Wow, it’s been two whole years in France. It’s gone by incredibly fast. Amandine is now entering the French equivalent of 7th grade and never ceases to amaze me. She has an insanely busy schedule this coming school year (which starts in about a week!), with karate, theater and studying four languages (luckily English is one of them). Honestly, I’m a little nervous about how we’re going to manage it all.
This past year has been relatively calm, which is good, I suppose. After feeling like I was struggling through the first 18 months or so, something kind of clicked at the start of summer, and I’m feeling more secure. Part of that is financial security, as my freelance business is going fairly well. There are very few things in life that are as unsettling as living in a foreign country and not having enough money to support yourself. And while I don’t think freelance writing is a long-term way to support myself financially, I’ve found a good balance between working and living–which is very French in and of itself.
On a personal note, I sort of quit Facebook a few months back. I say sort of because I didn’t fully delete my account, but I’ve stopped posting and constantly scrolling through others’ posts. I only log in about once per day, do a quick whirl through, catch up on a few friends’ activities, and that’s about it. The result is that my stress levels have gone way, way down. I find I’m not angry as much any more, or anxious. I’m still able to stay up to date on the news, of course, using other channels. It’s just so much more meaningful when I consciously take the time to seek out the information I want, rather than to somewhat passively scroll from post to post, from frustration to frustration.
One thing I’ve done less of, though, is writing, at least for myself. My novel is essentially stalled (and for good reason–I wasn’t really happy with the voice of one of the main characters), and I’ve penned drafts of a few short stories. I’m not sure if I’ll return to them and hone them any more. I realized I like sitting on a draft and then going back to it with fresh eye–even if it’s a year later. Maybe I’ll get back to the novel as well later this year, or next year. I’m fine with either, and that zen approach is a huge stress reducer in and of itself.
However, I have started a new creative outlet that’s been a lot of fun, as well as mentally therapeutic. I’ve taken up painting! A few months ago, I was day dreaming of what my life might be like when I retire, and I kept picturing myself in a barn, wearing denim overalls, and painting. Then it occurred to me one day that I don’t have to wait to retire to paint; that I could start whenever I wanted to. I went downtown to one of our local art supply stores and picked up a few canvasses and a paint set that was on sale. Since then, I’ve done four paintings (and paintings 5, 6, and 7 are started, but not finished).
I didn’t really expect much, but I’m fairly pleased with the results so far. And I’m not really painting for anyone else but myself, so there’s far less pressure to create something amazing than, say, when I write. Which is kind of a nice relief, actually.
So, what’s up for the coming year? That’s a good question, one to which I don’t have a satisfactory answer. I think I’ve come to a place where I’m comfortable pursuing the things I want to (or not), and just living day to day. That said, there’s a few things I want to do in the coming year:
- Redo this website (I’m kind of tired of the janky design, but I need to make some time to do that)
- Add more items to my portfolio. I’ve done some pretty good work this year, and I really want to show that off.
- Tackle a larger painting.
- Travel somewhere warm for a winter vacation.
That’s about all for now. I’m excited to see what the third year in France brings!