Posts in Helene's thoughts
Say it with a Queen's Letter
queen's letters

I've written a bunch of articles on the topics of "Speaking Up" and realized that it can be difficult to know where to start. Especially when you have felt disrespected, have not been able to react on the spot and keep thinking about it.

The other day, my girlfriend came up with a hilarious & witty concept.

The Queen's Letters.

The concept is simple: when you want to set someone straight, whether a lover, a friend, a colleague or literally anyone who recently messed with you, you prepare a queen's letter. Forget about ghosting.

Here is the template.

- Example 1: X makes promises to do business together but never follows up.

1. Start with kind words that you really mean:

Hey X, I hope that you are well. I really value you as a ... & am looking forward to ... project.

2. Say it straight out:

But I'm writing to you to inform you that in order to build a professional relationship with me, I require trustworthiness and reliability. You have not followed up on the project several times so am kindly asking you to only promise what you can execute on.

3. Warning (optional)

If you can't come to terms with this, we won't be able to work together.

4. Add something gentle & close:

If you're still in, please let me know if we can finally set a straight date for our meeting. Take care, talk soon

_________________

- Example 2: X tells his friends that you're hitting on him.

1. Start with kind words that you really mean (the shit sandwich):

"Hey X, hope you're well, just to clarify things: you're a great friend and I consider you as being part of my close circle of people that I respect and trust.

2. Say it straight out:

But I am 0% attracted to you and never have been / will be.

3. Add something gentle & close:

Sorry if you misunderstood my behavior. If you have any question, feel free to reach out to me directly, thanks!"

_______________________

- Example 3: X is dating you but has been disrespectful on various occasion

1. Start with kind words that you really mean (the shit sandwich):

"Hey X, you know I really like you.

2. Say it straight out (mention what happened if need be, sometimes guys don't realize consequences of what they say/do):

I was thinking about what happened earlier today & you have crossed the line with insensitive behavior. In order to be with me, I require positive language/attitude moving forward".

3. Add something gentle & close:

Call me if you want to talk more.

Note: the amount of gentle Vs straightforward words really depends on your communication style.

Voilà!

Queen's letters do the job.

We've cleared the air and set our personal and professional boundaries various times using this technique. Surround yourself with people who respect you and care about you.

Try it out and let me know how it went in the comments below ;)

 

What if I Ran Away?
ranaway

If I ran away... Would you catch me?


Would you hold on to what we commenced?


Would you take my hand to explore what the world wants us to see?
Would you let your soul expand from new perspectives & your body shudder under my breath?
Would you let me take you to the steepest mountain, the darkest forest, the gleamiest sea?
Would you let my passion devour you endlessly?
Would you become the person you were afraid to be?


Or would you let me go?

Pretending that put a shell on a long time ago.
Pretending that you never felt anything more than lust.

Pretending that it was impossible between us?

What Wakes You up in the Morning?
Estimated reading time: 1'

Estimated reading time: 1'

I had it all.

An amazing loving boyfriend.

An exciting and challenging job.

Great salary and perks.

A penthouse apartment in a fabulous city.

Supporting friends. 

Evenings and weekends filled with exciting activities.

I had achieved everything I had been looking for.

But despite all that, something was missing and I didn't know what. I felt empty inside.

It was the 5th time I was moving to a new place, taking a new job, recreating a social life, hoping to find that missing piece.

I used to blame it on the weather. On other people. On anything that would take over my responsibility.

 

Mark Twain once said:

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” 

 

And then I understood.

I had not answered the most crucial question:" why am I here"?

So I started to reflect.

And two words kept popping in my head: People & Places.

Those are always the first things I do when I get some free time: meeting people and exploring places.

So I started my side hustles:

Learning everything I can on digital businesses. 

Writing about people's stories and posting about cool spots around the world.

Inspiring others to be stronger, more adventurous, more open-minded.

I don't know where is it leading and I do not have a 5-years business plan quite yet.

But I'm working on it.

And I wake up every morning feeling a flush of happiness and excitement for the day to come, because I have a purpose.

And for me, that's the definition of happiness.

If it Doesn't Feel Right, it Probably Isn't
Estimated reading time: 3'

Estimated reading time: 3'

 

We've all seen a lot of publications around sexual harassment, sexual abuse, and general disrespect of women lately, with the #Metoo campaign.

