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Friday, October 8, 2010

French Girl Friday....The Final Chapter

Yes, it is true, we have hit the last of the book by Debra Olliver , Entre Nous, A Woman's Guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl . Not sure if I shall find another book to follow week after week that will be in the same theme or so very popular. I will have to make a trip to the local bookstore and see what I come up with. It has been an eye opening and interesting journey for sure. One that I have enjoyed thoroughly.

Chapter 7 .....La Travail et Le Loisir.....

As always the chapter is divided into sub headings for subjects it will cover, as well as a wonderful amount of inserts about favorite French women, French Cinema, music and words to live by as well as things the author has wanted to high light. This chapter is no different.

The French Girl at Work
L'Amour, Inc.
The French Girl at Play
Le Soir
Le Weekend
Le Jardin 
Les Vacances

French Girl at work. I have not worked in sometime. Well not the traditional 9-5 . Being a wife and mother is indeed work. Even though that job has now become very part time, I still have my workd to do each day. There is always chores , cooking , cleaning, doing the shopping. Often my children do come around and need a bit of mothering. But this section is about work outside the home. I have done that as well. 

A few years back I was working as a manger of sorts at a bakery in the morning, and then a BBQ /Deli in the afternoon. Often 5-6 days a week, all day and then go home and have to be a wife and mother as well. Then I moved on to being a receptionist/assistant manager of a day spa, it was an 8:30 to ? Job and for the most part that same 5-6 days a week. I learned to mange several women and their schedules as well as sales and promotions. Again, being a Mom in the evening, and in a way a Mom all day long as well to my co-workers. So I have worked in recent years. I enjoyed it, and if I could find a job that was not too physically demanding and therefore working around my health issues, I do believe I would be eager to do so again. 
The section covering this in the book is quite long and descriptive, so instead of finding points to high light, I will wrap it up in a "Borrow a Page" .  I guess you will just have to buy the book to see what the author has to say about it all.

"Borrow a Page from the French Girl's Book: Work
Invest in your work life but strive for balance. Remember that work is something you do, not who you are. Don't try to manage time; you can only manage what you choose to do with your time. Accept the natural human tendency to flirt and flatter. If an office romance blooms, let it tend to itself. But keep it to yourself as well. "

*Sage advice as far as I am concerned! I think this can apply, at least the part about work to your daily life as Wife and Mother as well...if you are one. Or if a man, a Husband and Father as well. As far as the romance part, well I never experienced that so can not comment.  

As far as many of the next few sections, again without issues with all things legal it is hard for me to summarize. I did however love this gray subject box and shall share....
" Feeling Good In Her Skin
There is a phrase, bien dans sa peau , which means " to feel good in ones skin. " It is a state of mind to which French aspire, a state of ease and contentment that they hope is reflected in their faces. No worry wrinkles, no cheeks flushed with stress. Being bein dans sa peau is a state of simple physical and emotional grace. You live well. You do not have a guilty conscience for personal pleasures. You feel good about yourself on a very essential level, and so others feel good around you. The French Girl who is bien dans sa peau is balanced. Relaxed. Natural. At ease in body and soul. A perfect description of the French girl at her best. " 

* THIS, beyond anything else I have read in this book meant the most to me. THIS is what I want, on a day to day basis in my life and I wish I had read this YEARS ago! I want to embrace this, LIVE this, and BE this. With all that myself and my family has lived with for the last two years, and now with me facing what I would equate to a dental crisis and not knowing what I can do to prevent, change or take action further than what I have , I need to LEARN this. 

The other thing is that often over the last couple years, when we actually found time to enjoy life, either as a family, couple, or on a personal level , I have felt guilty because of spending anything...not to mention because of all that was going on, I felt guilty for finding pleasure in daily life, because I felt as if somehow we were not allowed, deserving, who knows, it was just a dark cloud over our I am trying to get rid of, or at least embrace and work through. 

"Borrow a Page from the French Girl's Book: Leisure
Take off your watch. Turn off the computer. Ditch the cell phone. Read, ride your bike, stroll, paint, bake bread, be with your kids, grow your garden, luxuriate in the art of doing absolutely nothing. Observe your own day of rest with religious conviction. Lounge, loll, unbuckle your belt, go on furlough."

