Edith Piaf, Long Lost Professors and Living the French Life

It has occurred to me that I should probably update all of you on what I’ve been up to the past few days – and it’s been a lot. First, let’s start off with the most recent French film I went to (alone again, because that’s my new favorite thing) – “La Tête Haute/Standing Tall.” Centering around a troubled young boy just trying to find his way in the world. He’s abusive and temperamental and a disaster to be around but by the end he’s grown into himself. Full of anger, hatred, compassion, love and a happy ending, it was as uplifting as it was upsetting. Oh, how I love these French cinema experiences that I keep all to myself. Next, I spent my Saturday afternoon exploring the Edith Piaf exhibition. I’ve loved her for years; that dark, smoky voice and soothing lyrics – I’m a sucker for French classics. Immediately upon entrance I was handed an audio guide full of about 50 Edith songs to listen to while walking through the exhibit. With movie clips, vintage mementos and even a live karaoke box inside, I became lost within history. The exhibit even had one of her little black dresses (her signature look) hanging from above in one of the sections. I learned so much about her and her tragic life and I have a newfound respect for the glorious French singer. For those of you not familiar, here is one of her most famous songs, La Vie En Rose:

         Then, I spent all day Sunday running around in a real princess dress at another castle – Vaux-le-Vicomte – but that’s going into a separate post because it was so special to me and deserves more attention than a mention. Then, yesterday two things happened. One, I received my new custom made leather journal cover for my personal journal I’ve been keeping throughout my time here in Paris! I was so delighted when I saw the package sitting in my family’s flat that I literally squealed! It’s so beautiful and personal and everything I wanted. Thank you so much, Megan’s Mark for this wonderful work of art!     And then two, I met up with one of my French professors from university! She and her hilarious other half are in Paris for the week for the beginning of her last study abroad that she’s leading. This wonderful lady is one of the three main reasons I was able to go to France the first time two (!!) years ago and then decided to come back long term. She led my study abroad group back then and it’s only fitting that we met back up at a cafe for drinks while I’m living here.    Finally, last night I spent the evening with some of my favorite people in Paris just lounging along the Canal Saint-Martin having a picnic.       Honestly I couldn’t ask for a more perfect life to live, I thank God every day for my abundant blessings. I’m in awe at every moment of every day of this beautiful life I get to live because of Him.

Change is a wonderful part of life

A lot of things have been filling my thoughts recently. Namely, what I’ll be doing after leaving Paris. And ya know what? I’ve discovered something about myself that I never quite recognized before.. That I wasn’t made for the typical 9-5 working American life.

I guess I’ve always known I didn’t want that but it took five months of living in Paris to come to this clear realization.

My time here has helped me find myself even more than I ever expected and realizing I wasn’t made for that life should be scary. But to me it’s not. Not at all.

I used to think that I had to follow everyone else and get a “real” job and follow suit to the business-y 9-5ers. I used to think that was the only way to be successful. Get a job I like, work all day every day, make lots of money and eventually retire comfortably. But I don’t want that. And only now do I know that’s okay and that I’ll be fine with whatever life I end up in.

You see, I want to do things my way. I’ve always known I was the adventurous creative type but always thought that characteristic was for my “free time.” You know, I’d live a normal life and have “fun” in my spare time. It’s taken Paris for me to realize I can make a living however I want.

I want to travel.

I want to write.

I want to know the world.

In college, I had a professor that I was always envious of. He was a professor, yes, but he had seen the world. He lived in France for ten years. He backpacked through Europe many times. He knew people from all over the world. I remember sitting in class one day after he’d told a story about his most recent trip (I believe it was to Corsica?) and how he’d met so many people to travel with and just spent his whole summer camping out and exploring. I became so incredibly jealous thinking I’d never have those kinds of opportunities. But here I am, doing the exact same thing – spending my life exploring and becoming immersed in the world. That was about two years ago and I’ve finally come to realize I can have whatever kind of life I want.

And the life I choose is that of a travel writer. Or a novelist. Or a volunteer. Or whatever else I want. After my time in Paris, I don’t plan to begin a life of normality, I plan to seek out my next adventure in the world – whatever it may be.

My life isn’t about the money I make and the security I have in those finances, my life is about exploring the world God created and getting lost in whatever comes my way.

Armistice Day 2014

IMG_5554Today I was able to check another item off of my Paris Bucket List. And this was a pretty big one.

I attended a church service at Notre Dame.

Last summer when I studied abroad in France, I had the privilege of walking through Notre Dame while they were holding a service and I was able to see the beauty of it as a guest. Just being a random onlooker brought me to tears and I made it an immediate bucket list item to attend a real service one day.

