France update: The brilliant design of France’s latest pandemic mandates

On Monday night French president Emmanuel Macron announced the latest mandates for France around the the pandemic. It’s taken a few days to process, but for the first time in a long time I’m wildly impressed with France’s handling of Covid-19.

France has been on a rollercoaster since the pandemic first broke out in France March 2020. We were one of the earlier countries to adopt a strict lockdown, which involved permission slips, 1 hour and 1 km limits that got our numbers under control. When restrictions started to loosen up, there was a lack of clarity in messaging. The situation has been a rollercoaster of numbers ever since (ironically always the opposite of our neighbors in the UK; we have yet to both have low [case] numbers at the same time). There were moments that I felt like I even time travel back in time a year—not in a good way.

In the grand scheme of things France’s situation is relatively under control in terms of our freedoms. It helps that restaurant life has moved to terraces that have moved onto the streets of Paris. France was hovering around 2,000 cases a day for awhile, but the Delta+ variant jumped up to 4,000+ cases a day. (Check Santé Publique for daily numbers or search “Google Covid France” to see the graph.)

Knowing we had a big spike last year after summer holidays, France knew they needed to take action. This time things were different. Now the current plan and language is clear, direct, and actionable.

The designer in me had a warm heart realizing that this time around the government/leadership is finally taking into consideration actual human (FRENCH!) behavior, and not just intended behavior. The brilliance of the current decisions is France is using their reputation of being bureaucratic to their advantage. Nothing is dictated, but everything is implied. If you don’t get vaccinated, your life is a giant pain in the ass.

For a long time France had been treating the population like kids. “I told you to do this so you will listen and follow.” We all know that’s not how all children will respond/react when you ask them to do something, and adults are even more likely to rebel. You can say don’t gather in groups, but based on the parties that would keep me up on weekend night’s in my apartment building, the individual exceptionalism people took on was anxiety inducing.

Behavior change is hard, and there were no guardrails to enforce the requests of the government and little enforcement of the rules government had communicated. In being afraid to set a hard line, all the messaging was soft and messy. Numerous situations weren’t taken into consideration. It felt like leadership forgot not everyone lives like they do and has the same access to privilege. A lot became a matter of interpretation.

For nearly a year, language in top level communication was philosophical and often elitist, with nuance hidden between the lines, very open to interpretation and bending of rules. As a citizen it felt like wishful thinking, without a lot of hope. There was no light at the end of the tunnel. Every time we back pedalled and numbers spiked, it was never a surprise (and quite frankly highly predictable).

There were very few things we were working towards. Last December when we missed target goals, museums didn’t reopen, but nothing else happened. The was no incentive or hope to motivate the masses.

Even as we entered third lockdown, the population as a whole believed that stricter measures were necessary; the majority of people also admitted that they’d be breaking the rules. It wasn’t an either/or situation. The pandemic provided an interesting case study into the multiplicity of truths and the challenges in navigating a way forward. As a designer, I see this all as a design problem with the need for creative problem solving.

Monday’s announcement was a visible shift which felt like we had actual leadership to be proud of again. France got back in the game and learned how to play in a way only the French could do. The land of bureaucracy learned to use their bureaucracy to their advantage. The plan is wicked smart and tight. Here’s the breakdown:

  1. Nothing is dictated. You are not required to be vaccinated (note: France is one of, if not the highest, anti-vax countries in Europe). However, if you are not vaccinated that’s when life gets complicated. Only health workers and those working in retirement homes are required to get the shot.
  2. Every individual is given a QR code as part of their “pass sanitaire” (health pass) upon getting vaccinated. The pass can be used to access stadiums and events. The new measures starting soon will involve needing to show your pass to eat inside restaurants, go to the cinema, hospitals, riding [distant] trains, etc. If you are not vaccinated you will need to show your PCR negative results, which are also QR codes sent to your pass.
  3. PCR tests have been free up until this point. (I believe they recently started charging tourists, however it’s much more affordable than the hundreds of Pounds in the UK). Starting this fall everyone will have to pay for PCR tests.

The result? The evening of the announcement there were one million people who booked appointments for vaccines (Doctolib and Vite Ma Dose are the go to places), and 1,7 million within 24 hours. That’s A LOT of people who had been hesitating about getting vaccinated. France found a culturally specific way to respond to the design challenge: bureaucracy.

These choices show France’s understanding of French behavior, and existing structures that created new urgency and relevance for the vaccine. This is not only about the vaccine, but about protecting the hospital systems, essential workers, and supporting the economy long term. Change is possible. France is showing how to play the game.

Good design is never mastered the first time we set out to dream up a solution. Design is an iterative process, with a learning cycle. While very frustrating at times, I’m incredibly relieved that France has learned from previous iterations, to develop an ecosystem that addresses the problem head on, while not adding massive work to other industries to respond and adapt to.

The plan is still not flawless, but it’s a start. As a dual citizen who lives in France but got vaccinated in the US, I’m currently not eligible for a French QR pass. I’m an “edge case” which is a rare case that wasn’t automatically considered. (Readers pointed out people who don’t have smart phones/access to technology, are illiterate, can’t get the vaccine due to health reasons, or afraid of the vaccine due to outing themselves as trans also could fit as other edge cases.)

