Monday, January 7, 2013

Joie de Vivre

When I was 15, I spent three weeks in France and fell in love with everything about it. The language was music to my ears and the architecture was stunning. Not to mention the food. Ohhhh, the food. 

All that aside, one of my favorite things I observed while I was there was the attitude of the people. No, I'm not talking about the stereotype that most Americans have about the French. I'm talking about the fact that they just seemed to really enjoy living life down to the simplest pleasures.

I feel as though living the "good life" in the United States is often centered around that "
Keeping Up with the Jones'" mentality. We work crazy hours to buy fancy cars and houses in the right neighborhoods. Working in Corporate America means subscribing to the theory that you should be the first one at the office and the last one to leave in order to prove yourself. Nevermind that you may have finished your work by 4:30 and are sitting at your desk playing Words with Friends on your iPhone… it's 6:00 and you are still at the office, so you MUST be dedicated!

Last summer when I went back to Europe, I was astounded by the number of people drinking wine during the work week at lunch. This may not seem like a big deal, but to me it was symbolic of the differences in our cultures. There are plenty of times where I would LOVE to order one glass of wine at lunch on work day, but I never do. Why not? It's not like one glass of wine is going to impair my abilities to function at work. I wouldn't be ordering it to get drunk or escape my work day.  I would be doing it because I enjoy wine and it would accentuate the meal. But I don't because of appearances. What if I were to run into a vendor or client? What would they think of me and my work ethic? I adore the fact that those thoughts aren't an issue and don't appear to even cross their minds- their clients and vendors are probably doing the same thing!

I recognize the fact that I have a pretty idyllic view of my favorite travel destination. And there could be a decent amount of "Keeping up with Jones'" going on in France that is just not apparent to this starry-eyed foreigner. After all- I couldn't begin to tell you the difference between a Fiat and a Peugeot. One could be the Kia to the other's Bentley. My point is that the things that appear to matter most to them are small pleasures. Good food, good wine, culture, quality time with loved ones. Just simply enjoying life.

Joie de vivre. 

That has always been my favorite phrase in french. So much so that I thought about getting a tattoo of the phrase in cursive on the inside of my wrist. I had planned on doing it in white so it wouldn't be seen easily by anyone but me. I liked the idea of a subtle daily reminder to appreciate the things that really matter. 

I told my parents my plan and you can just image how well that went over. I'm pretty sure there was a lot of bemoaning "where did we go WRONG?!?" along with some dramatic face palming. I decided to let the idea marinate for awhile and luckily for them, Kate Spade came to their rescue before I could bring myself to skip down to the neighborhood tattoo parlor*.  This pretty little bracelet is on its way to my door as we speak:

I am beyond excited. All the sentiment with none of the permanence. And much, much classier.

*I bet good ol' Kate never dreamt her name/brand would be used in the same sentence as "tattoo parlor." Just trying to broaden your reach for ya, Ms. Spade. 


dottywalk said...

YAY for Kate! LOVE the bracelet!

The Waspy Redhead said...

I'm usually very much in the anti ink column, but a white tattoo on your wrist I could get on board with. Still, I'm glad you opted for that lovely bangle. Such a nice idea to endeavor to find more joie de vivre