The Five Year Itch!

19 06 2011

In a few days will be the time that marks the 4 year milestone of my journey in Asia. When I think back to that day, I close my eyes and try to feel the moment again – the moment when I sat in the Air Canada lounge and a good-looking stranger came to ask me if he could invite me for dinner upon my return of what he thought was a business trip – I smiled and said with the pale shadow of the voice I had left:

If you are able to wait two years, maybe!

Just saying it gave me an adrenaline rush with little twinkle of excitement in my stomach: For a moment my mind was trying to take a peek at an untamed part of my life that I was eager to start.

Another flash back again and I see myself in my one way business class seat looking at the passenger next to me who asked:

-Where are you flying to this morning Miss?

I am going to the other side of the world, in Singapore, to start a new chapter of my life!

When speaking to me I could see he was intrigued and distracted by the large bandage with surgical tape that was showing stains of blood on my neck. After all, only 5 days before I had gone through surgery to remove a tumor of the parathyroids, and since the beast was wrapped around the vocal cord nerve, I had lost my voice. But nothing could stop me from taking that plane, nothing could stop me because I was convinced that this new chapter of my life had already been written for me.

Sipping life five years at a time

Indeed it had been written for me… or should I say by me! For the past 20 years, I do a five-year assessment of the shape my life has taken, and then I set new goals and craft my dreams for the next five. In december 2006, during my 6 day retreat isolated in a spa in Biarritz – France, I have written the life chapter that I am about to wrap-up. Not that it means I am leaving Asia, because I am not, but rather that it is time for me to scratch the surface of my new Five year Itch!

But let’s look back to see if my life has unfolded as written. After breaking the seal of the envelope that had been put to rest for five years, I can safely say that the story was mine: I read this message to myself dated from December 18, 2006: I had decided to have an international career, preferably in Asia and Australia because not only it was an unknown world to me, but it was going to be the ruling world of the future, so I must get to know it. I wanted to understand and live the Asian culture – I had hoped that the man who meets my standards of integrity and values of life would cross my path and I had promised myself to not settle for less – I wished to live in a warm climate, away from the harsh winters of Montreal – I had imagined rebuilding my career and re-establishing my credibility in a world that did not know me, I pictured to be invited to deliver conferences everywhere in Asia, to explore my new passion for writing, perhaps even write a book! In my inspirational letter of 2006, I had listed the countries I would visit, the decor that surrounded me and I pictured myself sitting on a long chair somewhere, on a sunny day, five years later, assessing my plan.

Always add a bit of magic to life

I can say that my life unfolded as planned, almost to the T, and sometimes with magic. Thanks to intense therapy, I got a voice back after 3 months of my arrival (not the same but way good enough) – I am now married to a wonderful man who joined my path after 4 months of my arrival here – I have done countless trips in at least 15 countries and am constantly answering requests for conferences in Asia and sometimes Europe. And today, I am sitting in a long chair next to the beautiful swimming pool of our condominium complex in Singapore and I am writing my story to you, not in a book, but in a blog.

I can also say with certainty that it is because I do this five-year exercise that I knew right away – four and a half years ago – that the job opportunity in Singapore (which came to me out of the blue 3 months after my Biarritz trip) was indeed for me. It was written… not in the sky, but in my plan! Engraved down deep it my subconscious and in my sealed envelope.

the swimming pool at our condo 🙂

What I did not know was the impact that my decision would have on other people. For the past 4 years, I received several comments – emails and messages from people who decided to make bold steps in their lives and wished to let me know that their decisions were inspired by me. Some started to write their own story after reading my blog, others took a sabbatical, changed work, opened their horizons to new life opportunities, decided to finally make the trip of their dream. Lately, following the publication of an article in the Athabasca University Magazine about my 5 year story, complete strangers wrote to me telling me that they are touched or inspired – that they now want to do something similar, shaping the recipe of their lives with their own ingredients. I am touched by these comments and I can honestly say that I feel privileged of the trust I am handed.

