The Closing of the Chapter

La Tour Eiffel
La Tour Eiffel

Well yesterday I took myself off to Trocadéro to visit the Eiffel. I went back to the base of the tower and looked for the bench I sat on that day, four years ago when I realised my marriage was over. I didn’t find that exact one but I found one close to it underneath the tower. I scarcely remembered how beautiful it is and what a masterpiece of engineering it is. There is much detail which makes it a feast for the eyes when you’re close up.

But this post really isn’t about the Eiffel. It’s about the journey I started all those years ago that I have finally closed the chapter on. Being who I am, I appreciate closure and resolution. This journey through divorce and into healing has been one of the most difficult things I have done to date. It didn’t help I got into a rebound relationship almost straight after the divorce and didn’t give myself time to lick my wounds and have the healing at least start before trying to commit emotionally to someone else, in that broken state.
That relationship had it’s place in my life, as do all relationships for each of us, so it wasn’t all bad. It taught me exactly what I will and will not accept post divorce and for that I am thankful.

I have spoken before about needing to put things down simply because they are heavy and I can honestly say that this is exactly what I have done. There is a lightness in my step and an ease in my breathing that has been coming for months. There is a sense of wonderment and achievement knowing that I have come to the end of the book I started four years ago. There is no more satisfying a feeling than closing the cover and putting the book on the shelf.

There were days when I scarcely believed I would ever feel like myself again, when I would ever breathe easily, when the scars of that time would be flat and white and barely visible upon the surface of my heart. Today is that day. I can delve into that time in my life as if diving into a pool without being overwhelmed by those emotions and memories. Today is the first time I have not shed a single tear whilst writing about it.

Each person’s journey is different but some of the things I’ve learned in these four years are:

1) Get talking
Whether you do it with a therapist (I would HIGHLY recommend a professional) or a good friend, talk about it until you feel like you’ve talked it to death. Do not underestimate the cathartic nature of talking and putting your thoughts and emotions out into the ether. Try not to see therapy as a long term commitment. One of the best things my therapist said to me was: “You’re not going to be here for a long time.” Immediately I felt that this phase was transitory and he assured me I would emerge from the flames scorched but not consumed. He was right.

2) Get busy
Whatever it is you decide to do, keep yourself distracted, certainly initially and try to limit your hours in solitude. Yes, a large percentage of us are introverts and that’s exactly who should not spend too much time alone, in our own dark worlds with nothing but our pain as company. I didn’t seek out crowds, I kept myself busy by spending time with my nearest and dearest, all of whom helped me to process different aspects of my failed marriage and subsequent journey through healing.

3) Get crafty
Start a project. A craft project, a cooking course, a diploma in crochet, get a puppy and go to puppy training classes (the value of an animal’s unconditional love can NEVER be over estimated). Try not to bury yourself in work alone. I found creative outlets were the most rewarding and also far more fun.

4) Get travelling
Plan a holiday, either to a place you have never been or to a place you love and want to return to. Keeping your focus on a time and place in the future will help distract you as to where you presently are. Research your destination and do and see things you would otherwise not do. I decided to move toward the fear–as it were–because great things happen when you step outside of your comfort zone. I can attest to that!

5) Get some tea
The almost other worldly magnificence of tea is a secret long known to many, including my grandmother, who used to say that ‘There is nothing cup of tea cannot fix’ and in this day and age when you have millions of different types, there is sure to be one suited to you. I personally love green tea with mint and Earl Grey which is infused with bergamot. Tea does more than just arouse your tastebuds, it warms your bones and gives your soul a hug. Put down the coffee, don’t be scared.

6) Get pampered
Go for a massage or a facial or a pedicure once a month. Little treats like these are magical little indulgences that lift your mood and make you feel good about yourself. If you find a good therapist, she could even become a friend!

7) Get moving
Go for a walk along the beach, go for a walk around the block, sign up for acting classes or dance classes or mime classes. Learn a new language. Experience something new, do something new, meet a couple of new people, who knows where that could lead!

8) Get helping
One of the best ways to forget about your own pain, is to help other people through theirs. We just have to look around us to see how much pain the world is in to see that we can make a difference, even in the smallest of ways. The world needs more people who are prepared to set aside their hurt and get up and do something good for someone else without expecting anything in return.
Kindness has no cost to anyone.

9) Get tipsy
Not all the time and don’t drink to cope, that’s not what I am advocating. The benefits of sitting at your friend’s kitchen table and sharing a good bottle of wine are invaluable. Plus you can sleep at your friend’s place so you don’t have to drive and who doesn’t like a pajama party?! You can watch Friends reruns and make breakfast together.

10) Get laughing
This one is hard when you’re hurting because sometimes we feel that to laugh while we feel so sad is bizarre or even disrespectful to our pain. It’s harder to feel sad while watching a comedy show or a funny movie and will relieve some of the sadness induced tension, even if it’s just for an hour. A good belly laugh is therapeutic and releases feel good hormones like seratonin and oxytocin which have prolonged effects.

Finally, in closing, always remember that in the end, everything will be ok and if it’s not ok, then it’s not the end.