* I have a very hard time doing this. I once again feel guilty for doing nothing, just enjoying the day, my life as it is. After years of always being busy with raising my kids and running a household and all the things doing so required. Years of working with and within the churches we belonged to, helping with care of my Grandparents or others children , I find myself VERY stir crazy. 

I no longer have a house to tend to, my Husband requires little of my time, he is always at work and I only really deal with one meal for him and share in laundry of his clothes and cleaning of his space. The children are all grown and have moved out. We now are apartment dwellers, so no house or garden to care for. Cleaning our space takes very little time. 

Day time TV drives me nuts, but I can not concentrate to read during the day, and I do get my walks, strolls and people watching in, but not enough to while away the whole day. I am at odds with life, with my day in and day out way to spend it. Not working due to health reasons, well it leaves a lot of free time. I simply need to learn how to enjoy it. Many think I have the life of all lives, not working and not having much to do, but it is a lot harder than you would imagine to live the life.

Many people have suggestions. What works for them. I no longer go to a church, preferring a small, country church and well not finding one that fits, either they are too large. or they are not on the same page as I am with my belief system. Many join clubs, never been one of my things. I have tried over the years, time and time again and it is just not me. I can not seem to find the perfect match. I do not volunteer, often that requires work that I can not do, or if it is a bad day, as it was today with my health, and I need to stay in and sleep/rest , I can not simply let others down. Hobbies, well they cost money, and we all know I do not have much of that. So as I said I am at odds. I am hoping one day that will not be the case and I will find my nitch.  

" What the French Girl Loves about Us"

American litature
Cheerful goodwill and down-home hospitality
A certain naivete'
Cosmetics ( Mac, Bobby Brown, Clinique) 
Basic functional clothes ( Levi's , Calvin Klein, Gap) 
Elvis and Jerry ( Lewis of course); Pop music
Big open spaces
The hipness of health 
Classic Hollywood cinema and road trip movies ( not mainstream blockbusters) 
The taste for risk taking and novelty; the lack of certain conventions
The ability to work well into your seventies, as long as you love what you do
General garden-variety eccentricity

* So I guess in some ways as much as we envy , well maybe that is a strong word, admire on some level the French girl/woman, they too feel the same in reverse...though I am not sure many of them would let you know it....or so I have heard. So maybe a blending of our American side and adding a dash of the French could be the perfect mix in our lives. 

There was a couple passages that I wanted to share with you.....I think they stood out the most to me to wrap things up....
" Like her country the French girl is not striving to become; she just is. We, on the other hand, like our own country, are still in the progress of becoming. Where French girl seeks culture or knowledge, we seek self-improvement, self-help. This is our burden and our blessing. it makes us open to novelty and the unknown, but also unsure of who we are."

" To unleash her, we don't have to act French or ( God forbid) pretend to be French . But we might want to re-think our values. Reject certain aspects of status quo. Reposition ourselves against the currents ( raging at times) that pull us away from center ." 

" Edith Wharton reminds us that "the four words that preponderate in French speech and literature are : Glory, love, voluptuousness, and pleasure." Add to that list self-possession, discretion, authenticity and sensuality, and you're well on your way to finding your inner French girl. Bon voyage" 

* I think that with my journey through this book , through sharing it with you , I have indeed began to find my inner French Girl. I know I shall go back time and time again to my underlined passages, my stared gray boxes, and the dog eared pages and renew what I have learned and put it into action in my life. Just as I picked up things from Eat, Pray, Love when I recently read it, that really hit home for me and opened my eyes to things that I needed to change or embrace, so has this book...I had no idea either books would do that for me, but I am so glad that for whatever reason or things in the universe that lead me to spend the money and turn each page, did so. I hope on some level this series did that for you as well and that you will go buy the book for yourself and take even more from it than what small part I have shared here and begin your own personal journey to self discovery. 
And remember this......
" If you stay true to yourself, you will always remain on track, even if that track takes you off the beaten path, to places you could not possibly imagine." 
A quote from Natalie, one of the authors friends.

Till next we meet to take another journey together from the pages of book.....I do hope you find your very own je ne sais quoi  in whatever you do, whatever path you follow and whatever place you discover....



  1. Have you thought about writing a book of your own? You are a very good writer and it seems like you enjoy it too :) Plus it's free!

  2. This quote may be my favorite from the whole series: "the French girl is not striving to become; she just is." So of course, what am I thinking? "Gee, how can I strive to become that?" Irony alert, anyone??? Thanks for the great series!


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