Paris, Je T’aime

Je suis consciente que des attentats ont eu lieu dans d’autres pays (Liban, Iraq) avec de très nombreux morts et qu’il y a des victimes tous les jours en Syrie et ailleurs dans le monde. Le but du texte ci-dessous n’est pas de donner plus d’importance aux victimes de Paris, parce qu’aucun pays, aucune famille ne mérite de subir de telles atrocités. 

Ce texte est simplement un hommage à une ville que j’aime profondément. Je suis 100% libanaise d’origine et Paris sera mon foyer éternel. Mon cœur est doublement brisé et ma peine est débordante.

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Je pleure pour ma ville bien-aimée, mon cœur brisé déborde de tristesse. Paris – ville adoptée, adorée et chérie – tu souffres et je souffre loin de toi. Même si un océan nous sépare, mon cœur est avec toi et mes pensées traversent les distances et les vagues pour se poser à ton seuil.

Enfant du monde, mon âme est un mélange de cultures et mon cœur repose souvent dans plusieurs endroits, mais il ne quittera jamais Paris. Cette ville lumineuse a su bien s’emparer de mon cœur et c’est un amour éternel.

Il y a tellement de choses que je voudrais dire, mais je me retrouve sans mots face à ce tourbillon d’émotions qui remplit mon cœur et mes pensées.

Peut être suffit-il de dire ce qu’il y a de plus simple, de plus vrai et qui vient du plus profond de mon cœur:

Paris, je t’aime.

Tour Eiffel.JPG
Photo courtesy of Raya F.

Wrapping up the Year (and the presents)

I realize that it’s been nearly 3 months since my last blog post… I’m usually not absent from my blog that long, but suddenly September arrived and these past few months have been a bit of a whirlwind. It’s amazing how quickly time flies. One moment it was the end of summer and suddenly it’s almost the end of the year. There have been new experiences, vacation plans that didn’t end so well, new projects, last minute trips and finally holiday preparations.

#TCKchat

Over the past few months, I have been a co-host for a twitter chat for Third Culture Kids (#TCKchat). These one-hour chats happen every 2 weeks (Wednesday at 10am/10pm US EST) and every session has a topic and a series of questions. We have participants of all ages, of all personal and professional backgrounds, located all over the world. However, you don’t have to be a TCK to take part in the conversation, so please feel free to join us anytime!

I joined twitter earlier this year for the ParfittPascoe Writing Residency. Although I never expected to use twitter much, TCKchat is a great way to connect and share experiences, lessons, stories and so much more. I hope to connect further with some of you in that forum!

You can find additional information including highlights of previous chats, upcoming topics, and short bios on the founders and co-hosts here: www.bateconsult.com/category/tck-chat.

Expat Resource Directory

A few months ago, I also started working with Global Living Magazine as Expat Resource Manager to help create an Expat Resource Directory. The aim of the directory is to be an ongoing list of expat/TCK resources, including services, organizations, projects, blogs and active expat twitter accounts/chats. There are resources covering a wide variety of topics, ranging from counseling/mental health, to consulting, education, relocation, TCKs, parenting, finance etc. We’re always looking for great new resources, so all suggestions are welcome (Dounia@globallivingmagazine.com).

This photo below is just a sample page of the directory to give you a sneak peek; the full directory can be viewed in the latest issue (Nov/Dec) of Global Living Magazine and will be updated in all future issues.

ExpatResourceDirectory

Paris: City of Light and Love

After a brief vacation in Florida (that unfortunately ended with all of our personal belongings being stolen), there was a last minute whirlwind trip to Paris to see my family after 10+ long months of only seeing them on Skype… It was short (isn’t it always when you live far away from loved ones?), but very sweet. We visited parts of Paris that I remember so well and also made new memories in some quartiers that I didn’t know as much. Even if it had been over 2.5 years that I had been there, I still remembered the familiar streets, smells and sounds that make Paris one of my homes.

Here are some of my favorite photos from my quick November trip:

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Finally I want to wish you all a very merry Christmas (or happy holidays for whichever festivities you celebrate)! I hope you all have a wonderful end to 2014 and an even better start to 2015! I hope to catch you all more in the new year!

Merry Christmas! Joyeux Noel! Buon Natale! Feliz Navidad!

Love, Laughter and Provence

For many people ‘home’ is a fixed notion – a house, a city, a state, a country… But for many others, including TCKs, home is a much more fluid, less tangible notion. Home is a place of comfort and solace, a safe haven. Home is the presence of loved ones, wherever in the world that may be. Home is those oft-read books with creased bindings that are lovingly unpacked from boxes time and time again. Home is the trinkets sitting on shelves – each one makes you smile and brings back fond memories. Home is not a geographically fixed location; throughout our lives we’ve called many places home, but really home moved with us every time. Home is where you love and laugh.

