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Have you ever had flashes of seeing the way episodes of your life have linked together and kind of shown up all at once in an incredible a-ha moment?
Recently, I had a really profound and quite personal a-ha moment.
As I was reflecting on all the cool topics I have lined up to write about for you over the coming months, I had this little bell that began tinkling in my ear, saying "Look, listen . . . You've been through this, too. Bring more of your own journey into your stories."
I really felt it, as if the words were coming from deep inside me. And it felt, I don't know, kind of liberating.
Being able to genuinely pull from my own experiences in a more personal way, and invite you to benefit from what I've learnt and how I've grown so that you can find your own confidence and style a lot faster than I did.
As I mentioned in last week's blogpost, taking on a second culture (albeit in reverse, where the second culture has come to me through my husband and my parents-in-law, rather than me going to it), and figuring out who I am and how to make it all work happily . . .
. . . has lead me on a 30-year journey of personal discovery to gradually and joyfully emerge as a more expanded, more self-aware, more open-minded, more worldly and confident woman.
And the clarity of that a-ha moment has shed a brighter light on the journey I'd love us to share together.
And I have to tell you, the journey coming up for us is so fun! It's liberating and powerful and uplifting and . . . stylish.
Focusing on styling ourselves and styling our lives is going to be the ever-so-delightful spark that brings all the fun into our personal development.
But bear with me here for a bit . . . before I share the big, stylish evolution that feels so enticing, I'd like you to reflect for a moment on the threads of your life that have lead you to where you are, because they're all part of your own evolution.
I’ve seen so many threads come together for me, too many to insert into one blogpost.
But I will share just a few, in the hope that you’ll begin to see your own.
Stay with me throughout this post, because it leads to a fresh new way to see yourself that will totally elevate the way you feel and the way you style your days.
I know, super fun, right?!
So, the threads that connect the chapters of our lives . . . here are a few of mine that got me here to uplifting women in their new countries.
For me, as a young girl, I was always fascinated with foreign languages, pretending with my sister that we were speaking some exotic language to each other, making up random sounds and sentences.
I loved imagining where people were going as I watched aeroplanes pass overhead.
Something that I never actually did but that I really liked the idea of was having what we used to call a pen-pal. A friend in another country who you’d connect with purely through writing letters to each other. I always thought as a child that that would be so fun, to hear from someone who is experiencing a different style of life. I don’t remember why I never did it. It used to be a thing; I don’t recall how it was arranged and how children came to connect with other children, but people did it.
Then later when I was at high school and we had the opportunity to learn a language, I was really keen, but had no idea which language to choose. I remember asking my Dad, “Dad, I want to do a language; which one should I choose?” In my high school in the 1980’s, we had a choice of three languages: French, German or Indonesian.
I clearly remember my Dad’s response, “I always loved the sound of French.”
So that was it – it was now an easy choice, and French it was!
Who would have thought that I’d end up meeting a charming French Swiss man when I spent 2 years in London in my mid-20’s, that he would become my husband and that it would lead to all the experiences I’ve had since . . .
to 20 years of running enchanting French sessions in preschools, to growing a team of French Mums whom I coached to do the same and we all ran many, many French sessions under the umbrella of my little business, called Cocorico French for Kids at the time.
Then that turned into me running workshops and courses, both in-person and online, for women from many different countries and languages, now under the name of CocoricoWORLD.
And that lead to starting a podcast, then writing my first book as an inspiring, uplifting guide to women living in a new country, and now here I am excitedly writing a second book.
And through all these grown-up adventures, the one thing that has inspired me the most has been seeing how all these brave, beautiful women have seen themselves challenged by contrasting cultures and new languages and everything that comes along with that, and to gradually come out of their shells and launch themselves into joyful, confident new lives in their new countries.
Which has caused me to reflect on my own journey.
And those bells again, ding-ding-dinging, saying . . . “hey, this has happened to you, too. Just a little in reverse, having a different culture brought into your home rather than you living there. It has been a really big deal and has affected you and challenged you enormously. And look how much you’ve grown!”
