Monday, August 28, 2017

What I'm Wearing: To Please Myself

 The post I had planned for this morning wasn't really an "outfit post." Instead, I was using the playful exhortation on this t-shirt as an entry-point to tell you about my efforts lately to figure out what I want to do (as opposed to what might please others around me).
 I bought the shirt in Paris last visit at a shop called La Fée Maraboutée (which translates roughly, I believe, as The Bewitched Fairy, although I also hear connotations of those stoles/scarves made of feathers). The shirt's text plays on the French expression: Fais ce qu'il te plait (Do what pleases you), substituting the same-sounding, different-meaning-and-spelling "Fée" for "Fais, perhaps evoking a magic wand to help in the doing what you want. . . .

I was going to tell you about my recent window-shopping, the fall reconnaissance that has so far returned me to my own wardrobe, fairly determined to make do (and mend, more on my cashmere-mending efforts later). I might also have told you about my continued efforts to reconcile myself to my short waist (thicker than I'd like) and to wearing an outfit, as above, that pleases me for its clean, slightly playful simplicity (besides the shirt's text, fun comes via the leopard-print belt, imho) and its suitability to most of my daily activities -- trying not to be a slave to rules that make "figure flattery" (which generally means: Make yourself look taller and slimmer!) the guiding principle. And I was going to tell you about how pleasing myself one day last week (and it happened to be our 43rd anniversary) meant saying I wanted to cycle part of our route on my own, at my own speed, stopping when I wanted to. . . .
But, as it turns out, writing a long blogpost is not what pleases me this morning. The number of visitors has fallen off lately, temporarily I hope -- I suspect you're all out grabbing these last precious days of summer and getting ready for la rentrée back to fall's busy-ness. Not that I write only in hopes of garnering popularity or fame, but I do like the hours I put in to be balanced somewhat at the reading end. So for today, I'm clicking on "Publish" as soon as I ask you, What have you done lately to please yourself? Do you ever consciously push aside a sense of obligation to others to Fais ce qu'il te plait? And do the others complain? Does it matter? Or do you sometimes find that the others whom you'd worried about dis-pleasing are actually pleased for you instead?  (This is almost always the case with my husband, I have to say. But more on that later...)

54 comments:

  1. In short order: compared old photos of Queenhithe with an even older pencil drawing, yes, sometimes, a bit but not enough to stop me (usually), sometimes. I very rarely set out to displease people deliberately but might do it unwittingly and am learning not to take it to heart too much. I don't think I was put here just to keep the peace. Yes, the blog world is a bit quiet at present but August is almost over...

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    1. I had to look up "Queenhithe" -- you do have a penchant for history of place, don't you?!
      I'm not sure there's enough lifetime left for me to learn how not to take it too heart too much, but we can try. . . ;-)

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    2. History of place. That is it exactly. I should have been an archeologist, I suppose. Queenhithe is my favourite of all the hithes...

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  2. I am now getting to the stage of what pleases me. So many years of conforming for family sake, now I feel a slight 'purple' moment that comes with retirement. I'm sure you know the poem about the lady who chooses to wear purple when she reaches a certain age. My flowery trousers the other day was definitely a please myself moment although the family did come round in the end. Running is another please myself moment, my little bit of dare devilness! Very quiet on the blogging front I agree, always sad when great writers drop out of the loop. Hopefully autumn will lure them back. B x

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    1. I loved those flower-print pants, and I'm glad your family came 'round. And it's been good to see you becoming a runner. I'll admit to being a dissenter when it comes to the purple-wearing, red-hatted crowd, never having been a fan of the use that poem's put to. I think its latter lines are its best, the ones that wonder if it's better to start practicing non-conformity in life earlier, rather than waiting 'til one's dotage. . . ;-)

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  3. To please one's self is a good thing. I'm not sure that anyone likes a martyr. My husband and I were recently away at the Columbia River. He spent summers at Bowen Island with small boats and I have little boating experience. I'm also clumsy so getting in and out could be a problem. Obviously I did not choose to go out on the river with him. I like your t-shirt. I bought a Fée Maraboutée linen dress in Vancouver. I do like the feathery bewitched fairy image. That dress pleased me because I haven't been to Paris in a while. Dress was cheaper than a trip.

