You’re in for a treat today because Jennifer L. Scott is about to give you some tips on the art of living Parisian style. She transformed her experience during her study abroad program in Paris into three New York Times bestselling books that are not only entertaining but give lessons on how we can each live our lives with a bit more ease.
Jennifer L. Scott is the international bestselling author of Lessons from Madame Chic, At Home with Madame Chic and Polish Your Poise with Madame Chic. She’s also the creator of the popular blog The Daily Connoisseur where she shares more advice about living life well. She is a contributing writer for Huffington Post Style and has been featured on CNN, BBC, Vanity Fair, Newsweek, and many other outlets.
Here's what the New York Times had to say about Jennifer's books:
“A guide for women who yearn to channel Audrey Tautou. . . . Personable, anecdote-filled, and studded with lifestyle tips . . . its vivacity and sincerity have struck a chord among women who would like a French role model of their own, but don't have a year to spend apprenticing with one in Paris.”
I think you’re going to adore her. Listen in.
- Go to Jennifer's website: www.jenniferlscott.com
- Her blog: www.dailyconnoisseur.com
- And you don't want to miss Jennifer's YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/
- Click here for Book One in the Madame Chic Series ~ 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris
- Book Two ~ At Home with Madame Chic
- Book Three ~ Polish Your Poise with Madame Chic: Lessons in Everyday Elegance
- Or click here for the gift set that includes all Three Books in the Madame Chic Series
- Click here to get your Morning Roadmap
THE ART OF LIVING ~ PARISIAN STYLE
Dina Cataldo: You're in for a treat today because Jennifer L. Scott is about to give you some tips on the art of living well. She transformed her experience during her study abroad program in Paris into three New York Times best selling books that are not only entertaining, but give lessons on how we can each live our lives with a bit more ease. Before we get into our interview, I want to let you know that all the links to her books and websites we talk about are in the show notes, including a free morning roadmap. The morning roadmap is essential if you want to create space in your life to begin incorporating anything new. It's also another way to begin creating more ease in your life, in addition to what you'll learn in this podcast.
All right, let's get to the show.
Dina Cataldo: Jennifer L. Scott is the international best selling author of Lessons from Madame Chic, At Home with Madame Chic, and Polish Your Poise with Madame Chic. She's also the creator of the popular blog, The Daily Connoisseur, where she shares more advice about living life well. She's a contributing writer for Huffington Post Style and has been featured on CNN, BBC, Vanity Fair, Newsweek, and many other outlets. I think you're going to adore her. Let's listen in.
Dina Cataldo: Hi Jennifer, how are you doing today?
J.L. Scott: Good, thank you so much for having me.
Dina Cataldo: I'm so glad that you are willing to talk to me about your fantastic books. I came across your books when I was actually looking for someone who could speak about French culture and self-care because the French culture is known for having unique habits that maybe Americans just aren't familiar with or might want to incorporate into their own daily living.
J.L. Scott: Right.
Dina Cataldo: One of the things that also interested me is that you're from Southern California and I'm a Southern California girl too.
J.L. Scott: Oh yay.
Dina Cataldo: I knew that I would be able to talk to you about this from a similar perspective.
J.L. Scott: Right.
Dina Cataldo: Can you introduce yourself to our listeners and just let them know a little bit about you and what you're up to?
J.L. Scott: Sure, so my name's Jennifer L. Scott. I use the L because there's a lot of other Jennifer Scotts out there. In fact there's another best selling writer called Jennifer Scott, but yes I'm Jennifer L. Scott and I wrote the Madame Chic books. Like you I'm from Southern California and Southern California and Paris, two very different places. California very casual. I just grew up with very casual life, flip flops, barbecues, ripped, cut-off shorts, beach, and all that stuff that is great and it's Southern California. Then I went to study abroad my junior year in college, I went to USC, and I studied abroad in Paris. I went to live with an actual French family. Many people when they study abroad they stay in a dormitory or something, but I always recommend that people actually live with a family because you get a total emersion into the culture, no matter where you go. I went to live with a family that I call Family Chic, I don't say their real name to preserve the anonymity.
J.L. Scott: I went to go live with them for a semester and they were extremely formal. They were very traditional, formal, their last name was very aristocratic so they had a long tradition in their family. Needless to say I was a fish out of water and it was just a completely crazy experience. I mean I can't even tell you how opposite we were. I mean you know if you've read the books. I had this amazing experience and I was just awakened to a different way of living. Based on my experience I wrote my three Madame Chic books. Lessons from Madame Chic is the first one and it's based on Madame Chic who was the host mother for the family that I lived with. I always tell people, “I'm not Madame Chic.” The Madame Chic is who I learned everything from.
J.L. Scott: I wrote my three books and they've been really popular internationally as well because the Chic family, the way that they lived is just so different to how we live here, but also to how many Parisians today live as well. I mean their way of living I honestly think is dying out.
Dina Cataldo: Oh.
