Monday, August 13, 2012

Time away

"Great Beach" at low tide image Francine Gardner

Living and working in America, specifically in New York is rewarding but extremely tasking. From my first days in business school in Boston, I have embraced the american entrepreneurial spirit where one creates their own expectations and thrives for an accomplished life. In France, one tends to take for granted the privileges of employment, long extended vacations and social services. I will admit that France offers an amazing quality of life. A while ago, the New York times listed the best countries for americans to retire, if they chose to live abroad. My home region of the South West of France made the top 5 list... I feel that I have always compromised between my french upbringing and my acute need for a faster, exiting, adventurous life. I became an entrepreneur of sorts, having started my design showroom and Interior design business Interieurs 15 years ago. I work hard, awake at 5Am, home around 9pm. My days are hectic, stressful and extremely challenging especially now in this deep recession. For too many years, I ignored my needs for a "time out", I had live-in nannies for my children, their summer vacations were spent in France, Spain and Newport at their grand parents' houses. I felt torn not to share these wonderful years with them, but there is one place, where I would leave everything behind to just "be" with my family and close friends, and that  is my husband's family retreat in Maine.

My sons are now adults, 20 and 24 and we have a wonderful, open relationship. They are kind, generous, great fun to be around. We often talk of the choices I made, being a career oriented mother, and they always reassure me that they actually like the fact to have a working mom. Our time together is very precious, they became very independent, self entertained, curious and enriched from all the traveling experiences we have shared, and the summers spent with grand parents, which has taught them a strong family sense and security.

I have been absent from the blogworld and am starting to catch up my reading and will reply to all the wonderful comments. Indeed, I was in Maine with my very dear italian college friend Ettore and his family, as well as a close friend and her son and a couple of their friends. The first time Ettore came to Maine with us, my husband and I had just been married, and we we were a wild fun loving group. 

Sitting at our lobster dinner, I looked around the table, and felt as if I was in a time warp, as if the years were reversed and it was us, the rambunctious  group with our lives ahead of us. Instead, I was looking at the new generation of men and women laughing at the table, sharing their stunts of the day, planning their night walk and camping, all beautiful, full of life and dreams. I left the room for a moment, with teary eyes...I thought... well done... what better accomplishment in life than looking at our children, happy, joyful, loving their special time with their parents, their friendship perpetuated through the next generation.

Then I stepped outside, took in the beloved scenery and thanked God.

A Bientot,


For more on the Maine Island, read my post from July 2010


  1. Yes, we have a lot to Thank God for.
    Happy you are enjoying your family
    and Maine.

  2. It's lovely to hear you so happy. I also detect the ringing tones of wisdom.

  3. It is often good to have good fashion tips like yours.

  4. Francine,

    It looks amazing! I completely understand where you are coming from (except I am not from France). I was hoping we could chat is it possible you could email me?


  5. Francine , our booth # at the Gift fair: 41052. A bientot...

  6. Francine,
    What a beautiful post. Watching our grown children -on the edge of everything- is a blessing. I love hearing your reflections on expatriate life. I'm on the opposite pole.. an American with France as my adopted home for 12 years. Having moved back to the US this last year I'm finding the re-patriation a true challenge, but know how lucky I am to have a foot in both places.
    Kind Regards,


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