Life Lessons from our
“Little Cabin in the Woods”

Click below if you prefer to listen.

It’s so magical up here!

Not too long ago Glenn asked me to move in with him in his “little cabin in the woods.”

We are surrounded by the most gorgeous blue spruce trees that are hundreds of years old and peeking over them are 13,000 feet mountain peaks. And, his home is backed up to the largest wilderness area in Colorado.

And, did I mention the lake? Oh, the lake! It’s breathtaking, especially in the mornings when it’s slick as glass and you can see the reflections of the clouds and mountains. Then, in the winter, it turns to ice. The first time I saw someone ice fishing, I thought I needed to call 911 because I was convinced the man was in trouble. Now, I know better.

About the home…

Oh, I don’t know why, but I love calling it our “little cabin” because it’s really not so little. It’s 3200 square feet!

It just feels so cozy and quaint and simple – and that is exactly what it is to me! It’s truly a beautiful home that Glenn will be eternally remodeling, which was his plan all along, but the work is definitely more on the front burner especially now that I’m here.

I am in Heaven. But there was a time when I felt like I was in Hell.

I remember that day I started packing up my things to move in.

It didn’t feel so heavenly in my head.

In fact, my mind went a wee bit insane.

Tonya, shouldn’t you be moving to Paris?

What will people think when they hear you live in a cabin in the woods?

You’re going to be so alone out there!

Then, it went really batshit crazy taking me down memory lane.

You used to live a block from the ocean not so long ago in a beautiful modern home.

You’re going backward in life living in the middle of nowhere. Isn’t that where you came from?

Then, it pulled out the big guns all about the image I thought I should be portraying.

What will they think if I’m not living in some fancy apartment with ornate windows and gold trim in St. Germain?

What will they think if they know there’s an RV parked outside your front door?

Shouldn’t you be dreaming bigger and upleveling?

I know this voice all too well. And, it has a name: FEAR.

I spent years running from my past and chasing a new future, always thinking happiness was one step away — in a new home, person or town.

On the outside, it appeared that I had it all together.

But inside? It was a house of cards that eventually would come tumbling down. My chase was full of anxiety, panic, and unease.

From lots of self-reflection over a number of years, I am certain that letting go of fear and facing my truth this will be my lifelong journey.

So here it was once again.

There’s never been a greater more beautiful pain than a crumbling ego.

When it came to the big move in with Glenn, I heard loud and clear:

Tonya, this is your chance to truly French Kiss Life!

It is time to show our community how this is REALLY done.

Yes, whether you choose to believe it or not, you gave me the courage to say YES to living in our “little cabin in the woods.”

I want to be the kind of woman who inspires you from a place of truth, not from some portrayed image.

So, I joyfully put the final cardboard box into the back of Glenn’s Ford dually and said goodbye to my lovely modern condo that had been my home for four years.

And, I drove away into a new adventure.

My friends thought I was crazy.

My daughter complained about it being so far from town.

And, my mom was convinced I’d hate it out here.

Well, let me report back to you.

Now that I’ve been living up in the “little cabin” for over a year now, it’s time for me to share with you my truth:

  • I survived a winter without turning into a block of ice.
  • I’ve met the most interesting people who love living in the woods.
  • I’ve seen more bears in a year than I’d seen in my life.
  • I have weekly FaceTime happy hour with my friends.
  • We have nightly dance parties.
  • Summer afternoons are spent on the boat.
  • I’ve hosted dinner parties for those who love “getting out of town.”
  • I take my dogs to the lake several times a week and just sit there in awe of the beauty.
  • My city friends love the cabin.
  • My daughter and I have had some beautiful days of just hanging out in our little cabin.
  • And, don’t be worried: I get into at least weekly, so I’m not a complete hermit. (we’re only 30 minutes from town, a lot less than most people’s commute to work).
  • Of course, I travel often too, so I love coming home to my “little cabin.” I feel like I’m on retreat.

In some ways, I feel like a pioneer woman — up in the woods getting firewood to keep warm, buying groceries for the week (I always wondered what those big carts were for) and winterizing stuff (okay, Glenn does all that… but I keep him company!). Before you know it, I’ll be churning butter. Okay, that probably won’t happen, but the thought is sweet!

In other ways, life feels SO elegant. I’m enjoying the simplest of pleasures more than ever. I’ve let go of so much crap that was weighing me down. There’s less noise in my life, literally and figuratively.

And, I’ve never felt more stylish. Each morning, I wake up and get dressed for no one other than myself, Glenn and the dogs and the occasional neighbor who passes by. But, style isn’t just about what you wear; it’s the life you live in those clothes, and I’m living out loud more than ever.