When we first arrived in France, I never thought I would grow to love it like I have. We had just left Sydney and I was very unhappy. I missed the rich blue sky of Australia, the ocean, and my friends. I felt I could never be as happy in another place, as TCKs often do, and I resented being in Paris. If someone had told me then that I would fall in love with Paris and with France as a whole, I would have dismissed that comment, saying it was impossible. I was so very wrong. France, especially Paris and Provence, has a hold on my heart that no other country has ever had. It is the country I lived in the longest, and it is home in so many ways, even if I’m not living there currently. I have loved and laughed more there than anywhere else in the world. Paris gave me the love of my life, and Provence sealed that love with our wedding.

I love Paris very much, and I’m so lucky to have spent many beautiful years there, but no place calms me and invigorates me quite like Provence.  From the first moment we visited, spending 3 weeks of summer exploring the gorgeous region, it had a hold on us. Perhaps it’s the rich green vineyards, heavy with their colored grapes, or the lavender fields filling the air with their sweet fragrance, or perhaps the proximity to the Mediterranean Sea, or the culture, the history, the food…There are so many reasons to entice you to stay, that it is hard to tear yourself away.

When we first went to Provence, I never imagined that I would choose to get married there. I believed I would marry wherever I was living, wherever was ‘home’ at that time. But knowing I could get married somewhere I could go back to, somewhere that meant so much to me, but also to my husband and my family, was so special. It means that I can return to the beautiful church where we got married, that I can sleep in the house where we celebrated, that I can see the same views I saw on our beautiful wedding day.

When my parents decided to get a house in Provence, I thought it was a nice idea, but I didn’t know then that it would also become a home. It wasn’t just walls and a garden, it was a true safe haven, a place of love and laughter; a place to call our own. After so many years of packing up and moving home with us, we finally had somewhere to go back to. For the first time in my life, a fixed location could begin to define home.

Home is indeed where you love and laugh, but it turns out that home is also a house is the heart of Provence.

How do you not fall in love with this?
How do you not fall in love with this?

Spring, Spring, Spring!

It’s been a weird year for seasons so far. The winter was mild, too mild almost, that it hardly appeared to be winter. Then spring arrived very early and almost immediately morphed into summer, with record high temperatures. We’re not even done with March! I know March has the saying “in like a lion, out like a lamb”, but this is a bit much, isn’t it? Don’t get me wrong, I do love summer weather, but when it’s summer!* I love every single season, which is why I’m happiest when living in temperate climates. Skipping over seasons isn’t something I’m thrilled about.

It’s true that last winter was an overload of snow and cold, with several records being broken, but I still had mixed feelings about this year’s extremely mild winter. Although I didn’t want as much snow as last year and I was significantly stressed out at the idea of driving in the snow, I missed all that sparkling white beauty, I really did. I missed bundling up in warm coats, scarves, gloves and hats. I missed drinking hot chocolate regularly. I missed the cold air stinging my face, flushing my cheeks and reinvigorating me. Oh, I know these summer temperatures won’t last and it will get cooler again (which indeed it has), but I think winter has begun its long slumber and spring has awoken.

As much as I would have liked a more ‘conventional’ winter, I cannot complain about spring being here, as I really do love this season. I do hope we’ll have more spring-like temperatures though, because something I love very much about spring and autumn too is the freshness of the weather. They are beautiful, crisp days, perfect for going for walks, playing out doors, exploring new places – without getting too hot or too cold. Another thing I love about those two seasons is the color palette they allow our eyes to feast on. Completely different colors and tones, but both equally and uniquely breathtaking. Probably the most beautiful place I’ve seen so far in the spring is Paris. Trees bloom all over the city and the suburbs, lining the streets with bursts of white and all shades of pink. The flowers basins all over the city and in all the parks overflow with the most spectacular varieties of flowers, rich in color and texture. At the beginning of spring, daffodils carpet every available green space. It is as if the entire city blossoms and awakens with the arrival of spring.

Last year I experienced my first spring in Connecticut, and I was very pleasantly surprised. Trees that I had only seen with colored leaves in the fall and naked in the winter turned out to have magnificent spring blossoms. I’m so lucky to see many of these trees from my windows and they put on a spectacular show. From one day to the next, tiny buds burst into beautiful flowers, making the trees explosions of white, pastel pink and fuchsia. The fuchsia and darker pink blossoms are my favorites. Daffodils color the ground at the beginning of spring, and are later joined by so many other flowers, and bushes bursting with such shades of pink, red and orange flowers that they seem to be on fire.

Yes, spring here is indeed beautiful and I’m looking forward to enjoying it again. I could probably go on some more, but maybe I should leave something to write later, as spring is only just beginning!

Happy spring!

* At time of writing, it was HOT, at time of posting, not so much…But at least it’s a beautiful sunny day with a gorgeous blue sky! Happy spring indeed! 🙂