Friday, August 9, 2013

Joie de Vivre

Joie de Vivre: a French phrase used to express a cheerful enjoyment of life; an exultation of spirit.

Joie de vivre "can be a joy of conversation, joy of eating, joy of anything one might do... And joie de vivre may be seen as a joy of everything, a comprehensive joy, a philosophy of life... Robert's Dictionnaire says joie is a sentiment exaltant ressenti par toute la conscience, that is, involves one's whole being" (Wikipedia).

Lately everything has been coming up French. It began with an article in More magazine about two women who swapped eating and exercise habits. One was French, the other American. The American lost two pounds in two weeks and substantially increased her energy level via adopting the French way. Plus, she didn't go to the gym in the mornings as was her standard routine before work, but walked to work and other places instead. The French eat high fat foods like cheese, real butter, pastries, and red meat. They also eats lots of local, fresh fruits and vegetables. And of course, wine is regularly drunk with meals.

I went to Paris in 1990 for eight days. I haven't lived in France, so I can't give you in depth knowledge about what it is like to actually live there. I did, however, witness people walking everywhere. The French are not in love with their cars. The cars I saw were very small by American standards and often dented. Evidently they don't worry over every bump and scratch. I also saw tons of bicycles. Something else that stood out was the seeming lack of makeup worn during the day. I was told that French women reserve makeup for going out in the evening.

After reading the magazine article, I started to incorporate the French eating habits. This involves a big breakfast and lunch cooked oneself, and a very small dinner. No snacking, and the kitchen is closed at 8:00 pm. Meals are leisurely, eaten together at a table with the family, and food is savored. Real food, not fast food, take out, or processed and packaged foods. One day this week I had a small but substantial breakfast of granola with organic yogurt and dried cranberries. Often I either only have coffee, or I eat a bowl of cereal (or some cookies!).

For lunch I began with a plate of hummus, carrots, organic blue corn chips, and dates. Usually that would constitute a normal lunch for me. But after that I cooked some scrambled eggs with organic cheese, onions, garlic, and mushrooms, and added curry powder and Trader Joe's everyday seasoning mix. It was so delicious! I forget what I had for dinner. I can tell you that after that large lunch, I had so much more energy than usual, and my mood was much improved!

I'm currently having camera trouble, so in lieu of featuring fall Gypsy Mama fashions, I'm going to explore the French concept of joie de vivre. I've ordered French lifestyle books from the library, and I've been inspired by Jennifer L. Scott's blog, The Daily Connoisseur, and her youtube videos.

Yesterday I felt very French. It was my husband's birthday, and also that of our cousin who just turned 8, so we all went to see Smurfs 2, which was, to my delight, set in Paris! Afterward we crossed the street from the movie theater and shopped at the farmers market on the town square. We got tons of produce as well as some homemade soap. In the evening we went out to a nice restaurant where a live jazz band was playing. I wore a simple but chic outfit and had followed Jennifer's "le no makeup" look (which, incidentally, is a significant about of makeup).

So I hope to keep up my French lifestyle aspirations, and I will share my journey with you. By the way, if you have read this far, be aware that this is the blog of a woman who has caught up on her laundry! At this moment I have merely one basket of dirty laundry in my basement. It is much easier to get dressed when one's clothes are clean, and life is certainly more joyful without that mountain of dirty laundry hanging perenially over my head. If I can do it, anyone can! Until next time, peace be with you...

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