Provence – A New Chapter

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Sunset vista from the small Provencal town of Bonnieux, France

[I] travel a lot. Typically, I feel very safe. I find that most people around the world all want the same things: peace, love, freedom. I’ve traveled so much and so far now I’m good at keeping anxieties down, especially irrational ones.

That was until a recent flight back from Sweden.

There were two gentlemen boarding the plane acting very strangely and it struck me… what if they wanted to hurt the people on board. After a mild panic attack and contemplating being that girl who throws a big fuss and wants off the plane, I realized something important. The first thing that came into my head after I thought “Damn it, I’m on a plane with terrorists!” was “…and now I’ll never know what it was like to live in France.” So I made myself a promise. I said, if this is not a terrorist attack, I would live out one of my dream and spend some real time in this country I have been lusting over my entire life. Being that I’m writing this there was no ill-fated plan to bring down my plane.

And here I sit in France.

Now of course, this all sounds easier said than done. Making the decision and then obtaining a French visa were two very different things. I have never in my life gone through a more frustrating, confusing process.  I didn’t give up, though there were some tears. I learned the first valuable lesson in French living- French Bureaucracy is difficult.

So what am I doing here? First, I’m living. I’m watching the sunsets. I’m picking grapes and eating them. I’m buying a warm baguette at the patisserie every morning and counting the hours by the sound of the bell tolls in town rather than on my iPhone. I wake up with the sunlight, not an alarm clock. I buy the local wine. I marvel to myself how different a lemon smells here freshly sliced and how did I not know the beautiful perfume of fresh cracked pepper before? I pet every dog in sight. I visit the markets and make notes on the minute details and differences. I’m trying new styles from my black New York uniform. I’m SLOWLY learning French. I’m taking my camera out and pointing her at this stunning place, capturing what mesmerizes me about this organic way of life.

To be honest, I needed a refresh from New York. I needed to do something new and different. Stimulate my brain in a different way. I talk about the fragility of creativity and I needed to give mine a rest. I wanted to give her the opportunity to explore new visions and new forms of idea and expression. I know what living in New York means. I wanted to know that aspect of France as well. As I have been taking the time to be present I’m already beginning to have new vision, still lives I want to create around the Provencal table. A place where things come in and out of your life with the passing seasons. A vision of women I want to capture that celebrates their natural beauty on film, un-retouched in a world of manipulation. I feel that excitement toward photography I had when I first started out at 13. When holding a camera in your hands wasn’t a job. It was an adventure. What can you capture, and what can you create…

I think everyone would assume I would have chosen Paris. I love Paris more than any other city in the world. She is my dream. But I didn’t want to just change from fancy New York parties to fancy French parties, the same kind of people, the same kind of work, and the same kind of pace to life. I wanted to really be in a different place, experience another world. I am in the south, in a very small town in Provence, a part of the Luberon. It’s quaint and it’s quiet and though small, it is somehow opening my heart and mind to a whole other world of endless ideas.

It’s not forever, but it is for now and now is right where I want to be. 

Sunset vista from the small Provencal town of Bonnieux, France

Above, working from a hilltop coffee shop in the little charming town of Bonnieux.

More Provence stories here.

  • Congratulations- I am very happy for you.

  • Living out my dream!! That I have been afraid to do not for the same reasons, but because it would require leaving my partner. How are you and Kevin making this work?

  • It’s been inspiring following you on all your journeys over the last few years as a reader of first, From Me To You till now. And it’s been amazing watching how you’ve grown and become your own artist. I love that you are able to take this time to find more of yourself and really fulfill your dreams. I do miss your NYC adventures and also, I miss you and Kevin’s adventures together. Still, I’m glad that you’re not Internet-less and also, snap chatting 🙂 Enjoy, my friend!

  • You already know how happy this makes my heart Jamie… I’m so incredibly glad for you to be living out such a beautiful dream and so admire your courage to do so. I love seeing the softer and gentler countryside through your eyes and your photography, and love that you chose Provence when the more obvious choice was Paris… I think it speaks volumes of who you are. I hope you find creativity and everything more in your adventures in France, thank you as always for sharing. <3

  • Tamara Guest

    This so lovely, it seems like you are living a fantasy! The french lifestyle is something I’ve admired since I’ve had to learn about it in french classes. Can’t wait to see more of your beautiful pictures x

  • Heather

    I love that you’ve taken this journey and I absolutely adore seeing these Provençal photos through your lens. I think that living in the moment is something that we all could use more of. So much now is capturing “the” moment, looking at the world through an iPhone, to post a perfect photo on Instagram. Meanwhile, the real moments and how beautiful life is are passing by. I cannot wait to see what you capture of the Provence dinner table and the women there. Selfishly, I do hope a book comes from it so I can have it on my shelf.

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    • I have profited 104,000 bucks in last twelve months by doing an online job from my house and I was able to do it by work­ing part time for 3 or sometimes more hrs every day. I followed an earning model I was introduced by this company i found on-line and I am so amazed that I was able to earn such great money. It’s really beginner friendly a­n­d I’m so thankful that I found out about it. Here is what i do…

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  • Foteini Penna

    Thank you!

  • Faustine

    “Fais de ta vie un rêve, et d’un rêve, une réalité.” D’ Antoine Saint – Exupéry. “Le petit Prince” si tu ne l’as pas encore lu essaye il te plaira. Un bon début pour lire en français. Bon séjour en France <3

  • All I can say is ‘good for you’ – it’s so important to listen to what your soul needs.

  • Isidora Dilitante

    There is something so horribly contrived about you and your photos. Insincere. Straining so desperately to model some fantasy to your readership. Below the surface it is clear what you are…lol. Every photo you take of yourself is composed. You are standing on your tiptoes, hyper-extending your leg, tossing your hair. There is nothing authentic about you or the lifestyle you portray. Provençal people are not as obnoxious as you; nor do they dress like you. You know nothing about what a simple life entails. It’s not about fancy linens or clothes.
    I was curious about how you sound and after watching your mini magnum video advert, it’s clear you sound like a bimbo and your homosexual husband is sticking around for $$$ and business opportunities.

    • Foteini Penna

      Why do you waste your time on writing such negative things? You are of course welcome to your opinion!! So if you don’t like her, don’t keep up with her posts. There is no need for yet another offensive comment on the internet!
      We should all be kind..! (just my opinion..) 🙂 🙂

    • Ann

      I love the way she uses her own body as art in her photographs. Why not highlight and celebrate the hyper extension of a beautiful ankle? Why not make a centerpiece of beautiful hair? In the dance studio, all of the walls are covered with mirrors, and we spend hours studying line and movement in the mirrors. We are not so much self-absorbed as we are focused on making the most beautiful art possible, using our miraculous bodies.

      • Ann

        I am glad that this blog is not an obnoxious (to re-use your own word) reality show. She reminds us of the incredible magic and beauty of our bodies and our world.

    • There is something so horribly wrong about YOU as a person. What a terrible human you must be to leave such a bullying, harassing and abusive comment.

    • I met Jamie in New York and she’s unassuming and down-to-earth, unlike your cruel caricature of her. Have you met her?

      Jamie, I would block this troll. Not worth your emotional energy.

    • You obviously don’t know her at all, and should take this opportunity to leave and not come back.

  • Jamie

    I love the last image in this story. The green grass, faded mountains, old cement wall, weathered buildings, dripping tree limbs… Seems to be very relaxing for the mind and spirit. Glad you are learning so much in every way. Enjoy every minute. (ps.. major envy of that Kimono)