Just back from a wonderful week in the UK, where one word kept popping into my head and mouth.

Q: “Why did you move your family to rural France?”
A: “To find more space”.
At first we were in search of more literal space – more acres for our budget and more wide open spaces. The result of finding that? More space to be a family and see what we really want from life.

Q: “What is the best thing about your new life in France?”
A: “The feeling of space”.
Both literally, having mountains to look at and fields to walk through. And space to organise our lives as we want to, and make the changes and decisions that we want to.

Q: “Why do you do yoga?”
A: “For the feeling of space in my body. And in my head”.
People often think that yoga is about stretching. For me, it is almost the opposite. When you do a strong stretch, the reflex of your muscle is to contract. For me, yoga is about finding space to stop and be aware of what is going on in your body. It’s about pausing and allowing your body to realign, expand, do whatever it needs to do. And when that happens in your body and you are aware of it, it is only a matter of time before it starts happening in your head.

In September, we were lucky enough to take part in the Chemin de Travers, an annual event organised by a group of French friends for what has grown to be around 100 of their closest pals. It must have taken the 10 friends months to plan the four-hour bicycle treasure hunt and come up with the afternoon of incredible games and an evening of eating and being merry. Most of my English friends would LOVE to do something like that, but when asked why they didn’t, the answer was always the same:
A: “I just don’t have the time”.

Our French friends also work. They too have bills to pay and children to keep them busy. But here, most people make space for things like this. Every day, workers make space for a two-hour lunch break. Every May and August, virtually the whole country comes to a grinding halt as people make space for some time away from work. I have to admit that as an outsider I have sometimes viewed this as laziness and exceedingly inconvenient. But maybe their priorities are just different?

As my dad replied when the teenage Kate said she “didn’t have time” to go and see an elderly friend of ours: “Oh, you have the time, you just choose not to use it like that”.

Don’t get me wrong, I never said this was easy. Even here, with all this ‘space’, I still struggle with too much to do. But now I am definitely more aware that it is my choice. I have the power to decide how I spend my life. Sometimes that requires scary changes. But it is still my choice.

Filed under: Happy Coulson

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