Sunday, June 21, 2015

How to Create Your Own Inspiration


I live in a very suburban neighbourhood and it's not fancy, but in my mind I am a citizen of the world, borrowing and creating inspiration from our global community.  This is what helps me feel buoyant and grateful every day.

Positive thinking helps me to feel inspired too.  If I'm sour and unappreciative on a given day, nothing good happens!  The days when I'm actively looking for all the ways my life is wonderful, those are the magical days.  It sounds hokey but it works. 

I loved visiting Sydney but I equally loved coming home again.  Something I love to do is bring the essence of that place to you, whether it’s Sydney, London, Paris or the countryside. 

I’ll let you know something Tonya Leigh shared with us.  Whenever you want something, whether it’s a possession or being in a certain place, it’s the feeling it gives you that you crave, not the actual thing or place.

So if it’s London and big-city living that you miss, write down all the things you love and miss about London.  Try to make a big number, like coming up with fifty things.  Then, look at how, one-by-one you can bring the essence of that list to your life right now. 

If you miss cosy English pubs (I know I would), find a cool English-style local you can pop into from time to time.  Maybe subscribe to UK Vogue.  Find a public park and take a picnic blanket, book and sunglasses (I would imagine doing that in Hyde Park if I lived in London).  Those are just three ideas that I might do for my London list.

It also works if you haven’t lived in a particular place but merely daydream about how cool it would be.  For me, I love the thought of both Paris and Provence.  Paris for the chicness, elegance and beauty, and Provence for the balmy summer days (let’s forget about the cold winters just for now) and laid-back living.  I share with you below my Essence of Paris and Provence list.

Essence of Paris and Provence

-Being out amongst people - walking, seeing
- Dressing with care each day, no matter what I’m doing
- French cafes – sitting outside on bistro chairs sipping coffee
- Having an omelette and a café crème at a café on the Champs Elysee
- Reading a classic book in park, sunglasses on
- Me, chic and slim with tousled hair, walking along a Paris street – capri pants, jacket, ballet flats, sunglasses
- The stylish décor of a boutique hotel in Paris such as Edouard 7
- French girls enjoying an after dinner drink in a bar, no nibbles and not caring about that
- Little neighbourhood bistros with set menus of rustic food – natural ingredients
- Flowers in tin buckets
- French accordion music
- Citroen 2CV car
- Red-orange geraniums
- Lavender
- Lovers walking along the Seine
- The thought of a small stone apartment with external stairs
- Minimal living in a Paris apartment
- French café music – Edith Piaf
- Pretty and lacy underthings
- Feminine and flattering clothing
- Women of a certain age being happy, youthful, sexy, feminine and fashionable
- French-style apartments
- Annick Goutal perfume
- Pink and gold cosmetic boutiques
- Small, chic boutiques on Paris side streets
- Wide stone footpaths
- Gilt mirrors
- Sexiness, insouciance
- Fresh and minimal makeup where your skin tone shines through
- Pencil skirts
- Crunchy white shell paths outside your country home
- Olive trees
- Lunch outside served on a big wooden chopping board – cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and capsicum, baguette, wine in a carafe or sparkling water
- Bubbling casserole in the Le Crueset

Some items on this list I can’t easily recreate at home but many I can.  I can plant red-orange geraniums, make a Provencal casserole or country-style tomato salad and play Edith Piaf around the house.  Even if I’m not about to lay white shell paths or stone walkways, I can dress up and take myself for a stroll around an older part of the city I live in.

By combining an Essence List with your real life, you enjoy your real life more too.  I think it’s because you are bringing those magical elements into the everyday and this really elevates your experience.

Where would your Essence List focus on?  Can you list five items off the top of your head?  I’d love to hear them in the comments.


  1. Wow Fiona, I love this! What an inspiration. I like to use this technique somewhat when I read Victoria magazine--I imagine myself in the settings in the articles, and in my daily life I like to believe that I live a "Victoria" lifestyle :)

  2. Me too, MJ, I love imagining I live 'inside' Victoria magazine also, and take little ideas into my real life. It feels so calming.

  3. "bring the essence of that place to you" is an eye opener for me, I hadn't thought of it that way before but it's certainly true. Off the top of my head I can't list five things but I have got a great concept to think about. Thanks Fiona.

  4. That had to be the best, most hit me right in the heart, blog post I've read.
    It made so much sense. My dream of a Parisienne style life can happen here in Australia.

    This explains why, when my husband asks where would I like to go on an afternoon out, I always want to walk through the city, past the galleries and stop at a cafe.

