Well, it’s been a while since I’ve had the time to sit down and write on this blog. There’s been a lot going on with life, work and family.  And for the moment, family needs to come first.

And realizing that that’s where my priorities lie for the moment got to me to thinking about things that come first. I enjoyed reading Linda Becker’s “Your Second Youth” blog where she suggests Baby Boomer Women ask themselves this list of questions from time to time… ”

  • How is your health right now?  I’m not talking about not being sick.  Are you as healthy as you want to be?  If you keep taking care of yourself exactly the way you are now, do you believe deep in your heart that your body will be able to do what you want it to do when you’re 90?  Remember, women have special health needs as we age.
  • Have you taken a good look at your finances?  Some women are still reluctant to do this.  If so, please get over it and review your finances thoroughly.  Assume you’re going to live to be 90, 95, or maybe even over 100.  You’re going to want at least 80% of your income per year, every year, to maintain the lifestyle you have now when you retire.  Are you happy with the numbers you’re seeing, or do you need to make some changes?
  • Are you happy in your relationship?  Is there anything you’d like to be doing to shake things up a little and put some of the romance back in your lives?

How content are you now?  Women are still too frequently caught up in the needs of others to take this question seriously, but I suggest you take a good look at this one, too. To read the rest of the questions – and her ideas about the answers, click here: Questions to Ask First

Then I ran across this:

On the Boomer Girl Diary – Cathy found it on Facebook after a friend posted it – and I couldn’t help thinking how perfect of an example that is… what are you going to put first in YOUR life?

Are you walking through your life, business and relationships faintly like footprints in the sand that will be washed away by the tide?

I have to ask.  When you think of yourself – what words come to mind?  Are you fearless?  Or do you tread faintly?  I know faintly is an old-fashioned word.  According to the dictionary, it means: to a faint degree or weakly perceived…

I’ve talked about being fearless in another post.

And while I’m not always fearless, I don’t want to be ‘weakly perceived or seen to a faint degree’ either!

One of the things I love about this blog – and it’s title and meaning – is that it gives me the opportunity to really think – and write about – things that we as women, are facing and going through. And I also love getting to know – and interact with you, my readers!  It’s one of the highlights of my day every time I get another message that there’s a new comment on my blog.  And so before I go further, I want to tell you that I appreciate you taking the time to read my blog and also for your comments, questions and friendship!  Thank you for that, and for being an excellent example of not going through life ‘faintly’.

So I’d love to hear your thoughts about where you see yourself, and if you’re leaving footprints in your life, in your business or your relationships – do you feel like they’re faint ones that can barely be seen and will be easily erased like waves crashing up on sand?  Or are they deep and lasting like carvings in stone?

What are you willing to stand up and be counted about?  What’s important to you – important enough that you don’t want to be ‘faintly seen’ or barely perceived?

If you’ve been leaving faint footprints in life, what has that looked like?  What has made you feel like this was what you needed or wanted to do?

And if you’re planning to change it in 2011, what are you going to do differently?

Hermes still makes fabulous bags and scarves!

Fashion means different things to different people.  In the states, what’s fashionable often depends on where you live, or what you do for a living. (Jeans and a T-shirt along with a pair of sandals or running shoes will get you in the door most everywhere.)  But it’s a little bit different here on the French Riviera.

When I got here 6 years ago for example, jeans were for working in the yard, or cleaning out the attic.  Except for school kids, you didn’t see adults wearing jeans on the street, not even to go to the market.  (In fact, within six months of being here, I only wore my jeans to my pottery class, because it didn’t matter if I wiped my hands on them, or spattered paint on them – and within the first year, I ended up throwing them out anyway.)

Today jeans are becoming more common, and you’ll see people of all ages wearing them. (I still haven’t given in and gotten another pair, but it’s more due to the fact that I refuse to pay close to $100 euros for something I could have picked up at Walmart for $20!)