I can actually relate to the sensation of losing your sense of identity that many of the women I’ve coached have expressed.
My parents-in-law followed my husband and myself to Australia, where we’ve each navigated this blend of contrasting customs, perspectives, habits and ways of seeing the world in our own individual ways. To a much bigger extent than my husband, my parents-in-law brought with them really strong cultural attachments that differed greatly from my own Aussie experiences. They brought with them powerful personal attitudes and perspectives and they constantly challenged what they saw here in Australia.
It knocked me for six, as they say (this is an expression that means to upset or overwhelm one, disrupt one’s norm, especially suddenly or unexpectedly). I really did lose myself for many years, wondering where I fit in amongst all these strong, contrasting attitudes.
Having come out the other end, rediscovering myself and then deciding who I wanted to be, one of the biggest observations I’ve made is that, if you allow it, if you can step back and observe all the challenges and realisations over the years, this exposure to varying cultures and the people in them ignites the most enormous personal growth.
My experience working with and coaching all these women from varying backgrounds, I’ve seen how, in so many ways, it all comes down to confidence.
For myself included.
Without realising it at the time, I can now look back and see that all my own challenges and mess-ups and emotional reactions have been based in something as simple (and often elusive) as self-confidence (or more precisely, a lack of self-confidence).
Taking on a second culture and figuring out who I am and how to make it all work happily has lead me on a 30-year journey of personal discovery to gradually and joyfully emerge as a more expanded, more self-aware, more open-minded, more worldly and confident woman.
And it’s surely the same for you, too, although hopefully it’s taken you less than 30 years.
At the time that we’re going through it, we may not notice; I know I didn’t. We may only feel the disorientation, the trying on of new attitudes, the feeling of losing yourself to all the change, and then bit by bit kind of putting yourself back together, albeit in a slightly different form.
Or more precisely in a more self-realised and self-assured form.
It’s in the briefly looking back (and it’s important that the looking back be only brief, for we don’t want to spend too much time looking behind us when there is so much more goodness in front of us), but it is in this momentary looking back that we see how far we’ve come.
And that realisation certainly feels good!
But here’s the thing, and it’s the most liberating and intoxicating thing . . .
Once we realise how much we’ve evolved, we then have the option of choosing to continue evolving on purpose. How fun would it be to actually design our own identity and make our continued journey open and fascinating and . . . stylish.
And here we are, back to the thread of our intro (I told you we'd get there ;-)).
Did you know that we can style all the aspects of our lives?
We can style our minds.
Style our thoughts.
Style our homes.
Style the way we hold ourselves and speak to people.
Style the way we choose to feel in our days.
Style the cultural aspects that we love.
We can style all the aspects that reflect the woman we enjoy being and the life we enjoy living.
This is where the thread of my life has lead me.
It's where I want to be and where my inspiration and skills lie . . .
In sharing thoughts and perspectives and personal skills that can help us all to live inspired lives, wherever we happen to be in the world.
Because while the cultural aspects have played very big roles in all of our lives, it’s not all just about culture, is it?
A lot of it is just living and growing. It’s understanding our own natures. It’s getting along with other people’s natures. It’s recognising the influence of family and upbringing on our behaviour. It’s discovering better ways of communicating, no matter what the language.
It's about enjoying our desires and allowing them to materialise.
It’s about relationships and parenting and flying solo and following passions and learning to love and discovering how to make money in inspiring and satisfying ways.
It's about emotions.
It’s just that, well, living amongst contrasting cultural aspects heightens all of the above.
There are more challenges at the same time as having more options.
And in the end, if we do it well, we can take all of these wonderful, sometimes frustrating, but ultimately expansive elements of our lives and allow them to form softly seductive layers with which to style ourselves and our days.
And so I introduce to you . . .
The Chic Immigrant.
The unfolding and never-ending story of we women of the world. Women who have lived more than one culture, and who are choosing to style themselves and their lives with intention and with panache.
