I am from Kansas City, Missouri, USA.
(I stress the Missouri for a reason only a Kansas Citian would understand.)
Here’s the list… 🇺🇸 Missouri, Kansas, Ohio, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, 🇫🇷 Dijon, Paris, 🇳🇱 Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Barendrecht
For years this was a near-unanswerable question. Happy to say I’m finally settled in Paris, France.
The first day I stepped foot in France, I was in love with pretty much everything about the country. I was totally enchanted by the architecture, the language, the bakeries, and culture. 🇫🇷🥐 I ended up studying abroad in Dijon, then moved to Paris in 2006 for an internship. I moved back in 2007 to do my MBA and have never left for long since then.
You can read all about my feelings toward France and how I ended up here in the book I co-authored, My Paris Story: Living, Loving, and Leaping without a net in the City of Light.
I moved to the Netherlands back in 2010 to be with a Dutchman. We had a fun year living in the center of Amsterdam, where I learned to love another major European city, its hundreds of thousands of bicycles, and photographing it all.📸🚲🚲
I speak English and French, as well as some Dutch and notions of Italian. 🇺🇸🇫🇷🇳🇱🇮🇹
When I was studying in both Dijon and Paris, I would share photographs of my daily life and adventures through an early photo-sharing site (we’re talking well before Instagram!). I received so much positive feedback about my photos and so much encouragement to sell them that I decided to go for it! Special thanks to those early encouragers. 💚
If I hadn’t studied in France – the most beautiful and inspirational place I’ve ever been – I’m not sure I would have ever started with photography in any serious capacity.
I would be honored to have a piece from my collection in your home! Please visit the Falling Off Bicycles Etsy shop for purchases. Image content is not necessarily identical on the sites, but I’m happy to accommodate where possible. Questions? Click below.
I have long been drawn to whimsical things, and Amsterdam does whimsical really well. The City has a reputation that has softened thanks to social media but not that long ago was more known for sex and drugs. It was such a surprise for me initially when I would walk or ride around the City and find a charming scene of a leaning bike in front of a beautiful 17th Century building. I came to love everything about the “bike lifestyle” and embraced it fully. 🚲
Eventually I began to notice that most of my photos were either of bicycles or had bicycles in them. I clearly had a thing for bicycles. After deciding to share my photos via a homemade website, I made a list at one of my favorite cafés in Amsterdam, Villa Zeezicht, of possible names for the site. Among them was Falling Off Bicycles. At first I thought it was silly. Then I realized how it encapsulates so much of what I love about bicycles: forward movement, balance, fresh air, close interaction with others, and the pure childlike joy we feel when we ride. The name also serves as a beautiful metaphor for life: When you fall off, you must get back on. The whole idea is explained beautifully in a book I found since naming the brand, Einstein & the Art of Mindful Cycling.
I travel alone often most of the time, but not always. In some ways it’s my preference while in others, it feels a bit of a bummer sometimes because it’s always nicer to share special moments in beautiful places with someone else. I also often travel with friends and loved ones.
Either way, it’s important to know who you can and can’t easily travel with. Sometimes people you adore are not a good fit as travel companions, and I find it’s better to be up front early on about trip expectations so it’s easier to bring up if the trip is not meeting your expectations.
This is far too involved to answer in a few sentences here, but I would definitely say just go for it! I will always be that person encouraging others to follow their dreams, live on their own terms, and take the big leap. I’m an Aries, after all. ♈️
My more practical answer is: Do your homework. I’ve come as a tourist, a student, an intern, a teacher, and for a relationship. Know why you want to move, get an idea of what to expect, anticipate frustration and culture shock, and make a list of everything you need to do to complete the visa application. Take it step by step and over-prepare for meetings with the Consulate and at the Préfecture.
Before I moved to Paris permanently, I used to stay for long periods of time necessitating an apartment rental. I would make a sort-of game of it and try to find a completely new neighborhood or arrondissement to stay in each time. This is partially how I got to know Paris so well. My favorite arrondissements to live in were the 3rd, 4th, 17th, and 19th.
Within the grachtengordel (canal ring)! If you look at an aerial map of Amsterdam, you’ll see the ring to help with orientation. Oude West, Oude Zuid, De Pijp, and De Jordaan are also lovely areas.
I was spoiled when we lived in Amsterdam because we lived in an old brick cloister on the Singel (dating to the 1500s) overlooking the canal, then we eventually moved to the heart of Leidseplein. I’d choose a water view any day.
Yes! In 2014, I published a book with 21 other women from the Paris Women of Success group. We each share our personal journey of how we ended up in Paris, and how living here has changed us. 📚
My Paris Story is truly the result of harnessing the extraordinary creative energy of an exuberant, passionate, and motivated group of women who actually did pick up everything and take the leap to follow their hearts desires in the City of Light.
You can purchase the book directly from me by clicking here (and get a signed copy + Falling Off Bicycles bookmark as my gift to you). 📖