05 January 2012

My dreams came with a price in 2011

I haven't blogged in quite a while... That is mainly because the year 2011 hit me with a brick... more like an avalanche.

I buried my grandmother in early January 2011. I had the great fortune to be home in America for the holidays to be at her side before she passed. Nevertheless, the pain of losing her definitely set the tone for my entire 2011.

2011 would also see my eight-year relationship with my fiancé crumble. The agony of losing a relationship that I never thought would end left me feeling like the ground had collapsed beneath me. Without going into detail, the demise of our relationship was due to the fact that I saw my life in France, and he did not. While we both knew we were clinging to life support the last year or two, I lacked the strength to let go. He would be the one to walk away.

I admire his strength, because he awakened a greater strength inside of me, a strength I never knew I possessed.

I regret sincerely the pain we caused one another. He was and always will be a person who counted for me. The memories we lived together cannot be erased.

For awhile, I felt as if I was living a nightmare. So desperately I wanted to reclaim my "real life," the life I was "supposed" to have lived. There was a wedding dress hanging in my closet that would never be worn. There were dreams years in the making that had never been realized. There were children who would never exist now. For the first time in years, at 28 years old, my future is the blurry unknown. I felt like I had taken a train, and had gotten off at the wrong stop. This was never in the plan. I felt like a bird hovering near a broken branch. I didn't know where to land.

The reality of my decision to move to France has never been so cruel. Pursuing this dream has required countless sacrifices, but never like this. Was it worth it? I asked myself.

For months, my health suffered, my emotional state was plummeting, and my creative energy was crushed.

Walking down the street holding back tears was terrible. The people around me were oblivious to my torment. Even worse was standing before a classroom of students and pretending that everything was ok, even as they saw my reddened eyes and lack of passion as I spoke.

For the first time in my life, I spent the Christmas holidays in France, away from my family. Finances did not permit a trip to the States this year. If ever there was a moment when I NEEDED to be home in the States, this was it. But obviously life had other ideas for me, and this was simply not to be. I suppose crappy Christmases help you to truly appreciate the good ones.

I have never been so thankful to see a year end in my life. But, perhaps, all of this negativity signifies positive changes for 2012, changes that I do not realize yet. In the past few months, I have begun to see the beauty of the gift I have been given. I have a second chance at a dream.

Rather than seeing this as the death of what SHOULD have been, I am beginning to delight in the fact that I now have the chance to live the life I would have regretted NOT living had I pursued the original plan. The magical alternative. The unknown.

As of late I have had several friends telling me how much they admire my "avant garde" decision to take off for a new country and realize my dream, pursue my art, and live for passion, travel, and new experiences.

I have always been this way, since I can remember.

Staying true to myself has never been so painful, but I have a feeling that it has also never been this WORTH IT.

How can an artist continue to grow without heartbreak?
How can you appreciate true love until you've lost it?
How can you know how much your dream means to you until its been tested?
How can you know yourself if you sacrifice your dreams?

My optimism for 2012 continues to grow. And while that doesn't stop the pain, I know one day I will be grateful for the way things turned out.

It's a bittersweet feeling, but for the first time in many many months, I feel alive.

The Road Not Taken
Robert Frost 1874 - 1963

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth; 5

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same, 10

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back. 15

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.


  1. You are incredibly strong, Jamie. Keep going forward- you are so talented and have so many options. I'm glad that you're blogging again. Bises!

    1. Thank you Michelle! I can't wait to catch up with you and see you again on this side of the pond ! Bisous ma belle!

  2. I suspected that I would be giving you to the world when you were barely six years old. I KNEW I would by the time you were fifteen; watching you banter with state senators, priests and artists with a casual confidence that belied your years. Stay the course young Jamie; you are on to something. The world is indeed your home... Love, Dad

  3. So sorry to hear about your grandmother and the split with your fiance. My 5 year relationship with a Frenchman ended recently when I left France for Australia. My life was definitely not in France, but his was. It was incredibly sad at the time but we are still great friends and I am much happier where I am now. Things can only get better and I look forward to each new day and new opportunity in my life. I hope you do the same. Take care, bisous!!

