33 Lessons Learned in Paris
Monday July 22, 2013

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Last year after returning from my travels abroad, I wrote a similar post recording the many lessons I had learned (click here to read the post).  While it takes time for some lessons to be absorbed, other lessons appear like flashes of lightning during moments unexpected. So many of the lessons I will share with you today occurred in this latter fashion.

The gift of travel is that no matter where the car, train, plane or your feet take you, there is always something to learn, and you always have the opportunity to return a better version of the person you wish to become.

One of the most wonderful ahh moments I observed is what I share in lesson #32. Many people have asked when my fascination with all things French began and when I began seeking out “French women’s ways of living”, but what I’ve realized is that I’ve always had an innate appreciation and love for many of the things associated with French living – quality over quantity, simple, chic style, appreciation for relationships rather than excess and things, etc, and so it has been more of an experience much like one is drawn to a kindred spirit.

When you find someone or something that holds similar ways of living in high regard, a magnetic force has a mysterious way of pulling you together.  Thankfully, I have been fortunate enough to visit a country that speaks my language because it would be quite difficult for a country to hop on a plane to Oregon.

Have a look at the many lessons I discovered and hope to try and incorporate into my daily routine now that I’m back home . . .

1. Leave the cell phone in your handbag when dining and be present with the company you are with, the food you are eating the atmosphere that surrounds you.

2. Let events unfold naturally.  Who knows where they might lead?

3. Forget labels. Shop for the best quality you can afford.

4. Forget size. Shop for what flatters your figure.

5. Wake up excited to be alive, realizing that nothing is guaranteed.

6. Inspiration is everywhere, but you must be rested and alert to observe it.

7. Every one needs time off. Let go of the busman’s holiday mentality and take time to replenish yourself.

8. Loving what you do has a direct effect on one’s health.

9. Dressing well reflects a respect for life, one’s self and others.

10. Find your calm each day.

11. Don’t be afraid to ask.

12. Quality accessories complete one’s outfit.

13. Be patient. Let the way of the day inspire you, not frustrate you.

14. When the weather is excessively hot, get up early and enjoy the quiet and cool.

15. Always choose stylish over sexy. Because choosing to be sexy is objectification of one’s outer self, while choosing to be stylish is a revelation of one’s inner self-respect.

16. Incorporate scarves into your daily wardrobe. Own them like you would pairs of shoes. You can never have too many, and just the right scarf perfectly completes a look. (Click here to read more about scarves.)

17. Invest in quality accessories. Purchase them not because it’s a trend or the “it” item but because it will last and it speaks to your sense of style.

18. Even if you have amazing health care, smoking still is not chic.

19. It is better to ask why or ask how something works than to cower and remain stagnant because of fear. Knowledge provides understanding which provides direction, which provides freedom.

20. Planning ahead and doing your homework pays off even if things unfold differently or go off track.

21. Dress to please yourself.

22. Wear a beautiful chemise, lingerie or pajamas to bed each night whether you share your bed or not. 

23. Fall in love with your life. If the life you are living isn’t your ideal, find something about it that you do love – a daily ritual, a certain relationship, your morning walk, etc – and be willing to find the courage to do the work to create a life you love. While it won’t be easy, it will be worth it.

24. Add a shift dress to your summer wardrobe – simple, comfortable in hot weather and chic with flats or sandals.

25. Don’t follow what other tourists do or what is expected of a vacation to your destination. Enjoy your trip in such a way that leave you wiser about how to live your one unique life and better informed about the world.

26. Paris isn’t perfect, but it has embraced who it is. Do the same with yourself and capitalize on your strengths. Gather all necessary knowledge to bolster those strengths and observe your expectations being exceeded.

27. Sales are most rewarding when you buy what you need and would buy at full price if you had the money.

28. Choose your words wisely as they have great power. They can welcome or isolate, console or harm, inform or manipulate, encourage or terrify. What legacy do you want to leave behind?

29. Everyone is on their own path, but we all have to get along to each move forward.

30. Keeping up with the Joneses leaves nobody happy.

31. Having more money than you plan on spending brings an ease along the journey. Who knows when an obstacle or opportunity will present itself?

32. My Paris (a sense of self-respect, signature style, quality over quantity, a regard for relationships over money, an air of mystery, etc) will be wherever I go.

33. Life has a wonderful way of surprising you if you allow yourself to be present. While it is advisable to have expectations, it is understanding why you have those expectations (how it will make you feel when you reach them) that is more important to grasp. After all, it is the journey that is most enjoyable.

As you can see, travel allows us to return home richer than when we embarked on our journey. I’m curious to know, what valuable life lessons have you learned from your travels? Please do share in the comments below or on TSLL Facebook page. Have a great Monday and lovely start to the week.


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21 thoughts on “33 Lessons Learned in Paris

  1. I don’t know that I have ever left a comment here, but I am a long-time follower who simply adores your blog! I always leave feeling inspired, motivated, more in touch with who myself and who I aspire to be. Thank You!

