Merci To My Travel Guides

“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.” -Meister Eckhart

When things go smoothly when I travel, I can’t help but think “Merci” to the travel guides, gods, and angels that are there assisting me.  This is particularly the case, with the ease of travel during a pandemic.  I’m en route last minute to assist a family member who is having surgery in his aftercare.  The original caregiver got Covid, and voile c’est moi!  It is fine, since I do not have a regular job to attend to. But the universe is definitely assisting with ease to ensure I get there safely, promptly, and with limited stress. 

My uber driver got me to the airport promptly in a BMW.  As I arrived, I received assistance from multiple staff members who directly guided me from one station to another.  One staff member began asking if I had a heavier coat because I may get cold at the next airport.  She even inquired about my world: where I’m from, my profession, and future endeavors.  I was curious about this.  Was it the positive energy I was vibrating that was attracting these helpful friendly guides or maybe she was an angel in disguise reminding me of my larger purpose?  It didn’t matter, either way I was appreciative of this.  I handed out my Puzo/Bella gratitude cards to most of these people.  I can’t help but feel extra appreciation when I travel.  It’s a brief period of stress for voyagers.  There’s a precise timeline that must be met and numerous steps that must be met: packing, ensuring one’s pets are taken care of, transportation, passport, covid tests, additional paperwork, tickets.  All must be followed in a timely manner to ensure the journey occurs, oftentimes it isn’t pleasant.  Therefore, when it is, I’m full of gratitude.

I encourage you to witness the helpful people that assist you next time you travel.  The universe is assisting you, and all that’s necessary for you is to accept this and say merci!

My First Trip Away From Paris

This weekend I have to go on a last minute trip to the USA to help out a family member with something.  I will be gone for two weeks and have the time and freedom to do this.  I currently do not have a 9-5 job, my first month of French class will be over, and the follow up French class in February is already booked up.  I’m happy I can help, but I realize I actually don’t want to leave Paris.  It took so much to finally get here amidst the pandemic: numerous covid tests, quitting my job, sorting out movers and cleaners for my previous residence, getting rid of many of my belongings, the rules enforced between the UK and France that almost forbid this move to happen, my pets’ health certification.  I left everything to come to a city, where I only had several acquaintances. 

In the span of 1 ½ months, I finally have gotten into the rhythm of things in Paris.  And I don’t want to leave.  True it’s probably the worst month weather wise here in the City of Lights.  Yesterday it topped 1 degree Celsius (this is 34 Farenheit), and I will be travelling to sunny southern California, where currently it is 20 degrees Celsius (around 70 degrees Farenheit).  But it’s almost as if I don’t want to miss any moments of Paris.  My visa is for one year.  I am 6 weeks into my stay, and I have two planned trips to America in the upcoming months.  All of these are for family obligations, and I do want to be there for my family for these beautiful moments.  But I also want to be here. 

Recently, I have spoken with an expat who has moved here.  She has plans to travel various parts of Europe while here. I realize for the first time in awhile, I don’t want to go anywhere.  I actually just want to stay in Paris.  Perhaps this is because, I have lived in the UK for 8 ½ years, and have visited 50 countries.  Now that I’m here, I don’t want to leave.  As I write this, I am aware that this may be an indication of something.  My heart may want to stay here longer than one year.

It’s interesting how quickly we can make a city become our home.  Yes, I’m still learning the language, and probably make an embarrassment out of how I pronounce words daily.  I live in a 290 square foot apartment, which I downsized massively from a four floor house.  I go to the market every other day, because my fridge is the size of one in a college dorm.  I am slowly building friendships, which take time to develop.  I am trying to build community, and reaching out to different organizations in ways I have not done in years.  I’m inching further with my book, going back and forth with additional edits for that final proposal, which will be pitched any moment to publishers.  Things are not perfect here, but I am truly enjoying the days that have occurred.  I have a one year visa and I am trying to savor every moment that passes, as one wants to linger on the tiny bites of a salted caramel macaroon.  

