Make my Day! By Cathy Mahon

ūüŹÉūüŹĹ‚Äć‚ôÄÔłŹIntroducing Justine, a French author who travelled the world! ūüĆé

April 28, 2020 Justine Duquesne and Cathy Mahon Season 2 Episode 2
Make my Day! By Cathy Mahon
ūüŹÉūüŹĹ‚Äć‚ôÄÔłŹIntroducing Justine, a French author who travelled the world! ūüĆé
Chapters
Make my Day! By Cathy Mahon
ūüŹÉūüŹĹ‚Äć‚ôÄÔłŹIntroducing Justine, a French author who travelled the world! ūüĆé
Apr 28, 2020 Season 2 Episode 2
Justine Duquesne and Cathy Mahon

- Season 2, Episode 2 -

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†‚ĚóÔłŹ(
ūüáęūüá∑Si vous d√©sirez √©couter ce t√©moignage en fran√ßais, Cliquez ici!) ‚ĚóÔłŹ

In this episode, Justine will share her life experience and explain how and why she walked away from her comfortable life as a firefighter in Paris to travel the world.

When she was 18, Justine left her small village in the North of France and settled down in the Capital where she trained to become a firefighter; but about 6 years later, she left it all behind to fulfill her childhood dreams and travel the world.

While in Asia, this courageous young woman full of resources and compassion stayed financially independent by offering French lessons. She then came back to France, purchased a bike and continued her travels in the Americas, while also raising funds for a non-governmental organization dedicated to help children with cancer. 

Today, Justine has settled down and she just finished writing a book! In this heartfelt memoir, she retraces her adventures; she shares her lessons learned, she talks about the people she met along the way, and she explains how her four-year adventure has changed a small-town girl, to a strong and accomplished woman.

Good luck to you, Justine, and thank you so much for sharing your life experience with us!

ūüáęūüá∑If you wish to listen to Justine's interview in French, please click here!

If you, just like Justine,¬† would be interested in participating in one of our future recordings, if you have questions, or if you would like to share your adventure, do contact me at: [email protected]¬†


  • For more information on the non-Governmental Organization dedicated to helping children with Cancer "√Ä Chacun son Everest," visit: http://www.achacunsoneverest.com/


Stay tuned for our next episode and never stop living the life of your dreams!

Show Notes Transcript

- Season 2, Episode 2 -

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†‚ĚóÔłŹ(
ūüáęūüá∑Si vous d√©sirez √©couter ce t√©moignage en fran√ßais, Cliquez ici!) ‚ĚóÔłŹ

In this episode, Justine will share her life experience and explain how and why she walked away from her comfortable life as a firefighter in Paris to travel the world.

When she was 18, Justine left her small village in the North of France and settled down in the Capital where she trained to become a firefighter; but about 6 years later, she left it all behind to fulfill her childhood dreams and travel the world.

While in Asia, this courageous young woman full of resources and compassion stayed financially independent by offering French lessons. She then came back to France, purchased a bike and continued her travels in the Americas, while also raising funds for a non-governmental organization dedicated to help children with cancer. 

Today, Justine has settled down and she just finished writing a book! In this heartfelt memoir, she retraces her adventures; she shares her lessons learned, she talks about the people she met along the way, and she explains how her four-year adventure has changed a small-town girl, to a strong and accomplished woman.

Good luck to you, Justine, and thank you so much for sharing your life experience with us!

ūüáęūüá∑If you wish to listen to Justine's interview in French, please click here!

If you, just like Justine,¬† would be interested in participating in one of our future recordings, if you have questions, or if you would like to share your adventure, do contact me at: [email protected]¬†


  • For more information on the non-Governmental Organization dedicated to helping children with Cancer "√Ä Chacun son Everest," visit: http://www.achacunsoneverest.com/


Stay tuned for our next episode and never stop living the life of your dreams!

Cathy:   0:05
Hello, everyone! Cathy here and welcome back to my channel! Today, I will not talk about my personal experience, but instead I would like to introduce you to one of my good friends. About a year and 1/2 ago, I met Justine while she was biking from Montreal to Miami and stopped in our house for a quick shower, a warm meal and a comfortable bed. Good morning, Justine and welcome to the show!

