Ohlala! Detoxing in France!? Seriously?

Mirabeau is just one of the many vineyards nearby http://www.mirabeauwine.com/life-is-rose-for-expats-in-cotignac-provence/

Mirabeau is just one of the many vineyards nearby http://www.mirabeauwine.com/life-is-rose-for-expats-in-cotignac-provence/

Here we are in the land of buttery croissants, tantalizing Rosé, excruciatingly gorgeous cheeses and yet we are detoxing. Ohlala. What the heck are we thinking?! Our friends give us crooked looks. They have 'non' respect for this sort of behavior and don’t hide their dismay: You are too American. Relax, be happy. What’s a little sugar?You are on holiday, yes?

I completely agree. They are right to question this odd behavior, for there is nothing better than to arrive at Nice airport, take deep breaths of the dry coastal air - an aromatic mix of thyme, rosemary, dried earth, sea and cypress – and count the minutes speeding down the Autoroute only slowing for speed cameras until you can at last press a chilled Rosé to your lips.

From the moment you touch down and say “Merci. Bonne journée” to the friendly immigration officer and then stuff your American passport away, every one of your senses is firing away, urging you to Relax. Enjoy life. Be in Rome when in Rome… or Provence. Fear not, my friends. Those lovely French sirens are not being completely ignored. They are just being held at bay, albeit for a ridiculous ten day sugar detox in the South of France. I’ve done stupid things in my life and this might be one of them, but hear me out: there are some very good reasons for it.

First off, if we were staying for a two week holiday, there would be NO detox. We would dive into life over here and enjoy all that is on offer and relax with impunity. We would deal with the consequences upon returning to the states and figure out some kind of detox after the fact ...but we are not here for 14 days. We are here for 60, so taking it easy for the first ten days is a healthy way to allow a digestive system to adjust gradually to the travel, time change and dietary wonders. Talk about Slow Travel…this is definitely a surreal stop on The Slow Road.

Despite all those concerned looks we’re getting from friends, it’s not all bad. It’s not like we are detoxing on multiple levels. We’re just knocking out the sugar for ten days.  Besides, it is far easier to detox away from home once you've broken your routine. My husband Tony and I quit smoking together twelve years ago. We went to Parrot Cay for two weeks and slept it out of our systems for the first three days and then spent the next eleven days replacing old habits with new. Tony opted for the impressive afternoon tea cakes while I opted for Pilates, yoga, and Reiki treatments. He's been enjoying tea cakes ever since and now he’s ready to jump off that proverbial cliff of a sugar cube and put an end to sweet urges.

This is my husband’s first sugar detox and I am really happy he is doing it - that’s why I am doing it with him. Granted, I have an unfair advantage.  I did my sugar detox once, and have since maintained a low glycemic diet so this is easy for me. I [truly] enjoy a routine sugar purge, but it’s tough going for him. He loves his morning toast with butter and marmalade or honey. His day peaks with tea and tea cakes in the afternoon.  He prefers his wine over tequila and can’t imagine a French meal that isn't capped with something deliriously egg-y, creamy and sweet.

To be fair to him, that’s why we are only focusing on sugar. To go the full nine yards for a total detox would be impractical, stupid … imagine no dairy, no wine and no caffeine in France…now that would be insane. Baguettes might not be sticking out of our market bag but we are still enjoying our grand crèmes [café au laits]; wrapping our gloriously stinky cheese in roti ham; and devouring piles of market fresh vegetables each day.

While I am not drinking alcohol, Tony has put aside the Pastisse on ice, chilled Rosé, and le petite pression [tiny beer]. Instead, he is discovering the no-sugar freshness of chilled tequila with lemon and fizzy water as an apéro.  After a session with his head stuck inside the engine of our ancient Renault [aka “Jolly” because she is not so Jolie] he admits the disarmingly simple Mexican tincture is “rah-ther refreshing.”

