Let’s Talk about Style, Beauty & Life
(11 of Your Questions Answered)

French-Kiss-Life-Q-&-A-blog

“At the end of the day, the questions we ask of ourselves determine the type of people that we will become.”
― Leo Babauta
I love questions — asking and answering them. And, recently, we’ve had a lot of questions coming in via email and on my Facebook page — everything from aging and style to mindset and personal growth.What I adore about this community is the fierce commitment to living well-lived lives, constantly being students of our experience. I, forever, hope to learn and grow. And, it is my deepest pleasure to pass along what I’ve discovered on my path to French Kissing Life.

So, today’s post is dedicated to the many curious souls who have questions for me. For the record, I don’t claim to have all the answers: I just know what’s worked (and hasn’t) for me, and I hope that my experience and passions will support and inspire you to French Kiss Your Life!

Let’s begin!

What is the single most important thing you have done to create a life that you love?
– Sara Olsen

To love and respect myself. When you have that, everything else falls into place. As Diane von Furstenberg says, “When a woman becomes her own best friend, life is easier.”

Self-love is the foundation of a well-lived life. You take more risks, challenge yourself, allow yourself to fail, and then you get up again. You choose to believe in yourself, set boundaries and treat yourself with respect.

Self-love is a choice and an on-going practice. If you wait to feel good enough to love yourself, you might wait for a lifetime. And, if you think that it’s a place that you arrive someday, you’ll be disappointed.

I believe every woman has that inner critic that tells her that it’s not possible, that she doesn’t have what it takes, that she’s a failure/fraud/screw up.

The question really becomes: do you choose to believe that voice or do you decide how you want to feel about yourself? The latter will change your life!

What’s your favorite thing to do, just you and Sarah?
-Tiffany Stewart

It’s fascinating how this has changed now that my baby girl is seventeen. It used to be things like bake cookies, play tennis or go to the park. Now, I’m just happy to spend time with her without our cell phones (which is a challenge with a teenager and entrepreneurial mom). A few months ago, she came home and climbed into bed with me and we talked until 4 AM. Those are the moments I live for now — quality time without technology.

What is your writing process?
-Sandra Wald

Ooohhh…this is a big one that I could devote an entire post to, but I’ll try to practice brevity. I write every single day — my daily morning journaling practice and other writings.

I devote Friday through Monday as my “official” writing days, as Tuesday through Wednesday are my “official” work days — coaching calls, interviews, team meetings, planning, etc.

I organize my writing process through google documents and an editorial calendar (a google spreadsheet). I am a total google lover now that I have created a system that supports me.

I also have a whiteboard (also in google docs) where I’m constantly brain dumping ideas that I want to write about. As a writer, you need to keep a journal or an online document readily available at all times for that moment of inspiration to collect thoughts, ideas, possible articles and any other thing that pops into your head that wants to be put on paper (or a computer).

Before I sit down to write, I ask myself this simple question: how do I want my reader to feel? That is my starting point, and then I write as if I’m speaking to one person, a woman I adore and want nothing but the best for.

My final notes on writing is this: as in life, you must be willing to be imperfect. I still doubt my writing and some pieces are better than others, but I focus on my love of the craft and know that in order to become a better writer, I must write. So, I commit to making space for it every day.

What are your favorite things to do to bring your mindset up to a high, joyful level?
– Julia Alter Calvin

This question came at the perfect time, as I woke up last Saturday in a funk. My old way to deal with these kind of days was to obsess over my thinking, try and figure it out why and hunker down in my house until I feel better.

I’ve learned that in order to feel better, I need to separate from my mind and step away. So, I do the things that my mind tells me I shouldn’t do, like: meet up with a friend, watch a movie, clean my house, go for a walk, turn on some music. And, if I know my state is because I’m avoiding something, I turn and face that thing and do it (insert taxes here).

It’s amazing how much of our energy can flow to what we don’t want and/or to thinking and obsessing over things that simply need action.

This past Saturday, I got out of my house, met up with a friend and went to look at bikes, as I think that cycling might become my new therapist. And, voila! The funk passed (as it always does).

Speaking of bikes, check out this beauty! I think I’m in love. Of course, this is a European made bike, but the search is on!

woman-on-bicycle

I have a really hard time not worrying what others think of me work wise. I’m constantly worried that I won’t meet their expectations. How do I handle this elegantly?
-Adriana Solorzano

I love Coco Chanel’s quote, “Elegance is refusal.” And, in your case, Adriana, it’s refusing to meet anyone’s expectations other than your own. Now, this is easier said than done, especially if you’ve been programmed to please others.

