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It’s been quite a while since I wrote a blog and we have had so many different experiences and adventures over the last 12 weeks since we drove away from our old home in Northern Ireland in search of our new life in the Dordogne.

As I write this, however, I am not in France but in Edinburgh airport on the first leg of my journey back to Eoin, the dogs and our new winter rental home near Bergerac which we moved into a few days before I flew out to Ireland last Thursday afternoon.  20171111_165737It has been a mad whirlwind week which feels more like a month.  I flew to Dublin where I was running an event for 160 people through the Positive Living Network which is one of my businesses there.  During my 48 hours in Dublin I also had precious 1-1 time with my Positive Living Network team, a couple of girlfriends and one of my step-daughters.  I then got a lift up to Northern Ireland where I stayed Saturday night with one couple of friends and Sunday with another.  I checked in on Source Wellbeing Centre which is our business in Belfast and had time with our manager there.  I even squeezed in a yoga class with my old yoga teacher before flying over to Edinburgh on Monday!

20171116_154844Once in Scotland I drove up to Dundee to stay with my daughter, Georgia, and her partner and to help them move into their new flat.  Yesterday was spent at Georgia’s graduation from her Master’s degree and then celebrating with my brother, his wife and one of their daughters over a meal and cocktails.

I don’t think I could have fitted more into the week if I had tried!  Georgia said to me yesterday “it hasn’t been much of a holiday for you” and I had to point out that it was never meant to be a holiday.  Strangely enough our day to day life in France still feels like a holiday and coming back to Ireland/UK is more about going to work and catching up with loved ones.

After only 12 short weeks of living in France being here in the UK/Ireland has felt quite alien to me and I have been acutely aware of the much faster, more stressed and less connected way of life which is so different to life in the Dordogne.  I am really surprised that after such a short period of time, the UK/Ireland no longer feels like home to me and there is literally nothing that I miss from my old life (apart from my friends, who are still my friends and whom I chat with regularly anyway).

Eoin and I have spent the last few months correcting each other when we say “home” in reference to Ireland.  We have had to remind each other that it is no longer home and that France is now our home (even though we have not yet found our dream house).  After all the moving around with living in Mirabelle the motor-home and house-sitting over the last year (and specifically the last 3 months) I realise that, for me, the word “home” no longer refers to a house or a dwelling space.  I thought I would be devastated when we left our house in Northern Ireland but I have hardly given it a thought since we drove out the driveway in Mirabelle.  So what does home really mean to me now?

I realise that I can live pretty much anywhere (as long as it is reasonably comfy) and I can adapt to most environments very quickly now and I believe that this is because I have found “home” within myself at long last.  After many years of meditation and mindful, heart-centered living, I know that my true home is deep in my heart space and this is somewhere that I can rest regardless of where I am in the world or what is going on around me.  At any given moment I can simply close my eyes, take a few deep breaths and come home right there and then with no effort.  Having spent so much of my life changing my external circumstances and surroundings in an effort to create more happiness, I am struck by the simple wisdom of my soul which now whispers to me regularly to BE HERE NOW.  And in the being here now, I return home to myself.

However, there is definitely something about the peaceful simplicity and beautiful softness of life in the Dordogne which makes it much easier to drop into my heart centre and relax there for much longer than I was previously able to do.  Especially when we get to wake up to this most mornings (even in November)…….

Home

My flight has been called and I notice a joyful leap in my heart as I think of going for a long walk along the Camino in the sunshine tomorrow with my lover and our doggies.

A bientôt.

Jenny Gx

Feel the Fear and Speak French Anyway!

This is where I am sitting as I write this and I just had to share this photo with you because it is so beautiful here this evening!

After a fabulous couple of weeks in Mirabelle (the motor-home) exploring the glorious South-West coast of France, we arrived here near Belves about 10 days ago.  We are house-sitting in an incredible house for the whole of October and looking after Chewie 20171010_175951and Jabba the labs while their owners take a holiday.  Our two dogs are also with us so we have quite a pack to walk every day but it is worth it for the opportunity to spend time in this incredible setting for free.

The October weather has been glorious so far and today the temperature soared to a glorious 28 degrees.  It is now 8 pm and I am still sitting outside in a t-shirt.  My skin is brown and my body is loving all the challenging hilly walks with the dogs on the Camino (which runs right beside us), my daily swims in the pool here and lots of yoga.  There is literally zero stress from day to day at the moment and part of me still thinks that I am on holiday. The reality that this is my new life hasn’t quite sunk in yet.

