Adulting and La Joie de Vivre: Lessons From Living Abroad

I learned many things from living with the French and while living around the world — including how to enjoy life on a different level.  I’m going to be honest — who says adulting can’t or shouldn’t be fun?

Why does adulting assume seriousness? Bills? No fun?  No pleasure?  What happened?

I’ve heard this concept some since I returned from my travels, and I don’t think all Americans view life that way, but why is it that once we reach a certain age we think being an adult means no fun?  We have to break free from these paradigms……

IMG_2118We need play and fun in our lives as humans and we’re social creatures by nature. There are numerous studies on the importance of play and recreation for our health.  Work is essential and so is fun.  After college (and during college) I worked my ass off.  And I also had fun.  I spent a lot of time outdoors and traveling and socializing with friends.  It’s important to do that after college too and to remind ourselves it’s ok to have fun even in our day-to-day lives around our work schedules.  We don’t need permission to have fun either.

For 4+ years after college, I worked hard back in my hometown.  I worked full-time, plus I did side jobs in the coffee industry and retail.  I’ve worked 60-80 hour weeks. Doing everything from managing events to executive assistance, and I even started my own events and personal assistance business.  I love work and I find pleasure in my work as well. But I also love to have fun!   Work hard, play hard is a great way to live.  But work doesn’t have to be what society says it is.  We can do what we love for work.  Who says you have to have a 9-5 job and all the things that media and culture show us is normal?I’ve always wanted something different.  That’s why I left to work and live abroad doing volunteer work exchanges, contract work, and living off of my savings I had built for my travels.

We get to create the life that we want for ourselves.  I’ve been freelancing and nannying/pet-sitting for the past year since I returned from home and now I’m working on a new business and career pursuing health/life coaching which I’ve been doing essentially for 10 years in my personal life.  I decided that 2017 was going to be a year of transformation for me — for my health, my life, my career directions, and everything.  I decided to combine all my passions and find my life’s work and explore different job paths.  I decided to finally conquer my weight battle that has been fluctuating for the past 10 years off and on.

Do you know when I have been the healthiest in my life?  Physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, financially, and all areas?  When I’m increasingly social, having fun, and doing things for myself and practicing self-care.  Because it’s truly a core need.  I think social time and fun is honestly as important as eating.  Animals need it, so obviously we do too! We’re mammals!  Many animals are very social creatures and their moods are greatly affected by their social dynamics. Some animals, including dolphins, get very depressed if they’re not living in a healthy social context.  So us humans need that too 😉

IMG_1524So back to living in France and Canada…..what did I learn from my year abroad and living with the French, the Canadians, and people from all over the world?   That it’s ok to have fun as an adult.  It’s ok to enjoy my food and my meals and take time with people to enjoy those meals. It’s ok to rest, to work less and play more, to work more productive hours, but less of them. It’s ok to do work that I love, to enjoy my experiences, to live freely and openly, to socialize and experience life, and go on adventures.  It’s ok to dance under a full moon on the beach with your friends just because.  (And it’s so much fun!!!)   It’s ok to enjoy everything and be grateful, to avoid negativity, to say a resounding YES to our life and to enjoy it.  Yes, it’s actually ok to enjoy life to the fullest!  Even our food we can enjoy.  La joie de vivre.  We can thank the French for that expression 😉

 

It’s ok to take a break and go for a hike.  We live in a busy culture — we’re driven by social media in this current day in age and it often influences how we socialize, but I think most people appreciate the simple things and getting back to the basics.  I think most people appreciate when we can be “unplugged” for a bit.  It allows us to recenter and be present and aware to ourselves and others.  The times without WiFi, rainy days, stormy nights when the electricity goes out and all you can do is play cards and games with your family and friends…… letters, phone calls, surprise visits, all of it.

 

One of my favorite things in France was going to cafes and there wouldn’t be internet, except on the weekends, or maybe not at all!  I learned how quickly I had the habit of being “plugged in” and then I was pleasantly surprised when I was instead talking to the person next to me and meeting friends at the most random places.

Social media and technology are amazing tools that I am SO grateful for.  I love the advantages of it, and I have to keep myself in check.  I love that social media keeps me connected to people around the world, and it’s a great tool for sharing and networking and so much more.  And I have found that if we’re too “connected” to the virtual world — we lose sight of the real world.  There has to be a balance.  At least for me. And I have met many who feel the same.

 

Yes, we have to pay the bills, yes we have to cook, and clean, and do our laundry. Yes we have to be human.  But adults, let’s not forget to take a break every once in a while, ok? Don’t forget to leave the dishes and be spontaneous and go on an adventure.  The dishes can always wait.  Moms–sometimes you just need a dang bath with candles and music…..like seriously, it’s ok to put YOU on the list too!  Wives– go out with your girlfriends for a girls night out!   Couples–find a babysitter, and make time for date nights in your life. It doesn’t have to be spending money — take a picnic to the park and go on an adventure!  Stay connected to your partner. Feed your soul and nourish your relationships.  And yes, nourish yourself!

IMG_1992We have to find the balance.  The balance between our busy lives and taking care of ourselves and finding fun and pleasure in our life experiences.  We can’t just work our way through lives. There has to be balance. We have to work to live, but not live to work.  I admire many cultures like Europe that are very focused on the life:work balance.  I most definitely learned healthy tips from living in Europe.

And single ladies?  Stop waiting for that Mr. Right……no man is going to fulfill you if you aren’t happy with yourself…..you have all you need to be healthy, happy, and whole. You don’t need anyone to complete you, you’ve got all you need within you.  When the time is right, you’ll meet the right person to adventure with in life.  Go on dates, explore relationships, enjoy your life and meet people, but don’t rush that process.  For now, single ladies?  Enjoy YOUR life.  Don’t fear being alone.  Get to know yourself. Find out what you like and don’t like.  Discover your authentic self, not who the world says you should be.  Go try new things, be brave and adventurous, and yes….HAVE FUN!!!!

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