I recently went to Paris.... a solo trip on my own without the kids! It felt a bit surreal to go somewhere so far away from them. I have of course spent a few nights without them when they have stayed at their grandparents house etc but this was quite different. I mean I couldn't just nip home if they needed me! It's also been a while since I've travelled abroad, especially on my own and I felt my soul was calling for some time to be in a new space and to soak up a new atmosphere. Also after an intense year of personal challenges as well as watching some of my closest people go through their own intense difficulties it has by far been one of the most overwhelming periods of my life. Along the way my ego has been shattered and I lost my voice and ability to express myself because suddenly I did not know who Jaina was anymore. Though I don't want to go into the details here or perhaps ever I know that there is something burning within me that needs to be expressed. I'm not sure what that is yet but I know my blog gives me a safe space to write, share, inspire, connect and at the same time be seen and heard. As a brown woman I think we often go unseen even within our own communities. The challenges I have experienced this year have been difficult but I do feel that I have been awakened and I am not asleep or ignorant anymore. This journey of life now looks very different with these new lenses that I wear and in order to celebrate I decided to go to Paris! Why Paris? Because I have never been and Rakesh has never had the same desire to go to Paris so it has never really been on our bucket list. I wanted to feel the buzz of a city and somewhere my mind could be entertained and be bedazzled. So I hear you say 'what did you get up to in Paris?!' I did it all... well as much as I could over a weekend. The Eiffel Tower and its opulence, beauty and breath-taking views! I floated down the River Sienne at sunset and gazed at the Notre Dame. I ate far too much from croissants, crepes, pastries, pasta and macaroons! I wandered around the Louvre allowing myself to soak up the grandiose architecture. I also gazed at the Mona Lisa wondering why and how her energy and that of Da Vinci has created such magnetism from people around the world! Fun fact I studied Interior Design at University so the architecture of the Louvre was what I had my eye on more so than the Mona Lisa although the buzz around her did make her very mesmerising. I could have sat in the Richelieu Wing for hours. That feeling of space and light felt good while at the other extreme the ceilings in the Sully wing were opulent and majestical. I probably could have done with a whole day here and struggled to really absorb it in a couple of hours. I walked a lot and took a couple of rides on the metro which is really easy to navigate. I picked up some madeleines to take home and I missed out on the Angelina tea room which was highly recommended to me but the queue was too long. It was a really fun trip and when you travel alone you also meet lots of people along the way so it was great to chat to people from all sorts of different walks of life. Ironically and as I would expect for a multicultural city I didn't meet any French people, even the pastry chef in the patisserie was from Italy. But like London I love the vibe and the opportunities that Paris can bring to people from around the world. Also Paris, like London, is fast paced. The energy feels very focussed on the doing rather than the being so I felt caught up on doing as much as I can and had to really focus on grounding my energy to be in my body, with my breath and in the moment. It's actually often helpful to do a yoga practice in your hotel room as soon as you arrive in a different country, something I didn't do so I ended up sitting quietly on a bench by the river to meditate. Grounding my energy really helped me to absorb the sparkle of the Eiffel Tower. Perhaps next time I will go further out of Paris where I can take a slower pace to absorb the French culture but for now this trip was all about allowing my senses to explore, engage and interact with the energy of Paris. I hate to admit this but the first day like I said was full of the doing. I barely even ate anything other than a baguette (it was a good baguette though it has to be said) so by the end of the day I was so exhausted and on my way back to my hotel I couldn't find anywhere to eat other than an Indian Dosa house! To be honest the street was full of Indian Dosa houses and even Indian grocery shops. The dosa's smelled so good and I couldn't help but stop off and grab some dinner! So yes there is a little India in Paris for anyone that needs to know! It is also a great option for vegan's too. Also on the second day I made sure I stuck to the more traditional or perhaps more touristy option of croissants, pastries etc. This meant going all in with the dairy and egg which I don't often eat so I will admit I did notice myself feeling a bit heavier after the trip! Traveling alone can be daunting but I didn't feel lonely and relished in the quietness and the extra time I had to do everything! No extra bags or toys to carry made things feel a bit lighter! I found I missed the girls when I saw other children but I also enjoyed tapping into the energy when you see children. They all have such a light, playful spirit that can only make you smile. It gave me the opportunity to stop and be grateful that shortly I will be returning back to that energy and space. Back to being mum which is the most important job I have in this world. And I know I cannot do that job if I am not fully serving myself first and following my inner voice. I often speak to other mum's about the dilemma of managing everything that is involved in raising children and add to that work and trying to find the space and time to be and do you, can sometimes feel impossibile! I often hear mum's question and ask ... there must be another way?! That's something I'm still working out myself but I think one of the greatest things we can do to manage the load whether you have kids or not is to listen to yourself. To find that voice of truth and follow it through with courage and strength. I really missed the girls and seeing them when I returned home filled me with so much gratitude. They missed me too and they needed a day or two to process and regulate their emotions as kids often don't know how to express themselves. Stepping away from everything when you're a busy mum to embark on a solo trip even just for two days can feel strange but I think I would definitely do it again. Perhaps I can one day step away long enough to even teach a retreat abroad... who knows but let's throw that out there for the Universe to manifest! Have you been on a solo trip anywhere recently? If so, let me know where you went and how the experience felt for your body, mind and soul?