(me yesterday, reading the book on the plane to Geneva)
Hello my friend! I am writing you today from Divonne, France, a small town on the outskirts of Geneva, Switzerland. The border between these two countries winds in and out of the streets of this picturesque little town, sort of like a peek-a-boo game of now you see Switzerland, now you don’t type of thing. However, whether in France or Switzerland, this part of the world is truly breathtaking! Like the backdrop of a fairytale!
As I was flying here yesterday from Amsterdam, I sat on the plane and listened to all the “white noise” of many languages coming together. I heard French, Dutch, Italian, and German, and they were all being filtered through my English ears. I put the book down that I was reading and just listened. I focused on what I was hearing. Then something strange happened: I began to picture myself back at home, going about my daily routine, and of all things, going to Target for groceries like I do a couple a times a week (I do love me some Target, but not sure why that was the visual that came up first in my head…haha!)……anyway….. as I looked around at the faces where all this combined language was coming from, I thought to myself “wow, I am so far away from home and my “normal” life. I had this weird sensation come over me that almost made me feel like I was someone else. Like I was playing a part of someone else’s life, and that when I go back home, and I am back shopping at Target for miscellaneous things, that this trip and my experiences on it will all seem like they never really happened. And then I thought, no, that was the old me, how I used to think…THIS IS my life now, and both of these things, sitting on a plane to Geneva, and shopping at Target in Texas is WHO I AM! I am not sure any of that makes sense to you, but let me try to explain…..
The book I was reading yesterday during this out of body episode was “Eat, Pray, Love Made Me Do It”. This is Elizabeth Gilbert’s compilation book of many of her reader fan essays about how her original book, “Eat, Pray, Love” changed their lives. Of course, I am one of those fans (not that submitted an essay for the book, but one that had a life shift myself after reading Eat, Pray, Love…..), and so when I found out this new book was going to be released, I knew I needed to get it just as soon as it came out. It was also perfect timing for the book’s release, because it came out right before this current European adventure I am on.
As I read story after story from many different people about how unhappy they were, or how unfulfilled they were before they read “Eat, Pray, Love”, and that how after reading the book it encouraged them to dream differently, and how it gave them the emotional strength they needed to make big life changes that now allows them to feel more like themselves, I thought….yes, at one time I could truly relate to that, but not anymore. I was reading this new version of “Eat, Pray, Love” through very different eyes than I did back in 2009 when I read the original. Back then, Liz’s story was a reflection of everything I was feeling but too afraid to say out loud. I was ripe for her words, her truth, and I was inspired to make changes from them (and I did), but back then I also thought that my life had to be an either/or type of life, and not an and/and type of life.
I used to think that my travel ambitions couldn’t happen because I was a wife and mom. I used to think I couldn’t take time out in life to focus on what I needed, and what I wanted just as Kalee, because again, I was a wife and mom. I used to feel that the separate parts of my personality and desires needed to stay just that…..separate. When I left for Berlin back in 2009 for my own “Eat, Pray, Love” sabbatical, I was not only physically leaving my life behind in Texas, but it was my first symbolic move of a life in transition. At the time, my life felt very segmented, and I couldn’t fathom that all the different goals and dreams I had for my life could ever come together to make a whole person. A whole me. So, when I took that trip to Berlin, I kept it at arms length from my friends and family back home. It was as if I could not experience both of those together, so I separated them. When I was at home, I didn’t talk about my longing for something else, for somewhere else. When I was on that solo trip back in 2009, I didn’t talk about my husband or my kids. I didn’t think about shopping at Target. I didn’t think about everything my life entailed back home while I was away. Again, the two didn’t go hand in hand….or so I thought back then.
Flash forward almost 7 years from my own “Eat, Pray, Love” trip, and I now know that traveling, experiencing new cultures and people, AND being a wife and mom are all parts of my life . All of those things make up who I am. I am not one without the other. I have learned to embrace those two parts of life that inspire me the most, and have created a version of myself that I am very fulfilled by. Is it a struggle sometimes to balance both those parts of who I am? Absolutely. But don’t we all have that struggle? For you it may not be traveling on your own, versus raising a family, but I know there is something that you debate internally. We all do!
My point of this blog dear friend, is to say that we don’t have to have an either/or life. We are all worth having an and/and life, and that desiring to have that is not selfish. Sure, we all may not need to have a huge life transition as many readers of “Eat, Pray, Love” have had (including myself), but if you are one of us who has at times segmented the different parts of your life that make up who you are, I encourage you to start figuring out a way to blend the parts together to make up a whole you. A unique, creative, and beautiful YOU!
So, just as I have started to live out loud my and/and life, I hope you will do the same. After all, we have one shot at this thing called life, and how sad it would be to not live it to the fullest! Nurture your desires. Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others who may not understand your transition. Change is difficult for others to accept sometimes, but always know that has nothing to do with you, but everything to do with their own struggles. Go after your own AND/AND life my friend!
I will now head out of our little apartment we rented on Airbnb, and explore beautiful Geneva. I have texted with my children back home, and so my and/and life is complete. I am a whole me, living a life I love. I hope you are doing the same.
Wishing you a wonderful day ahead…..always.