The computer system was designed in a way that can’t be over-written—a good thing, but also a challenge. Ironically I’d be able to get the pass sanitaire if I had one shot in the US, and one in France, but because I got both shots in another country therein lies the problem. While expat Facebook groups show other Americans have succeeded in getting QR passes, my theory is the majority of those cases were people who got the J&J vaccine (only one shot, hence it works within the system, which allows one shot to be marked as foreign). Lot numbers are input too, so the vaccine center (or doctor) could get in trouble when the system realizes that lot was never administered there. The goal in getting my QR pass is also not to cause problems down the line.

One of the most shocking things to the head of the vaccine center at my local Mairie (mayor’s office) was that I did not receive a QR code (every state in the US is different; Virginia did not have one), nor a unique number on my CDC card. For me both of these comments show just how robust the French system is, despite the initial slow vaccine rollout.

It goes to show this whole plan doesn’t completely consider how it will work with tourists, and unique situations in each country. I’m fortunate that my CDC card will be accepted, but I am concerned about going to a “big” event and getting pulled to the side and not being able to pass through as a unique case where the worker doesn’t know what to do with me. I had one Canadian follower tell me they only receive emails after their shots, but no actual documentation. There are still many situations that have yet to be considered, from all countries.

Even in the past 24 hours there have been more updates in France that suggest that cases like mine are being considered in terms of creating vaccine equivalencies (note: I am a French citizen and not an expat/immigrant). I wouldn’t be surprised if there are systems for tourists to register down the line too.

If anything, the pandemic has taught us, the game is not over until it’s over. France was able to get numbers under control after the first lockdown, but spiralled back in time. The latest small steps feel like a big leap, and hopefully a lesson in what other countries can adapt.

The current system in France is direct, simple, and straight forward. The rules leave for less loose interpretation. (Oh, the number of people and industries who considered themselves “essential workers” during lockdowns was astounding—and laughable). Furthermore, communication is no longer based on assumptive behaviors. There are clear, actionable steps citizens can take, whichever path they take. Individuals still have their own agency, however, the government has a vision, and one that’s for the greater good.

MYP Accountability Booster Group (Starts May 3!)

The past year has had me exploring all sorts of places I never thought I’d get to go. Thanks to the internet I’ve been able to create something special through my Mapping Your Path communities which attract wonderful, kind-hearted humans around the world. For the spring/summer edition I’ll be running it as a 3-month Accountability Booster Group.

Rather than distracting people with more workshops and another thing to learn, it’s a safe space to FINALLY make progress on that thing you’ve been wanting to do, whether it’s launching a new website, writing a book, working on a new practice and habits, or anything in between. We’re really good at making excuses and prioritizing the wrong things, so this is a sacred space, time and commitment to do the thing(s) that you really want to be doing towards deep down.

I’ll be your guide throughout the journey, from the workshop-style Kick-Off call (which will be recorded for anyone who can’t join live), to facilitating the Slack community (it’s so supportive and we get to celebrate our wins, you can also promote anything you’re working on, or get direct feedback from me—I’m an active participant too; I’m happy to provide prompts and exercises as needed), running bi-weekly co-working calls (where you carve out the time to work on what you really want to be doing), and hosting mini group calls (magical encounters with me+ ~5 other community members—these may sound intimidating, but they’re a highlight for so many past MYP participants).

It all starts May 3rd! The live Kick-Off call is Thursday, May 6th (which will be recorded for anyone who can’t join live).

Learn more + sign up!

Make A Map (re-entry edition) FieldTrip!

I’m excited to announce that my CreativeMornings Make a Map! FieldTrip is BACK! This time with a new twist. In the “re-entry edition” our maps will be an opportunity for reflect on our personal journeys through pandemic times using creative maps. It will still prioritize fun, and give us a chance to remind ourselves what we want to carry forward.

My FieldTrips are where I first got people all over the world MAPPING ON BANANAS! (It’s seriously the best!) Don’t worry, there will be more of that. So please bring a banana (or anything untraditional to map on—I’ve now seen clementine maps, lemon maps, leek maps, onion maps, sweet potato maps, papaya maps, toilet paper roll maps, and more!).

The FieldTrip will take place on Wednesday, April 21st at 9am EST (NYC) / 3pm CET (Paris). It’ll be one hour of mapping fun!

Sign up here and don’t forget your BANANAS!!!! (It’s totally FREEEEEEE!)

Check out the hashtag #MakeAMapFieldTrip on social media to see some of the fun we’ve cooked up in past workshops :)

To find out more about my workshops click here (heads up, I’ll be announcing a new accountability group very soon as part of my 3-month Mapping Your Path series!). I’m also available to bring workshops to your teams

Dear French Government, . . . [A pandemic plea]

Dear French Government,

How is it that we are still here? My birthday was a year ago, so I know all too well when this all started. I’ve seen amazing progress and hope. That’s why it’s so disappointing to be where we are now. How did we go so far backwards after so much progress? I may be jumping to conclusions, but I can’t help but feel like ego overrode common sense, or common good. Please stick with me.