J.L. Scott: There's some things that they do that a lot of other Parisians do as well because in my books I actually compare them to another family, Madame Bohemienne's family, who's a more modern family. There are some things that remain the same, but there are some things that I do think eventually will die out, and I think that's what's so special about the books is that they capture this moment in time, this slice of life. Something that most people will never experience in their lives.
Dina Cataldo: You know that's a really sweet way of saying that. I really like that.
J.L. Scott: Yes.
Dina Cataldo: What inspired you to just start writing these books? Because they're really great, by the way.
J.L. Scott: Thank you.
Dina Cataldo: I loved how they're laid out, there is beautiful little artwork sprinkled throughout the books too. I think it would make a really nice gift for somebody. What kind of got you in the direction of actually writing down your experiences?
J.L. Scott: Well it's kind of a funny story actually. I always wanted to be a writer when I was a child, that's what I wanted to be. Then I decided to really get serious about it when I was in my late 20s. I took a writing class and I wrote a mystery. I couldn't get the mystery published, I couldn't find a literary agent or a publisher or anything. I started a blog just to hold myself accountable for writing, and I became pregnant with my first child, and I was a bit worried that I would lose my blog readers or I just would go out of it. I wrote a series called the Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris, and I thought I'll publish one a week and that will be 20 weeks worth of material on the blog. I just thought it'll just be a nice little fun series.
J.L. Scott: I did have all these stories and only I knew them. I wanted to share them with people, so I did do that and it turned out that they were really popular and people wanted to know more about it. I thought, “Well okay, I have more to tell so I'll write a book.” I wrote my first book, Lessons From Madame Chic. It's actually my second book because the mystery never got picked up. I wrote Lessons From Madame Chic and I just thought I'm a very optimistic person, I'm not one of those writers who just hates everything she writes, I actually like everything I write. I was like, “This is amazing. Everybody's going to want to read my book.” I thought immediately it would get picked up by publishers and a best seller instantly. Anyway, nobody wanted it. I couldn't get a literary agent, I couldn't get a publisher. Anyway I thought, “You know what, they don't know what they're talking about,” so I self-published it.
Dina Cataldo: Oh good for you!
J.L. Scott: Yes, and it did very well. Ultimately the New York Times reviewed it, it was one of the first self-publishing books that the New York Times ever reviewed and then the next day I got an agent and we sold it to Simon and Schuster. It was a really big success story for self-publishing and then again the books have been produced by Simon and Schuster, the other two.
Dina Cataldo: The blog that you did developed into the first book that you did and the Madame Chic series?
J.L. Scott: Yes, that's right.
Dina Cataldo: Tell us a little bit about that initial success that you did have after it got picked up with Simon and Schuster. How did you feel about that? What became of that?
J.L. Scott: It was really exhilarating, the whole period from when I decided to self-publish it and I like to encourage especially women, but of course everybody to not let rejection stop you because the world is full of rejection. Whether you are an artist or you're a writer or whatever it is that you do, you'll probably experience rejection at some point, but if you are passionate about it like I knew, I loved my book. It's a good book and I knew it was a good book. It's not because of my writing, it's because the story is so good and I think people need to hear the story. It's a story that hasn't been told yet, so I knew that there would be an audience for it. It was exhilarating when I self-published it.
J.L. Scott: It did really well off the back because of my blog readers, they really supported me in everything by purchasing it on Amazon and all of that. It was just a really exciting time in my life, becoming what I dreamed about as a little girl, a published author.
Dina Cataldo: That's so amazing.
J.L. Scott: Thank you.
Dina Cataldo: In addition to writing these books and the blog, what else do you do?
J.L. Scott: Well I have four kids, so that-
Dina Cataldo: Four kids.
J.L. Scott: That takes up the majority of my day.
Dina Cataldo: We should say you just had a little one who's two weeks old now?
J.L. Scott: Two weeks ago, that's right yes.
Dina Cataldo: Oh my gosh, thank you for talking to me. You've got a two week year old in the other room.
J.L. Scott: I know and it takes up almost my entire day basically. I work when they go to sleep and when they have their naps and I wake up early.
Dina Cataldo: I love hearing stories like that because I hear from a lot of women. I don't have kids so I don't have the same experiences as women who have kids, but I hear from a lot of women that I don't have time, I can't do this, I can't make time for whatever it is that they want in their life, self-care or time to read another book or do some kind of self-improvement.
What are some tips that you would give working moms or moms who have multiple kids, tips in terms of creating that space to do the things that they're saying they don't have time to do?
J.L. Scott: You know the thing is is that you have to cut out certain things in your life to make others a priority. I have a YouTube channel and so I'm always talking about this on my channel about being efficient with my time and everything, but that also means prioritizing self-care and the things that I do want to do. I do things like I cut out television. I don't watch television anymore because I was finding that I wasn't reading, for example. I knew that I had to cut something out in order to make room for something else. I think a lot of the times, as moms especially, we get overwhelmed with the amount of stuff we have to do, especially if you're working too. That when you do have a moment of downtime we just sit in front of the computer and kind of scroll or just go on Facebook or just kind of waste our time, and then afterword we feel like oh I should have used my time better.
