What if there was another way? Mapping Your Path Accountability Booster Group


My favorite question: What if there was another way? 

We get stuck in an either/or, black or white way of thinking. Yet, the best options are the possibilities we never considered or knew existed. When we find them everything feels lighter. Let’s keep opening doors, not closing them. 

What if there was another way is the guiding question of Mapping Your Path, but I think it relates to so much of life too! Sometimes that means getting creative, sometimes it means trusting our intuition, and sometimes it means believing that we’ll get there even if we don’t know when or how. 

But here’s the thing. We don’t have to have all the answers to get started, and we don’t have to go it alone. 

Mapping Your Path is a 3-month “incubator,” workshop series, and community for accountability, forward progress, and good vibes. It’s a door to exploration that will provide you support, inspiration, and a boost of motivation. The May-July MYP Accountability Booster Group is about to get started. The community opens next week (May 9), and the kick-off workshop is May 13!

Let the next 3-months be about taking real, yet imperfect steps. This summer (or winter if you’re on the other side of the world), be intentional to move forward on that business idea, hobby you’ve been wanting to try, or project you’ve always been wanting to do that always gets out to the wayside. You may just discover there’s another way forward that you haven’t considered yet… 

The Accountability Booster Group is designed to have fewer distractions (fewer workshops, but more exercises and prompts on demand) so you can make real progress on the path you really want to be on. Three months can seem like a big commitment, but it will also fly by. In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to lose track of how far we’ve come, but when you zoom out you’ll be able to see all the progress you’ve made. You’ll also have a community that feels like old friends to help you see and celebrate what’s easy to miss. 

Come join a global community of incredible humans navigating their own paths! You’ll get my direct support and feedback every step of the way. It’s like having a coach in your pocket and a team of cheerleaders on the sideline, ready to celebrate every small win along the way. My approach isn’t like other coaches (you can read about my approach in Forbes). I fully believe in learning to navigate life on your own terms and playing by your own rules. It’s only when we do that that can we put our best work into the world and be the change we want to see.

There is no perfect time. Don’t wait to feel ready. Start before you’re ready. Let the Mapping Your Path Accountability Booster group be the first small step of many. You don’t have to be the perfect student to enroll (in fact that’s discouraged—we are human after all). This experience is designed for people with actual lives and other things going on. It’s flexible and created in a way to ensure you get to put yourself first for once! It’s up to you how much time you want to devote to it, but even a few hours a month can put you on just the trajectory you need.

How do you want to show up in the world?!

Learn more about the Mapping Your Path Accountability Booster Group + sign up today!

Questions? Not sure if MYP is right for you? Don’t hesitate to reach out. It’s time to get out of your own way. Keep going! You’ve got this!!!!

P.S. I’m running Write Your Own Rules Workshop this Saturday, May 7th. It’s a great place to start, but is by no means required. I’m also running my FREE Make A Map! FieldTrip through CreativeMornings on Wednesday, May 4th.  (There will be banana mapping!!)

Come make maps! Mapping Your Path Tuscany


I’ve teamed up with Ashley Bearden of Travel Parallel for a brand new experience: Mapping Your Path Tuscany! Fun fact: I met Ashley because she joined a MYP cohort. Then some magic happened for us both! ✨ It could happen for you too!

Ashley is a talented filmmaker with a production background (she’s worked with Anthony Bourdain, on Reading Rainbow, and started a collective for youth activists). In this new chapter she’s applying all those skills she picked up on the job to something she believes in and wants more of in life: meaningful travel. I’m beyond excited to be teaming up with her for this experience.

MAPPING YOUR PATH TUSCANY

June 27 – July 2, 2022

Mapping Your Path is a week-long retreat where exploration, creativity, community, and connection collide, and where you get to show up unabashedly as yourself.


Are you ready for the next chapter? Do you ever feel like you’re stuck on auto-pilot? Encountering the same roadblocks/excuses over and over? Running in circles? Uphill? Doing all the things the gurus told you, and it doesn’t feel true to you? Playing by a set of rules that leave you exhausted and depleted?

WHAT IF there was another way from what society told us, from what school taught us, from what family modeled, and what we’ve told ourselves?