The thing that is most disappointing is that you’re not saying anything, and when you do say something it says nothing. (See this clip.) What is holding you back from speaking honestly? For saying something? Anything for god’s sake.

I fear there are many assumptions being made. I’d much prefer you stated the obvious, because whatever you’re thinking is not obvious to me. In fact, I’m completely clueless to what you’re thinking. (My best guess is that your strategy is “wait and see.”) I also have no idea how the virus is spreading. I have hunches. You may not know, but is there seriously nothing from all the contact tracing that you could relay to us?

I also wish you would remind people of the steps they should be taking. Heck, you could even SHOW people how to wash their hands. Remind them why to use gel. Everything that has already been said can and should be reinforced.

The other thing that has been missing is what the guidelines are around seeing other people, particularly when it comes to gathering. Over the weekend a friend told me she heard a friend of hers was going to host her lunch despite the new restrictions. Seriously, WTF. The lack of clarity at the moment means that people are writing their own rules (which I’m ALL for, in every context EXCEPT THIS!).

It’s not just about guidelines but could you please communicate THE WHY behind these measures. And I’m talking in a plain English (or however you say “plain French”) kind of way. This is NOT “dumbing things down.” This is making language accessible so people understand feel like they have a stake in what’s going on. (I have a whole lesson on it in my OpenClassrooms course on content strategy, which is all about putting the user first. You have to find a way to talk to them in a way that resonates.)

We’re not only missing clarity, we’re missing motivation. There’s no light at the end of the tunnel. What is the GOAL? REMIND US. Yes, to get rid of Covid, but how are we going to do that? Realistically? Please tell us the steps. Get straight to the point. Tell it to us like we’re 5 year olds. Not only is it more likely to stick that way, but we can help transmit the information forward. It’ll likely be more memorable too.

The fact of the matter is that just because you say something doesn’t mean in will stick with us, so make it “sticky” so we can care about it. Storytelling sounds cliché but hearing stories about real people can help make this abstract virus anchored in some reality. Hearing about that dinner party that turned into a super spreader event, may make a few people wake up.

Perhaps it’d be a good time to remind us about what the “variant” actually means beyond some abstract scientific term. I know I’m terrified of the “long haul” symptoms of Covid, but none of that I have heard about from you, but from my own reading. It may be beneficial to give people a loving reality check that it’s not just some virus. This goes back to not assuming we heard you when you first told us what the virus was. We need reinforcement to make it sink in and keep us abreast of any changes or updates.

When it comes to lockdown something I’m confused about is if there are rules, are they actually enforced? I’m not so sure based on the house parties I hear in my neigborhood most nights. You addressed this during first lockdown, but after that, it feels like you’ve taken an ignorance is bliss approach. I fear the wrong people are getting punished if it is enforced.  I wonder how much privilege comes into play in the directions that are ignored, or enforced.

You may know how high our numbers are. I sure do. I check them at 8pm nightly desperately waiting for the day when this is not part of my daily routine. For THREE MONTHS I watched us plateau at ~20k cases a day. That is until it climbed to ~39k cases in a day. Mon dieu! That’s a far cry from the 4k cases a day I was proud of back in December before the trifecta of Christmas, New Years, and Epiphany that sent France into a spiral.


(I’ve followed trends by Googling ‘France Covid’ [pictured above] and following Santé Publique stats.)

Did you not see this coming, because I sure did! (Also, ask the average person and I suspect they wouldn’t even know where to go to find them. And please don’t go making the assumption that everyone downloaded the anti-Covid app just because you built it).

I also think it’s important to share more than just numbers, but crunch them and give them context. (Thank you, John Lichfield for helping with that.) Just because they make sense to you and seem obvious, doesn’t mean that the rest of us see them with the same clarity. Data tells a story, and help us understand that story. Please. Make it resonate.

Also keep in mind, just because you post the numbers doesn’t mean that people look at them, or know where we stand. More often than not I’d bring up our numbers in conversation here and people—yes, even well educated people—had no idea our numbers were that high. Maybe it’s just all my single friends, who like I, live alone and so we are incredibly conscious of where things stand, and how we are one of the ignored and neglected populations during pandemic times who follow the numbers closely.

I’m not going to lie, up until this point, I not only survived lockdown, but I thrived in lockdown. As a freelancer who has lived alone for a decade, and worked from home for nearly as long, I did have a leg up on many people. I had inadvertently trained for this lifestyle. Still, I don’t know if you can consider that an advantage—for me it was just learning to make the most of the situation.

I can’t even imagine how working parents with stressful jobs and kids are managing at all. Oh, and that 6pm curfew did not make getting anything done any easier, nor did it acknowledge that people had other responsibilities other than being inside at that time. In lockdown 3.0 I feel how they must have been feeling all along: exhausted and drained.

I don’t need you to cover up anything that has already been done. I just ask—I mean BEG—of you to take a look in the mirror and PLEASE change things moving forward. I’m not sure who is on your communication team, but maybe it’d be a good time for some fresh blood (and some diversity of experience that they can bring to the table). For every sentence that is communicated, pause and question, “what is this really saying? How could it be interpreted?”.