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    1. So true! My mother-in-law was good a martyrdom, although she was wonderful when she gave of her strength and natural goodness.
      The linen dress I bought this spring in Paris (that royal blue one you've seen here or on IG) was also FM -- I wonder if the styles are the same. We could be twins!

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  4. I try to balance the pleasing myself with the pleasing of others so one doesn't outweigh the other. Balance in life is a good thing, but I've always been a pleaser and one to "fix" everything. At 56 I've finally realized I don't have to and I can't. So now I'm working on accepting and enjoying. (Wish I would have figured this out years ago!) I also wanted to let you know I so enjoy reading your blog! As a regular reader I don't comment often, but that doesn't seem fair does it? Btw, love your shirt!

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    1. I do think it's about balance, and it's also about finding out what it is that does truly please us -- many of us have been conditioned to believe that pleasing others is what we most want to do. . . Speaking of pleasing others, you've made me happy with your kind words about the blog. I completely understand readers not often commenting -- we're all so busy -- but it's much appreciated when you find time for it Thanks!

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  5. Well, if it is quiet on your end of the blogging front as well, I shall worry less. I've been discovering a lot about myself, about what I want to do or wear or be, as opposed to what I suppose I thought I was supposed to want to do or wear or be. Happy Days.

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    1. Yes, so often it's not finding the nerve to do what pleases us, but rather the discernment to know what that might be. Happy Days to you too!

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  6. Much of this will lead to further thought on my part but first reactions: marabou = penoir sets, beloved by Barbie and Mum on Christmas morning; 'look taller/slimmer'- I thoroughly reject this in favour of 'have the healthiest body you can'; and 'do what pleases you' is often on the menu here (and it often takes the form of not a darn thing! I am on the indolent side. :)).

    I like your tee, it has a good vee neck and looks nice and thin in addition to its happy Frenchness.

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    1. Always pleased to get you thinking ;-) Yes, those peignoirs. . . does anyone besides Barbie really wear them IRL? Poor Mom, rolling her eyes on Christmas morning, thinking of all the things she'd really have liked. . .
      Thanks re the T -- I do like a good V-neck, and happy Frenchness, of course.

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  7. Trying to figure out how to take care of myself (pesky health issues back), teach a class differently than I ever have before which was my choice and still have some time for fun. Sadly personal concerns seem to fade in the current political environment, especially coupled with what is happening in Texas and Louisiana. It feels selfish to think of myself when people are so afraid of discrimination or losing their homes. At the same time I know I should do what I can to help while still reserving some good time for myself. That is what my family keeps telling me...

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    1. Ugh to the health issues and even more to the political climate you're living in. But as you suggest, we can't help others if we don't look after ourselves first-- as Meems/Anonymous comments below, those flight attendants always remind us to put our own oxygen mask on first . . .

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  8. Have generally pleased myself, except within the context of family, where I struggle against the legacy of generations of women who put the children's happiness first.

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    1. Yes! I think it's really important to acknowledge the cultural conditioning and current context that makes it difficult to "please ourselves." When it's expected that will equate to "make our children happy." . . .

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  9. Sometimes I am not so sure that I know what pleases me. but I think I'm learning. Wearing what I like is the easiest part. And yes, moving at my own speed is very important.
    Looking forward to hearing more about your mending experiments.

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    1. I feel like this sometimes myself -- unsure what really does please me, but like you, I think I'm learning.
      When I think of my mending experiment, I remember our chat over coffee in Berlin, that coat, those sleeves. . .

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  10. I found the old Ricky Nelson Garden Party chorus running through my head as I read your post: "But it's all right now, I learned my lesson well. You see, ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself." I think many posts could be written--and read!--about the imbalance between blog writers and readers.

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    1. Oh dear, ear worm!!!
      I'd love to know more about what you think might be written about our relationship, blog writers and blog readers.

