Inspiring Women February 2023

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profile<br />

“Emily in Paris”?<br />

Hold My Champagne<br />

Suzanne Justen, a member of AWG Paris, experienced devastating<br />

personal pain and challenges. Moving to Paris brought her the “joie<br />

de vivre ” that many aspire to, but few achieve.<br />

O<br />

ne of my oldest memories is singing<br />

in church, thinking, “I want to sing<br />

better than anyone else here.” That<br />

was a tall order for a three-year-old. But I worked<br />

hard at it. And I didn’t stay in the chorus for long.<br />

A near death experience and a deserved reward<br />

In 1993 I was in a bad accident. I was walking<br />

across the street when a car hit me and threw<br />

me 26 feet through the air. It was a hard landing.<br />

To help me get through all the things you have<br />

to deal with I decided to give myself a reward.<br />

When I was well enough I would live anywhere<br />

in the world I wanted to for a year. It took me<br />

about 20 minutes to decide between New York,<br />

London, Paris, Rome, or Fiji. It had to be Paris!<br />

Suzanne Justen<br />

The year was coming to an end and I had<br />

shipped back my clothes and things I had<br />

purchased in Paris. Then, three weeks before<br />

I was due to go back, I woke up one Saturday<br />

morning and said, “Nope, I‘m staying here<br />

forever,” and threw my return airplane ticket in<br />

the wastebasket. Three months later, I realized it<br />

was refundable.<br />

Personal pain and the promise of Paris<br />

I suppose that accident was the defining moment<br />

in my adult life. It left me with a brain injury, a<br />

divorce and a wonderful new life here in Paris.<br />

But it was more than that. Being married calls<br />

for constant compromises. Being single gave<br />

me the opportunity to just be me. Wonderful,<br />

imperfect, little me.<br />

Suzanne and<br />

her dancing<br />

partner at a<br />

ballroom<br />

dancing<br />

competition.<br />

Life is such a gift.<br />

You don’t want to fritter it away.<br />


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