Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Motherly Advice...Don't make your own life difficult...Part 2...

For years, I'd heard that you didn't need many clothes. Just a few basics and some clever accessories. Have you heard that too? Invest in accessories, go for quality basics...blah-blah-blah.
I could never quite bring myself to do it. I've lived on a strict budget for most of my life, and the thought of spending the equivalent of a weeks wages on a single dress when I could have ten for that price, just didn't factor in to my thought processes.
Well perhaps it's a stage of life, thing, and you know I mention that often, but suddenly I get it.
We buy, buy, buy...and lets face it, even at thrift store prices, we're still buying and consuming, aren't we...and we still have 'nothing to wear', or 'nothing to eat'. What the hey??
I've been making my life difficult, haven't I...
A revelation
I have to credit a lady named Marie-Anne Lecoeur with changing my thinking in many respects. She has a website called The French Chic Academy, and in 2016, I signed up for her online course in styling the French Way.

Well. I used to think, and indeed was encouraged to believe by magazine articles and other bloggers, that living the French Life, meant wearing lots of black, eating Brie, having flowers in the house, and owning a list of 10 Must Have Items of Clothing...including things I'd never wear in a pink fit.
Marie-Anne taught me otherwise. Living a French Life means dressing for your body shape, not wearing a list of ten capsule wardrobe items.
Living a French Life means appreciating the good things in life, but not to excess.
It means valuing hearth and home and preserving the skills of our goodness the French are good at that!
Living French means aiming for quality over quantity. And it means being true to self, not following fashions or trends. Being 'stylish' in clothing, manner, how you stock your kitchen and what you feed your family, what you gift and how it's presented. It's a mindset, not a list of must-have wardrobe items.
It's aiming for Baroque pearls, not a drawer filled with $2 costume jewellery like I used to have.
Now a lot of that wasn't a huge leap for me. I had European grandparents, and I learned a lot of that stuff at a tender age. I just had to get back to basics and be who I am deep down, and not be influenced by what everyone else thinks.
Have you done this? Have you looked around your home, or in your wardrobe or pantry, and realised that social media and consumerism, has turned you into someone you're not? It happens to the best of us, believe me.
Move forward
So having savagely culled my wardrobe AND my accessories, I moved to other areas of the house.
You see, in being the Earth Mother and Keeper of the Hearth, I'd amassed a house full of stuff that was actually making my life more difficult. I had ingredients that I'd used once to try a new recipe. I had half empty containers of this and that everywhere. I had a disorganised pantry full of pretty vintage canisters with a system of filling them that nobody but me understood. Things like "the small set of rainbow canisters that doesn't have a red one, has all the teas in it, and the shiny set has all the sugars". If someone else had to cook in my kitchen, it was a nightmare. Not because it was untidy, but because I'd set it up to make life difficult. Even multiple 'teas', and 'sugars' is a silly state of affairs. There are whole shops devoted to tea and sugar now. Don't buy into it.
Lesson's the new pantry. Some vintage canisters preserved, but what's on the canister label, is exactly what's in the canister.
Accept the conditions of your location in life...geographical and chronological

Years were spent here, trying to grow roses without much success. Not in my garden. Not in my climate. Not at my stage of life. I was so busy trying to make the roses work, that I ignored my other favourite, French Lavender. Once I knew I could grow that, I was off and running! Success feels good.
Accept your stage of life. I mention this often.
Don't take on a lifestyle that's not compatible with your family and it's needs.
Don't fill your home with the accoutrements of a skill that will mean stress and space issues. Don't, as some people I know have, buy a new home to house your hobbies.
Be realistic. Find your own success.
Stick with what works for you
Trying out new recipes? Well, I don't so much any more.
Once upon a time, I got paid to try out new recipes and frankly, it wore me out. Master a few good basics. A lasagne, crepes, a pie, your own special muffin blend, or something else that is authentically you. Perfect it. Serve it often. Have people talk about your Fish Mornay, or Berry Pie in awed tones. Don't make life difficult.
Learning new skills? Well I've done my learning. Now I'm into perfecting. And when I say 'perfecting', I mean expanding upon them. NOT aiming for a false perfection.
I bet you have some great skills too. Can you expand upon them, improve them, make them desirable to others?
This might mean you have to....
Know yourself
I'm a who loves all things French. I was a Francophile before it was trendy. My home is not, however, filled with Eiffel Towers and faux French furnishings. I have a little tribute here and there...
...but I live my life French in other ways.
Abundance in my garden and kitchen makes me happy, and is quintessentially European, and French to me. Everyone I know is aware of this.
What do people say about you? What do you say about you? How would you describe your best self?
Work towards making your inner self, compatible with your outer self. Simplify. Be true to you. Don't fall prey to what other people say you should be.
Me? I bake cakes. I gift them. I conjure up fancy ones for my grandchildren and my family at large. What is your special skill? What is the thing that you do well, that has others come to you needing that skill? As much as I urge you often to 'learn something new', that can mean, as I've mentioned above, expanding upon an existing skill, enhancing a skill.

