This morning, as I opened Facebook, I was reminded that exactly a year ago, I was exploring French chateaux in the beautiful Loire Valley Region with my husband.
I don’t know about you, but for me, those ‘Facebook Memories’ posts can go either way. They may bring a smile to my face and gratitude to my heart, as I remember the happenings, people and places featured. Or they may make me feel a little wistful and sad as I wish to return or compare them with my run of the mill, day to day, ordinary life. Already feeling like I’m drifting aimlessly at the moment, these reminders of an amazing holiday only a year ago today served to reinforce my current lack of direction and I immediately slipped into sad and wistful mode. Who knew the dangers of social media applied just as much to YOUR OWN social media posts as to other peoples’?
Done with wallowing in self pity, I eventually began searching for alternatives, for ways to lift my mood. I could head to the beach and go for a walk. Maybe later. I could indulge in some retail therapy. I don’t need anything and have successfully weaned myself off such outings. I could bake. Oh, I love to bake! But alas, I also love to eat ALL the baking and that’s also not an option. It would certainly not serve my goal of returning to a healthy weight and relationship with food. Hmm, what to do?
Why not revisit those magnificent French chateaux by viewing the photos and remembering the joy I felt wandering through their historic hallways? Why not take it a step further and write about the experience? No comparison with now, just enjoying the memories and returning to the experience through photos and memories.
Scrolling through past blog posts, I was surprised for discover only eight posts relating to this holiday spread over almost a year, from planning to fondly looking back. Why not more? I don’t have a ‘bucket list’ but if I did, this trip would have crossed off so many items – Paris with my love (finally), walking on ancient roads, visiting palaces, chateaux and museums I’ve read and dreamt about for decades and the list goes on. Why haven’t I shared more about it? It was certainly inspirational.
I believe a little part of me wanted to keep it all to myself, to hold it close and protect it from the eyes and opinions of others, as if by sharing it, the experience would somehow be lessened. As I sit with my little dog snuggled on my lap and an uplifting essential oil blend diffusing beside me, birds singing outside on this sunny mid-winter day, the time has come. Who knows, maybe the act of sharing the experience may actually intensify rather than lessen it?
Opening Google Photos, I search the timeframe of our Europe trip. Scrolling through to find the chateaux photos, a smile instantly spreads across my face. These are good memories, incredible memories, decades in the planning, six gloriously full weeks in the experiencing and the rest of my lifetime in the remembering.
I have the usual thoughts when I see a photo of myself – oh, I look so fat, old, tired, (insert negative adjective of choice here), BUT I also look so happy, so excited and THIS is what really matters.
There’s me at l’Opera Garnier in Paris, looking dreadful but having the time of my life, sipping champagne and sitting in a theatre box. There are my feet walking on the Versailles parquet floors during our private group tour of the King’s Chambers. Escaping the crowds, this way was one of the best decisions we made the whole trip. That’s right, those stairs in our six hundred year old year old cottage in Amboise were quite the challenge in the middle of the night. (chuckles to self)
Oh, there’s the chateaux shots! I need to slow down and view these in full screen. Interesting, there aren’t as many photos as I thought. Maybe there’s more on my camera, as these are just off the phone.
I could easily have spent a month in the Loire Valley, wandering through chateaux and their gardens, but alas, the itinerary and budget did not allow for that and hubby was considerably less keen than myself to see them. With limited time, we selected just two of the most iconic to visit, Chenonceaux and Chambord. Choosing to stay in the medieval town of Amboise, we also explored the more modest chateau there, an easy walk from our Airbnb.
Already, I am feeling better, browsing through holiday snaps, remembering little moments which led up to each photo. No, I may not be there now but I was there a year ago and it was amazing! I am grateful for the experience, even if my ordinary, day to day life does dull in comparison. That’s the risk you run, but what would life be without amazing highs such as this? We need the lows too. After all, surely it’s the lows, the everyday sameness that make these highs so incredible in comparison?
PS. Stay tuned for upcoming posts about our chateaux visits, a year on.