Life has kept me very busy this past month. There has been some travel, (Milan with Radisson, Amsterdam with Flora for the Nike 10k) and the EDU women’s football team has powered through to the semi-finals (I’m goalkeeper). There has been lots of good conversations with friends, and trying to choose the next holiday destination with JB. There hasn’t been enough healthy eating or exercise, which is something I really would like to focus on again, and received a much-needed boost thanks to this Guardian article 10 vegetarian and vegan blogs you need to know about. I’m thinking of sharing a healthy recipe, once a week, either here or on Instagram just to set myself a reasonable goal. I googled “part-time nutritional courses long distance” this morning. Too far, I know.
Something that came out of The Happiness Project for me was the idea to just be yourself. The author writes down a list of rules, one of which includes “Be Gretchen”. I know, it sounds really obvious doesn’t it? Yet if you think about it, how many times have you found yourself agreeing with someone or going along with something - just because you felt like that was easier than saying “well actually I don’t know about any of that” or “tonight I just want to head home and chill out”. It happened a lot to me when I was younger, and I think it stayed with me so long because of how I was raised. Now it is something I consciously keep in check and feel like I am growing out of.
In the past I haven’t posted about certain things which matter to me, or that I think would make for an interesting discussion, because I am scared of imposing my views on you. I’ve had a breakthrough - so long as my contribution is interesting and people feel they can share their own viewpoint with me, then no harm will be done?
Therefore, with this new attitude of mine, did any of you read the A.A.Gill piece in Vanity Fair “Liberté! Egalité! Fatigué!” ? I think the author could have started a really good conversation about France and the country’s long-term vision. Instead, he just appears to have bunched together some stereotypes which results in a snarky article. This statement particularly struck me as too general:
The bureaucratic French are fearful of entrepreneurialism. They dare not take chances—they dare not risk their precious culture; their lunches; their months-long summer breaks; their endless public holidays that slop over into the weekend; their right to relax, to shrug their shoulders, to not work to the same strictures as everyone else.
*Stands on soapbox* My French boyfriend (and from what I have observed, his circle of friends) works damn hard: he doesn’t take a long lunch-break, his last proper holiday was the end of 2012, he doesn’t use his RTT days and he comes home between 8pm and 9pm in the evening. His company is based worldwide and we have travelled a lot because of his job. JB, along with Caravane Dore and Artichaut Coworking, both business ventures started by his friends, are far more representative of France’s future than what Mr. Gill writes about. Young French people are starting to study abroad and take the opportunity to travel. Places such as Holybelly, Bob’s Kitchen, Kasia Dietz and THATLou, are further proof that there is innovation happening within Paris, from both the expats who settle here as well as the French travellers who experience another culture before coming back home to set up shop.
As someone in the comments sections writes, I believe that France needs to take a look at its generous welfare system and complicated employment laws which are not very open to foreign qualifications, as well as reconsider heavily increasing taxes in order to try and solve public debt. However, as an expat living here since 2009, I can say that the French are not worrying about whether they've lost their savoir faire or not - they've got bigger things to worry about, such as whether the national football team will make it to the final of the World Cup.