Closed on Sunday

Sunday's are suppose to be a stress free day-- at least that is one way we have tried to keep the French spirit alive back in California. I was reminded of this once again when driving back from visiting my family in San Diego (yes I drove part way on Sunday-- which was less stressful than driving in traffic on Monday) and exited the off ramp at the Carlsbad Outlet Mall as Zoe had to go the bathroom badly. Besides, I thought, maybe we can find a pair of shoes for her on sale. Upon entering the parking lot, I knew I had made a huge mistake. After circling the parking lot two times I knew I had made an even bigger mistake. Not only was Zoe crying to get to a bathroom I was so stressed out by the number of cars creeping there way down the aisles, honking, hoarding, and basically staking out their aisles in case a shopper returned to the car that I drove off and down the street to just breath and rethink how I would find a bathroom fast.

Down the road a half a mile was an empty parking spot.  I hopped out, opened two doors (on the curb side) and yelled, get between the doors and bend down. In an emergency this will do. Relived from her anguish she was happy to do as I said and left a stream in her wake. With that taken care of I turned to Zoe and asked if she wanted to attempt the mall again. "Yes, I'm hungry." Great, I thought on the road an hour and she's hungry again.. Stealing myself for the crowded lot, I drove back down the hill and entered the parking area. Circling, buzzing like a bird, I eyed a shopper leaving and followed him like a stalker. Finally we were parked.  Like an anthropologist I approached the shopping center watching those around me. A few smiles of teenagers as they hung out with friends, a few leisurely diners munching on burgers and milkshakes, and quite a few families pulling children along for the "fun family outing." As Zoe and I walked into one shoe store and maneuvered are way down the aisles, pushed to side by an exhausted looking mother and baby we both said, "Let's get out of here."

"Maman," she said, "this isn't fun, it's too crowded and people are not nice."

Without hesitation we left the store and headed down the mall. I looked around and wondered why all these people had chosen a day at the shopping mall as their family day, their day of leisure. Granted they could get great bargains at this particular mall and they could have lunch. I wondered, however, if they realized what their alternatives were? Did they consider being in nature, at the beach on this gorgeous Sunday, or out taking a walk in the nearby hills?

In France, the stores are closed on Sunday and therefore the pace of the day is completely different. There is no choice to go shopping, but instead you enjoy time with friends and family, walk in nature, swim in the rivers and beaches, or have long leisurely lunches.  This is the one day that stress free living does occur. To bring the best of the French here, a place to start is to close down on Sunday and avoid the stress of life- even if only for one day a week----and besides the shopping centers aren't going anywhere and are open nights and Saturdays as well.

Take a day off --- avoid the crowds, get in nature, be spontaneous and live stressfree for one day.