    1. Thanks Jennie,

      I'm sorry to hear about your split as well. I have followed your blog and all your contributions to the Assistant program websites. I really admire you, and am glad that you are doing better than ever, and in Australia of all places! How fantastic. Thank you for your kind words. Bisous de Toulouse.

  4. Jamie, I am so sorry about your grandma and the breakup of your so long relationship but take note: the heart knows when you are on the wrong path. Remember we live for a purpose not to satisfy every whim, adventure, tour or so called dream of ours. We were CREATED for a purpose greater that ourselves but most of all to serve mankind and MAKE A DIFFERENCE! God allows us to wonder this world alone because we chose a long time ago to live separate from Him, therefore we fall and suffer. However there are always signs He gives us (our conscience, our heart, our common [sometimes] sense) that point to the right path. Place your highest priority on your heart, your mind and your soul; the rest is insignificant including dreams!

    It's pretty obvious and funny that really GOD invented U TURNS when we follow the wrong path and discover that we may have not chosen the right road! Don't worry all you got to do is GO BACK if you need to, otherwise swallow hard and move on! JUST MAKE SURE
    Love ER always!

    1. Thank you ER, for your words of inspiration. I hope to see you again, in Europe or in the USA!

      Love always


  5. Good post & good writing, hope to see more!

  6. Dear Jamie,
    I sympathise with you. I think you and I have followed similar paths but I've been in France at lot longer than you now. My first few years here were those exciting American in France times. After that it became difficult for me. I felt there were hard choices to make I really wanted to avoid. As I integrated more here I "dis-integrated" my life back home. Without wanting to, bridges were burnt. I'm a different person, I'm part French now. Guilt is useless in this case, but I harbored a lot of it. People dear to you will understand this and I met some new acquaintances from both places who have become extremely important to me. Now, when I go home the magic is in the other direction, but it's slightly foreign. Really sorry for you grandmother's passing. My story is not to emulate, I just wanted to share.

    1. God, I know exactly what you mean. I empathize with you. Thank you so much for visiting.

  7. I found your blog while searching the internet on a late night, trying to read everything there is to read about the teaching assistant program in France that I hope to be participating in this Fall.
    You blog is a diamond in the rough that I am so happy to have found. I read your stories in reverse, it seems, stumbling upon this post first. I'm really sorry for all of the difficult things that you have recently gone through. Your blog is opening up questions in my head that I guess I should have already been asking myself.
    My boyfriend is French. He lives in France at the moment and I live in the United States. We've been together for nearly 2 years now, meeting while I was in France to study abroad, and I'm ready to finally be with him and appreciate more of what France has to offer me.
    I realize the difficulty of having your cake and eating it too, but I hope to read more from your blog and find that any hardships can be surpassed if I am only passionate about la France and its glorious beauty.
    I have a bit of fear in my stomach, not about being in France because I absolutely love everything about France, but because of what could happen to my relationships with the important people in my life. My boyfriend and I have similar plans in life and will go wherever the wind will take us, whether it's to stay in France or not. I just hope that life doesn't break me apart from him or my family back home.
    Again, I'm sorry for your recent misfortunes, but happy for your new open doors and paths that will take you to places that you weren't capable of going before.
    Thank you for your incite. I will read with wide eyes and listen to your advice with open ears.

    Thank you thank you thank you

    1. Thank you so much for reading and good luck to you.

  8. Hello Jamie! I'm very sorry for your bad year... Thank you for passing by! Take care! (et garde le contact...)

  9. I too found your blog randomly & enjoy reading :) Look forward to the next post!

    1. Thank you so much. Very touched to receive your comment!

  10. Jamie --

    Is everything going O.K. down there in Toulouse? It's been sounding pretty scary for the past few days.

  11. What teaching company did you go thru to find your initial teaching job in France?

    I may want to teach abroad. Thanks :)

    1. I taught as an assistant through the French consulate my first year in France... Google Assistants in France! good luck!


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