I am sure you have been made aware of the benefits of a ‘Mediterranean diet’ but a European lifestyle encompasses that and so much more. My wish is to share ‘What Europe taught me’ with you, so no matter how far away from the South of France you are, you can bring a bit of that lifestyle into your home.
So what makes this American girl from Kansas City an expert? I lived in Spain; Catalunya to be precise, for six years and immersed myself in the culture completely.
I moved when I was twenty and never looked back. I took the leap because I met my husband, then boyfriend, at a party where I was going to school. I was smitten. After two years of long distance I made the choice to move there. I sold my car, left university, packed up my belongings and moved to Europe for love.
It wasn’t glamorous to start. I didn’t speak the language (s), I had no friends, I had no job or direction. Each day I was plagued with thoughts of ‘What have I done?’ as I sat alone in our flat while Joan worked. A few months later, in order for me to stay in Spain, we got married. It was a simple court house affair with a big paella meal after. It was romantic and the start of what would be the best time of my life, though then I didn’t know it yet.
I worked for an airline for awhile with my husband until he became my boss. Your spouse cannot be your boss in the office, or anywhere for that matter, right ladies? That’s when I moved on to teach English. I loved it and it afforded me quite a bit of free time to explore the city, make friends, and immerse myself in the culture. Even if that ‘culture’ was sometimes shopping at Zara…
In those six years, I grew into the person I am today. I found myself in Spain (and while I know not everyone will have that same experience) the lessons I learned and the values I took back with me are things that anyone can implement if they choose. For me, it is about stripping away the things you keep on tolerating and adding more of the things you love. Living in Spain has taught me how to slow it down and immerse myself in life, everyday. My blog is about living a life of style and living it on purpose, everyday, while hopefully curbing your wanderlust a bit in the process.
What I have come to discover is that making choices, purposeful choices, gets me from point A in life to where I want to be in point B of life. Think about this, when you wake up in the morning you make a series of choices about your day. I knew that I could choose to work. go home. eat. repeat or I could work. be social. go home. Or, work. go to a museum. go to dinner. go home. Or work. ride my bike. have a coffee. go home. Even, work. go home. make something. create something. learn something. repeat.
Life is full of amazing experiences, right at our front door. Many of my friends and my family live a life of work. go home. repeat. They tell me they aren’t happy but they aren’t sure what to do. I understand. Living in the suburbs can make it more difficult to get out, but not impossible. They ask how they can possibly get a taste of Europe surrounded by mega department stores and chain restaurants. It’s just about making the choices to promote the lifestyle you want. Saying no to things you know aren’t conducive to that and saying oui to the things that enhance your life. Even if your surroundings are in conflict with what you want.
All I hope to do is show you how I enhance my life and hope it inspires you to do the same to yours.
Here are a few things you can start doing right now to bring yourself a little closer to Europe!
Quick Fixes To Get In A European Mood
‘Local’ Radio. I listed to this station daily, just by streaming it online! I get to listen to the music I enjoy as well as practice my French! I also listen to this radio station straight from Barcelona to catch up on what’s popular in Spain. You can use Tune In Radio to search any country and stream the station for free!
Even though my European experience didn’t take place in Paris, the similarities between Elizabeth’s life and mine are extraordinary. In her first book, Lunch in Paris she is just starting out in Paris after meeting a handsome Frenchman. Even if you can’t exactly relate, I can tell you everything she says is spot on and it will have you understanding what life as an Expat abroad is really like. Her second book, Picnic in Provence: A Memoir, is just as great (so far) and we are with her on her second adventure in motherhood far from the Paris lights. When I get into these books, the whole world falls away and I am transported back to Europe faster than I can say, “Bonjour Madame”. Another plus is that she includes recipes to go along with the events in her life, food was my saving grace when everything else around me was chaotic and it seems it was the same for Elizabeth as well.
Besides checking out my many delicious recipes on this blog, search out exotic cuisine in your city. In my neighborhood there’s no shortage of place to go. Ethiopian, French, Indian, Vietnamese, Middle Eastern, Brazilian-I have been trying to step out of my comfort zone and up to this point it’s been worth it. Many times in Spain I was forced into social situations where I had no choice but to eat what was in front of me and it’s how I came to love octopus, squid, escargot and a few fairly normal things that I am too embarassed to mention here…! Since then I’ve tried escargot, mussels and kangaroo. All but the last one, are a definite win.
Even though movies can be satisfying, there is something about taking the time to get to know the characters and television series are perfect for that. You may not realize this but some of the most popular series have been taken from abroad a la The Office. Here are a few to get you started.
Homeland was inspired by Prisoners of War (Hatufim) from Israel (Hulu).
The Honorable Woman starring Maggie Gyllenhaal who won a Golden Globe for her portrayal of a British-Israeli businesswoman trying to acheive peace in the Middle East (Netflix).
Rita, a series out of Denmark that can be labeled as a dramedy, a progressive teacher and single mother living her life her way, though probably not the best way. It’s already on Season 3 so there’s a lot to binge watch (Netflix).
Moone Boy, an Irish comedy about a boy and his imaginary friend is rumored to be getting picked up by ABC. Start it now so you’re ahead of the bandwagon (Hulu).
Of course I must mention wine. If you haven’t heard of or tried Lambrusco, you should! It’s my favorite wine to drink in the summer, especially if I’m craving red. It’s light and slightly fizzy and the perfect compliment to dining al fresco. One that I buy often is Le Grotte Lambrusco Bianco from the Medici winery in the city of Reggio Emilia in Northern Italy. It has a light fruity flavor and with only 8% alcohol it’s perfect for balmy summer nights. And you can buy it at Trader Joe’s for only $4.99!
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