I recently returned from my one-week retreat in Paris. The City of Light offers much for reflection and the Parisian lifestyle left me with a few interesting realizations.
Upon settling in to my cozy hotel, I marveled at the beautiful antiquities, colors, fabrics and personality each space possessed. It has happened before- I visit somewhere like Europe and once again relish in a quaint room with velvet and tassels, golds, reds, royal blues — welcoming and familiar. Such a marked contrast to much of the spare and neutral décor we see at home these days. I do feel there are definitely places for a modern and chic neutral palette but I have lately felt it has become a bit overused and uninteresting. Yawn. Paris inspired the poignant reminder that the use of color in decor is alive and well, and still rich and gorgeous.
Our group of 13 ladies loved our amazing Parisian tour guide, Christine, and one of the highlights of the trip was an invitation into her beautiful flat for lunch. This was a surprise when our planned picnic was rained out. Her family had owned the stunning building overlooking the Luxembourg Gardens for several generations. When we ascended the stairs into the top floor space, I was instantly struck by it’s brimming pinks and yellows which felt warm and bright– we were greeted with crystal glasses filled with sparkling rose – We all noticed the many heirlooms and interesting trinkets that evoked a strong impression of family, legacy– home. Parisians are proud of their colorful culture and traditions.. I sensed no desire or need to change decor to become “modern,” or “spare.”
We enjoyed a delicious picnic lunch (yep…fromage, pain, prosciutto, vin) joined by Christine’s lovely daughter, Capucine. I noticed a guitar in the room and after learning that Capucine is an aspiring musician, asked if she would perform for us. She did! We had a wonderful concert during desert (yep. macarons, pistache gateaux ) and even sang along to George Michael. Christine thanked me and told me it was actually her first time performing in front of a group -and she was so glad it was the perfect one! The warm, relaxing afternoon with fabulous women will always be with me as a wonderful memory.
I’ve since been contemplating this theme of color versus neutral palettes in our homes- I’ve been pondering where else I may be missing color in my life. Not only externally but internally as well. Color is so important to mood and we all felt happy and uplifted in Christine’s vibrant and cheerful apartment on that dreary day. It’s clear to me this is a question we need to be asking ourselves. Not just in the pictorial sense but in the very important metaphorical sense: Where can we add more color to our lives? More that lights us up? More that brings us joy? More that makes us feel alive?
We can… break out the good china and silver, order fresh flowers every week, buy new sheets, add new throw pillows, be a tourist in our own backyard, plant an aromatic (and bright green!) herb garden, start our day with a George Michael playlist, paint with watercolors, drive a few hours out of town for a country-side lunch, or order up some rose flavored macarons from Laduree and bring Paris into our life every day!
And that’s just for starters…you get the idea- There are a million simple things we can do to make every day fabulous. How will you capture the spirit of color and brightness in your own life?
The world is your canvas… Paint away.
Color me Happy!
I have escaped to a mid summer retreat in Paris! I can’t think of a more heavenly place to spend time with a group of women who want to make a difference in the world, create and collaborate and think about their “legacy” every day.
I was sitting in the United lounge waiting for time to pass before flight. I scanned the room, as I so often will, and was once again faced with a room full of people –connected. Connected to their iPhones, connected to their laptops, connected to their headsets. I began to wonder what it would be like in this day and age if we didn’t have all of these devices and people were actually connecting with one another. What conversations could happen? What could we create together? How would our world be different? I pondered this as I boarded my plane and settled into my seat. A nice looking gentleman approached and it was clear his seat was next to mine. “Hello” he politely nodded, “I’m checking out both seats to decide which one my wife would like.” Knowing my husband would have offered to trade seats, I thought of his kindness and offered to do so. The couple was most appreciative and I moved forward to my new position. As I sat down next to an attractive woman with welcoming eyes, and exchanged pleasantries, it was clear she was open to conversation. OK Jane, time to take a page from your own book here…So…I engaged. Turns out she lives in the community where my brother lives. She had spent the evening before at a winery in St. Helena right across the vineyard from our new home. She has two children close in age to mine and we share the same joys and struggles that women our age deal with every day.