WHAT IF we could do the things we really want deep down?

WHAT IF the journey didn’t have to be hard and heavy?

WHAT IF it could feel fun, energizing, engaging, and inspiring?

WHAT IF you could step away from what you know and do it in Tuscany?


Welcome to Mapping Your Path, a devoted time to focus on YOU for a whole week. It’s time to be intentional, take (aligned) action, and do things differently. Show up for yourself, with the support, encouragement, and company of an incredible community of humans. You don’t have to do this alone, you’ll be guided every step of the way.

All levels and places in life are welcome.

Each morning the creator of Mapping Your Path, Anne Ditmeyer, will lead us in a  session where we’ll be exploring creative mapping exercises as part of our journey to map our paths forward. We’ll explore mindset, our strengths, what brings us joy and energy, and more to focus on our paths forward that light us up—all through the help of pen, paper, and mapping!

Along the way, it will be a lot of FUN and you’ll uncover your superpowers and learn to embrace the secret sauce within you. No artistic skills are required. This is about learning to see the world through a different lens. No two paths are the same. There’s no one-map-fits-all. Maps help show us where we are, and where we want to go. You get to be the one who maps your path forward.

Afternoons are loosely structured sessions both at the villa and in the surrounding villages, allowing us to dig deeper into the work we did in the morning and use Tuscany as a lens for exploration.  There will be also plenty of time to spend at the villa relaxing, wandering through the vineyards and reading or journaling by the pool.

Each evening we will come together again and check-in either through an informal group session or yoga – or maybe both! Dinner reservations will be made for the group in neighboring towns, you can choose to eat with the group or set out on your own – dinners (except for the first and last night) are at your discretion and not covered by the cost of the retreat, allowing you flexibility. There is a full kitchen at the Villa you can also choose to prepare meals in!


Spots on this trip are going to go quickly (only 7 available!). Check out Travel Parallel today for many more details and come join us in Tuscany!!

Photo credits: Ashley Bearden and Katie Mitchell Photography.

How Voting Works in France

In 2016 I became French. This is my second French presidential election.


You can read my experience about my first election (with photos!) and find this post on Instagram.

p.s. My Mapping Your Path 3-month Accountability Booster Group opens very soon! I’ll also be running my popular (and free!) CreativeMornings Make A Map FieldTrip! on May 4th, and my 2.5 hour Write Your Own Rules Workshop on May 7th. Sign up to join the fun!

Map on a banana! CreativeMornings FieldTrip (Feb 1 – free!)

What do bananas and maps have in common? You’ll have to join me for my CreativeMornings Make A Map FieldTrip on Tuesday, February 1st at 6pm CET/noon EST to find out. It’s free when you sign up on the CreativeMornings website. You’ll need to bring a banana (sweet potatoes, lemons, oranges, or anything non-traditional works just fine too), plain paper, markers/pens, and a paper napkin!

I’ve been running these workshops from time to time ever since April 2020 lockdown, and have had a ton of fun with them. I recommend coming into it with an open mind and a spirit of exploration and adventure. Throughout the hour-long experience, I’ll guide you through a series of prompts and you’ll walk away with three maps! No artistic ability required.

For a sneak peek check out the hashtag #makeamapfieldtrip on Twitter or Instagram. If you don’t know CreativeMornings, they’re an incredible free community offering monthly talks through 240+ chapters around the world (that are also shared online), and FieldTrips where you can learn anything and everything from the incredible generosity of the creative community.

If you’ve never experienced my workshops, Make a Map FieldTrip is a great way to get a taste of what my 3-month workshop + guided community Mapping Your Path feels like. The next cohort kicks off on Feb 4th!

Mapping Your Path: the way forward (now open!)

The new Mapping Your Path: the way forward cohort is open for enrollment! Join the 3-month workshop + guided community which kicks off February 4th and runs through April.

Get creative. Get connected. Have FUN!
You are HERE. Where do you want to be?

