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You only live once.
But, if you do it right, once is enough.

Mae West

If the French (and Italians) have taught me anything, it’s to live life with a passion and fun.
But, this kind of life wasn’t been easy for me to embrace.
Guilt and fear were the two words that used to bubble to the top at any experience that resembled fun.

Picture me dancing and in the back of my mind thinking,

I didn’t fold the laundry before I came.
Good moms don’t stay out late, and they dare don’t dance.
Shouldn’t I be home baking cookies?
What if an earthquake happens and I’m here having fun?

Yep, I was crazy, neurotic and very boring gal.

Don’t you think it’s fascinating that as kids, we naturally knew how to play games, laugh, sing and create things just for the fun of it?

We didn’t feel guilt. In fact, we really enjoyed it.

But, unfortunately, too many of us trained out of this beautiful state of being filled with creativity, laughter, and smiles.

Messages such as, “You can play when you get your work done,” caused us to start seeing fun as a forbidden and impossible feat.

Because, in our society, the work is never done.

The bills, responsibilities, and expectations started to replace our natural desire to have fun.

And, that’s how fun gets put on the backburner of our lives, my friends.

It’s a slow, painful disappearance of something that used to be our normal but now feels like a long lost friend we rarely see.

At least, that’s how it happened for me.

Looking back, the years lacking fun were the years I struggled the most — with my weight, money, and relationships.

Hhhm….could there be a correlation to the amount of fun we have in our lives and its overall quality?

Yes, ma’am.

I’ve discovered that the woman having the most fun is actually the most successful on many levels.

The Three Words that jolted the fun back into my life.

I have dear friends in the South of France. They have built a life around pleasure, community, and ease. I love asking those I admire questions to dig into their psyche, so, naturally, I asked my longtime friend, “What’s your secret to joie de vivre?”

His response was simple:

“Lighten up and amuse-toi bien!”

Amuse toi bien = have fun.

It’s fun just saying it. Go ahead. Try.

So, I started to wonder.

“Could that really be it?”

“Could it really be that simple?”

Was it not about making a million dollars, getting more degrees, having a size 2 body?

I figured that I’d try on his advice and made my “amuse-toi” my new life mantra.

What an adventure it’s been.

Of course, I felt a lot of fear, skepticism, and doubt in the beginning.

That little voice in my head would always say, “Your world is going to fall apart if you don’t get serious.”

But, that’s the same voice that I had led me down some dark paths, so I was catching on to it.

I credit a large part of where I am today with infusing my daily life with more fun.

What’s stopping you from having more amuse-toi bien

When I ask women why they aren’t having fun, I often hear things like:

I don’t have time.
I have too many responsibilities.
I don’t know how.
I’ve forgotten what fun feels like.
I put it off because I have more important things to do.

I’m curious what your answer would be.

If you desire more fun in your life, you have to understand what’s stopping you.

And, it will always come down to beliefs that usually are rooted in guilt and fear.

Here were my top reasons for avoiding fun.

Reason #1: The need to please others

When you’re trying to please your husband, children, boss, neighbor and even people you don’t really know, there is little space for fun in your life.

You don’t want to upset little Johnny so you give him everything he wants and deny yourself of the same treatment.

Your mother expects you to cook dinner for your family every night, so you keep telling your friends no to the dinner invites.

Your boss expects you to reply to his emails on the weekends, so you stay glued to your phone just in case he has an emergency (which never is an emergency).

Here’s the thing with fun. It requires that you make yourself a priority and stop the people pleasing.

Where are you on your calendar?

I know it may feel scary to stop this behavior that’s probably been with you since you were a little girl trying to please those adults you so desperately depended on, but you’re a grown woman now.

And, if you’re thinking this is selfish, let me challenge you to ask yourself, “What’s wrong with that?”

You need to keep a little of yourself in order for you to give to others.

What I do know is that I’m a much more loving and kinder individual now that I’m not bored out of my mind, and even worse, boring!

