exploration journal

I’m going back to school !


Today I am flying to San Francisco.

Three months ago, I started there a thrilling adventure : I’m going back to school !

Now I really feel that somehow, my journey of exploration is over.

Now is the time for my new life. This new moment in my life was triggered by a synchronicity that happened when I was in Singapore last March. One night, I attended the « wrong » conference, and I met the founder of an amazing coaching school : New Ventures West.


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It was like an evidence. Life happening through me.


(I tell the whole story here !)

And about one month later, last April, I arrived in San Francisco, to start a one year Professional Coaching Course.


Let’s embark together for a travel back in time…

I settled at my friend Chris in North Beach – close to Washington Square. A neighborhood filled with Italian restaurants and cafés, very close to Chinatown.




I had just spent 3 days in Paris – back home, after spending 7 months far away, in Asia.

After taming the fear of being back, I was just starting to feel the deep comfort and joy of reconnecting to essential elements in an absolutely and deliciously known world : my family and friends, a bedroom and bathroom I knew by heart, the cinema, my mother’s cooking…


And I had to go again.

It was a bit hard to be leaving, again, so quickly, alone, for the unknown again. I knew I would be staying at least 3 weeks in San Francisco. A week of training, and then, exploration, connecting to people, settling a little there to live a San Francisco life.

I was excited to get started with my coaching training. And in the same time I felt a little afraid and impressed.

Yes, all in all, as I was packing (again !) I knew it was highly probable that I would really enjoy my time there. But still… It was hard to leave again so quickly.

Another plane.

I landed in SF and I felt lucky to be welcome by Chris in his Northbeach apartment.


I met Chris when I was 16, while I was learning English in Boston. Now Chris is an entrepreneur who recently co-founded a start-up called Outsoul, that helps people living adventures in nature.

I had 2 days here before my training began. I wanted to have time to get used to the time difference (9 hours) and to settle here, take the time to really « arrive ».


« Arriving ». I felt that my heart had partly remained in Paris, and I felt a little resistance…

Being true to myself, I think that at the beginning I pretended to be happy to be there – « Come on, Julia, you are in San Francisco ! Can you please be filled with joy just as you should ! ». I felt that I was not as excited and happy as I would normally be.



It takes time to fully be somewhere.

Chris was very helpful and made these moments smoother. Quickly, I felt almost home. He helped me with all I needed to get started. He had a map of the city for me, he helped me get the Clipper card for the metro and bus. He prepared breakfasts with home-made bread and Bonne Maman marmelade !

He offered me to come with him at his co-working place, Galvanize. Perfect !

He brought me to the best coffee places around.

I followed him, I did not need to find my way. I went with the flow.


I met the co-founders of his startup and his Norwegian friends at Galvanize.

And this is how I spend my first two days trying to arrive.

Attuning myself with the energy and zeitgeist and rhythm of San Francisco.



And then Thursday was the D day. First day of my training.

I woke up early. Yoga and meditation, as usual. My grounding time, wherever I am, whatever happens – almost.

That morning, I felt both excited and afraid. More afraid than excited, actually.

I felt like a little girl on the first day of school.

I did not know what to expect. New school, new country, different language, no clue about what the place looks like. And I had decided to register to this program out of strong intuition – speaking with two people.

Courage, courage. « Now you just need to go ».

I am 30, I am going back to school, and I am afraid.

This morning, I am looking for something special in my toilet bag. I am looking for my small blue-bottled Love potion I bought to the spiritual healer in the Philippines ! The one I mixed with my Guerlain perfume (I share this story in this video in French). Psshchitt.

This morning, I feel impressed and small. I need courage. I don’t believe the Love potion will change my day. But doing this, I feel that there is something secret and magic that helps me feel stronger ! It reminds me of all the path I have travelled, along my journey. « You can do it ». This is simply a new step on my life path.

Reading these lines about the Love potion, I feel a little stupid and naïve, haha ! But I don’t care. It’s OK.

I walked through Chinatown to Geary Boulevard. I stopped at the Starbucks and bought a soy milk cappuccino. Another ritual : doing something easy and known is reassuring. I found the bus stop, I took the bus.

And this was the beginning of four powerful, dense and emotional days, that were both challenging and comfortable.


Now… How can I talk about all this in a simple and short way ?

It is a training in Integral Coaching.

That is to say that we consider human beings in a very holistic way. Mind, heart and body. The New Ventures West (it is the name of the school) approach is based on a profound understanding of human nature – based on linguistics, philosophy, neuro-sciences, somatics (study of the body), spirituality (both Wester and Eastern)… The motto is « Kindness informed by wisdom ». It is also a very pragmatic and result-oriented way of doing coaching.





I had chosen this school because when I was in Singapore I met James, the founder, and a Canadian coach who had graduated in this program.

