Do you dream of travel? I do. Unrealistic, romantic, travel. I dream of living in city after city. Paris, New York, London, Portland, Berlin, Amsterdam. All of it. I dream of Porquerolles. I dream of Malta and St. Petersberg. Rome. Yes. I dream of seeing the world.
But maybe you haven’t reached those dreams because you’ve been fibbing. You’ve been caught believing a lie. A little bitty shitty lie that whispers, “It’ll never happen”.
Paris or bust!
Perhaps not. Truth be told. I don’t believe this will ever happen to me. I could be wrong. God, I hope I’m wrong. What I do know is that of all the places I long to visit before I die, Paris is the one.
Don’t ask me why, I’m not sure I even need to explain it or can, but my lifelong dream is to explore Paris and maybe even live there. Life is very short and it’s something I’ve been aware of for a while now. Being alive is something we take for granted.
And anyways lesser people have gone to Paris for lesser reasons.
So do I need a reason? Can any of us really explain why we want the things we want or why we’re drawn to the people, places, and things we are? Not really. Not fully.
I recently posted on Instagram about my state of being at the moment. I’m in a state of reflection and growth. Growing out of people pleasing, getting older, taking inventory, thinking about living and mortality. Travel has been one of those things that, although deep in my heart I long for it, it is not something I allow myself to even plan for a single moment. Best not to get hopes up? Right?
As I am learning. Hopes and dreams are everything. Hopes and dreams can and should become plans and goals. There is no guarantee these plans and goals will work out in an exact way and in the exact time we imagine or desire. But taking yourself seriously and your dreams seriously can lead you to make some very important discoveries and changes.
For example, I’ve been on this pseudo-minimalist journey for about 3 years now. You see, I love design, art, and beauty in all of its forms. Interior design is something that matters a great deal to me because I’m one of those who is deeply affected by the atmosphere.
So I had this couch and these things that weren’t “bringing me joy” and I couldn’t afford to buy a new couch or anything of the sort. So I said fuck it and posted a ton of my stuff on Facebook Marketplace and make $1100 in one weekend. This surprised me and delighted me. I started to think what else can I sell to build up a “what I really want” fund?
As it so happens I have a huge amount of clothing, being a stylist you’d expect that. These clothes though are like little gems, handpicked by me from second-hand shops and thrift stores. They are usually designer items, well made, and worth a lot.
Backstory time: life gets in the way if you let (most of us let it)
When my husband and I got married over 9 years ago we had planned to go to Germany for our honeymoon. I lived in Koln as a kid and it was a dream of mine to go back to Europe.
Once you live in a foreign country, you’re never again the same.
A part of you lives there and will always be connected. For one reason or another, the trip was canceled and it utterly crushed me. We never did go on our honeymoon, life got in the way. You know making money, working jobs, moving from one apartment to another, from one state to another. And it just never became our focus. Instead, the idea of going got less and less “realistic” and drifted further and further away from the possibility.
Couple that with the fact that I’m not, or at least wasn’t for the majority of my life, a good saver and you have a dream that isn’t a joy anymore. It’s a sad thing you think you can never have. You become the victim of your own unfulfilled desires. That kind of thinking really gets you nowhere fast.
Now back to the plan. The Paris Plan as I’m calling it
Every so often I’d ask my husband about going. No! He’d say. We can’t afford it. And he was mostly right. We didn’t have the bandwidth or the resources to go. The timing always felt off. Except that wasn’t the whole truth. In fact, it was a downright lie. It was a lie we were both telling ourselves.
Since 2009 we have purchased a car we couldn’t afford, moved across country, paid off student loans, got further into debt to buy more education for me (ugh – sorry babe), a motorcycle, clothes we both didn’t need, and a million random things that when all totalled could have sent us to Paris many times over.
The truth was neither of us was willing to make it a priority. Neither of us was willing to make sacrifices of the little things, the placeholders, to get what we really wanted. Instead, we put off our dream and told ourselves and each other lies. “We can’t afford to go” should really be “We are choosing not to go”.
There’s this phrase a friend of mine used to say that always made me hold my breath and bite my tongue because it frustrated me so much. She’d say, “That’s the way it goes. Sometimes you have to sacrifice the important on the altar of the urgent.”
The trouble is if you keep doing that there won’t be anything important left. And your life becomes nothing but a mess of urgency.
