Monday, June 2, 2014

French Girl returns and makes a few changes


Note to my readers:  This post is bilingual.  Scroll down for the French version.
Note à mes lecteurs: Ce billet est bilingue. La version française suit la version anglaise.


I am back.

It has been over three months since I wrote my last story on the blog. 

I have thought about returning often. The more I waited, the harder it became. Did I have to comment on my absence? After all, so much had happened over the last eighteen months, but I had been able to keep writing, however infrequently. Then, at the beginning of the year, life caught up with me. I just could not invest the time it takes to write a well-crafted story anymore. So I stopped writing, or reading other blogs, and I missed it. 

For those of you who stayed in touch on the blog's Facebook page, French Girl in Seattle, thank you. For those of you who sent me private messages to ask if I was ok, thank you, too. 

I am ok. To sum up the last eighteen months: 




I will make a long story [fairly] short. 

This past year saw the ending of a 23-year relationship, friendship, and marriage. Not an unusual story. Cue in anger, frustration, blame, irrational behavior. Cue in bad faith, inelegance, and sordid financial negotiations. A roller coaster ride. 

The main victim: An incredible, smart, yet challenging and often hormonal teenage boy, who never asked for any of this. 

Our new normal started almost eighteen months ago. Junior is doing fine. I am doing fine. We have created a new life, as a team, and have been preparing for our new home, an apartment a few minutes away from our old neighborhood. The fourteen-year old gets to keep his school and his friends, as he requested when we gave him the bad news last year. I dreamed of moving on, but will have to wait a while. That was the right thing to do. For now, this is the plan. New life. New furniture. New chapter in a brand-new book.

Through it all, I kept blogging. Pure escapism for me. The blog felt like an old friend, who stuck with me through the difficult and unhappy years. The recognition and friendship I received made me feel good about myself. Alas, at the beginning of the year, I had to start working on the house to get it ready for the market. A logistical nightmare that took over my life... and my brain.

This French Girl is a determined, organized, and resilient woman. Her project management skills from a previous life kicked in. I did it alone, with occasional help from Junior and one of his friends (So heartwarming to see skilled and chivalrous teenage boys rally up when a woman is in trouble!) I cleaned a three-thousand square foot home; sorted; emptied an attic; hired contractors; supervised work; donated things; sold things; dumped years' worth of things, for days, weeks, and even weekends. The house sold in two days. Mission accomplished, French Girl

Today, as Junior and I prepare to lock up the family home's door for the last time, and move into our new environment, I would just like to focus on the good, the positive, the achievements; and start making plans for the future. I would just like to pat myself on the back, and acknowledge a few people (Don't worry: No Academy Awards' worthy speeches here.) 

The late Maya Angelou once said: "Try to be a rainbow in someone else's cloud.

I would like to thank all my friends, for being my personal rainbows over the last eighteen months. I have written about you often on the blog.  You know who you are. It takes a village, and mine is a pretty great one!

My incredible Mediterranean family, who managed, eight thousand miles away, with a nine-hour time difference, to comfort me and cheer me on. Never underestimate the power of a phone call, or a care package, bringing French movies, a bag of Fraises Tagada, and the latest issue of the French Elle



My parents and Junior (2) in Spain...
French Girl, 10, her brother, 9, and their first cat.
(Lambersart, Northern France)

Finally, I always look at the women in my family for strength and inspiration. Some have gone through a lot worse than a puny divorce.



Henriette and her clan, somewhere in Southern France.
(We miss you, Chantal !) 

Looking ahead, one thing is obvious: I am going to enjoy being single for a while.


Amen!

I am fifty-one years old, and I have to start a new career, and a new life. This is both daunting and exciting. I can choose where I want to go. I fought hard to earn the financial freedom to start making my own decisions once again. 

When I was not busy raising a teenager; teaching; or working on the house, I found the time to apply for a graduate teacher training program at Seattle Pacific University, a four-month process. By March, the school offered me to join their one-year intensive internship program. I investigated job opportunities for French language teachers; took a closer look at the cost of the program; and decided to turn them down. After fifteen years working as a freelance French teacher in the Seattle area, I am moving on.

My new path is the travel industry, a field I got to know with American Express France (This French Girl feels passionately about travel, as my readers know.) This fall, I will be returning to school to prepare a one-year certification for travel professionals. Where I will go from there is still open for debate. I am planning to offer my popular France travel workshops online soon. There will be a new website, maybe even a new blog; and I would not mind competing with Rick Steves with my own, private customized tours to la Belle France one day soon. 

