Photos by Loc Boyle and Ula Blocksage taken in my Paris nest on the day of my arrival, jetlagged but happy.
I'm sitting here in Paris back at my old desk at Bliss Studio writing this post. I'm sleeping in my old room again in the Canal Saint-Martin, walking the same streets around my apartment that became so familiar to me last year, seeing all my friends again but something feels very different. And it's not just the fact that the last time I was here in this place, it was 0°C and snowing in buckets. I've definitely changed over the last few months back home in Australia, away from Paris, and this change wasn't so obvious to me until I arrived back here a few days ago.
The last few months back home in Australia, almost four whole months, were hard for me. Faced with the very real and immediate prospect of having my application for an entrepreneur's visa in France denied, my anxiety around this visa, my future direction, increased with every extra day I waited in Australia. Every day was a process of wrangling my emotional state into line, of letting myself dream about setting up a life in France whilst simultaneously practicing being 'OK' with that life not happening for me now or maybe ever.
I wrote down plans for how I could keep moving around the world, splitting my time between Bali, Paris, Australia and the rest of the world, quizzed my family on whether they thought I could still have a good life with this never-ending nomad plan or not. I assured everyone around me (but really, myself) that I was going to be OK whether the visa came through or not, reciting my plans B, C and D over and over. Some days I believed myself, other days not so much. I'd made such a big deal about this visa and France, something I'd dreamed about and prepared for since a very young age. Everyone around me knew it was the centre of my current life and thoughts, the visa, and asked me often if I'd had any news on it. As the months wore on, the question got harder to answer, my positivity for the situation grew fainter and fainter until I almost didn't have any left in me.
My story I was living became that I was trapped in Australia, powerless, being kept from my happiness that only activated when I was travelling or ideally, in France. But it turns out it was only me keeping me from my freedom and happiness. You see, what I didn't find out until mid-May was that my passport had been ready for me to collect since early March. Just two weeks after I'd applied, the decision had been handed down and I'd been free to take my passport and leave Australia the whole time. But there I was, sitting in my hometown under a cloud of anxiety and doubt so thick I couldn't even bring myself to check with the consulate as to the progress of the visa. "They'll call me", I said when people asked. They don't call you. You call them.
On the 29th of May, after a series of almost comical failed attempts to pick up my passport from the consulate in Sydney, not knowing still whether there was a visa in my passport or not, and with only four days to go until my flight out to Paris, I sat down to do a final practice of letting France go. I wrote down all the reasons I didn't need this visa to make me happy, to feel any of the things I wanted to feel or even to experience any of the things I wanted to live in my life. I remembered all the ways I'd already set up my life to experience increasing levels of freedom and how a visa rejection couldn't actually take that away from me. And on that night I finally actually believed it all. I finally made my peace. Maybe I was able to do it because I knew I'd be handed the decision the next day, maybe it was because it was a full moon or maybe it was because I was genuinely, finally ready to accept my fate either way.
The next afternoon when I finally had my passport back in my hands, I opened it, leafed through the pages with a rapidly beating heart, searching for the visa, and I found it. It was there. 'Entrepreneur/Profession Libérale' was printed there on the page, 'libérale' meaning 'free' in French. There was my ticket to France, my ticket to freedom, the ticket I'd finally decided I didn't actually need to be free. I found a way to see my own freedom, my own power, in a situation where I appeared to be so powerless, so not free, at the mercy of a government deciding whether I was good enough to live in their country or not. And I have no doubt in my mind that the only way I was ever going to finally get that 'ticket to freedom' in my hands, to live the life I'd felt drawn to for most of my life, was going through the painful process of letting it go.
So it's no wonder I feel different coming back to Paris four months after I left it. When I last lived here I loved this place so much I think I was almost strangling it. Whilst I didn't want to let it go when I was back home, I can feel now a difference in myself and the way I'll approach living here. Inside, I feel more grounded, less anxious, even perhaps less excitable, my energy feels more constant, more gentle for this place. My visa will allow me to live here for one year, renewable for four more years from an office here in Paris, and then renewable again after that. After five years spent paying tax and living in France, you can apply for permanent residency also.
I'm going to live life more slowly, particularly after some health concerns discovered at home, I'm more serious than ever before about adhering more and more to an Ayurvedic way of eating and living. I want to go to bed and wake up earlier, pay more respect to my morning spiritual practice done in the quiet early hours of the morning, treat good food as medicine, keep my schedule more free so I can rest and work from home two days a week.
My summer plans here in France include a close friend's birthday weekend in a castle in France, a trip to the coast of England with a group of friends from Paris, a possible jaunt to Italy and perhaps the Balkins too. All this is planned for before I make a trip back to Australia for one of my best friend's weddings back home at the end of September. I'm hoping I can keep up this slower way of living through my travels but I know that keeping myself from exploring the world as I so want to can't be too healthy either.
I still have this desire to spend months at a time living in other foreign places too. Bali is always floating around in my head and I'm hoping to spend a month or two in India towards the end of the year too. My work still allows me to be location independent so I hope I can find a way to more calmly, gently, intentionally trot around the globe and keep exploring.
Now I'm back here in Paris I'll be writing here in this journal again regularly, every 1-2 weeks I hope. I've also been working on revamping this site and setting up my branding/social media agency with my sister, The Light Studio in a more concrete way, so updates on all this soon when I can get it all out there!
With love ❤
p.s. Listening to the new Beach House album lately...