J.L. Scott: It's just about cutting things out in order to make room for other things. I'm not doing it now because I have a newborn but I usually wake up at 5:30 in the morning and that gives me three hours of peace and silence where I can just do what I want to do, just work on what I want to work on. I recommend that, just getting up earlier, getting quiet time for yourself at night, and not feeling like you have to do what everybody else does. Everybody's talking about this show. Did you see the season premier of this show or that show? Because it's such a waste of time.
Dina Cataldo: Oh my gosh. You know it's funny you should say that because I don't keep up with pop culture like I feel I need to in order to relate to some people, but I keep hearing about This is Us and that is the show to watch. When I was on my trip to New York this past week I suddenly had access to cable, which I don't have in my house because I do not subscribe to cable. I saw This is Us and I'm like, okay, I'm going to binge watch a little bit. I did and oh my God it was so enveloping and I just wanted to watch everything. This is why I don't have cable is I will just sit here and watch TV.
J.L. Scott: I know right, and I'm not saying that they're not good because I get it. That's why I have to stay away from it because my husband and I will binge watch a show on Netflix. We just don't have the time anymore, but you do have to watch that. If that's what you want to do that's fine, but some people say, “Oh I would love to write a book but I don't have the time or I would love to do this.”
Well, you do have the time. You just need to cut out other things. If I can do it anybody can do it honestly.
Dina Cataldo: Thank you for saying that to people that need to hear it because I think a lot of us need that reminder that we make things in our lives a priority. I heard this phrase recently, it's something to the effect of we do the most of what we care the most about.
J.L. Scott: That's so true.
Dina Cataldo: It's my reminder when I turn on my phone, I have it as my screen saver, it's like oh do I really want to flip through my phone right now? Is that something I want to spend my time doing?
J.L. Scott: That is so good to pause and think that because I mindlessly flip through my phone all the time. Then when I do it I'm like, “Why am I doing this?”
Dina Cataldo: Oh yes, because you're like, “Everybody else is doing it.”
J.L. Scott: Exactly.
Dina Cataldo: Okay, so I want to talk a little bit about the art of living and some of the things that you learned and maybe you incorporated them into your own life or maybe you saw these things play out in the family where you stayed when you were in France, but I wanted to talk about a few things that you felt really defined French lifestyle and something unique that showed up when you observed them.
J.L. Scott: Sure, there's so many honestly. I would just center my first thought around the dinner table and how they just made mealtime an event. I think in America especially, we're so rushed for meals. It's just rushed and somebody's in this room and someone's in that room, and that never happened there. They had a complete and total ritual every single evening. They dined in their formal dining room and Madame Chic would make the meals in the kitchen. I would help her and she would roll them out on the little tray because they didn't have those open spaces. The kitchen was down a dark long hallway, so she would roll the meals out on a tray and we would sit down and the table was formally set every evening with nice China, cloth napkins, I mean beautiful right.
J.L. Scott: Then it just took me completely off guard because they had very formal etiquette with dining. I would be served first as the female guest of honor unless they were having people over for dinner then I was bumped down the ladder one peg. It just kind of took me by surprise because they would offer me everything first and then it went around the table. I'm just like, “What's going on here?” The first time that that happened and I thought oh they're being nice for this first introduction to their family, but then they did that every night. It was just how they lived, it was so formal. That's why I'm saying I don't know if every family does that over there. That family did it and so I don't know. I do know that they do take mealtimes very seriously and I think they all do.
Dina Cataldo: There were a couple of things that struck me in your books, and one of them was that the sons kept this up even when the parents weren't around.
J.L. Scott: Yes. Monsieur and Madame Chic, they rarely went out. In fact, I don't think … I'm trying to remember this because I did a video for my channel about saving money and about how you should eat at home and not at restaurants if you want to save money because it can get pricey, and I was trying to remember if they ever went to a restaurant. I lived with them for six months, and I don't believe they did. They went out a few times, but it was to somebody else's house for a dinner party, so they just never went to restaurants.
J.L. Scott: But one night when they went out to a dinner party, I was going to have dinner with their adult sons. Their youngest child was 23, and he lived with us, and then the others were grown up and living out of the house. So I thought, “Ooh, this is going to get fun. We'll probably order a pizza and just let loose and watch TV.” No, they still observed the same formal protocol. I mean, can you imagine a 23-year-old man?
Dina Cataldo: That would never happen here.
J.L. Scott: It wouldn't happen.
Dina Cataldo: No.
J.L. Scott: Just the table was set, and they served me first, and I just, I was like, okay, this is just how you guys are.
Dina Cataldo: The other thing that really struck me, and I think we need to talk about this because it's a public service, is there was a part that you talked about how cheese was served at the table, and I'm going to ask you to explain that because what you did is exactly what I do every time I go to spend time with my friends and we have cheese and bread. So I'm just going to let you explain that story.
