find but novels that gave the essence of the place (for me, it was Hemingway, an experience I topped off by getting a tour of the local bullfighting ring).

Reaching out to those friends of friends paid dividends. Okay, this one is obvious but I still wanted to give a little ink to it because it amazed me how helpful and lovely friends of friends turned out to be. I ended up getting invited along on a beach holiday in Spain, to stay in a private riad in Marrakech and being the guest of honor at a barbecue simply because I made the effort to reach out to people who were strangers to me but not to those I knew. It’s a radical generalization but outside of the United States, people often seem to be proud and eager to show a visitor their home city. Why not take advantage of it?

___________________________________________________________

About Falling For Me:

Like most women, whether they’ve chosen the Fortune 500 career path or have had five kids by 35, Anna David wondered if she’d made the right choices. Then she came upon the book Sex and the Single Girl by Helen Gurley Brown, Cosmopolitan’s fearless leader from the mid-sixties to the late nineties. Immediately connecting with Gurley Brown’s unique message of self-empowerment combined with femininity, Anna vowed to use Sex as a lesson plan, venturing out of her comfort zone in the hope of overcoming the fears and insecurities that had haunted her for years. Embarking on a journey both intensely personal and undeniably universal, she becomes adventurous and spontaneous—reviving her wardrobe and apartment, taking French lessons, dashing off to Seville, and whiling nights away with men she never would have considered before. In the process, she ends up meeting the person really worth changing for: herself.

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22 Comments leave one →
  1. September 30, 2011 5:55 am

    That sounds like a really amazing, enlightening experience. I’m sitting here TOTALLY fantasizing about the one task a day thing. Hmmm…

  2. September 30, 2011 7:23 am

    That sounds like a great adventure. I wonder if Henry would mind if I take next summer off and go to France?

  3. September 30, 2011 8:10 am

    This sounds really good. And I love the idea of going to a gym to learn the language!

  4. September 30, 2011 8:28 am

    I fantasize about taking a month and going away, learning a different way of life and setting simpler tasks for myself. I’m intrigued about this book now….and I do not really need more to read.

  5. September 30, 2011 8:45 am

    What an interesting adventure. I’ve often thought that this would work to learn any language..but finding a person to “practice” with could be difficult.

  6. September 30, 2011 9:40 am

    The book and her asides about how she actually accomplished this sounds intriguing to me. I can’t imagine how much courage it would have taken for someone to basically rely on the kindness of strangers to get along and to help her complete her goals. This does indeed sound like an excellent read, and one that I am now very curious about. Thanks for the wonderful guest post, Kathy and Anna!

  7. September 30, 2011 12:29 pm

    I love these tips! What a great guest post.

  8. September 30, 2011 12:35 pm

    This sounds like it was a fabulous way to spend her time. I’m not as daring to do such a thing.

  9. September 30, 2011 1:33 pm

    Wonderful guest post! This one is interested and filled with great ideas. I’ll bet the book is the same. 🙂

  10. September 30, 2011 4:22 pm

    I just received a copy of this one. Looks good!

  11. September 30, 2011 4:38 pm

    Although it sounds totally delicious…I am not the kind of person who could ever do anything even close to what she has done. Sad for me, probably.

  12. September 30, 2011 5:11 pm

    What great advice – instead of having a to-do of 30 things – set out to do one thing each day to the best of your ability. Refreshing!

  13. September 30, 2011 8:33 pm

    I don’t think I could ever be brave enough to go somewhere new where I didn’t speak the language for a month but it would be interesting to read about. I wish I had that kind of courage.

  14. September 30, 2011 9:22 pm

    What a fantastic guest post! I loved her advice … and now I’m curious about her book.

  15. September 30, 2011 9:43 pm

    What a great post! It’s strange being in a country where you don’t know the language at all! I am curious to check out her book!

  16. October 1, 2011 12:32 am

    I love books about personal journeys like this. I would be scared to be by myself in a country where I didn’t know the language. I’m just not that brave!

  17. October 1, 2011 9:39 am

    She has lived my dream – I would love to live in another country and really immerse myself in the culture and language. I really like the approach she took – I am looking forward to reading her book.

  18. Staci permalink
    October 2, 2011 6:07 pm

    Hmmmm. I just may have to take the author up on her review request now!

  19. October 3, 2011 8:30 pm

    What an experience from the author’s end. Really intrigued now – will look for her book next.

  20. October 5, 2011 8:22 pm

    what a great guest post. i’m excited to read her book now! hopefully i’ll get the time to get to it soon.

  21. stilettostorytime permalink
    October 7, 2011 8:26 pm

    Lovely guest post…I will have to check her books out!

  22. Anthony Mark permalink
    October 10, 2011 4:37 pm

    I am geting a little emotional here about this book
    Its very inspiring to me that Anna David put herself on the line to do all this
    Its a lesson that I need to learn as well

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