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    2. This is something I wonder about . What do you blog writers expect of us . Should we keep it short & sweet for fear of rambling on ? I am inclined to ramble
      Wendy in York

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    3. Speaking for this blog writer, I'm delighted to read whatever you care to write, and should you choose to ramble here, I'm generally quite honoured -- and interested! I sometimes feel daunted by the obligation to respond adequately, but I've been trying to let go of that sense of obligation and realise that the commenter isn't writing only to me nor does she need me to respond to each point she makes.

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    4. Mmm, I'll let this imbalance roll around in my mind a bit, and then jot a few thoughts. Well, there's one difference already: You sorting out your thoughts carefully, planning ahead, writing a coherent post, vs. readers just reading, or commenting from time to time, and all in all, spending not too much time on a response. A thoughtful blog, such as yours, seems to be to be a remarkably generous effort. And your effort to respond to all comments takes the generosity over the top.

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  11. To please myself? Well, I have been forcing myself to be politically active via a project to improve the voting process here in the United States, which takes a lot of time but actually serves two purposes - it may indeed come to something, someday, and it is a kind of therapy in that I feel that I am doing something constructive to counter the incremental awfulness that has been building up for months (and apparently years).

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    1. Great comment, Marsha! I think its so important to acknowledge that often it's not enjoyable, or fun, even, to please ourselves. Sometimes we do have to force ourselves, do things that don't especially please us in the short term, to make ourselves content in the long term. Pleasing ourselves is not always taking the easy route and sometimes it takes considerable discernment to figure out the way. Thanks for the work you're doing.

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  12. Hello Frances,
    Like the t-shirt, but especially the belt. You look very relaxed and happy.
    These are the things I do to please myself: have coffee and breakfast with the Sunday paper in bed every week, have Martini Monday ( I am the inventor of this world-famous event !) every single Monday that we are home, which consists of my sweetheart's outstanding vodka martinis,straight up, please,with four pimento olives. The BEST night of the week!
    I shut the phones and door buzzer off at 9 p.m.if we are in for the night,every night.
    Very strong boundaries for me and my time have existed since running away from home at 15 and never returning to my birth family. Adopted later by a wonderful family, ever so luckily. I had reasons to draw boundaries and reasons to run. These
    iron-clad boundaries have served me well all my life. My warmth has been mistaken for weakness sometimes, despite the boundaries. That is my cue to draw the line again if I have to.
    Even though I spent decades working in one type of helping profession, or other, and freely give of myself a great deal to family and friends, I carve out big swathes of time for myself to exercise, to read, to do creative things and obsessively watch U.S. criminal trials on youtube (my guilty pleasure). I am an extrovert, but one that definitely craves my time. Perhaps some see that as selfish; I must admit their opinion doesn't sway me.

    You appeared in my dreams last week, Frances. In it I was standing on the street talking to a man in my small Maine town. He was selling fabric out of his car. Suddenly you appeared and started buying fabric with me. Before I knew it, you and he decided to open a shop together in town where you would sell yarn and he would sell fabric. Huh? How crazy.
    Interested in hearing more about how you are making choices that please you.
    Can not wait for Fall. Will be spending part of it at my cottage in Maine after a very successful Summer, my first, renting it through Airbnb. Have "met" some really kind and gracious guests from 3 countries. Nice to share the cottage with others, but will be beyond happy to have it back for several weeks.
    PS August is a funny month blog response-wise as in many things it seems-almost no business seems to take place London in August.Sure more people will be conversing here in a couple of weeks.
    A in London




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    1. Sounds as if you're very clear about what pleases you and that life has taught you to honour that -- and Martini Mondays! What a gift to the world ;-)
      The dream -- too funny, and now I'm scouting the neighbourhood for real estate that might suit a fabric shop!! (kidding!)
      So glad your summer rental worked well, and I'm sure you'll enjoy your weeks at the cottage. Missing my beach time this year. . . .

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  13. Yes applause for you to dress to please yourself!
    Love a white tee that has a V neck and it looks like a great one to wear with jeans.
    My waist is thicker too but I am still working to shed those same 10 pounds...I am giving up all alcohol to see if that nudges me in the right direction.
    I'm getting so much spam lately that I wonder if something has happened to Blogger? As to reduced traffic...it may be our lovely weather keeping people outdoors enjoying the last of the summer sunshine.

