I have wanted to live in Paris for years. I'm not sure when that idea started or where it came from, but for the past five years, it has been one of my goals (more about how I made the goal a reality later!). I remember my first visit to Paris, back in 2008, during a semester abroad in Spain; I visited with a few friends for a weekend and couldn't stop smiling after we arrived. Our first stop that night was the Eiffel Tower (luggage in tow!) and I stood on top of the Trocadero and watched the tower sparkle between taking selfies and laughing with friends about being such tourists. I knew that I wanted to visit again and I did later that year, but after that it was 9 years until I visited my favorite city again recently.
A fellow entrepreneur and friend of mine made plans to move to Paris with me for a year... as soon as we could afford it, if we were single, when our personally owned and operated businesses took off...and every other perfect situational caveat. Long story short, I'm not single, I could barely afford it, and I'm still trying to grow my business, but I saw my opportunity to live abroad slipping away and knew that I had to take a risk and make it happen. I didn't know anyone, I didn't have a place to stay, and I wasn't sure what I was going to do once I got there, but I knew I had to go to Paris even if it wasn't for as long as I had originally wanted.
Most of you know that I'm self-employed as an event planner in Dallas and work from home; I had a small window between events in Dallas that meant I could work remotely and keep the momentum on current projects even without being in town. In addition to my normal work and blogging, I had a few goals for my time in Paris, but the problem was that I couldn't quite put into words what they were...luckily, now I can. In general, I need time to process; I've had so much transition in my professional life this year and things changed so quickly that I scrambled each day to piece together my new business, manage clients, and figure out new business obstacles, like how to buy health insurance (such a mess). Essentially, Paris was going to give me time to process, a sabbatical of sorts.
I needed a fresh perspective, to find the "why" behind everything I was currently doing, and decide which things were most important to me, so that I could better focus my attention. I said my goodbyes and boarded a plane to Paris with 12 pairs of shoes, and two suitcases full of clothes that were inappropriate for the chilly weather in Paris (packing fail).
I love to plan huge parties but also appreciate alone time, and that's exactly what I had when I arrived in Paris. No friends and nobody to talk to... plenty of alone time! That sounds sad, but I promise it's exactly what I needed to refocus on what matters! I spent some quiet time with the Lord each day, reading and praying, and slowly I made friends in a new city (read my post on how I made friends). I learned to explore the city by myself and took every opportunity to chat up a Frenchie or include myself in any English conversations that I heard in coffee shops.
Each day, I learned a little more about the city: buses, the metro, how to order food, a little bit of French, and a little bit about myself.
Growing up, we attend summer camps, church retreats, school trips, and sports camps, but as an adult, those opportunities are few and far between... unless you plan them. Stepping out of your daily routine is the best way to reflect on your life and get a fresh perspective, but you have to make a conscious effort to schedule the time or plan the trip to shake up your everyday life. As an adult, you probably don't want to go to summer camp, but what could a weekend workshop do for you? Every new experience I have as an adult is what inspires me to create things and experiences, plan parties, and even write blog posts. This is your reminder to schedule some time for yourself to refocus and continue learning.
When I was studying abroad in college and wanted to travel to every country in Europe during my 6-month stay, my dad reminded me "you can always come back" and he was right. I'll be back, Paris.