It all began 10 years ago with Paris.  A love affair so grand, it changed my life irrevocably… and forever.

When we think of Paris, what comes to mind for many is the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, expensive boutiques along Champs-Élysée, and sadly, most recently, rioting.

As a young mother, with a more-than-full-time career, I craved a magical, far-flung place to revive my depleted self.  Until age 49, I (and most everyone I knew) considered overseas travel reserved for honeymoons or retirement… and holidays in between were family vacations.  For those of us living in the States, “vacations” were typically not far from one’s home.  And, they were most certainly not without one’s partner, even if said partner had no desire to travel!

One weekend I was watching CBS Sunday Morning.  From the Rue Mouffetard, the oldest Parisian street, they filmed musicians playing the cello, saxophone, and clarinet, as a young woman seductively sang jazz.  Locals meandered down the cobbled street, and complete strangers came to dance together in Square Saint-Médard.

“La rue Mouffetard” — painting by Henri-Achille Zo, circa 1920  |  Original shop facade in Paris — besopha (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Dancing in the streets of Paris!  Life could not get better than this.

My soul was beguiled.  I had to go to Paris.

The Universe evidently noted my longing for transformation because in 2013 my lifelong BFF and I were gifted four nights in Paris.  Really.  As I entered the moving walkway I lovingly refer to as “the gerbil tunnels” at CDG airport, I felt a spark ignite in me… a sensation not previously experienced, yet one I’ve come to feel intensely with every subsequent journey.  My joie de vivre transcended anything I’d ever known.

Crossing a footbridge over the Seine that first night, the water sparkled reflecting golden lights from palatial buildings that lined the river.  The tranquility felt surreal, as if there was no one else there on that bridge but us.  I felt I needed to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.  Walking on, we passed Notre Dame, astounded by the massive stones used to build this immense cathedral in 1163.  How on earth did they DO that?

Everything slowed.  Time seemed suspended, which was good because all I wanted to do was stand and breathe in the sensations beginning to restore my weary soul.  Finding an outdoor cafe, we sat down for a glass of wine.  As imagined, there were wool blankets neatly folded on the backs of worn cane chairs.  Wrapping the blanket around my shoulders, I leaned back, took a long sip, allowing the dark red wine to linger on my tongue.  I felt strangely home; more home than I’d felt in decades.

The next morning was Sunday.  We’d arranged to be here specifically to dance on Rue Mouffetard.  Starting at the top was a small boulangerie, its door opened wide, the smell of warm brioche calling us in.  Even the pastries in Paris are displayed to elicit a full-on physiological response.  Strolling down the medieval street, there was everything a true foodie could ever want to experience… open-air shops, each with their own specialty… just mouthing the word fromage (cheese), I salivated.  A tiny wine shop was filled to the hilt with gorgeous bottles in wooden crates, and an even smaller shop in bright green chartreuse paraded the most vibrant colors from French gardens.

In this moment, I realized this was what my soul craved.  And inherently, I knew other women needed this, too… not just once, but regularly.

To come home to our essence, we need to momentarily lose ourselves… finding ourselves again as we dance in the streets.  #ParisIsAlwaysAGoodIdea

Big love…

Annie

Next time:  My song of Africa!

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After life unexpectedly changed, ANNIE DICKINSON moved abroad, living 3 years in Ireland before settling in the English Lake District with husband, David.  From here, she operates WayfindingWomen.com, designing, organizing & leading bespoke retreats to magical destinations worldwide.

Her intention for women joining her retreats is to find joy in moments big & small, establish genuine connections with like-hearted women that last long beyond the trip… and offer the space & time for women wishing to find it, the empowerment to transform their world.

Wayfinding Women, LTD has recently expanded our tours to include ALL OF US retreats for women who wish to share this experience with their partner, significant other, playmate, BFF or companion…

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