As I have mentioned before, my mom and I love to read books about the secrets of French women. Lessons from Madame Chic by Jennifer L. Scott is still my number one favorite, but Jamie Cat Callen’s Ooh La La! French Women’s Secrets to Feeling Beautiful Every Day is definitely a close second! It came out last year, and my mom “loaned” me her copy earlier this winter. I believe I may be keeping this one for my collection, but don’t worry – she said I could! 😉
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For the last year and a half, I have been slowly learning to believe the truth that I am loved by God and that He thinks I’m worth it. It’s been a slow learning process and along the way, I’ve uncovered lots of areas where I have believed that I am not worth the trouble. It’s been painful, but so healthy to recognize that as just a lie that I’ve believed, and not as a truth I have to live by.
How does that relate to French women? Haha! Well, somehow this little book (which is not Christian literature at all) really encouraged me in taking the time to take care of myself. Not in a self-centered greedy way, but it helped me to notice that I am a better wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend when I take the time to do things that bring me joy. I realized that my actions follow my beliefs, and when I make my enjoyment of little things a priority, I reinforce my belief in the truth that I am worth it. Obviously that idea can be taken too far (please remember my post about moderation), but it has been life-giving to me and our family for this season.
So, on to the book! There are so many areas of life covered in Ooh La La!: French Women’s Secrets to Feeling Beautiful Every Day. It’s a little more risqué than Lessons from Madame Chic (in that there is a little language and it covers more of French attitudes toward sex – not a topic covered in Lessons From Madame Chic), but I didn’t feel it was gratuitous. Jamie Cat Callen interviewed lots of French women about what they do to feel beautiful. She covers the way French women dress (color choice is important), their attitude toward makeup (no surprise that less is more), perfume, and how French women do not feeling guilty for enjoying themselves.
I finished the book inspired to discover my signature color, to take better care of my skin (while also experimenting more with makeup because it’s fun!), to find a signature scent, and to stop feeling guilty for doing things just because I enjoy them. At its heart, Ooh La La! encourages women to go back to their roots and to discover your identity in your family history and the things you enjoy. As I think back through my heritage, and the things that I have taken delight in through the years, I’m surprised to see that the small things that I relished as a child are the same small things I relish now. Fresh flowers, beauty and order in my surroundings, quiet time in nature, lovely smelling candles, good books… These are some of the things I enjoyed as a child, and also what I can recall in my oldest memories of grandparents and relatives – the small things that are actually a part of my heritage. The French seem to stay connected more to their roots than we do as Americans, so it was a refreshing exercise to actively reflect on my heritage and to recognize (and accept) where I came from. The small things like putting fresh flowers on the table and lighting candles for no one but me bring me such refreshment – and actually add value to our family, carrying on the small traditions of my background.
It’s a process, but I am slowly beginning to believe that I am worth it. If you are as obsessed with the French as my mom and I are, Ooh La La! is a must-read!
How about you? Have you read Ooh La La!? Or have you been to France and have some observations to share? Have you faced the lie of not being worth it? I would love to hear about it in the comments.
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