This is what I call freedom in the everyday.

It’s because I’ve become the kind of woman who can be happy anywhere!

…In a cabin in the woods or in a flat in Paris.

Happiness is an inside job.

Something magical happens when you stop thinking life will be better one day, and, instead, you focus on making today the best day of your life.

Last week, as I was putting the lights on the tree that I found in the woods, I thought about how sparkly I feel, and it’s not some “fake” sparkle. It’s a deep down, an inner sparkle that goes with me wherever I am.

And, from all my work with women through the years, I know it’s what we’re all after. Unfortunately, we dim our sparkle by always chasing it outside of ourselves.

But, here’s the good news: you can ignite that sparkle no matter where you are (or live) in your life.

If you’re ready to set fire to your own inner sparkle, go here

This is what I’ve been doing in my “little cabin.”

But, don’t think I’m so settled and domesticated that I’m not up to big things. And, don’t think I’ve gone backward.

Oh contraire!

Moving forward isn’t about where you live; it’s about who you’ve become.

I have SO much personal and French Kiss Life goodness on the horizon, but, the difference is that I’m doing it from a place of pure love and joy, not because I think life will be better when I have ten million dollars in the bank or half a million of readers.

I’m so excited to see what future cabins, homes or maybe Parisian apartments are in my future.

But, I don’t need them to make me happy.

I’ve escaped that trap. They will simply be icing on my cake.

And, no matter where you live, life is extending you the same invitation.

You can French Kiss Life anywhere. In a little cabin in the woods.
Or in a penthouse on Madison Avenue.
{tweet this}

When you deeply know this truth, life becomes a magical playground of possibility.


JOIN THE CHIC CONVERSATION: Are you able to feel happy anywhere? Why or why not? What are you considering to do to try to achieve this freedom?

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28 Responses to Life Lessons from our
“Little Cabin in the Woods”

  1. Tonya!

    This is so beautiful and profound and i love every word. Thank you for sharing, and i am so incredibly happy for you!!! I’ve always adored you, but feel way more connected to you now b/c i am more of a cabin in the woods than paris gal. so fun to see you enjoy all the different things life has to offer!

    much love,
    cari ellen

    • Hi Cari!

      Being raised in a small town, it’s a part of who I am. And, because Paris had such a huge impact on my life, it too, is a part of me. That’s what I love about life. We don’t have to choose just one place or experience. We can enjoy them all!

      I really appreciate your comment.


  2. Hi Tonya, thank you for sharing a glimpse of your little cabin and life! I prefer a cabin in the woods rather than the hustle and bustle of the city! Yes, I believe I am happy wherever I go…it is an inside job…I have loved The Slim, Chic, and Savvy and The Modern Day Icon courses. Thank you for creating these!

    • Louise, thank you!

      I love both the quiet of the mountains and the energy of the city. But, the older I get, the more my soul leans towards the former.

      I’m SO thrilled you’ve enjoyed both the programs. There’s more to come ;).

      Have a beautiful day!

  3. Hi Tonya, I just adore you and love this post! The photos are captivating and I’m so happy for you! It sounds like heaven to me—especially with occasional travel to exciting cities around the globe. Life is good! Thank you for loving and inspiring us all. xoxoxo

    • Hi Laurie,

      I love it out here, and I think it’s because I love coming home to the simplicity and quiet.

      And, YES, life is good!

  4. Dear Tonya,

    I am so happy for you! Now, my mentor is living in a little cabin in the woods, how magnificent is this, isn’t it? I have enjoyed the Slim, Chic and Savy as well as the Modern Day Icon courses. By sharing that you are living what you are teaching that’s what I call icing on the cake!!! I’m in awe of you. Happiness is an inside job – that’s what I have learnt from you. Encore une fois mille mercis pour tout! Catia

    • Hi Catia! Yes, she is! And, I have even MORE to give as a result. I’m SO honored to have you both in SCS and MDI. Thank you so much for your kind words.

  5. We live in a cabin in the woods – I’ve lived your self-narration…are you sure this is “me”? I’m FANCY! 🙂

    I’ve turned our cabin into a sexy cozy retreat for us and our visitors, full of candles/blankets/pillows (on the chairs AND floor)/ and sheepskins rugs. In our cabin I use real silver and serve champagne – it’s incredible! It would be easy to fall into a life of flannel pants and slippers – but there’s something especially elegant and indulgent about sleeping in silk in a snow-covered cabin.

    To be honest – my husband (and 2 dogs and 3 kids) see if more as a rustic cabin, so we’ve combined our styles successfully to make it feel like home for all of us.

