I write this for all the women who dream of changing their lives but who are too afraid to do so.
“In The Cave You Fear To Enter Lies The Treasure You Seek.” — Joseph Campbell.
I didn’t know that I had to physically hike up a cave in the middle of Provence to finally have a encounter with my soul.
Two years ago, I up-rooted my entire life in NYC with my two daughters and moved to Provence. After being back in the States for 9 months I finally feel like I can write about my experience.
I am a single mom and I decided to move my entire life to Southern France as an attempt to begin a brand new life after my ex announced that he was moving across the world to Asia, which meant that I would become a truly single mom of two girls in the busiest city in the world. Before the wonderful job opportunity came along, my ex had my little ladies every week-end, and he would take them to dinner every Wednesday night. My life was somewhat balanced during that time. Once he moved to Asia, balance turned into a foreign concept.
I went from being a spiritual teacher who lectured on inner peace every week to a peaceless woman overnight, angry that life was putting me in this situation… I could barely juggle being a mother, managing my full-time job as a retail manager, becoming a full-time writer, and taking care of the minor adulting details of life but now, without any help at all, how was I ever going to survive????
Until one sleepless January morning changed everything. I woke up at 4:00am and I finally decided to drop the resistance.
Fine, Life. I am done fighting this. You can have your way. I’m tired of being angry every single day. I give up.
I really think that Life waits for us to say the magical words sometimes, “I give up”, so that it can finally begin steering our life the right direction.
Flashback to 4:00am, January 20th, 2016: a bomb drops in my mind.
What. If. I. Moved. To…
My mother was sick at the time so it would give an opportunity to move closer to the woman who dragged to druggy bars when I was a skinny kid.
I got up and sat at my large, 12-seat-glass table and opened up my MacBook Air. I researched the modern cost of living in France. Just by curiosity, of course. I would never darte undertake such an epic change by myself but it was nice to dream for now. I needed to escape from the web of fear I was living in…dreading the day when I would finally be alone in the world raising my two kids.
Abandoned. As I had always been.
Rentals were averaging about a third of what I was paying in NY for a 3-bedroom apartment and the daily living expenses such as food, cell phone bill, utilities were averaging far lower than my monthly expenses.
I closed my laptop hoping the idea would go back to where it came from: pure fantasy. But I knew. I knew that I was being called to do the craziest thing I had ever done.
To transport my entire life across the ocean to a land I deserted fifteen years ago when I was a lost young woman.
Would I have to face her upon my return?
Was I being called back to France to finally offer closure to so many parts of my past that had been hanging in the French air for a good’ old decade or so?
I didn’t like the twenty-year-old woman I had left behind in Paris back in 2000. I was working as a hostess on the Champs Elysees with the secret hope to catch a rich old man, and finally make it big in life. Instead, that twenty year old woman caught an American Mormon missionary, and made the Beehive state of Utah her next best option, fell in love, and began a new life in the U.S of A.
I began entertaining my new dream of moving back to my native land by looking at Lavender fields, small chateaux, and riverside villages in the French country on a daily basis. After putting my kids to bed, I would sit behind my computer screen to build my new life, from far and above.
The iconic slow pace of French life was so darn appealing to the New Yorker I had become and I wanted my daughters to experience their origins too.
I read every line about moving to France on my friend Gabby Blair’s blog Design Mom. She, her husband, and their six children had made the jump from Denver, Colorado to Normandy, France without an ounce of French language. Their dream come true fueled what I already knew to be right: it was time for me to come home, at last. As a heroine? Not yet. But as a woman with a purpose. Oh heck yes.
Five months later, I sat in my empty three-bedroom apartment (that I cleared by myself), realizing that it was it. The move was really happening. I gave everything away except for my CHANEL suit, my kids’ baby photos and paraphernalia, and my MacBook air.
My ex-boyfriend writer and I arrived in Paris to love and live like Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, sitting at Les Deux Magots with our respective Moleskines. We even smoked a couple of times to feel really French and free.