She shared her love of Paris with me and “confessed” that she and her husband had recently purchased a small apartment on Rue du Fauberg -St Honore. Yep-basically shopping nirvana- across the street from one of my faves…Le Bristol Paris. She invited me over. That day. I had to wait to check into my hotel room anyway. So I dropped off my luggage and headed to her beautiful apartment! she took me to her favorite blow dry bar, Biguine for the best hairdo of my life. (Ask for Didier) We shared a walk in her neighborhood, grabbed some groceries for her and enjoyed a salad at her favorite local bistrot. I made a new friend. I was certainly not looking for one. But I was open. Open to connecting. Open to looking up. I look forward to seeing Simi again at home, and in Paris. So the next time you find yourself looking down and being connected to your phone, I encourage you to look up. Connect outward and be amazed at what the world sends your way.
May is that time of year when our newsfeeds are filled with wonderful graduation photos and clips of various commencement speeches. I always love a good inspirational commencement address, and this year it was Will Ferrell’s words to the USC graduates that left an impression.
Along with his undeniable humor (and a stellar version of a Whitney Houston song!), he included a strong reminder “to enjoy the journey – and worry less about the outcome”. He also touched on a theme my husband and I find ourselves discussing often these days: the definition of success. Even with all of Will Ferrell’s outward accomplishments and accolades, he considers his biggest successes to be personal –
• His 16 year marriage to his wife, Viveca
• Their three sons
• The service work he holds dear
As parents, we’ve hit that point when our kids and their friends have graduated from college, and many conversations with the twenty-somethings and the parent-somethings revolve around the ideas of ‘success’. It seems that the idea of success is frequently focused around a certain job/which falls into a few certain industries/commanding a certain salary/after obtaining certain types of degrees/from certain types of institutions … yes, certainly a few very narrow parameters – that many ‘kids’ don’t fit into.
Over the past few years my husband and I have spoken about this frequently, as we have come to realize that the biggest – and undoubtedly most significant – success in our lives has been our relationship with each other and the raising of the two human beings who are our sons. There is not much talk today in this younger generation (or, quite honestly, by some of our contemporaries) about how to be successful in relationships – the significance of finding people to share your life, and how to create a partnership with another person. There is limited focus on the importance of connections, kinship, and community – with modern emphasis placed on the best grades, high test scores, and getting into ‘good’ schools – followed by a similar narrow mindset as our kids step out of college and into the workforce. We wonder what this will mean to a generation raised to value achievements over kindness, getting good grades over being good people, IQ over EQ – how do we teach care and responsibility in relationships?
Now that our kids are out of school and working adults, we hope they received the message: being a good person, finding a loving life partner, and being of service in the world is ALSO what success is all about. We will continue to instill these values. My husband and I would not have found half of the success in the other endeavors in our lives if we didn’t share a strong foundational relationship. We have supported one another through business endeavors, charity and community work, and – of course – on the parenting journey. If I could send a message to anyone discussing the concept of success it is this: don’t forget what makes the world go ‘round. Whether you are a parent who is still guiding an adult child, or a child who is striving to be successful, remember when you look back on your life (even when you are only halfway there, like I am) you will measure your successes based on the people who surround you and love you and have been on the journey with you. It is not always an easy path, and you will want to have good people by your side to share your triumphs – and the inevitable bumps – along the way. Let’s widen our definition of success for these kids who are stepping into the real world and allow it to include, among other things, the value of creating a life that includes relationships, family, and meaning – for these are the truest riches that life has to offer. Congratulations to the class of 2017.
Karen Hill has been a go-to friend for fashion advice and knowledge, so I was thrilled about the launch of her new venture – a Stylist business combining her experience in the industry with innate great taste and her ongoing love affair with style – Passion for Fashion. Her recently debuted Personal Styling Services specialize in closet edits, personal shopping, and styling updates. Karen’s years of hands-on retail experience help her organize what you already own (and create new looks from those pieces hanging in the closet), navigate stores to best fit your aesthetic and budget … and to help create a wardrobe reflecting who you are today, bringing out your best and most confident self.
If you are ready to streamline your closet, reimagine your look, find a perfect special occasion outfit or gift, Passion for Fashion has you covered. Karen has a fashion girl’s eye, with a mother’s practicality – creating an effortlessly stylish wardrobe for the busy modern woman.
A few of her favorite Spring trends?
Try some feminine ruffles, the bell sleeve, “cold shoulder” tops and dresses- all flirty with movement. Add a chunky heeled sandal or cute wedge…finish off with a cuff bracelet and fun tassel earrings!
Connect with Karen: firstname.lastname@example.org
Good advice is a gift — what is the best advice you’ve been given?