I think that this is partly because we have had so little interaction with any kind of local community since we arrived.  We have been moving around a lot over the last 8 weeks and we have been pretty self-sufficient in terms of keeping each other company which as been wonderful.  Eoin and I are best buddies and we have lived and worked together since we met 8 years ago so we are used to spending a lot of time with each other.  However, we have met quite a few couples who have moved here and have made the mistake of becoming totally dependent on each other for company and haven’t made the effort to get out and make new friends or create a sense of community around them.  This always ends in one or both of them wanting to move back ‘home’ – mainly because they haven’t made France their real home.  We will NOT be doing that!

Having felt pretty isolated socially where we were living in Northern Ireland one of the things that we are really searching for here in the Dordogne in that sense of community.  We want to find our people, our tribe.  Eoin wants to find fellow musicians to jam with and other creatives and I want to find my sisterhood of like-minded women who are interested in spirituality, well-being, the divine feminine and such-like.  So, whilst the house and area we end up living in are very important to us, the existence of that community is actually going to be the deciding factor in terms of where we end up buying.

festivalWe have been asking for signs and literally reading signs and posters in every village we visit to see what is going on.  There is yoga, t’ai chi and a few other musical things but nothing has really leapt out at me.  Then last Wednesday, in a small village near us, I saw this and my heart raced.  A gathering of women only 5 kms from where we are staying which is on this weekend!  I couldn’t believe it but went online, checked it out and signed up immediately to attend for the day yesterday.  Sadly Eoin is in Ireland this weekend and I couldn’t leave the dogs all day every day so that was as much as I could commit to. But I paid my money and was all set to go.  Then the fear kicked in……

“OMG it is all going to be in French!  They are all going to be French!  All the workshops will be in French! I am going to have to communicate with complete strangers in French and talk about lots of things which I don’t have the vocabulary for.”

I could so easily have talked myself out of it at that stage but instead I realised that if I really want to integrate into life in this beautiful country then the only way to do it is to push myself out of my comfort zones and go for it.  I also reassured myself that a gathering of conscious women like this would be a very safe place to make mistakes and to be encouraged in my still rusty French.

Don’t get me wrong, my French is OK.  In my early 20s I would have considered myself pretty fluent and it is all in there somewhere but the truth of it is that, since we arrived here 8 weeks ago, I have had to speak remarkably little French.  Eoin and I obviously speak mostly in English with each other, in the campsites that we were staying in most people were Dutch or German and all spoke English and even in the Dordogne nearly everyone we interact with has great English.  We dont enjoy French radio and we have only had access to English TV in the houses where we have stayed.  So it is very easy to be lazy but I am determined to get back to my previous levels of fluency and to exceed them. So I insist on speaking French (even if the shop assistant or market trader insists on speaking to me in English!) And, of course, the more lazy you are and the less you use it, the more likely you are to tell yourself that you can’t do it……a never-ending cycle.  The only way out of which is to push out of the comfort zone and speak as often as possible – USE IT OR LOSE IT!!

So off I went yesterday with a rainbow of butterflies in my belly but a strong knowing in my heart that this was exactly what I had to do.  And, as always, my heart was right.

I found myself in a beautiful setting surrounded by 140 women from all over France who were there to explore what it means to be female in this crazy, speeded up modern world we live in.  I attended workshops on a variety of different topics which interest me and I understood nearly all of what was being said.  I learnt new vocabulary and I asked people around me if I didn’t understand.  I introduced myself to the organisers who are a group of local women called Les Femmes de la Source (a coincidence that our wellbeing centre in Belfast is called Source….je ne crois pas!) and I explained that I was Irish and had just moved here.  I told them a little about myself and, within an hour, I had invitations to different events and to several of their homes over the next few weeks!  I even felt a very strong emotional connection or familiarity with a couple of them so I am excited to see how those friendships develop.

At several times during the day I felt tears of gratitude and joy welling up as I realised how beautifully the Universe can orchestrate things when I get my own fear and limiting beliefs out of the way, become clear about what I desire and then follow the signs.

I had dinner with 4 women at the Festival last night and was able to join in an animated and passionate conversation about miracles, the Law of Attraction, manifestation and intention and I fell into bed last night very tired but VERY sure that we are in exactly the right place at the right time.  I even dreamt a little in French for the first time in a couple of decades!