So what is it? It’s a world where questions are valued more than answers. It’s a place where detours are encouraged, and you don’t always have to know where you’re going, as long as you enjoy the ride. It’s not about doing more or playing by old rules. Mapping Your Path is where exploration, creativity, community, and connection collide, and where you get to show up unabashedly as yourself. This is YOUR journey. This is the way forward.

On a practical level, Mapping Your Path is a 3-month incubator and creative hub for the next chapter of your life. Every month there’s a Workshop with exercises to get you digging deep (in a fun, insightful way). Two weeks later there’s a Reflection Session where we get to build on those ideas and take them one step further. You also have the opportunity to join a Connection Call with me and ~5 other community members (these are always a highlight for participants and described as magical!).

Along the way, there’s also a truly incredible community (on Slack) where you can come to be inspired, ask questions, share resources, and connect with these truly WONDERFUL humans around the world. Think of this as a cool café where you can pop by at your convenience, and stay as long or as short as you want. There’s no pressure to follow every conversation. It’s all here to support you wherever you are now.

You’ll walk away with:

  • Exploratory maps
  • New exercises to help your inner compass stay on track
  • Your own playbook to refer to when things go off course
  • A fresh, empowered mindset!
  • Added accountability, new friends + support system :)

It all starts Friday, February 4th!

As a thank you for being such an awesome blog reader, I’m offering a 100€ early bird discount. Use the code MAPONABANANA at check out to take advantage. The discount is valid until midnight EST on Sunday, Jan 23rd.

Click here to learn more about Mapping Your Path: the way forward. (Or jump straight to the checkout page to sign up.)

Map of 2022 – The Magic within YOU


Every year one of the things I look forward to is drawing my map for the year ahead. It all happens in one sitting, and usually takes a couple hours as a café. I don’t have a grand plan when I sit down to draw it. I see what comes to me.

The past two years my map has been born out of the work we do in Mapping Your Path, the 3-month workshop + guided community I run. I’m an active participant as we go through workshops, uncovering things about my own journey.

Typically my map integrates things I’ve learned from the previous year (or years), and I integrate my guiding force (word or theme) for the year ahead. Every year feels like a different season, chapter, or cycle, so each year carries a different spirit.

2022 is my year of “the magic within you.” You can find out what that means to me—and see the map full size—on my Biz Blog post.

P.S. The next cohort of Mapping Your Path starts soon!!! Stay tuned on Wednesday when I announce the latest 3-month MYP workshop + guided community. I’ll be sending an early bird discount that will only be available a few days, so if you’ve been itching to join this week is the week to sign up! (If you want to pay full price that’s cool too—ha!) It all officially kicks off on February 4th. Sign up on the workshops page of anneditmeyer.com to be alerted when it opens, and subscribe to my weekly Connect the Dots newsletter if you haven’t already.

Tis the Season! Cheesy Christmas Movie Roundup

There’s something about December that feels like life moves at warp speed. In more recent years I’ve developed a holiday tradition that I look forward to each year—watching cheesy Christmas movies. I’ve also come to really look forward to sharing my picks. I will admit my selection is limited to Netflix, but I’m sure you can find many of them on other platforms, or at least find a similar plotline elsewhere. I will add that this list is a few years in the making ;)

If you find yourself with downtime in the next couple weeks, here are my “favorites” depending on what you’re looking for.

Legit enjoyable:

  • Home for Christmas – a Norweigan series (watch with subtitles) about a girl trying to navigate the pressures of her family to have a partner at Christmas, but it’s a refreshing change from typical stories. Both seasons are great.
  • Love Hard – A dating app and a crazy idea for Christmas and it’s good fun.
  • Father Christmas is Back – A surprise hit for me where you have arguably annoying family members, but it grows on you, and has some big-name stars.
  • Dash & Lily – Teenagers connect through a journal book and it’s super cute.
  • Princess Switch 12, & 3 – It wouldn’t be Christmas without Vanessa Hudgens where royalty can learn from commoners, and vice versa.
  • Let It Snow – A snowstorm hits a small town, and teenagers are forced to deal with actual feelings. Actually really sweet.
  • Last Christmas – Not on Netflix, but an unexpected favorite of mine that tells a different kind of Christmas tale through the music of George Michael.