But fashion on the French Riviera is something else altogether.  For example, if you’re going to walk your dog, you’d never think of throwing on a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt!  While strolling along the main streets in Nice, Cannes, Monaco or Saint Tropez, you’ll see women dressed to the nines – I’m talking about heels, hose, jewelry and makeup – to take Fido for walk.  And it’s not just here on the French Riviera, either!  Check out this fun post from Paris Breakfast to see what the fashionable dog’s owners wear, or where they go… (I love the lady in purple!)

And here’s another fashion tip – the only people who wear shorts (not capri shorts, but any other kind) to go anywhere except the beach – are tourists, teenagers and celebrities who don’t care what people think.  If you’re planning a vacation to the French Riviera, and you’re wondering what to pack, check out my article on Examiner.com “How to Dress for Your French Riviera Vacation” – I give you the do’s and don’ts.

Live Fearlessly!

The F-word of the day today is: Fearless.

I made a huge decision on Monday that’s going to change everything for me – in my life, in my business and in the force I want to be in the world.

And I guess to explain what happened on Monday, I have to take you back a little further than that, and share something with you that not a lot of people know about – or, if they do, they didn’t realize how serious it is.

I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis last year, and I’ve hit a few bumps in the last several months that have kind of sent it into overdrive.  And I’m facing some physical challenges at the moment that aren’t a lot of fun and that, for a while, left me feeling very depressed and not wanting to face some things – like spending the rest of my life in a wheelchair.

And then on Monday, everything changed.  Two things happened.  First, I was reading the book – “Cracking the Millionaire Code – the Key to Enlightened Wealth” written by Mark Victor Hansen and Robert Allen.  And a ’secret passion’ that I’ve harbored for several years about how to help women around the world start and grow their own successful – profitable – businesses – leaped to life inside me again… And secondly, later that night when I was listening to a teleseminar, the speaker asked a simple question – “How long are you going to keep being a bit player in your life story – when are you going to be ready to step up and become the star you were meant to be?”

And that really struck me.

Because I had one of those ‘ah ha!’ flashes where I realized something.

I was letting fear control me.

Fear of the possibility of being physically disabled for the rest of my life…

Fear of how that would change my life, and my relationships with the people I love – especially my husband and my children – who would have to take care of me.

And fear of how that would affect my business relationships and the way my clients would see me.

But I also realized that I wasn’t willing to sit back and be a bit player in my own life story – no matter what was going on, or what ‘might’ happen.

I’m not willing to keep playing small.

And I’m not willing to let anything stop me from living my life out loud and proud and… FEARLESSLY.

So today’s ‘F-Word of the Day’ is Fearless…  Because that’s what I wish for you.  That you step up and become the star of your own life story, and that you start living every single day as if you had nothing to fear.

If you feel like something’s stopping you from living the life you were meant to live, or that there’s something keeping you from building the business of your dreams, of from finding the love of your life, or from taking a chance and doing something you’ve always wanted to do… feel free to post a comment below… Who knows what might happen?

A beautiful American Indian tapestry

The F-Word for today is: Fate…

According to Webster’s Dictionary, fate is: an event (or a course of events) that will inevitably happen in the future.

Do you believe in Fate?

Or do you believe in free-will?

And are the two mutually exclusive?

I find this an interesting topic – ‘food for thought’ if you will…

When I was doing a little research on the topic, I came across an interesting article written by a colleague of mine at the Examiner.com – here’s the link: What you think determines your fate. Her idea is that we’re all products of our upbringing, our beliefs and the self-image we carry around in our heads.

So, what about you?

What do you believe?  Are you in charge?  The captain of your fate and the master of your soul?  Can you create the life you want, or will you always be controlled by fate?

There’s an interesting book that goes into the subject of fate and the law-of-attaction.  It’s written by Lynn Grabhorn and it’s called, “Excuse Me, Your Life is Waiting : The Astonishing Power of Feelings” - and it talks about how everything in the law of attraction – your ability to manifest the things you want into your life – has to start with the basic laws of physics.  In other words, what feelings you send out – energy vibrations – influence what you attract into your life.

