New life, same old me!

It is now two weeks since we drove away from our old home in Nothern Ireland and about 10 days since we arrived in France.  My life has been turned on its head as I left behind so much which is familiar.  My physical environment is currently changing every few days as we explore this beautiful country. And yet I am fascinated by the fact that many aspects of my day-to-day life are very similar to how they were before.  I have the same morning routine and the same bedtime routine.  I have the same little habits that I have had for many years and my perimenopausal hormones are still as crazy in France as they were in Northern Ireland!

It is so easy to think that you will be fundamentally changed as a human being just because you make a big life change like moving to another country, ending a relationship or changing a job.  However, of course, just because the external circumstances of your life are different does not mean that you are different.

Yesterday I found myself waking early, going straight onto my laptop to check emails and then rushing to get to the morning market at a decent time.  I then observed myself wandering through that lovely French market and experiencing some more stress all of which was created by my thought patterns about what to buy and cook for dinner!  Rather than being fully present and enjoying the sights and sounds of the market and marvelling at the fact that this is now my new ‘normal’ way of buying food, my mind was caught up in old, outdated programming.

21534373_10155585388422593_468782885_oLuckily I have been meditating and practicing mindfulness for so many years now that I was able to observe the antics of my mind, catch them and bring myself fully back into the here and now.   I could then really experience the beauty of my surroundings and the pleasure of chatting in French with the fish-stall holder while I selected some monkfish for dinner.  I was able to appreciate the intricate wonders of the window display in the chocolaterie.  I could savour the smell the basil that I bought from the man who grew it.

So many people chase the dream and think that their lives will be totally different when they move to France (or any other country) but the reality is often that their lives are not really that different.  The common denominator of any stress and anxiety that we experience in our lives is not really the circumstances of our life.  It is YOU!  We all know that there are people living in what we perceive as horrifically deprived situations in countries like India who are filled with an inner joy and deep appreciation for their lives.  We also know people who ‘have it all’ and who are horribly unhappy.

I am very grateful that I learnt many years ago that happiness really is an inside job and that I have the power to change my own emotional state by learning to control the crazy antics of my mind.  I do that through meditation, the practice of gratitude and many other tools which I have learnt over the years.  After much practice, these are now some of my more positive habits and really enhance my life.

Will my peri-menopausal hormones still run wild here in my new life in France?  Of course they will.

Will my crazy ego-mind still want to drag me into stress?  Of course it will.

Will my old addictions to sugar and alcohol still be part of my life?  Oh yes….how could they not when I am sitting in the middle of the vineyards and surrounded by patisseries?

Do I have the ability to catch myself before I get hooked in old patterns?  Yes.

Do I have the choice as to what I put into my body and how to look after it?  Yes.

Do I get to decide how I spend my precious time in this beautiful country?  Absolutely.

And that is why, on the whole, I feel so free at this point in my life.  Because, in my mind, I have total freedom and that is not dependent on where or how I live.  It is dependent on me and the minute to minute choices that I make as to how I want to experience my life.

So, right here, right now, I choose to be at peace, to sit in awe of it all and to milk every second of this amazing adventure.

A bientôt

Jenny x

The Freedom of Simplicity

21125387_10155556176792593_5186998666097518413_oWe have now been on the road for one week and are gradually settling into our temporarily nomadic lifestyle.  So far we have spent nights in Northern Ireland, Dublin, near Stratford-upon-Avon, Portsmouth and a few nights in two different towns in the Loire region of France.  Our original plan had been to stay in a different place each night as we travelled down through France from Normandy to the Dordogne so that we could just do a couple of hours’ driving each day and explore the country we were passing through.  However, Tuesday saw a change of plan……

We spent Monday night in the car park of Portsmouth ferry terminal so we could get the early crossing and we had a restless night and an early start.  When we arrived in France on Tuesday at lunchtime it was hot and as we drove South the temperature and humidity kept rising.  By the time we arrived at our campsite after nearly 4 hours’ drive, we were all a little frazzled.  It was one of those days when I was sweating as I sat still never mind putting up the awning and getting ourselves unpacked.  The dogs were hot and stressed too.  By the time we got set up for the evening, Eoin and I were, quite frankly, f**ked!  All the busy-ness of the last few weeks, getting used to motor-home living, travelling with the dogs and finding our way around new terrain had finally taken its toll.  We sat down under the stars for dinner that night and decided that we all needed to take the next day off and just ‘land’ in France.  So we stayed for two nights and moved on yesterday but again, this morning, we both really felt the need for stillness so we are staying another night in the lovely campsite where we are right now.  It has been a great decision just to take things a little easier on ourselves and to have a couple of lazy days in one place without having to pack up and move on.  This afternoon it is raining heavily so we are putting our feet up and making the most of the enforced rest.

 

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Tomorrow we have a reasonably long drive but the reward at the end of it is that we are dropping Samson and Delilah off with our friends in the Dordogne who are dog-sitting for them for the rest of September.  We love the fur babies but they are just too big to travel around with in Mirabelle and it is also very unsettling for them. So this will be best for all of us.

 

I guess that we are still in the process of unwinding from the sale of our home, possessions and car and all the work that we had been doing in the background to simplify our lives before we left Northern Ireland.  Even at a combined age of 109 years old, we both have great energy levels which are helped by our healthy lifestyle and excellent nutrition but we definitely had underestimated how tired we actually were.

