My favorite kind of profile on Instagram is a travel profile. Once I was showing my new finds to my friend: girls in floating dresses being photographed in beautiful and exotic sights. My friend replied: “Yes, it is cool, all those faraway places and adventures. But right now I prefer the exploration of the everyday life. When you can find something that makes your life here and now more wonderful. Like when you taught me once to enjoy staying at home, infusing it with chill-out music and relaxed attitude. This is more interesting to me than traveling”.
That got me thinking. How often I see pictures of sandy beaches with palms, or canyons and waterfalls, or old Italian streets with colorful houses and think: “This is the life worth living”. While the everyday life in my city, right now, seems gray and boring in this light. But is it so? Or better say, it is not the matter of proving that thought wrong or right, the question is: is such thinking good for me? Does it make me feel like I want to feel?
Isn’t it a good subject worth exploring? The art of everyday life. Art de vivre, as I like to call it, inspired by the French who gained their fame for knowing how to live the life with ease and pleasure. I want to devote myself to study of this art, as I believe it can be learnt just as all other forms of art. For me it is more than eating breakfast in hipster restaurants and taking photos of shoes, bags and Starbucks cups, or whatever is trendy now among the lifestyle bloggers of Instagram.
I already felt that pull a year ago when I bought a book about that mythical French attitude. You know, there are many out there, filled with advice on how to be Parisian, dress in a chic French way and find their secrets to eating, cooking and even happiness. Just a simply search on Amazon gave me a long list and there I could get lost forever, but I was lucky to find a book that was a very satisfying choice. “Entre Nous: A Woman’s Guide To Finding Her Inner French Girl” by Debra Ollivier covers different aspects of the French girl’s life and is written in a kind and witty manner making this book an easy and pleasurable read (just like the art de vivre itself).
I used to see myself as a fighter and hardworking girl, and at that time I was growing tired of that identity. Together with my friend I was doing mental decluttering. We spent many hours talking about the insights into our psyche, going through our cultural heritage, recognizing mental patterns and discussing the alternative ways of thinking. We were born and brought up in Soviet Union where people still remembered after-war years, where living conditions were tough and the life was much more about fighting and surviving than that of ease and pleasure. And here I was, grown-up and in a different culture of Norway, where you don’t have to fight for survival, but in my head I was still that Soviet kid, tight with fears and frustrations. And the life I was creating with those beliefs was not enjoyable. The best thing is when you can realize that you always have a choice. When I realized that I was not a victim of circumstances, but I could choose to live that tough life further or create something different – that was my breakthrough for freedom. This is when I started looking for options and alternative lifestyles.
And when you start looking for, you start finding answers. So once I picked a book in a bookstore called “How to be Parisian” but it didn’t resonate with me. But I went home and started searching on Amazon. Where I bought “Entre nous”, and then two more books about the French lifestyle. As I was rereading “Eat. Pray. Love” by Elisabeth Gilbert (for 4th time, maybe :)), and shared it on my Russian blog, one of my readers recommended me a similar read about Italy “A Thousand Days in Venice” by Marlena de Blasi. To get the taste for Italian cuisine and their relaxed attitude. Somewhere the title about Danish lifestyle caught my eye, and I got the book “The Cozy Life: Rediscover the Joy of the Simple Things Through the Danish Concept of Hygge” by Pia Edberg. I would love to share later the insights I got from reading these books. And now Amazon got to know me like a good old friend (or a good salesperson 🙂 ) and usually recommends me books in three categories: Style and Beauty, Happiness and European Travel (at first, it was all about Italy, but adding France and Denmark into this mix made it believe I am into globetrotting, or Europe-trotting 🙂 ).
My story often starts with a book. My first passion in life was reading. This is how I learnt about the world. I still like to do some reading before plunging into something new :). But this is just a start, and the story will unfold in its own glory and its own way. This is my adventure, this is me exploring.
If you have thoughts about lifestyle and art de vivre, I would love to hear from you! Write them in comments below, share them on your blog and invite me. Together we can create something new!