Welcome to Simply Eau-de-Vie, my new blog where I will try to capture the simple pleasures, the values and mindsets of European life that feed my soul every day.
So, what’s Eau-de-Vie? It’s a French phrase that translates as “water of life.” (But, it’s actually a clear spirit initially produced in France – now across the world -and is served as a digestif owing to its high alcohol content).
I just love the phrase, ‘water of life.’ It speaks of sustenance, something that provides nourishment; a source of strength that gives life and fosters well-being.
For me, that source is simple elements of life in Europe that coexist in abundance; it’s the small stuff that makes you smile – that’s Eau-de-Vie.
The Eau-de-Vie Lifestyle
A Cuban-American from New Jersey, I now live between the U.K. and France. For the past few months, I’ve been trying to define these elements of life for others because they helped me to heal personal trauma and achieve well-being.
Stick with me a bit on this, and I think you might agree, for once you’ve experienced Eau-de-Vie, you simply can’t live without it. I know because it restored me, but that’s another blogpost.
Of course, I know there’s no such thing as a “European lifestyle” – every country and culture in Europe is unique.
But, as a still-fairly-recent transplant to Europe, I’ve noticed patterns in the types of small, simple pleasures, values and mindsets that are plentiful in people’s lives here. Personal experience has shown me that these elements of life greatly enhance the well-being of individuals and their communities.
You’ll likely know these elements and might have experienced them before:
- The ritual of the well-loved weekly market…such markets are so much more than a place just to sell and buy goods; they reflect the heart of a community and reveal its character. There, connections are made, relationships fostered, and all of your senses engaged. They also provide affordable, quality ingredients and seasonality.
- A pace of life that genuinely encourages a balance between the care of self, work, home and community. Think of the Spanish siesta, the 2-3 hour French afternoon lunchtime break, the short workdays available to parents in Denmark, and the fact that most people who live in Europe take their holiday time from work (and it’s not usually a staycation).
- An appreciation for beauty in everyday items, daily meals and other occasions, like how sandwiches are wrapped, cocktails presented, doorways decorated, and tables set. It’s the attention to storefront or market stall design. And the dinners that linger; sobremesa in Spain; the rituals of the pub, the daily baguette and more.
- Love of the outdoors and a connection to the seasons. In cities where people creatively make every bit of outdoor space enjoyable for all kinds of weather. It’s the over-celebration of seasons and holidays and the shared love of a picnic. And it’s the countryside’s tradition of preserving and integrating into life all that earth naturally offers.
- Cherishing of the old and care to extend the life of everything from everyday items to buildings to neighbourhoods, cobblestone streets and more. It’s the expert cobblers in the U.K. who consistently extend the life of shoes. And the easy-to-find and well-constructed handmade items and the shops that will help you to repurpose those items into new ones!
I could go on.
Eau-de-Vie isn’t any single one of these elements – it’s all of them working together.
Together these elements feed the soul and nurture entire communities. They promote well-being and longevity.
There is so much “bad stuff” present in today’s world — the state of politics, COVID-19, joblessness, economic pressure, life plans gone awry and more. Most of us – and our communities – would benefit from incorporating the uplifting elements of, what I call, an Eau-de-Vie lifestyle.
- Small daily practices, many long-forgotten or considered old-fashioned, that simultaneously soothe and awaken;
- no-fuss seasonal, market-based recipes and tablescapes to inspire easy, relaxed mealtimes;
- regular wine wise and cocktail/mocktail pairing just for fun;
- ideas for living simply that lighten your load and bring effortless cosiness to home and outdoor life; and
- visual inspiration to feed your intentions.
I’ve spent the past few weeks loading my new site with the first wave of content and images to give you a flavour, and I look forward to your feedback.
I hope that together we’ll explore and share our experiences to grow a movement for well-being through a life made simple. If you like the vibe, pass it along to your friends and lift up a community! After all, positivity begets positivity.
As a result, I hope that all of us, and the communities we inhabit, will flourish in new ways and that these essential elements of life will grow and sustain across the world.
Until then, be well!