Thank you for reading.

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Sacre-Coeur

Sacre-Coeur Sacre-Coeur Sacre-Coeur

Yesterday after school I hopped on the–now not so scary–Paris Metro and made my way to Montmartre and Sacre-Coeur.

For some who appreciate architecture, it’s a magnificent building. For others who appreciate city vistas, it’s a great vantage point to see the Parisian skyline. For still others, it’s a place to worship The Lord.

For me, it’s a combination of all three, despite the fact that I am not Roman Catholic. I took the number 12 metro and disembarked at Abbesses and ambled up the streets. This route is easier because the road follows the path of least resistance through the city and up to the summit rather than fight the crowds and climb the almost innumerable steps if you take the number 2 metro to Anvers. (I will, however, say it’s not an easy walk, do it in sensible shoes!)

I came up around the side of Sacre-Coeur and was immediately struck by the imposing basilica. I felt the expected lump in my throat, took some pictures and ambled around to the front of the cathedral. I had heard that you could take lovely photos of Paris from up there but I was not prepared for that view! If you are ever in Paris and you don’t visit Sacre-Coeur, it’s a big mistake, regardless of your religious persuasions. The architecture in itself is truly breathtaking.

125 Years

I saw this banner at the front of the cathedral and without even thinking, I climbed the stairs and sat down inside. I was in time for 15h00 mass which only happens on a Friday.
Of course, as I sat down I started to cry almost immediately, so taken aback was I at the sheer magnificence of that cathedral. I had just about pulled myself together when the nuns came into the cathedral. They were seated and one of them got up to sing. Well, suffice it to say the waterworks started afresh.
The acoustics in that building are some of the very best and she sounded as beautiful as any soprano I have ever heard. I am going to run out of superlatives when I try and describe the utterly astonishing and angelic beauty that filled that cathedral when all the nuns started to sing together. There were only eight of them but it sounded like the voices of eight thousand angels!
I sat and listened to the service, understood precious little, said a prayer, made a small donation for the pleasure of hearing those nuns sing and made my way outside. I’m not catholic so I didn’t take the sacrament.
I was a little disappointed that they don’t allow photographs inside because nothing I can say will ever be able to do that cathedral justice, but I can completely understand, who takes photos in church?!

It was an experience that will stay with me for the rest of my life. It was so beautiful, I am going to go back. Next time I’ll stop and have my picture drawn by one of the artists. It’ll be a nice souvenir of my time there.

Thank you for reading.

Le Tour Eiffel

View of the Eiffel from Trocérdo
View of the Eiffel from Trocadéro

The Eiffel tower is both a happy and a sad memory for me.
The first time I visited the Eiffel, I sat directly underneath it, on the bench and realised my marriage was over. Part of my return to Paris, other than to learn French, is to reclaim the part of me that I felt I lost all that time ago. I came to get my heart back.

I took the Metro from Opéra to Trocadéro because it’s from there that you get really beautiful pictures of the Eiffel. I stood and stared for a while and as the expected tears pricked at my eyes, I realised they were not tears of wonderment and sadness, rather this time they were tears, purely, of wonderment.

If you have not had the fortune of visiting the Eiffel I can tell you that there are few things like it in the world and though I have not seen a lot of the world I would hazard a guess that it’s akin to seeing the Taj Mahal, the pyramids at Giza or the Statue of Liberty.
So magnificent is the Eiffel that it literally takes my breath away. Seeing it again, on my own, really brings home the realisation of how far I have travelled, literally and metaphorically. I have not come ‘full circle’. I have gone 180 degrees in the other direction.
I am, at long last, at peace with the demons of my past, I am at peace with my choices and I am at peace with the path I have walked, the people I have loved and lost along the way and the people who did not care enough for my love to want to keep it.
I am where I am today because of the choices I’ve made, the hardships I’ve suffered and the amazing friends and family I have been blessed with.

I have said it before and I will say it again. There comes a time in every person’s life when you realise that you need to put things down simply because they are heavy and it is exhausting carrying baggage around with you that you no longer need.

I forgive those kids at school who bullied me. I forgive my ex-husband’s family for their treatment of me. I forgive the friends who gave up on me. I forgive the members of my family who don’t treat me like part of the family.
I have been carrying this baggage with me for so long and I am tired. I am tired of looking back and I am tired of undervaluing myself because others do.

If there was one thing I could say to my childhood self, I’d tell her that; It’s never as bad as you think it is in the moment and though things may not ever seem ok, you get stronger and more adept at dealing with them. You also need the bad to value and appreciate the good in your life because there will be A LOT of good!

I am holding my heart in the palm of my hand and it’s up to me who I choose to give it to. I got hurt in the past because of who I chose to give my heart to. I was 50% responsible for my heart getting broken in the first place.

This time, I will choose wisely. I will choose the man who treats me like I am different from everyone else, who loves me and appreciates me for who I am. The man who sees my over-sized and overly soft heart as a positive not a negative, who holds my hand when I cry in the movies or while listening to a song. The man who sees how much I care and not only acknowledges it but understands it at his core. The man who truly gets my quirky nature and loves me because of it and not in spite of it. The man who is waiting for me to fetch my heart and return to him.