Please just tell it to us like it is. Make us believe. Make us want to work for the common good. (Think like a sports coach and this could be our winning game!). Motivate us because we are done motivating ourself. Give us hope. About getting through this. About the vaccines. It’s getting increasingly hard for me to see any light at the end of the tunnel, nor when I’ll next see my family.

Whatever you do, don’t tell us a date, and push it back further. Take a cue from Joe Biden who had a date several months out, but was able to push it forward AND give Americans the hope of being able to spend time in small groups by the 4th of July. You can also check in with us more than every couple months. You’re in charge. You can change the formalities. Keep us in the loop. We can’t help but feel neglected.

By the way, want to know one way you can stand out from other countries—in a good way? Talk about mental health. Address it. Now. Make this pandemic more human. Don’t pretend we’re just going to be able to brush this aside. Three months of 6pm curfew was not good for mental health when I know that going for walks is what keeps me sane. I guess I kind of understood why you did it, but you never actually told me so it became a frustration rather than a force for good.

I know there’s a whole wrapped up in how politics is, but we’ve got to break this cycle of thinking that “C’est comme ça!” because how it is is NOT how it has to be. We all need a wake up call if anything is going to change. Perhaps now would be a good time to change stuffy press conferences highlighting your authority and dominance, and try to be more accessible. There are some risks that do pay off.

Leaders were elected to represent the people, so please take a look beyond yourself and the lifestyle you live. There’s a whole wild world out there. We can help you too, but you’ve got to stop doing things they way they’ve been done before. This is your time to shine, so damn, please do something! ANYTHING. You still have time to turn this thing around, but you can’t do it by thinking with your old fixed mindset.

Yes, I’m disappointed and frustrated because all my friends in the US are getting their vaccines already. I’m also disappointed because no one is going to be able to come visit me for a long time (ironically they haven’t gotten the memo that they’re not going to be welcome in France any time soon).

I assure you, I’m not writing this letter out of my own self pity. I’m writing this for the greater good. I want—and need—the reassurance that others will be OK at the end of this too, not just me.  I’m writing this because I care, and I hope you will wake up and take action. A good place to start is with communication.

It’s never too late. As we’ve learned the hard way for the past year, it’s not over until it’s over. It’s game time now. We’re the underdogs. Let’s go get this done!

Avec mes salutations distinguées,
Anne S. Ditmeyer

 

 

Anne Ditmeyer is an American by birth, French by hard work who pulls from her design background in her work as a creative coach and workshop facilitator. Join her for her next Write Your Own Rules Workshop on March 26 or March 28th. 

A Story About Gnomes + the BEST Birthday Cake EVER!

Celebrating your birthday for the 2nd year in a row during a pandemic is not how anyone wants to celebrate their birthday, especially when you’re celebrating a milestone. I decided to flip the script and make the most of it anyway. I’m grateful for incredible friends who helped ensure that I had a great one despite not being able to celebrate in person.

I’ve come to learn that life is more about the little moments, and moments of surprise, delight, and joy. My friend Jenni—a professional pastry chef and cake maker—may have won the grand prize for years to come. If you couldn’t gather from the top photo, that’s the cake on the left, and that’s my favorite gnome who served as the inspiration on the right. OMMMMGGGGGG!

Of course we were all masked when the exchange happened, so you couldn’t see my jaw drop when I saw the cake, but you probably could see my eyes bulge out of my head. SUCH JOY! (And I hadn’t thought about it, but now I was able to have a cake reveal on one of my bday Zooms!).

Not only did the gnome cake match his ceramic brother, but Jenni added a banana to his artist palette. For those of you who don’t follow me on social media (@pretavoyager on Twitter + Instagram), you may have missed that I’ve been known to run creative workshops where I have hundreds of people around the world draw maps on bananas (shout out to Swissmiss + CreativeMornings for the permission to do things differently!). So it’s not uncommon to hear the “bring a banana” prompt from me before a Zoom call with me. Only for me could the addition of a banana be such a perfect touch.

Jenni pointed out the risk of a sculptural cake is that no one wants to cut into them. She instructed me how I could cut his backside. It was much less scary that way.


The cake was DELICIOUS and stayed moist until he was gone. She went with a vanilla cake, rhubarb compote and salted caramel buttercream and his hat was chocolate cake with whipped chocolate ganache.

The cake was definitely a new adventure and was big enough that Jenni even had to create a custom box for it he was so tall. (Here’s Jenni with the finished cake!). He was really the perfect size. I was able to share a few slices (which I loved that I could cut them super thin. But I probably ate half of him! By the end he got tired and decided to lay down. HAHA!


So where did the inspiration gnome came from? I bought him at a shop in the Marais c. 2003/4. It was when my aunt and cousin came to visit. They had this special radar when it came to gnome spotting (and they loved spotting Westies too). I’d never much cared nor thought about gnomes until that point, nor had I ever spotted any in Paris, but they changed how I saw the world. They helped make it fun.

