So last week was a rough one for all of us in the North East. If you didn’t actually experience a historic storm, you may have been threatened (by your mayor) with one. I too suffered hardship at the hands of Mother Nature; Juno left me stranded in Paris. I know what you’re thinking, How did I survive? Barely.
Let me set the stage: two of my best friends from growing up live in Europe, one in Paris, one in London. We had planned a larger girls weekend, but it ended up I was the only one able to make it across the pond. I flew the day after my birthday. As readers of this blog know I have a complex relationship with my birthday. I love it, but I also cry…just about every year.
This year when folks asked me if I was doing anything “special” to kick-off my new year, I felt empowered to say “Yes, I leave for Paris tomorrow,” And it felt great! The trip also provided a unique perspective on where I am in my life right now. That perspective has filled me with a distinct feeling of gratitude. I’m going to try to keep that gratitude with me all throughout this year.
While there are tons of places around the world still on my long list to visit, there’s something lovely about returning to a city to really experience it, having already checked all the tourist boxes on an earlier visit. I feel I experienced more of Paris this time around through leisurely meals at cafes (complete with a Kardashian sighting), drinking a lot of wine, wandering the streets and visiting Paris’ famous markets than waiting in line at the Louvre. Plus, I managed to squeeze in two marathon training runs along the Seine. Anywhere else that would likely make me feel like a local, but no one in Paris exercises, let alone runs outside.
What was also wonderful about this trip—and my friends and I discussed this—is being at a stage in your life where you can jet off to Paris to spend a long weekend with your friends of 20+ years. How lucky am I that I was able to give myself Paris with these amazing women for my birthday? If my life was different I may not have been able to do this. Kids, for one thing, would certainly have made it harder to make the trek to the France. But I decided that until I do have a family, I’m going to savor all these amazing things I have the luxury to experience.
To keep this gratitude train rolling, I was also struck by how lucky we are that there we were, friends for decades, and we still get together (in Paris!), trade makeup tips, laugh and genuinely enjoy each others’ company…a lot. What a gift that is.
The weekend was so wonderful, that when I started getting emails from the States warning that a blizzard may make getting home hard, I didn’t (for once) get stressed out. I may have actually said out loud, “C’est la vie” like a true Parisian. My flight was canceled and my trip extended by an day. Even when I was forced to fly from Paris to Dublin to Boston to NYC for work meetings, 16 hours of travel still could not wash the Paris gratitude off me.
As I thought about this post, I started to hope that it would not always take a trip to Paris to provide me with this need perspective on life. Maybe we just need to not get stuck in the weeds so much, focus on the big picture. What if we took more time to recognize and treasure the wealth of people and experiences we have in our lives and focus on the positive? Maybe we just need to shine a light on all the gifts we have. But as I learned, the City of Lights never hurts either.