Justine:   0:32
Hi. Good morning, Cathy.

Cathy:   0:34
How are you doing?

Justine:   0:35
Very good. What about you do?

Cathy:   0:37
Doing really well, Thank you! I understand that you are a French citizen and were quite content living in Paris as a firewoman. Can you please tell us a little bit more about your previous life? 

Justine:   0:51
Sure, yes, with pleasure! When I was 18 I moved to Paris and my dream was to become  a fire woman in Paris. A firefighter. So I trained for one year and then I finally made it. I became a firewoman, in a firehouse. But it was kind of a disappointment because it was really hard that I was the only woman. So it was not as I imagined, but my dream was to travel the world. and traveling the world was still calling me. I was not alone; I was with my ex-boyfriend. So we were sharing the same dream, so it was easier the take the first step, and said, "OK, let's go, let's leave together," because, for sure, when you are two, you are stronger. When I left France, it was like a one-way ticket, and it was actually for a very long time.

Cathy:   1:42
That sounds really exciting. So how did you proceed?  

Justine:   1:46
So it was kind of spontaneous. It was not really planned. It was more like a: "Let's do it!" In one month, we basically did all the process of canceling every membership. We kept everything to ourselves because we were afraid to be stopped by our friends and family, so we decided not to tell anyone. So in only a month, it was our secret and we prepared everything together. When we left, it was still a secret Justin and we told our families at the very last time.

Cathy:   2:16
That sounds so exciting. So how did you feel the day you walked away from your apartment and realized that all your belongings could actually fit in one backpack?  

Justine:   2:28
It was amazing!  It was this huge feeling of freedom and excitement, of course, but in the meantime, it was also "Oh, my God. What did we do?" 

Cathy:   2:38
"What kind of mistake!" :-)

Justine:   2:40
Exactly. It was like, all these feelings, all these emotions, all these thoughts, really started when I realized that we didn't have anything left and when I actually gave back the keys to our apartment. For me, it made me realize that actually, we were travelers, or homeless, I don't know how you want to call it! So it was a mixed feeling, and  we didn't really prepare it well. A lot of people, when they leave to travel the world, have a plan and something to come back to, like a job or a house. But not us, we just quit. We just gave everything back. The fact that everything we owned was in that backpack.

Cathy:   3:26
Wow!I don't know, that's a lot of courage, right there! So how were you able to stay financially independent during all these years when you moved from one country to the other? So, first, what is the first country that you travelled to?

Justine:   3:42
Before, we were both firefighters, so during our normal life, we took  our vacation in Asia. So each time I had the time, I was going to Asia because it was really where I felt good. For this world tour, for this big trip, we stayed approximately one month per country. So we travelled through a lot of countries, almost all of the countries in Asia, like Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Philippine, Indonesia, Taiwan, Sri Lanka. So this was for about six months. During that time, we were still living on our savings, so we didn't have a lot of money. Most of the people I knew were spending about 15,000 euros per year, but we only had 10,000 euros for two. After six months, we had to find a way to make money and work. So we decided to go to New Zealand because it was not very far. We bought a Working Holiday visa. You pay two or three hundred dollars for a working visa and you can work and travel for one year. So we arrived in New Zealand and worked in New Zealand, on truly backpacker  jobs like Picking up apples and working in food factories where we were packing apples. It was really cool actually because we worked Maoris. We were on the opposite side of the world packing apples with Maoris. We stayed six months in New Zealand to save more money and then travelled even more in this area like Bali,  New Caledonia. So all of this part of the world and we really loved Taiwan. So Taiwan is kind of a mix between Southeast Asia which is more poor, and Japan, which is really rich. That was a good balance and people are just so nice. In Taiwan, we stayed for about a year  and I had a degree in education in France from the University "La Sorbonne," in Paris. So that maybe actually it could be a good idea to teach French. I was the only one to propose French classes. I put flyers to propose French classes everywhere in Taipei, the capital. And I had, like, almost 300 students. I saved a lot to continue later with my trip.

Cathy:   5:51
That's very well. So traveling. You're talking about traveling. How were you traveling? It was on a bike, right? Did you have your own bike at the time? 

