Conscious by Chloé

Chloé Lepeltier - Conscious By Chloé

Bonjour & Welcome! Conscious by Chloé is a Sustainable Lifestyle Blog focusing on Zero Waste, Slow Living, and Ethical Fashion.

Are You Good at Small Talk?

two person talking while standing near wall
Photo by Cristina Gottardi

I'm definitely not, partly because:

a/ I'm an introvert.

b/ I'm from Europe.

In my home country, we don't casually chat with business owners, unless we're regular customers.

It took me months to get to know my favorite barista and stop looking like a holier-than-thou French woman/being awkward and needing a minute to answer the innocent "What are you up to today?".

I never know how to answer the dreaded "What do you do for a living". And I tend to get annoyed when people ask me where my accent is from or how long I've been living in the city.

But over the past years, having moved from country to country and city to city, and having read many articles on the subject, I've learned a couple tricks to be more comfortable in small talk situations.

1. Practice

Don't like being asked a question? Craft the perfect answer or learn how to change the subject.

I'm still working on my elevator pitch and haven't found the best way to dodge the "Where are you from" question but I'm getting there. Some experiments have failed miserably, but I'm constantly learning.

There's an endless source of networking events around me so there's a chance I won't see the people I feel like I've made a bad impression on ever again. Or if I do, this will give me another chance to do better, try something else, or give up and switch to automatic mode and regurgitate my whole life's story.

The truth is, it's not their fault, it's mine. I just shouldn't attend that many events, and meet that many new people. But I can't help it. I go through "social butterfly" phases, and then stop completely and stay at home for weeks. Do you do that too?

What was I saying again? Oh yeah, practice. Or print a business card - it will force you to choose a title.

Current contenders: translator - sustainable lifestyle blogger - sustainability consultant

Do any of you have multiple jobs too? Also, when do you start calling yourself something? When that activity takes a big chunk of your time? When you start making money from it? Ah, so many questions!

Know Yourself Prompt Cards by The School of Life
Photo by The School of Life

2. Come Prepared

Why not write down a list of subjects before coming to an event?

This might sound totally unnatural to some people, but it can be a life-saver to others. From asking your interlocutor what's the latest podcast they've subscribed to to asking them what has been keeping them busy lately - the only diplomatic way to ask someone what they do for a living, as it does not alienate people who do not have a conventional job (i.e. job seekers, full-time parents, etc) - there are many candid ways to start meaningful conversations.

I've also had deep conversations with girlfriends using a deck of cards I received with a subscription box and also with the Know Yourself Prompt Cards by The School of Life. I'm actually thinking about bringing them to the next event I'll attend. It's gonna be weird, but might be very fun! Wanna join me?

Volcano by Satsuki Shibuya

Artowrk by Satsuki Shibuya

3. Embrace the Discomfort

I don't mind going to events unaccompanied. I've done that most of my adult life. I look pretty comfortable sitting by myself at a restaurant and feel at ease alone at the movies. Same thing goes for social events. But it requires a lot of energy from me, which is why I only do that over a short period of time - I once listented to a podcast episode where the guest, Satsuki Shibuya, explains how she uses a point system to work with her energy and avoid burnout.

Want a great ice-breaker tip? Come to someone who looks as uncomfortable as you (or just someone who's alone) and share your discomfort. Being vulnerable and asking for help is the best gift you could give a stranger (in a safe space, obsviously) and a wonderful way to make a meaningful connection.

Now, here are some articles that have taught me that I wasn't the only one:

And a couple tools that have definitely helped along the way:

I'm also curious about this deck of cards

And can't wait to get this one from a Kickstarter I backed up:

And finally, how perfect is this illustration?

Winter Conversation Starters by Mary Andrews
Illustration by Mary Andrews

What's your favorite question to ask a stranger at a party?

To-Do List #2

To-Do List by Conscious by Chloé

I'm so happy to report that, thanks to my accountability partners you, I've been able to cross all the items of my first online to-do list! I've sold my iPad and used the money to replace it with a Kindle, I've been doing a lot of meal prepping and loved the time saved during the week and FINALLY dealt with some overdue paperwork.

So, if you don't mind, I'm gonna give this to-do list think another try and see where it goes.

I hope it will inspire you to set up goals for your week, don't hesitate to share them with me. Let's support each other, shall we?

