Monday, July 28, 2014

"The Paris Letters": A Fresh Burst of Wonderful

I'm pretty sure that I need to go to Paris. NOW.

I've been to Paris twice in my life.  Once when I lived in London, my roommate Deni and I hopped on the Chunnel and spent a three day weekend in Paris.  We started together visiting his brother and going to museums.  Deni got bored with that, so I continued on by myself which suited me better.  I reveled in my alone time, popping into cafes and wine stores, stumbling upon my favorite museum EVER, the Musee d'Orsay, a beautiful art museum in an old refurbished train station.  Deni and I would meet for dinner in the evenings, talking about our days of getting to know Paris in our own way.

About six years ago, my husband and I took a five day trip to Paris.  It rained the whole time.  Not just a little bit of rain, but the soaking kind.  It didn't dull our experience at all.  We walked everywhere huddled under one small umbrella, stopping for cafe creme when we needed a break.  While on top of the Eifel Tower, we saw a storm moving in and ran to the bottom narrowly missing the gusty rain as we sought shelter in a cafe.  We went to jazz clubs, and wonderful dinners, museums and parks.  We walked until our feet hurt, got lost on the winding streets and loved every second of it.

After reading Janice MacLeod's "The Paris Letters" the pull to Paris with it's beautiful parks, museums, shops, markets and different pace of life gets hard to resist.  Even more hard to resist is MacLeod's infectious creative attitude towards life.  After realizing that her face paced, LA life complete with stressful career in marketing, does not satisfy her and isn't very fun, she makes a plan to get to Paris and become an artist. How does one begin the process of getting to Paris? Follow MacLeod's ingenious plan to either make or save $100 a day.  She begins by using up the things she already has and stops the endless cycle of buying more and more.  She sells her car, her bike, asks friends to meet her for coffee instead of pricey dinners, and sells paintings on Etsy (the rest of her list appears in the back of her book).

Rather than starting her year with a thin resolution to Lose 10 pounds, she challenges herself to write in her journal every day. She never forgets the saying on the card she bought when she was 20 years old that said, "Write to learn what you know." She needed to know that she was in charge of creating her life (don't we all?).  In her wisdom from her journey to Paris she reflects that, "We must know how to design our lives. We are all artists, and each day is a canvas. Writing in my journal each day was how I redesigned my life.  I became conscious of just how much I disliked my day-to-day existence.  I would get up, react, and repeat. I had created a fast, busy, messy life. There was no one else to blame. I designed it, tried it, didn't like it, and had to erase and redesign."

How many times in your life have you felt this way but didn't do anything to change the "get up, react, and repeat" part? Maybe you are stuck right now in your daily grind and don't know how to make change.

What I love about MacLeod's book is that she used her creativity to find out how to make money by doing what she loves - writing letters and painting.  She combined those two talents and developed her Paris letters concept.  She also found love, found contentment, learned to love herself more, and learned a new language.  Not a bad year.

This book inspired me, and it was another reminder of how important writing is in my own life.  I do make excuses for how I don't have time to do it (when I have plenty of time to watch Master Chef and House Hunters and the occasional episode of Chopped).  We all have the time to do the things that will free us from the lives we created that we don't like very much.  What do you want to do that you have never thought you could do? Why not do it?

It also reminded me that traveling and getting out of our daily grind can make a huge difference.  We build routines of drudgery and don't always know how to break the cycle especially when it is a cycle of necessity or one that revolves around our children, or our spouses, or jobs that we think we need because we are too afraid to take the leap and change.

If you read "The Paris Letters" you might just get the motivation that you need to create a fresh burst of new wonderful in your own world.  And, I bet, you might just want to go to Paris. NOW.

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