Frenchitude Lesson #53: Cultivate Your "Jardin Secret"

Here I am in Surrey, British Columbia cultivating my secret garden.

Okay, Okay…I know if you are anything like me the mere mention of “secret gardens” probably makes you think of the title of a bad 1970’s X-rated film.

Sorry to disappoint mes amis, but the jardin secret I am referring to in this week’s Frenchitude Friday has no sexual connotation whatsoever. Rather, it refers to that special little area of your life that makes you feel like YOU.

Writing is my secret garden. When I write I don’t feel like a mother of three, or a vacation rental owner, or a bad housekeeper (although I am all of these things).

Writing makes me feel like ME.

It is something I do for myself and for myself only. It is a thing I have to do, because when I don’t write I start to feel like I am losing part of myself.

French take the cultivation of what they refer to without the teeniest blush as their “jardin secret” very seriously. I have found they tend to it with the same love, lack of guilt, and borderline obsession as all of the other pleasure -generating areas of their lives.

On the other hand I have found North Americans often feel guilty doing something merely because it is pleasurable. We insidiously introduce the pressure of performance into everything, thus robbing our jardins secrets of the very essence that makes then worth cultivating in the first place.

I have fallen victim to the above trap time and time again.

But this weekend I am back at the wonderful SIWC Writer’s Conference for the first time in five years, and my new-found Frenchitude has completely changed the way I approach these very special three days; I am here to shamelessly and joyfully enjoy writing, being with writers, and tending to my jardin secret.

This time around I’m devoting all my energies to the pleasure of writing rather than the performance of writing.

And you know what? The flowers in my garden have never been so ravishing.