So, I can’t help wondering then, if you control your feelings – does that mean you can control your fate – utilize your free will – and change your destiny?

I’ve always felt like fate is like a tapestry… There are certain things that are pre-ordained – whether they’re the life lessons we decided we wanted (or needed) to learn while we were here on earth, or the people we chose to have in our lives… but I also believe that we have choices… We are the ones who ultimately decide on the colors that we want to weave into our tapestry and we can choose to change the pattern any time we want – or we can choose to leave it unfinished…

What do you believe about fate – or free will?  Please leave your comment below – because inquiring minds want to know!

the sibs and mom

Sometimes things don’t turn out the way you planned.  For me, the plan was to go back to the states this summer and visit the family.

But, things happen, and it just didn’t happen.

One of the things that did happen, that we didn’t get to participate in, was a family reunion, and my mom’s 72 Birthday.

I did get to call during the reunion, and I got to talk to some cousins, and an aunt and some nieces and nephews that I haven’t talked to in a while.  And I got to talk to the sibs.  And mom.

So it was almost like being there.

But I miss you guys.

And I’m hoping that things will open up for us this fall.  So we can come and enjoy a barbecue, and sitting up late and talking about the ‘good old days’, and laugh over the way we used to dress in the old photo albums.

The little routines that become familiar -like the open air market

The F-Word of the Day is: Familiar.

To some people, familiar is a bad thing with negative connotations… like ‘being with one person for the rest of your life’ or getting bored with the same-old, same-old.

For other people, familiar is cozy and safe.  Having your favorite things around you, or following your familiar routine and seeing familiar faces.

When I was younger, I have to admit I was in the first group.  I liked meeting new people, visiting new places, following my own path.  I got bored quickly and easily – as soon as something started feeling routine, I started feeling fenced in and cut off.

And back then, life was many things… exciting, terrifying, fun, painful, new, different… but it was seldom familiar.  It fit the me I was back then, and I’ve no regrets and wouldn’t change a thing.

But, as I’ve gotten… ahem… older (and hopefully wiser), I’ve discovered that ‘familiar’ has a certain charm of its own.

I like the routines I’ve fallen into now.

Starting every morning with Alain, the two of sharing a croissant, him drinking a cup of coffee, me having a cup of green tea, and reading the news of the day to each other from our respective laptops…

Working on my latest ghostwriting project in the quiet of the morning, once I’ve gotten everyone out the door, to work or school.  (One of my favorite things to do as the weather cools off, is sit outside at the little table on my balcony.  I write and listen and watch as people stride, wander, walk and run to their various appointments.

Having a successful internet business.

Going to the open-air market to choose fresh fruits and vegetables, and then stopping at the butcher’s or the fishmonger’s, and then the bakery that’s around the corner from the house.

Fixing lunch and sitting with Alain while we talk and laugh and enjoying our quiet moments together.

Spending time with the kids, talking about their day and watching them rustle through the refrigerator looking for an after-school snack.

Teaching English classes to kids and adults at the local cultural center.

These everyday, little routines that make up my life are familiar now.  And I’m grateful and feel incredibly blessed to have it be that way.

My father-in-law, Roger Antier, on his 86th Birthday

This is my third post in the Ultimate Blog Challenge!  (I didn’t start until the 4th, which means I have to make 4 extra posts to get caught up  with everyone else who got started on the first!)

So, I wanted to talk a little bit about my fabulous father-in-law… He’s an absolute sweetie and I love him dearly.   The photo above is ‘beau-dad’ on his 86th birthday.

He’s also one of my favorite travel companions when I’m doing restaurant reviews for the Examiner.  (I’m the French Riviera Travel examiner.)  One of the things I love about beau dad is that he is a man who really knows how to enjoy a good meal… good wine… and good company.  And he knows a lot of restaurants that most tourists would never visit, which makes my job of getting to discover new restaurants and check them out a whole lot easier!

