There have been plenty of books in recent years whose authors describe their lives and the complete change they make when they decide to take hard decisions to leave their daily life in their own country and to come to Europe. And again the “usual suspects”, are two of the sunniest European countries to the South – Italy and France. There’s no need to explain why…simply because they possess an extremely beautiful nature, long history and a great number of historic sites, strong traditions in cooking and wine-making, and charming locals.
Janice MacLeod who is the author of “Paris Letters” is one these unsatisfied employees and lonely persons who are “anchored” in a big advertising agency instead of following their dreams, i.e. to travel and be artists. She is a 34-year old single and lonely woman who has achieved much in her career but at the cost of her private life (if there’s any) and the accumulated stress. That is why she searches for options to change her being and life. And this challenge turns up to be pretty easy.
She starts with some very simple exercises. She starts keeping her own diary. She creates and maintains a blog of her own where she shares the results of her life-change initiative. She gets rid of all of the unnecessary belongings accumulated without any reason through the years. She pays off her credits. She sells out her car and furniture. And of course, she limits her expenses in order to save the money needed for the change of her hopeless life. This way, her luggage becomes only one suitcase which doesn’t restrict her to stay in her current shoes forever and ever. Just on the opposite, she realizes she’s not a tree and she can move to another country and she can start a new life anytime. The only thing she needs in this situation is the well-known English proverb: “If there’s a will, there’s a way.”
Her first stop is the City of Love where she lives like a true traveller and finds out true love – her Cristophe (French-speaking Polish butcher). She has a list of sightseeings which she follows strictly. Sometimes she’s lonely, at a time the two birds in love go together and visit them slowly. He doesn’t push her to do things in a hurry. And it’s the right approach – now she’s a traveller, not a workaholic. Her old motto (i.e. “Fast. Walk. Go to this place. Visit everything you can. Take a great number of photos, just in case. Don’t stop, don’t stop, don’t stop.”) changes during her two-week stay in the City of Lights. Why? Because she’s working no more for her advertising agency. She is not pressed to check her mailbox and answer numerous e-mails. Her only duties are to enjoy life and her passionate love affair with Christophe, and to indulge in seducing French cuisine. Soon her new life changes her and a smile “Mona Lisa” style appears on her face.
After two weeks in Paris, she heads for another marvellous European capital – la Città Eterna. When she arrives there, she meets very interesting people ….and crazy drivers. Yes, I absolutely agree with this. The Italians are really very crazy drivers. They are real slalom guys when they pass by ancient ruins, i motorini and old ladies with a bag in hand full of tomatoes. When they reach their destination, they stop all of a sudden with a loud sound of the breaks. 😀 When she is in Rome, she meets friends who encourage her artistic spirit. Unfortunately, she realizes that nobody invites her to stay in the Internal City. Only Christophe wants her in Paris. That’s why she continues her journey in Italy until she goes back to France.
She leaves for Campania Felix, where she visits la Costiera Amalfitana (Sorrento, Positano and the Island of Emperors). Her way continues in the cradle of the Renaissance and la Serenissima. She breaks up with her previous life and work past namely here, in Venice. Il Ponte dei sospiri (the Bridge of Sighs) gives her the courage and she reaches the decision to go back to Paris, to her Christophe. She understands one more thing here, i.e. “To be free means not to have anything to lose”.
Said and done. Before returning to the City of Lights, she goes through Scotland and England. This journey develops her as an artist because she gets acquainted with Percy Kelly’s illustrated letters to his penpal. Janice takes inspiration from the artist which helps her upon her return to Paris.
She comes back to her happiness but she needs to fund her prolonged stay in Paris somehow. That’s why she uses her former experience from the advertising agency and her skills in drawing to start sending letter-drawings to her friends in Rome in order to thank them for their hospitality. Soon her idea extends. This time she decides to draw her letters, to print them, to add addressee’s name with a pen (not typed on a computer) and to send it to him/her. She doesn’t send an original letter-drawing to each of the receivers but for sure, each watercolour painting of Paris brings much joy to her addressees who enjoy receiving entertaining letters.
Her idea develops, the number of her subscribers increases and she gets order after order when she begins utilizing social network and online-shops. Her new initiative is beneficial for both sides. Old and young people get her letters accompanied with watercolour paintings of the City of Love addressed to them themselves (not only bills and useless leaflets and brochures). Now Janice is a traveller and artist and she’s found the man of his life. She has restarted her life.
The initial language barrier with Christophe motivates her and it turns into a desire for her to learn French. Actually, French isn’t like Italian at all because the Italian language is like Italian dishes, i.e. al dente. Every Italian word is like a delicious and spicy mouthful. The Italian intonation can be compared to extremely well prepared pasta. Any Italian expression and phrase is like subtle sauce. It’s easy to fall in love with it at first sight and to love it unconditionally because all letters in a word are pronounced melodically which is equal to a bliss. But Janice starts learning French because of her love for Christophe.
In conclusion, when we don’t feel comfortable at work and we don’t like our life, we should make a change and we should look for the ways to make our dream come true. We could be a fugitive or a runaway in the beginning. Then we would probably become travellers who find inspiration all of a sudden. And finally, our new life and the obstacles we should overcome in it could help us extend and develop our inner artist. And we might find our Christophe on our way. Why not? Everything will be possible only if we believe in our fairy-tale and long for it, and of course, if we risk. 🙂
Guys, I am fully in love with this book. 🙂