*First I want to say a huge thank you to all of you for your lovely comments and e-mails these past few days. You all are fantastic and you cannot even imagine how much the support and shared stories have meant to me. Merci beacoup!*
I've found that in this last year I basically decided that I would warn my friends that if they didn't want to hear my honest thoughts on any subject they should warn me ahead of time. Clearly this is sometimes a judgement call. If a friend is bemoaning her stomach as she tries on a bikini top (completely unwarranted bemoaning at that) it isn't the time to tell her to just go and work on crunches then. But I might suggest we start walking after meals together. However, if you complain that you can't eat anything because you're trying to lose weight, but I see that you use faux food and low-fat everything, prepare for a lecture on why that sort of American eating doesn't help anyone, unless you're okay with starving yourself. On another topic, if you are whining about finances but spending unwisely in an effort to cheer yourself up, well, it depends entirely on our relationship. If you're just wanting someone to say "that sucks" I can do that, but if you want advice on how we make it work on one salary, I can give that aplenty.
Basically I've begun to feel very sure in the life decisions that G and I have made. We choose quality over quantity. We eat less but eat better. We buy a good prosecco and choose a good French champagne only for special occasions. We take in beautiful walks and free art museums, spending only enough to grab coffee at an outdoor cafe or a paper to sit on a bench and read in a little haven park in the middle of the city. We split a croissant and mmm at the buttery flakiness that is a well made pastry. And more than anything I've learned how to cook things that anyone could learn to cook, but which look like a meal from an upscale restaurant.
I've found my niche. I've learned that apologies for life choices that have nothing to do with another person are sad and come across as unsure. And I'm not unsure about my life. I lead an extraordinary life as a general rule. Certainly I have days that are less so, but in choosing to live a life true to my own self, those days are very few and far between.
The greatest truth I can offer anyone is that you must remain true to your own beliefs and not be swept away in a tide of other people's opinions. Find that port in the storm. For me, it's finding other women who fight the norm and live in a similar manner to myself, a network of resources and support. It's my husband who has turned into a cafe-sitting-city-dweller in the blink of an eye, who supports (more) expensive purchases because he believes as I do that you get what you pay for, and we buy less to compensate.
For you it may be people who get together and create delicious canned goods or beautiful art together. Or a moms/wives group of women who hold similar beliefs and support even the differences. Your niche is your own, and once you've found it you'll find others notice your blossoming. You'll become the one they describe as self-assured. It's a balance of beliefs and respect for others that will earn you high approval even from those who have different niches.
So, in fair warning I do plan to censor myself less here and to voice my opinions truthfully on some topics. You can mainly expect this to be on topics such as food, health, beauty, and culture. But really, it could be anything I happen upon. A chic life is not happened upon, it is cultivated through an attention to the details that matter to you. Welcome to a much more outspoken chic life.