Justine:   6:02
No, at that period was just traveling with public transportation, just backpack and train, a lot of Hitchhiking in New Zealand and Taiwan. So this was really in these two countries, really easy and very safe. So each hiking and the bike trip came later. Just after Taiwan, it was the first time I came to America to go on a biking trip in California, from San Francisco to Mexico and come back to San Francisco through Las Vegas.

Cathy:   6:32
Okay. And when you stayed in Thailand for one year, was it easy to find an apartment?

Justine:   6:38
We used a website called "Work Away." It is like an exchange so you stay for a time that you decide with the family, you have a lot of choices in the website. So with  this family, it was just teaching them French and they just wanted a cultural experience. So they just wanted foreigners in their place..

Cathy:   6:55
That's really interesting. So you saying it's work away? Right?

Justine:   6:59
There is a second  website called "Help X",  just like "to help" and "X" like "exchange".

Cathy:   7:04
Okay. And this works all around the world or just in Asia. 

Justine:   7:09
It's really everywhere, and that's how we discovered Taiwan  because we just knew, Like, "Made in Taiwan," but we didn't know this place before and it was really going through all the countries. I was like "Oh, Taiwan sounds good!" And then we met  this family and it was the very first time we went, and then they were really our family. They helped us so much like for everything.

Cathy:   7:29
That is unbelievable. Now, did you ever regret your decision because you left for so long. Did you miss your home and friends and your family? How did it go? Did you regret this? 

Justine:   7:41
So I can't say I regret because, the reason I am where I am now in my life, the person I became is because of this decision. But she for sure, it was not easy every day. So, from example, I hear a lot "oh, you are so lucky that you got to travel all over the world and you got to do this!" But I really don't like when someone tells me this, because Yeah, we took. I took a lot of risks. It was like, really abandoning a career in the army, so it was really safe. That didn't feel right for me. I knew it was not where I belonged, it was not my place and I had this calling, I had to leave, I had to do something else. It was what I really wanted and I knew that it was the only way to do. It was the best decision of my life. But not every day was easy. So, as I said before we left, we were two and we broke-up during the trip. So then I kept going by myself for about a year and later on, I met my actual boyfriend, during my trip. This trip made me , really made the person I am now.

Cathy:   8:47
What advice would you give to our audience? 

Justine:   8:52
So for me, it would be really, it doesn't matter what is your  dream or what you  really wish to do, what you really want to do,  just follow your dream because everybody has a different opinion and then off course, it is good to listen, but if you listen too much, there is too much noise and you forget what you really want yourself and what you really want in your heart, and it's dangerous. So That's why, when we left, we decided not to tell anyone because I was too afraid that everybody would say, "No, it's insane,. It's crazy! why are you doing this?" So I think, just listen to people, but not too much. Just try to really follow your gut, your intuition. What you feel like really deep down. This would be my first advice,  and then have the courage to live the life you want and the life which is true to yourself, not the life others expect of you: I'm supposed to take a shop of my parents.... What is good for someone may not be good for you.

Cathy:   9:52
Yes, you know, you said something that is actually really interesting because last week I had an interview with Colin and he said exactly what you said that everyone tells him you are so lucky to be where you are, and he said, "yes, I did have a lot of luck, but on the other hand, I had to work really, really hard." So, life is putting you with other people who do not have the courage, who wish they had done things, who do not have the courage to move on, and then they are telling you how lucky you are. 

Justine:   10:30
I think, also,  for the specific topic  of travel it would be really that I'm lucky for one thing, I would say; first of all, nothing bad happened. So we were lucky, still, I was lucky with the people I met, but it's also because I am French. Honestly, the fact of being French and having a French passport is a true luck; this is really a luck, I agree. I have, because this passport is really strong and lets you go almost everywhere. So this is definitely because I had a friend I was traveling with from Sri Lanka, and for him it was really hard. So yes, definitely to be French is a true luck. But other than that is really your decision and just your courage sometimes..

Cathy:   11:14
And to be able to find out a way to earn money on your own and so forth, that's really interesting. Now, when I met you, you were helping an organization that was in term helping Children. Tell me more about that, please.

