Last month, I was treated to a fabulous week in Paris as an early birthday present from my sweet beau. We stayed in a lovely apartment in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. Our quiet tree-lined street had many shops, patisseries and bistros to explore. We spent our days walking through beautiful neighborhoods, looking at the architecture of centuries-old buildings. The people of Paris were very friendly. We often wandered the streets late into the night after dining at charming restaurants with fewer than a dozen tables. I developed a serious addiction to pâté. Cooking seems to be an art form in France.
What I especially loved about our vacation was the chance to be in a totally new environment. The stress melted away as I was engrossed in observing Paris and its beauty. Having our own apartment made us feel less like tourists. Each morning I went out alone (armed with my five words of French: bonjour, merci, s’il vous plait), and bought fresh croissants and éclairs for breakfast. Meals were leisurely and lasted for hours, not minutes. Jim and I had conversations about the amazing art; what we liked, or not, and why. Standing in Notre Dame Cathedral transported me back in time as I thought of all who had been there before me. It was a chance to truly see a place with open eyes, mind and heart.
Our apartment had an internet connection, and I noticed that checking my emails only took ten minutes a day at most. It made me wonder how it is that I can spend hours answering and writing emails when in my office. Perhaps I was using a different filter of what was important, what needed my attention. I was focused on taking in the sights of the city, and experiencing as much as I could. Yet, the pace felt leisurely. We fell into an easy rhythm. Most days, we went “home” for a nap in the late afternoon. Dinner was not until at least 8:30 p.m., so there was time to relax in the evening and share about our day. Time seemed to slow down for that magical week.
Besides a couple of gorgeous silk scarves, I brought back a new sense of how life can be lived. I want to pay attention to simple pleasures: cooking healthy foods, eating mindfully, being with friends, engaging in long conversations, and appreciating the beauty around me. My intention is to hold on to the rhythm of life I glimpsed in Paris. I came back renewed and ready to work, yet with a better sense of balance. I hope that this summer, you take time to refresh and step outside your normal routine. Enjoy every new experience, whether in your own backyard or in a distant land. Have a terrific summer!
Sharon Keys Seal