Monday, September 27, 2010

Holiday Part One: Paris

I am enjoying a holiday in Paris - and I was basically forced to come here.

Nine months ago I was seriously considering moving out of LA. My life was lacking a some joie de vivre and I was feeling pretty ... blah.

Work is the same! No decent men to date! I'll never be able to buy a house - much less a condo!

I needed a change. And moving to Portland was the best one I could come up with. 

I thought about it for weeks (I knew it was serious when I subscribed to Portland Monthly) and then shared my grand plan with those who knew me best. In return I was given plenty of feedback, most of which translated to: bad idea.

You're just running away! Your business is in LA! Do you know it rains all year in Oregon?! 

Most understood my need for change, but they suggested that, perhaps, it wasn't the city that was the issue (couldn't possibly be me?!) and that I should search for other avenues for significant change. I was given three palpable gems of advice for how to shake things up:
  • Take a long vacation
  • Get a new apartment
  • Find a hobby (thanks, C!)
So here I sit in a Parisian cafe drinking wine, eating cheese and writing - and I totally see that they were right (and I was wrong?!). 

In Paris, things are a little different ... Lunch is a bigger deal than dinner, wine is cheaper than water, peeing in toilettes on the corner is normal, and long breaks from work is totally the norm (if not required by law).

So I think the French - and my business partner Bob - are definitely on to something: time away from the regular ebb and flow of life is somewhat of a necessity in order to avoid completely burning out.

I've never taken two weeks off of work - and not because I wasn't encouraged to do so. It was mostly because I thought there was some kind of honor in being continuously available to the needs of my business... Not checking email? Blasphemous! The office function without me? Doubtful! Business travel surely counts as getting away?!

But as I prepared to exit the country and leave my workload with my colleagues, I felt a wonderful sense of freedom. Unplugging from email, voicemail, payroll, billpay and client needs- and allowing others to take care of those things (or at least prep well enough so their work was minimal)- felt like a luxury. The idea of traveling abroad was almost secondary. I finally understood the idea du jour of needing time away from the daily grind, and appreciated the art of letting others provide support. Two life lessons in one two-week trip!

I'm sure that this vacation will not completely cure my addiction to working - when I get back I will still feel mildly guilty about taking a day off or asking for help with my workload - I am a career- driven American after all! - but I do think my mentality will be changed. And surely my job will not seem so much like "work" when a long vacation is the reward for a solid year of productivity.

So, basically, I almost have my life figured out ... or I'm at least two-thirds of the way there (I also moved into a new apartment that I love). So once I find that much-needed hobby (possibly on my next stop in Italy?), I will be completely on track. 

Here's to hoping the hobbies don't include daily wine drinking at noon or peeing in public.

Au Revoir!

** Note: I am now home, but due to the lack of free wi-fi in Europe, I couldn't actually post these blogs while I was traveling!


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