Justine:   11:28
So, when I came back to France, for the  first time, it was actually two years ago; it was after this first bike trip and I just loved this type of travels so much that I wanted to keep going. But I also wanted to do it for a purpose; for a mission, not to feel like I was just biking. I wanted to have a purpose and yes, being alone on the bike, but also feeling others with me and just helping in my way. So when I went back to France, I contacted different organizations. So, this specific association, in English it would be "To each one, his/her Everest." Everybody has his/her own goal, and his/her own Everest. It was created by the first French woman who climbed Mount Everest. And basically she made a parallel between the alpinists who climb mountains and kids who are sick from cancer. So basically, when alpinists go to the top, they climb to the top of the mountain, It's kind of the easier part because you have your goal, you have your destination, you are motivated and you are still in good shape. But then when you go down, it's where alpinists who died, they all died going down, because you are tired and you are sick of it; you just want to be down and be eating well and being cozy in your sleeping bag. So, you are not as careful, you just go down and it is really dangerous. So, she made the Parallel with this for the kids. So, basically the top, the summit, would be when they recover. But then going down is really hard, because for them, they are used to being sick kids. They are used to have all the attention. So, basically she organizes trips to Chamonix, in the Alps, and she brings them also to climb some mountain and just learn not to be too  protected on, anymore and just to be kids again.

Cathy:   13:15
That's really interesting. Can you give me the name again? And just for anyone out there we would like to look at this organization?. What is the name of this organization again?

Justine:   13:26
So in French, it's: "À chacun son Everest," and in English, I would say: "To each one his/her Everest."

Cathy:   13:32
That's very humble of you. Thank you. So now, I understand that you wrote a book! Can you please tell us a little bit more about that book? Don't tell too much because I know It's not out, yet, but give us a little bit of information on that book!

Justine:   13:49
Yes, so during this biking trip, to put it back in the context, during my big biking trip from Montreal to Miami, I met you, first of all!  I met you in New York, and then I met my boyfriend in Washington D.C. So, after finishing my biking trip, he was still with the U.S. Army in  Barbados, so I joined him and I lived with him there for about 9 or 10 months, and during this time, I thought it was perfect timing to write this book. So, basically, it's about these four years of travel in my life; the lessons, everything I learned during this time and all the people I met and a kind of  a resume of my life because it's even before I began the trip, and maybe for my grandchildren, later and everything. Everything I learned to show that everything is  possible, it doesn't matter how, when and where, it doesn't matter how you do it. If you want something, you can always reach your goal. Writing the book was kind of a trip by itself because that took about a year. Hopefully it will motivate someone else to realize their dreams. 

Cathy:   14:56
Now, once it out you're gonna have to come back to us and explain to us. OK, so I understand that you wrote it in French, but it will be translated. So when it is in English, you and I have to talk again and just update everyone. That would be really nice.

Justine:   15:13
Yeah, with pleasure, yes, definitively!

Cathy:   15:15
I can't wait for this book to come out. So, thank you so much, Justine, and listen, good luck for all your future. That's really, really nice. I really enjoyed talking to you, today. 

Justine:   15:30
Thank you so much, Cathy. I hope that the people who listened will be helped. Maybe just for a little push. I just hope, always if I could help just one person.

Cathy:   15:39
All these people who are out there and they're being told by their families and friends "You will never succeed." Do not listen, just listen to that little voice that you have inside you. I think that's what you told everyone, today,

Justine:   15:54
Yes,  and let yourself be happy, and all happier. Just, enjoy simple pleasures, and reach goals, but one bite at the time. Don't see the full, elephant! Sometimes it can look huge, you have this huge project. But just by step, it's possible. 

Cathy:   16:11
That's a very good advice. It's actually a really good advice. I'm going to take¬†that advice¬†and¬†run with it. That's really cool. Thank you, Justine. If you, just like¬†Justine,¬†¬†would be interested in participating in one of our future recordings, if you have questions, or¬†if you would like to share your adventure, do contact¬†me at: [email protected] Stay tuned for¬†our next episode and never stop dreaming. Thank you, Justine!¬†Thank you so much!.