As I return to America for two weeks, it is as a visitor.  Paris is my new hometown.  It feels familiar, but also simultaneously mysterious.  It’s already beckoning me to return.  After I get my two weeks in the sun, I can’t wait to see what the remaining months have in store. 

“America is my country and Paris is my hometown.”-Gertrude Stein

Tiny Home Living

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” – Hans Hofmann

The decision to move to Paris was not to just live in a new country, where I don’t speak the language, or to give up a 9-5 job.  It was also to transition to tiny home living.  I was living in a four floor house in the UK for several years before making this leap.  My home is now 27 square meters, or 290 square feet!  This may be the smallest home I have ever lived in, smaller than the dorms I lived in at the University of Hawaii, where I lived as a crisis counselor.  This is definitely an adjustment.  

Things I miss include a washing machine, a large fridge, storage space, but I most miss my massive collection of books.  These are all currently en route to a storage unit in the states.  In addition, my couch has become the dogs hang out space.   I’m afraid that if I had friends over, we would have to sit on the floor.  Puzo and Bella seem to rule the apartment.

But despite all of this, I am somehow enjoying living in a compressed space.  One has to be creative with storage possibilities.  In addition, whatever you choose to bring into the house, you must ask yourself these essential questions: Will I really use this?  Will I have space for this? Do I love this? Is this necessary? Will I have to discard anything to make space for this?   In the past, when storage was limitless, none of these questions crossed my mind.  What I thought about included one question: Is this on sale? 

There also is a comfort with living in a small space.  Everything around me I love and use.   In the past, when I lived in a big home, I would sometimes awake in the middle of the night and think how large the house was, and I was living alone, away from family and friends.  It was almost too big for me.  Now when I wake up in the middle of the night, this space now fits like a cozy sweater I wanted to curl up in.  

Many of us stay in small spaces temporarily (also known as hotel rooms), but I do encourage everyone to opt to briefly try living in a tiny home.  Explore what it would be like.  What may be your struggles? What may be your hidden joys?  What are you living with that isn’t necessary?  What are your essentials?  It seems like we should be asking ourselves these questions in our lives on a daily basis.  Subtract the excess and love the life (and space) you are living in. 

Paris Necessities

I have officially been living in Paris for five weeks, and there are two things I have noticed that are necessities for living here: a proper jacket and comfortable walking shoes. Shoes should not come as a surprise.  Paris is an easily accessible city by foot, and therefore many locals and tourists take advantage of this.  We walk several miles every day.  Comfortable footwear that navigates you throughout the terrain is vital to stay healthy and energized.  I have never worn my Doc Martens as much as I have this past month.  

Yet, I am fascinated by how much I have lived in my winter coat.  Several weeks ago, I bought a wool coat at a trendy shop.  It was camel colored, went down to my ankles, and was very French.  It also was 50% off and I thought I landed a deal with a 40 euro wool jacket.  But you get what you paid for.  I was wearing the jacket everyday, and slowly it began to fall apart.  The pockets began to develop holes in it, furries were building in the areas it was rubbing up against (by the coat pockets), and strings were coming off of it. I realized I was wearing this coat so much, and rarely took it off when I met with friends.  We spent most of our socialization time walking the streets or eating outside at the cafes, by heat lamps.  I noticed, I wore the same several outfits for much of the month, and my fashion did not matter as long as I had a nice jacket.  After several weeks of this beautiful coat that began to turn worn, it was time to invest in a more expensive wool coat.  This purchase also coincided with the Parisian sales period.  I donated my several weeks worn winter coat to a local person in need, and invested in this new camel piece. 


There’s beauty in the simplicity of being a local in Paris.  The apartments are small.  I was living in a four floor house in the UK, and now my apartment is less than 270 square feet.  It’s tiny home living, but you truly begin to value and use all that resides in your space.  Your life is full, even though space is small.  You realize you don’t need much, and take pride in the minimal items you do own and share with the world. 

