In Part 1 of my chat with a very special lady, Deborah Bine of the Barefoot Blogger, we learned about Deborah’s early life, her fabulous Aunt Rose and how a chance trip to a Saturday market in Uzès, a little town in southern France, changed her life.
Market in Uzès - Photo by Peter Curbishley
In our final segment together, Part 2, Deborah talks about why she started blogging, the challenges of learning a new language later in life and gives us some tantalizing tidbits on upcoming travel adventures.
M-T: Your Blog, the Barefoot Blogger, is, among other things, a great travel guide for women who want to travel solo. I absolutely LOVE the name. How did you choose it? How long have you been blogging? What do you love about blogging?
Deborah: The “Barefoot Blogger” is the second time I’ve used the word “Barefoot” to describe one of my ventures. The first was “Barefoot Bangles,” a custom jewelry business I did on the side while living in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Aside from loving to go barefoot, I liked making necklaces and earrings that I would put together from new and old and vintage babbles and beads. When I left Myrtle Beach, moved to Beaufort, South Carolina, and decided to move abroad, my passions changed. I wanted to create a Blog to document my new life and adventures — so I could remember it all when I’m in a nursing home. “The Barefoot Blogger” seemed the perfect name. Since starting the Blog, it’s almost become my life. And I love it. I spent a career as a writer in advertising and marketing. Now I can write what I want to write. It’s given me an intro into photography, too.
Holiday Party with Friends at Le Mas d’Augustine, a B&B in La Bruguière
The best thing about the Blog is that it’s introduced me to people who have become my best friends — from all over the world. I love when readers show up in Uzès and invite me to join them for a drink. I’m always available for a free meal, too! Others write for information or advice about making a move themselves. It’s really thrilling to know I can help others take a step towards living or traveling abroad.
Uzès Truffle Festival - a Proud "Papa" and His Champion Truffle Pig
M-T: Did I forget to mention that you moved to France without being able to speak a word of the language? As a former language teacher of adults, myself, I know how difficult it is to learn a foreign language as an adult, even when immersed in the culture. I am in awe of your courage in taking this on. How do you manage day-to-day? Have you been making any progress with the language?
Deborah: I still struggle with the language — three years later. When they say “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” I’m the poster child. I excuse my language-learning problem with the fact that the first three years in France, I spent six months out of each year back in the US. My son and daughter-in-law produced two beautiful grandchildren for me during that time and I wanted to be nearby.
Deborah's Dilemma - "Do I Shop or Do I Snap?" She Opts for Both.
This is my first year staying in France full-time. Now I’m trying to concentrate on learning French with three lessons per week, both private and groups. I manage day-to-day by using a few basic words and terms and a lot of sign language. I’ll admit the first year here I was exhausted most of the time from trying to hear and be heard. I still cringe if the telephone rings or if someone comes to the door.
A View of the Medieval Garden from Deborah's Bedroom
M-T: I understand you’ve got some exciting trips coming up that you will be sharing with us on your Blog. Can you give us a little sneak peak as to what’s in store for your readers?
Deborah: The highlights of last year were trips to the Dordogne and the Loire Valley. I wrote a series of posts about each of those adventures. This year I’m looking forward to going to Corsica in early summer. Then I’d like to see more of the south of France — Marseilles, Perpignan, Narbonne and Toulouse to name a few. My visit to Antibes last year was just the tip of the iceberg to all that’s the Cote d’Azur. This winter I visited Barcelona and realized how easy it is to travel from Spain to the south of France. So I’m going to focus on places to visit in France, if you start out in Barcelona. I’m excited to explore as much and as often as I can — and still afford to live here.
A View of the Tower of le Duché from Deborah’s Guest Room/Office
M-T: Thank you so much, Deborah, for taking the time to share your life with my readers. I’m sure they’ve enjoyed our time together as much as I have. I’m also sure that Aunt Rose/Auntie Mame would approve of how you have “reinvented” yourself. Auntie Mame always said that life was to be lived, not just read about -- “Life’s a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!” Maybe we all should spend a Saturday afternoon in a village market in southern France. What a great place to stimulate an appetite for life, n’est-ce pas?
Do you have any final thoughts, comments, bons mots to share with us?
Deborah: Thank you for letting me chat with your followers about the things that spurred me onto a new life in France. If I could say anything to encourage your readers to follow their dreams it is: “make it happen.” We all have commitments and lives that are complicated. If you really want to make a move to a different life, start by assessing the things you feel are holding you back. The more you start unraveling your commitments the easier it is to break away — to find your bliss. If all else fails, give me a shout and I’ll give you a push!
Walking away from the past toward the future can be exciting, challenging, frightening and exhilarating. All it takes is those first few steps to get you going and, as Deborah says, “If all else fails, give me a shout and I’ll give you a push!”
I hope you enjoyed getting to know Deborah Bine. She’s an amazing lady leading an amazing life.
To read "How to Reinvent Yourself After a Divorce - Part 1" click here.
With the exception of the Market in Uzès, all other pictures are courtesy of the Barefoot Blogger.