Five things about working in France

I am linking up with Courtney at Eat Pray Run, Cynthia at You Signed Up for What, and Mar at Mar on the Run for this week’s Friday Five, which is is a topic of our choice.

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I have recently received a lot of positive feedback on my posts around France, and life here, so today I thought I would talk about my experience about work life.

  1. Close to 80% of French women work. There are many day care options and government subsidies that allow them to do so.
  2. For those with an office job, many women work 4 out of 5 days. Because children historically did not go to school on Wednesdays, women would work Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, to be at home with their child on hump day. The school system has recently changed, and now there is school on Wednesday morning, but many women still have that day off.
  3. France is known for a ”35 hour work week”. My only comment is… NOT. I have never worked 35 hours, I always work between 40 and 50. To compensate, we have extra days off known as RTT (Reduction du Temps de Travail = Reduction in Working time). Simply put, it is extra vacation days.
  4. In Paris, most people travel 45 minutes to an hour to get to work. I am lucky that I live near my job so without traffic, it is a 10 or 12 minute drive. With traffic ? 25 to 45 minutes….
  5. France is generally a dressy country, and most people dress up except for Fridays. However, no flip flops but nice jeans. Ties for men are quite rare.

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Tell me something about your job !

Can pragmatism be taken too far ?

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines pragmatic as ”dealing with the problems that exist in a specific situation in a reasonable and logical way instead of depending on ideas and theories”

I personally see pragmatism it as keeping my life simple, uncomplicated, and if something works, it works.

I grew up in the 80s in the US, when everything was possible for women. I grew up believing I could do anything I wanted to do and had a lot of ambition. I wanted to study internationally. Live in Europe. Work for an international company.  Friends, husband & children, family were also an important part of my life. Encouraged by my parents, I did it all and more. I was focused, as a lot of women are, on getting it all done. Fitting it in. Keeping my head above water.

Work. Travel. Kids. Outside activities. Exercise. Planning for the future. Because I wanted it all, it pushed me to be extremely efficient. Proving myself in the workplace while keeping the home life going, pragmatism became second nature.

  • Ordered groceries on line and get them delivered
  • Always having a plan or an agenda to be sure everything was fit in
  • Obsessively anticipating the week or the month to avoid being overwhelmed

I did what I had to do, in the most pragmatic way possible. I became the to do list queen. But at one point, I felt like I was ticking the boxes. Do & move on. Do & move on.

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I started having trouble concentrating. Having memory issues. Burned out. While I loved my life, I felt like some of it was passing me by….

Luckily, the French culture rubbed off on me. Appreciating the small things. Taking it slow. Being spontaneous. Play is just as important as work. So I started making small changes…

  • Taking the time to have coffee with colleagues rather than running back to my desk after lunch
  • Not planning out everyday while on vacation but deciding what to do when we wake up
  • Going for a walk in a new city without having to map out my route before hand

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  • Not planning all my meals for the week, but deciding once I get to the market

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  • Sitting and talking for 2 hours with family or friends rather than thinking about what I should be doing
  • Trying a new fitness class on a whim
Zumba on vacation

Zumba on vacation

Not planning every minute of my day, giving up some of that pragmatism that was so engrained, has caused me to lead a richer, fuller life. Not being permanently glued to a to do list, and trying to find a pragmatic solution for fitting it all in all the time,  has changed my life for the better.

I am linking up with Deb Runs for the Wednesday Word. Pragmatic.

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Gotta love 4 day weekends

Not only was it a short work week because of Bastille Day on the 14th, but I did not have to travel for work. This meant I had time for a ton of fitness & running and fully took advantage of a four day weekend. It was a good week.

Fitness / marathon training

It was week 3 of NYC marathon training, where I am again using the Jeff Galloway run / walk program (I have cut the 6 month plan short to a 4 month plan) and modifying it slightly to add in more speed work and hill repeats. I had 4 good runs :

  • Monday : one hour run, 9K
  • Tuesday : lunchtime weight work out at the gym + planking + pushups
  • Wednesday : 35 minute run / 5K
  • Thursday : Speedwork, with 7,5K total
  • Friday : off
  • Saturday : long run with 3:1 run/walk intervals : 24 K (15 miles), 3 hours
  • Sunday : 4 mile walk + 40 minutes at the gym for upper body, planking, push ups & stretching

It was a total of 45K, over 28 miles, which is a lot for me. I have no more lower leg pain, though my right knee is protesting on & off. I need to have my orthodics redone but wanted to wait until after the summer. Some scenes from the week….

