On the path of a meaningful life

Texts, photographs and videos by Claire B.

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20 December 2018

In the arms of winter

The good weather has passed, the tourists are back in the streets of Chamonix and my morale is playing hide and seek.
DISPATCH

Mid-November, the good weather ended up disappearing and a wave of bad weather hit us for almost two weeks. The change was brutal and my morale struggled to endure the change. After a month in the sun, a month of beauty and of vacation feeling, it was over. The pretty village of Chamonix was tinged with gray and the streets emptied, surveyed only by a few diehard tourists.

Added to this was an increase in the workload in the restaurant and a certain difficulty in accommodating certain members of the team. While work during the month of October seemed relatively easy to me, November revealed the many management problems that Le Vista (the restaurant in the Alpina where I work) faces. The team is understaffed and is mostly inexperienced. The vast majority of the staff (like me, for that matter) do not come from hotel and tourism schools and have learned work on the field. In an organized and established restaurant, with a somewhat stable team, having a few staff members without much experience does not pose many problems. But in Le Vista, due to the complexity of the organisation, this turns out to be a big obstacle to the good management of the restaurant.

The vast majority of the staff is very young, in their twenties. They are young, stupid as we are all more or less at that age and are especially interested in what happens outside of work (parties and flirting). Between those who arrive with a hangover, those who are late, those who are sick and those who do not come at all, I begin to realize that if I want the job to be done, and done well, I am going to have to do it myself. So I work hard and my overtime triples in the space of a few weeks. I feel like I am spending my life in the restaurant.

The restaurant itself is poorly designed. It is very beautiful, completely renovated, like the hotel a few years ago, and is located on the seventh floor of the hotel. It has a huge bay window and the view of Mont-Blanc is superb. With its pretty colorful seats, its wooden decor and its bar in a circle in the middle, the place is impressive. The restaurant can accommodate more than 300 people and we alternate between à la carte service and buffets (during seminars). But the renovation is still not finished (many details not finished are visible) or has never been finished. And above all, the place was absolutely not thought to be functional. It is beautiful but impracticable. The kitchens and the back room have not been redone and are very old and poorly appointed. The place is so large that it takes infinite time to move between tables, access the kitchen or bring the dishes from the kitchen to the customer’s table. And last but not least, very few spaces in the restaurant itself have been designed to be store the material (glasses, plates, cutlery, menus, etc.). The vast majority of the equipment is therefore in the back room, making service slow and inefficient.

My orchid has lost all of its flowers. I feel like it is a reflection of myself. The weeks of November are long and tiring and I slowly feel drained of my energy without managing to recover. Life in Beaulieu, where the staff is housed, is noisy and I have a little trouble sleeping at night. Tired, I left a few words and remarks of certain members of the team touch me and certain crazy situations (always to be pushed to do more with few means) made their way in my heart. A slight feeling of depression hangs over me. With the bad weather I was not able to resume hiking and the arrival of winter is erasing the possibility of walking in the wild. I kind of feel like I am in a cage.

At the end of November, I immersed myself in the redesign of the design of my site. To escape this feeling of emptiness and incomprehension that seems to swallow me slowly. To try to change my mind in the face of work difficulties. To forget that I run constantly, systematically go behind my subordinates because they do their job badly, provide the service practically alone, constantly apologize to customers because the food is not good or the dishes are cold, do the social worker rather than my job as a assistant ant manager.

So I immerse myself in something that I love and that motivates me. It is also a good way to calm my head and relax away from people and their permanent problems. By being in constant contact with others, I come to want to be alone. Alone in the middle of nature, in silence. Just me and the elements. Living with others is complicated. Especially for me who apparently is of lonely character. The others are a source of joy and exchanges but also a source of disappointment and misunderstanding. I find it hard to feel in tune with the behavior so far away from me of most of the staff. It is probably the age difference. But also I think a way of living and seeing the world. So I leave them between them and welcome the solitude and its simplicity with pleasure.

Snow finally started to fall on Chamonix and the Mont-Blanc valley. For about two weeks, we have been surrounded by white. It is mid-December and winter has arrived. The surrounding ski resorts opened a few days ago and tourists wearing ski / snowboard are more and more present in the village streets.

With a few members of the team, I went skiing. In Courmayeur, Italy. On the other side of the Mont-Blanc tunnel. Curiously on the Italian side, there is more snow and the Courmayeur station opened a week before the French stations. The ski slopes were still calm, the vast majority of tourists having not yet arrived. It was a peaceful and beautiful day with great views and fun on the slopes that ended with the traditional Italian pizza.

Christmas is in less than a week away. I can not believe it. Already. It makes me realize that despite the slight depression, fatigue and difficulties at work, time passes very quickly. I feel a little better now compared to a few weeks ago. I started yoga and resumed meditation. I try to focus on well-being and learning to live despite the difficulties. After almost three months here in Chamonix, I probed my heart and realized that despite everything I am happy. Glad to be here. And decided to persevere. For many of the jobs I did on my travels, after two months, the only thing I wanted was to leave. But not with this one. Here I decided to fight and succeed in overcoming the difficulties of Le Vista. We will see what will happen.

Does this change of mentality mean that I am starting to see the world differently? Do I start to let go of difficult and painful feelings and focus on wellness and reality? Am I starting to progress on the path of mindfulness? I seem to see the path to the future more and more clearly and despite the traps, illusions and fog, I try my best to stay on its trail.

I am tired of always feeling depressed, sad then happy, ready to conquer the world and then be struck by dark thoughts, before feeling a whiff of happiness. It never stops! A roller coaster of emotions. It is tiring and I want to learn how to simplify it all. So I will follow the path. The path to true well-being. The path that will teach me to become a rock of calm, peace, open-mind whatever the difficulties of life.

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Chapter IV. Home spleen home

The Vallée Blanche, Chamonix, France © Claire Blumenfeld

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South Tyrol, Italy © Claire B. - Please do not use without authorization

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A breath of Spring

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The black hole

The first months of 2019 are difficult. Winter is passing in Chamonix and I am facing depression.

In the arms of winter

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Chamonix, France © Claire Blumenfeld

An autumn in Chamonix

The autumn season in the Chamonix Mont-Blanc valley is a festival of beautiful colors.

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The Chamonix valley is ideal for hiking and I take advantage of the perfect weather to explore it.

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