It’s that time of year again! The fabulous August McLaughlin, had an idea three years ago that continues to blossom … just like a woman! It’s the Beauty of a Woman BlogFest. Everyone who joins in the celebration, blogs on the same day about aspects of beauty we women share. All the links are on August’s blog so click here to get right on over and check them out. The more explicit #Girl Boner edition is featured first and the original version for posts like mine begins Feb. 27th. In 2012, I mused about how it feels to be getting older and the joys of being a grandparent. Let’s face it, you have to be old to get there! Last year I shared a treasured book, She Walks In Beauty, and Lord Byron’s exquisite poem. When I considered how I would celebrate this year’s theme, a very familiar song kept playing in my mind. I had turned 30 the year this hit the charts and, as Bob Dylan sang, “the times they were a-changing”. They had been for a decade. So let me take you back to 1975. (I know, I know … a lot of you weren’t even born then!) The United Nations had declared it to be InternationaL Women’s Year (IWY) with Helen Reddy‘s song, I Am Woman, as the theme. This was an empowering time for women with Gloria Steinem, Betty Frieden and other groundbreakers leading the way. Women’s liberation was a hot topic as feminists spoke out, demonstrated and lobbied governments. In the United States, the focus was on the success of the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, state by state. It’s hard to believe that to this very day it still has not been ratified! Visit this site for the complete history and advice as to how you can add your voice to this cause. Take a minute to watch this video clip. Let me know if you realized this was the situation. I didn’t know! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxHLnQZLq20 Unbelievable. Every year since 1975, March 8th has been recognized as International Women’s Day. Have you marked it on your calendar? I’ll wait while you do … no worries … I hope you will take a stand for the ERA on that day. Let’s continue to show what a beautiful anthem can be heard when women raise their voices as one! And now, get your disco clothes out of that storage box, call up your BFFs, and celebrate the beauty of women everywhere! Make it loud! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUBnxqEVKlk As I researched what I wanted to share in this post, I came across this interview and … to be honest … it caused me to wipe a few tears and then cheer. I discovered that today, at age 73, Helen Reddy continues to exemplify the beauty of a woman. Please take seven minutes and 14 seconds to watch this video. I have a feeling you will see what I mean and agree. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CP-Zb5HoPjM It’s what we’re talking about. Choose to be yourself and be proud of your choice! Erm … update … I had lunch with my friend Evelyn Hannon today (she’s the fabulousJourneywoman and you should subscribe to her newsletter … okay, that’s another story )… anyway, she told me that coincidentally she had also been talking about I Am Woman and someone told her Helen was performing in Las Vegas this month! I just checked it out and sure enough … see here. I guess they made her an offer she couldn’t refuse and she decided to take a break from her quiet life, after all. Choices, people, that’s what it’s all about! Here are the lyrics, in case you get the urge to sing along! The meaning is every bit as strong today as it was 40 years ago. I Am Woman I am woman, hear me roar In numbers too big to ignore And I know too much to go back an’ pretend ’cause I’ve heard it all before And I’ve been down there on the floor No one’s ever gonna keep me down again CHORUS Oh yes I am wise But it’s wisdom born of pain Yes, I’ve paid the price But look how much I gained If I have to, I can do anything I am strong (strong) I am invincible (invincible) I am woman You can bend but never break me ’cause it only serves to make me More determined to achieve my final goal And I come back even stronger Not a novice any longer ’cause you’ve deepened the conviction in my soul CHORUS I am woman watch me grow See me standing toe to toe As I spread my lovin’ arms across the land But I’m still an embryo With a long long way to go Until I make my brother understand Oh yes I am wise But it’s wisdom born of pain Yes, I’ve paid the price But look how much I gained If I have to I can face anything I am strong (strong) I am invincible (invincible) I am woman Oh, I am woman I am invincible I am strong FADE I am woman I am invincible I am strong I am woman Transcribed by Robin Hood with help from Maid Marian -Artist: Helen Reddy from “Helen Reddy’s Greatest Hits”: EMI ST 11467 -peak Billboard position # 1 for 1 week in 1972 -Words and Music by Helen Reddy and Ray Burton These lyrics were transcribed from the specific recording mentioned above and do not necessarily correspond with lyrics from other recordings, sheet music, songbooks or lyrics printed on album jackets. ROAR!!!! Now hop on over to August’s blog and feast on the other posts!
It’s always a pleasure to have friends drop by the blog! The multi-talented Anne-Marie Simons and her husband Oscar, who is … hold your breath, ladies … an expert on Provençal cooking, paid a visit here last June. They shared their experience of retiring and relocating from the States to Aix-En-Provence in the south of France. If you missed the post before, take a minute to read it now.
