Pic by Ula Blocksage
I'm settling in to a life and a routine here in Paris though the settling in period's been more exhausting than I ever want it to be. There's always so much to set up when you're trying to establish yourself somewhere, even if you've been there a million times before - sim card, bank account, your favourite food stores and markets, finding the cash machine, transport cards, workspace, uber account, find an apartment, see your friends. So here's what's been going on...
I manifested a new place to live. In the process of writing this article on manifesting a place to live, I...manifested a place to live. I met two lovely girls under rather strange, meant-to-be kind of circumstances in Bali and when they offered to include me in their apartment search in Paris for their June arrival, I was pretty excited.
To find a three-bedroom apartment in Paris is rare enough. Add to this that we're all foreigners without any proper work documents (we all work online) and the chances of us finding this apartment were seeming pretty slim. The girls found a place though, it's going to be small but this is Paris after all. It's on the very top floor, with a balcony, in a neighbourhood I always dreamed of living in but never thought would be possible for me on a budget. It's a ten minutes walk to my workspace from our door meaning I'll spend a lot less time and energy underground on the metro. In Paris, apartment living is never going to be perfect if you're on a budget. After talking to friends and seeing where they all live over the years, it seems the apartment search in this city kind of forces you to choose what's important to you and what's not, what bothers you and what you can live with (or without).
I started having creative accountability meetings with my friend Ula once a week, to make us accountable for doing all the small things we have to do to make our big dream creative projects a reality. Without a client following me up, I'm the only one who really cares if I do all these things I dream of. So we sit down once a week and talk about our projects and set small, manageable weekly goals. We talk about the blocks, the wins, the big ideas, the nitty gritty of them too. Even just talking about all of these things out loud makes them seem more real.
Honestly, getting these small things done is slow going; I'm impatient because there's only so much you can do in a week. But we're both slowly doing things one-by-one to get us closer to creating these big things we want to bring into the world.
I started having Slow Sundays after this idea just kept presenting itself in my life (they were all signs surely!). My sister showed me her Google calendar and she had something called 'Slow Sunday' scheduled in every week; this felt like a beautiful idea to me. A visiting friend questioned me on my work schedule and told me I needed at least a day off once a week where I didn't work for my sanity. So now I'm taking every Sunday for myself. I schedule nothing, no social outings, no work, no errands except a leisurely trip to the local markets for my weekly food. Then I wake up on Sunday and I can 100% choose to do what I feel like doing on this day of the week.
I'm actively searching for a quieter more restful life here in Paris than the one I've been living on the road over the last four years. I'm seeking the solitude that's totally normal in a city full of studio apartments and a more free-flowing attitude to how I schedule my time that seems so natural here surrounded by so many freelancers working at odd hours that actually suit them.
Pic by Ula Blocksage
I started playing the piano again after about a decade on and off away from this pursuit. I played music every day growing up, studied it at school, was in the school orchestra and I wrote music; this was a huge part of my life when I had the time to do it. In my twenties, playing music was replaced with socialising and work and exercise and it just didn't seem that productive or important anymore. In the spirit of taking life slower and doing more of what makes me happy, even if it doesn't produce anything I can see, I'm making time and spending money to go to a practice room near my apartment every Friday morning.
Maybe it's Paris, maybe it's my age (lots of friends my age lately are picking up seemingly random hobbies again), but this routine of playing music again seems easier to stick to this time around in this city. It's kind of relevant to this article I wrote earlier in the year about wanting to spend more time doing things because they made me feel good and raised my vibration, even if they didn't produce anything tangible for me.
Copenhagen 2014 with Freya McOmish
I'm planning a bunch of trips in Europe this summer I'm heading to (with return tickets to Paris, feels so good!) Sicily, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Spain, a road trip or two in France and then going to Italy again all before the end of September at this stage. Part of me just wants to stay here in Paris and luxuriate in my routines and a slow life though, I actually can't decide if all this travel will be too much for me or not.
But travel inspires and enlivens me I know, and this is a travel blog after all. So I'll see how I can balance and get enough of my slow life here in Paris in the midst of the summer travels.
I feel home and in the flow of life here. I want to write about this feeling while I can still notice it, before it's so fully integrated into me that I can't remember what life felt like before it. I've felt the pull to live in France for as long as I can remember really. I always knew a life here for me was just inevitable, even if I struggled at times to understand the steps I needed to take to get here. So to have this longing, this missing part of myself actually replaced with the reality of being here...it's giving me energy, it's giving my life an ease and joy that's new. I think it's to do with becoming more and more yourself, choosing the things that support you and see you thrive and then feeling the benefits. I don't know if I've ever felt so 'in the flow of life' before than I'm feeling here right now.
And whilst there are plenty of struggles I face living here - money, apartments, being away from my family and on a different time zone to most of my clients, to name a few - those struggles seem inconsequential sat alongside this feeling of being in the right place, at the right time, with the right people.
Write to you soon,
p.s. Embracing the quiet, slow.