Cheesy bad good:

  • A Castle for Christmas – Brooke Shields plays a successful writer who travels to Scotland and finds more than herself in the process. She also joins a knitting circle.
  • The Knight Before Christmas – When a knight time travels to present day, you cannot help but laugh.
  • The Christmas Prince 12, & 3 – Higher budget than most holiday films, so skip this one if you’re looking for added cheese factor. Spoiler alert, they fall in love, get married, and have a baby, but not without a few hurdles along the way.
  • Christmas Made to Order – A wanna be holiday decorator teaches a workaholic architect there’s more to life than work.
  • A Wish for Christmas – Santa grants the girl a wish where she can’t help herself from speaking her mind, particularly towards mediocre white men.
  • Christmas Land – A Christmas movie about the importance of reading legal contracts before signing them.
  • Operation Christmas Drop – The importance of giving to others who have less, inspired by a true story.
  • Christmas Wonderland – A Christmas movie about toxic workplaces and high school sweethearts.
  • Single All the Way – I found the family meddled WAY too much for my liking, but it was refreshing to see a gay couple at the helm of holiday cheer.
  • Christmas Inheritance – Wherein the female lead has to experience small-town Christmas to realize her fiancé is a giant d-bag.
  • Christmas with a View – A holiday story with a very unrealistic view of what it takes to run a restaurant, even if the chef is hot.
  • Broadcasting Christmas – Melissa Joan Hart stars in a holiday tale about misogyny and meddling parents who think they know what’s best for their kids
  • A Cinderella Story: Christmas Wish – A predictable Cinderella trope, but instead of scrubbing floors, Cinderella has to carry Starbucks orders.
  • Christmas Wedding Planner – Like Cinderella, but also has a cameo from Joey Fatone of N’SYNC.
  • Holidate – A completely predictable holiday love story that takes place in a mall.
  • My Christmas Inn – Will the spirit of the neighborhood inn teach an American workaholic there’s another way for her?
  • Holiday in the Wild – Charlotte from Sex in the City finds her way to an elephant refuge, where she finds more than just elephants.
  • The Holiday Calendar – A magical advent calendar comes to life as a photographer learns to follow her dream.
  • Christmas Flow – A 3-part French series about misogyny, a big music star, a feminist, and very little to do with Christmas, but has nice views of Paris.

Skip list:

  • A California Christmas – A story about how women do the heavy lifting as a cocky jerk becomes a ranch hand, and a love interest. (The sequel this year pretends to have a Christmas twist, but while better than the first, the Christmas connection is weak.)
  • A Naiji Christmas – Don’t be fooled by the title of this one, this Nollywood film really has very little to do with Christmas.

 

Share your favorites—or least faves—in the comments! I’m always amused hearing from others.

Mini Mapping Your Path into 2022 3-hour workshop (Dec 18)

WHAT IF ALL YOU NEEDED TO SET YOURSELF UP FOR “SUCCESS” (AS DEFINED BY YOU) FOR THE YEAR HEAD WAS TO CARVE OUT THREE HOURS OF YOUR LIFE? JOIN MINI MYP AND LEAVE ENERGIZED AND EXCITED FOR THE YEAR AHEAD, KNOWING YOU’VE ALREADY TAKEN THE FIRST STEP!

Mini Mapping Your Path into 2022 is inspired by my 3-month workshop + guided community that I’ve been running since October 2020. I’ve seen lives transformed, participants leaving lighter and feeling more like themselves, and excited for the path ahead (even in these uncertain times).

In this 3-hour adaptation of Mapping Your Path you will:

  • Be guided to create multiple maps to explore the path you want to be on (not that you think you’re supposed to follow).
  • Map on a banana! (Always a highlight!!)
  • Develop a “guiding force” which is a word or theme to help you navigate the year ahead.
  • Create tools to support and guide future you.
  • Connect with others on the live call (we’ll be using breakout rooms).
  • Leave feeling energized, excited, and with new clarity of where you want to go in 2022!

It’s a ton of FUN!

LEARN MORE + sign up!

