When people say to me: “you’re so brave to move to France alone;” or “how could you venture off to a ‘foreign” country where you know no one;” or “how do you manage not speaking the language,” I’ve had to search for a way to describe how it happened.
As simply as possible, I say, I learned how to “let go.”
There are lots of things in life that tie you down. Raising children. Caring for an aging parent or a dependent family member. Poor physical health. A job. Not “enough” money. Those are all real issues that affect all of us at some time in our lives, and any one of them makes it difficult for us to let go. For me, those constraints were behind me. My boys were raised, my parents were deceased, I was divorced, and I was retired. As for “enough” money. I had to figure that one out. Really? What is “enough?”
Determining how much money I needed, how much space I wanted, and exactly where I would live were vital to know. When I discovered that I could live in France in a lovely place and space and that I could live for less than in the US – and better — I let go of “will I have enough.”
Too much “stuff.”
Once I decided I could live abroad, I had to deal with my “stuff.” Believe me, I had a lot of stuff from 40 years of housekeeping and being a compulsive buyer and collector. It should have been more complicated, but it was pretty easy to get rid of things after making up my mind. I knew I didn’t want the hassle of moving stuff to France, so I imposed on my son and some terrific friends, and we held an estate sale. Everything I owned was gone in two weekends, except for a few small items now in storage in South Carolina. Interestingly, most of those bits and pieces belonged to my mother.
Living abroad solo means saying “goodbye” to family and friends
If you think moving abroad means you’ll never see your family and friends again, you won’t go. From experience, I can tell you. You will keep in touch with those who mean the most to you. In fact, living abroad, you’ll be surprised how much family and how many friends you have. I’ve entertained and enjoyed guests I haven’t seen or heard from in 50 years. They’ve come to visit me in France. Others stay in touch through social media, telephone, email, and Facetime. We’re probably more connected now than ever before.
The best news about friends is that you make more -– from all over the world.
Grandchildren are another matter. My adorable grandbabies didn’t exist when I left for France. My son and daughter-in-law blessed me with a grandson three years ago and a granddaughter last year. Those two pull my heartstrings. Every week, or more often, we talk on Facetime. It’s primarily because of them that I visit back to the US. They’re growing so fast, and I don’t want to miss their childhood. So I plan, budget, and promise myself I’ll see them twice a year in person.
One step at a time
“Letting go” meant I had to have a goal. I had to sit down with myself and face my fears. What was holding me back? Once I acknowledged the obstacles, I worked on them, one by one. Visa? Apartment rental in France? French bank accounts? Everything fell in place. Just by letting go and taking one step at a time.
“You can do it.”