Pilgrimage to France

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Have you ever tried to take more than 2 weeks vacation while you were working a corporate job?  I tried many times, but could never put together more than 16 days of vacation for various reasons.  I actually had a total of 20 vacation days and 3 personal days, which when strung together around a holiday like Thanksgiving could have allowed me to take 5 weeks of vacation. But there always seemed to be a client service reason why I could not take the vacation time I wanted to take.  And, whenever I took a vacation, my crazy boss expected me to somehow find a way to get to WiFi to check email.  Does this sound familiar??

You see after 16 years of exemplary service, fantastic reviews and stellar revenue results, a new Managing Director was hired at my job, and it was immediately apparent that he had no use for me and one of my colleagues because we were both over the age of 50.   But, he especially didn't like me because I actually exceeded all of the revenue goals he set for me and he just couldn't figure out how.  All of the other employees who followed his methodologies just were not able to generate the results I was getting and he didn't understand why.  He also didn't like that fact that I actually spoke up at meetings and didn't just shake my head in agreement with him at every meeting.  Suffice it to say my corporate job became so stressful that every Sunday night I would stay up until close to 3AM because I just didn't want Monday to arrive.  Obviously when you get to this point, it's time to change jobs or just quit, but at the time my daughter was in and out of the hospital andI just didn't want to make a change in my health insurance while this was going on.

Thankfully, on January 11, 2018, I had the "mis"fortune of being terminated by my job, without even so much as one day of severence pay – yes that is how evil the manager I worked for was.  What I am also thankful for is that I had the wisdom, the resources and the strength to purchase a Wine & Design Franchise in 2016 in order to prepare myself for that fateful day.  You see between July 2016 and Jan 2018 I worked 2 nights during the week and weekends to operate my art studio, so by the time I was "let go" I was actually generating as much revenue as I was earning for a 32 year career in the insurance business.  I mean, honestly I never imagined that I could earn up to $300 an hour teaching beginners how to paint.  Now, I book private parties and hold public events 3-5 days a week either in my studio or at restaurants, apartment buildings, nursing homes, schools, backyards, etc.  The possibilities are endless and the potential earnings range from $115 – $300 per hour.  I can choose to work as many days of the week as I want or to take a nice long vacation to France.

So, this year I decided to plan a 2 month long pilgrimage to France to expand upon my french speaking skills and learn more about all of the regions of France where I have never traveled.  On Monday July 15th I arrived in Paris and took the RER B and Metro trains into the center of the city to Gare St Lazare.  All of the SNCF trains to Normandy leave out of this train station and this is the very first time that I am venturing to the west of Paris.  I am traveling to Lisieux, France (Normandy), where I am staying with my cousin and her family for 6 days.  From Lisieux I will travel to Rouen for 2 weeks to stay in an Airbnb apartment and take an intensive french class at Alliance Francaise.  

On August 4, I will then take the train back to Paris to pick up my 19 year old daughter at Charles DeGaulle airport and we will embark upon a 5 week adventure spending 10 days in Paris, 6 days in Perpignan (visiting family), 8 days in Marseille and 8 days in Avignon.  I am hoping that spending this time together in a foreign country will inspire her to travel the world and seek out what she loves to do instead of spending her entire life working to earn a living and not necessarily being happy or having a direction or purpose.

You see, during my college years I dreamed of going to live in France, but life happened, and I needed to get a job immediately after college.  I then spent much of my adult life as a single mom, and that could have easily been a scapegoat for not going after my dream of living in France.  I have lived through 2 marriages and 2 divorces, 1 downsizing and 1 termination, and a few health scares for family and myself, but I would not let that deter me from reaching my goal.  It wasn't until after I had surgery on both of my knees and I experienced how it feels to be disabled that I realizeed how important it is to take advantage of my mobility and live the life I want to live. I now know that It is never too late to pursue your dreams.  Where there is a will, there is a way and that is not just a cliche.  

I will be journaling my trip over the next 8 weeks and posting pictures of this beautiful place called FRANCE.  Viva la France!!

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