Apart from giving our systems a gentle introduction to all things new and French, there is also a subliminal bonus to this bizarre sugar detox in France. For all of us who travel, we know that from the moment the wheels hit the road, the boat sets sail, and the plane takes off, we leave “our world” behind. We move towards a realm that is beyond our every day and it is here where we can relax, let go, and “cleanse” ourselves of the weight of our every day. We replace it with things that are lighter, brighter, uplifting. In doing so we recharge, reboot and revitalize and let go of the debris that weights us down. That, my friends, is exactly what we intend to do this summer, but it goes even deeper for us. 

First morning. View from the olive terraces 

First morning. View from the olive terraces 

For every year that we have lived in the states we have spent as many away from our home in France. It is a place that is dear to us yet we tend to its taxes, its bills and its maintenance from thousands of miles away. The 300 year old stone farm house waits, silent and boarded up until our return. In turn, our year is marked by the time in between our two worlds. When we do return, we get straight to work. We haven’t stopped since we arrived.

As much as we are outwardly busy with projects, we are just as busy inwardly as we reconnect with a place that holds many memories and much meaning for us. For years, we have watched the sun cast shadows over its fields from morning until evening and apart from the mistral that currently assaults us, it is always peaceful and still. Soon the sound of the mighty winds will be replaced by the songs of cigales and while the wind continues to whip up and the shudders bang shut, we keep busy "putting things right". As each day edges us closer to full-on vacation mode, we let go of our day-to-day life in America.  The physical detox is joined by a spiritual detox as we process the past year and shift our focus to the silent, pensive parts of our hearts and minds. 

As odd as this may seem, our home is also in need of a metaphorical detox. Pipes are calcified from lack of use; my claw-footed iron bath groans as we turn her on for the first deep salt and lavender bath of the season; and the dishwasher and washing machine ache as they are called to duty. It will take a while for our house, as well as our own systems to unclog and reawaken after a year’s pile up.

Beneath all our chores, there is a metaphysical give and take between us and our home. It feels good to be back in our home attending to all her needs, breathing life back in and allowing air into all the dark corners that have been left untouched, not unlike the way a detox clears away our dark patches. We are swept up within her walls and over her fields where the rhythm of a home has no alarms to wake us and timing has nothing at all to do with hands on the clock. Unwind indeed. It is a peaceful place, a perfect sanctuary for proper rest and a healthy detox to clear away the cobwebs, literally and metaphorically.  

If home is indeed where the heart is, then on some magical level, this home needed our heart beats for it to come alive and for a pulse to run through it. For that alone, I can’t think of a better place to undergo a detox than in France while reconnecting with our home, whose pipes are as rusty as our own. Maybe, just maybe this detox in France is not such a crazy idea after all? 

 

Doin' A What Did Not Come Naturally...

Writing did not come naturally to me. It took years and loads of practice before I was any good at it. I lacked a key ingredient - the confidence to express myself, to let my words go and allow them to find their own way. Ironically, I would never be writing for myself were it not for some things I learned from work, not from school or my personal life. For the purposes of this blog hop, I’d like to share a few lessons I learned from some very clever bosses on a corporate playing field where writing is anything but personal.

The courtyard at The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. 

The courtyard at The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. 

I first started writing straight out of college at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston where among other things I compiled the quarterly newsletter. I was technically skilled at formulaic writing but had ZERO knowledge of composing “a bigger picture.” In fact, it was the first time I had ever heard the expression as it was regularly summoned by the incoming media-savvy museum director, Anne Hawley. While she was all about “The Big Picture,” my editors were the incredibly brainy curators who taught me the micro. This was the first glimmer showing me that Writing is as much about the macro as it is about the micro.

All writers know that you can’t write unless you know what you are writing about. I learned this for myself when my career shifted from museum work to corporate public relations at Giorgio Armani in Boston. It was here I learned that in order to write well, you can’t sit around and expect words to come.  You’ve got to get up and get out there to find them.