Know if you are to ever to visit Paris in the winter, pack these two items: good shoes and a great coat.  Disregard anything else that’s worn underneath.  Nobody will notice.  Stay warm, cozy, classic, and chic.

“London is a riddle. Paris is an explanation.” —Gilbert Keith Chesterton

Boredom Breeds Creativity

I’m currently listening to the book Pep Talks for Writers, by Grant Faulkner (free currently on Audible Plus).   One particular tip Pep Talk 8: The Art of Boredom lures me in.  Grant discusses the importance of allowing ourselves to be bored, which is a tip shared by many other creative geniuses.  But so often we forget this.

Quick checks of our social media account or scrolls through the news headlines may give us cheap rushes of excitement, but they pass just as fast as they arrived.  “My brain craves novelty and stimulation, and I am caught in a loop of compulsive neediness,” the author shares when grabbing at his phone every free moment he gets.  Many of us are like Grant, each opportunity that arises where we have a spare second, phones are grabbed.   He further adds, “It seems as if all of the entertaining diversions the internet delivers will be fulfillment, but the flickers and headlines tend not to nourish my soul.”  It’s as if in those brief moments where we are not occupied by doing something, we fill that space with more knowledge or distraction, versus allowing the space to be empty.

When we cradle our phones every spare second, we are robbing ourselves the privilege of being bored.  Yes bored!

After many months of travelling, prepping for my move to Paris, and slowly settling in as a local, I’ve allowed myself to be bored.  I have kept up my weekly digital sabbatical, but also I’ve given myself the gift of not working for at least one year in a traditional job.  Now that I’ve had the space to be bored, creativity has flourished.  I’ve completed my book proposal (as I await news from my agent), written blog posts, worked on my podcast again, and actually recorded meditations again for both Aura and Insight Timer.

“Being bored signals to the mind that you’re in need of fresh thoughts and spurs creative thinking,” Grant shared.  Not all of us may have the luxury to quit our jobs at the moment, but we can take the opportunity to turn off our devices for 24 hours (or even several hours) and simply allow ourselves to wander into the world of boredom.  See what arises within.  Or even observe what is popping up in your environment.  Listen to conversations around you, the sounds that you may have habituated to, or take in the colors and flavors of this moment.  Perhaps a creative idea may arise, if you give yourself the gift of boredom.

The Grass Is Always Greener

Since I have moved to Paris one month ago, I’ve been lucky enough to meet locals and non-locals.  With non-locals that have chosen to move here, Paris is a world of wonder.  There’s gratitude and joy for getting to live in this city.  Paris is full of opportunities and culture.  Their dreams have been realized, and they remind themselves of this fact each day when they walk down the boulevards or pop into boulangeries. 

For local Parisians, I find that some are fed up with their city.  Complaints arise, such as it’s dirty, too expensive, too crowded, not enough nature, too many tourists, etc.  They desire to move to the country or even another country.  There is an idealization of how other people choose to live their lives.  One has lived in Japan for four years, and longs to return to Japan.  He admires the respect the people have for their land.  Another is lured by the mystique of the American West, the novelty and intrigue of the land and it’s people fascinates him.  Another spoke of Brazil and the liveliness that exists among the people there.

Both viewpoints resonate with me.  I have lived in multiple places in the world, and although currently I am a newbie to this town, I know what it’s like to despise where one lives.  Yet, it’s all a matter of choice.

I couldn’t help but think of the end of the Woody Allen film Midnight in Paris.  Owen Wilson’s character is fascinated by life in Paris in the 1920s, and magically steps into that world each night when midnight strikes.  He meets another character played by Marion Cotillard who exists in the 1920s but she idealizes the time from La Belle Epoque, which occurred from 1871-1914.  In the film, these two actors jump back into that era as well.  Both characters have a yearning to be part of a reality that existed in the past, but not the present.  Owen’s character eventually realizes the disconnect that’s occurring, as he says: “Yeah, that’s what the present is. It’s a little unsatisfying because life’s a little unsatisfying.” 

