I’m obsessed with Paris. Friends and family tease me about my annual pilgrimage. My son has asked why I don’t just move there. (Indeed? Why not?) I’m often asked why so obsessed and my response is that Paris feels like home – as if I walked its streets in some former life. Neighborhoods are familiar on first visit, I am at ease interacting with the friendly but reserved locals, and the sensory beauty on every corner makes my artists heart sing.
However, I recently realized the obsession has much deeper roots. It’s Shakti. More specifically, how my divine feminine energy decides to make an appearance the moment my plane lands in Paris.
a primordial cosmic energy and the personification of divine feminine creative power.
In my youth, I was a writer and artist, eventually attending art school. A late social bloomer, I made up for the delay with an outrageous, adventurous social life. However, I dropped out of art school and life in general when I got pregnant. I became Responsible Rachel with the fast-track career, long hours, 30-year mortgage and MBA. I leaned heavily into masculine energy to be a pillar of strength at work and home, fiercely independent and competent. And fundamentally exhausted and uninspired. The feminine aspects of myself – the fountain of creativity, connection to my sensual feminine energy, and general lust for life were buried deep under duty.
Focusing on my core desired feelings as part of the Desire Map, it became clear what had become lost along the way — one feeling that emerged was Shakti… divine feminine creative power. Re-connection to my fundamental creativity and beauty. Somehow, it took me years to figure out that “I want to feel all the time how I feel when I’m in Paris.”
There are plenty of books written on Parisian women — how they don’t get fat despite the presence of decadent French fare. How they are effortlessly chic, swimming in a sea of Parisian beauty and art. How they parent in a nonchalant way that somehow produces another generation of nonchalantly chic humans. But the common thread, to me, is the divine feminine nature of the city itself.
I like to think of Paris as a woman with a crooked smile and scar on her brow. She is beautiful not just because of her lovely food and fashion and art, gilded churches, and perfectly symmetrical, meticulously maintained tree-lined avenues and parks. She is beautiful because of her simultaneous asymmetry and lack of perfection – the crooked alleys, clever graffiti, dark history, and memory-filled flea markets. The scar and the smile make her that much more interesting. She is beautiful because of the pulse of energy that runs through her, a divinely imperfect muse who draws artists and writers like flies to honey. There is an authenticity that runs through the streets and waterways. By accepting imperfection at every turn, the mundane is elevated to the beautiful.
“There is nothing more rare, no more beautiful, than a woman being unapologetically herself; comfortable in her perfect imperfection. To me, that is the true essence of beauty.” Steve Maraboli
So, back to why I’m obsessed. I have realized that this energy, this authentic imperfect beauty, seeps into my bloodstream the moment I step foot on French soil. Rather than rushing through my day at breakneck speed (Eiffel Tower! Louvre! Montmartre!), I pause to be a woman again – I sleep, move my body, engage in self-care rituals that are skipped when chasing responsibilities. I seek out creative and sensual experiences, whether it’s perusing a jumbled bookstore, tasting fresh produce in an outdoor market, or journaling by the Seine. And I engage the city with a gentle curiosity – falling a little bit in love with everyone I meet and everything I do.
If you can catch the wave of Paris’s rhythm, you will find a flow in your movement, whether matching fast-paced locals crossing an intersection against the light, or settling into a cafe chair for an hour or three. When in Paris, I am fully present at zero or 60. I feel at ease, relaxed, beautiful. Divinely feminine.
The question, of course, is how to bring this home? Must I be around the world to feel at ease and embodied? Now, I seek Shakti each day, in small ways. While my annual pilgrimage will continue, I should be able to feel divine more than 10 days a year.
What travel experiences have resonated with you, deep in your soul? Where have you gone where you felt instantly at home? How did that place make you feel? Like Paris for me, this may be an intuitive clue to what you need more of in your life.
Curious to experience a new perspective on Paris? You may want to join us at our next Souldust Paris retreat. Check here for current offerings.