I was expected to work five days at PR and an additional sixth day – every Saturday - on the selling floor assisting the sales staff. I resented the six day work week. It was agonizing. As a young twenty-something I was unable to grasp the importance of being in-sync with my colleagues and in touch with the business I was writing about and promoting. It took some time and significant growing pains for me to realize that my boss, Donna Montgomery, was doing me a huge favor, showing me that I was part of a bigger picture, that it was not about me. It was time to ditch my twenty-something ego and learn my place and my role in the business of public relations. THE BEST writing practice, whether PR or private, is to get out of the office and get in touch with the story and all its parts… the client, the product, and the trends. No PR Princess in an Ivory Tower will ever be good at writing unless she keeps up and gets out of her own way.

When I moved from Boston to work for Giorgio Armani in L.A., I did a proverbial “Linda Blair,” turned my head around in a complete circle, and threw up everything. Blaaaaghghgh. Once again, I ditched the ego and learned how to do things in a new way, a West Coast way. That was daunting, but I confess, it was thrilling. My boss in LA, Wanda McDaniel, was a gifted writer, but she was a brilliant strategist, too. She made certain that every word she chose supported the message she needed to convey. Every time I sat on the other side of her desk and scribbled down her messages to Mr. Armani, A-List celebs, and Hollywood’s Power Elite, I was learning the true meaning of crafting a message.

Sadly, Grief was my next boss-Teacher. After my daughter died, I stopped writing. My light had gone out.  I could not articulate my struggle. For years, I had no voice and I mourned for its return so that I could express both the agony and the beauty I held inside. I eventually found "safety" in writing when I went back to work but beneath it all, I knew that if I truly wanted to write in order to express myself, I would need to jump beyond the corporate to the personal. To do this, I not only had to regain my confidence but I had to find it in the first place. It was a slow process but my voice did eventually return to me, and it was different. I was different, both had been forever changed in an instant and over the years. I like this voice better. It’s not always so frightened to say something wrong.

What am I working on/writing?

The process of writing every day is not at all new to me. I’ve been non-stop-writing for the past thirty years. What IS new to me is the JOY of writing for myself. I am working on keeping that joy flame going for as long as possible. Writing Good Girl Go stories offers me a chance to do just that.

2) How does my work/writing differ from others of its genre?

What strikes me is that my subject matter is very similar to so many others. I guess I am not so very unique after all, but that doesn’t bother me one bit. I love that so many people out there are interested in health and wellness and are trying to improve lives, their own and others. I love that we are not trying to be perfect, that we are accepting of our flaws and searching for and finding ways to nourish our mind, body and spirit. We can all learn from one another and partake in a movement that can better ourselves and indeed, our world.

3) Why do I write what I do?

After banging out press releases, business proposals, fundraising pitches, press strategies, brochures, advertising jingles, anything in the name of corporate communications, I no longer wanted to spend my time writing about things that were not meaningful to me.  I now write about things that have inspired me to grow in ways I might not have otherwise. It took a long time for me to gain the courage to open up and write in this way. Another part of me wanted to write about the experience of losing my first child at birth but I did not want to focus on the sadness and trauma of it all. I wanted to focus on the other side of it, the part that is the Deep Peace and Fulfillment that eventually comes from Grief, the part that makes us Grateful to be alive and appreciative of what we do have in our lives and not hooked on what we have lost. At some point, we all get knocked for six. I like to write about what happens after we work through it. It makes being human, wonderful after all.

4) How does my writing process work?

I write all the time, but mostly in my head when I am dog walking, driving, preparing a meal. Only when I am ready to write do I sit down and type. Then it’s just flow and edits, flow and edits. Time flies for me when I write. It’s pure joy as I pull thoughts and words together.  The act of writing brings me to where I really want to be, a place where I am connected to my thoughts inwardly while expressing them outwardly. I am grateful to be here, finally, after all these years.

Participating in this blog hop has opened up a new dialogue for me and brought to my attention many fine and intelligent women who are sharing their words, their wisdom, and their humor. I am grateful to Laurie Luh at Mimosa Lotus for bringing me into the loop and am thrilled to introduce two very inspirational fellow blog hoppers - Katherine Miller of Kosmic-Kitchen and Keryn Means of  Walking On Travels . Like Laurie, they also know some inspiring ways to make your life awesome and healthy... 