‘Treat others the way you would want to be treated’ and ‘What goes around comes around’ — two pieces of advice that are often intertwined!
What is on the top of your bucket list?
I’d love to travel to Europe with my family, and visit my roots in Poland. As a shopping aficionado, I would love to see Kraków’s Cloth Hall, the 14th century trading hall that solidified Kraków’s importance as an east-west trading post, beginning with textiles and fabrics. Fashion is everywhere!
Who would you invite to your ideal Girl’s Night?
My mom and my sisters, besties from California and Chicago…and how about Oprah and Ellen – guaranteed to be an evening filled with love and laughter.
What is your go-to piece of clothing?
Can I admit this as a Personal Stylist? Lululemon leggings. (Comfort is important!) And I never tire of a great pair of jeans with a beautiful top – boots in the winter, and sandals every other season.
What do you sing when you are alone in your car?
Bruno Mars and any R & B – my car is basically Soul Train.
What was the best compliment you have received?
To be told that I am thoughtful, friendly, and always smiling. I love showing people how much I care about them!
How has your life been different than you imagined?
Chicago girl moves to California, and has now lived here almost as many years as I was in Chicago. I love being a California girl – though it’s very true: you can take the girl out of the Mid-West, but you can’t take the Mid-West out of the girl. I’m a happy hybrid.
What is your most-used word? (And what word do you wish everyone would stop using?)
‘Dear’! I find myself using it a lot now that it’s just the two of us at home, “Dear, what would you like for dinner?”, etc! I DISlike the word ‘ like’ …can’t wait for that phase to end!
Who is your celebrity crush?
Hmmmm…must I choose just one? I choose David Beckham, Josh Duhamel, and Blake Shelton! (rule of three!)
How would you spend your perfect day?
A sunny morning with some exercise (wearing my lulus!)
Lunch with a friend (Perfect jeans and a favorite top!)
Cozy dinner at home with my husband watching our favorite show, sports or a movie (Yep, back in my lulus!)
What is your favorite museum?
The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago – there is something for everyone. I grew up visiting the Field Museum, and was so excited to share the experience with my husband and kids! It’s a must-do when you are in Chicago.
What is the first thing you notice when you meet someone?
I notice their smile … and definitely if they look me in the eye!
Last week, with Easter approaching, I was inspired to create a pretty floral arrangement for the entry of our home. My husband and sons were traveling in Asia on business, and planning to return the night before Easter – a few special touches would welcome them back for a very simple holiday. A favorite arrangement I love recreating every year adds color, whimsy, and tradition – several bunches of multicolored tulips surrounded with plastic Easter eggs placed in the water around the stems. It’s a fun presentation and I admit I was pretty proud of the result. (When you grow up with a mother who is a floral designer, you don’t have to learn to do many of these arrangements yourself.) So, in my “proud as a peacock” moment I snapped a photo and posted it to Instagram and Facebook. As the likes started coming in, I looked a little more closely at my Easter arrangement.
Oh no! There isn’t a pink egg showing on this side to match the pink tulip!
Shoot! There are two purple eggs on that side!
Whatttt was I thinking!? How could I have posted this? Why didn’t I move the votives out of the shot? Does that gold mirror clash? Why didn’t I look more carefully? Why didn’t I style it? Should I have used a filter? Should I take it down and fix it and post it again? Will anyone notice if I do that?! Blah blah blah blah blah…STOP!!!! Breathe…..
I calmed myself down, realizing that so much of what we see these days is so “filtered” and “overstyled” that I was actually questioning something really ridiculous. I became curious about how often I might shift into this mindset – the need to over style or over edit things to be perfect. I once posted a picture of one of the most beautiful people I know, and they were disappointed that I hadn’t used the Facetune app. (believe me, they looked amazing) I’m not dissing Facetune or filters or editing tools – and using enhancements can be fun once in a while – but I realized how much this notion of needing our photos and lives “styled” and “perfect” can seep into our consciousness even at the most elementary level … A flower arrangement! Really, Jane?
I left the picture where it was. I stopped worrying about it, instead of entering the crazy-making obsession of perfection. I now look at the photo and love its authenticity – and that it was a snapshot of my happy labor of love. Just the fact that I got it done was a miracle to celebrate! And the reality is my mismatched tulip-and-Easter-egg arrangement got the most important likes of all when my family came home.