Tuesday, September 29, 2015

So, what are you doing now?

Life has a way of moving forward whether we want it to or not. Whether we are holding on to the old and resisting the new, or we are denying the past and worrying about the future; whatever it is, if we are not living fully in the present moment it disappears before we know it, and then we discover that we haven't really lived at all, but we've been looking back or looking ahead, waiting for some vague image of a dream or a memory.

One day last year I realized that I was ready to embrace the present - to stop trying to manage outcomes and control my future, and to step out of the tiny box I had squeezed myself into in the past. My safe and comfortable life was no longer satisfying. There was something just a bit hollow and empty, and I could no longer deny the restlessness in my soul. And so, as I admitted this truth and opened myself to the possibilities, I found myself quitting my job, selling my car, packing a couple of bags, and putting everything else in a tiny storage unit, so that I could get on a plane to an unknown future in France. This blog began as a way for me to share my journey with you as I embarked on this new adventure, and what an adventure it has been!

Now, nearly a year later I find myself back in Colorado, sitting in the uncomfortable liminal space of a whole lot of unknowns, yet being more at peace than I've been in a long time. I've returned to my place of belonging, my community, my support network. As I continue to learn to share my needs, to put more of my weight on the bridge of relationship that connects me to others, I find myself overwhelmed with generous hospitality and kindness. In this, yet another season of transition, my friends and family are patiently and joyfully walking with me.

After a year away, I was hopeful that I would have this great epiphany, that my true purpose in life would blatantly present itself so that I would know without a shadow of a doubt what was next.... but the heavens remained silent, and instead, I've heard the quiet whisper of the Spirit, the gentle calling of the One who created me: Be present. Be patient. Be still. Be open.

So what am I doing now? That's the question everyone asks. If I say that I am simply being present and waiting, people get a bit uncomfortable, because we are a society of doing, not being. We make things happen, we don't take time to watch them grow and develop. And so, the socially correct answer is; I'm looking for a car, a job, and a place to live. I've polished my resume and submitted applications, I'm networking and..... doesn't that all sound nice? And yet, if I'm looking to reconstruct my life as it was, to replicate what I had, then why did I leave? The reality is, I am doing all of the necessary things to find a source of income, to have reliable transportation, and to have a long-term, sustainable place to live.... and yet what's different is my heart. My internal motivations and questions are very different now. As I embrace the fullness and authenticity of who I am, I will find those things that are necessary for me to live a satisfying life, but they will not define me, they will simply be a part of my story.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Solitude in the Loire Valley

I have been grossly negligent in updating you on my various adventures, but you see, I've been busy having adventures! After I finished my studies and work, I took a week-long holiday to the Loire Valley where I spent my days roaming around castles, vineyards, and gardens. It was a week of rest and renewal, and a bit of indulgence as I mentally and spiritually embraced my next season of transition. I had a glorious week of solitude in this valley famous for its castles, which is also an epicenter for spiritual pilgrimages.



Thanks to the help of a dear friend, and the generous hospitality of a new friend, I got to stay in a beautiful home perfectly situated in the heart of the city of Tours. Each day I would go out and explore, then wrap up the afternoon down by the gypsy camp at the river. Ok, it wasn't a real gypsy camp, but it was an outdoor bar with live music and dancing, and all sorts of creative seating overlooking the river.

La Guinguette (The Country CafĂ©) - or in my mind The Gypsy Camp
The Game Shack (bus) at The Gypsy Camp

These boats reminded me of the gypsy boats in the movie Chocolat
The outdoor library/study at The Gypsy Camp

One day I rented a bike and rode to the nearby village of Amboise. It was a beautiful but long ride along the river and through vineyards. The chateau was impressive, but I was also intrigued by the many houses built directly into the cliffs. I also discovered wine caves built in the cliffs, which gives a whole new perspective on a wine cellar.


Another day I hopped on the train and went to the village of Chinon. We passed through field after field of sunflowers and more vineyards too.  I enjoyed exploring the village with the comforting presence of the chateau towering overhead.

Unknowingly, I saved the best chateau for the last. I was a bit done with seeing castles, but had heard this was a must see, and I am very thankful I made the effort to go. The chateau of Chenonceau is a grand estate, with all of the outbuildings, flower and vegetable gardens immaculately kept. From every direction the castle takes on a new personality, and I found myself thoroughly immersed in the history of the various women who had lived here, while I soaked up the beauty of the architecture and the landscapes.

This was a week of quiet reflection. I filled up a lot of journal pages as I prepared to say goodbye to France and re-enter the US. It was an ideal location for me to embrace this next season of transition. I was able to revel in the beauty and splendor of the French countryside, indulge in the delicious French cuisine, and simply be present to my heart and soul.