My Year Of Transformation


French inspiration

I’ll come right out and say it. From my perspective, 2017 has been an amazing year. I know not everyone will be nodding in agreement (and my heart goes out to you), but I honestly knew before it began that 2017 would be a transformational one for me. My excitement started building a couple of months prior to the end of 2016 and I could just feel that there was going to be lots of happy change ahead.

This feeling was reinforced when I read somewhere that 2016 was a ‘nine’ year and all about endings and closure while 2017 was to be a ‘one’ year which was all about transition and  trying new things. Well, I’m not sure about nines or ones and what all that might mean, but it certainly does sum up how my year has played out.

The days following Christmas are always an opportunity for reflection, and as we head into the new year, I feel moved to share a little bit what has shifted for me. So this post will be somewhat different to most on Distant Francophile. It is super long for a start. But I write it in the hope that it will support or perhaps inspire you in some way.


I’ve been lucky enough to work for an excellent company for a very long time. And over the 25-plus years i’ve performed a great many roles. As 2016 closed, I was heading up a very large national team and loving it. But I’d been responsible for that team for almost three years, and a feeling was growing inside me that a change would be good for them and for me. When I was asked to lead a project, I jumped at the chance.

Now I know what you are thinking. Heading into projects is a place where long serving staff go at the end of their careers. But after successfully leading the first project, I moved onto another one. Followed by a third. And then my boss and I decided that I would build a whole project team, which is what I’ll be doing next year.

At the same time as taking on these project roles, I adopted a compressed working week. This has seen me working a 40 hour week over 4 days. Which allows me to take most Fridays off, specifically to work on my passions outside of my ‘day job’.

Style Coaching

It took me a long time to understand that my career doesn’t define me. And it certainly doesn’t define whether I’m a success or not. With that learning locked in, I’ve spent the past few years curiously exploring what lights me up.

For far too long in my professional life I’ve seen women hold themselves back due to confidence issues. And when I really dug into it, one of the key reasons underpinning their lack of confidence started with how they felt about how they looked. This realisation saw me investigating ways to support other women, and I was really excited to qualify as a Style Coach™ earlier this year.

Style coaching goes beyond working as a stylist, in that it not only helps women work out what looks good on them, it also works on how they want to feel in each and every day of their lives. I never seem to get any arguments when I talk about the fact that when women think that they look good they also feel good.

Other Passions

Changing my working hours also allowed me to spend some time doing things I never thought I would do. Back in August, I spent an enlightening five days with an incredible group of women at a writer’s retreat in Byron Bay. This time saw me learning more about the entire writing process. And it also gifted me time to reflect on my writing and how I see it evolving here on DF. Probably most importantly though, the retreat took me completely out of my comfort zone. Spending 5 days in a house with a group of strangers will do that to you. However, in the end, I found meeting these women quite inspirational and informative and I loved the way it forced me to think differently about almost everything.

I’ve also recently bitten the bullet and started working with a French tutor one-on-one over Skype. My tutor is a gifted teacher and I’m so thrilled with how quickly my French and my understanding of the language is improving. I look forward to our sessions and I’m even enjoying my homework!

Beauty And Style

On the beauty and style front, 2017 was the year that I decided to grow out my hair. I started cutting it shorter and shorter in 2015 and for most of 2016 my hair was really, really short. Interestingly, both times I had fresh photos done for the blog my hair was at a similar length, so you could be forgiven for thinking that my hair hasn’t changed much for the past couple of years.

At the end of 2016 I found myself super bored with my cropped hair. All three of my mentors at that time had long, flowing locks and I definitely felt inspired by their hair. I also wanted too be able to pull my hair up while I was travelling, which seems counter intuitive, as a friend of mine pointed out. But I wasn’t deterred and so embarked on a year of terrible of hair. Patience is a virtue that I definitely missed out on (I can see Scott nodding wildly in agreement on that point). To facilitate my new look, I also changed hair stylists mid-year and my new hair team and I have been experimenting with ways that I don’t have to wash my hair everyday (with ever improving results).