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    1. I'll be curious to see if the no-alcohol regime makes a difference for you. My push, for the moment, is in the gym, doing a better job of strengthening my core. . .
      As for the last of the summer sunshine, isn't it just going on and on and on here. . . what an odd summer!

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    2. Good for you to work on your core! You are active biking and running and I see no wobbly bits in your OOTD images so you must be doing some things light.

      I've lost a couple of pounds already....will rejoin the gym after labour day weekend...I actually was going regularly until Mom got really ill and needed us to take care of her and I had to let it go. I hope to make a commitment to 3 times a week.

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    3. Oh, there are wobbly bits. . . ;-)

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  14. Interestingly I get few complaints from those who matter when I elect to please myself - suggesting that I am not as critical to the smooth running of everything as I believe? I am trying at the moment to avoid over scheduling and the subsequent over tiredness.....and perhaps to make some choices that will be long term pleasing to me as opposed to immediate indulgence?

    Love the shirt....my terrible and old French was picturing a fairy in a feather boa, weirdly, before I read your correct translation.

    ceci

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    1. It's so true, Ceci. Here, as well, once I sort out what pleases me, it turns out that it can generally be managed without anyone howling. It's the figuring out and feeling okay about what I've decided that sometimes is tough. And thinking long term is important, as Marsha suggests above.
      And I see a fairy in a feather boa as well. It's the marabou!

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  15. To please myself lately, I've been:

    * wearing childish clothes like tutus, camouflage leggings, Pikachu sweatshirts, Minnie Mouse tee shirts, sweatpants,

    * eating one delicious, unnutritious thing a day, e.g., ice cream, biscotti, and

    * waving and grinning at deer and other wild critters who visit us, even though I'm unlikely to overcome the social barriers between us.

    I'm enjoying a silly phase. And no one has died. :)

    Ann

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    1. Wonderful! A good reminder that sometimes the silly, the short-term, the very immediate simple and sensory pleasures are what we need to develop the habit of pleasing ourselves. Practice, practice, practice! Do not wait to be an old woman before you wear purple or red hats . . . or Minnie Mouse tee shirts with camo leggings ;-)

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  16. When I've seen this headline-it was like boom! yessss! To dress to please oneself-I like that! (and,to be honest,white tee and jeans-always the best!You look fresh and happy)
    And about to please myself- I was always the one who wanted for people around me (family,friends,work....well,it was my work to make people happy and healthy!) to be happy. But,there is a time for,maybe not a revolution,but for a switch !
    And,I'm learning fast (as Eleonore said) :-)
    Thought-provoking post,great comments ladies!

    Dottoressa

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    1. Yes, not a revolution but a switch -- well put! I was always one to look after others as well, from childhood as the big sister, through my own child-rearing, and then with my students. But I'm a pretty fast learner as well.
      And I must agree with you -- the comments are great!

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  17. I'm about to start reading The Pleasures of Leisure by Robert Dessaix. I heard him spuiking it on the radio the other day. His dry wit as he suggested we get too caught in both our own and others expectations to do as we please, was appealing and dovetails nicely with your post today.
    I'm making your Moroccan Chicken for dinner tonight, it sounds delicious and will make enough for extra to go in the freezer for an easy future dinner.
    There are so many fascinating places in the world to visit. Morocco is on my list, together with Turkey and India but my husbands heart is in Europe. This year we visited Malaysia, so next year will be a return to Italy.
    Lilibet

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    1. I'll add that book to my list of Holds Requested at the public library.
      Hope the Moroccan chicken works well for you -- I've never made it, but I enjoy the results of my husband's research and work.
      Sounds as if you and your husband have found a good way to balance what pleases whom re Travel. . ..

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  18. Pleasing myself is easy. Curl up in my favourite chair with a good mystery book after supper. I usually dress to make myself feel good. What other people think about my choices does not usually matter to me. I guess that old saying - Happy Wife Happy Life - is really true. This does sound very self indulgent of me. I remember that old Neil Diamond song....Forever in Blue Jeans...and you look great in yours.

    Ali

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    1. Oh, I'm also sending a virtual hug...

