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My Story... A Love Story

Do people REALLY wake up one day and decide to change their entire lives... and then actually do it? You bet they do!

I happen to be one of them.

A True Story: From Boring to BOLD!

I'm not much different than most people -- including you. I'm brilliant at a few key things, fairly good at a lot more, and lousy at others (cooking falls into this latter category!) I have always had dreams and plans for my life, just as we all do. The dream I can remember having the longest was that I wanted to travel a lot, live in Paris, and become a writer; that dream began in my 'tweens and stayed with me for about 35 years before I fulfilled it!

The day after my 40th birthday!But before I ended up living "la vie en rose" in Paris, I was living in New Jersey, within a few miles of the same place I'd grown up. The life I was living was probably fairly typical, perhaps even desirable by most standards: I worked in a big corporation in Information Technology, had friends I spent time with, occasionally went on dates or found myself in semi-steady relationships, and every so often I went on a vacation. At one point I even bought a lovely 2-BR condo that even had its own white picket fence, and I thought, "Wow, I'm livin' the American dream!"

Somehow, though, it wasn't enough. I didn't understand for a long time why I always felt so dissatisfied with a life that would have made most other people perfectly happy. My friends and my younger sister were meeting guys, getting married and starting families. They bought houses in the suburbs. They carpooled their kids to soccer practice and rooted them on at football games. I could often be found on the sidelines cheering on my nieces and nephews, little realizing how "on the sidelines" was quickly becoming the story of my life. I was literally living on the fringes of other people's lives.

As time passed, I met someone I thought would be "The One", but after a year or so together, things ended (for reasons I now realize were for the best for both of us). And over the years, I kept wondering why I couldn't just be happy with the same kind of life everyone else around me seemed to want. I only knew that I wanted something more, something different, something even a-typical. I wanted to be one of "those people" who was doing something more extraordinary with their lives. The problem was, I didn't really know anyone who was like that; I had no role models.

It took me a long time to realize that I wasn't to blame for my sense of dissatisfaction, just as my friends and loved ones weren't wrong for loving their more traditional lifestyles. You can't blame people for being who they are! It wasn't that one way of living was wrong and the other was right; it was that I was trying to fit myself into a lifestyle that just wasn't ME. It was a matter of the square peg and the round hole; a city girl vegetating in the country because that's where she's been dropped, a "closeted" world traveler trapped in the same place for years because she didn't have the nerve to leave her comfort zone.

And one day, I finally got it. What would really make me happy was being true to myself, whatever that was going to take. To stop living on the fringes, doing what I thought was expected of me because it made someone else happy or comfortable, even when I was miserable. To take back my life and redesign it the way I wanted it. THAT felt exciting to me, and it felt RIGHT. It felt... BOLD.

Well, something definitely had to change. The clock was ticking as I crossed the mid-life line into my 40s. Four months after I celebrated turning 40 (by treating myself to a trip to Paris, my favorite place on earth), the world itself turned upside down with the events of September 11, 2001. It was after the 9/11 attacks that I realized we never know how much time we've got left... and that I was wasting a lot of time doing things that weren't part of my higher purpose and weren't making me happy. If I knew that tomorrow would be my last day on earth, I thought that I would want to know that I'd lived my life fully, with as few regrets as possible, and with as much fun, adventure, love and soulfulness as I could handle. Along with that, I wanted the work I was doing to be both fun and interesting to me as well as meaningful in some way. If, in the process of doing all that, I could also help inspire or motivate others to live bolder lives, even better.

It was time for me to be the exception, rather than the rule.

The only thing that really sets me apart from the masses of people out there who are unhappy with the lives they are presently living, is that I simply CHOSE not to live that way any more. In all seriousness, that's it, that's the secret -- THE POWER OF CHOICE. Our lives are a reflection of our choices, nothing more. Even not choosing is still a choice! First I chose... then I took action.

I began actively reinventing myself (not for the first time and probably not for the last, either) and reinventing my work. I figured out what I liked and what worked well, and kept that; and the rest, I started to change, one step at a time. I knew I wanted to write more, and to have a portable business that would make it possible for me to work, travel and live anywhere in the world I wanted -- like Paris!

Finally, I was "ready"... well, as ready as I could really ever be. I had yard sales and sold off my furniture, my car and anything else I didn't want to be tied down with, and put the rest into storage. And I packed my bags and moved to Paris, where I knew no one but where I had Internet access in my adorable apartment in the 15th arrondissement, and where I could continue to work from across an ocean!

Here in Paris, I spent hours in those early days just wandering around with my camera, delighting in the ancient architecture and the "café lifestyle". Over time, I made friends and developed a social life. I worked when I wanted to work, and played when I wanted to play. I even took a two-week dream vacation around Europe all by myself, soaking up the ambiance in Switzerland, Italy, Austria and Germany as well as other parts of France.

Lisa & her husband GeorgesAnd about a year after arriving in Paris, my life took a miraculous but unexpected turn when I met Georges -- the wonderful, loving man who would soon afterward become my husband (and yes, he's French!) It was love at first sight, and it didn't take long before we decided to merge our lives together -- me as the never-married American entrepreneur and writer, and Georges as the father of three great kids who are now my step-children. I went from being on my own to having a ready-made family! Now, I have exactly what I always envisioned, and more: a life, a love, and a writing career, all right here in Paris!

I came to Paris for the love of Paris itself... and stayed when I found an even greater love. Whenever I tell others my "love story", they are utterly amazed at how it all happened -- the typical reaction is: "Your life is just like a movie!" I can't help but agree... and that's why I have based this memoir on these few years of my life -- the best years EVER.

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