Wandering on the 15th of August

For the (very small) minority of people who was NOT on holidays last week, when most of the people in France (and in Europe) were, it has felt like living in an end-of-the-world movie, wandering around a city with most of the local stores closed, free parking spots everywhere and, for the lucky ones, the temporary closing of the bar in front of my window doing karaoke nights every single day.

As I have been traveling a lot this year I had no holidays left for the Summer (although I managed to travel inside France and go to the beach a few days in July and August) hence I have been stuck in Paris for the most scary week of the year: the week of the 15th of August, which is a National Holiday but also the period where most of French people are on Holiday at the same time.

Which could mean getting in the generally very crowded bar without queuing or not needing to book a table for your Sunday Brunch in a popular Parisian restaurant. Except, most of these places were closed too, hence you might end up wandering around, asking yourself how you are going to occupy your time with no food, no shopping, no friends in town. Luckily enough my men (my BF and brother) were stuck with me and, after two minimal working days on Monday and Tuesday we decided to celebrate Wednesday off with a Brunch in the center of Paris, mostly because I thought it would be the place with the highest concentration of restaurants, hence the highest chance to find one open, hence to eat.

We went in rue Montorgueil, a beautiful and crowded pedestrian street near Chatelet and because we really had nothing else planned (the joys of a lazy Summer), we decided to walk there, from our apartment outside Paris, which took us around two hours back and forth.

Actually I have been trying to walk as much as possible these days, mostly because I basically don’t move from my chair at work, but also because it is a great time to talk. Instead of going out and drinking it can be done daily with different friends, boyfriend, family on the phone. It is cheaper than going out and it can really be part of a daily exercise routine. Plus there is no reason why it cannot end with a drink!

Then, after the most amazing meal we went slowly home, happy about this calm and revitalizing day.

Then after 2 short days of work, the week-end started with a big night out with some friends we hadn’t seen in months, followed by an early rise to attend an outside-Paris BBQ with some old colleagues. It felt weird that after a short train ride we arrived in the middle of the countryside. Now that we are looking to buy a house we are thinking more and more about going a little bit outside the city, to have a bigger house, some land and many choices for outdoors activities. But we are not there yet although we feel older and wiser to even consider it.

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Finally, the big decision of the week was to attend my oldest cousin’s wedding, in Florida. Because I still have no holidays it will be a 4 days/30 hours flight trip. But it’s family and skipping it was not an option! Plus, Karma rewarded our decision as when we finally decided to book the flight tickets after months of monitoring the prices…they suddenly dropped by half (which I didn’t realize until I went to pay)! Sometimes you just know it was the right decision…

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Anyways August is coming to an end which is good in a way as I will be glad that some things start moving again (like our search for an apartment) but personally, I have been very happy about this slow period, it has given me time to think and to prepare September’s rush. I have also been reading & watching a lot of Netflix, including a very weird, politically incorrect show called Insatiable which started as a regular Teenage Show about a former overweight girl turned beauty queen (with a horrible self-centered personality) and ended as a hilarious but traumatizing TV show criticizing all stereotypes and bringing up a lot of very controversial subjects.

Foutez vous la paix et commencez a vivre

Meanwhile, reading the French equivalent of “The Art of Not giving a F***k” (called Foutez-vous la paix et commencez à vivre by Fabrice Midal ) confirmed some important things I often think about.

First of all that I kind of am already doing what the book is all about, aka being comfortable with whatever I choose to do and being kind to myself although I am not yet the person I wish to be because I know I am trying my best (even if sometimes it means taking some time off). I had the great ambition to build a new business this year, but clearly it hasn’t shaped into anything. However, I also told myself that I have compiled tons of ideas on Trello, I have traveled, I have met a lot of new people who has opened a lot of opportunities, I have cumulated great couple memories, I have been all around town to visit apartments to buy, I have been successful at my “real” job. Not everything has been a success but no work has been wasted, it will come to use in the end, maybe not as I expect. Results come in different forms.

If I am already in this place of acceptance it is because all self-improvement books (and I have read many) are about getting back on track by thinking about yourself first, by loving and accepting yourself and believing that you are doing your best right now. Self-empathy will always get you to a better place: even if you have done terrible things you need to forgive and redeem yourself because what is done is done and there is only a way forward.

It doesn’t mean to just be content of whatever you do, but if you are already in a state of mind where you want your best, you need to chill and be patient and not hate yourself for mistakes and slowness. Life won’t always go as you want even if you do your best. Accept it, keep trying and if you need to rest just do it. Ambition is good if it is who you are and it gives you what you want, but it will destroy you if you do it for others. At some point your real needs will come up and you will have a midlife crisis. I am paraphrasing a lot but basically thinking about what you want and acting on it (action can also be patience) will bring happiness as you won’t just run head first into ambitions that weren’t yours.

Another major point is that whatever you decide, whatever happens, stick with your decision, especially if it is too late to do anything about it, or it will eat you from the inside. My mom gave me this book, which she has allegedly read, and unfortunately that is exactly (still) her problem: regrets. She has an extraordinary life, filled with a great job that makes her travel all around the world, she has recognition, so she should be proud of herself in many ways. She is terrible at negotiation so she basically does incredible work for free, but passion is what moves her, although at the end of the day she regrets not having more money as a way to being free and safe for the upcoming years. And that makes me sad, to see all the positive and seeing how she concentrates on the bad, the things she cannot change but also the things she can but wont.

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

I guess my chance is that often, children who have been marked by some of their parents strong character traits will do the exact opposite as adults and that’s what has often given me the stubbornness to forget about something I couldn’t forgive me for. Reading and thinking about self-improvement books has made me understand the importance of it and I wish to get the message through my mother one day!

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