I felt impressed by the way these two people embodied values that are extremely important to me : mindfulness and presence, wisdom and wide, open general knowledge, a sense of excellence and high professionalism, empathy and care, real spiritual connection and in the same time a strong connection to the reality of the world we live in, joy and humor, action inspired by passion, trust and love.

They were different. They embodied all of this. I wanted to learn with mentors and peers like them, to be part of a community of coaches like them. I felt I would be surrounded with role models. This was extremely meaningful to me.

I was also very excited by the idea of doing a training in the US, with an American approach (very different from the French one), in San Francisco, in English. It widens my potential development and broadens my abilities and perspectives as a coach.

This Professional Coaching Course is a one year long program that takes place in San Francisco. There are more or less 4 weeks of class during the year, which take place in SF, every 3-4 months. And the rest of the time we study and work on our own and in groups of peers, with mentoring follow-up and some conference calls. We have a lot of reading. We work a lot on ourselves, developing practices and habits. We start our coaching practice and are assessed on that. We have papers to write.

We are 20 students. I am among the youngest. All the other participants are American. We have four faculty members teaching us, coaching us, mentoring us. James Flaherty, the founder of the school, is the leader of this class – I also chose this class for this reason.

This first session of the program, in April, was only dedicated to working on ourselves.

Because who we are – mind, body and heart – is what we bring to our clients and the very unique and powerful instrument of our work. It is the quality of our presence that matters most.

It was a time for true connection to ourselves and others. It was a whole new step in my journey of self-exploration.

I will mostly use the « I » as I can mainly speak about my own experience.

I felt that time stopped. I learnt to be more present. I explored wisdom and compassion.

I travelled in kindness and I felt immensely touched.

A new light was cast on my lights and shadows. I worked on my blind spots. The enneagram (personality test) and the book The Wisdom of the Enneagram by Riso and Hudson helped me grow in self-awareness and understand better some of my behaviour patterns.

I connected to others : the students and the academy team. I danced. I removed some protection layers and lived connected to my emotions for four days.

I travelled in deep humanity.

I walked ahead on my path towards vulnerability and not being perfect. I understood better all the expectations I imagined that my environment had towards me, and the way I had led my life and made choices and behaved in order to correspond to this.

More than ever, I was willing to dig deeper into a great questionning :

« Once all the outside expectations are left away, who am I really ? And what do I really want ? »

It was as if for the first time of my life I had a revolutionary permission to be my true self. And I did not know who this true self was.

This is the beginning of a path.

I thought I would learn coaching others. And first of all, I learn to coach myself.

To embrace who I am. To be kind to myself. To be curious.

I started walking on a new path that leads me to unveil who I truly am and want to be. I learn to take care of myself and become my own best friend. I learn what genuine freedom means to me. I learn new possibilities of being in the world. I learn how life supports me. I explore what I want to do in this life, what gifts I will bring to the world, what blocks me.




Yes. This is what they teach at my school. I am so happy I have found exactly the school I needed.

It is a school of life.

I learn how to live, being faithful to myself, centered, and generous with my learnings and talents.

Back to Paris I had a whole personal development plan to pursue.

Daily sitting practice (zen meditation), regular physical activity, journaling, self-observation, readings, starting a new practice in which I am a total beginner and I need to be coached – I chose free movement dance.




We have group calls, and mentoring follow-up.

Settling back in Paris after travelling for 9 months was not easy. I had to bring the new Julia back in my former environment.


A few days after coming back, I left again : I went to Belgium to spend a week in the middle of a wild, big and peaceful forest.

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(A picture by my photographer friend Thierry Mesnard)

I was there for a Non-Violent Communication training & retreat, facilitated by Thomas d’Ansembourg. Being close to him is a gift. I feel nurtured by his wisdom and peacefulness. He inspires me. And then there was the magic collective energy. We were a group of mindful changemakers (I allow myself to use a label).

We worked on the Impulse of Life (Elan de vie).

I felt blessed to be there. This was the perfect environment for me to start truly coming back home, ground my new self. And I feel grateful for the precious time and experience shared with these beautiful people who have chosen to use their talent to contribute to create the world they want to live in.

And now I am at Charles de Gaule Airport, waiting for my flight that will bring me back to San Francisco.

I spent the last two days frantically getting things ready for my one month stay there, and finishing all I had to do in Paris before leaving.

And I felt lost and I felt turbulences within.

I don’t really want to leave Paris right now. I feel a bit lost in so much freedom. In this total self-determination I have chosen. I feel that I need grounding, I need visibility about what I will be doing. At least, a part of me wants this. And another part of me loves the freedom and the « everything is possible » way of being.

I am all of this.

And I choose to welcome these uneasy feelings – what else could I do, anyway ?

Now that I know myself better, I know that the transition moments are chaotic times for me. So I let chaos be here, I welcome chaos, I try to listen to what these feelings want to tell me.