What I find most intriguing about these unprecedented times is that it is not only the world that is in a state of "not known or done before" it is also ME. I am unprecedented. How intriguing. This reminded me of a time when I made a conscious choice to step into a version of myself "not known or done before"...
I had left for Paris heartbroken and a little lost, so I spent much of the train ride looking out the window at the world passing me by. As I watched the landscape change from countryside to cityscape. I contemplated who I wanted to be and tried to reconcile it with the woman who had escaped here to write and hide.
I was trying to find the courage to rebel against the scripted belief that I needed to be loved in order to be worthy, whole and happy.
The streetscape opened up and I could see, for split seconds at a time, down the rows of Parisian houses. I imagined all the common human experiences and that somewhere there was a woman like me, contemplating her life, Parisienne Tania, likely on the top balcony, hands wrapped around a steaming café au lait, legs crossed and... head tipped back in laughter.
THAT caught my attention because I did not tip my head back in laughter.
I did not laugh.
My desire to be accepted, liked, perfect had made me tentative; unsure of myself or my place, seeking affirmation and consolation. Trying desperately to control my experience, I observed, edited and annotated my life.
I certainly didn’t feel the abandon of living it.
So when it was funny I simply said: “that was funny!”
I did not feel the impulse to feel and express joy. That would have been too vulnerable.
How is it that we get so stuck in the scripts of who we should be that we miss living who we really are?
I became aware of the train slowing as we approached the station. I started to scurry and pack up my stuff, which I had scattered around the car in my 5-hour train ride. Within minutes this train would leave again - anything left behind would be forever lost.
As I was gathering I started to also choose what to deliberately leave on the train. The novel I finished reading, the sweater that was too warm for the season. There is nothing gained by lugging around baggage that doesn’t serve you.
That’s when I had a flash, I could leave the things that weigh me down on this train.
The tentativeness, the fear of not being liked, the not knowing how to let go and laugh.
I could leave ‘scared’, ‘controlling’, ‘perfect’.
As I disembarked, I made a mental list of what I was leaving behind. What no longer served me.
I emerged lighter, with space to move.
I walked up to a café right by the fountain in the centre square. I chose the seat in the sunshine, I crossed my ankles like the Parisians and flirted with myself.
Who was this woman? What if I was Parisian Tania?
The thought was so pure and inviting that I lifted my chin and laughed out loud. I honestly did not know I had a laugh. But there it was, and it was warm, loud, full and engaging.
If you hear me laugh now, you are hearing a moment that comes directly from Paris.
And that’s where my journey to me and my passion for travel really began. It was there, in Paris, that I realized that “becoming me” is a deliberate choice. I am not constrained by my context, it is simply my starting place. If I don’t like it, I leave it on the train. I leave space for something else to emerge.
I get to choose the person that I want to become. No “but that’s just the way that I am” – there is only “that is just the way I choose to be”.
I think changing your behaviour is kind of like changing your home address. When you move you rarely show up at your old home. And if you do, you don’t walk into the front door and sit on the couch. You redirect yourself home – you say “this is just not me anymore” and back out of the driveway.
That’s how it was for me in Paris. I just decided.
And I regularly do.
I leave stuff all over the place. A trail of discarded pieces that don’t serve me anymore.
Carry on luggage only.
What about you? Today? You can choose to leave something behind. Something that doesn’t serve you. Something that no longer has to be the way you are. How? Just decide, and do the opposite. Refuse to go back for it. If you see it, don’t pick it up. “That is just not me anymore”. What doesn’t serve you?
What do you want to leave behind? It is only after making space that we can allow something new in.
p.s. I have good news. I'm hosting retreats in Kent, England in September and in Baja, Mexico in November. Feeling ready to shake off the last 18 months and revitalize? www.advivumjourneys/retreats