I always have a case of the blahs come January. Luckily, I got a bit of a kick from one of my favorite columns, At Home by writer Marni Jameson, in our local San Jose Mercury News. She wrote about a new book, “Lessons from Madame Chic, the Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris.” Her article was intriguing and funny and from her I found the author, Jennifer L. Scott’s blog called The Daily Connoisseur, which had her 20 tips for living like the French. Being a Francophile, I couldn’t wait to read all the tips. They were just the inspiration I needed after the excess of the holidays.
|No laptops here. The cafe at Jardin du Luxembourg. via Telegraph.uk|
Scott’s tips explain that quality of life is what the French value most. They know how to enjoy each meal and each day and live in the moment. That’s something we could all work at here in the states as we race through our days to the next task. That’s part of the problem we’re racing instead of taking it all in and being present.
We need to bring it people! We need to be our best each day. To do so we need to have less and do less. Take time with your life and be content with all you have. Eat your breakfast on your nice china, and enjoy your coffee at home. Being with and enjoying each other is what matters. Most important, she states in her blog, is to fall in love with the rituals of everyday! Make each experience count, whether it’s going to the grocery or washing a dish. If you care about how it is done, you will make the experience enjoyable and not a task.
|Okay, I admit shopping here would be more enjoyable than Safeway.|
The French believe they deserve to live well and do so. This is not about how much money they have, but about their attitude and cherishing each day. We Americans fail at this miserably. That means not picking up fast food because it’s easier, but instead taking the time to enjoy the process of creating dinner with your family and eating together. Why are we racing to get the food on the table? Is it so we can park ourselves on the couch in front of the tube? For the French, the family meal IS the evening and after they enjoy others, listen to music and read books. We are sold the idea of convenience meals and the faster and quicker you can get it down, with the least amount of work, the better. Sadder yet, we glue ourselves to tacky reality shows with people like the Kardashians and waste precious hours of our lives watching garbage instead of reading a book or spending real quality time with people we love.
I also love how Ms. Scott’s tips emphasize that even the wealthy in France live with very little. They have only what they need and buy the best quality items they can afford and use them every day. We super consumers could bring more calm to our lives by bringing into our homes only what we really love and use often. The French use their china and good flatware everyday for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And why not? Ever eat a nice dinner on paper plates? Sure it’s easy, but something about that just seems wrong unless you are at a picnic. Same with chipped, old or mismatched dishes you are using daily while your good stuff gathers cobwebs in cupboards. We never use our best china. Paper plates and napkins are bought by the caseload, so we can eat quick and throw it all in the trash. We are even taught from a young age to keep our best clothes in the closet for another time and wear your sweats and jeans most days. Why have it if you never use it? Live your best life and enjoy it. Imagine how less cluttered all our homes would be if we actually kept only our best!
The Daily Connoisseur blog shows that living modestly is actually living better. The French have small homes and spend their money not on huge mortgages, and remodeling jobs, but instead on good meals, travel, and the occasional fine thing. They truly do live up to the, “less is more,” mantra. Unfortunately, the opposite seems to be the American way. We have a Costco mentality here. Buy in bulk, get bigger, cheaper and store it up! We admire huge cars, massive homes and more stuff. The more we have, the more we have to maintain and the less time we spend with our families and doing what we really love.
In this new year, I will try to embrace some of the lessons of French living and live a life that appreciates each day and those in it with me. I’m going to buy less and spend time and money on fun experiences with those I love. I hope to read more books, play more games with my kids, host more dinners, and watch less television. I want to use my best things each day and purge my closet and house of things we don’t cherish or use often. And when I’m tired and am tempted to make another run to High-Tech Burrito, I’ll remind myself that I am helping my boys appreciate what really matters in life – good food, good times and being in the moment with each other. I wish that they will give that gift to their families one day too.