I've always been what you may call a "Francophile", which means that I've always been drawn to everything French: The language, the food, the culture, the style ... the "joie de vivre" that the French are so good at.
I don’t really know why I got this fascination to begin with. I guess I just heard the French language and fell in love with it, and then I watched some French TV-series and movies and read more about France in various books, and for some reason the French way of living just appealed to me more than anything else, and I dreamed of living there.
MY INTRODUCTION TO THE FRENCH LIFE-STYLE
And then I got a French friend. I was 14 years old at the time, and a French girl came to my hometown during the summer holidays to visit her father, who was working in Norway at the time. She came with her mother and younger brother, and by chance we met and became friends.
At 14 she already had more style than any Norwegian girl I knew (including myself). Her mother was effortlessly elegant and relaxed, and very down to earth.
They were living examples of all that I wanted to be. They were not trying to live up to anybody's expectations or pretended to be something they were not. They were just confident in their own skin and wanted everything in life to be of good quality, whether it was food, clothing or spare time activities.
I learned a lot from my French friend. I observed her and her mother in their day-to-day activities, - the way they talked, the way they conducted themselves. And I knew I wanted to be more like them.
They only stayed for 2 brief summer months, but we kept in touch through frequent letters, and this contributed greatly to my knowledge of the French language, which I'll be forever grateful for.
My longing for France didn't exactly diminish with this experience. I felt so drawn to the French lifestyle, because it seemed to be the perfect fit for me and my personality.
I waited for many years before I was able to get myself to France to see my dear friend Brigitte again and be able to breathe in the French air at last!
When I was 24, my friend was getting married and invited me to her wedding. Quelle joie! I could tell you a lot about that trip, and I'll come back to that later, but long story short: The 2 weeks I spent there rooted France firmly in my heart forever.
Going back home after that trip felt strange, as if life had just played me a trick. As much as I love my country, I felt like I had finally gotten a glimpse of Heaven, only to be rejected at the gate. The French lifestyle had gotten under my skin, and I knew I’d go back some day.
I guess my friendship with Brigitte and the atmosphere I had sucked in during my visit to her country, influenced me in such a profound way that I had gradually adopted a French attitude to life. At least the "French light" version. It had become a natural part of who I was and the way I lived.
So how exactly did I live «the French lifestyle»?
- I had a very relaxed attitude towards life.
- I had confidence in myself and my own capabilities.
- I had a positive body image.
- I enjoyed good food.
- I exercised without really thinking about it.
- I had a great social life, with lots of friends around me.
- There was plenty of fun and laughter, and social activities
like going to a café, the movies or a concert.
- I engaged in great conversations with my friends.
- I was very active.
- I engaged in activities that stimulated my intelligence (like reading).
- I engaged in creative activities, especially writing and Arts & Crafts.
- I sang in a choir and listened to music a lot.
In short: I really, really enjoyed my life!
And I was slim! Effortlessly. I didn't have to think about it at all! No dieting. No strict exercise regimes. No depriving myself of good food. No stress!
I WAS A SLIM (AND QUITE CHIC) WOMAN
When I was in my twenties, I never had to think twice about what I put into my mouth. I was always slim, n'importe quoi! I enjoyed moving my body and did a lot of walking, running, cycling, skiing, hiking, etc.
In short: I was very active. I had a flat stomach, and I was in the best shape of my life. I had no trouble finding clothes that fit me perfectly, and going shopping was fun and exciting!
I actually had a great style at that time. I knew which colors and shapes looked good on me, and I enjoyed finding clothes that not 9 out of 10 other girls were wearing.
Looking back now, to my life the way it was in my twenties, I can see that I really lived "the French way" back then.
So what happened?
Well, I guess LIFE happened. Somewhere along the way, things slowly changed. After a few wonderful and happy years back in my hometown, our group of friends dissolved. One by one we moved on.
Some went away to start a higher education; some left because they got a new job. Others left because they wanted to go back home.
Soon, I felt that it was time for me to move on, too. I wanted to go to college, like so many others.
This naturally meant a change of environment, and the next year was in many ways quite challenging for me. I went through a period where I felt very lonely and suddenly lost all confidence in myself, and other issues became more pressing than keeping up the French lifestyle.
However, things did improve. I found new friends and had a much better time, but I had in some ways lost myself along the way, and I felt that I had to try and blend in with the people around me.
This feeling got rather rooted in me, and the next years of my life was more about blending in than being true to the person I felt that I was deep inside, and it became harder for me to live the way I really wanted.
I guess I wasn't confident enough to "stand my ground", so to speak. So I blended in and tried not to provoke anyone. The "French lifestyle" sizzled away...