First, let's get this show on the road, and move into our new digs. Then, time for fun and travel... in Europe, bien sûr. How I have longed for that summer trip!

It is time to wrap up, in more ways than one. This French Girl is looking ahead, seriously, with intent, like the young girl she once was. 


French Girl (2,) her young brother, and Mom
Southwestern France


To quote the great Maya Angelou, once again:

"My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; 
and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor and some style."


Or, as my girlfriends put it in my last birthday card:

Attitude is everything!



I could not agree more...



"French Girl: Northwest Style with Chanel make-up"
(at a Divo concert)


Thank you for reading. A bientôt. And this time, I really mean it!



All private photos belong to French Girl in Seattle.
Do not use, or Pin without permission.
Thank you.

Version française




Me revoilà.

Cela fait trois mois que j'ai écrit mon dernier billet sur le blog.

J'ai pensé revenir souvent. Plus le temps passait, plus c'est devenu difficile. Fallait-il que j'explique mon absence ? Après tout, tant de choses sont arrivées depuis dix-huit mois, mais j'avais continué à écrire, même de temps en temps. Au début de l'année, je n'ai plus réussi à investir le temps nécessaire à la préparation d'un bon billet. Alors j'ai arrêté d'écrire, ou de lire d'autres blogs, et ça m'a manqué.

Pour ceux d'entre vous qui sont restés en contact sur la page Facebook du blog, French Girl in Seattle, merci. Pour ceux qui ont pris des nouvelles dans des messages privés, merci aussi.

Je vais bien. Pour résumer les derniers dix-huit mois:


Mariée 
Célibataire !

Je viens raconter ici dans les grandes lignes une histoire un peu longue.

L'année qui vient de s'écouler a marqué la fin d'une relation de 23 ans, d'une amitié et d'un mariage. Ce n'est pas une histoire inhabituelle. Envoyez la colère, la frustration, le blâme, et les comportements irrationnels. Envoyez la mauvaise foi, l'inélégance, et les sordides négociations financières. Un vrai tourbillon !

La principale victime: un ado incroyable, intelligent, mais difficile parfois, et hormonal,  souvent, qui n'avait rien demandé.

Notre nouvelle norme a commencé il y a dix-huit mois. Junior va bien. Je vais bien. Nous avons créé une nouvelle vie, une équipe, et sommes en train de nous préparer pour notre nouvelle maison, un appartement à quelques minutes à peine de notre ancien quartier. L'ado gardera son école et ses amis, comme il nous l'a demandé en apprenant la mauvaise nouvelle l'an dernier. Moi, je rêvais de changer de décor, mais il faudra que j'attende encore un peu. C'était la seule chose à faire. Pour le moment, voilà le plan. Nouvelle vie. Nouveaux meubles. Nouveau chapitre dans un livre tout neuf. 

A travers tout ça, j'ai continué à écrire sur le blog. Une bonne façon de m'évader. Le blog, c'est comme un vieux copain, qui m'a aidé pendant les années difficiles. La reconnaissance et les amis qu'il m'a apportés, me faisaient du bien au moral et à l'égo. Hélas, au début de l'année, j'ai du commencé à préparer la maison avant de la mettre en vente. Un cauchemar logistique qui envahi ma vie... et ma tête. 

Cette French Girl est déterminée, organisée, et solide. Les compétences en gestion de projet, acquises dans une ancienne vie, sont toujours là. J'ai tout fait seule, avec l'aide occasionnelle de Junior et d'un de ses amis. (C'est si rassurant de voir des jeunes compétents et chevaleresques voler au secours d'une femme en difficulté !) J'ai nettoyé une maison de 280 mètres carrés; trié; vidé un grenier; engagé des artisans; supervisé leur travail; fait des dons à des organisations locales; vendu; jeté des kilos d'objets, pendant des jours, des semaines et même des weekends entiers. La maison s'est vendue en deux jours. Mission accomplie, French Girl !

Aujourd'hui, tandis que Junior et moi nous préparons à fermer la porte de la maison de famille pour la dernière fois, et à emménager dans notre nouveau cadre, je veux voir le côté positif des choses, les réussites, et commencer à faire des projets d'avenir. Je voudrais aussi me donner une accolade et remercier quelques personnes (Ne vous inquiétez pas: Il n'y aura pas de discours à rallonge comme aux Césars.) 

La regrettée Maya Angelou a dit: "Essaie d'être l'arc-en-ciel dans le nuage noir de quelqu'un.