Street Wisdom (and wandering into Keanu Reeves)

What if the world around us held more secrets than we realized? We’re so busy rushing through life, what happens if we slow down and really look at the world around us. That’s the basis of Street Wisdom, an incredible experience dreamed up by David Pearl that is “an everyday creative practice you use as you walk. A smart fusion of mindfulness, neuroscience and wellness, it unlocks our minds and unblocks our creativity with every step.”

I have yet to experience an in person Street Wisdom “WalkShop” (they’re totally free by the way), but I’ve now experienced it twice online through a CreativeMornings FieldTrip hosted by David Pearl himself. Even for someone who considers themselves an everyday explorer, this experience is profound. Sometimes it’s what you experience yourself, but also witnessing what others take away (and others may help them see) is powerful.

It all starts with a tune-up: three shorter exercises to get you moving through and looking at the world in different ways—paying attention to what you notice (and don’t), slowing wayyyyyy down, and practicing gratitude. (You can download the audio guide on the Street Wisdom website, or find the soundclips on Spotify.) Then you head into the quest and you ask yourself a question which is revealed to you as you wander. This may sound crazy, but Pearl reminded us we may not find our answer until the very last seconds. In addition to observing the signs around us, what we learn from the session may also come from talking to someone else.

Let’s back up to my first Street Wisdom experience back in June. I experienced it from home making it less exciting than exploring the world—at least so I thought. I have to admit it was a day I was only half participating, and it was at the very end when someone else shared their experience (and someone else had a beautiful interpretation of it) that I was fully hooked. Fast forward to later that evening when I went outside for the first time that day (yes, I didn’t go out until 9pm).

I can’t remember if I had a question, or what it was, but I started seeing hearts. Not just one, but a dozen. All within a few block radius of my apartment, all within an hour, none of which I had ever noticed before. It seemed to be Street Wisdom at its finest‚ helping open your senses to what is right in front of you. The thing is that I haven’t stopped seeing hearts since that day. And the kind of hearts I see—street art, on clothing, tattoos, shop windows, sidewalk chalk, a chipped piece of paint, heart-shaped leaves—continue to surprise and delight. I’ve not tried to force anything or what it means, but love the idea that love is all around me.

I can never force seeing a heart, but sometimes I’ll wonder if there’s a heart over there, look over my shoulder, and see one. And this can happen multiple times on a single street. I’m not sure if hearts are just trendy right now, but I do think there’s something more at play. (And as I type this I looked up to see a heart on a banana left over from a banana map someone left behind from my workshop yesterday.)

When I knew I’d have a chance to experience Street Wisdom for a second time and could do it while out walking (and joining the session from Zoom) I jumped at the chance. I was leaving a friend’s place, so it was nice to be in less familiar territory. I knew I was generally headed towards home but I let the “tune-ups” guide my way and the streets I took.

Then “The Quest” started. I heard voices speaking, and saw hearts. I passed a new chicken place (possibly one a friend had recommended, or so I thought). While it kind of felt like cheating, I decided to get chicken tenders for dinner. While I waited, I continued to look at the world around me. “Look, that coat is like Sherlock Holmes” I heard a woman say to her husband as they passed by the shop next door. I’m not sure I would have had the insight of being a detective had she not said that.

I kept wandering up the hill towards home—Sacre Coeur, which as David Pearl later pointed out is another heart (coeur = heart in French). I now was excited to eat my chicken tenders but I didn’t take the shortest route home as there was a gaggle of humans in my way, so I opted for a much quieter street.

As I made my way up this detour I found myself face to face with a green moving truck with the tagline, “moving your way.” This sentiment was completely in line with so much of what I’ve been exploring in my own work (and different versions of the idea appear all over my 2021 vision board). To me it was a profound sign.

The 15 minute “quest” came to an end and Pearl invited a few people to share what they had learned from the wisdom of the street. I wouldn’t learn until later that at least 2 or 3 of them were members of my Mapping Your Path community who happened to get called on! Hearing the insights of others is so rich—it helps you see what you just experienced with your own eyes.

