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Also published on The Huffington Post

“Of course, travel is more about changing your state of mind –

the departure from routine, the act of discovery –

than it is about taking a grand tour.”

I went to France four years ago.

To me, it was certainly a “grand tour” and my making the decision to do it at all was extremely “grand.”

It was certainly about France – about Paris and the French country villages of Giverny and Chartres – but the author of the quote is right….the travel was about far more than where I went or the tourist attractions I chose to see.

I went on a women’s retreat with Barbara Babkirk and Susanna Liller, two interesting and charming business women in Maine who make an annual visit with a half dozen women from all over the U.S.

For me the trip was about:





connecting more deeply with myself

doing something authentically me

seeing something different

seeing something old

the architecture, the fashion, the croissants, the cookware

experiencing the “French” way of being that I seek at midlife (“la joie de vivre”)

I wanted to see if the girl who visited Paris at the age of 21, so full of hope, optimism, curiosity, and life, was still inside me. Sometimes, I feel she has disappeared, gotten lost in the busyness of life and squelched down in favor of more important, serious and responsible personas.

After booking the trip, I went through a range of new emotions: Was I crazy doing something so grand? I couldn’t afford it. I wasn’t worthy. I was afraid to fly so far over the ocean.

Fear. Lots of fear and doubt.

“Poof!” When the day arrived to embark, I did it with open arms (and a stuffed suitcase with clothes for whatever Europe might hand me).

And that girl that was…

I was elated to discover that she’s very much alive and well. It was like riding a bike.

I embarked on my own to explore Paris; I laughed out loud all by myself on the Champs Elysée, so filled with joy; I marveled at the architecture and took hundreds of photos that I will treasure forever because they’ll always bring me right back.

I breathed in every detail. So grateful for the opportunity.

Bucket list, for sure.

I sat in cafés and watched the French for hours on end – nothing to do but enjoy, no need to hurry or worry about anything.

That trip awakened all my senses and gave me the gusto to look forward to the 2nd half of my life, so pleased that that happy girl is still me.

France was wonderful…but it was indeed “the departure from routine and the act of discovery” that awakened the sleeping giant within and was the most important thing I brought back with me.

Quote: Pilar Guzman, Editor-in-Chief Martha Stewart Living, August 2012 issue

Photos: Monet's Garden, an apartment in Paris, City Hall

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