I noticed this particular gnome one night while walking home in a shop window on my own while my aunt and cousin were still in town. I knew I had to go back and get them—one for me, and one for them (I think I gave them one with the guitar). He’s traveled with me to Baltimore and Virginia, and then back to Paris in 2011 (yes, he made the cut for important things to put in my suitcase when coming to grad school).

In the spirit of Amélie—one of my all-time favorite movies that came out when I studied abroad in Paris where there is a storyline with a gnome that travels the world to encourage her father to travel—I liked that my gnome could be a reminder to travel, have fun, and embrace my quirky side.


I have to say there’s nothing better than having a gnome smile back at you when you open your fridge!

THANK YOU JENNI for this incredible surprise that more than made my [birth]day, week, month, and year! He’s THE BEST EVER!!!

A few other things that made this birthday the best:

  • Two friends coordinated an effort to have friends send me birthday cards with personal notes. SO MUCH SNAIL MAIL JOY!!! I was incredibly touched, and more cards keep trickling in.
  • I had special deliveries including balloons, and dinner sent to me.
  • I set up a Zoom “flashback virtual tea” with some dear childhood friends I hadn’t seen in 25+ years and invited their moms too. There were also “birthday banana wishes” shared on another virtual celebration.
  • I asked for friends to share favorite Stories on Facebook rather than generic HBD messages. (SO many great old adventures came up.)


It was sad to see my new best friend / roommate go, but this is proof he was good til the last bite!

P.S. If you’re in Paris, I HIGHLY recommend ordering a cake from Jenni for your special occasion. If she can make a gnome cake, she can make anything! Trust me, it’s the little things in life that really can spark joy. You can also follow her as @j_lepoutre and @atelier_l_paris on Instagram.

P.S.S. I’m running my Write Your Own Rules workshop on March 26 & March 28th. It’s a TON OF FUN! In the 2-hour workshop you’ll create your own guiding principles and walk away with your very on rulebook zine.

Guiding Principles for Work and Life. Write Your Own Rules!


WHAT IF 2-hours could change your life?!?! Join me for an interactive workshop to write your own rulebook of guiding principles for work and life.

School teaches us one thing. Society is full of its own expectations. Parents pressure us their own way. Friends another. When do we stop to listen to ourselves and what we really want?

In this two-hour WRITE YOUR OWN RULES workshop we’ll explore creating your own guiding principles to propel you forward being sure to relate them to your own story, interests, and vision for your future. You’ll be presented with engaging, interactive exercises pulling from design thinking, UX, and creativity coaching to get you reflecting and thinking with fresh eyes, guided by creative coach and consultant Anne Ditmeyer (me! aka @pretavoyager).

Expect to meet new people (yes, even in an online format), learn something new, have some fun, and leave with your own “rulebook” of guiding principles— your own personal zine that will serve you in life and work.

** Bring yourself, 3 sheets of plain printer paper + a pen or markers **

This workshop is perfect for you if:

  • You’re frustrated with the status quo.
  • Are considering a life change.
  • Want to push yourself further at your current job.
  • You’re looking for a fresh perspective.
  • You want something more enriching than scrolling your phone for 2 hours.
WriteYourOwnRulesWorkshop-zine-ditmeyer.jpg

NEXT WORKSHOP
There are TWO upcoming workshop dates to help reach a wide range of participants around the world:

** PLEASE CHECK YOUR LOCAL TIME ZONE BEFORE SIGNING UP **


Past participants have said:

“That was mindblowingly awesome! We covered so much in two hours in a way that became this incredible deep dive, and at the end you leave with something tangible. During the workshop I had huge ‘ah ha!’ moments in a connected way to the work I’m doing now.”

“Anne’s workshops are truly a breath of fresh air. Her thoughtful event scaffolding paired with her creative, warm, and joyful persona make her an incredibly special facilitator. I left feeling delightful, refreshed, and full of wonder. She’s a gem of a host!”

“Write Your Own Rules workshop is creative, out of the box, stimulating and a great way to understand/find what’s truly important for you next ! You also get to know new faces!”

“Your workshop came along at the perfect time. I’ve been making slow progress launching my passion project — a small publishing company. I used the workshop to write the Rules for my company. This will help choose projects, tell the story internally and some marketing content, too! And (hopefully!) grow the business. I am usually more of a list maker than a free-flowing-creative type. But I love it when I am coached/coaxed into a more visual kind of organizing. The worksheets and zine were a great mental stretch. Now I’ve got to put the markers away so I don’t keep adding to my new Rule Book! (Time to start using it for business!)”

“A stimulating 2 hours workshop, empowering you with a will to fight lingering frustration, and better adjust to your inner desires. The international participants are a source of inspiration and your invisible supporter!”

“I have a million thoughts swirling in my head at any given time, but this workshop allowed me to center myself, find themes, and lay down my own brickwork for a structured way of thinking about my life, actions, and goals.

By putting pen to paper, you can concretize your guiding principles and be an active participant in your own narrative. Anne herself is creative, vulnerable, open, and enthusiastic for you to find your own path; she’s a great, empowering workshop leader.”