We long to be somewhere else, whether this is another city, country, or era.  This seems to be a fatal human trait.  We want what we don’t have.  But perhaps the point of life is to enjoy what you have while you have it.  That doesn’t mean you cannot change your future and where you choose to reside, but in the meantime how can you find joy and wonder in your current zip code?

Challenge: Find 5 things that spark joy in your neighborhood and share these with your loved ones (or with me below!)  

An Endless Art History Class

“…the whole of Paris is a vast university of Art, Literature and Music…it is worth anyone’s while to dally here for years. Paris is a seminar, a post-graduate course in Everything.”-James Thurber

There seems to be an endless amount of museums in Paris. I queried the official amount, and it totals 136 museums in the city of Paris! This is bountiful for a city that is actually quite small and walkable. It is only 6 miles long (North to South) and 7 miles wide (East to West). And therefore this past week, I checked out two additional art museums: Musee de Luxembourg and the Musee d’Art Moderne. One exhibit I had been excited about attending was the Vivian Maier exhibit. I first learned about her from the documentary Finding Vivian Maier. In the film, we discover a nanny who lived a double life as a minder of children and a street photographer. But the intriguing twist was nobody in her life was aware of this creative genius that existed among them. She hid her passion, and kept the beauty of her work for herself. The type of camera she had was a Rolleiflex, which could be worn on the neck and did not have to be brought to the eye to focus. It stayed stomach level, and she napped many of her subjects unknowingly. These were strangers on the street in cities around the world. At her death, most of her belongings were in a storage unit and were auctioned off. It was he who began to share her work with the world.

As I gazed at her works in the exhibit, I couldn’t help but wonder about the life of this woman. Why did she keep this skill private? Was she cautious of receiving criticism? How did she learn her craft? What went on in her head in her daily life? Was she satisfied in her job as a nanny because it covered the costs of her basic necessities of life and afforded her the opportunity to travel the world? My fascination with her continued as I walked past each image and into the gift shop that sold numerous replicas of her work as postcards or books. What would she think of this fame and her secret work being shared with the world?

I also began to think of the artists that exist among us. We are all creative beings, but why do some deny this aspect of themselves while others fully embrace it? What type of artist exists within you?

My First Day of French Class

I’m nervous.  It’s my first day of school at the Alliance Francaise.  I’ve read David Sedaris’ book Me Talk Pretty One Day and realize I’m in the same school he was enrolled, while he wrote this book.  The exact location he felt defeated in.  I sat in a class of 13 on our first day of French class. It was a complete immersion, therefore the teacher only spoke French.   

Je m’appelle Tricia.                                My name is Tricia.

         Je suis Americainne.                                 I am American.

         Je parle Anglias et pou Espagnol.            I speak English and a little Spanish.

         Je suis psychologe et auteure.                 I am a psychologist and author.

To say all of these bespoke sentences repeatedly in a group of 13 people from Colombia, America, Cuba, Brazil, Turkey, England, Sri Lanka, Finland, and Mozambique took 3 hours.  Two additional students would join us later, nuns from India and Thailand.  There were a few peers who spoke with confidence, but most spoke with hesitation.  Not only was our teacher trying to have us speak a new language, but she was attempting to show us how to end our sentences with a “period” and not a question mark with the dramatics of movement.  She pointed down to the floor and spoke with a deep voice, as a student said her name.  “It’s not a question, but a statement,” this is what I believe the teacher said in French.  Later she pointed up to the sky and spoke with an inflection, as she encouraged the same student to ask “et vous” to the student next to her, meaning “and you?”  We were learning a new language, but also confidence?  I say this with a question mark, because it’s hard to have confidence, when you are being corrected with every other word you speak.  

