Friday, January 12, 2018

What We can Learn from French Women

You have read the articles about how French women shop, dress, cook, flirt and even parent their children. We have been told that they are more elegant, chic and more mysterious than we “pursuit of happiness” American gals.

So, we wonder “Could I learn to be all of that?” Well, the mystery has been solved—or more accurately, we are being let in on the secrets. And it’s really good news. 

The “secret” to being charmingly French is not in the 100 splashes of cold water (on face and breasts), and it’s not in the wine with lunch and dinner (thank goodness, after all, we tried that), and it’s not even in having a collection of Birkin bags and Hermes scarves.

Author Jamie Cat Callan is touring the country right now to teach us that the big secret to French charm is in one’s thoughts and attitudes. 

And certainly, every woman in recovery, knows about “think it through” and “attitude adjustment”. We know how to do that.

Last week I drove to Chatham, New York—a beautiful village south of Albany and North of Manhattan—to see—and hear—Jamie kick off her book tour for “Parisian Charm School—French Secrets for Cultivating Love. Joy, and that certain je ne sais quoi”.

At the Chatham Bookstore Jamie kicked off the evening in a most French way with beautiful foods by Alexandra Stafford, and French music and a great deal of laughter. 

Then Jamie spoke about French style—fewer clothes, but clothes you absolutely love, French food—they eat much less than we do, but always the finest quality so they are more satisfied, and French dating—they don’t! French women have friends of both sexes and socialize in groups, and maybe a special relationship develops over time—over a long time.

The French spend time with their families –immediate and extended (yes, even if dysfunctional or troublesome), and they embrace their history—personal, cultural and national. 

The biggest take-away from Jamie Cat Callan and her years of French life and study and practice is that French women are different but we can borrow their qualities: savoring, thinking, moving—and speaking—slowly, and being more present in the world and in the day. It is those qualities that lead to their great wardrobes and great skincare and not the other way around. 

"Parisian Charm School" may not technically be a recovery book, but it is a book for recovering women-to help us recover a sense of self, self love and care, and a charming new life.

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