This week’s Share Your Story comes our way via the The Lot-et-Garonne in the southwest of France. It has been described as the “The France you always hoped existed but could never quite find.” Renata always dreamed of living in the French countryside, in a charmingly quaint little French village by a river, doing what she loves – writing! Her dream came true four years ago when she turned 50.
Renata has a few writing projects including a book about the benefits of being vulnerable. She writes: “Vulnerability is a strength and not a weakness. To feel ‘our stuff’ is the only way to truly be alive, to heal and to grow! It’s so vital to our emotional health to allow ourselves to truly feel our joys, sorrows, and disappointments in all their different moods, hues and shades and, in healthy ‘safe’ ways so that we won’t be taken advantage of by toxic prey.”
Most recently Renata has joined forces with her friend, Sophie Davies, to share fashion, beauty, and travel tips; as well as, coach women to enjoy being in their in own beautiful skin at whatever age they are. You can follow them on their FaceBook Page: Voilà Sophie & Renata’s Fashion, Beauty & Wellness Experience.
Week 17: ‘Share Your Story; the Women the WSJ Missed’ series – Renata Huster
KUELLIFE: What are you pursuing now that surprises you?
RENATA: Even though I am a well-seasoned traveler, it never occurred to me to share my travel adventures by getting them published in a magazine until just recently. I’m now writing my fourth travel piece and, I’m enjoying it immensely!
KUELLIFE: What’s a typical day like for you?
RENATA: My typical day begins S L O W L Y as I’m not a morning person. I’m definitely a night owl. I honor my inner rhythm by allowing it to tick to its own clock. My morning begins with a hazelnut flavored coffee, I savor each delicious sip as I either sit in the garden or climb back into bed depending on the weather. I will take time to meditate on something spiritual by reading scripture. I love the morning quiet. After I’ve finished my coffee ( I never eat breakfast) I will check my mail and if I don’t have any appointments, I take my dog, Cognac, for a walk along the river Lot. There are orchards nearby and Cognac usually ends up zig-zagging through the prune trees, usually after a hare he has no chance catching! After a light lunch, I will do my housework or run a few errands, maybe visit a friend and then the rest of the day I will write until the evening. Then I’ll take a break and watch a movie, drink a glass of wine, unwind and listen to some music until I go to bed and write until the early hours.
KUELLIFE:: With what do you struggle?
RENATA: I struggle to keep my belly fat off, it’s all part of menopause mayhem!
KUELLIFE: How do you motivate yourself and keep yourself motivated?
RENATA: I read once that motivation can’t be summoned, it needs a little encouragement; and so, my motivation coach is called MR EFFORT. Put in the effort first and the motivation will eventually flow. The effort=motivation. Once the creative juices are stirred, work becomes play.
KUELLIFE: What advice would you give women about aging?
RENATA: Embrace aging like the French do. French women do not yearn for what has passed; neither are they hung up about aging and that alone keeps the wrinkles at bay! They embrace and take pleasure in whatever age they are at! They enjoy visiting the beauty salon, finding the perfect scent in ‘la parfumerie’ ( the perfumery), and spending the day clothes shopping. French women do love a good bargain! ( except when they choose lingerie.) All ‘ageless’ pleasures!
To be a woman in France is to be a magnificent creature and, they know the secret of true beauty… that love doesn’t wrinkle! Family and friendships are very important in French culture and love and joy looks beautiful on a woman no matter what her age
KUELLIFE: What does vulnerability mean to you what has the ability to make you vulnerable?
RENATA: The heart is the most beautifully fragile instrument, and yet, in that fragility lies great strength, firm and true. To liberate our emotions, to allow ourselves to simply BE who we genuinely are in the core of our soul is to listen to the most beautiful music of all, our own gloriously authentic sound. This is what it means to be vulnerable to me.
It is not what but who has the ability to make me vulnerable; my son André.
Someone said when you have a child it’s like wearing your heart outside your body. If our kids cry, we bleed; and if they are happy, we are ecstatic! My son, André, is part of me, I see myself in him. I try to be open and transparent with him, ‘warts and all’ and I encourage him to be the same with me, so, he too, can ‘own’ his ‘inner stuff’ and be comfortable in his own skin.
KUELLIFE: What are three events that helped shape your life?
RENATA: 1. Becoming a Christian at the age of 47 shaped my life because I began a friendship with God and I get to know Him more intimately by the very personal and loving way He treats me. By seeking His presence daily and listening to His wisdom in scripture, I know that I will never be alone even if I found myself physically alone, I have a whole universe of friends surrounding me and a loving Father to guide me.
2. I was born and raised in Australia and so, when my dad took me to Europe when I was 17, I fell in love with travel and I traveled to over 50 cities in Europe. Later I spent time in California, Oregon and New York. I also went to New Zealand and toured the south island. That very first trip to Europe opened my eyes to other ways of living, other cultures and language, and I gained a lot of confidence and made a lot of friends, scattered all over the globe, from my trips, many of which I took solo!
3. The birth of my son André, 19 years ago, is pretty hard to top!
KUELLIFE: Who influenced you the most in life and why?
RENATA: My son André. From the moment he began making himself at home in my belly, kicking like a soccer player, I was just overwhelmed with unconditional love and love is the opposite of unselfishness. Raising a child is not always easy. He certainly tested my patience; but the meaning and purpose he has brought to my life has made me grow into a better person, even when we go through our rough patches.
KUELLIFE: What is the best advice you have been given by another woman?
RENATA: The best advice I ever received from another woman is that life has its share of losses, and after we mourn those losses we are left with an emptiness, an inner hole that needs to be filled and, the only way to truly heal from loss is to fill that inner hole up with love. How do we do that? Do something loving for someone. Love heals. There are so many ways we can be useful and loving to people, even to people we don’t know well. We gain empathy from loss and wisdom from its lessons. Loss can propel us to love others more.
KUELLIFE: What woman inspires you and why?
RENATA: My friend Maryanne inspires me no end! We met when I was 16 and she was 19. We are still friends today! Maryanne has suffered five harrowing miscarriages, a divorce and four years ago she had a stroke at the tender age of 52! Laughter is her balm; it eases her sorrows and gratitude gives her strength. She never lets her enthusiasm for life dim. She’s such a remarkable woman with the biggest heart.
KUELLIFE: Are you a grown- up?
RENATA: My feelings are every color in the crayon box! The bright cheery yellow and cherry tomato red and lime green, all an expression of my childlike wonder and curiosity, it would be cruel to let that part of me grow-up. I have my other stable, more dependable colors, and they are always ripening, maturing and quite grown-up! But my childlike wonder keeps my life journey fresh and adventurous!
KUELLIFE: What do you do for self-care?
RENATA: I eat a healthy diet, lots of fruit and veg. I eat a hearty red meat dish twice a month, I prefer legumes, fish or a little chicken. I try to keep away from the bakery, it is difficult here, in France, because the pastries are so darn delicious! I try and walk for at least an hour every second day and I do resistant weights to keep my arms toned. I am a big believer in that inspiring poem by Poet Dylan Thomas (Do not go gentle into that good night). It implores us to ‘Rage, rage against the dying of the light’.
KUELLIFE: What are the top 3 things on your bucket list?
RENATA: 1. To write content that helps others heal n2. To keep as content as I am now 3. When my son is older and ready, I hope I get to be a grandma!