“Dreams we have as a child, dreams we pack in a box for college, dreams you unpack when you move into your first apartment, who you’ll meet, where you’ll work, who you’ll fall in love with. Think you have it all figured out. Life has better ideas. A bigger imagination takes bigger chances than someone like me a year ago moving through her forties in a cloud of old ideas. Life gives you more than you thought but maybe not in the package you expected. It’s deeper than that. It’s what you need underneath the want. It gives you what you can’t breathe without. So go ahead and plan, just know when all your scheming, and planning, and hoping is done, life plans back.” —the character of Diana from the television series Younger
Maybe it was, as my father suggested to my mother about where I get all of my “wild” ideas about life, love and travel, something I picked up from all the books I read. To this day, I do not know when visiting France, even just the simple idea of crossing the ocean to see a foreign country, crossed my mind. All I know is that when I called off my wedding at the far-too-young-what-was-I-thinking-age-to even-think-marriage-was-a-good-idea-at-such-an-age-for-me-to-live-my-full-life (to be clear, so as not be be misinterpreted, I am only, and can only speak for myself and my own personal journey) of 20, an unconscious reason (along with many others, I assure you) was I will never be able to visit Paris.
It wasn’t the fault of my naive would-be-husband, but it was a point at which I said I am not placing my dreams in the hands of anyone else but myself.
Granted, yes, Paris too was far too romanticized in my own mind (maybe, my dad was right about the ideas the books falsely elevated), as I quickly learned, but the realization that getting married at that point in my life would negate the possibility of seeing the City of Light that acted as a dog whistle: An attention grabber that woke me up and would help lead me down a life journey that would far surpass any dreams I could have imagined at that point in my life.
Six months after calling off the wedding at the beginning of my third decade on this vast and amazing planet Earth I was checking in for my first flight to Paris to study abroad in Angers for a summer quarter. Fast forward twenty years further to nearly the day, and if my younger self would have told me I would be making my fifth trip to the arguably gastronomical capital of the world, I would have asked who you were talking about.
Life indeed does seem to have better ideas, as the quote above suggests, and no, it will not arrive in the package we expect. Case in point, each time I traveled to France, I have flown alone, and in one instance, I traveled to spend time with an ex-boyfriend. Yep, we were exes at the time and throughout the duration of our travels in France and Europe, but the tickets and reservations were non-refundable, and I, nor he, wanted to give up the experience as I honestly thought it would be my last chance (how short-sighted I was!). That trip is its own story, perhaps to be included in a future book, but every trip to France was for business or formal educational purposes in the case of my study abroad – not for the romantic getaway in traditional fashion. But that’s how life stepped in and revealed it had better ideas and offered (and continues to offer) what I needed that resides underneath the “want”, to again reference the quote above.
France, and my travels abroad to Europe, but thus far, primarily to France, have relentlessly nudged me, quite firmly at times I might add, to blossom. I have discovered more about my truest and most sincere passions, predilections and capabilities by traveling on my own and contrary to how and why my younger self imagined I would be traveling.
I recognize that I am speaking to the choir here. So many TSLL readers are avid travelers, independent and strong individuals who have designed their own life, letting go of dreams that we unconsciously at younger ages may have accepted or that society would like us to accept but that do not sit well with our true selves. Each of us has our own story (and I encourage you to share) about how we recognized life had more to give us than we may have thought would ever be possible or could have even imagined.
Embracing the gift that life wishes to give us is to let go a bit of knowing what the outcome will be, how it will work out or how it will unfold. But what I have discovered so far are three things: one, you are more capable of navigating toward a desirable outcome than you believe as you take the first step; two, the life skills you lack will be presented to you to learn should you choose to want to improve your skills to enjoy fully the life you previously had been only for someone else; and three, your “love story” is your life story – or should I say your life story is your love story. In other words, (and forgive the cheesiness from the person who is at the beginning of her current travel excursion as I know the rose-colored glasses are always strongest as the itinerary is about to commence), we need only look to ourselves to welcome more love into our lives. If we look to others to bring the love into our lives, we are ceding an ability we have and will always have. It doesn’t mean, more love cannot be felt while being with or around others, but we must not begin the life journey by seeking love outside of ourselves.
Thankfully, (yet I now know it was unconsciously exercised) I took the responsibility upon myself to somehow travel to France at the age of 20 and call off a walk down the aisle that was never supposed to be designed for me at that point in my life. Instead of looking to someone else to bring my life loves to fruition, I looked to myself and said, give it a go and see what happens. And perhaps, to some this may not seem to be much of a feat. But in the days of internet not being readily available or even really a tool to most (1999), and no immediate family who had traveled beyond the North American continent, it was for me. And in many ways, it still is.
I do not know how or where blogging and sharing my love for France, Britain, and living a life of quality over quantity is leading me, but I am deeply thankful for where it has lead me so far. All I know is that I wholeheartedly have fortitiously found a way of living that has lead me to feeling more content than I have ever previously found outside of myself, expecting someone else to fulfill what is my responsibility to begin with. And if my journey can inspire others to unearth the courage that already exists within them to find their own path, then I feel fortunate and will do my best to share what I learn along the way.
Bon Courage and Bon Voyage!
~Follow along on my travels via Instagram (@thesimplyluxuriouslife)
~Note to TSLL Readers: Over the course of the next week, I will be in and outside of Paris, with of course food on my mind, but also just meandering to wherever my curiosity takes me. While I will continue to write each day during the week, the regularly scheduled posts will be inspired in some way by my travels rather than adhere to the scheduled daily themes. However, the weekly This & That post that is shared on Friday and the weekly newsletter that is delivered to subscribers will be published on schedule. I do hope you enjoy what you find on the blog this week, and look for the regular blog schedule to begin on Monday July 8th.
~SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~Back to Paris (2018)
~Dreams Can Come True (2014)