the space between

I came to France with a path uncharted.  Well, that is to say, I had a place to stay and a couple of ideas of what I would like to accomplish in my time here.

In the weeks prior to my departure I changed so much of my life and my comforts, perhaps the very items I considered my identity.  I resigned from my position as a Human Resource leader.  I sold my home and tried to minimize as much “stuff” as possible.  I transitioned to my parents house and started to mentally prepare myself for separation from my beloved labrador, Gus.  I had parting rendezvous with close friends, neighbors and colleagues all of whom I confided my fears and who in return, offered comfort and confidence in me.

It seemed beyond my comprehension to leave these well established networks – to this single, forty-five year old, they are my collective family.  Somewhere deep inside me I knew it was time for change, but I was reluctant.

Paris greeted me in late December 2017 as it always does with twinkling lights, beautiful cityscapes and chilly, but restorative walks in the public gardens.  It took a few weeks to realize I was here to stay and to get into the rhythm of life.  It was a challenge, but a good challenge.  It helped mitigate the emotions of what I had left behind in Philadelphia.

I went from knowing exactly who I was and how to accomplish my goals to a vacuum of ineffectiveness.  Everything was an effort, an exhausting effort.  I felt vulnerability in a way I could never experience in the United States.

With time, I established a few contacts and developed a bit of a social circle.  These relationships grew into friendships and my Parisian life became exponentially more rich.  Book club discussions spilling over to leisurely lunches, afternoons of art, garden tours, hikes in the countryside all became part of life.  The emphasis on spending time with others and enjoying the moment, the present, came into focus.

Days unfolded in front of me – unscripted.  This was unique because my life in Philadelphia has always felt scheduled and rushed.  I’ve always had limited time or not enough time.  I can’t think of a more valuable resource than time.

My curiosity piqued as I explored greater France.  It is a beautiful country.  In the last seven years of traveling to France, my time has been concentrated in Paris. I did not know the regions of France.   A clear goal during this sabbatical was to explore, literally and figuratively.

Without exception, I was greeted with kindness and generosity.  I kept thinking how lucky I was in landing in these spots, but the truth is the families and proprietors I met are the fabric of France.  In a world that seems to be deteriorating with unkind words and actions, crossing paths with the welcoming French restored my confidence.

As 2018 is ending, I am in the bittersweet moments of my time in France.  The next challenge is to carry forward the lessons, feelings and momentum of this experience and transition back to life in the United States.   I return to Philadelphia this week; I am ready and not ready all at the same time.

I am in the space between – a privileged place to find oneself…

The space between your heart and mind
Is the space we’ll fill with time
The space between
The tears we cry is the laughter keeps us coming back for more

Dave Matthews Band, Album: Everyday, 2001

 

Programming Note: Family and friends, this concludes my blog theparispen.com.  Perhaps, additional posts will pop-up in the future, but nothing that I have planned at the moment.  I wish you all a terrific holiday season and 2019 – thank you for taking this journey with me.  Love, Gretchen

2018-11-11T08:23:20+00:00November 11th, 2018|Categories: Featured, Uncategorized|Tags: , , |19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Wendy Mueller November 11, 2018 at 11:26 am - Reply

    Good luck to you! Wish we could have reconnected but I’ve followed your journey all the way. Stay fearless!

    • Gretchen November 11, 2018 at 12:02 pm - Reply

      Wendy, Thank you for your note! I hope you have had a great year. It was so nice to meet you and Horst. Best wishes to you going forward. Gretchen

  2. Cheryl Rice November 11, 2018 at 12:22 pm - Reply

    Gretchen. Your posts have been a gift. Not only have they given me a glimpse of a city and country I’ve yet to visit, they have inspired me to take new chances and explore new territory in my own life. Thank you for your example of courage, and curiosity. And for what it’s worth, I’m sure I’m not the only one who would look forward to ongoing updates from you about the next chapter of your life and transition..

