Six years. Nearly 1,700 posts and over 5,300 comments. Pushing 700,000 lifetime pageviews and averaging about 8,000 visitors monthly. Readers in more than 80 countries. All that, and I even get fan mail each month from readers around the world, most recently from a reader in Israel! That's you and me, kids; that's how far we've come from that first day. Wow.
It still seems a little surreal that I am sitting here in beautiful Paris, six years after writing that first post back in New Jersey, writing not only this blog but my second book. And that every single day since I arrived here -- and particularly since the day I met my Georges -- I have had something to be happy about and grateful for.
I couldn't say that six years ago; I couldn't say that I felt genuinely happy for at least part of every day, the way I do now. When I reflect back on what my life was like in February of 2005, how bored and frustrated I was, and how much I longed to change what wasn't working for me, it's almost like I no longer recognize that woman I used to be. If you had asked her if she was unhappy, she probably would have denied it, because her life wasn't bad at all by anyone's standards. But she wasn't really happy, either. She could go days, weeks, even months, without feeling truly happy with herself and her life. It took realizing that she was living only half a life, and that her life was already half over, to make her get up off the couch and get on the plane, and go somewhere new, somewhere different, somewhere interesting and challenging. Somewhere she'd always wanted to go, and not just on a vacation. The time had come to be the boldest version of herself she'd ever been.
So she did it. She did what no one expected (least of all her): she stopped wishing and waiting and whining, and she did something she'd always wanted to do but had been afraid to do. In so doing, she felt alive again, like she was rediscovering herself in some way. Even when she was frustrated or lonesome, she felt like she was truly able to be herself for the first time in a very long time... maybe for the first time in her whole 45 years. And her reward for taking that risk, for being bold and reinventing her life? Love. Lots and lots of love.
Six years down that road, my happy little bold French life isn't always perfect. And getting here hasn't always been easy. But oh! How very, very good it is, this life I have chosen, created, built. I'm just thankful for all of it, every bit. Even for the bitchy French bureaucrats and the difficult language I still haven't mastered and the stinky metro and yes, even for the dog shit on the sidewalks that no one bothers to pick up. Well, maybe I'm not thankful for THAT... but I AM thankful I've only stepped in it once in five years, which is really saying something.
Being able to write about it all -- even the shit -- to have this blog as my journal, mirror, think-tank and sandbox, and to know that through this blog, I have people who are interested and who care enough to read and participate... it's meant everything. Thanks for coming along for the ride. Thanks for being a part of the best six years of my life.