Being a non-conformist, I know the term intimately. I’m a middle-aged princess/tomboy, and it’s only in recent years that I have learned to understand, and to accept, that non-conformism is the foundation of my existence, my raison-d’être. My own personal growth is deeply rooted in that very character trait.

In the run-up to writing a “six-month-lessons-learned” piece for the blog, my brain was in a mental knot. Following the insanity of moving, our stress didn’t really diminish. We’d spent two months without Internet, followed by four months with sketchy service at best, and working as best we could while bravely wading knee-deep into the murky waters called French bureaucracy. Then suddenly, the time arrived that I had to get on a plane to Barcelona for a week-long blogging course.

With the move from Lower-Normandy to the Vendee imminent, and with my husband’s family just days away from arriving, we were a little panicked. We felt so behind even though we’d been working and exploring our butts off. It was a close call. I was this close to forfeiting the trip to Spain.

But I was very confused about the workload the blog seemed to bring. My work wheels seemed to be turning square instead of round. I am a hard worker, but the hours I spent every day just to feed a blog that few people seemed to care about were too many. It isn’t really what I want to do anyway, it’s just a means to an end, and the stress of that very fact affected everything from my health, to my strategy, to my self-esteem. It robbed me of my sanity. I wasn’t writing fiction very much. And that, after all, is the dream.

I didn’t really know what to do to de-tangle myself from the blog in a positive way. So I dragged my butt to the workshop to figure out what to do.

Thanks to the pinpoint insight of Christine Gilbert from We Create and the Almost Fearless travel blog, I left the course after only three days laden with new inspiration and with armfuls of ammunition to better navigate my new work life.

Don’t get me wrong. Stresses aside, the first six months in France and being relatively close to my mother were pretty awesome. Yes, the tough days were strung together like inferior pearls on a piece of twine, but that same string was also peppered with brilliant gems of adventure in discovery and the unforgettable moments spent with our dogs.

So, disembarking the plane from Barcelona, I had a plan. And I’ve been working hard on executing this plan with great gusto every day, re-designing my website and writing itineraries until my eyes go bleary with fatigue.

And then … the massacre on November 13th in Paris.

Despite a general consensus of disgust about the Charlie Hebdo attack, my goodness, this massacre felt weirdly, palpably different. People lost their lives, families and friends were left devastated—once again—for the perverse causes of others. For one culture to impose their will and to create division in another.

I confess, for about five minutes, they got to me. I’ve always had a huge desire to help people who are a bit insecure about traveling. Many of my itineraries will be written for them specifically. I’d been designing up a storm–to begin with … you guessed it: Paris. I walked around the house in a daze. My itinerary idea … so stupid in this new era of insanity!

And what a waste of time when all along I could have been writing fiction.

The thing is, I can’t stop. Personally, I won’t stop traveling. I won’t stop going to concerts and football games. I won’t stop laughing and enjoying life. I won’t stop savoring cultures and their people, for the sake of a rotten few whose ideology most of us would never share, no matter how many of us they murder. I may be scared shitless when it comes to that ideology on my doorstep, but I am not afraid!

And despite a great yearning to write fiction, my passionate pleas to my fellow humans to travel and to discover Europe will never go silent.

I can’t let it happen. I’m a non-conformist, and if I didn’t conform to my parents while growing up, or to the managers I’ve had in my working life, I sure as hell won’t conform to a bunch of assholes!

Don’t stop traveling. Don’t hide in your living rooms. Attend concerts and football, and aspire to climb the Eiffel tower. Get on a plane. Have fun doing the things it is your every right to do; that is to live life in peace, but also with a perpetual drive for discovery and adventure.


Certainly my awesome itineraries and travel budget services will go ahead. At least until I decide it’s not worth my time. And what’s more, the first two I’ve been working on involving Paris and Versailles … I’m giving them away for free through the end of January 2016. You’ll be able to jam them together for a week-long getaway to the City of Light!

Take them. Go to Paris. Go!

BE defiant!


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Photocredit: "PEACE4PARIS 20151113 BBR CC BY SA 40 22701842118 4b5e702d6b o" by Alain Van den Hende - Own work based on the original work of Jean Jullien Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

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