Beau-dad (which is my own translation of ‘beau-pere’ – which is what father-in-law means in French), is also like a walking dictionary when it comes to knowing about old movies – American and French ones.  He knows the names of the actors, the directors and what they’re about.  He’s also really good with songs!

I also like listening to his stories about the old days – he was here in Toulon during World War II when the Germans were here.

By the way, that’s something else that’s interesting about Toulon.  On the top of Mont Ferron (the mountain that looks down over the city), there is a World War II memorial museum that is worth visiting if you visit here.  It’s got some really amazing artifacts, and paints a very real picture of what life was like during that time.

I tried to post some more photos of beau-dad in the post, but it didn’t work – the joys of technology!  But anyway, he’s a sweetie and I’m really glad to have him in my life and French family.

A peaceful scene in Ireland to relax the mind

The ‘F-Word’ for today is Faux – which, in French means ‘False’… Wondering why I’ve chosen this somewhat negative-sounding F Word?  Actually, it doesn’t have to be negative… for example, you can use a ‘faux finish’ when redoing a table or painting your walls (we’re in the process of having a lot of work done on the flat right now, so I’m into thinking about the ‘possibilities’ right now…

But sadly, the ‘faux’ I’m thinking of right now are the 247 ‘faux’ comments I’ve got on this blog from spammers who hope I’m going to post their stuff… everything from get prescriptions online to porn.

I don’t know if anyone else is having this problem… I guess I should be flattered that the blog is getting read so much… But I really wish that it was being read by people who left real comments!

Which is one of the reasons I’ve joined the Ultimate Blog Challenge.  I’m hoping to connect with other bloggers…

Anyway, in the spirit of the ‘F-Word’ of the Day… If you’re a spammer and you’ve got a site that has anything to do with drugs, pharmacies, gambling, porn… save yourself a little time, and don’t post here.  ’Cause I’m not going to approve your comments.

By the way, if you’re someone with a legitimate Website, and you like reading the F-Word blog, go ahead and make a comment and give me your blog or Website.  That’s one of my favorite things about blogs, is how we can create a community and build on each others’ expertise, knowledge and opinions!

Now, speaking of the positive side of faux… I’m seriously considering doing some kind of rag roll or brush stroke to create a new effect on a tiny entry wall going into my kitchen…  So this week I’m going to be visiting several stores to get some new ideas.  Our entry way and bathroom are almost finished, and they look so GOOD that I want to keep going and work on some of the other rooms!

Fame and Fortune Awaits!

Fame and Fortune – two of my favorite F-words!  Today I’m giving you both ‘f-words’ of the day for the price of one!  Why am I in such a generous mood?

Because I’m very excited to have just joined the Ultimate Blog Challenge, sponsored by Michelle Scism and Michelle Shaeffer – two ladies whose work I’ve recently discovered.

What is the ‘Ultimate Blog Challenge’ you might wonder?  It’s a free challenge (free… another of my favorite ‘F-words’), where all the participants agree to write one blog post a day – and the group holds its members accountable for doing that.  I think it’s a fabulous idea, (oh – another ‘F-word’) and since I’ve sadly neglected this blog – and could use a little accountability in posting more often, I decided to give it a shot.  If you’re a fan of my blog (or a friend, family member or just on my payroll), feel free to tweet about the Ultimate blog challenge, which I hope will bring me fame and fortune! (Or at least some good traffic to my site, and scare away all the spammers who seem to think for whatever reason that this is a great Website!)

What about you?  Do you have a blog that you’d like to post more often, drive more traffic to or just have fun with?  As far as I know, it’s not too late to join the Ultimate Blog Challenge, so why not come along for the ride, and try it yourself?

And, by the way, I’ll let you know if I achieve Fame and Fortune from participating in the Ultimate Blog Challenge… That would be a nice side benefit, but I’m thinking the real benefit is meeting new friends and discovering other people’s fun and interesting blogs!

If you’d like to tweet about this blog or the Ultimate Blog Challenge, please do it using this tweetmark: #blogboost – and thanks – because who knows?  Every little tweet could bring us one step closer to fame and fortune!