I come a little bit late in the game, but I am tired of witnessing red flags and seeing men behaving like predators. I am tired of having to stand up for myself as a woman, having to set limits because they've been crossed, and having to comfort my girlfriends for the same reasons.

So I've decided to share a few examples of red flags (true stories), from my experience, from soft to risky:

Situation 1: you are on a date. Your date spends more time looking at your breast and your bottom when you turn around, rather than listening to your conversation. And when a bunch of girls passes you, he literally turns his head back. No surprise there. Oh and in case you wondered, it was not a Tinder date. And I did not wear revealing clothes.

Situation 2: you walk up the street with heavy bags from the supermarket. A car stops. The dude asks you to come closer so he can talk to you... You naively think he wants to offer his help. Instead, he tells you (warning - raw language): "Don't move, I will come back to break your legs and lick your pussy until you scream". You're so confused you forget to note down his license plate.

Situation 3: you are interviewing for a job. The HR advises you to not look under the table. 

Situation 4: you apply for a model gig and meet the 70 y.old manager in a cafe. He asks for your cup size for the bikini you are going to wear, and before you have time to answer, he swiftly grabs your breasts to "measure himself". 

Situation 5: you book a massage online. Turns out the massage takes place in a private home, and the therapist spends an awkwardly long amount of time massaging your upper thighs. 

Situation 6: you are in a cab in Mexico, middle of the jungle, no network and no soul in the streets. The car driver puts his hand on your leg. You push him away and pray.

I have experienced a million small situations like that. But despite the red flags, I kept going for it. I saw this guy again, I kept seeking those jobs, I stayed in the car.

And worse, most times, I did not speak up.

Why? Low self-esteem? Probably. Fear of making the other person uncomfortable? Definitely. 

At the moment, I knew exactly what to do, I knew exactly what to say. I was screaming inside of my head.

But I got paralyzed. Shame was taking over. I thought I had misunderstood. It thought it was not real.

Earlier in January, three of my friends confessed having been raped.

But that's not what shocked me the most.

What shocked me the most was that they KEPT HANGING OUT with the predators. They did not see themselves as victims.

They blamed themselves for not having known better.

For having accepted their drinks.

For having trusted them to take care of them and respect them as they were saying no. As they were crying. After they blacked out.

And the only thing they wanted to do in the morning was to hide away and pretend it did not happen.

A pure walk of shame. 

So I am begging you ladies to go ahead and speak up. And if you can't do it on the spot, it is never too late. Trust your instincts. Remove toxic people from your life. Respect yourself and do not let anyone enter your intimacy without your consent.

There are too many stories of disrespect towards women, abuse, and sexual harassment.

My trick is to count the red flags:

- One red flag: be on your toes. Speak up.

- Two red flags: just walk away.

If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
Which red flags do you look for?
Self-Love is the New 30
Estimated reading time: 4'

Estimated reading time: 4'

When my sister turned thirty, I gave her a card that read:

"Turning 30 is a celebration of the free-to-be-yourself decade:

Feeling comfortable in your own skin,

Realizing you can do whatever you put your mind to,

Being surrounded by loving friends and family,

Knowing your deserve to be happy".

I am 29, so I was curious to hear her feedback on that description: she agreed 100%.

"As time passes, the more I know myself, and the better I feel about myself," she says, "it's not related to age. It's a journey.
Everyone is not necessarily comfortable in their own skin at 30. But what is certain is that time has a positive impact on our well-being.

We know what we love, and we choose to do what makes us feel good. We take more time to think about it and act upon it. It becomes a lifestyle, a wisdom almost. And if something does not please us, we change direction.

It seems simple, so why do so many of us remain in situations that do not suit us? A job? A relationship? Toxic habits?

I think the trigger was my independence. Most people have this revelation on average at 30, once they are out of school, have a stable situation, become financially independent. Relationships to our environment are freed from all these constraints and focus on the emotional, we preserve the long relationships, we have deeper, even more spiritual discussions.

For example, instead of investing only in ephemeral things as before (perfume, shoes, etc.), I also invest in sustainable things, like an apartment, it's quite revealing. When I eat, I try to eat well, whereas before I was swallowing potato crisps on my way home. I went back to sport ... So on.