The first thing you must do is understand the cause of the behavior. Why do you worry? What’s your fear around not meeting people’s expectations?

In looking at my own people pleasing past, as well as my clients, it usually boils down to, “People won’t like me.” Then, the real work is letting of of the need to be liked. Truly, that’s the most freeing way to live, and ironically, you end up being more likable, because you don’t need it. And, if someone doesn’t like you, it doesn’t destroy you. You just move on!

To me, that’s elegance.

How do you feel about aging?
-Claudia Tabares

It’s going to happen! And, I get to choose to fight it or to enjoy it. I prefer the latter, because it feels better. A woman’s age is what she makes it. If you believe that life is only for the young and beautiful, then you’re probably going to be miserable in your older years. If you believe that you only get better with age, then you’re probably going to be out in the world doing incredible things.

The question is: how do you want to feel about aging? And, where do you need to place your attention?

I focus on ladies like: Iris Apfel, Meryl Streep and Phyllis Sues. They can show us how it’s done.

And, when I ask my 90-year old self about aging, she tells me: “Darling, it’s fabulous!”

How do you go about increasing your friendship circle? It’s hard to find women who help nourish your soul and want you to grow. Since I’m single, don’t have kids or a dog to walk, it can be hard to meet new people. Volunteering isn’t cutting it.
-Jennifer Woolley

Great question Jennifer! Women thrive when they are surrounded by uplifting, positive friendships. It’s very difficult to go at this life alone!

I noticed you wrote, “It’s hard to find women who help nourish your soul and want you to grow.” I’d encourage you to question how that’s not necessarily true. When we walk around with these kinds of beliefs, it impacts how we show up. Many women will say to me, “But, it’s true. It’s always been that way.” And, to that I say, “You cannot look at what has been to create what can be.”

When it comes to cultivating friendships, I think we must be the kind of person we would want to be friends with. I’d suggest you create a list of things you want in a friendship and begin cultivating those qualities in yourself.

For example, if you desire a friend who likes to have fun, how can you infuse your own life with more fun? If you’re looking for supportive relationships, how do you support yourself and those around you? If you want to be surrounded by people who want you to grow, how are you growing?

At the end of the day, I believe in creating what we crave. Can you host a get together and invite people you know and ask them to bring someone you’ve never met? Get out and do things that interest you. Make yourself available to new people.

And, trust that there are friends out there that are looking for someone like you :). You all just haven’t found each other yet!

Finish this sentence, every single day I absolutely need…
-Kristen Shuman

…a good laugh, lots of water, good music, a warm bath, some solitude and a kiss.

You are always so well dressed, what is your “go to” outfit on a random Tuesday when you are just out running errands and such?
-Kelly Currier

I believe in chic uniforms — those easy outfits that you can throw on, add an accessory or two and feel great!

Depending on the season, it may be a comfortable sundress with a great pair of sandals or a pair of capris jeans paired with a simple sweater with a scarf and cute pair of loafers.

When you have staple pieces in your wardrobe, dressing becomes easy, not a chore.

(Hhhmm….I think a blog post is in order on this one.)

What are your favorite mental thoughts, tricks, turn arounds or mantras for when in the midst of the flow of one’s day the proverbial “sh**” hits the fan? I’m wondering how one keeps it elegant and pulled together when tested and emotional in the moment.
-Kirsten Paynter

Oh, those sh** days! I wish I were so enlightened that I didn’t have them, but I’m not. And, honestly, it would probably be a rather boring life without the contrasts.

When those days come, seemingly out of nowhere, I must remind myself that it’s not what’s happening around me; it’s always the story I’m telling myself about it.

Sometimes, I’ll say, “I’m choosing to tell myself a really shitty story right now,” and that ownership reminds me that I am creating my mood, and, therefore, I can recreate it.

I also have these elegant mantras that are my saving grace.

I’ve also learned to feel my feelings. I know this seems so simple, but it’s amazing how many people have never learned to feel what’s present for them. When you are willing to feel anything, you can handle anything. Much of our stress is our disallowing of feelings. It keeps us from taking risks, leads to unhealthy behaviors and stops the stream of life from flowing through us.

