The passage of time

Ailsa’s travel theme this week is the sensational concept of time. I am huge on reflection and when I thought of the subject of time, I brought myself back twenty years to where I was then and where I will be in a month’s time: Lovely Paris.

I spent a semester abroad in Paris during my junior year in 1993. It was a pivotal time in my life. A moment in time that changed me and made me who I am today. You see, I took a chance. I boarded a plane with nine months worth of stuff packed inside my suitcase and moved across the ocean, in a day well before the internet could keep you in touch with home.

It was one of the best experiences of my life. I have so many beautiful memories of spending Spring in Paris at the ripe, youthful age of 21. I will never forget my dad’s poignant words, “The world is your oyster“. Those words still are held deep within my heart, twenty years later, as I prepare for the passing of time and the future before me.

Following are some of the few photos taken during my life in Paris. Remember it was 1993, well before digital cameras and every picture I took I had to develop and carry around with me in my backpack. Sadly, I don’t have many photos but I do have memories and stories all written inside my journals.

The quotes I’m including below are all written down inside my 20-year-old travel journals. They were used to inspire me and one thing I’ve discovered is twenty years later, I’m still inspired by the very same words. I’ve grown older, matured and have come into understanding myself, yet my inspiration and joie de vivre still remain unchanged with time. Now that is encouraging! Let’s see where the next twenty or forty lead. Carpe Diem. 

“Pass through the door when it opens. It is time to make your own dreams come true”.  – Stephen Paul

Scan 130820005_Snapseed

Me at 21 standing inside the Cite U. where I lived. Don’t you love the perm? January 1993.

“Refresh yourself continually by doing those things that you love”. – S.Paul

Scan 130820001_Snapseed

Traveling has always been the one thing I love. Here I am looking at the Eurail map and plotting out my course. January 1993.

“The more spontaneous you become, the more alive you will feel”. -S. Paul

Scan 130820000_Snapseed

“To live your life with integrity requires that you never forget who you are”. – S. Paul

Scan 130820002_Snapseed

Like most romantics, I dreamed of meeting that one Mr. Right. That was always on my mind at 21. Little did I know, I would find him a year later and be happily married today with two wonderful kids.

“Your laughter will bring joy back into the world”. -S. Paul

Scan 130820003_Snapseed

Smiling for one more annoying picture taken by my Dad. Now I regret not having more taken!

While paging through my journal dated Fall 1993, I found a copy of a poem written inside the cover. It was one of my favorite poems that I had taped up on my wall in my dorm room. It was there as a reminder to slow myself down and stop studying so darn hard trying to be an over-achiever. I used to stress out so much and didn’t take the time to stop and smell the roses or pick more daisies.

I am so thankful to say that twenty years later, I have no regrets and I don’t worry that I’d have to pick more daisies.

“I’d Pick More Daisies” – anonymous 

If I had my life to live over, I’d try to make more mistakes next time. I would relax. I would limber up. I would be sillier than I have been this trip. I know very few things that I would take seriously. I would be crazier, I would be less hygienic. I would take more chances. I would take more trips. I would climb more mountains, swim more rivers, and watch more sunsets. I would burn more gasoline. I would eat more ice cream and fewer beans. I would have more actual troubles than imaginary ones.

You see, I am one of those people who lives prophetically and sensibly and sanely, hour after hour, day after day.

Oh, I have had my moments, and if I had to do it all again, I’d have more of them.

In fact, I’d try to have nothing else. Just moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day.

I have been one of those people who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, hot water bottle, a raincoat and a parachute.

If I had to do it all over again, I’d start barefooted earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall. I would play hooky more. I wouldn’t get such good grades except by accident. I would ride on more merry-go-rounds. I’d pick more daisies….


Paris, I’ll see you in a month! Can hardly wait to revisit and remark on how my life has changed and grown over the last twenty years. Paris, j’arrive….

This post was inspired by Where’s my Backpack’s Travel Theme: Time. To read more entries, click here. Thanks Ailsa for the inspiration and reflection! 


  1. I love this post, Nicole You have all the exuberance and zest for life now that you had back then. And something very special. That conscience that moves you to give back. May you live a long and happy life.

    • Oh thanks Jo! It is fun to look back and reflect. I still am amazed by how fast time flies by. Faster every year. My dad is 70 and he says to me, just wait. But the great news is that my parents are amazing and so active and full of life! I know I’ll be the same! 🙂

  2. gorgeous images Nicole and oh how I LOVE your perm…had a few of those in my time as well…I so love this quote – “The more spontaneous you become, the more alive you will feel”. -S. Paul

    • Ha Ha! Did you also have bushy eyebrows like me?!

      Anyway, crazy to think how time flies so quickly. I feel like this was just yesterday but then again it was already half of my life away! I love that quote too! So inspiring.