And today it happened. I was a member of the congregation during an Anglican service put on by the Royal British Legion, which means that not only did I get to be there, but I was also able to understand the service in its entirety. The experience moved me to tears.

Notre Dame was by far my favorite thing about Paris last summer when I visited for a few days and it’s one of my favorite things about Paris as a whole while living here. So to actually take part in something so full of history and beauty during a special service to remember those fallen on the battlefield was breathtaking. I remember I just kept thinking to myself, “Is this real? Is it? Thank You, God. Thank You, God.. Thank You.”

I’m still in awe hours later and know that this experience will live within me for the rest of my life. Words can’t describe how humbling it was to be there. I know I’m truly blessed.

Thank You, God.IMG_5542

Take a moment

I just witnessed the most heartbreaking moment I’ve experienced since moving to Paris.

As I was going into the metro to get back home from running errands this morning, I saw a man literally on his knees in the stairwell, tears in his eyes, mumbling what I can only imagine is an apology.

This man broke my heart. Sometimes you can really see when someone truly needs help in this world and this man was one of them. Seeing a grown man brought to his knees begging for help, tears streaming down his face will quickly wake you up to what this world is and everything that you yourself have been blessed with.

I hope you realize everything you have in abundance in your life and never forget that God is good. Take a moment today to say thanks.

An American Girl in Paris

Last I left you, I was moving to Africa. Well, that changed and as of today, I’ve moved my booty to Paris, France and will be spending the next year of my life as an au pair. Not gonna lie, I was terrified about the prospect of things going awry and up until 12 hours ago my anxiety was through the roof over it.

But that all changed when I walked through the gate exit after my flight into Paris. As I’m rolling my overstuffed suitcase and duffel bag through the doors, the first thing I see is a little blonde haired boy holding up a sign reading, “Megan Suddarth,” in the middle of a sea of people all by himself. I immediately become ecstatic over realizing this is my little A and start to scream. The next thing I know, the rest of the family is jumping up from their seats off to the side on a bench and rushing toward me. I’m immediately engulfed in smiles and hugs and kisses and at that moment I knew everything would be okay. The S family welcomed me in with open arms the instant their eyes landed on me and I’ve felt loved all day.

After leaving the airport, we spent the rest of the day getting me settled, eating and exploring. Hours walking down the Seine and seeing the beauty of Paris all over again was wonderful. I’ve had the most perfect first day back in France and know that I’ve made the right decision about what I’m doing in my life at this moment. I can’t wait to see what this next year brings and look forward to taking advantage of all of the opportunities that God has already blessed me with.

So, as I lay in bed, eyes half closed, I can’t help but smile over how wonderful this next year will be for this American girl living in Paris.

I don’t know where I’m going but I’m finding my way

Yes, I definitely titled this post with One Direction lyrics. What of it.

Anyway, as you may know, I recently went on an Alternative Breaks trip for Spring Break. I decided to spend my last break in college doing something good and helping others. It was a wonderful and life changing experience that I will forever hold dear to my heart. I met some fantastic people whom I now consider family and I couldn’t have ended my college career in any better way.

I spent my week playing with adorable little kiddos on the Fort Campbell military post who were a part of the Armed Services YMCA camp and they changed me for the better. I fell in love with each of those sweet faces and it was heartbreaking to leave them.photo-4

The Sunday after returning, I was sitting in church and all of a sudden it hit me. I love to travel and I want to help people. Right then I knew, I was being called to something bigger than myself. Right then and there, I decided to take a year to spread God’s love throughout this beautiful world that we live in through a volunteer abroad program.

So, six weeks before I graduate and had been planning to go into the career field, I completely changed my life plan and decided to volunteer instead. I have no idea where and no idea how, but I know that it’ll all work out and I trust this plan that God has for my life.

I’m terrified, don’t get me wrong. Going abroad to a country in which I’ve never been, helping people whose culture differs greatly from my own and just trusting that it will somehow be taken care of financially? Not to mention the fact that I have no idea where to go or what organization is best or anything like that. Yeah, I’m probably crazy. But all I know is that I want to go to a country where I’m needed and help children. Not only by loving them, but also in the long run by teaching them so that they can go out into the world and change it. I want to spread God’s love and I want to promote diversity and multiculturalism in this gorgeous planet that God created for us.

Like I said, I know nothing about how to go about doing this. So, any input would be greatly appreciated. So far, I’ve looked into: Love Volunteers, WWF, Peace Corps, Go Corps, Mercy Ships and The World Race. I’d love any help on turning this plan into action so if you or anyone you know has any information for me, I’d be ecstatic!

I knew that going on an alternative break would impact me but I never thought in a million years that it would change me so much that I would drop everything and alter my life. I owe this decision to those wonderful, smiling little faces at the ASYMCA and know that whatever happens, I’ll be in God’s hands.

Growing up

So, here’s the deal. I graduate soon. Wow.. It’s terrifying to actually say it. Next semester I’ll be leaving home and making my own home somewhere completely different and that’s scary.. (Hopefully my Momma doesn’t read this post).

Now that being said, I don’t know exactly what I want to do with my life. But before you start to judge, let me tell ya that I’ve got my life pretty well under control. I have a level head, I work my booty off at both my job and my internship in order to have my own money and I’ve been looking into jobs for a while now. I’m not worried for what will happen to me after I leave home, it’s all in God’s hands and I know he’ll take care of me.

I have a blank canvas in front of me and I can do whatever I want with it. It’s freeing to think that I’ll be moving on soon and that I can do and be whatever I want. I can be a publicist. I can be an actor. I can be an agent. I can be a writer. I can be a public relations representative. I can be ANYTHING.

And that’s exactly what I’ll do. No matter what the future holds for me, I know that I’ll be doing something every day that puts a smile on my face when I wake up. And I know I’ll do this because I know exactly who I am. I know that whatever path I end up taking in this wonderful life that I have, that I’ll be happy and more importantly that I’ll make an impact. I want my life to affect others. I want my life, my story and my choices to inspire someone. Anyone. I just want to live my life happily and know that I can positively impact someone somewhere in this world – doing what? I don’t know.

But I know it’ll be grand.

And the countdown begins…

One week. That’s it.

One week from now I’ll be on a plane hating life because I’m no longer in France. I can’t even describe how I feel when I start to think about leaving this place. I know I’ve missed home at times throughout this trip but now I can’t even imagine leaving. I constantly tell my Momma not to make me come home because I just want to live here for the rest of my life. This has by far been the most amazing experience of my life and I’ve made so many ridiculously incredible memories that I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life. God has truly blessed me and I couldn’t be happier. Except for the fact that I have to go home…in one week. I really can’t believe it, but I know that one day soon I’ll be back.

I have so many new best friends now that I can’t imagine my life without and can’t begin to tell them how much I love them. My French family is a part of my life now too and I don’t want to ever leave them and I’m dreading saying goodbye.

This adventure has reinforced my confidence in my decision to move out to L.A. next summer because I know that if I can move halfway across the world to a completely different country with a foreign language, then I can definitely move halfway across the country with no problem. I have so many dreams to accomplish in my life and I’m blessed to be able to say that I’ve already begun to conquer them.

God is good.

Pigs and Gypsies

I knew coming over to France that I would get a lot of attention. My blonde hair makes me stick out like a sore thumb in this country. However, I never thought the attention would be this extreme.

I have to say that I’m already incredibly sick of a lot of people in this country. I’ve survived a pickpocketing experience, multiple stare downs and today I survived my first potential mugging. Yeah, that’s right. I said MUGGING.

I’ll start from the beginning. The first week in France, we were in Paris. I loved the city. Marvelous and beautiful. However, I had one little (BIG) incident that I believe has forever scarred me to the core. I was pickpocketed. Here I am minding my own business trying to get to L’Arc de Triomphe and the next thing I know, there’s some little gypsy girl up on me trying to get me to sign a blank sheet of paper. I realized something was up when she wouldn’t get off of me so I decided to check my pocket for my phone. Yeah, stupid me I left my phone in my jean jacket pocket instead of hiding it. Well, as I’m reaching into my pocket to make sure I still have my phone, she’s pulling her hand out of my pocket with my phone! Next thing I knew, she had my phone hidden under her clipboard that she was carrying and don’t ask me how, but somehow I knew where it was and I just snatched it right back out of her hand and turned away to get as far away from her as possible before I beat the living daylights out of her.

There’s my first horrible incident in France.

Then, today I had an incident with a man at the ATM. Stupid me (again), I think that I’m invincible and that nothing bad will happen to me. This entire trip thus far has proven that I’m indeed entirely incorrect in that state of mind. Everything bad that happens to someone over here always happens to me. Anyway, this is the story.