    • Gretchen November 11, 2018 at 6:43 pm - Reply

      Cheryl, It’s so nice to hear from you! I have thought of you often and our conversations leading up to this year. They made all the difference. Thank you for your support! Gretchen

  3. Heather November 11, 2018 at 2:09 pm - Reply

    I remember meeting you in NY and you saying you took the leap and we’re moving to Paris. I was not surprised. It was right and I was proud and nervous for you. I’ve enjoyed everyone of your posts, still laughing about the bat, and of course our trip to France to share a week of your adventure is a selfishly a highlight for me. I’m excited for your next chapter and inspired by your live in the moment moments. I’m not crying. You’re crying. I love the DMB reference and will listen to a little Dave today I think. Safe travels and I’ll talk to you soon. Hug to you and Gus.

    • Gretchen November 11, 2018 at 6:41 pm - Reply

      I remember it too, H. How quickly a year went by. I was so honored to have time with you and Chris in France. I will look forward to our next adventure…xoxo, Gretchen

  4. Nancy November 11, 2018 at 3:22 pm - Reply

    Welcome back. I pray even more glorious adventures await you. Can’t wait to see you again.

    • Gretchen November 11, 2018 at 6:39 pm - Reply

      Thank you, Mrs. King.

  5. Lisa November 11, 2018 at 4:16 pm - Reply

    Beautifully said Gretchen. Best of luck to you as you conclude your time in Paris and head home. What a lucky and wonderful opportunity you had to do this…although you gave up a lot when you took the leap of faith, I’m sure the past year was more life-changing than anything else you could have done.
    Cheers!
    Lisa

    • Gretchen November 11, 2018 at 6:39 pm - Reply

      Thank you, Lisa! And how lucky I was to crosspaths with you! Look forward to staying in touch. xoxo, Gretchen

  6. Lisa Murray November 12, 2018 at 12:42 am - Reply

    I enjoyed reading your posts and wish you the best of luck on life’s journey. Have safe trip and a wonderful homecoming!

    • Gretchen November 12, 2018 at 8:59 am - Reply

      Thank you Lisa!

  7. Julie Cohen November 12, 2018 at 12:28 pm - Reply

    Can’t believe this is the last post. Each week I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting glimpses of Paris and France, and more importantly, your adventures of exploration. You’ve been an inspiration every step of the way! Thank you for letting me be a part of your journey. Can’t wait to see you in person soon! Love, Julie

  8. Penny November 13, 2018 at 4:08 pm - Reply

    Welcome back! The time seemed well spent in Paris! Onto new adventures here at home with Gus, family and friends….Best wishes!!! Penny

    • Gretchen November 22, 2018 at 12:29 pm - Reply

      Happy Thanksgiving, Penny!

  9. Kristin B November 14, 2018 at 2:44 am - Reply

    I’m excited to see you and selfishly happy you’re coming home:) I will miss your blogs…I’ve looked forward to waking up on Sunday mornings and seeing an email post about your travels. Thank you for sharing all these memories. I’m sure Gus will be super happy to see you and have you home. I hope we can plan coffee or dinner soon so I can listen to stories about your Parisian adventures. What a wonderful adventure you’ve had. I’m happy for you!
    Safe travels, my friend! XOXO

    • Gretchen November 22, 2018 at 12:30 pm - Reply

      Kristin, I can’t wait to catch up! Happy Thanksgiving!

  10. Rebecca November 21, 2018 at 9:24 pm - Reply

    Gretchen, it was a pleasure getting to know you and to watch your epic journey unfold. Thank you for showing so many of us the joy and possibility in the path less traveled by. I hope we can stay in touch!!! Lots of love to you during your last days in France (for now). Xoxo

    • Gretchen November 22, 2018 at 12:31 pm - Reply

      Rebecca! Happy Thanksgiving to you. Thank you for your kind note. It was such an incredible year…you need to make this happen, my friend. You have all the seeds planted!! xoxo.

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