Enjoying my second bowl of café au lait this morning while sorting through some pictures and doing a bit of writing, I realized that in less then two weeks since arriving in Paris I have unintentionally adopted a series of (lovely) new daily rituals. It really made me think about how much our surroundings and current situation impact our subconscious, and thus our daily rituals are adapted accordingly and influenced by a sense of place.
My morning ritual for the past 20 years has largely consisted of getting up at the crack of dawn, swilling down a couple of cups of strong coffee, checking work emails while shaving, grabbing a quick shower, suiting up and then merging with the bumper to bumper traffic slowly trickling into the downtown core like syrup. Often during my time in the car, crawling along at a snails pace and listening to some dreary news report, I would let my mind wander, thinking about a time when I might be freed from the routine of my commute and perhaps let my day begin in a slightly more organic way. What would that look like? It excited me and got me through many snowy morning commutes just thinking about it.
Suddenly I now find myself in that alternate universe that I dreamed about for so many years. It seems to have manifest from my deepest desires, almost on autopilot. Without even realizing it for the past few weeks, I have adopted a new set of rituals that are in exact alignment with how I always imagined my days could be. Those daydreams must have become etched into some remote corner of my subconscious that surely guided the actions that have brought me to this place. The new rhythm of my daily life here in Paris continues to manifest itself more and more as I settle in, and it’s wonderful.
Mornings unfold slowly, with quiet time to enjoy waking up with a bowl of café au lait while I listen to music and perhaps watch Paris come to life on the streets below, or do some writing in my journal or blog, or just ponder what this next chapter of my life might hold. Why a bowl of café au lait instead of the usual cup of coffee…I have no idea. Without specific intention on that first morning in my Paris apartment it’s just what I made, without putting any thought into it. It just felt right, as though this time and place in my life was making the choice for me.
Back home in Canada, grocery shopping was a frenzied event. A marathon at some mega store, where I could dash through the aisles buying everything I could possibly need for the coming work week in one fell swoop. Time was precious and workdays too long, shopping was a necessity – not a pleasure. Now buying my groceries in Paris is a much treasured daily event. Squeezing gorgeous, ripe and perfect produce, selecting the ingredients for my evening meal based on what looks best and my whims, and of course picking up fresh bread. The displays are forever changing based on what is in season and at its peak, so no two days are the same. Even the packaging is gorgeous, a tin of duck cassoulet or haricots verts look like gifts waiting to be opened and savored.
More then just the charming ways that life in France has made me appreciate daily rituals, it is teaching me to slow down a bit and savor life. The longer that I am here, the more I can feel my pulse and breath become deliberate and calm. It makes me appreciate that I have spent much of my adult life functioning in a perpetual state of overdrive, which seems to be more and more the norm for most people these days. I am so grateful for this time to quiet myself so that I can better witness the beauty in even the smallest things around me, and have the opportunity to create something unique every day. It might be just a picture, blog post, or sketch…but it’s a creative outpouring of things and thoughts that were waiting to be born. I now have the precious gift of both time and silence to hear them speak. Here’s to embracing new rituals that continue to point us in the direction of our dreams!