Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Beating the Blahs: French Women Tell All

How could T. S. Eliot have said: "April is the cruelest month"? Surely it's February.  

But look at it this way: It's only 28 days, it's almost over, the days are getting longer -- four more minutes of sunshine today alone -- baby buds are popping out all over, the first robins of spring are decorating their nests in preparation for their beautiful azure eggs. . . 

OK, that's not doing it for you.  I get it. The world's a mess, the media are in overdrive hammering home the horrible news and except for the people -- whoever they are -- bidding at the Yves Saint Laurent/Pierre Bergé auction at Christie's, most everyone is feeling morose either for themselves or others.  (Note Matisse painting below:  Its high estimate by Christie's at the sale was $22,998,242; it sold to an unknown buyer for $45,264,579.)

What I'd like to offer here are every day, scaled down remedies that do not involve a winning lottery ticket, a doctor or a pharmacist for those mornings when you don't feel like getting out of bed.  Here follows part two of my informal, non-scientific sampling of what women from 40 to 80 do to pick themselves up, brush themselves off and start all over again and again and again.   

Juliette:  "I call a friend or friends, ask them to get all dressed up and off we go to the Hemingway Bar at the Hotel Ritz for one cocktail.  It only takes one -- they're very expensive -- when you are at the Ritz."

Giselle:  "I sit quietly and breathe deeply for as long as it takes. . ."

Anne-Françoise:  "I call my son-in-law and ask him to write a prescription for me."  (I intercede, re-explaining to my best French friend why this is NOT the answer we're looking for here.)  "OK," she says, "In that case I'll make a pot of tea, call you and tell you to come over immediately so we can gossip and say terrible things about everyone we know." (There you go, that's perfect.)  "Then when you leave I'll call Daniel for the prescription."

Patricia:  "I find a funny film playing some place get in my car -- all by myself, that's essential -- and when I get to the theater I order a huge bucket of popcorn and laugh and cry in the dark while I eat every last piece of popcorn.  So far it has always worked."

Claudie:  "I dig holes in my garden.  It gets out my anger, my misery, it's hard work and then I go out and buy little trees or plants and put them in the holes.  I know it's strange to dig the holes when I don't know exactly what will go into them, but I always find just the right thing and my garden is beautiful."

Anne-Charlotte:  "I sit on the floor with my two huge dogs.  One lies down against my leg and the other one throws herself over my lap. As I pet them they seem to sap the depression out of me; then as a reward for their therapy, I take them for a walk."

Alexandra:  "I walk deep into the forrest and without making a sound, watch families of deer eating and strolling through the trees.  I have to be totally concentrated because they can hear the slightest movement."

Frances:  "I go to an exposition.  When I see over and over what beauty humans are capable of creating it gives me a certain sense of peace in my turmoil."

Chantal:  "On a really bad day I combine two techniques.  I get up early and ride my horse for two or three hours.  I come home, take a shower; get quite dressed up; take special care with my hair and makeup; and drive into Paris for dinner with friends. Then I stay the night at my sister's apartment. The next day when I go back to the country I've forgotten my problems."

Marie-Laure: "I bake.  And I bake, and I bake and I bake, particularly apple tarts. It takes a
little bit of concentration, the kitchen smells wonderful and my family appreciates the result."

Elise: "I buy myself a huge bouquet of coral tulips.  At night I put them in the cellar and bring them back up every morning.  They usually last for two weeks.  That's a lot of pleasure from one ephemeral purchase."

Letitia (c'est moi -- that's what all my French friends call me): "I keep notebooks.  In one I have words I love, lists of books to read; in another ideas for articles, my blogs, etc. and in a separate cahier I keep lists and lists of things I want to do; things I want to accomplish; tiny positive actions to take when I'm feeling down.  I force myself to choose something from one column.  These are not life-changing goals or bucket lists.  My recommendations to self can be as simple as:  go swimming; unpack the suitcase that's been sitting there for months; pull a bunch of clothes and accessories out of the closet and re-invent new outfits."  

You get the idea, nothing earth shaking, but it gets my mind moving in another direction.

(I love these little notebooks from Quovadis, just add a box of colored pencils and they are the perfect gift for a child or an adult.)

1 comment:

Belle said...

Thanks for this collection of remedy! I so need this!

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