  2. wonderful suggestions and life lessons! i feel as if with each lesson, you have a personal story behind it that assisted in you learning that lesson! 🙂 would be great to hear some of your experiences while in paris, or how it is that you come across such revelations !
    thanks for sharing as always.

  3. Loved the post, especially as I am heading to Europe (including Paris) is exactly 1 week! I did the same thing last summer, and just a couple of the lessons I learned are…

    Don’t be afraid to enjoy a fabulous dinner by yourself, in a beautiful setting.

    Ask around where the non-touristy restaurants are; oftentimes the popular tourist spots are over-priced, but for example when I was in Nice, France last summer, I found a fantastic restaurant in town (away from the tourist boardwalk area) that had amazing seafood and a view of the French coast from where I sat.

    Leave some time for exploring/shopping. While I enjoy seeing the tourist spots as much as anyone else (love seeing the history of things), I also wanted time to wander and shop. Doing so allowed me to come across a few fabulous shops in Paris.

    Realize that there may be moments that you get lonely and feel a little down if travelling on your own. It happens. Preparing myself in advance makes me feel like I can better weather those moments and have a back-up plan/way to turn it into a more positive focus (ie. bring a book to dinner).

    Familiarize yourself and experience local transportation and ways of getting around. I was never interested in those hop-on hop-off bus tours. I learned how to use the metro in Paris (which was initially hard) and it now makes me feel wonderful to feel more “a part of the city” as opposed to just being another tourist.

    While travelling on my own, I really enjoyed after a long day, having a hotel room to myself – to take a relaxing bath, to read for awhile, turn out the light when I want etc. I’ve realized that I need a comfortable space to myself at night (hostels would definitely not be for me).

    Last summer, I came home from my travels feeling a little stronger. I learned how to navigate neighbourhoods and languages and trains that I had never been to before. It makes you feel independent and strong.

    Travel reminds me that there is life outside of my daily routine and my home, that there are different worlds/experiences out there, and you never know when you are about to become a part of something new.

    Don’t be afraid to ask for help – I saved myself time by having the courage to approach people in foreign countries to assist me.

    Get up early. I am not a morning person, but while exploring somewhere, you will feel alot more satisfied knowing you’ve been a part of the day starting early

    Take the time to relax and enjoy…I am still learning the lesson that I too easily pack alot of things in one day/see perhaps too many cities at once; meaning, next time, I’d like to book a slightly longer trip and spend more time in fewer cities.

    I’m sure there are more…but those are a few of mine!

  4. Shannon, lovely and thought provoking, thank you. Last fall we traveled to Hawaii and I wanted it to be an “active” vacation, as opposed to laying around the pool/beach all day. Granted we did some amazing things – rode bikes down the side of a volcano, saw waterfalls from a helicopter, tried stand up paddle boarding, zip lined – I almost wish I had planned a little more down time to relax and take it all in. It is sometime difficult – at least for me – to find the balance between making the most of your trip and finding a little time to relax. However I have no problem travelling until I find just the right combination.

    1. A good problem to have indeed! I too was thinking I would be able to relax a bit on my trip to Paris this year, but it turned into something entirely different. I guess that’s part of letting the trip take you where it wants to take you, and the travel must just be open and go along.

  5. What a fabulous post…I plan to reshare and link this post on my blog, thebeneblog.com. Every single item on your list I could relate to!
    This is one of those posts you print out, put on your bulletin board and revisit on a daily basis.

  6. I learned to be more open-minded when it comes to food. When I travel,even if it’s the SAME DISH I eat everyday, in another country they just prepare foods so different.
    When I went to Nicaragua I learned to help ANYONE. When I was younger I used to only help people that in my eyes needed help but then I realized that EVERYONE needs some sort of help. Because nobody’s perfect and the same way happy people are happy, they can also get sad and sometimes they need help but don’t want to ask for it.

  7. As Earnest Hemingway said, “Paris is a moveable feast.” Style and class will stay with you all your life if you just allow it to. Stay classy X

  8. My husband worked in Northern Italy for 2 years. I visited during my school vacations. I was struck by how social everyone was. I’m from New England, where independence is sacrosanct. In Italy, it was the family, the town, the community. Since, I was alone during the day, I especially noticed that people in Italy are almost never alone. And shocking to me, even boys were intimate with others. Teenage boys walked arm in arm with their grandmothers. They put sunscreen on each others backs at the beach. To a New Englander, that was intimate! I developed a skill for recognizing pickpockets by keeping alert for men walking alone. I watched in Venice as a man in a 3 piece suit, in August!, went after different tourists. In Florence, I saw a man walking alone in the afternoon with a newspaper. No one is still reading the newspaper in the afternoon. Sure enough, when the police came up the street, that man ducked into an alley. In America, if I thought everyone walking alone was a pickpocket, I’d never go out. I so miss that culture.

  9. Love all your posts and I look forward to them every week!!!?

    Any suggestions for Parisian /French inspired places here in NYC ( restaurants, places to shop or places to visit…

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