Taking the time to be together with friends for a Sunday lunch, French style, which means home-made food, wine and therefore staying hours at the table.
My journey of bonding in the past decade in the States, with its ups and downs.
Things have shifted for me recently--in a good way. I’m rediscovering the joy of being connected with others. I now have friends who call me, text me, stop by my place. And I do the same.
Life hasn’t always been like that.
We all need to be recognized for who we are, to be heard, to be hugged. In other words, we all need to bond. And since I moved from Paris to Atlanta 11 years ago, I’ve learned not to take bonding for granted.
First, there was that feeling of being uprooted. Thank goodness, I was with my new love and husband at the time. My focus was on him--on us.
Then three years ago, I returned to France to rebuild myself during what I call “the nuclear explosion”. My dad was diagnosed with lung cancer and I was diagnosed with breast cancer, all while I was separating from my husband. Once I recovered, a year later, I returned to Atlanta. By then, everything had changed--me, for a start. My friends too. The friends we had as a couple had faded away and created new friendships elsewhere. The few friends who remained in my circle were scattered around the Atlanta metro area--these American city hubs are tough on friendships! On top of that, I let go of my 20-something year job as a corporate journalist, last year, to be a full-time yoga therapist. With that move, another layer of connections-at least via phone and email, went away too.
Amidst the discomfort and shock from all of the change, I almost decided to move back to France, when suddenly, this spring, everything changed. I started meeting people who recognized who I am. I mean, a bunch of people. All at once.
I met people who had done crazy things—just like I had. I met people who instantly understood what I do in yoga therapy. I even met people who remind me of me when I was 17 taking drama classes in Paris. (Yes, there was a time I wanted to be an actress.) Picking up pieces of myself I left along the way, being recognized and heard for who I am now, showed me that life is meant to be lived, not a struggle.
It was during those three tough years, though, that something changed within me, which laid the foundation for the transformation that occurred this spring.
I paused. I started turning my gaze towards me, seeing and recognizing who I am, the making of my own soul. For the first time, I decided I was not going to wait for someone else to recognize and approve of me. I started recognizing my beautiful side as well as my shadow side. Then, I started feeling love for myself. Slowly, steadily, surely. Love, in all its forms and shapes, needs to start with oneself. There is just no way around this if we want to live a joyful life. And sometimes it takes a nuclear explosion to get there. David Peace, the pastor of my little church, said it quite eloquently, “It’s in the darkness of the soil that the seed grows”.