Laurie Luh  is a career counselor, HR consultant and the co-founder of Mimosa Lotus, a lifestyle   website that inspires personal growth by providing tools to live a happier, more fulfilled life. Laurie   was the head of Human Resources at Participant Media since the company's inception in 2004 and   left in 2013 when she realized that it was time for her to jump into the next phase of her career   life. Now Laurie writes about the practicalities of “jumping” and dispenses overall career advice for    Mimosa Lotus  and  greenlightjobs . She will also be a featured blogger on a new online career center   that’s still in development. Laurie has been a guest lecturer at USC and has spoken on several panels.   Outside of writing and career counseling, Laurie lives by the beach in Los Angeles and is an active   runner and hiker hoping to add surfing to her list of activities very soon. She’s easy to find over at    Mimosa Lotus  or you can follow her on twitter @LaurieLuh, where she’s often tweeting photos of   favorite SoCal hotspots.

Laurie Luh is a career counselor, HR consultant and the co-founder of Mimosa Lotus, a lifestyle website that inspires personal growth by providing tools to live a happier, more fulfilled life. Laurie was the head of Human Resources at Participant Media since the company's inception in 2004 and left in 2013 when she realized that it was time for her to jump into the next phase of her career life. Now Laurie writes about the practicalities of “jumping” and dispenses overall career advice for Mimosa Lotus and greenlightjobs. She will also be a featured blogger on a new online career center that’s still in development. Laurie has been a guest lecturer at USC and has spoken on several panels. Outside of writing and career counseling, Laurie lives by the beach in Los Angeles and is an active runner and hiker hoping to add surfing to her list of activities very soon. She’s easy to find over at Mimosa Lotus or you can follow her on twitter @LaurieLuh, where she’s often tweeting photos of favorite SoCal hotspots.

Katherine Miller   has spent most of her life exploring the question how do we create radiant health, in body, mind and spirit? To find the answer she studied macrobiotics and other dietary regimens, raised a family on whole-foods, became a yoga and meditation practitioner and teacher, and served as Executive Chef at a spiritual retreat center for 14 years. She also received certification as a health coach from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, and as a Master Fermentologist to guide people to a better gut health. In 2010 she created   Kosmic-Kitchen   to teach people practical ways to shift their experience of healthy eating into a new dimension of possibility and pleasure. Recently she launched a new venture, Mbodied.com, dedicated to guiding women during their transition through menopause. Both businesses offer virtual and in-person programs designed to guide you in the discovery and practice of radiant health. 

Katherine Miller has spent most of her life exploring the question how do we create radiant health, in body, mind and spirit? To find the answer she studied macrobiotics and other dietary regimens, raised a family on whole-foods, became a yoga and meditation practitioner and teacher, and served as Executive Chef at a spiritual retreat center for 14 years. She also received certification as a health coach from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, and as a Master Fermentologist to guide people to a better gut health. In 2010 she created Kosmic-Kitchen to teach people practical ways to shift their experience of healthy eating into a new dimension of possibility and pleasure. Recently she launched a new venture, Mbodied.com, dedicated to guiding women during their transition through menopause. Both businesses offer virtual and in-person programs designed to guide you in the discovery and practice of radiant health. 

Keryn Means  is a freelance writer and founder of   Walking on Travels , a site that gives hope to today’s active parent who doesn’t want to stop their lives; they simply bring their kids along for the ride. You can find Keryn dragging her two boys around Seattle most days and across the globe several times a year. Follow her on  Facebook ,  Twitter ,  Google+ ,  Pinterest , and  Instagram . 

Keryn Means is a freelance writer and founder of Walking on Travels, a site that gives hope to today’s active parent who doesn’t want to stop their lives; they simply bring their kids along for the ride. You can find Keryn dragging her two boys around Seattle most days and across the globe several times a year. Follow her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+Pinterest, and Instagram