Goodness me, I’ve played hooky for an entire week. I’ve not been away from the laptop entirely. I’ve been writing thinky posts about Yerkes-Dodson and talking about things that don’t have anything to do with France or bulldogs.

If she’s going to ignore me, I’m taking the “My Side” pillow.

I’ve been in one of those mild funks stemming from the endless winter. It’s hard being in a new town even if one had been brought there under normal circumstances. Sometimes I feel like I’m on another planet. So there’s been lots of yoga and even a jet peel which is this fabulous thing where they pressure wash your face like they might an ancient stone building. It helps and I’m lucky I can bankroll these salves. To the person who felt compelled to write me to say that I was too privileged, I say, walk in my shoes for the past five years and then let me know how privileged you feel. We are all privileged and we are all broken – both beyond measure. If fancy candles and bags soothe a savage breast, then isn’t life simple?

I finished Forever Chic, which is my favourite book about French living so far. It’s written by A Femme d’Un Certain Age‘s Tish Jett who is an American style editor who is married to a French man and resides in Paris. I know, I’m envious as sin too. Her book is both a practical style guide and has a layer of wisdom that your don’t find in books written by twenty-year olds.

Jett made me lust after the availability of good conversation in France, where philosophy is a mandatory high school course. I was part of a sort of salon in the city but have yet to find one here. I was bemoaning this fact when I was presented with two opportunities: one to help kickstart a business-oriented group with a girlfriend and another to connect with this group of fierce, cool women via the impressive Che Marville, a women with whom people have been trying to connect me for the past decade. We had a lunch to celebrate International Women’s Day and it’s one of the first events I’ve been at where we discussed neither our children’s extra-curriculars nor renovations. I feel like I have oxygen in my blood once again.

Sometimes the universe provides you exactly what you need, much as I often fight the notion. Sonya Huber recently wrote How the ‘Trophy for Just Showing Up’ Is Earned for the NYT blog. I felt it applies hugely to our funny little family, particularly this passage:

In “How Children Succeed,” Paul Tough describes “grit” as a key indicator of success. I wanted grit for my son, and he has it. Sometimes he got anxious that he wasn’t the best, and I told him he would rarely be the best in anything in life, and that was fine.

God, what a relief is was to read her words. We may not have rep hockey or straight As or my former bank account, but we have true grit in spades. Rooster Cogburn in well-worn cashmere. And so, as they say, the kids are alright. We don’t have everything, but we have enough. And as Molly Peacock writes so gorgeously, want is not so bad.

Molly Peacock
I love desire, the state of want and thought 
of how to get; building a kingdom in a soul 
requires desire. I love the things I’ve sought- 
you in your beltless bathrobe, tongues of cash that loll 
from my billfold- and love what I want: clothes, 
houses, redemption. Can a new mauve suit 
equal God? Oh no, desire is ranked. To lose 
a loved pen is not like losing faith. Acute 
desire for nut gateau is driven out by death, 
but the cake on its plate has meaning, 
even when love is endangered and nothing matters. 
For my mother, health; for my sister, bereft, 
wholeness. But why is desire suffering? 
Because want leaves a world in tatters? 
How else but in tatters should a world be? 
A columned porch set high above a lake. 
Here, take my money. A loved face in agony, 
the spirit gone. Here, use my rags of love. 


  1. It always beggars belief to me that strangers write to bloggers and say things like this, our blogs are merely a snapshot of the bigger picture of our lives, one in which writing about the daily grind makes for a very dull whiny blog.I flicked through Tish Jett's book in the library last week and found an old employer in there – how funny!


  2. I concur with Tabitha – it is strange that people think we put our WHOLE life on blogs – and even if we tried it still wouldn't properly reflect it. I had a bit of this blogger bother a few weeks ago actually and just refrained bc I didn't want to seem like I was projecting something that I wasn't intending etc. But then again my blog is a fun place and I am not going to start writing about the plight of north korean refugees and the UN's role in it all…And yes I wish a piece of clothing could cure all! PS I love that poem!


  3. The blog world is a strange place where people feel entitled to anonymously strike out and criticize. I've had my fair share of cruel comments and whacky emails myself, which I pause to consider and then delete or respond to. Strangely enough, there's never a response to either of my actions. I'm in total agreement with Tabs and Naomi, whiny makes a very dull blog and I read most to entertain me and escape. After all Jen, look at all the wonderful things you've turned me on to. I got half way through Tish's book and put it down, for no reason other than my easily distractible mind. Now where did I put it? Again, please keep clear of the Chanel bag! I'm weakening.


  4. I can't imagine a blog about loading the dishwasher or buying milk but it seems that anything other than that is fodder for criticism. I'm a single mother in suburbia for the love of Pete: hardly Zsa Zsa Gabor. I think you are holding out on us on your glam life, Tabs. Everyone Jett wrote about was beyond fabulous.


  5. The poem is a good one, isn't it! I titled my blog Dwell on These Things because it focuses on the lovely side of life, not all of life… In the immortal words of The Doors: people are strange. Wouldn't it be bliss if clothing were the answer? One visit to net-a-porter and all the world's problems would be solved.