Mumbai November 2010

So it is now time to complete my new five-year plan, but this time it is different: It is no longer ME but US, so all plans will no longer be of what I want to do with my life, but rather what we would like to accomplish together, what will be our next chapter. This time I have a co-writer!

Pierre and I wondered how we were going to do this exercise this time around as we are two strong career people with different personalities. So we hopped on a plane to Bali to unwind – dive – rest and… write our plans. We first wrote our own unique letter to ourselves and then compared it to see if we had a common path or if we were going to be faced with very opposite directions and have to make major compromises. To our relief, our letters had all the same essential common elements to carve a healthy future with just the right dose of individuality.

Queenstown New Zealand

I know you think that I will share the plan with you, but I will let you itch for a while, since the purpose of my blog is for you to follow the journey.






16 responses

19 06 2011

How beautiful and inspiring Helene! Life is short and you know how to live it!

19 06 2011

Thank you Katherine, it is good to hear from you again. You are doing fine too!

19 06 2011

Belle Hélène, quel plaisir de te lire à nouveau. Inspirante? Sans aucun doute. Passionnante? Certainement. Intriguante? Toujours. Te revoir à Bali a été pur bonheur. Et te lire poursuit la lancée. On ne se perd plus de vue. Never! I hope I will be part of your 5-year plan for the next 20 years, at least. I love you. Your friend for ever. Diane xx

20 06 2011

Merci Diane et te voir a Bali a fait brillé le soleil plus fort. 🙂 C’est évident que tu es dans mon 25 year plan 🙂

20 06 2011

Ma chère amie,
Inspirant! Touchant! et surtout intriguant! Bien hâte de vous voir que tu m’en dises plus. C’est toujours avec plaisir de te lire. A bientôt, gros bisous.

21 06 2011
Anouk Roy

J’ai hâte de savoir ce que vous vous réservez pour l’avenir…Espérant que ça soit en Asie, près du Vietnam!

Bises à toi et Pierre


22 06 2011

Allo Anouk
Jespere bien au Vietnam. En passant on revoit Nico et Marie regulierement. On a meme eu un party de quebecois de la St-Jean a Singapour 🙂

21 06 2011
Sylvie Laf.

Toujours un plaisir de te lire mais je dois avouer que cette fois-ci on comprend l’essence même de ta personne et de ton influence sur ta propre destinée. Cet exercice de réflexion que toi et Pierre avez pris le temps de faire ensemble est en soi très révélateur. C’est en identifiant clairement vos objectifs communs que vous serez en mesure de guider vos décisions, de faire des choix orientés en ce sens et d’être ouverts à certaines opportunités. En quelque sorte, c’est un peu comme une chasse aux trésors où vous dessinez vous-même le plan! J’adore! xx

21 06 2011

Merci Sylvie de ce beau commentaire, je vois que tu écris
pas mal non plus. Je part pour une vacances au Québec dans une dizaine de jours, on va peut-être se croiser. Bisous.

22 06 2011
Sylvie Laf.

Super! Si tu arrives avant le 8 juillet, appelle-moi! Ça serait vraiment extra de te revoir. FYI, je serai en vacances du 9 juillet au 12 août.

22 06 2011
Michel Fortin

Oh oh!!!…. what is she…they 🙂 planning next ????
Bon voyage au Quebec.

22 06 2011

We are planning your visit in November 🙂 Cheers

24 06 2011
Irina Sorokina

You are impeccable :))))
You are my hero!!!

8 08 2011

I have not heard from you for so long!! Give me an update by email: I am so glad to hear again from you. Cheers

5 07 2011
Jennifer Abbatiello

Helene! Though our time together in Singapore was short, how I miss it! You are obviously flourishing and look forward to hearing about your many more journey’s.

Lots of love,

8 08 2011

Hey Jenn, I think about you very very often and I too enjoyed our short time together. After all, you were my very first encounter in Singapore and I think of that every time I rollerblade in the East Coast! Good luck and cheers.

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