The Chic Immigrant is the next evolution of my work. It’s the title of my next book and the new name of my blog and website. I haven’t updated all the details of my site yet, but I’ve made a start.
So to be clear and allow you a glimpse of what’s to come, let’s begin by defining what I mean by The Chic Immigrant.
In a talk that I gave recently in a multicultural parents group, I was surprised to hear the ladies exclaiming that they hadn’t heard the word, chic. We had such a laugh as everyone realised they were understanding it as cheek, as in cheeks on your face. Of course! It hadn’t occurred to me. I has assumed that this charming French word had kind of become universal.
Once I explained it, all the lights turned on! Everyone recognised the similar word in their own language.
The Russian ladies who were present were suddenly exclaiming, “Ahhhh, yes – we have that word in Russian and it means the same thing as it does in French.
Perhaps this word has permeated your language, too.
So let’s clear this up once and for all, because I love the word and what it can mean for us.
Chic is a delightful French word that is generally considered in relation to fashion. You might here statements such as, “What a chic woman.” Or “That looks so chic”.
And yet the fun is in allowing it to be so much more than that.
So I did a bit of searching around for various definitions of chic-ness.
What does it mean to be a chic woman? Can men be described as chic?
Interestingly, the best definitions of chic I found are from articles written for men, by men.
I love the following quote for the way we can make it so easily relate to our experiences with cultural variety, whether it be clothing, perspectives, habits or any other element:
(on being chic)
“It’s an attitude. It’s the art of matching things that don’t necessarily go together. In an ultrapersonal way. It’s making the incoherent coherent. It’s being your own person” — Anthony Vaccarello
How perfect is that for us?! It encompasses our experiences of variety beautifully, “matching things that don’t necessarily go together”. Can you see the connection? And then ending with the ultimate joy-maker, “be your own person.”
Here's another one that I love:
“An effortless style. But it’s not about what you’re wearing, it’s how you hold yourself and how you behave; it’s about style in everything you do…Chic is a way of being” — Ben Cobb
Having read a bunch of dictionary definitions and blogpost articles, I’ve designed what feels like an inspired definition of chic that evokes the essence of our new Chic Immigrant approach to our lives with panache.
Here’s how I describe it:
Chic is a celebration of life.
Chic is feeling fabulous being you.
Chic is comfort and courage and style.
Chic is inspiration.
Chic is unique.
Chic is a way of being.
How does that feel? To me it feels freeing, uplifting, empowering. It feels creative and individual and fun!
And so, in the episodes and stories and experiences to follow, we’ll explore the ever-expanding path of what makes a chic immigrant.
Everything we explore will lead each one of us to create our own unique chic.
- to love being you
- to decide how you want to think and feel
- how you want to dress and greet each day
- how you want to style your home and your thoughts and your conversations and your days to represent your unique chic
- how to blend elements from your different cultures and use it all to elevate your confidence and joy as you navigate and explore and create your life with style.
I really hope you’ll join me on this adventure.
Amongst it all, I’ll share bits of my own author journey writing my second book precisely about this topic.
I already have a name and an outline, and have begun pulling pieces of my writing together into short chapters.
The book will be called, The Chic Immigrant – 60 ways to live an inspired life in a new country.
I’m even thinking of a fun way that you could be involved, if you’d like to. I already have an idea that I’ll share with you as it develops.
I’m also creating a cool personal quiz, that so far I’m thinking of calling something along the lines of . . .
What’s your unique immigrant style - Uncover the secret ways that your immigration experience has affected your personal style.
I want it to be really good, to be meaningful and define a path towards you creating your own unique chic. So I’m not going to rush it. I’m going to take time to shape it until it feels ready.
So, as you can see, a bunch of really cool things coming up for you.
I’m coming on this adventure with you, my friends, so let’s make it fabulous!
Would you like to stay up to date with the progress of my new book?
It's going to be called, The Chic Immigrant - 60 ways to create an inspired life in a new country.
How fun! I'll just need your email address.
You can share that here.