Merci à tous mes amis, d'avoir été mes arc-en-ciel personnels pendant les dix-huit derniers mois. J'ai souvent parlé de vous sur le blog. Vous savez qui vous êtes. C'est vrai "qu'il faut tout un village," et le mien n'est pas mal du tout. 

Merci à mon incroyable famille méditerranéenne, qui a réussi, à plus de 10.000 kilomètres de distance, avec neuf heures de décalage horaire, à me réconforter et à m'encourager. Ne sous-estimez jamais le pouvoir d'un coup de téléphone, ou d'un paquet qui renferme des films français, un sac de Fraises Tagada, ou le dernier numéro de Elle



My parents and Junior, 2 ans, in Spain


French Girl, 10 ans, son frère, 9 ans, et leur premier chat
(Lambersart, nord de la France)


Pour finir, je suis toujours réconfortée et inspirée par l'exemple des femmes de ma famille. Certaines on traversé bien pire qu'un tout petit divorce.



Henriette et "son clan" quelque part dans le Sud-Ouest
(Tu nous manques, Chantal !) 


Alors que je me tourne vers l'avenir, une chose est sûre: Je vais apprécier d'être  à nouveau célibataire. 



"C'était super,  mais je pense que
je vais recommencer à faire exactement ce dont j'ai envie."

J'ai cinquante-et-un ans, et je démarre une nouvelle carrière, et une nouvelle vie. C'est à la fois intimidant et excitant. Je peux choisir mon chemin. J'ai bataillé dur pour obtenir la liberté financière de recommencer à prendre mes propres décisions.

Quand je n'étais pas occupée à élever un ado, à enseigner, ou à travailler sur la maison, j'ai trouvé le temps de préparer un dossier de candidature à un Master de formation des professeurs, proposé par Seattle Pacific University, un processus de quatre mois.  En mars dernier, ils ont accepté ma candidature. J'ai fait des recherches sur les opportunités d'emploi pour les professeurs de français. J'ai regardé de près le coût du programme, pour finalement refuser la place qui m'était offerte. Après quinze ans passés à enseigner le français en freelance, je change de voie.

Mon avenir est dans l'industrie du tourisme, que j'ai côtoyée chez American Express France (cette French Girl est passionnée par les voyages, comme le savent tous mes lecteurs.) A l'automne, je retourne en classe pour préparer une certification professionnelle d'un an dans le tourisme. Où j'irai ensuite, reste à définir. J'ai l'intention de proposer en ligne mes séminaires de voyage en France. Il y aura un nouveau site Internet, peut-être même un nouveau blog. Et il ne me déplairait pas de faire de la concurrence à Rick Steves (NDLR: spécialiste américain des voyages en Europe) avec mes propres voyages organisés dans quelque temps. 

Mais d'abord, en piste. Emménageons chez nous. Ensuite, prenons un peu de temps pour nous amuser et voyager... en Europe, bien sûr. Comme je les ai attendues, ces vacances d'été !

C'est le moment de boucler, et sur tous les plans. Cette French Girl regarde vers l'avenir, sérieusement, concentrée, comme la petite fille qu'elle était jadis.



Une French Girl, 2 ans, son frère, et sa maman
(quelque part dans le Sud-Ouest)

Pour citer à nouveau la grande Maya Angelou:


"Ma mission dans la vie, n'est pas que de survivre, mais de prospérer: 
et de le faire avec de la passion, de la compassion, de l'humour et du style."

Ou, comme mes amies me l'ont écrit dans ma carte d'anniversaire:


"Tout est une question d'attitude !"




Je suis entièrement d'accord.



"Une French Girl: Style Grand-Ouest américain, avec maquillage Chanel."


Merci de m'avoir lue aujourd'hui. A bientôt (et cette fois, c'est sûr !)





  

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32 comments:

  1. You and Junior have gone through the worst. A door is opening to a new passion and we are all there, cheering you up. Best of luck Veronique!

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  2. Veronique. You are one very special lady and I'm glad we 'met' in cyberspace. 51 is young, esp in you. You will NEVER (as I am sure you know) regret being respectful of your son's father, or keeping them near each other till he is off to college. In the meantime you will build a new business and life even better than before, and the earlier chapter sure included a lot of success. Love your attitude and the way you express things. I LOVE Maya Angelou too. On my To-Do list is to re-read some of her books.

    Many today, including me, had to start all over. So you're in a pretty big club there. ;) Look forward to hearing more about the travel biz which will be fantastic!