Dreams are like the marketing department of our lives. Hard to define, easy to devalue, and the first thing cut from a struggling organization.
How many of our dreams are actually well within our grasp but we choose (deep down inside) not to commit because we’re lazy, scared, and believe we have to do it all on our own?
Sometimes the timing is off, money is off, life is hard and things just aren’t working out. Babies, kids, repairs, chaos of life. I totally get that. But what I’m learning is that dreams are vitally important to our lives. They are the intangible manifestation of who are and who we aspire to be. They are, in my opinion, God-breathed visions of our innate potential.
But here’s where the spark really got lit in me. An acquaintance of mine, Joe Bunting, who is an unabashed francophile like me decided to take his wife Talia and three small kids to France for 2 months. Mindlessly scrolling through Facebook one day, I saw a photo and a question that got my attention.
Where do you want to visit? What’s your dream trip?
Sucker-punch to the gut. I commented. He commented, “What’s stopping you?”
“What’s the least amount you could spend?”
“Well, Scott’s cheap flights, make my own food, Airbnb, free things to do around Paris?”
A seed was planted. A plan was born.
What if this could work, hmm? What if I could do as I did before and sell all my valuable crap and start a Paris Fund? What if we could get super cheap tickets on Scotts? What if we could find a charming but affordable Airbnb? What’s the least we could spend on the entire trip? I mean we have miles saved up, we finally have some breathing room in our budget, we have a lot of things we could sell.
Could this work?
Sometimes our dreams aren’t impossible to find. In our culture of consumerism, we can be tempted to think the solution to our problems is getting (resource). We need to get more to have more. But what if the solution to getting was using what you already have (resourcefulness)? Turn what resources you already have into what you desperately want. Look for the ways it could work instead of the ways it can’t work.
Could this work? Hell yes.
Be gentle with yourself on the path to your dreams. The thing about life is that a lot of it is kind of outside your control. Like the weather, other people, and basically everything. You can’t control other people or nations or airlines. You’ve got to move forward on your dreams and be open to when they will come and how they will come.
When I started dreaming this dream years and years ago, I couldn’t understand why it wasn’t happening sooner. I couldn’t understand why going to Paris was so hard and out of reach. Part of it I already explained. But the other part is this: God’s timing is perfect. It simply wasn’t time for us to go. Mike and I had a lot of important work to do before going to Paris would be possible. Internal work, external work, and so on.
The other thing. God likes to use maximum impact for better results. To simply get what you want when you want it doesn’t really impact one much. But the struggle, the waiting, the guessing, the patience building, the wondering. It all adds up. It’s like foreplay. Will we or won’t we? Can I or can’t I?
But just when you think you are out of luck and it will never happen and you’ve had your hopes up and your hopes down for the umpteenth time…it pulls through. It works out. I still don’t know if my plan will be the plan. But The Paris Plan is in front of me. It’s in my journal and it’s what I’m working on.
I’m holding it loosely but trusting that if I do the work something really good will come of it. Right now neither of us have up-to-date passports. We have some miles saved up. No tickets yet. I’m scouting Airbnb’s and saving them. I’ve created a loose budget that I’m updating constantly. And I’ve started to collect ideas and secret haunts from Paris natives and expats living there. I’m getting advice from people who’ve been and know the ropes. And most importantly! I’ve already started dreaming of what my Parisian wardrobe will be.
Last week I hopped back on Facebook Marketplace and sold a few things and made $245. Not bad for my first run. The Paris Plan is to go for 6 – 8 days with all things included (I mean all things) for around $2,000. I know that may sound like a lot to some and too little to others. But that’s the target. That may change. But I want to fund this trip with things that I can sell around my home and jobs I can complete.
I think it’s possible. And only time will tell.
If you’d like to follow along and see how it goes, watch Mike and I get our passports, find the cheapest tickets possible, scout our Airbnb, and see how and why I build my Parisian travel wardrobe, I’d love to have you along for the ride. You have a dream that’s buried in you that is entirely possible. But you are holding out on yourself. Maybe, like me, you’ve been sacrificing the important on the altar of the urgent. Maybe you haven’t been completely honest with yourself about a.) what you want and b.) what you’re willing to do to get it?
Let me ask you this: of all your dreams, which one would cause you the most regret if you were never able to achieve it? That’s the dream you need to focus on first. Hold it openly, but become a believer and use your current resources in creative ways to make it happen. Maybe not this year or even next year. But make it happen.