By Carey Davidson
Six hours after my stint as “The Brave Stranger” in seat 28C, the wheels touched down at Charles de Gaulle airport where I was to spend the next three and a half days distracting myself from the fact that I was not with my children for Thanksgiving. My left arm was achy from being squeezed by the young woman sitting in 28B. The turbulence was awful and my arm and I had helped her stay calm.
It was Thanksgiving Day 2011 and I was on my own in Paris, my to do list ready:
- Escape from the painful reality that I’m not with my kids
- Eat delicious macarons (all flavors)
- Eat pain au chocolat
- Drink hot chocolate & espresso in a café in Sain Germain des Pres
- Eat caramels with fleur de sel
- Get a wink from the Mona Lisa
- Buy a Parisian scarf (and learn to tie it like a French woman)
- Buy some hazelnut oil from the little place on rue Jacob
Mona Lisa delivered. She always does. Even through the throngs of visitors speaking dozens of languages and pressing in close to get a glimpse, her eyes found me and she nodded her thanks for having stopped by. I struck out with the hazelnut oil, but relished in finding and enjoying just about everything else.
In addition to not finding the hazelnut oil, I began to realize I may not be able to actually achieve my number one goal on this trip. The universe had her own intentions for me in Paris and instead of escaping my reality and burying my upset, the pain was amplified and there was no avoiding its impact.
Day One was a typical first day after flying 8 hours east. My itinerary included several stops for coffee, a few searches for clean bathrooms and accidentally exiting the Abbesses Metro stop through the 200-step spiral staircase with zero energy. No matter though, I was deliriously happy.
Back in my room that evening I was jet lagged, my legs were killing me and it was time for dinner on Thanksgiving night. A low shift crept in and I felt the tug square in my chest – I was alone. My delirious happiness made way for the easier darker emotions to take up space. “Who thought this was a good idea?” It seemed pretty brilliant and courageous until a few minutes prior, but at that very moment I felt the weight of all the self-doubt come crashing down.
The sky was a magical glowing pink that night and Sacre Coeur’s light from up the block made it even more magical. The Madame of the house was strict and her rules kept the place feeling safe and orderly. The wallpaper was a red and white motif of flowers and seemed from another era. The furniture was small to fit the room and the view from my window revealed the rooftops of the homes below.
In the stillness there was only my breath and a pause and I realized I had a choice. In my fear and sadness I could still create if I wanted to. What did sulking ever create anyway? I got dressed with effort. I put on makeup with effort. I put one foot in front of the other with effort, but I chose to create an unforgettable experience.
I walked out onto rue Lamarck, took a deep breath, expanded my presence and looked up. There it was. My solo Thanksgiving meal spot was right in front of me, but I wouldn’t have seen it had I not made the decision to shift my perspective.
The Hope Café. Seriously, could it have been more perfect?
The round, wooden communal table in the center of the small eatery was topped with a smattering of magazines and a succulent. The open kitchen was to the left and the chefs were smiling and sharing a warm rapport. I took my seat at this center table and invited the evening to present its wonders.
And present it did! I enjoyed a delicious vegan meal and ended up closing down the Hope Café with five new friends, one I still keep in touch with to this day. Thanksgiving 2011 goes down as one of the most magical nights of my life because I touched a deep vulnerability, breathed through it and took action to create possibility.
Tournesol Truth #4: Hope is the Spark That Lights the Path to Health & Happiness
Hope is where the work begins. There is no pill for hope, no quick fix and no “hope diet.” Hope is a conscious choice. To begin to heal, we have to choose to be hopeful and to be hopeful even in the face of vulnerability, brokenness and pain. Once we have the spark, we can take action to invite supporters, knowledge and experiences to fan the flames so we can keep walking that path. One step at a time.
Email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) I want to hear about your stories of hope. Your stories fan my flames. Tournesol is here to fan yours.
Your Biggest “Fan,”