I see. It is the age where one chooses one's life.

When I had my teenage crisis, it was difficult for me to differentiate between my desires, those of others and those of society. And how to get there when we do not recognize ourselves as individual, when we are still part of a group? At 30, we take independence from our social circle and our well-being is refocused on oneself .

On the other hand, attention not to be confused between being an individual and being an individualist! Others are essential to our happiness, be it in love, in friendship, or for any type of relationship.

The other day, I was listening to a podcast with sociologist Durkheim, explaining that the suicide rate was very low in united communities. I concluded that selfishness does not make happiness. To think about, know and accept oneself makes happiness, and once you've done that, you can direct your thoughts towards what the outside brings you and appreciate a good book, a painting, a meal, a person, or the contemplation of a landscape.

Self-love allows you to appreciate external pleasures better.

I have a small relaxation and beauty ritual that I practice every night without fail, for at least 45 minutes to do good to my body:

I start with a good hot shower with music, then I remove all the makeup and I put cream on every square millimeter of skin, from the toes to the neck, through the tips of the hair and the eyelashes, I stretch out, I make yoga greetings, I relax ...

Self-love is taking time for yourself.

The other day besides, at my yoga class, we were doing a stretching position and I was focusing on my body in motion and my breath.

The teacher said," Look at Pauline, she's in mindfulness!" He approached, crossed my feet behind my head and walked away.

Well, I found myself stuck and had to call for help (!), but the bottom line is that being satisfied with yourself and your body shell helps relieve tension as well!

To give a contradictory example, another participant was only giggling, scratching, dressing up, and so on. She could not let go, she could not just be there, feel the good waves, be satisfied with this moment of relaxation or the sun on her face.

Self-love is also consciousness of one's body.

Before, my happiness was defined exclusively in the intensity of the moment. Now I've realized that happiness is a global equilibrium, a sum of moments and emotions that fluctuate.

My relationship to time is different: when I was 15 years old, one year was 7% of my life. Today, one year is 3% of my life, it has nothing to do!
I am not afraid to grow old, but I am aware of having to develop and optimize my time. I do not want to waste it, so I become demanding.

I focus on the quality of relationships with others, and I surround myself with people I find exceptional. Of course we do not always have discussions of intellectuals, we also take pleasure in passing superficial moments! And sometimes we can not talk to each other, but just be together, and feel good".

Self-love is awareness of time.

In conclusion: you have to be the person you want to talk to... I would like to have the chance to be my best friend or my boyfriend, or my sister ... (laughs) Helene, do you confirm ?!☺ "

Are you a person you’d like to meet? What is your own definition of self-love?
Stand Up for Your Sexual Orientation
Estimated reading time: 1'40

Estimated reading time: 1'40

I was stepping out of the supermarket when a homeless man, wearing a Buddhist robe, approached me, asking for food.

As I was carrying a bag full of groceries, I searched for a couple items to give him.

"I just want to warn you, he said, I only eat fruits and vegetables, I am vegan".

Being on a plant-based myself, I was quite impressed to see that he was making a point of honor to stick to his ethics and maintain his diet while being homeless, pretty much a matter of life and death.

Curious, I initiated a conversation.

After a few minutes, to "thank me" for the couple fruits I had given him, he decided to "warn me" about a religious prophecy he seemed to believe in.

He started explaining in great details that in a near future, a divine retribution would happen to all the homosexuals and that he needed to spread the word to turn them "back to heterosexuality" (NB: we were standing right by Castro in San Francisco, one of the first gay neighborhoods in the United States).

Now, I am not someone who gets worked up when I hear an opinion I disagree with.

Rather, I always try to understand where people stand, and find out where their beliefs come from. So I digged deeper.

As he justified his view on homosexuality, he ended up admitting that he "used to" be homosexual himself.

And there I understood. Some people base their fear (in this case, homophobia) on repressed urges they've been shamed for. They take out their internal frustration onto others, because they can't be who they really are, so why would anybody else?

As I always do, I, in turn, explained why I believed that each person should fully embrace who they are, do what they love, and see religion as a channel for love and acceptance, rather than hatred. 

I never saw him again after that day. I like to believe that our conversation led him to want to stand up for his sexual orientation, just like he did with his diet. 

That was the day I met a homeless vegan homosexual homophobic Buddhist.