One final note: You don’t always have to keep it together. Sometimes, the most elegant thing you can do is be real and let yourself fall apart! Honestly, it’s one of the most liberating and courageous acts a woman can allow. Trying “to keep it together” 24-7 is exhausting!

How do you guarantee that you will look polished and chic every single day? eg. a pearl necklace, a sleek ponytail..?
-Anica du Jager

Well, there aren’t many guarantees in life, but we can put our best foot forward, right?

Being chic for me is about an assured confidence, dressing in a way that feels good to me and to not take style (or myself) too seriously.

I prefer not to look too coiffed, like I spent all day trying to look a certain way. Messy hair paired with a beautiful red lip or a sleek ponytail with a blue jeans and casual sweater with a strand of pearls. Or, an elegant skirt paired with a T-shirt and scarf. I like the contrasts that you can create with style, because it’s representative of life.

What I’ve learned is that when you invest in a classic wardrobe (and that will look a bit different for every woman), you have the basic foundation to always look and feel chic) without a whole lot of effort.

(Wow…I really love talking about this! More to come…)

What do you think about FKL members having local meetups, or is anyone that you know of doing that? I feel isolated in my town and would like to meet like minded women. maybe we could learn french cooking or share info on luxurious activities in our community….?
-Victoria Annabel

Oh, how I love this question, as the French Kiss Life community is growing with bon vivants around the globe. And, it just so happens that we have some exciting things in store. Yes, French Kiss Life may be coming to a town/city/village near you, with dinners, VIP days and special experiences. If you want to be the first-to-know, sign up here.

I also highly encourage women gathering in homes, restaurants, museums, gardens, boutiques and wine cellars to deepen their practices in living a well-lived life. If you’re not a member of the French Kiss Life Club, make sure to join and connect with like-minded women who are all about living fully, passionately and in style.

Well, that was fun, and I think I’ll do it again soon. What question do you have for me that you’d like to be featured in an upcoming article?

#askmeanything in the comments below!

Tons of Love,

tonya-leigh-pink-sig

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4 Responses to Let’s Talk about Style, Beauty & Life
(11 of Your Questions Answered)

  1. I enjoyed every word of this, but my favorite was about aging. I had a “big” birthday last year, and I am struggling a little with how I feel about it. Thanks for the words of wisdom, they helped me to reframe the issue in my mind and heart.

    • The beauty is that you get to DECIDE how you feel about it. Don’t let anyone, including society’s messages, choose for you! It’s those fierce women that I absolutely admire! Happy “BIG” Birthday to you. As my grandmother always told me about aging, “Well, it beats the alternative.” Cheers. xoxo

  2. Tonya, as always, your posts are enlightening and energizing. Thank you!
    I’m having trouble crystallizing exactly what my question is, but I hope you can help me make sense of it 🙂
    I’m working on developing a luxurious mindset– where daily life has exquisite moments. And, I just came back from a few days of luxurious living at an all-inclusive resort here in Mexico: delightful meals, gorgeous surroundings and very comfortable accommodations. I live in the interior of Mexico, and of course, daily life is not quite like the resort, but my luxury mindset still works here :). However, the excessive comfort of the resort made me feel uncomfortable. Of course the luxury was enjoyable, but some luxury seems to be unethical. There are gigantic jacuzzi tubs in every room, but where I live, clean water isn’t so accessible. The bounty of the buffet food isn’t necessarily sourced from local farmers and the excess of leftovers ends up in the trash. The only money that seems to go into the economy is low-paying service jobs for locals who can suffer drunken foolishness and can speak English.
    Another example: I also spent time living in Uganda where there were lots of greenhouses filled with fabulous flowers destined for European cut-flower markets, and you know.. airplanes and climate change and such just for cut flowers that are at inaccessible prices for the average Ugandan,etc. Can you speak to ethical luxury vs. ‘fake’ luxury that seems sort of oppressive?
    Merci beaucoup!

  3. Hi Tonya

    Thank you for another awe inspiring article. I love wed/sun as I know I have a message from you to look forward too.
    I have a question for you.
    A comment about passion at a dinner party made you take stock of your life. So I’d imagine you are now an excellent socialiser. I am quite shy and have to force myself to make entertaining small talk at dinner parties, I was wondering if you could give any tips to us ladies as to how to become more entertaining when in groups? How do you start a conversation other than with a question about the weather – yes, I am English! 😉
    Thank you
    Claire

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