I leave lunch and everybody else to go to the ATM to withdraw some money because I’m getting low. The ATM was only a couple blocks away so I thought I’d be completely fine. I was wrong. As I’m putting in my PIN number, a man comes up behind me and starts to talk to me. He asks says hi and asks me how I’m doing and starts to ramble. I glance quickly at him and then away disgusted, but I probably shouldn’t have looked at him at all. Well, I’m still trying to withdraw money and he keeps talking to me. He starts to now talk in French and ask if I speak French. Again, I don’t answer and I don’t even acknowledge his presence. He still goes on trying to ask me why I’m not answering him and why I won’t say hi and trying to get me to talk to him and I’m assuming trying to distract me. Well by this point my heart is racing as fast as it can and I’m about to have a heart attack. Here I am, a little, blonde American girl trying to withdraw a large amount of money in a foreign country and there’s a huge man hovering over me, obviously trying to get something from me. As soon as the machine spits out my card, I snatch it up and when it gives me my money I grab on and hold for dear life so that this jerk can’t take anything from me. I rip my receipt out of the machine and speed walk away from him around the corner. He was still calling after me by the time I rounded the corner, but I’d gotten away from him and I was safe. Then, I realized my phone wasn’t in my back pocket. Frantically, I searched throughout my purse for it and started to panic. I swore I had (stupidly, again) left my phone in my back pocket and now it wasn’t there. I was sure that jerk had stolen my phone at this point. I started sprinting back to the restaurant, praying to God that I had miraculously left my phone on the table and forgotten to bring it with me. I reach the doors to the restaurant and search the table with my eyes before even getting to it. Yup, there it was. I’d left my phone on the table with all of my friends and everything was okay. I’d survived the potential mugging and he didn’t get away with anything. Having your guard up at all times really does pay off. I’ve learned not to trust anyone except the people you know in this country. By now I’m ALWAYS on alert for the next person who’s on the lookout to take something from me. And this isn’t even the last part of my story.

After a six hour train ride from Cannes back to Lyon, I’m exhausted. We all were. As all four of us eventually separate and go our separate ways to head home, Auburn and I are left alone in the metro station waiting for our bus to take us all the way home. It’s at this point that a huge, drunk man walks into the station and sits down on the bench next to us. As he walks in, he says something to us in French about asking how we’re doing. Of course, we ignore him. Next thing I know, he’s rambling on and on and Auburn and I both think he’s talking on a cell phone. Nope, we were wrong. Five minutes later, I feel something hit me. I look down and see that he had thrown at bottle cap at me and hit me. I look up speechless and in disbelief at Auburn as she screams, “EXCUSE YOU,” and he mumbles something about making us mad. We get up to get away from him and he starts to ramble and get upset about us leaving, which was pretty terrifying in itself. We walk around the corner and get away from him and I can’t help but almost burst into tears.

The way that men treat women over here is ridiculous. I’ve never felt so abused or targeted in my life. It’s honestly disgusting. And that means a lot coming from me. Anyone who knows me knows that I love a good compliment and love flattery. So, if you have me disgusted and hating every man that I see around me, you know it’s a pretty big deal.

So, there you have it. Three weeks in France and I’ve already been through more than what most people go through in their entire lives. But I can say that I’ve survived all of it and it’s made me more cautious and taught me to never let my guard down. I love this country and I love this experience but the male mentality around here has me on edge.

Becoming Humbled

Happy thoughts of a humbled girl.

Well, I finally have a moment to myself to relax and think about things. Since summer began, I’ve been working full-time, doing a part-time internship and trying to spend as much time as possible with my family and friends. So far, all is successful; got my first paycheck today, I’m loving my internship and I’m currently sitting with my entire family watching Wall-E.. So, I’d say I’ve got it all covered. Life is good.

Recently, I’ve been so incredibly happy. It’s ridiculous. I can’t wipe the smile off my face and I love infecting those around me with happiness. It’s like nothing can get me down and I love it. Everything in my life is coming together and I’m enjoying every second. I’m preparing for my future in a way I’ve never done before by adding another major – theatre, which is my absolute passion that gives me so much joy and excitement when I’m involved in it, I’m always happy and trying to help those around me – I’m no longer judgmental or critical of those around me like so many girls in this world tend to be (and how I was earlier in life, sad to say) and I’m so much looking forward to what God has in store for me. Seriously, I get tingly and butterflies when I think about what He has planned for my life and what path He has laid before me. I want to live my life for Him to those around me and I hope that I positively impact those around me, showing them the amazing grace and love that He has for them. Gah, I’m just so happy.

My life is amazing right now. I’m moving toward my future and can’t wait to live my life for the Lord and expand on what He has planned for me. After I graduate from Mizzou, I plan to move out to L.A. to pursue my dream of becoming an actor. This isn’t just a dream, it’s a passion and life goal that I WILL accomplish. Nothing less is acceptable. God has so many amazing plans for me and I’m ready to get them started.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11