J.L. Scott: Okay. So you're talking about how I made the faux pas, right?
Dina Cataldo: Right.
J.L. Scott: And to this day, I still do what I did because it's more efficient.
Dina Cataldo: It makes sense. I mean, it makes sense.
J.L. Scott: What I did is what most Americans would do, is you take the piece of baguette and you take the slice of cheese and you smother it over the whole piece of baguette. Right?
Dina Cataldo: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
J.L. Scott: And then chomp into it. I did, because it's good. That is not what you do in Paris, and I am mortified when I think about it because Madame Chic corrected me at the end of my stay, which means for the past six months I had been offending them with my poor cheese etiquette. I'm like, couldn't you tell me this the first night? Because now I'm embarrassed, you know? Or just don't say anything at all at this point.
J.L. Scott: But what you should do is tear off a tiny piece of baguette, take some cheese, and put it on that tiny piece, and then eat that, and then repeats. You think I would have observed that that's what they were doing, but I was completely oblivious. I think she just finally couldn't take it and she had to correct me.
Dina Cataldo: I mean, I am glad that you had that story in there though, because one day I'm going to go back to Paris and I am going to be very aware of how I'm eating cheese and bread.
J.L. Scott: You will be in the know.
Dina Cataldo: Yeah. Although, until then, I'm going to eat it as I always have.
J.L. Scott: I eat it like that at home. I can't be bothered to do that. I just want the cheese, so I just put it … Yeah.
Dina Cataldo: I guess I can understand that it's maybe that's part of the ritual of eating and enjoying your food. I still enjoy it after spreading it, so I don't know for sure why that ritual exists.
J.L. Scott: I think it prolongs the … It takes longer to eat it that way. They have long meals over there.
Dina Cataldo: How long are their meals?
J.L. Scott: We would sit at the table for at least 45 minutes on a week night. That's like the shortest, sometimes an hour, hour and a half.
Dina Cataldo: Wow.
J.L. Scott: Talking. Can you imagine? Talking.
Dina Cataldo: Oh, my gosh. I don't even know what I would do with myself.
J.L. Scott: Yeah, it was nice.
Dina Cataldo: So what are some of the other rituals along with the habits of dining and enjoying your food and the company of the people around you?
J.L. Scott: Yes. They didn't watch TV very much. Again, back to that. They talked a lot. Before dinner they would have an aperitif, a little before dinner drink, and just, they would talk. They just put a big emphasis on living well at home.
Their home life was really nice, and I always talk about how her home was clutter-free and just tidy all the time. Not in a clinical way. It's just how they live. Home life was just so pleasant. It wasn't chaotic, it wasn't … I don't know. So many of our homes are just … It's stressful because it's so messy. It's so cluttered. It's not a haven of rest, you know? So I would say that's definitely another way.
Dina Cataldo: To talk a little bit more about that, because that's something that I'm working on, and especially after reading your books, this is something I'd like to incorporate more into my life is simply how I decide to arrange my house. So first of all, when I walk through the door, I have a habit of dropping things off, right? I drop my purse off in a certain area, then I walk into my bedroom, I take my shoes off. Maybe I'll put my clothes somewhere that isn't in the closet, it's somewhere else like laying on my bed, and when I have the opportunity to do so, I drop things off on my dining room table, just kind of like a whirlwind. Then eventually I go back and I clean everything up. But-
J.L. Scott: That's normal. Most people do that. I'm just telling you.
Dina Cataldo: Right. So I really want to make an effort to do some of the things that you recommended. Can you tell us a little bit about some of the decluttering things that you observed?
J.L. Scott: Sure. I mean, what I basically observed from them is that they live a very disciplined life, and so most people would think, “Ah, discipline, that does not sound fun.” Right?
Dina Cataldo: Right.
But it is. It freed them up to live this amazing life, their discipline. When you live with someone for six months, you just see how they live, truly and truly, and they … Nobody would ever come home and throw their coat on the sofa. They didn't have a sofa, but on a chair. Madame, she wouldn't put her handbag on the fireplace mantel just quickly because she was in a rush. It never happened. They had a place for everything, and every single time, they put it there. There was no pile of mail on the dining room table. There was no … I'm trying to think of all the things I do. You know, there were no shoes left in the wrong place. Just everything always … And when you think about it, it's not that hard. Everything has a place. It does eventually end up there. Just put it there first. Get into the habit of you tell yourself, “This is where I'm going to put my handbag, this is it. It's going to be here, and nowhere else.” You know?
J.L. Scott: A lot of women, like if they take off their jewelry, if you wear rings on your hands, a lot of women will have a place where they keep it so they don't lose it. You know what I mean? It's that same concept. This is where my hand bag is going to go. This is where I'm going to put my shoes, if you take your shoes off when you go home. This is where I'm going to put the mail. This is where my keys are going. This is where the dog leash is going to go. So it's like you make that agreement with yourself, and then you are disciplined about doing it, and if you find yourself coming home and just kind of putting everything down because you're tired, no. Stop yourself right there and correct yourself, and eventually you'll have that habit of putting things back where they belong.