“Still feeling the positive glow after your workshop! Anne was super organized and skillfully maneuvered us through the 2 hours with a delightful ending. Anne creatively gets you to think out of the box to find solutions to problems. And she does it in a funny, quirky way with a literally punchy surprise at the end to get your ass up and moving!”

“Going into Write Your Own Rules I wanted clarity and hoped the workshop to be a springboard, and I felt that it brought me that. There was a shift. Now that I have my rules, I realized I should go for what I want. It was just the springboard I needed!”

HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE! This workshop is perfect for both personal and professional development, or maybe you just want to try something different for 2 hours of your life. Everyone is welcome!


#WriteYourOwnRulesWorkshop

Participants will receive an email the day before the workshop with Zoom access, as well as a mini “assignment” to get you in the mindset for rule writing.

Mapping Your Path: Finding Direction (starts Feb 5!)

How would it feel to actively be creating your big goals and the life you want? How would it feel to actually be taking strides not just sitting, thinking about them? Mapping Your Path: Finding Direction is designed so you can go from feeling out of control, lacking clarity, feeling overwhelmed, and not knowing where to start, to taking steps, breaking through limiting beliefs, taking (imperfection) action, gaining momentum, and having a clear vision for what you want out of life, be it personal or professional—or even both.

WHAT IF you embraced doing things YOUR way? To get on on the path YOU really want to be on. What if you finally carved out the time for yourself? 

This is not about doing things the way we think we’re “supposed to” and thinking in traditional ways, and it’s not like any other workshop you’ve experienced before. Mapping Your Path: Finding Direction is about shaking things up, exploring, and having fun while you’re at it, all while being part of something more and in community so that you can start to make real progress, as defined by you. It all starts February 5th.

MYP is about setting yourself up for success for the path you really want to be on deep down. You know there is “more” waiting for you.

Take off the pressure. Remove the overwhelm. Give yourself permission to reflect. Allow yourself to explore, flourish, and thrive. All while moving forward. No one said progress had to be perfection. 

The world has been A LOT lately. It’s almost as if the universe wanted us to hit a collective reset and ask:

  • What are our priorities?
  • How do we want to be spending our time?
  • Who do we want to be spending our time with?
  • Where do we want to be?
  • What if we tried something new—or differently—despite these new constraints?

At the same time the world moves so fast that we have to be intentional to MAKE the time to reflect on these questions. While these questions should always be questions we’re asking ourselves, now they more relevant than ever before.

Mapping Your Path: Finding Direction is a 3-month workshop and community that follows you through your journey. It’s about taking stock of where you are now, and where you want to be. We’ll do this through mapping, storytelling, and creative exercises that will get you out of your head and living your deepest desires, all while seeing what really is possible. 

You’ll be in a tight cohort of amazing humans around the world working to take the steps on the path YOU each want to be on, even if it means changing course, pausing, or allowing for detours.
Mapping Your Path will give you permission to:

  • explore alternatives
  • slow down and reflect
  • take the pressure off to do it all
  • develop habits to support your endeavors
  • celebrate your wins
  • find inspiration in unlikely places
  • connect with others who can relate to the journey less traveled

By the end of our 3 months together you’ll have:

  • A renewed sense of direction
  • A renewed sense of clarity and focus
  • A renewed sense of calm and inner peace
  • A renewed sense of self and the journey you’re on
  • A renewed sense of energy to carry into your life and work
  • A renewed sense of creativity
  • A realization that you’re in it for the long game and not instant gratification
  • A realization that more isn’t necessarily better
  • A realization that sometimes slowing down is how you go further, faster
  • A feeling of inspiration, fulfilment, and new confidence to carry forward
  • Reminders to find joy and have fun
  • Permission to explore, experiment, and try new things
  • Permission to be yourself
  • A community of amazing cheerleaders and accountability partners

You may already be clear on the destination, or you may be looking for more clarity. Either way, the journey is the destination, and together we’ll walk through creative exercises to build our own toolkit to help carry us through whatever the future holds.

It all happens through the magic of live workshops (which will be recorded and you can watch later if you can’t join live), office hours, mini group calls, and a private community (on Slack). The pace allows time for reflection, digestion, and percolation.
** FIRST LIVE WORKSHOP meets Friday, Feb 5th at 5pm CET /11am EST / 8am PST / 8pm Dubai. **

It’s up to you how much time you want to commit, but know there is a guide and a community there for you when you need it.

The goal is to remove overwhelm, NOT add one more thing to your to do list. Also, this is going to be FUN!!!

You’ll have your very own cheerleaders built in as we work through exercises centered around mapping and storytelling, write your own playbook for life, and unlock your own super powers as we examine mindset and the beliefs that can get in our way to help propel you forward.

You’ll be given all the tools and support you need to make magic happen, and time during the live workshops to work on the exercises, helping to remove pressure from those growing to do lists. This workshop isn’t like anything you’ve experienced before, it will be FUN!

First, you need to show up for yourself…. SIGN UP TODAY! Space is limited.

Visit the full Mapping Your Path: Finding Direction listing for more details, or jump straight to check out. You can pay in full, or a 3-month payment plan. Space is limited.

