“Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from our soul.” Henry Ward Beecher
Top five things to be thankful for in France.
With only six full days left before I start work again for the entire summer, it is time for a little reflection. I will be finishing and saying goodbye to our last students on August 27 and then we are off to my beloved Budapest Hungary to start a new life…yet again… I guess some of us are tumbleweeds.
I have so many things to be grateful for here in France, where do I start?
#1 My dynamic kids & husband
They always give me space to do as I want, my own time to experience all that this amazing life has to offer, and they support me in all my crazy adventures both physically and mentally. Personal growth, crazy new hobbies and writing projects, my kids and husband have been perfect in accepting me for exactly who I am. I am one lucky lady to have such a supportive family. In return I hope they can say the same.
They also give me purpose to reach new heights. I want them to be proud of me. I would do anything for my little family. They are the reason I strive. For them I am forever grateful.
#2 My friends both near and far
My friends, some of you have been in my life for 30 years, others 30 days but always near for a call or a coffee ready to offer advice and guidance. It is easy to criticise someone’s choices especially if the mere thought of crossing the world terrifies some of you and to tell me that I am insane would sometimes be the natural inclination.
But that is rarely the case with my friends…
To have found people who love and support me through three countries, three languages and many business plans is nothing short of a bloody miracle. My life can be stressful and it is not for the faint of heart, I am certain, but with my pals, I can conquer the world! They help me through the dullest moments to remind me how close success can be. They raise me up when I am down, they lift my head to see the light, they hold my hair back when I am sick, they help me weigh out my options, they drink until dawn, they walk until I tire and the solutions are found… they are my support system. For you, my lovely friends, I am so very grateful.
It is a proven fact that our bodies need vitamin D from the sun. I will miss the endless days of warm sunshine on my face, the brightness of nearly everyday even when the cold breeze nips my nose.
In Hungary there is something lovely about four distinct seasons too especially with my skin tone of pinkish white, and in the sweltering summer heat, I try to escape the sun as best I can. I will certainly be complaining after a few days of rain in Budapest of dark grey skies, but look forward to skating on the lake, sitting in the hot springs surrounded by snow, and the long Spring and Autumn months of mild temperatures with little wind.
Today, I am thankful for the sunbeams streaming through the windows, giving my garden life and giant luscious blooms. The fresh herbs year round readily available for us to eat and the endless green in the garden. Sunshine keeps me up and positive, and it has been my friend in France. For this too I am grateful.
#4 My family all over the world
My family, with such a diverse cross section people and as much as we disagree, have all come to understand my profound need for change. When needed the most, they have offered a level of support that holds the weight of my history, and the long miles of road I have already travelled. They are the ones that remind me that it is on the road that I have changed the most.
We are not just one event in our lives but many placed side-by-side until we reach our goals, which brings the understanding to the questions of ‘why’. On the road you can sort stuff out, and really have a better understanding to the life we are living. Family keeps the running tally of who I once was, they separate and relate the old back to the new experiences, and they offer me a soft place to fall when I get caught-up on an injustice or get stuck on a complicated situation when someone doesn’t play nice. They have witnessed it all. We are all but humans on a journey, and blood (and some not blood) is a connection that gives the right to judge softly, say exactly how it is and to give me a safe place to say how I feel. They hold me accountable. And after all is said, and done, they still love me, no grudges, no distance. It is them that know me and love me the most. For this I am also immensely grateful.
#5 My Exciting Life
I wake up each day as if my life starts again. I take joy in the simplest things in every moment, like the aromatic coffee next to my computer, the wind blowing a cool breeze through my sunroom that blows the white curtains, the new blooms in the garden offering little shots of colour between lush green foliage, and the smell of basil from my windowsill.
When I think back to our early days in France; not knowing a soul, no jobs, all bright eyed and bushy tailed, through the first days of trials and tribulations to buy a home, to renovate it, to eventually being open for business; I feel a pride for pushing our comfort levels to achieve things together that I didn’t know were possible.
From joining and singing in the choir took my singing into a level of training that pushed my desire to find my own voice and not just mimic other artists. And even getting sick and ending up in hospital were interesting examples of the French system working to take care of her people, even if I was a mere expat living on her soil. I have come to deeply love France.
Then there was running in politics which ignited a flame in me to make changes in our village without being the obnoxious foreigner, to writing my blog until it reached a massive 520,000 words. Those brought TV, radio, and media stuff which all were so much immeasurable fun!
Looking back at 5 years of memories, interesting adventures, personal growth, strengthening of our family life, my marriage, my friendships; I am nothing short of in awe of all we have done. Oneday I will be old, propped up in a corner surrounded by family and I will play these memories over and again. And I will smile, hopefully with my teeth still intact.
Our French life has been packed full of experiences that I would never change. Each moment brought us to the next with so many lessons to learn and language barriers and cultural difference to overcome. Through the frustration, the near misses, the glorious victories, the last 5 years in Capestang has made me a better person, more compassionate, and understanding, far more patient and it has also clarified our future goals.
Some people may think we are leaving because we did not reach success, but that is simply not true. A wise man once told me that success is measured by the obstacles overcome not the mountains climbed. We learned a new language (some of us better than others), we made friends, we have absorbed and amalgamated certain French traditions into our family, we have all grown into more developed human being while under pressure and outside our comfort zones, and Alfonz and I have navigated an entirely foreign system to create two profitable businesses.
However, one thing we have learned about ourselves is recognizing when a situation has reached it’s saturation point. There is a ceiling in France for entrepreneurs, and to break through is an entirely different level of stress; complications that we are not going to put ourselves or our children through again.
So, when the opportunity to move to Hungary presented itself Alfonz and I decided it was time. In many ways, we are taking the long way home.