I'm a writer, Youtuber, photographer. and old-fashioned romantic in love with celebrating the simple joys of daily life. I appreciate timelessness, the natural world, and a slow life lived with simplicity and intention. When I'm not photographing families or  slowly traveling the world and writing about it in a little notebook, I'm happily grounding myself in nature and cozying up with my sweet husband.

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Lady of Leisure in France

French women are natural ladies of leisure. Time is not filled with mindless doing but rather deliberate pleasure. 

You might think French women love handcrafted elegance and luxury brands, but living in France I’ve learned that a lady of leisure desires none of those things. 

Here in France, it’s not uncommon to see people doing nothing: lounging in cafes and gazing out the window, reading along the river banks or nibbling cheese samplers at the marche…people in France aren’t in this race to get ahead like they are back home in the U.S.

Rather, they desire living slowly and indulging fully in the now.

A Lady of Leisure in France

A coffee at a cafe is a two-hour affair. Shopping is done slowly and deliberately, with careful intention. And rushing another in line is frowned upon.

Since leaving the United States to become a expat wife or a “lady of leisure.” I’ve experienced feelings of lonliness, guilt, fear and shame over my newfound leisure time. 

Questions like “what am I ever doing here? How am I moving up in my life?” I felt that with my newfound leisure time, I had to do more to make up for it. I felt guilty over not being more productive with my time.

But I’ve learned from experience that mindless doing and unconscious productivty stems from fear. Fear of not being enoguh, fear of the unknown, fear of being forgotten.

All fears that I carried with me while living my fast life in New York City. But so  many people in the U.S. are exhausted, drained and void of inspiration. 

And I believe the reason is a lack of leisure time – whether than be intentionally not planning time for pleasure or the structure and systems that hold American families in place.

In mindful leisure time comes inspiration. In that empty space comes insight. The unknown future is still a mystery but an exciting one!

My transformation from hustling Girlboss to a Lady of Leisure

Since moving to France, I’ve swapped my hustling, ambitious Girlboss personality for a slower, more refined one. I no longer live to work but I work to live. 

Like the French women I’ve met, I’ve learned to enjoy the simple pleasures of daily life. And when I spot inspiration, I take action.

A lady of leisure is a woman free of responsibilities or duties. And while you might think it is a polite term for an unemployed woman, I am anything but lazy.

I’m a creative woman that thrives on structure, discipline and routine in order to allow my visions to become tangible. 

In fact, as a young expat wife, I am more intrinsically motivated and creative when I have leisure time. 

So, my friend….if there is one lesson I’ve learned during my season as a lady of leisure in France, it’s this:

do as the French do and indulge in leisure time. Make it a priority. Make it a discipline. And do it for the sheer pleasure of it.

For isn’t that why we’re even here?

 

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A Lady of Leisure in France

July 24, 2020

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I'm Helena! As a creative storyteller, I document magical, emotionally honest family and children's portraiture. A lover of childhood, fairytales and natural light, I photograph families across the world. I'm the ultimate Disney nerd, and I'm obsessed with cats and expressing my love for the simple joys of slow, daily life.

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Helena Woods is a destination newborn and family photographer based in France and New England and travels worldwide. She is known for her natural light, modern classic, and emotive photography style.

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