1. Organize a garage sale

It's scheduled for this week-end (unless I cancel it, once again). I've put all the stuff I want to sell in the garage, washed & ironed clothes I want to part with, checked that the electricals work, etc. I still need to gather supplies, post signs and... price & tag everything. I'll post the details on Insta for the locals who want to come over.

2. Draw

I've been meaning to make and sell Conscious by Chloé products. I've finally made up my mind, now I need to work on the design and production. So first: design. I've been going on a couple inspiration trips and am starting to have a precise idea of what I want. So now, let's put in on paper!

3. Schedule talks and workshops

I've had a couple people and businesses contact me on the subject. And I'm having so much fun meeting you guys. Keep your eyes peeled for fun times ahead! Oh and if you'd like me to come teach a workshop or give a talk at your office, shoot me an email.

4. Cycle

We did some mountain biking this past summer but I haven't really ridden my bike (its name is Jean-Jean) in the city. Autumn is arriving very quickly and so will the rain, so I want to make sure I clock at least one long bike ride in Portland. There's this shop I've been meaning to check out for a while. Maybe I should decide that I can only go there cycling?!

5. Health Insurance/Accounting

We pay way too much money for our health insurance. A fellow French expat mentioned a solution. We need to take the time to study plans and figure out how to make the switch, so I scheduled an admin meeting with Octave at our neighborhood tavern. This will also be an great occasion to look into our finances since our last talk on the subject was one year ago!

6. Schedule some me-time
I've been asking the Zero Waste PDX community for their recommendations on chemical-free nail salons and spas, so now it's time to try them all!

7. Attend a Toastmaster meet-up
See #3. I've been postponing this for a couple weeks but would really want to improve my public speaking skills.

What about you? What are your goals for this week? Share them with me and let's motivate each other!

To-Do List #1

To-Do List by Conscious by Chloé

I'm back from a wonderful 2-week break I got to spend with my parents in Florida and I'm in full "back to school mode" - even though I have one more trip scheduled before the end of summer.

Since I'm long time lover of lists - I may or may not have a book titled The Art of Lists in my bookshelf - I decided to share my weekly to-do lists with you and use you as accountability partners give you a little glimpse of my day-to-day goals/activities.

I hope they'll inspire you to set up goals for your week, don't hesitate to share them with me. Let's support each other, shall we?

1. Answer Zero Waste PDX-related emails

I'm getting many requests to come speak at local businesses about my zero-waste lifestyle. I need to dive a little more into it, prepare presentations, set up rate sheets and plan these talks under the Zero Waste PDX brand. This will take time, so first things first, I'll answer emails and let people know when I'll be ready to take on this new project.

2. Sign up at the gym

The last couples months have been pretty hectic and I gained A LOT OF weight. So today I'm signing up for a 2-week trial at my local gym to try to figure out whether I'll be able to stick to it. I visited many studios and tried many different activities last year when I signed up for Classpass but I could not find the right fit or stick to one discipline. I think I need accountability, so maybe semi-private classes could be the solution? I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, don't hesitate to send programs/studio/gear recommendations my way.

3. Prepare farmers' market workshop

I volunteered to teach a natural cleaning products workshop at my neighborhood farmers' market next week-end and need to take a minute to get supplies, tweak the last presentation I prepared for the last time I taught it and promote it.

4. Repair Birks

I might have already done this one (you know that if you follow me on Instagram because I was in full back from "holiday/let's empty this suitcase and clean everything up mode". I'll post a full article soon if you're interested.

5. Sell iPads

I upgraded my dad's iPad and want to replace mine too (I actually might get a Kindle instead), so I need to post them on Craigslist or Facebook marketplace to sell them locally.

6. Paperwork for my retirement
You know, freelance life. I've been putting this thing on hold for... years. I have a deadline for September, so now is the time!

7. Meal prep
You've read the paragraph about the gym, so, of course, I need to work on what goes into my body too. Octave usually cooks, but I want to take control of the menus, so he might be the one doing the washing up for some time... My idea is to give the week-end meal prep a try and see how it goes. I finally got Andrea Bemis' book and I'm so excited to dive into it. Do you meal prep, how is it going?

What about you? What are your goals for this week? Share them with me and let's motivate each other!