Dina Cataldo: I love that. One of the other things that I was fascinated with, and another thing I would like to incorporate into my life, is the pride in appearance. You know, like the sweatpants or holey T-shirt's when you're at home, maybe not something that they do. Is that your experience?
J.L. Scott: Yes. That was my experience. As you can imagine, they lived a very formal life, especially with what they wore as well. So I get this question all the time on my YouTube channel because I talk about the 10 item wardrobe. They didn't have a lot of clothes. Madame Chic wore like the same thing every day. She just had a uniform. She wore an A-line skirt and silk button-down blouse and low heels, pantyhose, pearl necklace. That was her. People always think she was this big fashionista based on her name, Madame Chic, but she wasn't. She had a uniform. She liked what she wore. She wore it. And they didn't have a lot of clothes. None of them did, but they had high-quality clothes that they just wore over and over again.
J.L. Scott: And again, I'm not saying that all Parisians are like this. This is just the family that I lived with. They were very formal, and they dressed really well. So people always say, “Jennifer do …” Because I try to emulate a lot of what I learned while living in Paris at home in California, so I share my 10 item wardrobes on my YouTube channel, and people always say, “Jennifer, do you change when you get home into yoga pants or sweats or whatever?” And I always laugh. I just think it's so funny because that's what people want to know, and no, I don't. First of all, I'm always home. I rarely leave my home. I'm like home-bound. But no, I don't, and I don't clean in other things. I just clean in my … I just put an apron on. I don't cook in other things. And Madame Chic certainly did not change into yoga pants or sweats or anything like that. She just wore what she wore until it was bedtime, and then she wore her pajamas.
J.L. Scott: And this is actually what women have done in history. I mean, it's only recently in the past few maybe decades that people come home and then they change into yoga pants, I feel. I don't think … They weren't even doing that very recently. So it's just our culture has become extremely casual, to the point where I believe it's just too casual. It's been the frog in the boiling water where people go out in their pajamas now, or they-
Dina Cataldo: Oh, yeah.
J.L. Scott: Or women will just … They are frustrated, and they just, they can't find their true style so they just wear yoga pants every day. That in California is very prevalent.
Dina Cataldo: Oh, yeah. One of the things that I have noticed, because I'm a lawyer and I work in the courthouse, so when I go to court, I notice that there are a lot of people and their defendants coming into the courthouse who do not take pride in their appearance, are wearing pajamas, and for what I observe, it leads to a lack of respect for the system and for the proceedings that are happening, and it's like a trickle down effect. Right? So you see the person next to you, who's wearing pajamas, and you took pride in your appearance and you're looking at this person and you're like, why did I put the effort into this? [inaudible 00:24:46].
J.L. Scott: I couldn't agree more.
Dina Cataldo: Right? And then meanwhile, I work in a county courthouse, which is underfunded, unfortunately. They're working on a new courthouse, but it's certainly not as nice as the federal courthouse, which puts you in awe when you walk into the courthouse and definitely makes you take more of a … It makes you want to have more pride in your appearance because you're entering a place that is so formal. So I do think that decorum and having some of that formality really does lead to more respect for not only the person sitting next to you, but for things like legal processes.
J.L. Scott: I couldn't agree more, and so funny. I have so much to say about what you just said because I write about how the Chic's apartment was so formal and the way that they lived was so formal. I wouldn't have felt comfortable in yoga pants in their living room. You know, it's like if you go visit Claridge's Hotel in London, it is so beautiful that you'd feel uncomfortable if you were in your pajamas in the lobby, right?
Dina Cataldo: Right.
J.L. Scott: And it would be disrespectful, and it's the same thing. I always talk about this when you go to the theater or you patronize the arts. It does bother me when people do not dress up because I feel like it lowers the experience for everybody, and I feel like it's disrespectful to the performers. I voice these sentiments on my YouTube channel and I get a lot of flack for it, [crosstalk 00:26:08].
Dina Cataldo: Really?
J.L. Scott: Yes.
Dina Cataldo: What kind of things do people say?
J.L. Scott: They say I'm judgmental, that I'm snobby, that the world has changed, that blah, blah, blah. They think I'm saying it's about money. No, it is not about flaunting wealth at all. It is about respect. You can go to third world countries where people are a lot less fortunate than we are, and they dress well. Why? Because they just have respect for themselves, and they just present themselves beautifully. It just has nothing to do with money, and it has everything to do with respect, and I honestly believe that.
Dina Cataldo: And I definitely notice that when I'm dressed up, I'm treated differently. If I'm not dressed up, I don't get the same kind of engagement from people, and that could be either because they're judging me by my appearance or it could be because I present myself differently because I feel more confident about myself. It could be either one of those things, but I do notice a difference, and I really do think that, yes, there's something to be said for being comfortable at home. I don't know that I'm going to change my habit from wearing sweatpants. Maybe I won't wear my ratty T-shirt, but I definitely enjoy dressing up when I'm in public.