I’m a more exciting and upbeat mom, a more adventurous partner and definitely a better coach by having more fun.

By pleasing myself more and others less, I’m actually more pleasing to be around. Go figure!

Reason #2: Fear of what others will think.

When I was first starting to play around in this world of fun, I made a point to go to dinner with my girlfriends at least once a month. One particular night and a couple bottles of wine later (hey, there were four of us!), our table started to explode with laughter. Yes, we were that annoying, loud table of women that I used to make fun of (while secretly desiring to join).

A friend from the past was there with her husband. I had not seen her in over a year, and the version she was seeing of me was not the friend she had known.

I glanced over and saw her and her hubby barely speaking. I really felt for her because she had fallen into the same trap I was trying too hard to climb out of.

As she was leaving at 9 PM, we were just getting started.

She walked over and said, “Shouldn’t you be home with Sarah?”

I felt my face turn red and that old familiar guilt starts to rise to the surface when one of the other moms at the table who was out drinking us by a mile said, “Just because we birthed a baby doesn’t mean we need to join a nunnery.”

Then she so elegantly added, “Loosen up, mama! Join us.”

She never returned.

Here’s the thing I’ve noticed. When you start having a ton of fun, the people who aren’t trying to bring you back into the misery of boredom.

Who does she think she is?
She’s a Pollyanna.
She needs to grow up.

Those of us with a positive and light glow can trigger those without it.

But, you know what?

People are going to judge you whether you’re sitting at home bored out of your mind or dancing on a table top.

What would you rather be judged for?

Personally, at the end of my life, I want to go out with Champagne bottles popping and lots of laughter to celebrate my love of life. I want people to say, “That lady really enjoyed her time here.”

Yes, I want my grand finale to be fun!

Reason #3: Fear of it all falling apart.

This is the craziest one, in my opinion. In our effort to keep it together with our serious faces and packed busy schedules, our world slowly crumbles into mediocrity and overwhelm.

Fun threatens our safe and miserable worlds with promises of delight and pleasure — two words that are foreign to the overly serious lady’s life.

However, if you’re being honest with yourself, you crave it.

You see images of a woman laughing on a boat in Travel & Leisure and you feel a pang of envy.

You notice the couple sitting beside you at the restaurant laughing hysterically and you feel wonder what happened to your marriage.

You scroll through Facebook and see your friend taking a dance class, and you wonder how she does it?

In an effort to keep your life together, your soul is falling apart.

But, what if I told you that fun is the medicine? That by allowing yourself to have more fun, it’s SO much easier to be a responsible adult? That fun opens up more possibilities than you would ever discover in your tightly controlled world?

Of course, I believe this to be true now, but I’ve been where you are — doubting and fearing.


Navigating “finding the fun” in the workplace.

A place where professional women often get stuck finding the fun is in their “9-5.”

But, fun doesn’t have to be reserved for out of the office. In fact, I think offices need more women full of joy, play, and creativity.

Over the years, I have had many conversations with extremely intelligent, professional women who describe their life as “lacking excitement” or “humdrum.” They rarely go on vacations. Weekends consist of more work. And, of course, their weekdays are long and exhausting.

Their excuse for such a tiresome life? Their job.

I could be one of these women: I work hard. In fact, I work as hard now as I did when I was an intensive care nurse. Sure, it’s a different kind of work, but work nonetheless.

But the difference is that, although tedious, my workday feels fun. In fact, work feels like play.

Of course, you could argue, “But, Tonya, look at what you do! You write about things such as “fun” and take women to Paris.

This is true. But, what you don’t see is the day to day stuff we all deal with — managing a team, the deadlines, the customers to whom we want to give excellent service, the meetings with the accountant, the tech snafus, the not so nice emails. This doesn’t include my personal life, which probably looks very similar to yours — cooking dinners, paying bills, picking up dog poop.

I know of women in my same industry who aren’t having fun. They are overwhelmed and scared out of their minds that they can’t keep up. When this happens, one of the first things that go out the window is fun. Who has time for that with all this work to be done?