While I’m on the topic of things that have tested my patience, 2017 was also the year I chose to get my teeth straightened. Like so many women in their early forties, I found my teeth were rapidly becoming more and more crooked as I aged. (As if the wrinkling and the sagging aren’t enough!!) Anyhow, I opted to invest in invisible aligners rather than traditional braces. I found the process slow, but easy and effective. I had none of the side effects that sometimes accompany the straightening process – headaches or fuzziness. I’m still wearing my aligners to sort out one particularly stubborn tooth but apart from that I’m thrilled with the results so far.

Less successful was my experiment with eyelash extensions. Don’t get me wrong. I thought they looked sensational. But it turns out that I’m not high maintenance enough to live with them long term. The time and money spent on keeping them looking good was just too much for me to commit too. I’ve compromised by using (semi) regular lash lifts instead which, while not quite as impressive as full on extensions, have seen me happier than I’ve ever been with my eye lashes.


I think the thing that I found most difficult this year was the fact that we spent less than one week in France. I know, I know. First world problems – and I don’t expect a single drop of sympathy. But I really do find spending time in France not only restores me but increases my creativity. Safe to say that I’m counting down the days until we do head back.

And it wasn’t all bad. Instead of spending more time in France, Scott and I chose to visit New York for the very first time, which was energising, interesting and exciting all at the same time. We also ventured to Wales – another place we’d never explored. The western part of Wales has to be one of the prettiest places on the planet!

How was 2017 for you? And how are you feeling about 2018? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Wishing you only the very best of everything for the year ahead. Happy New Year.

And until next time – au revoir.

About Janelle

I believe that every woman can bring French style and joie de vivre to her life, no matter where she happens to live in the world. She only needs to know a secret or two to be on her way. When you join the Distant Francophile community, you’ll learn the style and grooming secrets that will help you to dress with the confidence so many French women seem to have.

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8 thoughts on “My Year Of Transformation

  • Joanne Long

    You must miss spending a longer time in France. The first year that I retired, I lived for 6 months in Paris on rue St. Jacques. My life was French, my next visits were of 2 month duration. I haven’t been for 3 years but I hope to get back in 2018. I visited NYC this year and spent 3 months volunteering in Oaxaca, Mexico. Interestingly, I unretired in October and will be working as a teacher-librarian in a French Immersion school until June. I’ve always been interested in style coaching. Will you work in person or online? Happy New Year!

    • Janelle Post author

      Hi Joanne, yes, I did miss spending a good chunk of time in France in 2017 – but we are back there in April, so all good! I’m sure I’d have missed it more if I’d been able to to spend the amount of time you spent there a few years back!! Hopefully you’ll get back to France during 2018 too. Your ‘unretirement’ sounds very interesting – as does your volunteer time in Mexico. So inspiring! With the style coaching, I’m happy to work either on-line or in person, although at the moment I’m specifically set up for Skype. You can find out more here All the very best to you for the year ahead.

  • Jo

    Congratulations on your post Janelle. Not for what you’ve achieved, although that is certainly significant, but for speaking so candidly on your struggles, big and small. Getting a French tutor will definitely improve your French – it’s the best decision I made.

    I look forward to reading about your adventures in 2018!

    • Janelle Post author

      Merci Jo! It was a comment from you – either here or something I read on Frugal First Class Travel – that actually prompted me to seek out my tutor. The learning method is definitely working for me!! And you’ve also inspired me to book High Tea at the Paris Ritz….we’ll be heading there in May and my booking is confirmed already!! So grateful for all the inspiration you provide – thank you.

  • Garden Goddess

    Happy New Year! I’m glad to hear that you are having fun as well as accomplishing things. . I did see some magnetic eyelashes on TV (QVC perhaps?) and thought they were a good idea instead of using that annoying and toxic glue. You just sandwich your current eyelashes between two pairs with magnetic strips at the base, and it takes all of 3 seconds to apply. I’m thinking I may get some and thought you might want to know about them as well. Best wishes for the coming new year and I do hope you get back to Paris soon so you can give us some more updates!

    • Janelle Post author

      Thank you for the eyelash tip….I wonder how they work? I’ll have to check them out! We are back to France in April…so not long to wait now. In the meantime, I have a mix of travel and style updates planned. But please let me know if there is something specific you’d like me write about on the back of our next visit…I’m always happy to take on ‘assignments’!!