1.31.2011

The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris- #1 Live a Passionate Life



And so we make our way to the end of the countdown. Some of you may have seen this coming- I’ve touched on it in almost every post I’ve written. There is no doubt about it- while living in Paris the most important and profound thing I learned was to live a passionate life.

Eckhart Tolle, the new age philosopher says, “What you do is secondary. How you do it is primary”. Now while Eckhart Tolle isn’t French, his philosophy here very much so is. The importance is, of course, doing what you are passionate about, but if you find yourself doing something mundane, still do it passionately.

Passion infuses into almost every aspect of French life. The French are available and ready in the present moment for all of the pleasures that life has to offer. They manage to get the biggest kicks out of the simplest things- a perfect slice of chocolate cake, a look across the room from a handsome stranger or a particularly well written verse of prose… They are intense individuals that jump in and really live their life- nothing is wasted.

That first day in Paris, standing on the doorstep of Famille Chic’s home, I had no idea what I was about to embark on. My young life, vibrating with a desire for change was about to go on the biggest adventure I’ve ever known. Thrust into a strange and beautiful land… living with a formal family like something out of an old fashioned novel- those decadent meals, their beautiful apartment- that inspiring space.

The people I met- Madame Bohemienne and her artistic friends- those passionate, wine fueled gatherings. Walking on a bridge over the river Seine in the icy cold. Feeling so completely content as a solitary figure riding the metro on the way to school or walking down the Champs Élysée observing all of the chic people…

…but again so grateful when a moment could be shared with someone else. Those bursts of feeling that came upon me when I heard the secret midnight quartet at the Louvre. When I first saw Manet’s Dejuener Sur L’Herbe at the Musee d’Orsay. Every night having a slice of camembert- the ‘roi du fromage’.

Now that I am 30 years old, with husband and daughter, I find myself the Madame Chic of my own family. I learned so much from her and from living in Paris. I want to share this wealth of knowledge with my daughter and it has to be said the one thing I want for her most is to live a life of passion- to fall in love with everyday life. That it doesn’t matter what she does- it can be something as mundane as going to the grocery store- but the important thing is how she does it. To be present and ready for whatever this funny life has in store for her.

Every now and then I close my eyes and imagine standing on the doorstep of Famille Chic, about to knock- the butterflies in my stomach going mad with the sheer possibility of life.

And then… the door opens.

I am pictured above, jumping with joy, in front of La Tour Eiffel in Paris, 2001

My book, Lessons from Madame Chic: The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris will be published by Simon & Schuster and re-released in the fall of 2012.

17 comments:

Rebecca said...

Fabulous end to the list! Thank you. Your blog always cheers me as well as inspires me with the slices of life you convey. :)

steppingmywaytobliss said...

This has been great and what a way to bring it to an end. You had an enviable, thoroughly enjoyable life experience by staying in Paris--especially at an age when you were still very impressionable and not set in your ways. I think it is fabulous that you embraced your experiences so whole-heartedly and have let them contribute to who you are today. Merci for sharing with the rest of us!

Merveilleux said...

One of my favorite memories of yours is the secret midnight quartet at the Louvre.
How wonderful that would be to come across such a thing.

Loved this series and I looked forward to #1 all day (okay, all week).

Julianne said...

Wonderful ending , though I am sad that this series os finished. I have enjoyed it immensely. So love your writing. Hope baby girl is doing great.

mn said...

I really love your observations from your experience in Paris. What you took from it seems to be a real appreciation for life. I make it a point to cultivate such gratefulness and awareness of everyday moments. Your writing reminds me that there is much to savor if we take the time to do so!
Melissa

Lacey said...

Thanks for this series! Looking forward to the next one! p.s. I finally watched Amelie last week and loved it!

Rebekah said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughtful series! It has been an inspiration to me, and a reminder to keep pursuing quality of life in whatever I do. Perhaps each of us can endeavor to be secret inspirations to people around us as Famille Chic was to you.

Vicki said...

This is the perfect ending to the 'French' story! I've enjoyed it so much that there have been times during my day when your words have come back to me. What an inspiring attitude to life and really who wants to live any other way?
Vickixx

lady jicky said...

Like the ladies above - I have really enjoyed this!!

Rose said...

I loved reading the count down- I think you have obviously transported the best parts of Paris life into your own life, which is wonderful.

I'm looking forward to what we will be reading next too

Pug1 said...

There is a passion in your writing. I can feel the joy and it motivates me!!!!!! BRAVO! Michele

Shelley said...

Brilliant post. Are you still in contact with the French family you lived with?

So...what's next?? Will look forward to it.

Charlene said...

Your 20 Things series was so inspiring--especially your #1 post. We all need to be reminded to live life with passion because it's so easy to get in a rut. It's so wonderful that you were able to live in France and absorb the culture at such a young age. I can't help but wonder what I would have done differently if I had had that opportunity. I appreciate so much the fact that you thought through the differences and shared your experiences and observations with us. I look forward to the book and to the posts you have planned for this year. Merci!

Beth - In My World... said...

Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful though I am sad to see the list end! I have been endeavoring to live my life passionately for the past year and I am amazed time and again how one's attitude can change a situation entirely. We make the choice. I am so happy you had this French experience and how wonderful for your daughter to have a Mom to instill such a marvelous outlook on life.

Fiona said...

The perfect ending to this wonderful list. I am so thrilled a book is comiing. You have a real gift with the words you choose to convey such a romantic yet realistic French way of life.

nina said...

Bonjour!

I am new to the blog... where do I find the beginning of the list? Please e-mail me at my Google account, sil vous plais!! I am just falling madly in love with your blog!!!!!!

Nina

lynn said...

Jennifer, your book changed my life by giving me permission to treasure the small things and let go of the materialism and stressful fixations we're taught to embrace in American culture.

It also reinforced my husband's daily grocery shopping style at specialty grocers, as a practical way to live that also allows us to enjoy our meals much more.

Thank you from a willing American convert.

 
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