As the debrief continued, I realized the green moving truck was part of many white trucks that I had seen earlier that day while on the way to the pool. Living in Paris I’ve come to recognize the presence of these trucks as a sign that there is a movie being filmed near by. When I had looked at the sign (a literal one—a permit!) earlier that day it had said the film was called “Caravaggio” which didn’t speak to me much. In hindsight, the presence of so many trucks meant I knew it had to be a bigger budget movie. (The only time I had seen more trucks was when “Mission Impossible” was shooting in Paris.)

Unlike earlier in the day though, now something was happening. Street Wisdom had taken me onto an actual movie set in my neighborhood. The big lights were up, tents for the crew, and staffers in vests directing traffic and people. Lots of people were around so it seemed like a big deal. I took a cue from David Pearl, and asked someone if they knew what was being shot. The guy next to me said “Keanu Reeves” and then I heard John Wick 4. Now while I’ve never seen any John Wick movies, I have a big admiration for Keanu and the type of actor he is in Hollywood. This was suddenly worth sticking around for.

The hour Street Wisdom Zoom session was starting to wrap up, as I was getting this intel. But it arrived just in time for me to share it in the chat. This may have been a Street Wisdom first. Alexa from the CreativeMornings team says over the Zoom, “say hi to Keanu for me, Anne.” No, no, I wave, I haven’t met him. The call ends, and my phone battery is low.

A few minutes later cars arrive apparently Keanu Reeves got out of the car. I looked for him, but I didn’t see him. But now I had confirmation that I was indeed in the presence of Keanu Reeves.

Mind you, at this point I start to realize the power of my “frivolous” stop to get chicken tenders for diner. That few minute wait for my meal delayed me just enough to hit timing where Keanu and I could cross paths! Practical me would have sent me straight home to eat my dinner while it was hot. But Street Wisdom me encouraged me to cross the street and see what I could see from the other side.

Not long later, accompanied by the sweet smells of my dinner wafting from my tote bag, a figure walked along side the stone wall. I recognized that figure. This time I really did see Keanu Reeves! Wearing a suit and strolling with a revolver. The couple next to me and I had our phones out filming, as we looked at each other with giddy excitement that this was happening. (There’s footage on my Instagram post!)

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Anne Stark Ditmeyer (@pretavoyager)

Part of me was curious if it was actually him, and not some stunt double. But his walk is so distinct I knew it had to be him—and when he turned around to head back up the stairs—after giving a crew member a fist bump—I got a better look. It was Keanu Reeves! I later learned (from sharing on social media) that the man in a sweater he was strolling with was his stunt double and the director of the film. My curiosity got answered without me even asking out loud!

I waited a bit longer, hoping to see a scene being filmed while befriending a Franco-American teenage Keanu super fan and another tourist who had happened upon the set. We chatted and tried to hypothesize about what was happening. But at that point the magic stopped, we were trying to force and control the outcome.

After an hour or so and a hungry stomach, I decided it was time to head home. And when I crossed the street, I had another clear view of Keanu standing on the stairs—the same ones I ran up through lockdown—next to Sacre Coeur.

For inquiring minds, yes, I STILL see hearts. EVERYWHERE.

For more wandering inspiration, I highly enjoyed David Pearl’s book Wanderful: Find wonder in the everyday. Every day. Follow Street Wisdom online to learn about their upcoming WalkShops or listen to their audio files online. (The Wanderful–inspiration on the go podcast is fun too—each episode includes a prompt.) You seriously never know what you may uncover…

And to think, this all happened a few hours after I met THE gnome from Amélie!!!! :)

When you get to meet your hero. And your hero is a gnome.

In 2001 I studied abroad in Paris. One of my favorite teachers—whose classes would go on to shape so much of the work I do today—took us to see the Jean-Pierre Jeunet movie Amélie that came out that fall. I’d seen many French movies at the time (it was a way I could get extra credit in my high school French class), but this was the first movie that saw the world more how I did (it was also one of the first French movies I’d seen that felt like had an actual plot line).

The movie has inspired me over the years. In grad school I explored the use of color in the film for a class project (and gave Amélie tours for a time), when I became French it was only fitting that I celebrated at Aux Deux Moulins (the café where Amélie works), and for my 40th birthday my friend Jenni surprised me with the most epic gnome cake EVER! I loved that it was full of quirky characters, where oddities were embraced rather than masked.

