I’m learning to allow myself to slow down. I recently traveled to Paris and Tain L’Hermitage, a town in southeastern France that sits on the banks of the Rhône River, to study at l’Ecole du Grand Chocolat. I was there to train, but the trip turned into a needed break from juggling practicing law during the day while furthering my skills as a chocolatier.
For the past year, I’ve been pushing to put myself in a position to transition out of law completely, and earlier this year, I started feeling fatigued . . . all the time. Then I had occasional dizzy spells and an elevated heart rate without any reason. At one point, I started getting chills and felt an odd tightness in my throat. Even when I allowed myself to sleep in, I still awoke feeling drained as if I hadn’t slept at all. I felt this way for over two months, all the while running around to doctors, fearing the worst, but every test and scan reflected good health.
I started to admit that maybe I was pushing too hard. I reassessed how I was living, and I suspected that I had to allow myself to slow down. Perhaps my body had its own way of telling me the same. It took me months to pay attention and start to change, but when I did, I returned to feeling like me. The trip to France reinforced that I needed to allow myself to experience the journey of my transition.
Although it had been a little over ten years since my last visit, I had not forgotten that even if I moved at a frenzied pace, that would not be in the case in France. I also had not forgotten how incredibly kind the French can be. I spent several days in Tain L’Hermitage and then headed to Paris to visit chocolate boutiques. I walked everywhere, many times allowing myself to wander, physically and mentally, on the streets of Paris and Tain L’Hermitage. (I’m glad I packed the right shoes for the cobblestone streets!).
The vineyards overlooking Tain L’Hermitage were breathtaking. Each night after a long day on my feet in training, I roamed Tain L’Hermitage, and its neighboring town, Tournon-sur-Rhône. My mind was calmed by the serenity and sights of both. My long walks allowed me to reflect on the past and dream for the future.
On this trip, I also allowed myself to experience each morsel that crossed my lips. Most days at my job, I throw down lunch while working at my desk, and then while grabbing a quick bite for dinner, I’m usually identifying tasks for my “to do” list for the evening before turning to recipe development or whatever is on my list. But on this trip, I tasted each bite, both savory and sweet. A Frenchman said to me that the French sit and enjoy their coffee rather than rushing into a shop to buy it and slurping it down on the way to work (which I’m guilty of each day!). That comparison put my usual routine into perspective.
One of the restaurants I fell in love with in Tain L’Hermitage was Le Quai, which overlooks the Rhône River at La Passerelle Seguin, a pedestrian footbridge connecting Tain L’Hermitage and Tournon-sur-Rhône. Pictures from my three-course meal at Le Quai:
Other yumminess I enjoyed while in Tain L’Hermitage and Paris:
(In all honesty, someone noticed that I was constantly checking e-mails during one of my meals. I’m getting better at “living in the moment” but I haven’t perfected this art!)
After leaving Tain L’Hermitage, I spent a few days in Paris and stopped by the boutiques of some of France’s gifted chocolatiers. One I recommend is Patrick Roger. His chocolate sculptures are reason alone to visit one of his boutiques, and I was fortunate to meet him and watch him in action in his workshop south of Paris in the town of Sceaux.
And, finally, I allowed myself to realize how far I’ve come along this path–allowing myself to momentarily look over my shoulder rather than rushing forward as I have been. Sometimes I get so focused on what more I want to do that I don’t allow myself to enjoy the journey. On my daily walks and times for reflection, I also made time for sightseeing in Paris.
So, tell me, what will you allow yourself to do?