Monday, March 29, 2010

Je Ne Sais Quoi: an introduction to my new series

When I decided that the theme for this next series would be je ne sais quoi, I knew that I needed to start with two very important things:

First, I needed to know how to spell je ne sais quoi.
You see, correct spelling was absolutely crucial to the next step, which was that I needed to know what the phrase actually meant. After all, much to my chagrin, I do not speak French. And therefore I couldn’t very well base an entire series on a French colloquialism if, by some stroke of bad luck, the phrase actually means “the lips of a fish are cold,” or “don’t show your ankles to strangers.” Because that would be very, very embarrassing.

Fortunately, after accomplishing the first task--spelling--with a bit of trial and error, I was relieved to learn that je ne sais quoi does, in fact, mean what I thought it did. Translated roughly, it means “there’s just something about her.” Something special. Something alluring. Something unique. The woman with je ne sais quoi has presence, and perhaps a bit of mystery. And she--my friends--is who I want to focus on for the next two months.

My goal for myself, and for all of us, is to explore our own je ne sais quoi. I want to know what kind of cocktail of confidence, style, skill and spirit is required to produce this alluring quality of the alluring. I’m sure that it has more to do with personality than beauty, and with ingenuity than money. And hopefully for all of us, it isn’t just reserved for the French (note: if, by the way, you are French and happen to be reading this, please feel free to share some tips with the rest of us!).
I also want to talk about what it means to “come into ourselves,” because I am convinced that it is a critical part of the special presence that accompanies an elegant woman. It suggests the art of growing comfortable in our own skins and dispositions, and the practice of resting instead of striving. And though I know this is a perpetual process, I’d like to think that there is a threshold of acceptance that can be reached and maintained for a lifetime.
Of course, a woman with je ne sais quoi also impacts those around her, and so I want to actively observe how unique women motivate, encourage and equip those around them to grow, too. How do they boldly use their talents when so many others seem to lack confidence? How do they manage to take risks even in the face of failure? How do they strengthen their spirits when the world outside their doorsteps is full of danger and uncertainty? And how do they help the people they meet to do the same? These women, after all, are not shrinking violets, afraid of their beauty and skill and daunted by fear. They demonstrate a resilience--a mysterious reserve of strength--that I think we would all love to discover for ourselves.
If you’ve noticed by now the conspicuous absence of outward beauty to the list above, it is, indeed, intentional. Of course we will spend time discussing beauty, but more as an outward manifestation of these other, previously mentioned attributes. If a pretty face were all that was required for the essence of je ne sais quoi, than the world would be a whole lot simpler than it is right now! Alas, simplicity is not a naturally occurring quality among women (just like thick, full lashes, hourglass figures, and porcelain skin are also rare). Complexity, instead, is our familiar trait, and so outward beauty can thus only reveal the surface and just beneath. It is fun, but will not make us into the alluring creatures we would like to be, no matter what Victoria Secret says.

And now, without further adieu, I invite you to join me in the pursuit of je ne sais quoi--


  1. In case you're wondering--yes, those are my eyeballs. Normally I wouldn't recommend taking close-up shots of your face with a digital camera--they show every line and out-of-place eyebrow hair. But I don't have time for vanity for anymore...

  2. Looking forward to your new series!

  3. Holy cow -- with a "teaser" up, I better start writing....

  4. Um...yeah. The people are dying to learn more:)


Blog Widget by LinkWithin