I’d be HONORED to have you on this journey! Oh perhaps forwarding this to a friend may just change their life…

Questions? On the fence? Want to know if it’s a good fit? Shoot me a message at hello (at) anneditmeyer (dot) com or shoot me a DM on social media (@pretavoyager) and I’m happy to help! Just don’t delay because time is running out to join!

New Year, New Map. 2021: The Year of Audacity


Holiday traditions can take all sorts of forms and styles. For me, it’s making a map to help guide me into the New Year. 2020 my map was all about exploration. For 2021, it’s all about audacity. On my Biz Blog I broke down what my word for the year means for me (where you can also view the map full size).

This year’s key locations in AudaCITY include the Moon, the Path of Possibility, the Island of Incremental Change, the Tower of Systems, the Grotto of Gratitude, Question Camp, Curiosity Camp, Creativity Camp, the Limitless Library, the Museum of Momentum, the Fort of Fun, the Do Nothing Dome, the Love Hut, the Path of Potential, Neuroscience Forest, the Garden of Growth, and the Pool of Endless Ideas (deep diving only, thinking caps required). To tie it all together the viewer is granted permission to do things your way.

It’s always a fun exercise to see what comes out of my head when I sit down to draw my map. I know my theme going into it, but otherwise I don’t plan anything out. I just let it flow. Then when it’s done I have it printed (I went for pink ink with a Riso printer this year because it felt more… audacious) and send it to 100 people who have impacted my year with notes of gratitude.

As a fun twist to the year, I was also featured in the Feb 2020 issue of Psychologies Magazine [UK] where I got to share how I use mapping as a tool to guide my year (my alternative to New Year’s resolutions). You can find the full article online or linked from my Biz Blog. It was such a huge honor to be featured.

Speaking of maps, I also just opened my 3-month workshop Mapping Your Path: Finding Direction for enrollment! Get ready for 3 months of creative mapping, new connections, and a global community of inspiration. It all starts February 5th. Spaces are limited in order to keep the community connected—it’s where the magic happens! ✨ SIGN UP TODAY!

Mapology Guides for life

It’s no secret that I love maps. (Something I inherited from my dad.) I have an every going collection of illustrated paper fold out maps that I display on a postcard rack on my desk that I stare at as I work—and type this post. I even taught an entire class on Skillshare that encouraged people to make their own maps.

We so often turn to our phones to tell us where to go, but maps have always been the best way to help us find where we are, and show us where we’re trying to get. Mapology Guides take maps a step further thinking about maps in terms about concepts and ideas rather than physical places, not confined by location, landmarks, or sites to see. They’re illustrated self-help maps for life’s journey.

I first met Mapology Guide creator Tina Bernstein at Betahaus in Berlin where we were for The Hive Berlin, a conference for bloggers. That year was my first conference talk I spoke about the less glamorous side of blogging: blogging etiquette and how to deal with negative comments. (I’ve always liked to keep things real.) One of the people who came up to me after my talk was Tina. We stayed in touch, and connect whenever I’m in London. She even took my Skillshare map making class when it first launched. (Little did I know that conference would unlock SO many friendships.)


What’s with this gratitude thing? Images by Stephanie Hofmann and text by Julia Wills

Since we first met, Tina has gone on to launch her own line of Mapology Guides which are the intersection of her love of maps and mental health. Until recently mental health has often been a taboo subject in the mainstream. Tina, a huge proponent of “doing the work” on yourself, set out to change that through her illustrated guides to life. Our conversations always inspire me to keep exploring myself, and I love how she integrates creativity and play into everything she does.

For each Mapology Guide she brings her own experience with a subject, and teams up with a writer or expert, as well as a different illustrator to bring her vision to life. It’s very much a collaborative effort that starts with brainstorming (I always love when she shares behind the scenes on @mapologyguides on Instagram).

I also love that each map includes a bio of each collaborator, but it’s not some copy and pasted bio. Each is woven into the theme of the map, so you get a personal look into the lens in which they see life. In many ways the bio have tips for life tucked between the lines. In her latest map, “Who Are You?” Tina shares her gratitude for getting to play a small part in expanding the world’s collective wisdom, kindness, and compassion, recognizing she—like all of us—is a work in progress. Tina is the perfect guide for this collection of guides.


Who are you? Images by Laurie Avon and text by Lottie Storey.

Each map seeks out to address different themes from different perspectives:

  • Who Are You? : Playful ways to discover your true self
  • What’s with this Gratitude Thing? How to make the ordinary extraordinary
  • Make it Happen: The incredible power of taking small steps
  • How to Make Better Decisions: 9 tools to deal with every dilemma
  • Are You Looking for Answers? : Enrich your life by asking the right questions
  • How to Grow Your NO: This tiny word will change your life
  • The Anger Apothecary: Dispensing advice for managing this strong emotion
  • What’s Bugging You? A Powerful 7 step coaching session
  • Overthinking: Free your mind from troubling thoughts
  • The Sea of Uncertainty: How to stay afloat in challenging times
  • Where do Ideas Come From? A simple guide to having great ideas
  • Hey, Let’s Work Things Out! Proven tips for a flourishing relationship
  • Check out them ALL!