J.L. Scott: Yes. And I mean, I do encourage people when they're home, when they're behind closed doors, even if they don't plan on seeing anybody, to still look presentable because it becomes who you are authentically. You know what I mean? Then it's not like you're putting on Airs when, oh, just because now I'm going to see somebody. Now I'm going to get … You know what I mean? It's just respect for yourself basically. You know? I can't believe people go to the courthouse in [crosstalk 00:27:45]-
Dina Cataldo: Oh, yeah.
J.L. Scott: I mean, I'm shocked.
Dina Cataldo: It's embarrassing.
J.L. Scott: I can't believe … I mean, what?
Dina Cataldo: Yeah.
J.L. Scott: Come on. Don't they have a sister or a mother to say, “Put some clothes on”?
Dina Cataldo: Yeah, it's really unfortunate. So that is one thing that I really enjoyed about your books and something that was highlighted for me, and then another thing that really struck me was their attention to self-care. For instance, like exercise. Maybe they wouldn't go to the gym, but your family, you said, walked stairs at every single chance they got. What else did you observe?
J.L. Scott: Oh, well they lead very active lives. They had one car for the whole family, but they never used it. They walked everywhere, and I walked everywhere when I was living there. I think that's why they are able to eat such rich food and still have nice physiques and not have an obesity problem. But yes, Madame Bohemian, I've just would laugh because I can't remember what floor she lived on, but it was high up. It was like the sixth floor or something like that, and there was no elevator. So I'm like, how does she bring groceries and things like that up?
Dina Cataldo: Yeah.
J.L. Scott: But that's just, they lead an active life, and they incorporate exercise into every part of their life really. Madame Chic would walk to get the groceries every day. It was like a fresh … Because it's easy there. On the corner, there's the baguette. It's hard in suburban America to do your errands by foot because it's not always reachable, so finding other ways to be active is important.
Dina Cataldo: That is a far cry from what my life has become in terms of where I get my food because I order meals to come to me, and there isn't a place for me to walk to get any fresh veggies if I wanted to make something that night anyway, which is why I'm always searching for something that's more convenient because it's not like I can just stop at the grocery store really quick. It's a whole process, and traffic, and all of that.
J.L. Scott: Right. Yeah. I mean, it is different, and I tell people. Obviously there's things that happen in Paris that we can't do here because of just logistics, but I always say, when you do go somewhere, if you have a car, don't park it as close as you can to the store. Walk a little bit, or take the stairs instead of the elevator. Just incorporate that activeness into your life.
Dina Cataldo: Are there any … Like I'm particularly interested in morning rituals because I'm always looking for a good morning ritual, something to incorporate into my life, and I talk about it a lot on the show. Were there any morning rituals that you observed your family do?
J.L. Scott: Well, it's funny because Madame Chic would wake up at 5:30 and she would make breakfast for her husband who left the house really early. It might even have been 5:00. I mean, it was early. I can't remember. I have to look at my book to remember. I kept a diary. That's why I was able to remember everything. And it's so funny, because she would wake up, and breakfast was one of my favorite meals there. She wouldn't get dressed; she'd be in her dressing gown. She'd be making breakfast. She chose to, you know. It's not like he said, “Woman, go make me breakfast.” She wanted to do this. So she got up and she made breakfast for her husband and her son. I got up much later. But she would make breakfast, and you would smell the coffee, and she'd be listening to the radio and she'd make this lovely breakfast and clean up afterwards.
J.L. Scott: And the breakfast itself was a ritual. That was so nice. And I remember when I was trying to get an agent to publish my book, to represent me, a literary agent, this one woman who kind of strung me along for a long time, she said, “You know, I just don't believe that she woke up at 5:00 to make her husband breakfast.” And I was like, “I'm not lying.”
Dina Cataldo: You're like, “What can I tell you?”
J.L. Scott: She refused to not believe that. But it happened. It's so far fetched for her to believe that, you know. And I'm like, I'm saying everybody should do that, but that's just what she chose to do, and most people might be like, “Oh my goodness, I have to wake up at 5:00. I don't want to do this.” But she enjoyed it. After they left she would get ready for the day.
J.L. Scott: And for me, I would wake up hours later. I'd wake up at 8:00 AM or something. It was kind of embarrassing. I probably shouldn't have. And she would always say, in France it's [foreign language 00:31:34]. That means sleeping in. Just make jokes about how I would sleep in. I'm like, “8:00 is sleeping in?” To them I guess it was.
J.L. Scott: So I would get ready, and then I would enjoy my breakfast. And breakfast was so fun. I describe it vividly in the book, like what we ate and everything. And that was it. So, it's just about taking pleasures in the small things. You know, your cup of coffee, or you know, they drink their tea in a bowl.
Dina Cataldo: That was interesting to me. It's really just … It was a bowl?
J.L. Scott: It was a bowl. A cereal bowl.
