It’s hard to believe that’s it’s been over a year since I applied to be an English teaching assistant through TAPIF (Teaching Assistant Program in France). Around this time last year, I had applied to the program very unsure of the direction in which my life was heading.
Full disclosure: I was depressed, lost, and almost completely hopeless. Most of my dreams had seemed too far out of reach, and I felt as though I didn’t know myself at all. I couldn’t see the positive life-changing adventures and opportunities lying ahead me. I could barely even look forward to the next morning. Never would I have imagined that I would be here, right now, in FRANCE fulfilling my dream of living in the second culture that I’ve come to call home doing something that I absolutely LOVE and am PASSIONATE about having the time of my life and experiencing things that most people would only dream about doing.
Never would I have ever imagined that I would be starting graduate school this upcoming Fall so that I could become more skilled, qualified, and experienced to continue doing the things that I am passionate about.
Never would I have ever imagined that I would meet all of the amazing people that I have so far, either because they are other assistants, because of my life here in Laval, or during my travels, and being inspired by their own personal stories.
Never would I have ever imagined myself teaching French students about my native language and culture and feeling like I’m making a difference in their lives, even if it is very small and doesn’t feel like it most days.
Never would I have ever imagined that I would finally learn to love myself, to pursue my dreams with full force despite my fears, and to learn to find joy even in the simplest things in life again.
Never would I have ever imagined that the Lord would bless me so.
I am joyful as I write these confessions. My heart is full.
However, as we all know too well, that is not always the case.
I felt myself feeling down in the expat dumps and forgetting to appreciate the many blessings that I’ve acquired in my life over the past year. I’m still human. I still tend to be selfish and to focus on the negative aspects in my life. However, upon reflecting, I realized that I don’t like the way this energy makes me feel. I had an emotionally and spiritually trying week, but I can say with confidence that I’m still living an incredibly blessed life.
I believe that we are allowed to feel upset about the things going wrong in our lives, but we have to choose to not focus on them. It only makes us feel more upset, stressed out, and, let’s just be honest, plain icky about our lives. I felt very spiritually icky and stressed this past week, and I don’t think I want to allow it to continue for another minute to the best of my abilities.
So, I’ve decided something. I want to try to enjoy my life like the French enjoy food. On average, when eating lunch and dinner, the French take between and hour to two hours to eat. Why? Because they enjoy their food and because they enjoy the time spent conversing with one another. They don’t rush through the meal just to get by. They don’t rush through the meal to get just enough to survive. No, they take their time to taste every morsel, every flavor. They take their time to allow their bodies to fully feel the weight and the nourishment of the food that they are eating. They take the time to appreciate what is in front of them.
I would claim myself to be a hardcore foodie. I don’t necessarily eat a lot, but I love food. I love trying new food. I love meal times. I love eating amazing meals, especially when I cooked them myself. However, the French do one better. The French language has a word that would be considered to be an equivalent to the word foodie, gourmand(e). However, the word foodie just doesn’t cover it. A gourmand(e) is someone that not only appreciates the food that they are eating, but they take it to the next level, a level of such deep appreciation, it’s almost palpable and life changing. Okay, so maybe that’s dramatic, but that’s really how I feel about it. Sometimes, my friends call me a gourmande. Let’s just be honest. It’s totally true, but this appreciation is not just something that I want in my life at meal times. This sort of appreciation is something that I want in every aspect of my life.
I want to be a spiritual gourmande. I want to take the time in my life to taste every morsel that the Lord has blessed me with. I want to take the time to allow my spiritual body to feel the full weight and nourishment of the spiritual food that the Lord has given me. I want to appreciate the experiences, the hard lessons, and the opportunities placed in front of me, no matter how I’m feeling that particular day. I want to try my best to seize every moment that I possibly can, because life is tough enough as it is without allowing ourselves to sulk.
I want to look back on my life and feel like I grasped hard onto joy in every way that I could.
So, here’s to being a spiritual gourmande. (And also, here’s to foodie analogies, because I still really love food).
Still living that expat life as always….
A plus mes amis….