    I’ve found our cabin in the woods to be a little paradise – and I love it!

    • LOL…my cabin sister!

      I can relate to everything you wrote. We have the fanciest and coziest cabin in the community.

      It is my paradise, but even deeper, I’ve worked hard to create an inner paradise to take with me wherever I go.

  6. Hello Tonya,
    Thank you for your email titled “Lessons from our Little Cabin in the Woods”. Upon reading the article, I felt very humbled, reminding me that I don’t need a lot of “stuff” to keep me happy. Just a cup of warm coffee and a book will do. Thank you so much for the reminder!!! I hope you have a great day in your little cabin in the woods.



  7. Thank you Thank you!!!!!!!!
    I have been slowly experiencing this myself. A total mindset.
    Thank you for sharing, and before I clicked to “read More” I thought. “but Tonya, this is what you are teaching, it is an inside job!This is so awesome you are DOING it.” then I “read more…” hahah and there it was! Yep, confirmation.
    Enjoy! So wonderful. I am sitting at a desk in a palliative hospice… and I truly feel blessed. All possibilities are around me and happiness is an inside job. THANK GOD!!
    Have a wonderful holiday.

    • You are SO welcome, Debbie! It’s in the practice, not just the hearing of it, that we change. My daily life is a practice. Sending you SO much love and thinking about the light you’ll share with the patients who you come into touch with. Muah!

  8. Hi Tonya!
    I love this blog post. Before I started Slim, Chic, and Savvy we were renting a cabin in the woods, and I felt like I just couldn’t be SCS living among the Amish. We now live in the city and I love it, but being SCS didn’t just happen like I thought it would with the location change! I do miss living out in the country and prayerfully one day we will get back there.

  9. Tonya, you are so inspirational! Thank you for sharing yourself with us, I just absolutely adore you. I have really enjoyed the Slim, Chic and Savvy course as well as the Modern Day Icon program. Hope to work with you one-on-one soon. Much love.

  10. hahaha… churning butter.

    I live on a small island and grew up in the “countryside but live in the city” but wherever I am I am content.

    “moving forward is not about where you live but who you’ve become” love this. Really fun podcast.

    And if that’s your little cabin, it is cuteeee. Can’t wait for the mindset makeover adventure.

    Bonne Nuit.

  11. This is lovely— both the view and the mental point of view! I have realized this week that I am the expert on my own life— that I don’t need yet another list of the best foundations or yet another degree or anyone else’s approval. I am old enough to know what works best for me. THIS WAS A HUGE REVELATION! So, I’m loving the idea that you know what’s best for YOU and you aren’t letting ego run the show. It warms my heart!

    • Yes, you ARE!!! As is every woman.

      With that said, I still love surrounding myself with people who are experts in their craft. Always learning but never giving my power away.

      Thanks so much for your comment.

  12. Such a lovely post, and a great reminder that the best things in life are not things. Being with the people you love, enjoying the beauty of nature, collecting new experiences in life and making special memories all add to your sparkle!

    Thank you for living your beliefs, facing and overcoming your fear, and inspiring us to do the same every day. One of the greatest blessings of my year was the day I clicked on one of your posts. Best wishes to you and your family for a Merry Christmas!
    P.s. I have made my own butter, and with a food processor it is not hard at all. 😉

  13. How beautiful and how true!!! It’s about loving where life’s journey takes us and letting go of fear! You always inspire me to be my most authentic self!! I am the girl on the beach in the Victorian city of Cape May, NJ and the girl in New York City, the girl who loves Paris and Florence and Rome, too! I love this post so much because I am ready to make a move in 2018!

  14. Tonya,

    This podcast/post felt like you were speaking right to me! Perfect timing. I’ve lived in Baltimore – right in the city in a rowhome – for 10 years and have been craving more and more to move to the woods of Vermont, but have had so much fear about leaving the city, leaving the people I’ve known and stepping out into the unknown. Thank you for giving me the courage to be whomever I want to be and take a chance and overcome my fears! I’ll keep you posted on my journey!

  15. I know exactly how you’re feeling! I just bought a “cabin in the woods!” Actually a small vacation home in the mountains, but it’s almost the same. I’ve never considered myself a mountain person, but when I go up there–I have a hard time coming back to reality.
    Thanks to you and FKL, I’m learning to accept the dual-realities that I’ve created; and I’m having a blast!

  16. Congratulations Tonya. Welcome to the good life … I love my life living in a cabin in the woods, too. It’s pretty delicious isn’t it? I’m deeply thrilled for you. From my wilderness cabin in the woods to yours. Dawn.

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