I was never one of those girls who longed to go to Paris. The idea of Paris – with its fashion and food and history – had an appeal, but to be honest, it wasn’t on my Bucket List of places to visit. I know that I’m wired differently from a great majority of the women I know, and though I’ve never been one to follow the crowd, when an opportunity to spend some time in Paris surfaced, instead of asking why I asked myself “why not”.

The main motivator? Curiosity.

I wanted to understand what made others long to walk the streets of Paris. I wanted to know what happened that caused others, especially women, to say that Paris changed their life.

I wanted to grow in my wisdom so that I can understand why this one place called to so many.

When I realized that my dear friend, Kayce Hughlett would be in Paris while JB and I were already in Europe, I went with my curiosity and “why not” attitude and planned a quick trip to Paris, spending part of that with Kayce.

Kayce co-leads retreats to Paris. Personally, I’ve learned that when I can step back and see life through another person’s eyes – it allows me to go deeper into who I am. It also broadens the scope of experiences so that when I work with clients or write a blog post or create a course, I have a broader and deeper well of knowledge to draw upon.

Let’s Begin With a Truth

There is no magic pill or place or person that will automatically fix your life. I do know that the serendipity of living in these human bodies is that sometimes, a place or event or book or person shifts us into a new way of seeing ourselves or seeing the world. No, it isn’t an overnight kind of magic, yet it feels magical to us all the same as we had an experience or an epiphany that shifts the trajectory of living.

The trick to allowing this shift to manifest into real changes? Take the lessons home and bring them into your everyday life. With each observation about Paris, I’ll share with you a way to bring the essence of the lesson home with you.

Because you don’t have to go to Paris in order to embody her truths. Here are some of the lessons I learned from my time in Paris.

One – Paris Has a Soul

I’ve traveled far and wide in my lifetime and know that some cities have a soul. Most cities don’t. It isn’t about the age of the city, it’s about the collective energy of the people that have lived there before. Give me New Orleans or New York over Tampa or Wichita. Let me bask in the history that is Washington DC and Dublin.

When you are in a city that has a soul, it’s hard to not give yourself over to the heart beat, history, and rhythm. It is as if there is a gentle rush of electrical current flowing throughout the city, its residents, and visitors, invigorating all from within. Cities with soul have a special charm that invites you to allow that inner you (the real you – the one you usually hide from) to come out and play.

How can you bring this concept home?

Create a sacred space in your home. Whether it’s a room, a closet, or a single shelf, create a space that is yours and yours alone for your pleasure and inspiration. Additionally, find a spot within walking or driving distance that calls to your heart. A park, a museum, a restaurant, a place of worship: the world can be your soulful oyster.

Two – Paris Invites You to Explore

Despite the fact that I had a lovely little apartment, I didn’t spend much time there. The winding streets command you to walk them. Shops draw you in just to browse. Cafes entice you to experience them. Park benches urge you to linger.

And the people! The people draw you in. Even folks that don’t love fashion can’t help but admire the stylish Parisians. And, as you watch the people go about their days, you are enticed into the real-life dramas and comedies unfolding before you.

Curiosity didn’t kill the cat, darling, and it won’t kill you. Curiosity invites you more deeply into your own life.

How can you replicate this at home?

Get thy butt out of thy house. Seriously. Go to a new Starbucks. Look online for a holiday tree lighting and go. Visit a park (or mall) you’ve never been to. Make a monthly date with yourself to get out of your normal surroundings and places and spaces and go somewhere new.

Three – You are Surrounded by Beauty

Though I speak very little French, the French language is an alluring language to hear. The Paris architecture is breathtaking. The gardens are exquisite. The food not only tastes delicious, the presentation of every morsel of food was delightful. And without stepping foot into a museum, you are surrounded by works of public art.

When you are surrounded by beauty, you feel more connected to your own beauty.

How can you replicate this at home?

Find ways to bring beauty into your home and office. Buy fresh flowers and put them in vases and bottles all over your home. I put flowers in my office, the kitchen, my bathroom…. Buy a piece of art you love. Frame some of your own photography or art. Clear all the flat surfaces in your home and only keep what you love. Wrap yourself in beautiful clothing.

Four – It’s Hard to Be Invisible in Paris

One of the most painful things in this human experience is the feeling that in a sea of humanity, we feel alone. Women, especially, tell me that they feel invisible as they move through their days.

In the US (as well as other places I’ve traveled) folks move through the world as invisible as possible. We don’t catch the eye of the sales people, we always tell me “we don’t need help”, and rarely do we tell anyone goodbye.

In the course of daily living in Paris, no one is really invisible. Sure, no one looks at each other on the Metro. The culture demands that we greet others as we enter shops and cafes. We make eye contact, acknowledge their presence, and then thank them for them holding a tiny space for us in their world before we depart. Though it could become a rote series of responses, none of the greetings I observed were really rote. It was an infinitesimal moment of presence.

How can you replicate this at home?

Stop being in such a hurry. Instead of going through the drive-through at Starbucks, park, get out and make eye-contact and small talk with the barista. Engage the butcher at the grocery. Begin practicing being seen by seeing others.

Five – You are Compelled to Unplug

People in café’s have conversations at the table instead of staring at phones. Dinner companions share stories, not headlines from their iPhone. Even those alone in bakeries and cafes don’t hide behind screens. Personally, I didn’t choose an international plan for my smart phone, which meant that I was forced to unplug when I was away from my apartment. Instead of reading the news (or Facebook) when I was sitting in a café, I wrote in my journal, read or had conversations.

But it wasn’t just me. Whether alone or with someone else, most of the folks I saw were present and not hiding behind technology. They were present: with companions, with strangers, with themselves.

How can you replicate this at home?

Stop charging your phone by your bed. At least once a month (but preferably once a week), unplug for a minimum of eight hours. Skip Facebook. Don’t take your phone out to brunch. Leave your phone in the car when you meet a friend for coffee.

Six – Paris Draws You Simple Pleasures

That is a life we can carve out anywhere, that is the simple beauty that rises to the top like cream, even in a city as rich in everything as Paris. It was natural to simply enjoy looking at the colorful macaroons at the bakery. It felt nourishing to sit at a sidewalk table and watch the people. It felt rejuvenating to take a walk as the sun rose and watch the city come to life.

Life isn’t about the big moments. We must find joy in the small moments of our lives or we’ll always be left wanting.

How can you replicate this at home?

Indulge in the little things that make your life feel more nourishing. Maybe it’s sitting on your deck to enjoy your first cup of coffee. Maybe it’s waking fifteen minutes before everyone else in the house so you can journal in total quiet. Maybe it’s buying a special shower gel, new sheets, or a beloved book from your childhood.

Did Paris change me? Yes. And No. Every experience we have shifts us in some way or another. Yet, I’m still not one of those girls who will create a Pinterest board focused on the next time I get to walk the streets of Paris.

My Number One Personal Lesson from Paris:

Was really a reminder. It is up to me to cultivate my life to be loving, nourishing, and beautiful. It’s up to me to make sure that my daily actions are congruent with my desires.

Because, darling, no matter where you go, there you are.

Tags: , ,

Life coach Debra Smouse helps women feeling overwhelmed by life and/or their schedule recreate their life into one worth falling in love with. A self admitted tarnished southern belle, she now resides in Dayton, OH with the man of her dreams.
Share15
Tweet
+1
Pin
Email