About 5 years ago I moved to Montmartre, Amélie’s neigbhorhood. This wasn’t so much a conscious decision—more one of convenience as a friend had an apartment I could rent—but perhaps the universe was at work. Three years into living in my apartment it was a sunny end of day. I walked outside and saw something caught my eye in the back of a room across the street. The front door was open too giving me a direct look. It was a gnome! I did a double take. It wasn’t just any gnome. I quickly realized that THE gnome from Amélie was my neighbor.


I wondered how I had never noticed this before, but then I realized the window wasn’t always open, and when it was the blinds were hung in a way that it wasn’t obvious, and most of the time the lighting was a way that you would never know, unless you KNOW.
So for 3 years I went through life with the dream of being able to MEET the gnome one day. I’d do my best to spot him through the window when I could, as a way of saying, “I see you and respect you, Mr. Gnome.”

The idea of meeting the gnome was a daunting task given that I didn’t want to be disappointed or rejected. Years prior I had met the director of Amélie. I told him how much I loved his movie and hoped one day he’d direct my movie about Paris swimming pools. Let’s just say the reaction didn’t inspire me, so I had this underlying fear I would leave disappointed again.

The other challenge was there were limited opportunities—and a year+ in lockdown—for this encounter to actually take place. The gnomes keepers weren’t always in. I knew it was something I didn’t want to force, so knocking on the door didn’t feel right. I didn’t want to interrupt the woman working at the desk. She had better things to do than answer to my fandom.

Then, two weeks ago when I saw her smoking a cigarette outside while wearing a hot pink jumper I knew this was my chance even though I knew I had somewhere to be. I didn’t have a chance to talk myself out of it, and instead with utter confidence I was my full self and in French told her I was a neighbor, three years ago I’d spotted the gnome inside, that I was not only a fan of gnomes (I showed her mine on my screen saver of my phone) but also of the movie. I said I was wondering it would be possible to take a picture with the gnome.

While I feared having to convince her, she took no convincing. She said, yes, whenever you would like. I did my best to play it cool, holding back my excitement and knowing deep down that if it didn’t happen today there would be more excuses for it not to happen. I played flexible, and then she said, “you can come take a picture now if you’d like.” “Mais oui, pourquoi pas I responded.” She said, one second, realized her cigarette was already finished, threw it into the street, and invited me in. For once in my life I was grateful French people still smoke.

I wanted to look at everything inside this magical space (like being inside the mind of the movie maker), but I took a b-line for the gnome. I wanted to respect her time and the space, and the gnome. It wasn’t particularly ceremonial—I was supposed to be meeting a friend—but thankfully I’ve been practicing selfies over the years. I knew I needed to take as many as possible to try to get decent shot. In the about ten I took, there were three good ones, but that’s all I needed. I could sense she was smiling and getting a kick out of my joy in this encounter. I wanted to photograph the entire space, but felt I needed to restrain myself to the mission at hand.

I thanked her, and told her about my love of movie props and how I’d taken an Annie Atkins workshop in Dublin (she worked on Grand Budapest Hotel). I told the woman that it must be so cool to work where she does. I properly introduced myself and told her my name was Anne (I never got hers), and thanked her for her time. Just like that I had accomplished my goal of meeting THE gnome.

I felt like Amélie as I left the space bounding to the next stop (cue Yann Tiersen soundtrack). I wanted to tell everyone I had met the gnome from Amélie, but I also knew not everyone would appreciate the excitement as much as I did. And that was OK.


We never know what it’s going to be like when we meet our heroes in real life. Sometimes it can be disappointing, but other times it is joyous and better than you could imagine. We even can surprise ourselves in the process. I couldn’t help but think back to my sea swim and how doing something that scared me helped prepare me for this encounter. Asking for things we want/need/desire is hard, but we can be brave and good things will happen.

I wish I could have given the gnome a hug and held him in my arms, but hopefully this was only our first encounter, with more to come…

For now I am grateful for this day. And then something else awesome happened a few hours later… But that’s another post.

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