    Thank you for a truly brilliant post. I'm starting my list.

  5. You should definitely spend a weekend in Akaroa n z. It is very French,

  6. Hi Claire, what a lovely comment, thank you! Your afternoon out sounds divine, by the way.

    Studio Cottage, I've visited Akaroa and stayed the weekend, it is gorgeous, and I love that the street names are all French, right down to Rue instead of Road. I'm guessing you enjoyed it too!

  7. Fiona,

    A lovely post as always and it speaks to my heart.

    Combining French lifestyle & the beach…… I strive for a clutter-free home to give it an open feel along with the many windows we have throughout the house. We’ve decorated in three beach-y colors (except the kitchen is more French country) accented with bowls of shells, sea glass and very small pieces of drift wood we’ve collected on our trips. Due to the number of windows, wall space is at a premium - we’ve used our own travel photos in one style of frame throughout. Gardening is very important to both of my husband & I and we also visit local farmers markets and organic farmers. Dining alfresco, music, taking care with our wardrobes so we look presentable. Enjoying a daily coffee brewed in -- what else, a French press of course. :-) Visiting cafés and people watching, discovering museums and admiring the architecture while strolling.

    We live in the rolling hills of a rural community so I have to create the essence of my soul’s desires.

    - Janet

  8. Love this too. Great inspiration. I have never thought of framing things this way. I think I will try to incorporate it into the week ahead.

  9. This is great advice! Something I do that is somewhat related, is that I try to look at where I live as if I were a tourist. Somebody seeing my city for the first time would certainly notice things that I haven't for a long time, and would appreciate all the good and lovely things about it. It really does make a difference.

  10. Oh this is such a great idea....after my recent trip to Paris and the south of France I am keen to keep the memories alive. Will plan to write my list and see what I can do to keep the feeling of France and the lifestyle fresh.

  11. Fiona,
    I love this post! I've never thought about this idea that it's not the actual thing or place we want, but the feeling it gives us...... that's so true. I love Paris and the feeling I had when I was there. I know I've done a few things to try and keep that feeling going but I'll work on my list and see what else I can come up with. Merci for the inspiration. Charlene

  12. Well listed post of bringing your own essence of Paris and Provence. When living in India I had created the feeling of country style of the USA in our home with decors and homemade food, especially casseroles. It was comforting when you come back from the hustle and bustle chaos in the city. Now it's the simple French lifestyle and Laos combining here in Bangkok: cafes, buying seasonal food at the local market, home cooking and taking time to enjoy your meal. Thanks for this encouraging post, Fiona. Cheers, Ping

  13. This is a really inspirational and unique way of thinking. I am going to put some thought into what it is I really want to experience and think about how I can create the essence of those experiences. Could be life changing - thank you!

  14. What an inspiring post. I always try to 'bring back the essence' of a place that I travel to & happen to enjoy. But sometimes you need a reminder to keep that joy in place!! Thanks for the ideas of committing to a list!

  15. Hi Fiona,
    Thank you for sharing a brilliant technique.
    My five French items would be:
    - pink lipstick or lip-gloss and mascara every day even when I stay at home
    - a big cup of coffee with milk for breakfast
    - unhurried stroll through the city on week-end with occasional unhurried visit to the book store or walk in the park
    - unhurried cup of coffee on a terrace cafe (a real luxury in our climate and in a big and noisy city) with a friend or alone
    - quality leather handbag and shoes
    Oh, - a scarf! :)))
    Have a nice chic day!

  16. I love this! I've always played this "game" with myself ever since I was a young girl, adding things into my life that I've picked up from books, movies, travels, etc.

    Small ways I try to bring in more of the Paris life into my own are:

    - Playing a lot of French and soft jazz music around the house
    - Setting my table with care and making sitting down for a meal a special occasion
    - Shopping at local farmers markets rather than the chain grocery stores
    - Wearing my favorite french perfume, just because
    - Walk or take the subway to do my errands
    - Strolling through the city or having a coffee at a local cafe
    - Getting outdoors (especially after being cooped up inside all day)
    - Putting my laptop down and reading a book instead ("unplugging" - so relaxing!)

  17. I needed to read this. I am leaving my beloved Chicago to move somewhere much less exciting and fancy. I have been complaining the whole time but your post made me realize that a place can be as interesting as I make it to be and that i truly need to focus on finding happiness wherever I am with my family.

  18. Fiona, This is truly inspirational post. I think we can all bring a little of "dream" into our daily life in the ways you suggested. A lot of goodness to think about here. Thank you!


Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

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