This past week I finally had some moments that felt like what I had anticipated life in France might be....
I had French language classes all morning and I actually felt like I understood what was going on! It was raining, but the sun came out in the afternoon, and so I went for a walk and found myself at a cemetery. It was a pleasant surprise (as I enjoy cemeteries), and I found my soul came out of hiding and took a little breath.
Let me back up.... Since coming to France, it seems that my soul went into hiding, and I haven't been able to offer it a safe space to return. It has been such a chaotic season of disorientation, hiding was necessary for survival, but I was beginning to wonder how long might this season last.
As an Introvert I am reenergized by being alone where I have time for reflection and introspection. Don't misunderstand me - I like people, and I think I have fairly good social skills, and I'm a friendly person, BUT..... in order to recharge, to maintain some sense of balance, it is absolutely necessary that I have solitude and silence, and I haven't had much of that since arriving in France.
Moving to a foreign country has upended any sense of normalcy and balance in my life.... which is exactly what I wanted, but it's still challenging, frustrating and a bit uncomfortable. And yet, I continue to pursue the adventure and find joy in the midst of chaos. This is what I thought life in France might look like.
Saturday I took the train to Paris with some friends. We went to the musee d'Orsay and enjoyed the Impressionists exhibits, followed by a stop at a nearby café for hot drinks. We did a little window shopping, stopping into a fromagerie, an epicerie, and a patisserie on our way to dinner. The Café de l'Empire was a perfectly delightful experience. I felt at home as soon as we walked through the door..... a hint of hipster, but mostly simple, chic and classy. The service was pleasant, the ambiance was cozy, the food was good, and my company was delightful.
|The velvet wall behind our table|
After dinner we walked around the block to a classical music concert where a friend was playing the violin in a quaint, small art gallery converted for the evening into a concert hall.
As the music filled the room, my soul breathed deeply.
We finished off the evening with wine and cheese at a lovely little café in St. Michel. The location was perfect for some people-watching, and I reflected on our day in Paris with contentment. This is what I had hoped life in France might look like.
But after all of that time with people, I desperately needed some alone time. And so today I had a slow, quiet, introspective morning and then headed out for a hike in the forest. I found the perfect seat on a tree stump beside a little pond where I sat and soaked up the sun that graciously decided to make an appearance.
As the quietness surrounded me, my soul breathed deeper.
I spent the afternoon in the kitchen listening to classical music and baking a pie. Baking is often a spiritual practice for me, and today it again provided space for my thoughts to roam and for my soul to breathe.
|Apple Cranberry Pie|
I am learning to be patient with myself, to treat my soul with kindness and respect, and to breathe deeply. This is what I had hoped life in France might be..... a time of reflection and growth.