Dear Sista Friend,
A lot of people have asked or commented to me “How could you be so brave?” or “Wow! I wish I could do that.”
Guess what? YOU ARE and YOU CAN! I booked this trip at the beginning of the year (February) when I set my intention for the year: discipline. I prayed for discipline in my finances, my well-being, my self-care and how I saw myself. (Just a bit of divine timing that I dipped out the country after Trump’s election!).
Was I scared to go to a non-English speaking different country, alone, for multiple days? HELL YES. What did I do? I planned, organized, prayed, prayed some more, learned elementary French, and booked my trip.
More details about my trip:
My journey was all planned in a month – I researched all of the “major attractions” in Paris and did a bit of work in terms of what I could walk to or ride to. Luckily, Paris has a fantastic Uber system, so I did not have much trouble getting around and I booked a Super Shuttle van for transportation to and from the airport.
My hotel, which was a 4.5 star place that I got for a steal (always be on the lookout for sales), was in walkable distance to the Eiffel Tower. From there, I purchased a full-day “hop-off, hop-on” bus pass that would drive and stop at Paris’ most famous attractions. I got to visit the Eiffel Tower, the Lourve Museum, Norte Dame and Champs- Elysees with a guided audio-tour. I took full advantage and spent a lot of time roaming the city with the bus, mindful that it runs every 15-minutes and that the service ended at 5pm.
I spent a half day at the Palace of Versailles, deciding to spend my morning at the historical site. For historical context, the Palace of Versailles was the official residence of the Kings of France from 1682 until 1790. It was originally a hunting lodge, built in 1624, by Louis XIII. It was expanded by Louis XIV beginning in 1669. Versailles remained the epicenter of French royal power, home to government offices and courtiers alike, until 1789—when a mob stormed the palace and essentially evicted Louis XVI and his queen, Marie-Antoinette. The mob sent the royal couple back to Paris on a journey that led eventually to their beheadings. (Interesting stuff for history buffs!)
The Palace has 700 rooms, 2,000 windows and over 1,600 chimneys. It is a throwback to the real world opulence of the French and has so, much history! It was amazing to see in person. One could only imagine the work that went in to building such a massive structure, particularly during the 1600 and 1700s.
Before I left, I randomly stumbled across a Blavity piece, which noted that Kehinde Wiley’s Lamentation exhibit would be featured at Le Petit Palais while I was in town. Wiley, a LA-born and Brooklyn-based artist, hosted his first Parisian exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in the city, down the road from a famed Winston Churchill statue. I stood in the wrapped line for 20 minutes and shared a small smile with the Black girl two people behind me. An attendant walked down the line shouting instructions in French, and the smiley girl replied “I’m here to see Kehinde Wiley!” in French, of course. He pointed her to a different direction, I followed and ended up in the exhibit for free! I also made a new friend in the process – she’s a 30-something Jersey resident who is fluent in French. Yes, for Black Girl Magic!
I ended the day with a fantastic solo dinner at a restaurant off the beaten-path, Brassiere Baroche. It was near the Arc de Triomphe at the center of Charles de Gaulle.
I acted on my discipline – tithing, going to the gym regularly, eating better, going to therapy (major key!), believing in myself, building my self-esteem, deciding to think like a survivor and not a victim. (Yo, real talk, we have to stop believing the narratives we tell ourselves about our lives. If you continue to tell yourself, I was the victim; life isn’t fair; I was wronged; He hurt me; She did me wrong; etc…guess what you’ll begin to believe as true? CHANGE YOUR STORY.)
It took me a while, but I know what I want my life to look like. I know what I deserve. I’m willing to work for it. (Amen!) I thank God that I listened to this feeling now – and not 3 years from now, not when I’m married and expecting my husband to “complete” me, not when I’m searching for another job. And it was hard! I’ve cried more this year that you’ll know. I’ve been tested – over and over and over again. I listened this year and I’ve been so blessed for it. AND I know my work this year will bless my friends, family, relationships, jobs, school effort…promise it will.
Now, by no means am I perfect, but damn, look how far I’ve come! I’ve learned to feel the fear – and do it anyway. That’s resilience. That’s grit. That’s perseverance.
I’ve been reflective on my journey and will continue to do so moving forward. I hope you do the same. Bless up!
Your Sista Friend,