Paddling For La Libération

I had been wondering when it would hit me … my job. That we live in France occurs to Stampson (a.k.a. my husband) and me both just about every time we drive leisurely through the landscape. Sometimes it happens in a quiet way, and other times the realization is accompanied by a burst of knee-slapping joy … we live here!

But the job change, the self-imposed opportunity to write, work freelance and have a start-up business, the incredible privilege to not miss so much of our animals’ lives, that happened this morning on our way back from the weekly market in Isigny-sur-Mer.

My to-do list for today showed that I should log on to the blog, create posts, add pictures, etc. I should go au marché for fruits and vegetables. Set up a new spreadsheet for the new fiscal year. And both Stampson and I had to register with the French social services online, in French.

Three of these tasks are pleasant while the last I could only think of as a bureaucratic pain in the ass.

My workday started at 7am with some blogging tasks. After a while, Stampson volunteered to drive to Isigny, which allowed me to jump out at the edge of the town square as parking is a challenge on market morning, and make a mad dash for my favorite produce stand where I spent E18 ($20) for 1kg of juicy clementine, an artichoke, 4 gorgeous Pink Lady apples, an English cucumber, 5 kiwis, a big zucchini, a flavorful Moroccan melon, and 2 lemons. On the way to the car, I bought a cute French hat. We left the house at 10am, returned around 10:23am (me wearing said hat) and it was totally worth putting on clothes for!

When we turned into our neighborhood, Stampson commented that we weren’t running into any cars like we had the previous day. This is noticeable because usually the vehicle with the most room to stop lets the other through on these wonderfully narrow country roads. I replied that it had been rush hour when we ran into three cars in a row, and this was mid-morning.

And then: a wave of realization! Wow!

We’ve shared the tranquility of the sea at daybreak with like-minded souls. We have the ability to go to market in many a village square any day of the week, for produce; to feast our eyes on bountiful harvests of asparagus and strawberries, not to mention huge pans of Paella bearing the fruits of the terrain; to buy a sausage when their aroma grilling au feu de bois becomes too irresistible, and stop at any number of scenic picnic area to eat it!

I’ve made up scenes for stories in the middle of the day while mowing the lawn in circles (my preferred way but very amusing to the neighbor), and then kicked off my grass covered shoes in search of a notebook and fountain pen to write it all down.

I’ve driven through villages that sometimes look like they haven’t been touched in 70 years, and arrived at home/work puzzling together words to adequately describe a landscape bursting with bright yellow rapeseed blossoms.

Shortlist to working from anywhere:

  • A partnership that is mutually supportive and respectful
  • Find self-confidence: don’t be afraid to acknowledge both the things you’re good at and the things you suck at; try to find a way to make them work to your advantage by applying them to a job you want to do
  • Switch on the idea machine
  • Research and read
  • Save, and then save some more
  • Have a plan (and a business plan!)
  • Form a business (
  • Give your communication window a clever name and buy the domain (
  • Be prepared to work very hard
  • Fight through setbacks one by one
  • Be determined

We’ve managed to bring ourselves to the starting point of a work/life balance we really want. Which doesn’t mean finding a routine has been easy. It’s been 7 weeks since our arrival but we’ve been Online for only a week. The bulk of our equipment arrived just two day ago. We’re still getting electronics in order, sorting our way through bureaucracy, and figuring out exactly how to best fit into our new life. I’m not sure we’ve figured it out yet. Society has been our captor and left us with some sort of Stockholm syndrome to circumvent before we can accept that it’s okay to mow the lawn not by our work schedule but by the weather report and that in our new normal, sightseeing in the middle of the day is in fact necessary to feed the job.

As for today, I can report that my to-do list was successfully completed by registering for the French Republic’s Services Publiques  with the Beastie Boys hip-hopping through the house. Yeah, okay … I did too!


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