And after college I got a job. Met a man. Got married. Got 2 wonderful kids. In short: I had a good life in many ways, and looking back on it now, I wouldn't have been without those years. They gave me some of the best experiences in my life, first of all giving birth to and raising 2 great children, who to this very day are my pride and joy.
And all these years, I was slim. I even stayed slim after I'd given birth to 2 kids, and of course I was very pleased with that.
But then, just as I turned 40, something happened that made me gain almost 20 kilos of weight.
THE SHIFT FROM SLIM AND CHIC TO THE NOT QUITE SO CHARMING VERSION OF ME.
So what was it that suddenly made me gain this weight?
Well, I had an accident. I got a head injury.
Now, you wouldn't immediately think that an incident like that would make me gain weight. But the fact is that the accident had physical consequences that forced me to be less active for a while, because of heavy migraine, dizziness and other symptoms.
If you want to learn more, I’ve written about it all in my article “Coming Out Of The Closet With PCS. Could You Possibly Have It Too?”
But the biggest consequence was the stress. The stress around not being able to live the way I'd always lived: Physically active and enjoying life.
Slowly, without even noticing it at first, I started putting on weight.
Have you ever experienced that, - how things slowly change over time, without you noticing it?
Well, that happened to me, and after a while, I realized that I had become overweight. Not obese, but I definitly wasn't slim anymore!
It was devastating to me! I suddenly didn't like the woman staring back at me in the mirror anymore. I started to cover myself up in baggy clothes to hide my tummy, and I didn't even realize that it just made me look even bigger.
I didn't like to be photographed anymore. I didn't like to shop for clothes. I didn't enjoy eating the way I did before.
I was constantly thinking about the fact that I had become a version of me that I didn't like. And it really, really stressed me out.
This went on for years, until I realized that I couldn't go on like that. I wanted my life back! That's when I came across several books that helped me shift my thinking.
I realized that I was good enough just the way I was, but I also learned that it was all up to me to make the changes I needed in my life.
I've written and talked quite a lot about mindset and how your thoughts create your reality, so I won't repeat that here right now. Let me just say that I started to make some changes that slowly put me back on track, back to the woman I wanted to be. And the main shift was changing my thoughts.
Many years had passed at this point, and I was no longer consciously thinking about "the French lifestyle". I just knew that I wasn't living in accordance with who I really was, anymore. And that had to change.
FINDING MY WAY BACK
I've spent almost 2 decades sort of fighting my way back to a "normal" life after the head injury. But in so many ways I've been happier this last decade than I was for quite a few years, because I learned how to shift my thinking and understood that I had to start living in accordance with who I really am again.
But for a long time, I wasn’t really sure how I could do that. I felt sort of restless and a little bit "out of place", and I wasn't quite able to establish WHY. I’ve had a vision of what I want, and I've been moving towards that, little by little, but I've been searching for MY way.
And then, suddenly, I had an epiphany:
"I have to go back to living the French lifestyle again!"
Suddenly everything fell back in place for me. My mood instantly got a boost!
I need to go back to living «the French lifestyle» again because that’s the lifestyle that has always felt natural to me and my personality. That’s the way I lived in my twenties, and that’s when I felt good in my skin and was at my healthiest in every way.
So that’s what I’m doing.
Even though I’m not living in France, I’m finding ways to live «the French lifestyle» where I am, and it’s not difficult at all.
And I want to teach other women "the French lifestyle", too. I want to teach YOU how to live "comme une francaise". Because I truly believe it can be life-changing for you, as it has been for me.
I hereby declare:
From this day forward, my focus will be on
sharing with you everything I know about
the French lifestyle,
and make sure we both live with as much "joie de vivre"
as humanly possible!
So if you want to learn more about how you can live «the French way», I’ll be more than happy to teach you step by step how you can make it happen! Even if you don’t live in France, it’s not difficult at all. It’s a way of living, an attitude towards life, that you can incorporate wherever you are.
Why not start right now?
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- Make sure you don't miss out on my next blog post: "12 Ways You Can Become Slim & Chic Like A French Woman Without Even Breaking A Sweat»!
- Join my community The Sisterhood of Female Life Designers on Facebook!
Having a community of likeminded women to support you
and share your thoughts with, is absolutely GOLD! So join today!
When you join, you’ll get a downloadable version of The Female Life Designer’s Manifesto, which is a great way of getting into «the French way» of living right away!
And this is just the beginning!
We will study and go deep into all aspects of living «the French lifestyle», for sure. But slowly, with ease and elegance. Effortlessly! Comme une femme francaise!
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