‘Simplify’ has been a buzz word for us for the last few months since we made the decision to relocate to France.  The impending move was an impetus for us to simplify our lives both personally and professionally.  We have streamlined our financial situation so that our new tax residency in France is as simple as possible because, let’s face it, the French do love bureaucracy and there will be a lot of it over the next few months for us.  We wanted to make sure that we kept our side of things as easy as we could.  We have simplified how we are running our three businesses in Ireland so that they are easily managed from France.  Then we both went through every piece of paper that we had in our files and destroyed anything which was not absolutely essential which was most of it because nearly everything is available online these days.  I managed to get all 3 of the businesses plus my own personal paperwork into one small box!  Business-in-a-box sounds great to me!!

Next for me was my wardrobe.  I love clothes and I had 2 double wardrobes plus about 5 large drawers full of them.  I was quite anxious about how I could possible simplify all this plus other hobbies down into the half a small wardrobe and 3 small cupboards which are mine in Mirabelle.  But I did it and, so far, I haven’t missed anything or felt the lack of it.

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The last thing for me to tackle was the kitchen.  In our home at Eden we had a very big kitchen with about 24 cupboards/drawers plus a pantry and pretty much all of them were in use.  I love food, I love cooking and I love my kitchen so how could I possible manage with 3 ½ small cupboards in Mirabelle.  It ended up being a challenge which I really enjoyed. So far our meals have been as yummy and healthy as at home.

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Eoin was amazed last night when, on my birthday, I brought out the champagne glasses, some delicious olives in a beautiful olive bowl which he bought me for Christmas and my mum’s special olive fork (every girl must have one!).  We sat and toasted my 49th birthday under our awning with my solar-powered fairy lights twinkling away and I was a very, very happy girl!  We may be on the road and camping but I still believe in having a few little luxuries around us.

All this simplification took a lot of time, thought and planning over recent months but, as we settle into our second week on the road and are starting to wind down, there is an enormous sense of freedom and peace in my mind.  I love knowing exactly what I have and where it is. I am thriving on the challenge of being creative with the limited amount of stuff that I have to work with in the kitchen and the tiny fridge which means we can only buy a couple of days’ fresh produce at one time.  No more ‘big Tesco’s shops’ for me…hurray!

I have a strong sense that this whole process is going to have a huge impact on how we live long-term when we find our new home and really settle into life in France.  The lessons we have learnt from this simple life on the road will stay with us and we are already both determined to only acquire what we absolutely need and completely love in the future.

Simplicity and quality are the focus from here on in with my life.  Less is definitely more and travelling light through life is a wonderful feeling.

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A bientôt

Jenny x

Letting Go of the Old to Make Way for the New.

It has been a crazy week here at Travel Light HQ.

We now only have 2 weeks left until we hand over the keys for our home here in Northern Ireland, put the remaining 1/3 of our possessions into storage and hit the road in our new motor-home, Mirabelle.  Last weekend we had our final family gathering here at Eden which was a really lovely experience with our 5 kidults plus ones plus first grandchild, Sophie all here.  They all left on Monday morning and the letting go started for real…..

Within 48 hours my car, 3 beds, my desk, several chairs and lots of other bits and pieces were sold and collected.  The house is now starting to feel a little empty and it should be a lot more empty after our House Clearance Sale this Saturday.  Eoin has made me promise that I won’t sell our bed until the 23rd August!

Most of the larger pieces of furniture have little if any emotional hold over me but there are a few things which do.  Saying goodbye yesterday to lovely VW Beetle convertible, LuLu, brought a tear to my eye.  She and I have had lots of fun adventures and she has brought me a lot of joy.

Vision burningThen today I made the radical decision to burn all my old Vision Boards.  I have been making a Vision or Dream Board every year for the last 10+ years and, as Life Coach and Law of Attraction Coach, I used them as evidence for my clients and students of just what can manifest when you get clear about what you want.  As I looked through the Vision Boards today I realised that nearly 90% of the images and words on each of them has become reality which is pretty amazing. Continue reading “Letting Go of the Old to Make Way for the New.”

What this blog is all about…..

On 25 August 2017 my partner Eoin and I leave our home in Northern Ireland for a new life in France.  We have sold our home, sold one of our businesses, are selling or giving away most of our furniture and buying a motor-home to live in until we find our new home.  We think this will be somewhere in the Dordogne but we aren’t 100% sure yet!

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Mark Twain

This blog is dedicated to the start of a whole new life for me at the age of 49 and will be inspired by our adventures, my passion for food, nature, France and all things beautiful.

I hope it inspires you to follow your dreams and step out of your own comfort zones to create a life you love.

If you enjoy it, please share and I would love to hear from you so please feel free to leave comments and tell me what you are liking (or not!).

You can also follow our adventures on our YouTube Channel by clicking here.

Jenny Gx

My love affair with France

It started when I was 5 years old…….

Jenny working remotely in French cafeAs I write this I am travelling down the south-west of France from Bordeaux to Bayonne on a train with my beloved, Eoin.  We left the Dordogne this morning where we were house-sitting in a beautiful restored 18th century farmhouse surrounded by sunflower fields and vineyards.  We are now off to visit my sister who live in the foothills of the Pyrenees and we will be staying there for a few days before flying back to Northern Ireland.  Once home we have 4 weeks to pack up our lives, say our goodbyes and leave in our new motor-home in search of our new life in the Dordogne.  As I type those words I am filled with a mixture of huge excitement and a tinge of overwhelm because there is a LOT to do in the next few weeks.

However, we have spent much of the last fortnight house-hunting, getting to know the Dordogne better and making some lovely new friends so any doubt or fear which I had about making this massive move has disappeared altogether.  What I am left with now is a deep certainty in my soul that the next phase of my life is to be spent in France.  I feel so at home here.  Continue reading “My love affair with France”