  3. Oh wow! Wonderful post, and this has brought back memories for me; you see, I was in Paris for a month back in the summer of 1967, not 21 yet, but my first big trip so far away with a group of kids I met up with in New York (I didn’t know anyone)…..guess where I stayed for that month?

    • Wow, you were in Paris?!!!! Did you stay at the Cite U as well?! How cool! I bet it was amazing in 1967. I can only imagine! My parents eloped that year and traveled via train for 3 months on no money in Europe. So romantic!

      • Yup I was at the Cite. Long story, but I met up with a group staying there from Spain and spoke more Spanish than French. It was an incredible month.

      • Wow! I will of course visit it and take loads of picture. I LOVE Parc Montsouris, right next to the campus. How cool that we both lived there!!!!

  4. Such a sweet journey down memory lane! I love remembering the moments that sparked changes in our futures – especially a undying urge to travel. Love the perm! You’re gorgeous.

    • Thanks! Isn’t that perm funny? I still can’t believe its been 20 years. Back then 41 sounded so old but I don’t feel it. Sometimes I feel creaky though after runs! But I do whatever I can to stay in shape and keep up with my kids! 🙂

  5. Lovely post and great pics too. I’m sure you’ll enjoy Paris just as much the second time and will get new memories to add to your old ones. Have fun!

    • 🙂 I love those pics! I look so young too. I still have that baby fat around my checks, the bushy eyebrows and of course that lovely perm! I can hardly wait to go back to Paris! I am going with my mom who is 66 and my younger sister. It is our first ever girls trip and my dad is coming to help my husband with the kids at home. I am going to take so many pictures!!!! 🙂

  6. Nicole, this is one of my favorite posts you’ve ever written on Thirdeyemom. I love this insight into your personality and your heart, and even the evolution of your hairstyles. You are beautiful, then and now and always.

    • Oh Meghan, you are so sweet! It is fun to look back at who I was then and who I am now. I remember always dreaming about what I’d do with my life. Always wondering. Several terrible jobs. Lots of hardship (well relatively speaking), lots of questioning. Then getting married, becoming a mom and now finally at 41 doing what I dreamed of! I am so excited for the future as I know I’ll continue to follow this path of advocacy, volunteerism, writing and travel! 🙂 I can see me and my husband in retirement living somewhere crazy and working with the locals! 🙂 Yes, the world is your oyster. You’ve just got to believe it! 🙂

    • Thanks LuAnn! Sometimes it gets hard, especially when you’re in a rut (like now as I’m getting over a terrible stomach flu) but mostly, perhaps 90% of the time I feel the zest for life! It is just those hard times that are difficult when you’re sick or feeling down. But I guess that is life! Right?!

  7. TBM

    I think I had a perm as well in ’93. Oh the good old days. I can see your zest for life and travel in these photos. Good for you!!!!

    • Ha Ha! Wonderful!!!! I loved being 21. Yet life is good too at 41. Busier, more fulfilling, tiring, but overall better. I think life is such a journey that each step of the way you finally start to figure things out. Now if only I had this wisdom at 21 when I felt younger! 🙂

      • TBM

        Well I know my 30s have been fantastic. Looking forward to my 40s. I would never go back to my 20s. yes, I had more energy and less pain, but boy was I an idiot!

      • You are making me laugh! 🙂 Yes I do think life gets better with age in the fact that you really understand it more, know what you want and so forth. I just hate the wrinkles and creaks, but then again, I’m only 41! The kids keep me young as well as travel and hiking and enjoying life! 🙂

      • TBM

        While sitting on a runway waiting for our plane to get clearance to take off I had a few moments to study my hands. Why do they have to get wrinkly. The better half was chuckling since I was comparing our hands. I’m four years older and you can see that in our hands–a little like tree rings. But like you said, I still feel young!

    • He was always one of my favorites! I am heading back to Paris in April and can hardly wait to scope out all those old romantic spots and take photos of them! 🙂

  8. Isn’t it incredible the passing of time? I feel like my life 20 years ago was that of someone else! I still feel as young as ever inside although I like to think life’s experiences have improved me!!! Your parents eloped? Haha, how cool is that! Eloped and penniless in Europe!!! Great headline!!! Have a fantastic time reliving those memories back in Paris with your mom and sister, Nicole and this time take more photos!!!

  9. A very interesting post, reflecting on the ways we change over the passage of time and yet we also still feel young. I am almost a decade older, and despite ill health, still have trouble thinking of myself as someone I would have seen as old when I was 21. Your mention of how you now wished you had more photos of past times reflects many different changes, in how you appreciate things differently now and the ease with which we now take photos. As I am catching up on your blog after a short absence, I can zip over to the modern Paris report and read how that went. 🙂

    • Thanks so much! I forgot about this post! 🙂 But yes it is crazy how time just keeps flying. I wish it would slow down! Oh well. thanks for stopping by again and catching up! 🙂

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: