Wednesday, May 18, 2011


"Waiting for my dear friend, I thought about how my experiences had given me a stronger sense of myself. I had been gradually stripping away the extraneous things that I'd pinned to my life in Melbourne - all the unthinking routines and urban distractions. I was surprised by what was revealed underneath. Knowing what really mattered to me inspired a confidence I'd never felt before. I thought about how our children had become far more confident, too. I had such admiration for their diligence and perseverance in overcoming the frustrations of learning a new language to make new friends. To see a child branch out in a strange new world, despite the obvious constraints of language and culture, is the stuff that makes a parent's heart sing. I reflected that at Bosgouet each of us had found a new incarnation, a little bit of ourselves that we would not have known existed if we hadn't taken this opportunity."
Jane Webster : "AT MT FRENCH TABLE" page 220.

The book "At My French Table", is a feast for the eyes with its photography, a feast for the stomach with its gastronomical delights described and shared through recipes, and a feast of thoughts to meuse on. The author, Jane Webster, takes her family from a yuppy Melbourne suburban lifestyle to a culture and history rich rural existence in Normandy, France, filled with continual new challenges. 
In Normandy, Jane discovered and admitted  the things she had "pinned" to her life to be "extraneous", "unthinking routines and urban distractions."  Life often happens to us, opportunities present themselves and we are taken along before we have chosen to be committed. Do you think on your lifestyle choices regularly? It's healthy to do so. I find our annual two weeks basic camping in a farmer's paddock with four beaches minutes away, to be the ideal atmosphere to both recharge and rethink lifestyle.
Life for Jane in Normandy, with its tough challenges had "inspired a confidence I'd never felt before", said Jane. That's great, but something better was to come ~ Jane's new-found confidence had influenced her children in their "confidence", "diligence and perseverance in overcoming the frustration of learning a new language to make new friends .... branch out in a strange new world..."
In a discussion the other night with a group of friends we talked about how parents lives influence their children's lives. Charlotte Mason's writings on the subject got us started. She showed us a process.
Firstly, one is "struck by an idea". In Jane's case, smitten with French cuisine and culture and her personal love for cooking, she was struck by the French "reverential" treatment of food. She says, it "made me feel as if I'd come home." Here was the idea, the attraction, the "something that had lain so deep in me for so long." ~ French-style cooking.
Charlotte's second  step is "intention", acquiring more knowledge about the idea. This began for Jane on her return to Melbourne after her honeymoon in France in 1990. She busied herself studying French cookery under a multitude of chefs, and trialled her cooking skills on friends. This led to her resigning from her teaching job and opening a small cafe. The intention part of the process isn't always as clear as it was for Jane, but as Charlotte Mason says, "it is strong enough to move one to action; to find the things and get the knowledge". This gathering of knowledge and experience develops and affects the thoughts, opinions and behavior of a person.
The third stage is "purpose" or conviction to keep at it, "embracing the idea". In Jane's life the years passed, four children were born into the Webster family and all the while the passion for the next trip to France preoccupied Jane. Then her "eureke moment; I could run culinary tours combined with hands-on cooking classes". What an idea. As she talked to her husband Pete and each of her children, the plan met with positive responses.
The fourth and final phase is "resolution". The difficulties to achieve the goal and purpose are faced and as each is solved ones resolution to keep-at-it is strengthened. Jane's determination brought her confidence which influenced the growing confidence in her children's lives. Charlotte Mason describes it as "there is a certain largeness in (Jane's) opinions and in (her) conduct of life. (She) has an uplifting effect on (her children). (She) helps them to see matters from other than their personal ... standpoint ... carrying with them the spacious thoughts, the impersonal aims, they got from their (mother)... the stages of purpose and resolution ... were there, because the fruit of that first seed-thougt perfected itself in (her) life, and it continued to bear in the lives of (her children)." Seeing the "first" in her children's lives, Jane described it as "the stuff that makes a parent's heart sing."

Jane Webster ~ the stuff that makes a parent's heart sing.

The second post I wrote was on the topic Parents Have the Biggest Influence on Their Children. You may like to read it and be encouraged.

THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ start by spending some time thinking about your lifestyle. Is it clogged and cluttered? You don't need to travel to another country, as Jane Webster did, to change things. Begin by pursuing any thought or idea you had as you read Jane's story. You possibly already have an idea you've been "struck by". Follow that idea using the clues to develop it into action that Charlotte Mason gave. You're on the way to becoming an inspirational example for your children and sharing the pleasure Jane speaks of "that makes a parent's heart sing."

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