If you're tired of feeling empty, read this.


Not everything about living in Paris, or just outside of it (in an oh so charming city,) is glamorous. Being from the south, it requires a bit of getting used to. 

Let me give you a few examples:

  • The language challenge of course – not just the words, or the literal translation, there is a cadence and expectation regarding the culture of the language

  • Etiquette challenges – part of the reason we in the states have the general impression the French are snobs, and simultaneously they tend to think we are brash

  • Writing time in military time

  • The metric system

  • Learning to eat with your left hand because you cut everything with a knife and fork, including hamburgers, wings, everything 

  • Peeling fruit, but not a tomato (which technically is a fruit)

  • Nine hours to cook a meal (okay, I’m exaggerating – but not by much)

  • Fresh bread at every meal – except when there is pasta (they don’t get the whole spaghetti, garlic bread thing at all)

  • Dinner is never, ever served before 8pm

  • Only small children eat between meals – they even have a name for it.

  • You sit down to eat, always, but not in the car, on the train, metro, etc

  • There is a special way to cut every different type of cheese, which number into the hundreds (I am sure there is a class you can take on it somewhere )

  • Daily meal shopping is the norm (how else could you possibly have fresh bread)

  • Summer days are lovely and light until 10, but winter days are cold and short, with total darkness at 4pm – excuse me that should have been 22:00 and 16:00 hours

  • You say hello, thank you and good-bye to every merchant in every store you enter – period. 

But then – there is the slowness of life – work ends at 6:00 pm and isn’t conducted on the weekends. Meals are as important for the social aspect as the food – which btw – is very, very important here. 

And everything is beautiful. Every plate of food is dressed like a fine restaurant, flowers are cultivated abundantly, connections and conversations are deep and passionate.

Nothing here is fast, simple, or easy – but it is oh so wonderfully rich and full.

What in the world does any of that have to do with the title of this piece – feeling empty? 

Just this. 

Feeling empty is all about our thought process. 

Our thoughts create our feelings. I live in a foreign country where every day has challenges. Yes, I chose it.

But, still, some days I am incredibly lonely for something familiar. I miss my friends, my son, my family. I miss the things I know. I get lonely for those things. But only when I allow myself to feel that loneliness, without adding thoughts about how terrible it feels, does the feeling pass – so that then can I also feel and see the beauty and wonder.

When we feel empty and exhausted and overwhelmed – or lonely – or homesick, it is because of the thoughts we are holding onto. Life is very full. There is so much richness all around us. We don’t have to be empty. 

We are never really empty, unless we think we are; which happens when we are lost in dark thoughts that block out everything else. You can choose fullness instead.

The next time you feel empty and depleted – see what thoughts are crossing your mind.

Are they thoughts you are choosing, or have they just become familiar, perhaps so familiar you don’t even notice them?

Instead of believing them, notice them, become curious about them – ask yourself if they are thoughts you want to keep. 

I realize I make it sound easy. I’m not saying it is. It took me a while to catch my own thoughts. I had help. If you need help too, let’s talk. I can teach you how to let go of those painful thoughts that are depleting you.



Kimberly Benjamin Houdebine