Dina Cataldo: Have you ever seen that since?
J.L. Scott: They do that there.
Dina Cataldo: All of France?
J.L. Scott: I don't know if it's all of France, but. Because I would say to my friends when we'd get together at school, you know, because we were there for school. So [crosstalk 00:32:17]. You wouldn't believe it, but we were. And we would all get together at lunch, and we would just talk about the funny things that our families would do, and yeah, they all had tea in a bowl. And it's so … I don't understand.
Dina Cataldo: Did they drink anything else out of bowls? Just curious.
J.L. Scott: Nope. Tea in a bowl. And so, one time she made me hot chocolate, because I wasn't feeling well. And so she made me a giant thing of hot chocolate, like a really big cup of it and I was like, “Oh, okay thank you.” It's not the normal thing you would drink when you don't feel well. And my French wasn't very good, and I remember her asking me from the other room, and she was asking me if I wanted another one, and I didn't understand her. I thought she was asking if I enjoyed it, so I said, “Oui, oui, oui. Yeah.” I was like, “I love it.” You know, whatever. So she brings another one.
Dina Cataldo: And you're like, “Oh, no.”
J.L. Scott: I felt bad. I felt like I had to drink both. I felt so sick. No, but they didn't drink those in a bowl.
Dina Cataldo: Oh, okay. Interesting. So are there any habits that you have incorporated into your life, like self-care habits that we haven't talked about that you saw in France?
J.L. Scott: Yeah, I mean, just basically, the ritual of eating. Even if when you're by yourself just making your food look really presentable on a nice plate. All of that. The ritual of skincare. Taking care of your skin. That's something that I have done since I lived there. It's funny, because they had one bathroom. And she had five children. There was only one living there when I was there, but when I first got there, one of the first questions she asked was, “Do you take your bath in the morning or the evening?” And I was like, “Both?” I don't know.
Dina Cataldo: Whenever I feel like it is when I do it.
J.L. Scott: When I want to. No, that's not how they do it there. I had to commit. And I was like, “Oh, my goodness.” So I took it in the morning. Because there was one bathroom, and you had to have your time. And you went in during your time. I couldn't just take a bath in evening if I wanted to. So, I guess that was a big no no.
Dina Cataldo: Okay, well, now that we've talked about baths, there's a funny story that you tell in your books about a gentleman at the window. And can you tell that story? Because it was a really good story.
J.L. Scott: Yes. So, we lived on I guess it was the third floor. And their bathroom was very utilitarian. So was their kitchen. It wasn't like in America, you know, everything's all beautiful with the tiles and the matching. No. It was just a very utilitarian bathroom and they had a clawfoot tub. They didn't have a shower. A clawfoot tub and then the little shower thing. So one morning, I'm sitting in the tub, you know, in my allotted time, and I'm taking my bath. And there is a man at the window. And I'm thinking, “What on earth?” And it was the window washer. Because they washed the windows once a month or something. And he's just washing … And here I'm naked next to the window. I'm dying.
Dina Cataldo: Oh my god.
J.L. Scott: I couldn't believe it. I'm like covering myself up, and he's just washing the window. And he didn't, he was a gentleman, he didn't look at me or anything. And I was like, “Should I be offended? Should I …? Should I be relieved? What is going on? This is so weird.” So he just kept washing the window, and I was dying. And I immediately told Madame. “You won't believe this. There was a man at the window.” And they all [inaudible 00:35:17]so they could hear me. And they said, “Oh, yeah.” And I guess it happens all the time, and they didn't care. And then she put a makeshift thing on the window. Like a little window covering for me, because she felt bad.
Dina Cataldo: Aww.
J.L. Scott: And I'm sure they took it down as soon as I left.
Dina Cataldo: Oh, yeah. Right. Oh my gosh. I would have been scandalized.
J.L. Scott: I know. I'm still dying over it. I'm embarrassed.
Dina Cataldo: It's so funny, the differences between cultures. They thought nothing of it.
J.L. Scott: They thought nothing of it. And if anybody would think something of it, it would have been them. Because, you know, you'd think, you know. But they weren't very progressive in that way. But they didn't care. Just even, two days ago, you know, because I'm breastfeeding. So I'm breastfeeding my newborn, and I had all the shutters closed because there were gardeners in the backyard. And my two year old son goes up to the shutters and just opens it up to see the gardeners, and I was like, “No!”
J.L. Scott: They were right there, pruning something, and they saw me. And I was so embarrassed. And somebody I was talking to, they were like, “Why are you embarrassed? You're just breastfeeding.” I'm like, “I don't know.” I don't want my gardeners to see me.
Dina Cataldo: You're like, “It feels uncomfortable.”
J.L. Scott: Yeah. Yeah.
Dina Cataldo: And I love that there are people out are who are making this more acceptable to do that. I don't know if I would be able to do that.
J.L. Scott: And there's nothing wrong, and I'm not saying-
Dina Cataldo: There's nothing wrong with it.