I also sew things, and I have a stab at occasional crochet and embroidery too. This magics up gifts for my stash out of virtually nothing and saves lots of money. I check out expensive homewares stores and boutique gift shops for inspiration. Many of the gifts I generate, would be worth hundreds in a retail store. I don't make life difficult by overspending to impress anyone. I teach myself how to replicate simple things, and package them well.
Parisian themed teatowels... lingerie embellished with embroidery...

...and hand tinted muslin facecloths, edged with lacy crochet...
...which start off as seen above, and finish up looking like this below...
...none of it hard. I don't do 'hard'. I just don't. I don't make life difficult.
Other things I don't do, include making a lot of clothing because that does mean being a perfectionist and I'm not good at that. I can manage costumes, nightgowns, small projects.
But for now, accepting the conditions of my location in life, that's it.
I don't make pastry...I'm not good at it. Making pastry would make my life difficult, when I can just go buy some.
I don't start large projects, because I have a short attention span. I stick to small things with close to immediate gratification.
I stick what works for me. I'm true to myself.
Be honest with your own capabilities. Look for small successes. Build your confidence with those.
To summarise:
Find your own revelation...your a-ha moment, your mentor.
Move forward.
Accept the conditions of your location...physical, social, geographical, chronological.
Don't try new things just for the sake of it...stick with what works for you.
Look for small successes and confidence building projects.
Be true to self.
Don't be a follower. Follow your own path instead. It's a lot more fun. It makes life easy.
Don't make your own life difficult.


  1. Good advice, Mimi. I really try not to make my life too difficult especially as I get older. I think you get to the stage when you streamline different aspects of your life. I guess we get older and wiser.

    1. Yes Chel, I think it's a 'coming of age' thing, you're right. Older and true. Mimi xxx

  2. Every woman over 25 should read and memorize your 2 posts. Gail

  3. All women should read these two posts! I realky adore the wisdom you share. You're my fairy godmother.

  4. Great advice that I needed to hear! Thank you!

    1. I'm glad it spoke to you Marybeth. Mimi xxx

  5. that was lovley to read.
    I think you are right that is exactly what a French style life is all about.
    thank you.

    1. Thankyou Liz. It's a huge myth that French living is about Eiffel Towers and wearing black. Ask the French ;-) Mimi xxx

  6. I just stumbled on your blog and I'm in love with this post! Fantastic read, and your photos are gorgeous. Those Eiffel tower scissors tho.. <3<3

    1. Dear Sarah, thankyou. I'm pleased it had meaning for you in any context. Yes the Eiffel Tower scissors are a bit cute aren't they? They're available on eBay. Mimi xxx

  7. Hi Mimi, Thanks for another amazing post. I just visited The French Chic Academy website and was a bit confused when I saw a testimonial on the first page. I'm sure it is your testimonial with the name Suzy Freeme, Australia. Just thought you might want to check it out. Thanks

    1. Hi Del. Yes that is me. Mimi is my 'writing'

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  9. Hi Mimi, I'm sorry. I was so sure there had to be a mix up. I sound like a bit of a stalker, but I just really love your blog and all the links you put in. Del x

  10. I think as we get older, we care less about what others think, particularly when it comes to clothes. For the past several years, I've been buying and wearing only sturdy vintage clothes from thrift shops instead of the clothes made of tissue-thin fabric that they sell in the stores at the mall. I love the feel of good fabrics so much that I would rather enjoy wearing old clothes than buy new. And of course I don't need that many clothes because these hold up in the wash over and over :) Great post!

    1. This is true Claire. Age brings a new comfort in being who we are, and there is truth in the saying that with age comes wisdom. How wise we always are in retrospect, eh? You're on the right track with your thinking! Mimi xxx


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