    All best, Suzanne

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  3. I've pretty much abandoned the blogosphere. (Not sure if I'll return either...? Contemplating it...) But I needed to not only read this post, but comment.

    It sounds like the past year and a half have been incredibly painful for you, on different levels. I'm sorry you've had to deal with the heartache, anger, and frustration from your situation. But it also sounds like you've maintained your positive outlook on life and clung to hope, rather than watch it disappear. I both admire and envy you. I'm sure a big part of that optimistic spirit is the mother in you, because you need to keep your head above water for your son. Plus, just by knowing you (online) it's very obvious you're a happy, positive person overall. :) I'm glad that you're moving on from your past and looking forward to the future with bright eyes and open arms. Good luck with your new career and all the exciting adventures you have planned.

    The past several months have been incredibly stressful, traumatizing, and unhappy for me. It's hard not to lose hope. But when I read posts like this one, it does make me realize just how far a little optimism will go...

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  4. Ah Life. It can sometimes be a bumpy ride, n'est-ce pas? You go give that Rick Steves a run for his money! I can't wait. Bon Courage!

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  5. I have missed you and thought of you often..hoping all was ok. I love your honesty about all of it. Even admitting your age.. I will never understand why women have a difficult time with that??? Will think of you today as you close one door..but I have a feeling many more will open for you. You are smart, quick witted, funny, movitivated and you have a kind heart. Bon courage to you Veronique!! You and Junior can do this!!! xo

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  6. This is a confirmation of what many of us may have guessed, missing you here, following you on Facebook...Bravo, for coming back to blogging again and for this explaining post, so much in your usual spirit, full of energy, some kind of realistic optimism... Good of you to give a preference to the son's needs and wishes! Now, time for you to create a new future although there is still some understaandable nostalgy (old family photos...); I'm sure your fighting spirit will make it all work fine! All the best!!!

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  7. Dearest Véronique,
    That is a lot you had to juggle but glad you're firm in your new start.
    Such emotional decissions are never easy to make but it could have been a lot worse; everyone is still alive and there for one another in a positive way.
    Wishing you good health and the strength for further going this road solo.
    A big hug,
    Mariette

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  8. I don't know if I've commented here before but just wanted to say, you can do this! Sounds like you already know that though:) I went through a divorce 12 years ago, with 3 boys who were 8, 10 and 12 at the time. We moved from a 4000 sq. ft. house into a 2 bedroom apartment. I went from being a stay at home mom to a F/T working mom. I look back and have fond memories of those days, as hard as they were much of the time, it was still part of my boys childhood:) Good luck in everything you do!!! It will all work out!

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  9. Bonjour, I am a reader who draws inspiration & enjoyment reading your blog. I wish you a wonderful continuation of your new path. Bonne continuation! Merci beaucoup pour la version française, quel plaisir!
    New life chapters, they are often difficult times, but then, they are so rewarding!

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  10. A huge welcome back! You have remained on my sidebar and I've kept checking for updates (I had a feeling you would one day return!) and today I was absolutely delighted to see your new post. I have missed you and your entertaining posts! What a tough time you and Junior have had. It must have been exhausting both physically and emotionally to prepare the house for the sale but you did it and I admire your spirit, positivitiy and determination. I was reading a post about Maya Angelou the other day and in my comment I said that my favourite quote was the one you mentioned at the end of this post - thriving not just surviving. I can see that you are going to thrive! I wish you well in your new career and hope you both soon settle well in your new home. A new chapter begins - onwards and upwards!
    A bientôt!

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  11. Bravo, bon retour. Si tu as besoin d'aide pour tes nouveaux projets, n'hésite pas à faire signe.

    Sylvain P

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  12. All the best to you and Junior on this journey! It's so beautiful to hear your excitement about all the new possibilities!

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  13. Quelle joie de te relire, ma chère Véro. Tu es vraiment une "fille" formidable. La route est à toi, ma grande.

    Gros bisous de la part de Dan et moi, M-T

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  14. Thanks for sharing. Missed you. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

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  15. Good for you, French Girl, for being strong, resilient and determined to thrive. I applaud you for chasing rainbows and lassoing a positive attitude. Wishing you all the best in the next chapter you create for yourself! XOXO

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  16. Hello Veronique
    How lovely to see your smiling face and to see you back blogging again. I have missed you.
    I must congratulate you on accomplishing so much through these trying times. You did it and I can feel your excitement and enthusiasm as the next chapter unfolds. Hugs to Junior also.
    Helenxx

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  17. What amazes me most is not that you've gotten through so much change, but that you've come through the other side with positivity intact. I am going through a similar "opening of the heart" career change, and admire your strength and determination to do it on your own. Bon courage, bonne continuation, gros bisous!

