I’m on a train to Paris after a weekend spent in Champagne, meandering the rolling green of the French countryside, punctuated by steeples and narrow bridges crisscrossing the blueish Marne river. 

My three accomplices provided great conversation, kindness, wit, and an intrinsic, mutual understanding that comes with many years of friendship. We came last year too, our first venture to the quaint chateau gently renovated and maintained by the charming couple Jean-Pierre and Bruno, and their entourage. 

Returning to the same tiny village and even the same rooms, the same corner of the garden where I do yoga, the same gorgeous coffee cups we fill several times during breakfast each morning, felt somehow like coming home.

Our gameplan is gold: late brekky (after a run or yoga or sleep in). Head to a champagne house. Which one is determined somewhat by chance: we stumbled on a delight on Friday by selecting Fleury-Gilles based on its similarity to a friend’s name. Generally the following happens:
  • pull into a tiny driveway and squeeze the car into a parking space which is invisible to the naked eye
  • extricate ourselves from the vehicle, wander past a group of vineyard workers nonchalantly enjoying an 11am glass of bubbly. “Bonjour, can we perhaps try some of your champagnes?”
  • we’re ushered into a room filled with slightly dusty, extremely kitsch decor and antiquated memorabilia. After ten minutes someone small in stature and generous in girth arrives, deeply relieved to find we speak French and are chatty
  • between heavy pours of various champagnes, we query, muse, discuss, laugh and learn with our host, who vary from charming, upbeat and as bubbly as their product, to maudlin and cynical. All are highly informative 
  • two hours later, we totter out to the car with several boxes of the good stuff, load the boot and perform vehicular wonders to exit the car park, to the applause of the now somewhat tipsy vineyard workers
  • find another house and repeat
  • Then lunch, nap, another champagne house, dinner at the chateau, which hosts a lively, intimate restaurant, more champagne and sleep. Not too harsh
Talking extensively with the variety of champagne house hosts, and with my darling friends this weekend, I was reminded how much perspective determines experience. How much difference there is between a victim mentality and an empowered approach. Like, SO MUCH.

And as soon as we become aware of the nature of our perspective, we have the power to change it. This is not necessarily easy: breaking habits and creating new ones can be fucking hard. But I strongly believe it to be possible.

Because when we have trust, confidence and a healthily realistic yet positive outlook, we give life the opportunity to surprise and delight us. We give permission for magic to happen. Like e.g. the weekend I just had.