      Ali

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    2. Thanks Ali. Sounds as if you've engineered a life wherein you know just how to please yourself and you go for it. Well done!

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  19. August is always a quiet month here . The city fills to bursting with visitors , restaurants are full , traffic increases , schoolchildren are everywhere & the local horse race meeting adds to the chaos . Trips to Scotland are out because of the dreaded midges , so we stay home . The dogs get their walks , which are quieter than usual as friends roundabout are away on holiday . We catch up on jobs in the house & garden . I don't mind our quiet Augusts but I'm ready to open the front door again now .
    I was reading the other day that the French love T shirts with English writing on whilst our shops here have lots with French writing on . Vive la difference - hope I got that right.
    Wendy in York

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    1. You have such a lovely spot for respite from the summer crowds. It's good, isn't it, when we can enjoy different rhythms, where quiet feels good for a month but also readies us for a bit more action.
      And yes, Vive la difference indeed!

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  20. Cool tee shirt ! I have always been the type to try to please everyone else before myself. But now I'm working on that, and trying to look at my own needs and wants more. Clothes are a fun place to start with that- it's a good way to ease into valuing my own likes and interests.

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    1. It's not as easy to do, is it, as those with different personalities or upbringings or whatever seem to think, those who admonish us, often rather brusquely, not to care what others think. But it's a good think to aim at, to figure out what it is we truly want and then see how to get at least some of it. . . .And, as ceci says, above, the world tends not to fall apart when we do.

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  21. Good post...Even if we are quiet,we are still reading:) I always go to yours and hostess of a humble bungalow blogs first! Life is so fast that at times all I can do is read! I need to read a well written blog post at times to change the narrative of life...Love learning how to please myself and take care of myself..because in general no one else is going to do it! I am always reminded of the airline stewardess who says to put on your own mask first before you help anyone else..because, you may help them first and the be gone yourself.. Love the tee and jeans..sometimes I get carried away by Instagram pics and try elaborate and different outfits..but if I could I would be wearing skinny jeans with black cashmere tees and nice jewelry all the time!! Cheers! August has only2 more days,then on to the cozy hygge days!Meems

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    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment on this post, Meems, but I never want you to feel apologetic that you hadn't time to do so. I know I often find I need time to chew over what I've read, and by the time I'm ready to write a response, there's no time to get back -- even though, as you say, sometimes those well-written posts can nudge us in a different direction, "change the narrative of life."
      Your last line shocked me a bit, even though I've been looking at the calendar. No! August gone already?! Well then, come on Fall, let's do this!

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  22. I have been so remiss in catching up on my blog reading. And even worse with commenting. Love your tee shirt. I'm totally with you on the pleasing yourself with outfits thing. But for me it's a particular silhouette/shape which I like... and which I think looks best on me. Trends be damned.
    I'm pretty good at pleasing myself in other ways, too... mostly through Stu's encouragement. Growing up and into young adulthood I was a total people-pleaser. A trait which I read is common in adult children of alcoholics. How wonderful it is to get older and begin to understand ourselves.

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    1. Me too with the remiss-ness. . .
      Your comment re people-pleasing meshes with my exchange with Murphy, above. I'm often frustrated with those who exhort me not to care what others think. Not so easy to overcome a lifetime's conditioning, but I've done pretty well, overall, getting the big strokes right, at least. Now some fine-tuning ;-)

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  23. I have been reading your blog for almost two years and I have never commented. I think I'm too shy to express my opinions on the web. However, I just wanted to say how much I enjoy your writing and look forward to receiving a new post in my email. I love reading about your travels, your outfits and your musings on life. Thank you for continuing to write.

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    1. Completely understand the shyness, and I'm very appreciative of you taking the time and mustering the boldness to write such kind words here. I'll know you're out there now, even if you never comment again ;-)

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  24. Cycling without worrying about others (far ahead? far behind? should we stop here? take this route?), that is indeed true freedom and I understand how this would please you. I like this celebration. And congratulations on your anniversary and the life you've had together.

    Many bloggers I know see down times in the summer. I think things will perk back up in the autumn, when people tend to be indoors more in this hemisphere at least. But I'm glad you're doing what pleases you.

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we?

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