Diamond pushups to work the triceps :

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Starting my morning runs before 7 a.m. This school is my starting point, my GPS usually picks up the signal easily :

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Perfect conditions for my long run Saturday with overcast skies and no humidity (then again, there is never humidity in Paris…) :

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Food

Because I was home for the 4 day weekend, I did some cooking, and was craving salads, fruits and veggies because the weather has been so nice. What ever is in the fridge, I throw into a plate :

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Life outside of running and eating

On Bastille Day there is a huge military parade down the Champs Elysees with a small airshow. Our apartment is in the axis of where the planes finish, so we get to see some of the action :
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I am getting pretty darn excited about our upcoming vacation and have spent some time planning what we are going to do  :
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In addition, I sanded & stained all the railings on our decks and windows, did a ton of cleaning, had ice cream with my daughter, went to friend’s for dinner, finished 2 books. Major productivity !

Besides that I spent a lot of time in front of the tv watching the news. Of course the terrorist attack in Nice put a major hamper on the weekend. Will the madness ever stop ? Prayers going out to the friends & family of the 84 who perished, which includes 10 children and adolescents. 🙁 I was there in January and this spot will never be the same :

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Sorry to close this off on a sour note, but keeping it real.

And that’s a wrap.

I am linking up with Holly and Tricia at Hoho runs and Misssippipiddlin for their Weekly Wrap.

How is your summer going ?  Do you prefer to relax on a four day weekend or do you go, go, go ?

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Five favorites about the French

Another senseless terror attack happened last night in Nice, France. I went to bed not knowing, and my daughter woke me up to tell me something had happened. I picked up my phone and it was full with FB, text, news feed and IG messages about the attack. I was there in January with my husband, running a race from Nice to Monaco.

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I have decided to change the post I planned today, and talk about what I love about the French people. Because yes, we are going through tough times, unfortunately like many countries and cities around the world. Istanbul. Belgium. Orlando, Dallas… just in the past couple months. My heart goes out to everyone that has been touched by these senseless acts carried out by cowards.

Despite what happened, the French stand strong and proud and here is why I love the people of this country.

  1. French people are proud. They love their country, their food, their heritage, their history, their culture, their haute couture.

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Notre Dame

Notre Dame

2. French people love to debate politics. It is not taboo, it is expected to be discussed at work, at the dinner table and at family get togethers. While there is a lot of disagreement, people respect each other’s opinion and it makes for some very lively conversation.

3. French people don’t get hung up on food. Very few people obsess about what they eat, how much they weigh, or the latest diet fad. They can talk about it for hours, comparing recipes, exchanging restaurant names, lingering hours over a meal. They have learned to love food for what it is… to nourish the body and to be enjoyed.

4. French people do not obsess over money and things. While of course it is important, they would much rather close a shop early than make that last sale, or much rather take vacation than work 2 jobs.

5. French people complain. Yes, they do. A LOT. But this is part of the charm and you learn to get used to it. I let it go in one ear and out the other.

 

I love the US and the Americans, and I love France just as much. Once again these people will get through this and continue living, loving and taking full advantage of life, like they always have, in what I am afraid has become the new normal.

I am linking up with Courtney at Eat Pray Run, Cynthia at You Signed Up for What, and Mar at Mar on the Run for this week’s Friday Five, which is favorites.

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Ever been to France ? What is your experience with the French ? 

Counting the days

I have not done a Thursday is for thinking out loud post with Amanda since May, so I figured today would be a good time. Lots of randomness going through my mind, so get ready for my brain dump !

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Bastille Day. Today is July 14th, similar to July 4th in the US. It is a holiday so I am fully going to enjoy the four day weekend ahead of me. After a bit of rain today, the rest of the weekend should be nice. We have had such crappy weather, that summer finally seems to have arrived.

Today there will be a big military parade on the Champs Elysees, and fireworks in many of the cities.

Vacation. We will be on our annual 3 week summer vacation as of next Friday. Is it so bad wanting to count down the 8 days between now and then ?  Cross the days off on the calendar ? Like most European countries we get 5 to 6 weeks vacation annually, and most people take on average 3 in a row in the summer. The first week is spent decompressing and ridding my brain of work. The last 2 are spent enjoying the vacation and recharging my batteries. This year we are going to Crete, the biggest Greek island.

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source : visitgreece.gr

Politics. Maybe this isn’t politically correct to talk about politics on my blog, so I will just say I find it depressing and embarrassing. The US, the UK, France… it is all the same. News came out yesterday in France that our President pays his hairdresser over 120 000 USD a year. Seriously ? He doesn’t even have that much hair !

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Teenagers. My two girls usually go to the US to spend a month or so with their grandparents but we decided they would stay in France this summer, for the first time in probably 10 years. Teenagers don’t usually work in France so finding things to occupy them has been challenging fun. One is doing a theater camp and the other an art camp. It has been fun having them around.

Travel. For work, I have traveled every week for the past 3 months. I am very happy to say that I had no travel this week and have no travel next week. I know how lucky I am to be able to travel for work but boy, was it a welcomed break.

Books. I have read 2 books over the past week. That is amazing because social media and the internet has killed my attention span and I have the hardest time staying focused on a book.

 

So that pretty much sums up what is happening in my neck of the woods.

What’s new where you are ?

What book would you recommend that I read while on vacation ?  Nothing too intellectual please !