J.L. Scott: When you breastfeed in public, and I breastfeed in public. I just didn't want my gardeners.
Dina Cataldo: No, because you see them all the time.
J.L. Scott: You see them all the time. And they'll have it seared in their memory. If it was someone I'd never see again, whatever.
Dina Cataldo: Right. Whatever.
J.L. Scott: I was just like, “Close the shutter!” I was so mad.
Dina Cataldo: Well, I have really enjoyed talking to you.
J.L. Scott: I have enjoyed talking to you, too. Thank you.
Dina Cataldo: Can you please tell listeners where they can learn more about you, and your YouTube channel?
J.L. Scott: Sure.
Dina Cataldo: And I'll link to everything you mention in the show notes.
J.L. Scott: Oh, thank you. My author website is jenniferlscott.com. And you can find me on YouTube. My channel is called The Daily Connoisseur. So YouTube.com/TheDailyConnoiseur And I have a blog, dailyconnoisseur.com. And you can find me in so many places online. But I do weekly videos. I do about three videos a week, and I do a blog, and everything. And you can find out about my books on my author website.
Dina Cataldo: Can you tell us a little bit about what kind of videos you do, so that people know what to expect when they get there?
J.L. Scott: Yeah. I do 10 item wardrobe, no makeup look, a lot of discussions, like etiquette chats. I do a lot of just discussing society and things like that. I do some controversial videos about yoga pants and things like that as well.
Dina Cataldo: I find that fascinating.
J.L. Scott: Yeah. I have a variety of videos. I also, like, I have a whole series on natural home products that I review. I just do a bunch of different things. I have a lot of fun with my channel.
Dina Cataldo: I'll just mention this one thing. Because my friends, we were debating whether it was acceptable to wear yoga pants to the grocery store. My position was-
J.L. Scott: I think I know what your position's going to be.
Dina Cataldo: My position was, if you're leaving the yoga studio immediately and have to stop at the grocery store on the way home, then it's acceptable. However, my friends disagreed. Can you tell us your thoughts?
J.L. Scott: Well, I'm with you. I have never personally done it before. So I can't say that I've done this, okay. Because I would feel really uncomfortable. But, I agree, and that's my point. Is that sure, yes, if you are coming home from the gym, or your yoga class, or whatever, fine. But I find the trouble is that people just wear them all the time. And they don't even exercise.
Dina Cataldo: That seems like you're cheating.
J.L. Scott: I know.
Dina Cataldo: False advertising.
J.L. Scott: Yes. I don't know. I really rebel against it. I think even if I did yoga I wouldn't wear them. I don't know. I rebel. There's too many of them. I got to be the one who doesn't wear them.
Dina Cataldo: Well, thank you for bringing a little bit of French style in our life. I hope that listeners got something that they can incorporate into their own life today. And I'll be sure to link to everything that we talked about in the show notes. Thanks so much for talking.
J.L. Scott: Thank you so much. It was pleasure.
Dina Cataldo: Isn't Jennifer a sweetie? I want to do a quick recap of the tips she gave, before I tell you what the next steps are. First, and simple enough, right, eat around the dinner table. It's easy to brush this off when we're in a hurry, but it creates connections that we may not otherwise have. Try it out for a week, and see if there's an improvement in communication in your family. I loved the added for an aperitif before dinner, where the family spent time together, but that's totally optional.
Second, reduce your TV time. This can go for screen time generally, right. The more time we spend disconnecting, the less time we have for those connections that are most important to us.
Third, talk. Once you include space for meals around the table and reduce screen time, there's more time to communicate with those you're living with. That's the key to creating solid connections.
Fourth, discipline in what you do. One example she gave was decluttering our homes. There's space for everything and everything has its place. I'm definitely a work in progress on this one, and I'm excited to create a home that creates less anxiousness. I'm sure you notice the difference between how you feel when your home is like a tornado went through it versus when it's tidy.
I really think number four melts into number five, which is self respect. How we treat ourselves shows us how we'll treat others. I don't know if I can give up my sweatpants, but I think there are other ways that I show myself respect, like making time for self care rituals daily. It could something as simple as giving yourself a foot rub before bed, or scheduling time at the float tank for a massage or for a pedicure.
And finally, make space during your day to exercise. Take the stairs when you don't have to, or take a walk for a short trip when you otherwise might have taken the car. This really is part of self respect, too. If you want to get even more stories and tips on living artfully from Jennifer, go visit her at her blog and buy her books. The books are beautifully done and make great gifts. You can get the links to her blog, her books, as well as the morning road map I talk about at the beginning of this podcast in show notes at danacataldo.com/21. That's danacataldo.com/21. The morning road map is a mini workbook that will help you create more ease in your life, which is really what living artfully is all about. I hope you have a wonderful day, and I will talk to you next week.
Thanks for listening to Soul Road Map. If you have a moment, I'd appreciate it if you'd subscribe, and left an honest review on iTunes. I read every single review, so let me know what you want to hear more, or less of, and I'll talk to you next week.