A week later, we took a high-speed train through the hilltop villages covered with terracotta roof tiles, almost as if the landscaping was warming up as we traveled into the deep South of France. We finally drive up to the the outskirts of my Provincial village situated 15 kilometers outside of Aix-en-Provence, a country road lined with slender, conical cypress trees shooting towards the deep azure blue skies. After a few car maneuvers to get up the tiniest driveway, we arrived at the house I rented from behind my computer screen on the other side of the Atlantic.
It did not even have a number (how neither Fedex nor UPS would ever find my house in another post) but the fact that it was a real house was all I cared about at the time. I was allocating $1500 for a 3-bedroom house with a swimming pool and several acres of land. The moment I saw the house on sabbaticalhomes.com was the moment I knew it would be mine. I cried the night I received the rental agreement via email but it was still an act of blind faith until I saw the house with my own eyes. The cobalt blue shutters were all closed and I could hear crickets chirping; the legendary soundbites of chirping crickets was now my background noise.
The next day, I drove up to the grotto where Saint Mary Magdalene is supposed to have finished the last part of her life. According to local tradition, the Saint spent the last thirty years of her life as a hermit in the Sainte Baume area.
I had imagined myself walking up the path of Kings up to the cave in the middle of the mountain for the past 18 months since my interested in the Apostle of Apostles was triggered by a mystical painting. I parked at the bottom of the mountain and asked a local priest for directions to the cave, located quite literally in the middle of the mountain, with a dubious look on his face as I mistranslated cave (in French, a cave is a wine cellar and I translated the word a bit too literally for his taste) he told me how to get there.
The unconditional love I experienced every time I went up to the cave was the original Christ-like love that has been crushed and overpowered by patriarchal theology for the past two millennia. It is the type of smothering presence that evaporates all resistance we may have against the life that waits for us behind the curtain of fear. It is the bridge towards a new life. I walked over that bridge and never looked back.
I traveled 6,000 miles to finally realize that love had been waiting for me all along: in the nest of my own heart.
The real trip was not about seeing the place where Mary Magdalene had prayed for some thirty plus years but I traveled to the heart of France to meet the piece of my soul I had left behind when I left France fifteen years ago: my Feminine soil and.
I left my womanly self in France when I first moved the States at the fresh, yet lost age of twenty years old: my mother had betrayed and sold her souls throughout my childhood and as a promise made to myself that I would never become her, I also erased my conscious femininity.
I became hardened and I wanted to show the world that I would never let love nor a male hurt me ever again. Sure, I fell in love but I would never let them get to my soul. My wounded Feminine pride would not even allow them to put their jacket over my shoulders; let alone give them my heart.
I had to return to my native land to integrate the pieces of me I deserted over fifteen years ago because I believed that if I orphaned some parts of myself, better parts would begin to grow in place. If I moved far enough from my mother, her past, and my neglected Feminine, I would grow stronger than the weaker sex (for the first decade of my womanly life, I thought that being Feminine was weak because my mother aka the first feminine representation betrayed herself and inflicted pain on me).
But my soul and calling demanded integration from me.
The man that I would fall in love upon returning in the States unconsciously demanded that I be in my Feminine power to let him into my heart and soul. I know I would have repelled him if I had not carved out room in my interior world to be softer and fuller with my own womanly self.
The places we deny within ourselves are the energies that influence our future whether we like it or not. We will continue to be dragged down by our unconscious wounds until we integrate them with nurturance and acceptance.
Life guides us back to the places inside and outside of ourselves where we left pieces of our soul along the way of our past. Whether that be a lover, a parent, a project, or a dream. All the detours we seem to take that bring us back to the same kind of love, same kind of lover, same kind of breaks.
Life will not quit on you…not until you find that thing in yourself that makes your soul splash with joy an
It is my ardent desire for every woman to dare going on her own heroine journey so that she may pick up the pieces of herself that she dropped along the side of her past.
“Sooner or later something seems to call us onto a particular path. You may remember this “something” as a signal moment in childhood when an urge out of nowhere, a fascination, a peculiar turn of events struck like an annunciation: This is what I must do, this is what I’ve got to have. This is who I am.” — James Hillman