Joining us today is the founder of French Kiss Life movement, Tonya Leigh. Tonya Leigh is a Master Certified Life Coach trained by Dr. Martha Beck. She works with highly successful women from around the world who desire to balance ambition with ease to create a fulfilling and meaningful life.
How did you change your life?
She started with a decision to turn her life around. Growing up in the South in very underprivileged conditions, she wasn’t exposed to ideas like personal development. Learning about personal development radically changed her life. She started to deconstruct this prison that she had built for herself, through becoming mindful and practicing the toolset of personal development on daily basis. She believes that when you have a firm resolve, you can surely figure out success along the way.
When happened once you started listening to yourself and asking yourself different questions?
During this time, she was still struggling with her weight. She went from a size 22 to size 2 by basically starving herself. She says that the way we go about losing weight is going through the process of misery and depression, so when you get to your ideal size, chances are you are still going to be miserable. When she really started applying these tools of personal development and shifted her focus to creating her feelings rather than losing weight, things started to turn around. It’s been over a decade now, and she never struggles with her body anymore.
You help women to live an elegant lifestyle and Joie De Vivre, can you tell us a bit about that?
By elegant she means a life with simplicity and effectiveness. Going deeper, it’s about an elegant mindset, having a clear mind which is very effective.
Joie De Vivre is the joy of living, it’s about being graceful and joyful, even in the face of hardships. That’s what her company, French Kiss Life, support and inspire women to do, injecting style, elegance and Joie De Vivre to their everyday lives.
Do you think women are afraid to live with this Joie De Vivre, elegance and style?
According to her, we are afraid to give ourselves permission. When we start to change and grow, people around us tend to be a disagreement. It’s our choice who we want to be, but the fear of what will people think holds us back. Because of that, we limit our own joy because we are actually afraid of it.
What if somebody feels like they don’t know what they want?
In her opinion, people do know what they want. Maybe they are afraid to admit it, or it’s buried under too many thoughts. As they clear their mind, it becomes obvious to them the purpose of their life. Another practice she recommends is that if you don’t know what you want, write down the list of everything you don’t want and when you try to see the opposite of that, you may find that you do know what you want.
What Parisian women do differently in comparison to American women?
For them, it’s not even an option that pleasure is a part of their life, it is a part of their daily life. She observed that American woman can be very deprived to what she calls true pleasure, which is the pleasure that keeps on giving, feels good and you don’t feel guilty about. It is the pleasure that doesn’t take away from your health but adds to it. For example, a true pleasure would be to sit down and indulge in a beautiful piece of chocolate, going for a massage or sitting by a fire reading a book. False pleasure is sitting and eating three candy bars. It may taste good, but you end up feeling guilty and less energized. That’s one of the things she learned from the Parisian women, which is how to engage in true pleasure that adds to the quality of life.
Can you tell us about the difference in their culture that you have observed?
Most of us are raised with a philosophy of all work and no play, whereas the French culture put pleasure first. They work to live, and not live to work. The other thing she learned is that they really enjoyed their bodies. The French culture embrace sensuality, pleasure, and their body. The body is not something to be to hide and to be ashamed of but it’s something to enjoy and to be proud of.
How learning about all of this influenced you as a Mother?
She gave her daughter full permission when she was little to enjoy her body. They had very open conversations around sexuality and sensuality. It was something that she didn’t want her daughter to be ashamed of. She wanted her to feel supported, protected and to be smart. It was very different than the upbringing Tonya herself received, and she thinks that such upbringing is very healthy as her daughter is quite open to her.
What is something that you do to cultivate the feeling that you want to embody?
One of her major practices is celebrating everything, all the time, even when it’s challenging. She is a big believer in celebrating life. At any given moment, you can either look at problems, or you can look at possibilities. Through celebrating life, she is living more in a state of possibility than she ever has. It’s like an improv, where someone hands you a story and you have to take it and run with it, without arguing it. That’s for her what celebration is about.
What’s the best advice you have ever been given?
Her mother, a strong and amazing woman, always had this mindset and would say, “Watch me”, and lived up to it.
Tell us how can we get in touch with you?
You can connect with her through her website http://www.tonyaleigh.com. They have a free community called French Kiss Live Club, and a private Facebook group, which is about celebrating being a woman and embracing life. You can join the club by heading to http://www.tonyaleigh.com/anna