Go ahead! I’ll wait!
As I said then, they are are living my dream.
I also said this: “They are perfect examples of how it’s never too late to do something different: true possibilitarians ~ which you know is one of my favourite words!” Read the post Anne-Marie has gifted us with today and you will see what I mean!
This is the initial stop on her extensive tour with the fabulous France Book Tours! I’m delighted to be the first to this party!
Here’s a synopsis of Taking Root in Provence:
Two expatriates left Washington DC in search of the ideal place to retire where climate, culture, accessibility and natural beauty all had a role to play. Curious about the vaunted quality of life in the south of France, they traveled the length and width of Provence where, preferring the city to the countryside, they decided to settle in the ancient town of Aix-en-Provence. That was in 1998 and Taking Root in Provence is the story of their slow integration into the French mainstream — both easier and more difficult than expected but ultimately successful.
In a series of vignettes Anne-Marie Simons gives us a warts-and-all picture of life among the French and with warmth and humor shares her lessons learned. Contrary to most publications about Provence, this book focuses on life in the city rather than the quiet countryside, and promises to be both informative and revealing to those who want to spend more than a passing holiday here.
For this part of her tour, I asked Anne-Marie if she would treat us to a bit more about her life in Aix-En-Provence. Enjoy!
At first glance, Aix-en-Provence is paradise. At least for this retiree. It has beauty, culture, an enviable climate, daily markets, is well located for international travel and lives at a pleasant pace. So far, so delicious. Yet, there are those who say: “But what do you DO there?”
The short answer would be “everything you do minus your job” but that does not say it all. We do as the locals do (given our intended goal of total integration), and that means that we go to market every day (instead of the supermarket once a week) and spend a lot of time cooking − from scratch, of course, including soups, stews and other slow-cooked food. We give a lot of dinner parties and are invited to dinner at a lot of friends’ houses since that is where social life takes place in France: à table. We go to movies a lot, often in the afternoons (cool in summer), because we live in a movie-mad town and have three cinemas with a total of 20 theatres in the old center close to home. I love to read and spend a lot of time hanging out in one of the five bookstores in the city center, and at various book fairs in the surrounding countryside where I sometimes appear as author but rarely sell because nobody speaks English. No matter, I love the fraternity of writers and marvel at the crowds who attend, even in the smallest villages. And of course, we walk everywhere in town since everything essential (food, entertainment, doctor, dentist, etc.) can be reached on foot. The car stays in the garage, reserved for out-of-town use only.
So – looking at this list – most of the time we do nothing extraordinary but take more time doing everyday things that feel and taste better than before, when they were done on the run and without enthusiasm.
Contrary to our working days in Washington where we spent weekends and vacations resting up from heavy work schedules, our summers in Provence are busy, not to say hectic, what with the July opera festival in Aix and the theatre festival in Avignon that get our full attention, as well as visits to and from friends who descend on Provence in summer. Culture blooms everywhere in this season, with concerts on village squares, in churches and chapels, or in castle courtyards. But high culture co-exists very happily with folklore here, and both draw equally big crowds.
Our Mediterranean climate and the French tendency to celebrate everything (harvest, solstice, animals, saints, foods) with a “festival” makes for many a weekend throughout the year with a festival to attend: olive, wheat or grape harvests, truffles, goats, specialty foods like calissons in Aix and navettes in Marseilles, any number of saints, and of course the famous chickpea; they all have their own celebration. And who would want to miss the Chickpea Festival?
Traditions are strong in France, and even though this is officially a lay country there is no lack of religious celebrations where the local saint’s statue gets carried around the village, followed by the notables and the Confrérie des Vignerons in official dress with tasting cups around their neck, a few Camargue cowboys on white horses, some beautifully dressed Arlésiennes in open coaches, and the traditional fife and drum band with dancers in Provençal costume. With lots of food on hand and wine à volonté, the idea is to Eat, Drink and Be Merry. France is unthinkable without it.
These festivities lose some of their charm if you don’t speak French, as does the daily market where nothing is bought or sold without a chat or at least a bit of advice. “So how was yesterday’s lapin? See? What did I tell you?” After all, it’s more than food you buy here; it’s tradition, a way of life, a mutually respectful peasant-bourgeois exchange that has changed little over time.
After the years of hard work and stress it takes to arrive at retirement, what greater reward than to slow down and have the time to enjoy your hobbies and the local offerings. If you are lucky enough to live in a place with good weather, good friends, good food and good healthcare, I would say: Grab that brass ring! Nothing lasts forever.