Clockwise L to R: The Anger Apothecary – images by Jenni Sparks and text by Lottie Storie. How to Grow Your NO – images by Nic Farrell and text by Lottie Storie. How to Make Better Decisions – images by Sarah Edmonds and text by Robert Twigger. What’s Bugging You? – images by Jenni Sparks and text by John-Paul Flintoff.

Each Mapology Guide has a “map” side that may be imagined as the section of a building, a flow chart, a list of questions, a board game, or an imagined place, while the flip side expands on the ideas explored in the map. Every time I open a guide, I notice new details, and there are new concepts and ideas that resonate with me depending on what’s going on in life. You can pick by theme, or your favorite illustrator.

The flip side is like a giant legend. There tends to be more text and lots of questions to get you thinking. The maps are more like games for life to get you thinking (outside of the box) and playing.

And like any map, it’s always fun to revisit them, taking time for reflection and to ponder. It’s amazing how big a world can fit on a single piece of paper. (They’re all printed in the UK.) Also, they come in a really fun package when you order from the shop—Tina wraps them all with love.

P.S. Next Write Your Own Rules is Dec 12th from 6-8pm CET! It’s the last time I’m running it in 2020, and a great way to set yourself up for the new year.

P.S.S. I’m planning on running some version of my 3-month program ‘Mapping Your Path into 2021’ starting in late January or February. Sign up to be notified for the next MYP workshop launch

La 2ème vague – the 2nd wave (Paris lockdown update)


On a 1 hour walk during the first day of reconfiment. Digital permission slip on phone. 

In Paris and across France we officially hit our deuxième vague (second wave) of COVID-19. I’d been watching our numbers steadily going up for weeks, hitting 52k new cases a day at points. I felt like I was watching the uptick in slow motion, because took the government awhile to speak up, but then when they did life came at us fast. We had less than 36 hours to get our lives together to lock.

On Wednesday Oct 28th President Macron addressed the nation. The details were announced the following day by Prime Minister Castex (if you recall, this is a change from PM Edouard Philippe who managed the 1st wave, quite well I say). When the clock struck midnight on Thursday night we were back to our days of permission slips (attestations) limited to our 1km radius for 1 hour with the exception of certain cases (doctors visits, certain jobs, etc.). The risk again is hospital overload.

Leading up until the 30th we’d already been operating on a 9pm curfew in Paris (and other major cities hit with a high case load in France). For anyone who knows French culture, eating at 7pm is not the norm at all. I’d never seen such efficiency in getting the bill—at outdoor terraces, bien sûr—to get home in time. That now feels like a distant memory with all restaurants closed, with the exception of delivery and click and collect.

The biggest difference this round is that schools are open (with universities being remote)—so far. The idea (I suppose) is to help lighten the load of working parents in order to keep the economy going. (How you want to protect the economy, while giving such little notice is something I struggle with, but more notice would have lead to more super spreader gatherings aka last hurrahs.)

If you can télétravail (work remotely) you need to according to the government. However, based on my network I’ve heard of too many companies are taking liberty on that front and writing special attestations for their employees. (Note: masks have been required in offices for awhile now if people do go to work.) I’d argue in France there’s still an old school sense of management that if you are not seen, you’re not doing your job. There is definitely a sense of entitlement and exemption for many in charge. They see themselves first rather than working to get us out of this collective mess.

Shops are closed, but some have a table at their door for click and collect orders. It’s been interesting to see chocolate shops and florists have dubbed themselves as essential. Last Friday during my first one hour outing, I was happy to bring some flowers home. I just may have to make it a regular thing in my new routine.

As for me, my life hasn’t changed much. I’m fortunate to be busy with many of my own projects and endeavors that came to life during first lockdown. (I’m grateful for my incredible community in Mapping Your Path.) I’ve worked hard to develop good habits and stick to them. I’ve added dance parties to my daily regime because an hour walk isn’t enough movement for me (and dancing is good for the soul).

 
Most exciting is my new hobby: cooking in the InstantPot (which no doubt will get its own post soon). Feeding myself three times a day was my least favorite part of our first lockdown. I’m not much of a cook, but I’ve decided to change that with the help of this magic machine that’s part slow cooker and part pressure cooker. (My friend Jenni is a professional chef who got me hooked.) So far I’ve made soup in 5 minutes, rice in 3 minutes, and shredded lime chicken in 20 minutes. It’s pretty much a dump and go thing and everything is fast once it pressurizes). I’ve also learned the joys of YouTube rabbit holes thanks to this new hobby.

I’ve learned with COVID there’s no point in trying to predict the future. We’re locked through at least December 1st, but I suspect it will continue longer…

Helpful resources for staying up to dat:

  • Santé Publique France announces new cases in France at 8pm CET nightly
  • Veteran correspondant @John_Lichfield on Twitter regularly synthesizes data (in English)
  • Journalist @kimwillsher1 regularly simultaneously translates announcements in English
  • France24 – International news from a French perspective

p.s. I’m hoping to run Write Your Own Rules workshop again before too long. Sign up here to be notified + sign up for my weekly newsletter Connect the Dots for regular updates direct in your inbox.

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