These lessons are being taught with each one of us having face masks on.  The teacher took off her mask several time to show us how her tongue hit the back of her teeth for some words and how her mouth reshaped for other words.  We learned one additional thing in those three hours, we learned to pronounce the alphabet.  I know my English alphabet, and even my Spanish, but French?  Most makes sense, but for some letters, my tongue has trouble producing.  The teacher completed drawings of circles with arrows of how our mouths or tongues should be with each letter.  I have yet to totally understand what was said or diagrammed out.

I spoke to several classmates in between sessions.  An American girl moved here two months ago because her wife is French. An English bloke is engaged to a French woman and moved six years ago.  This was also the case for the Cuban man and the Finnish woman.  They are learning the language for their partners, their in-laws, and their new home country.  Et moi?  Why did I move here again?  I began to ask myself this question.   Why was I tormenting myself with a month of classes, 3 days a week, in 3 hour sessions? I didn’t move to this city for a loved one but for the love of a city.  And for this I will temporarily endure the excruciating discomfort of being a fool.  I despise looking like an idiot in front of other people.  As a Type A personality, I hate not knowing the answers.   I was the one to sit in class and raise my hand, not avert my eyes and hide.  

Many people in the class seem to be sacrificing something.  A woman who I believe is a chamber maid in Paris is a dentist in her home country.  A man who usually is a professor is working at a bar.  I’ve given up being a psychologist and now am winging it as an author, with several years of savings funding me.  Sitting in the class encourages me to have compassion for those learning the language in my homeland.  Oftentimes we are too lazy to be with the struggle of pushing ourselves out of the comfort zones of our natives tongues and into the world of new ways to pronounce letters and words.

I’m reminded of several lines from David Sedaris’ book about this experience:

“My only comfort was the knowledge that I was not alone. Huddled in the smoky hallways and making the most of our pathetic French, my fellow students and I engaged in the sort of conversation commonly overheard in refugee camps.

“Sometimes me cry alone at night.”

“That is common for me also, but be more strong, you. Much work, and someday you talk pretty. People stop hate you soon. Maybe tomorrow, okay?”

I know that me talk pretty one day too. 

En francais : moi aussi parle joli un jour

Week of Faux Pas

As I complete my second week of being a Parisian, it’s been a week of faux pas.

A friend of a friend took me to a typical French restaurant today.  On the menu was heavy French cuisine such as escargot, foie gras, and rabbit. I opted for a croque monsieur served with truffles.  It was delicious and I paired it with a glass of local red wine.  We opted for a café afterwards.  He had an espresso, I wanted a cappuccino and asked the waitress if they had soy milk.  She looked at me confused, and I said a regular cappuccino is fine.  My new friend began to laugh at me, saying “they serve rabbit here, I don’t think they will have soy milk.”

And this is just one example of learning the culture here.

Earlier in the week, I popped into a small grocery store.  I had several items in my hand, and placed them down.  The clerk asked in French for “sac” =a bag.  I said “no” I didn’t need one, and pointed to my bag.  I didn’t speak French, she didn’t speak English.   She then said a word I recognized “regarder”, which means “to look,” and asked to see inside my bag. I had two items purchased from a previous store. Then she tried to scan it. Since I don’t know French, I said in English. “No! I bought that from another store.  No!” She didn’t understand me.  And the items didn’t seem to scan.  Then she looked in my other bag with my laptop and purse. I believe she thought I may be stealing. Then she said simply “desolee”, which means sorry.  I was embarrassed and stunned.  *Tip: keep all receipts or only shop at one market at a time.

The most interesting faux pas occurred in my home.  I was making cous cous, purchased from the market above.  Yet, when I began to turn on the kettle, I saw it was broken.  This is probably because my kitchen is so small, and I have to put the kettle away every time for counter space.  It simply fell apart.  As I tried to put the kettle together, I electrocuted myself.  Maybe I am not meant to cook in tiny spaces.

The evening ended today, with my new French friend sending me several store suggestions of where I can most likely find gluten free bread and pasta, but left me with a warning: “Don’t eat too healthy, you’re French now.”

C’est la vie.

I am slowly am beginning my welcome to France.