2015 was a big year. Although I was living amicably with my soon to be ex husband in the traditional family home, the time had come to move on so we could both explore greener pastures.
With a much loved son who was a huge part of us continuing to live together, we finally put the family home on the market and started to think of our future. I had to consider my future as a single mother, which I admit was incredibly daunting, yet totally within my capabilities. What would we do? Where would we live? How would we manage? These questions continuously went through my mind. Random ideas would insert themselves occasionally. We could go down the traditional path and buy another home, stay at the same school, continue our day to day lives or we could take the opportunity for change. Get off the treadmill. Move away from the daily grind. Carpe Diem!
Living overseas was one of the passing thoughts that would resurface. I am a daily yoga devotee, and every morning after school drop off I would make a beeline for my spot on the mat. I would relish the space to allow myself to indulge my dream a little further. Maybe I should delve a little further into the possibility of making this dream a possibility? No, too hard, too difficult, too much money, what about Luc’s schooling? I need to get a house, I need to grow up, I need to be responsible, I own two cafes!!!! Oh dear, so much for relaxing. Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out.
By the end of a few weeks of contemplation I decided it couldn’t hurt to find out whether it really was an impossible dream, was I really crazy? Or just maybe, it was a reality?
So with this notion formally evolving, where would we go? France? Yes! Bali? Yes!! It had to be a non english speaking country. There had to be a good school for Luc, there had to be good food or yoga for me. France speaks for itself, if you are a hard core foodie like myself, and anyone who has dined with me or at my house knows exactly what I am talking about, France is an easy choice. Bali has the lure of perfecting my yoga poses, living simply and sending Luc to The Green School, which has been a life long ambition and one that hopefully we can still achieve one day. Oh, and it had to be warm, hence the South of France.
So, what happens next? First you find out whether the country will allow you in. France has a long stay visa, which is basically a cultural visa. It allows people like myself to indulge their senses in the glorious food and culture of their wonderful country. Your children can go to school as a local and get fed a three course meal for lunch. Hmmm, so I can follow this dream! My mind shifts a gear as it anticipates the possibility of making it happen. But what about work? What about Tony, Luc’s Dad? What about Luc? What about the fact neither of us can speak a word of French? One step forward, two steps backwards. The seeds of doubt sink in again.
Back on the yoga mat, I mull these obstacles in my head, and finally gain the courage to speak my crazy thoughts to those who are affected. The conversation goes a little like this. Me: Hey Kooky, (our affectionate name for our son) how do you feel about going to France? Luc: Oh yes mummy!!! I would love to!!! Me: How about for a whole year? Luc: A year? What about Daddy? What about school? What about Gussy? (our dog). Me: Well Daddy will come and visit, you would go to school over there and guess what? Luc: What mummy? Me: They feed you a three course lunch at school every day!!! Luc: Really? Yes mummy I want to live in France!!! Chip off the old block, we live for food. This kid can eat the stinkiest of washed rind cheeses and have stilton in his sandwiches for school. So my biggest worry was always whether it was right for him, whether he was comfortable following his crazy mummy’s dream, and I clearly had nothing to worry about. We then looked at what the school lunches were that they served. To give you an idea about myself, we eat really healthy food, yes I am the food nazi. It has to be organic, there can’t be sugar, it has to be seasonal, fresh and prepared simply. I nag him day in day out about companies that destroy forests, how sugar is bad for him, Coke is the work of the devil etc. I think you get my drift. So the following conversation was part of showing that I could be a fun Mum too.
Me: Wow, on a Friday they have Eclair au chocolat for dessert!! Chocolate eclairs Luc!! Luc: Mummy, what is a Chocolate Eclair? Me: Oh dear, I have sheltered you sweetie. They sell them at Laurent Patisserie, we will go after school.
So off we go, I figure this will seal the deal. We arrive and I proudly order one, only to find out they are sold out! What?! You can’t have sold out. I explained that my son had to have one today as we were considering living in France. So, not to be deterred, we drove to their Albert Park store. I hesitantly walk in the store and scan the display counter furiously, please, please, please… BINGO! With that eclair, I will take my son to France!
Luc: WOW mummy! Is that a chocolate eclair? And I can eat it? Me: Yes my darling, you enjoy every bite.
The look on his face said it all. He was in heaven, how could you NOT go to a country that serves chocolate eclairs as part of its three course menu. The hard part was over. He is my life, Luc had to be 100% confident in this adventure or it was never going to happen. OK, now for his Dad and my staff. How do I present it to them? They are not an 8 yr old child, and they are not living in France? But they can visit!
I sit down with Tony and have a broad conversation of what my opportunities are. He is a wonderful Dad and very easygoing with things like this. I am about to turn 45 in a few weeks and we celebrated his 60th last year with a fabulous family trip to Uluru. Not many ex wives take their husband’s away to celebrate a milestone! With age comes wisdom and a far more open attitude to living your life to it’s potential. He was very happy with the idea. He could see the wonderful opportunities it would provide Luc, learning a new language and understanding the world is bigger than Australia. Plus he gets to come and hang out a few times with us and travel around.
So, to the staff. My shops are like my babies, and I have to say, even though I might not see all of my staff, I think of them as my children too. The store in Degraves St. is my first born. I worked it from the ground up. I painted it and had my friend’s Dad help make the furniture. It was very organic both in it’s inception and it’s growth. For the first ten years I worked it nearly every day, I couldn’t leave the place. Then I had Luc, my second baby, and I stepped back for the first time. When Luc started school, I felt I needed a new challenge. The city store could stand on it’s own, and it was time for a new business challenge. So along came Orrong park. It was chosen as I could work there and still have Luc around. He could play tennis in school holidays, and his friends could play in the park and hang out with him. So now I have two cafes! Pete runs Orrong Park, and Anna runs Degraves st. I cannot be the mum I am without them. I depend on them, the same way Luc depends on me, and they do a great job making it happen. So, I organise a meeting at my house, and drop the bombshell. Were they surprised? Yes, definitely. Were they shocked? No, we workshopped it like any other problem, my sweetener was I would give them a ticket each to come and stay. I was slowly running out of reasons to not follow my dream. A seed of excitement was now planted.