Earlier this month I flew home to the South of France to see my mom and dad and to London to visit my brother.
I met my mother in Paris, where we worked the Pret a Porter (she is a buyer for a boutique in Vancouver), drank our fair share of Champagne, then flew home to our little village in the South, where I spent a week sleeping, reading, walking and taking in the familiar sights and sounds, before spending my last three days in the hustle and bustle of London with my bro, his bride to be and her beautiful bump (I have another nephew on the way!)
As usual when I travel, I gave myself no rules for diet and fitness, and simply embraced the local way of life.
I feasted on incredible gluten-free baguette smothered in butter for breakfast in Paris, traded the gym for long walks down country roads down South, and walked for hours in London, feasting on life changing gluten-free fried chicken, a Michelin star lunch at an affordable price, the best Indian food of my life, and of course, several gin and tonics and cocktails.
I realized in every place we visited that people seemed genuinely happy, healthy, social and balanced in all regards.
One thing I noticed was that everything was smaller.
For starters the coffee: in France one generally sits and savors a small espresso, and in London, even the takeaway cups were tiny and didn't leave me with the usual jitters I get from my usual Starbucks order in California (don't judge, we have a great location right across from the gym, and early shifts call for coffee!)
Secondly: the meal portions. Most meals I ate were far richer than what I would indulge in at home, but the portions were small and delicate. In London most meals had share plates with meat and vegetable dishes separate. My brother and I would order a little of everything, and always left the table feeling totally satisfied but never stuffed. It made me realize how often I overeat without noticing it, and leave the table feeling physically uncomfortable.
Lastly: the wine and cocktails. Wine glasses in France tend to be 1/4 of the size we have here in California, and the cocktails in London were all equally as delicate. While I'm the first to usually announce I'm tipsy after one glass, I was able to enjoy a little more with these appropriate portion sizes.
Another thing I noticed was people had more fun.
Ok, part of this might be personal, since before this trip I was balancing four jobs and could hardly see straight. But I genuinely felt like people in France and London just seemed to be having a great time.
There is such a love for theatre, music, food, art, literature... culture to feast on at every turn! Bars were full of big groups of friends every night of the week. Even my very serious yoga teacher in London warned everyone not to go to her class the next day as she'd be out celebrating her birthday all night.
People just seemed more relaxed.
I had a moment of self realization when I felt l had little to contribute in group conversations. I realized I have been so engrossed in work and the little world of my computer and phone that I am lacking in anything beyond. I made a pact with myself to spend less time on my phone and more time engrossed in novels, writing, and going out to see local plays, musicians, art, and new restaurants.
It was a great reminder of what I need to work on. I have been thinking a lot about what makes happy and making necessary changes.
With all that being said, one of the best parts of leaving was coming home. I have never felt as at peace anywhere as I do in California. A lot of that has to do with Derek, along with the incredible community here, the lifestyle, and that sweet sunshine.
I will be sharing more and more of my life here, how I find balance, and what makes my heart beat. Life is good.