Thanks, Anne-Marie, and come back for a visit any time!
Anne-Marie will send a copy of Taking Root in Provence to a lucky winner. Leave a comment below and one name will be randomly drawn … AND the draw is international! Bonne Chance!
There are going to be many excellent posts from Anne-Marie and opportunities to win a copy of Taking Root in Provence at the other websites on the tour. Check out the schedule below! Keep entering and hopefully you will win a copy. I love this book!
VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR SCHEDULE
Monday, Nov 25
Guest-post + Giveaway at Patricia Sands’ Blog
Tuesday, Nov 26
Review + Giveaway at The French Village Diaries
Thursday, Nov 28
Highlights at Words And Peace
Friday, Nov 29
Review + Giveaway at Turning The Pages
Saturday, Nov 30
Review + Excerpt at Jorie Loves A Story
Her Argentine husband, Oscar, left a career in international development banking to become an expert on Provençal cooking and other local pleasures.
Buy directly from the publisher
Buy on Amazon
As many of you know, I am leading a women’s tour of the south of France in June 2014 and this book is right up at the top of my “Recommended Reading” list. Besides that, come hell or high water, I am going to meet and spend time with Anne-Marie when I am in Aix in June. We had to cancel a lunch last October (my fault!) and that’s not going to happen again!
After you read Taking Root in Provence, please take a minute to leave a review on the links above. It’s so important for authors to receive reader reviews and we are often shy about asking. Merci mille fois!
2013 Theme: THE GENDER AGENDA: GAINING MOMENTUM
“Over time and distance, the equal rights of women have progressed. We celebrate the achievements of women while remaining vigilant and tenacious for further sustainable change. There is global momentum for championing women’s equality.”
Here’s the first promise: To help accomplish this simple task today … right now … I promise that as many people as I can reach and those who visit here today … men or women … will “Like” the International Women’s Day Facebook Page. Click right here and then hang around there for a while following up on some of the extraordinary links. Be that woman or that man. Then pass the message on. Do it for our girls. Do it for their future. Do it. Thanks!
If it’s Friday, it must be France …
Now for the second promise … well … forgive me … I guess that’s kind of a corny segue … but I’m excited to share this with you for the first time. I feel it’s an appropriate day to talk about this promise because my next novel is a woman’s story and it’s about hope and change which is something we should encourage in each other all the time. N’est-ce pas? It’s also partially set in … where else would you expect from me … the south of France.
Drum roll please ~~~~~~TA DAAAAAAAAAA ~~~~~~~ the cover of my next novel!
I’m also absolutely delighted to have my new novel featured on my friend Bette Lee Crosby’s blog today as part of her March Treasure Hunt. She lets a few details about the story slip, so be sure to drop over there! You can sign up for the great giveaway she has going too. Do take a look at the fabulous collection of novels Bette has written with that inviting, humorous and touching Southern voice of hers, and decide which one you want to read first. I have loved every one of them.
To add to the celebrations of this special day, I am going to give away two free ebooks of The Promise of Provence as soon as it is available around April 1st. If you don’t mind waiting until the end of April, I will also give away one signed print copy. Click right here to leave your e-mail address – sorry about the Captcha – but you know that just means spammers won’t get in to spoil the contest for you! You can tell me in the comment box there if you want an e-book or print. We will do the draw on March 31.Thanks!
I’m excited about the upcoming launch of this novel and I hope you are too. Take a minute and let me know if you did something special for International Women’s Day … besides liking their Facebook Page, of course!
As I mentioned in that post, I had been unable to track down any real information about the photo. Well, I don’t need to remind you that the internet can be a wonderful place. One of my readers forwarded my post to someone she knew. That person had, quite amazingly IMHO, recently seen the website of the woman to whom this tattoo belongs and she kindly forwarded it to me. To quote her, “Coincidences abound”.
Please click here and see Inga Duncan Thornell’s blog. Centrestage belongs to her today and rightly so.
I also want to add a shout-out here to August McLachlan’s fabulous BEAUTY OF A WOMAN BLOGFEST. Kudos to her for organizing this event again on Friday, February 22nd. The response last year was amazing and this year will be bigger and even more beautiful. You can sign up for it by clicking on this link. Join your blog to the list of participants. Not a blogger? Then raise your voice and pass the word around. We are all in this together!
Are you going to participate in the Beauty Of A Woman blogfest? How do you feel about the way women are represented in the media? Are you happy with the improvements in gender equality you see in your world?