This time I make the good choice, not the choice I am expected to make or the choice my heart tells me to make. This time I use my heart and my head and make the choice that is right for me.

Respect the people who love you and make the right choice, not the easy choice, in 2014. Making the right choice will ensure that at your core, you are content. Let the happiness you construct be so sound in it’s design that it is like the Eiffel, which only sways six inches in heavy winds.

Thank you for reading.

Bonjour Paris!

I arrived safely in Paris yesterday and found my host family easily. Stress gone!

My hostess is a wonderfully animated and accommodating woman who showed me around the neighbourhood last night–after 24 hours of travelling–it’s fair to say I was exhausted last night.

I am staying in Levallois-Perret which is just outside the 20 arrondissements of Paris. I go to language school on Monday in the 9th arrondissement, which is about 25 minutes journey from my new home.

I have scouted out a green grocer, butcher and a bakery in the nearby vicinity as well as So Ouest, a mall with everything one could need close to home.

Today we go and purchase my 1 month metro pass and then, it’s off to the Musée du Louvre!

More exciting photos and discoveries to follow!

The New Chapter

paris_france_panorama_cardaf-600

My Paris visa has been granted, I have paid for my tuition and my accommodation. I have purchased my forex. I am officially on my way. What has been a year in the making is finally coming to fruition. I should be more excited. Don’t get me wrong, I am excited but I’m also nervous. I’ve never done anything of this magnitude before and that scares me a little. I have recently come to the realisation that this is a very good thing! It means I am moving out of my comfort zone–you know, that place where dreams go to die–and I am harnessing my talents and putting to good use my resources. I am on what even now feels like the cusp of a life changing event.

For anyone, this is big. It may not be big like changing a country’s constitution or orchestrating a merger between two blue chip companies but this is big for me. Too long I have been sitting on the sidelines watching other people achieve greatness. I am not saying that I will achieve greatness necessarily but I will achieve greatness in my life. This is big, for me.

I have spoken before of my–I would not say crippling or debilitating but suffice it to say they are big–self doubt and insecurity issues and how they have prevented me from doing things I was afraid I would not be very good at. I have been working on these issues for the last two years and this is the first big  thing, since my new approach to myself, that I’ve put into motion that is really going to challenge me.

I have never lived outside of South Africa like so many of my peers have. I have quit my job to be able to undertake this great adventure and have given up my apartment. So technically I’m homeless and unsettling as this has been I have been able to recognise that this is a means to an end and that it does not serve me to get too wrapped up in the loss of some security. Being the person I am, security in my life is a big thing. Giving up some of this security has also been liberating. It has also been exhilarating and for the first time in what feels like a long time, I am excited.

I am excited to see and experience and do new things, learn a new language and embrace all the beauty that Paris and the French culture has to offer! In less than a month I will be living my dream and that is something very few people get to do and for that I am thankful. I am also thankful for every person who has supported me in my decision to do this, who helped me believe in myself and who gave me the courage to take the leap.

Thank you for reading.

The New Chapter

paris_france_panorama_cardaf-600

My Paris visa has been granted, I have paid for my tuition and my accommodation. I have purchased my forex. I am officially on my way. What has been a year in the making is finally coming to fruition. I should be more excited. Don’t get me wrong, I am excited but I’m also nervous. I’ve never done anything of this magnitude before and that scares me a little. I have recently come to the realisation that this is a very good thing! It means I am moving out of my comfort zone–you know, that place where dreams go to die–and I am harnessing my talents and putting to good use my resources. I am on what even now feels like the cusp of a life changing event.

For anyone, this is big. It may not be big like changing a country’s constitution or orchestrating a merger between two blue chip companies but this is big for me. Too long I have been sitting on the sidelines watching other people achieve greatness. I am not saying that I will achieve greatness necessarily but I will achieve greatness in my life. This is big, for me.

I have spoken before of my–I would not say crippling or debilitating but suffice it to say they are big–self doubt and insecurity issues and how they have prevented me from doing things I was afraid I would not be very good at. I have been working on these issues for the last two years and this is the first big  thing, since my new approach to myself, that I’ve put into motion that is really going to challenge me.

I have never lived outside of South Africa like so many of my peers have. I have quit my job to be able to undertake this great adventure and have given up my apartment. So technically I’m homeless and unsettling as this has been I have been able to recognise that this is a means to an end and that it does not serve me to get too wrapped up in the loss of some security. Being the person I am, security in my life is a big thing. Giving up some of this security has also been liberating. It has also been exhilarating and for the first time in what feels like a long time, I am excited.

I am excited to see and experience and do new things, learn a new language and embrace all the beauty that Paris and the French culture has to offer! In less than a month I will be living my dream and that is something very few people get to do and for that I am thankful. I am also thankful for every person who has supported me in my decision to do this, who helped me believe in myself and who gave me the courage to take the leap.

Thank you for reading.