Tasting Joie de Vivre.
Chip's Editorial Comment: I couldn’t resist publishing this post from long-time Wisdom Well guest blogger Tania as it’s what I want more of in my life and reminds of the company I ran for two-dozen years, Joie de Vivre Hospitality.
The soft morning light weaves through the olive trees, casting a tranquil glow as I transition from the depths of slumber to the simple pleasure of sipping a morning café au lait.
Life is good, yet a powerful yearning for days that feel a little lighter, a little more at ease has brought me on retreat in Provence. I’m tired of days measured by the relentless pursuit of productivity and achievements. What if the metric for a "well-lived life" was defined by something other than my salary, my full agenda, my sense of accomplishment? Could it include unhurried moments of connection, unforeseen delights, and living in tune with the natural rhythms around me? I’m here to find out.
And so do 12 of my newest friends.
It takes until the fourth morning for me to break free from my ingrained productivity script. Croissant crumbs are scattered everywhere as I sit captivated by the unhurried banter weaving through our petit dejeuner group. When a serene pause settles, like a languid stretch of a cat in the sun, we sit in a collective quietude until someone nudges the conversation forward. No rush.
This moment starkly contrasts my usual routine, where the to-do list holds dominion and coffee is a hurried companion. The extent of my depletion and my need for this retreat becomes evident—the ceaseless whirlwind of thoughts, the unrelenting pace, the endless plate spinning have taken their toll.
I’ve been living in survival mode, with vigilance for things that will derail my day, eyes on the finish line; measuring success through endurance alone. I want to give that up for opportunities that contribute to my flourishing—an energetic state of growth, fulfillment, and joy. I feel that survival was the hallmark of my 40s as I juggled the schedule of caring for children, parents and career ambitions.
Now in my midlife, I want to thrive. I am crafting a new identity and with it new measures of my “life well lived.”
The fig tree standing just outside the kitchen offers me this chance. Instead of rushing away to check my email I gently pluck one. A gentle warmth emanates through its tender skin, and it nestles comfortably in my palm, a delicate weight promising indulgence. Knowing its fragility, I tread carefully, aware that a too-eager grip risks bruising, a hasty pinch invites a messy fate. Slowly I split its skin open, unveiling its luscious, pink core, tangy aroma and sublime taste, a luxurious experience. It's a reminder that I'm here to flourish, redefining success on my terms.
It's a pivotal moment, urging me to cast aside the limitations of survival and embrace a life imbued with awe, wonder, and joy. The prospect of shifting my evaluation from "Did I get it done?" to "Did it make me happy?" intoxicates me.
That evening, as we share the best part of our days, my assessment doesn't hinge on a survival-mode checklist. Instead, it revolves around the moments that allowed my Joie de Vivre to thrive:
- A quiet awe-moment in nature, savoring sounds and smells.
- Letting go of the list, and trusting my instincts to find flow.
- Feeling the connection in conversation, unburdened by predefined agendas.
- Indulging in the simple pleasure of a warm fig straight from the tree.
I’m learning that Joie de Vivre is a practice. It is a collection of choices, a way of evaluating the importance of time, a renewed sense of my values and a commitment to a pace and direction that best suits me now.
How do you gauge your "best life" at day's end? What markers reveal a day filled with Joie de Vivre and a sense of thriving for you?
Tania Carriere, epiphany designer, leadership coach and founder of Advivum Journeys, hosts midlife transformative retreats in pursuit of reclaiming her Joie de Vivre. An Adjunct Faculty member and huge fan of the Modern Elder Academy she is a keen student of the life lessons we learn as we travel and is happiest when she is in wonder and discovery. Her next retreat is in Provence, France! www.advivumjourneys.ca