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  18. A difficult story to tell, one that should inspire many. We do what we have to do and what a wonderful example you have set for Junior, one that he will carry with him for life. He will be stronger and will have a respect for the women in his life. To see your mother reinvent herself is bound to make a lasting impression. I am so proud of you and love knowing that you have found a passion and courage to "take a new path." How exciting, and I look forward to e-chatting with you privately. You are an amazing woman, my "French Girl" ideal.

    Bises,
    Genie

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  19. Wow. I am almost speechless with admiration for your attitude. Not a drop of self-pity, not a drop of wallowing in the past….but a strong, determined, down-to-earth and VERY admirable attitude to move boldly into the present and into the future.

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  20. Un "Ado hormonal", c'est un pléonasme ! :o)
    Bon, comme dit l'autre , ce qui est à Vegas reste à Vegas -ce qui est passé est passé .Maintenant, cap vers le futur , avec beaucoup de nouveautés à savourer, entreprendre , découvrir .. que des projets positifs, stimulants , passionnants ! C'est une nouvelle vie qui s'annonce, et je suis sûre que tu sauras en tirer le meilleur !
    A bientôt !
    Bises nissardes !

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  21. What a sad story to read your life has turned so upside down. You must have felt desperate some times but you are a strong woman to have managed to sort all things out and to keep your son going as well. Wish you all the best with the start of a new life and career.
    Marianne

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  22. Dear Veronique, I have missed your blog posts and have been following you on Facebook. I have such sympathy and respect for your recent changes as I do went through a separation, forced home sale, and divorce while living in your same town. So in some ways, I have walked your same path. I too had to start all over again, but with younger children. My daughter graduated from the same high school Junior will attend, I believe. It has some excellent opportunities for him. We all wish you bonne chance and please continue with your most interesting blog posts if you can. I have learned so much from you.
    une amie on Whidbey Island

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  23. My darling friend-how I have missed you-and all I can say is WE , YOUR READERS ARE FORTUNATE TO HAVE YOU BACK. How I have missed you...but so understand .... you are worth the wait and as I have said before I wish you every GREAT and WONDERFUL thing especially all the dreams aspirations and wishes kept in the quiet of your heart-HERE IS TO THE NEXT 51 Dear sweet v bravo and bravo again! with love....

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  24. I know this wasn't easy to write. Writing about anything is easier than barring your soul. You sound very strong. I was in the same spot years ago with two small children. I too stayed put for awhile too ,so that their world would have a bit of familiarity. My kids turned out fantastic, by the way.
    Happy that you are back......You Go Girl, We are all cheering for you. janey

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  25. I have read your posts once in a while, but never commented. Just wanted to congratulate you on keeping your spirits ups through that very stressful time of your life. Best of luck to you and your boy, and may your new career path bring you much joy. Life will be great again for sure!!

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  26. Ah, dear French Girl, I am sending you a big hug. Thank you for posting your thoughts. I was missing you and hoping you were okay. I went through a similar experience at age 47 and I applaud your attitude and your goals. Best wishes as you move into your new digs and start a new chapter. Wonderful things are ahead, for you and your son. Carpe diem.

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  27. Dear Veronique - I love your positive attitude even in times of trouble. I have a feeling you and your son will have a great future. I admire your resilience and resourcefulness. So happy to have you back in the blogging world, I kept looking at your name on my blog roll thinking, she'll be back, right? We all missed you.

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  28. Great to see you back!! I hope you and Jr are settling into your new digs. You sound so happy with your new life! How exciting about your new job opportunity and schooling. That sure sounds like it will be amazing!!

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  29. bravo, véronique, pour ta détermination, ta capacité à te créer une vie positive, et ta manière d'envisager le futur. a real "french girl"!

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Bonjour! I love hearing from you, my readers. To quote a fellow blogger, my friend Owen, "Comments are the icing on blogcake... Comments are the UFO in the twilight sky bearing news from other planets... Comments are raspberry vinegar in salad dressing... Comments are the cool balm of after-sun moisturizing lotion... Comments are the moment the band comes back out onstage to play an encore... Comments are the gleam in the eye across the room in a smoky bar... Comments are the rainbow after the rainstorm..." Merci for your comments! French Girl in Seattle