Oh the places you'll go was not a really a thought I had. A few of my childhood years were in a trailer park, we lived pay check to pay check a lot and the welfare system helped us out from time to time. Things were still provided for me though and I'm so thankful for that. Once when I was about 5 years old my mom opened up a jar of spaghetti sauce and under the lid read congratulations you have won $5,000! I don't remember what that would have felt like since I was so young, but I'm sure it felt like a major win in a lot of ways for my mom. My mom decided that with some of the winnings we would go on a trip to Orlando and visit the Disney Parks - now that made me feel like I won. I still remember sitting on the airplane especially when we were on our way home because my parents bought me this toy that made the most obnoxious sound. It was a long tube that made a loud sound when you flipped it up and down, and of course this 5 year old had to do that all the way home. So if you were on my flight from Orlando in 1992 I'm sorry. I thankfully have really great memories of that trip even though I was so young. We went camping a lot and long road trips with stops at the towns motel with the flower printed quilts, chains on the doors for locks, and the rectangular outdoor pool that most definitely had a bandaid floating in it. As a little kid those were the places I went and I felt like I won every time. It was an adventure and I would get to eat chips in bed while watching a movie from the big box television.
When I was about 16 I did a project on Paris for a class and I saw this photo of these colorful cookies called macarons and a woman eating them under the Eiffel Tower, it looked so beautiful. I kept that photo on my desk in my bedroom for a long time. That became a dream of mine, I actually think that's when travel sparked an interest in me. I still do love long road trips and the nostalgic stops, no frills, no five stars because all travel is a great adventure if you have the best company (and snacks). I started to think if I make it to Paris one day that means I must've hit some sort of jackpot or success. The world tells us if you just have this or that or a lot of money you will be happy, but there's a difference between happiness and joy - and joy is what I ultimately want. Money can buy happiness because happiness can have an ending, joy however is never ending and it's a feeling I always want to have like my Paris moment.
When all the stars aligned sort of speak I was 27 and the conversation about going to Paris was happening. My husband and I were burnt out and this opportunity came up that we almost passed on because of the mental, emotional and physical state we were in. We were offered an opportunity to tour Europe, Mike would be an opener at several venues, we wouldn't make any money, but at that point all we cared about was the experiences. We are all about experiences over stuff in our home. We said yes and packed our bags! Paris was on the itinerary and we were going to spend two full days there on tour. There were many beautiful places we stopped on tour but nothing compared to those days in Paris. When we arrived in Paris I found the Laduree cafe I had been literally dreaming about, I ordered a sleeve of brightly colored macarons, grabbed a latte and strolled down the street to grab a seat right under the Eiffel Tower. There was a lot of happiness along the way, but as I took my seat on the grass under the tower the tears came. My sweet hubby said what's wrong, I said when you work hard and dream big dreams, make a few sacrifices a long the way you get to experience complete moments of joy and for me that's success - that moment I won. I was so filled with joy in that moment that I just sat in awe of my strength, courage and bravery throughout my life. I had won, that was success for me. Oh the places you’ll go are just places but to me it is what those places have done within me. Paris was a turning point in my confidence, security, strength because for the first time I could look back on my life and be proud of it ALL. Sitting under the tower was pure joy for me it was such a release of the old me, I will forever cherish those moments.
The desires in your heart are not just put there by mistake and I'm not saying that success or joy looks like sitting under the Eiffel Tower, yours might be graduating with your PHD, standing in front of your peers and family pouring your heart out, having a shower without a toddler interference, having the sweetest relationship with your family or mate. My Eiffel Tower moment was one of mine. The macarons are gone but that memory brings me so much joy when I pause and reflect on a big success checked off my bucket list. The places you'll go might be somewhere local, not too far away or somewhere on the opposite side of the world. Take risks, work hard, dream big and never stop chasing the adventure. Oh the places you'll go dear friend...they'll change you forever.
Thanks for reading friends,