  6. It is a funny place, isn't it. It's like going into someone's house and then telling them they have ugly furniture. For what purpose? I'm always picking up books and putting them down too. And I agree, Chanel's quilted lambskin has quite the siren song.


  7. Jen I loved this post and you touched on many topics that I must discuss: first, your thinky writing is very good indeed. I think you have a fine mind my dear. And as far as the type of conversation one might have at French dinner parties as opposed to here, hmm I find that Ontario is obsessed with rep teams and renovations? Then on to the local gossip which is very tiresome? Which leads to blog “hate-readers”, there is this whole thing of people reading blogs out of hatefulness, it's true, and sometimes the hate explodes into a comment or an email…and then there is the dreadful world-colliding aspect of real life friends who are hate-readers, which then turns into local gossip… closing the circle of tiresomeness. Speaking of tired this winter has just been dreadful, very gloomy and thank goodness for Diptyque candles from our soap guy, they arrived today with the most wonderful scent samples. Very cheering, as was that poem, so beautiful and raw, who says wanting isn't important?


  8. Sounds like your circle is similar. As respite, I think we need something like The Social Club of Tabitha's Little Black Book where once a quarter we can gather and talk about great books and make a mean cocktail and have an occasion to dress up. We can fly in all the gang as speakers making it tax deductible somehow. Perhaps Diptyque can sponsor: heaven knows this group must be providing about 40% of their profits. We can chase away circling trolls as our cardio.


  9. Jen, that readers comment was just ridiculous. Glad you let those things roll off your back. I shall keep my eye out for Forever Chic. Embracing the beautiful aspects of life is crucial. Never take off those rose colored glasses!


  10. Broadly, I've always subscribed to Nietzsche 'what doesn't destroy you makes you stronger', there are things that can knock you for six for much longer, but I'm beginning to think you DO come back better for it, even if it takes a while. That has to be where grit comes from, it is a difficult balance, to do what you can for your kids, but also leave them to fall a few times.


  11. Jen-I too adore reading about living a life in Paris-and this book is classic. You've crafted some inspiring thoughts into this post. The poem is touching indeed. After a long day at work I'll just say I'm so enjoying your blog and your train of thought and I look forward to learning more about this journey of yours. I so agree-I may have a beautiful trip to Los Cabos on my blog today but I didn't write about my mother's cancer scare or either of my 2 divorces. It's all a balance in this world of blogging. xx, Heather


  12. Just read through every one of your posts during my, ahem .. hiatus and they are all so funny and thought provoking I'm left somewhat without words. Thank goodness it's OK to want, I'd like a bit more clever repartee in my repertoire.


  13. Thank you for your kind words. There are so many blogs out there that if people want to read about misery, they can fill their boots. I like reading blogs about people who focus on the silver lining rather than the cloud. I rather suspect that most of us in the positive blogging community have had more than our fair share of sorrow, which is why we do focus on those lovely slivers: the perfect seam, a beautiful beach, the scent of lilac… Hugs


  14. Agree with all the comments above. I absolutely love your writing, you just encapsulate things beautifully – see how poetic this is: “So there's been lots of yoga and even a jet peel which is this fabulous thing where they pressure wash your face like they might an ancient stone building. It helps and I'm lucky I can bankroll these salves. To the person who felt compelled to write me to say that I was too privileged, I say, walk in my shoes for the past five years and then let me know how privileged you feel. We are all privileged and we are all broken – both beyond measure. If fancy candles and bags soothe a savage breast, then isn't life simple?” That totally sums up what I feel about blogging. Sometimes I don't want to write about something because it may make me look spoiled but compared to a lot of my friends it's not at all. There are so many difficulties in all our lives that we don't write about. The thing I've really learned is not to judge people at first sight. A woman I know through dancing seems to have an idyllic life but in fact has been a absolute saint through many trials. I would love to write about so many other things but teachers and friends read my blog and I can't. By the way, there actually is a housewife blog about buying milk and keeping your cupboards nifty (!)- The Organised Housewife, my friend keeps posting it to me on Facebook, hopefully as a joke! as she knows how disorganised above.


  15. Love this! So glad you found some kindred spirits! It makes all the difference! I am having a style tea party for some friends on Saturday afternoon and I can't wait! It is important to have folks you can talk about a variety of things with. Love the poem. And Rooster Cogburn is a favourite here!


  16. hello jennifer. i'm here b/c wendy told me to be. i see what she is talking about, you are a gifted writer. i too have received many ugly comments on my blog over the years. i try not to put too much weight into any of the comments. if i believe all the good ones then i have to believe the bad ones too right? i love your retort, it was spot on xo janet


  17. Jen, Well written post and such wonderful comments. After 54 years of life I can finally say that I am better able to let things roll off my back. Resilience .. recover, live in the moment, and move on. Negativity, in any form zaps our creativity and hurts us emotionally. Those that feel compelled to make a random statement are the losers in the end. Blogging is a platform for creativity and expression it is not a personal memoir telling readers our life story. Your new ventures sound exciting! Can't wait to hear how all that goes:) Enjoy your weekend. xxL


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