They started a business to have freedom. Now, they feel shackled to it.

So, this brings up the question: is fun “out there” or “in here?”

It’s both.

You can do fun things, but the best is knowing that the party lives within you.

I find it very liberating to know that it’s not a job’s job to offer me (or you) fun. It’s something we get to create and bring into every part of your life.

You can add liveliness to board meetings, while paying bills, shuttling the kids around or while folding the laundry.

Because, after all, fun is an attitude that can be translated into almost everything you do.

Fun First. Work Second.

In being brave enough to experiment with having more fun in my life, I now understand that most have the equation backward.

Fun isn’t something that you should put on hold until one day when the work is done (by the way, it’s never done).

It’s something you should infuse in your life today to attract all those things you’re hoping to become and achieve.

I didn’t start having fun when I founded French Kiss Life.

Non, monsieur

I started having fun first, and THEN French Kiss Life found me.

In fact, I started to shift my attitude when I was working as an intensive care unit nurse. This didn’t seem the appropriate place to have fun, or at least that’s what I told myself.

However, I began to challenge that assumption.

I started changing my attitude and finding the joy and fun that was inside of me.

I began dancing around the breakroom. I stopped complaining (because that will zap the fun out of anyone). I gave my patient’s makeovers. I wore fun accessories in my hair to style my very boring scrubs. I smiled more. I focused on my blessings. I had picnics in the parking lot during my lunch break.

As a result, my work started to change as well.

The quality of my work increased.
I got a promotion and raise.
Patient’s started requesting to have me as a nurse.
Coworkers told me they loved to see my name on the schedule with them.

Outside of the workplace, because I wasn’t wallowing in my misery due to lack of fun in my life, other opportunities started to come onto the radar, things that could only have found a woman having fun.

Fun is now the cornerstone of my life and business.

No matter where you are in your life right now, we all have the ability to be great lovers of life, and fun is a necessary ingredient.

When we embrace life with joy and confront every obstacle and task in that light, it is astonishing how much can be accomplished. This is true in every area of our multi-dimensional lives: work, play, romance, health, fitness, and family.

What I live and teach and believe about French Kissing Life is that it’s up to you to have fun, to open up and laugh, dance because you want to and leave behind any doubts or insecurities that would have you focus more on what others think than how you feel.

Consider the different flavors of fun.

Fun doesn’t have to involve wild nights with bottles of tequila or shopping sprees that max out all your credit cards. In fact, this isn’t much fun at all, at least for me. After much experimentation, I’ve concluded that if I regret it the next day, it’s not fun.

We are unique human beings, which means we’ll all have different flavors of fun. It’s up to you to discover what yours is.

Fun is defined as “amusement, enjoyment and light-hearted pleasure.”

What amuses you?
Where do you find enjoyment?
What brings you a light-hearted pleasure?

As I’ve evolved as a woman, so has the things I find fun.

These days, taking my dogs down to the lake and watching them swim brings me non-stop laughter. Watching an episode of Game of Thrones makes me giddy. Weekend trips with my girlfriends where we have spa days, decadent dinners and belly laugh bring me so much joy (and priceless memories). Hanging out with my daughter laughing over the silliest things delights my heart. And, let’s not forget the regular solo dance parties I host.

No matter what your flavor of fun is, I hope you will consider that it’s an important ingredient to a well-lived life.

As my friend said, “Loosen up, mama! Join us.”

My kiss on the cheek to you today:

Don’t wait. Right now is exactly the perfect time to start amuse-toi bien
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Be brave enough to make your life an adventure — starting with your attitude followed by experiences that light you up.

Create the kind of memories that 30 years from now, you can gather around a campfire or a beautifully set table and share with your grandkids.

Lighten up.

Enjoy yourself.

Amuse-toi bien!

{Want more ideas so you can add more fun into your life?}
Grab my free download. “99 Fun, Sexy, & Audacious Ways to Shake Up Your Life.”

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