Our tribe is here and I am very excited to get to know them all more and to find a home nearby that allows us to spend time with them.  It is incredible to think that I could have missed out on all that because my crazy mind told me that my French wasn’t good enough!  So often we actually don’t need language to be able to connect with people at a heart and soul level anyway because we can pick up so much from people’s energy if we really want to and a genuine smile, openness of spirit and sense of humour can go a long, long way in a foreign country.

A bientôt,

J x

 

A Pair of Old Beach Hippies!

Us on beachAs I write this, I am sitting in Mirabelle (our motor-home) in a beautiful campsite and I can hear the roar of the wild Atlantic which is less than 5 minutes’ stroll from our ‘front door’.  We arrived here almost a week ago after an overcast and quite damp 10 days house-sitting in the Gironde.  When we left there last Monday we decided that we wanted to chase the sun and, thanks to Eoin’s brilliant weather app, we found it.  We have had a blissful week here with lots of sunshine, swimming in the waves, cycling, yoga and general outdoors living in temperatures in the mid to high 20s.  My skin is feeling sun-kissed and my body is feeling very healthy (if a little tired after a long time in the ocean yesterday).

Our two dogs are still staying with friends in the Dordogne and we decided to make the most of these two weeks of total freedom with no commitments to anyone apart from ourselves.  When we arrived here on Monday we told the receptionist that we would be staying a couple of nights but after two nights we realised that we were both really happy, relaxed and loving the place.  It was only our minds that were telling us that we “should” explore more of the coastline and see or do more.  We both dropped the word “should” from our vocabulary a few years ago so we decided to stay put until we both feel the urge for a change of scene.

Beach feet

We are really loving this level of freedom and ease and we are starting to realise that, if we decided to, we could just live like this for the winter.  We could leave France and keep heading south to warmer climes in Greece or southern Italy if we fancied it (and if it wasn’t for the dogs).  We have met people who have been living in their motorhomes and travelling around Europe for 4 years now.  It is such an interesting life choice and one which is open to us now that we have no home and we are on mainland Europe.

However, it probably won’t happen this winter because travelling with the 2 large dogs in the motor-home is just not fun at all.  So we have a house-sitting commitment for the whole of October in a beautiful house in the Dordogne which we are able to bring Samson and Delilah to.  After that we will probably rent somewhere in the Dordogne for the winter while we do some serious property hunting if we are still 100% sure that that is where we want to put down roots.

Part of the dilemma at the moment is that we love so many of the parts of France which we have explored so far (and that is not many).  It is such a vast country with so much variety.  We had a couple of days in a beautiful town called Loches in the Loire and adored the romantic beauty and history there and now we have fallen in love with the healthy, outdoor lifestyle which the Landes region, where we currently are, has to offer.  I love the ocean and the ability to swim without the bone freezing temperatures of the Irish sea is very appealing to me.  I also know from previous experience that I adore Provence and could live very happily there (if I could afford to!).

So much choice can bring its own challenges.  Where do we even start?

Well, we are VERY clear on several points and have used what we know we DON’T want to create that clarity.  We want a much drier climate than we had in Co Down so that we can spend a lot of time outdoors keeping physically active and being in nature.  We want to find a community of like-minded, free-spirited, colourful, creative, passionate people.  We want to be able to walk/cycle into a reasonably vibrant small town with a market and interesting social activities.  We want relatively easy access to an airport which allows us to fly to Ireland for work.  We want to be no more than 2 hours from the sea (much closer if possible).  We want to be amongst beautiful forests and with great walking and cycle paths right beside us.  And that is just what we want in terms of the location of our home.  The spec for the house is just as detailed!  At times my mind thinks that we will never find something that ticks all those boxes but then I remember how clever the Universe is and how my job is to stay focused on the ‘what’ and ‘why and let the Universe figure out the ‘how’.

eckhartThe good news is that we have already ruled out a few areas which don’t tick all the boxes for us and also that we are under no time pressure.  We have a roof over our heads in the form of Mirabelle and our businesses back in Ireland are ticking over very nicely as we work on them remotely.  We feel very blessed and we are enjoying every second of this delicious freedom which we have created at a time in our lives when many of our peers are locked into careers, mortgages and pensions.  Some of the choices which we have made to allow all this have not been easy and our income levels are always a matter of uncertainty because we are both self-employed and have been for many years.   But, I wouldn’t change all the financial security in the world for the freedom and ease which I am experiencing right now.

The sun is fully up in the sky now and it is time for a gentle stroll through the pine trees, a visit to the boulangerie and some lunch in the sun.  La vie est belle!

A bientôt

Jx

sunset

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.

Don’t forget to check out our regular videos from the road by subscribing here.

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