Inspiring Women: meet Marie-Hélène Cossé of Mid&Plus
Inspiring women: Collaborative partnership with MidetPlus.fr
Writing stories about the lives of others is a privilege.
Even more so when it is the life of a compassionate, energetic, optimistic French woman. A woman who spends her time delighting in finding, meeting and writing about other courageous, dedicated and inspiring women. I introduce to you Marie-Hélène Cossé.
Marie-Hélène feels she has reached her goal to be now, in her mid-life, doing what she was made for.
Marie-Hélène Cossé: her vision for women
Daily we find ourselves confronted with global news, “99% of which is just terrible” says Marie-Hélène. This overexposure to human atrocities and economic crises creates a mindset of “ambient pessimism”. Simultaneously, more women are holding positions of power: Theresa May, Hillary Clinton and Angela Merkel to name a few.
Whilst none of us believe that we can change the world ourselves, Marie-Hélène says: “…the future is more than ever hazardous, changing, worrisome and we need positive and optimistic information more than ever. Why not imagine the day that women would lead a less violent world.”
[the midetplus woman] is no longer ‘the daughter of her father’, ‘the wife of her husband’ or ‘the mother of her children’. She is just herself or on her way to becoming herself
In this environment, Marie-Hélène Cossé decided that, upon turning 50, she would “…talk about the beauty of the world, men and women, all the humble heroes contributing to a better world. I also realised that for me that turning midlife, it was time to give back.”
She goes on to say: “Today’s world is fast. Very fast. People are reading on their iPhones, tablets or computers. News is immediate, short and percussive. Websites will replace printed newspapers soon.”
“In France, there was no website dedicated to midlife women with quality articles dealing with optimistic, positive and creative information about the world seen through the eyes of women.”
“I created MidetPlus.fr for the woman who may have kids, but they are almost gone. She is no longer ‘the daughter of her father’, ‘the wife of her husband’ or ‘the mother of her children’.
She is just herself or on her way to becoming herself and she has so much to say, to share and to transmit… if she DARES!” says Marie-Hélène.
Her life before
Curious about Marie-Hélène’s background and personal life, we sought to put her creative seizure into context. What we discovered was a long professional career of more than 30 years in a fast-moving male-dominated environment at law firm Cleary Gottlieb (Cleary) in Paris.
I had great fun in my career with few regrets…But I’ve discovered that the only person I never took care of was… myself!”
“I joined Cleary when I was 20, having decided not to graduate – despite the pressure from my father. Law firms in the 80s were terribly misogynistic environments and I thought it would be easier to become the office manager, essential to the organisation, rather than a female lawyer, very often despised by clients.”
“Half my friends at the time stopped working after being married and having children, which I never did,” she said, “today in law firms half the lawyers are women but not half the partners!”.
Taking the leap
So how did Marie-Hélène transition from a successful career as a ‘Directrice administrative’ or office manager to leaving the law firm then establishing the Mid&Plus website? She joined women’s networks, which she discovered to be very powerful. She found that one woman introduces her to others “if I need help or advice, the doors are always open”.
In fact “…it was through an inspiring successful French woman, Mariannig Ferrari, the founder of Nomador.com (the sharing economy, pet-sitting and house-sitting site) that I was introduced to Judy MacMahon and the inspiring engaged, positive community and magazine of MyFrenchLife.org”.
Marie-Hélène claims to not be a feminist but she’s always been envious of men’s lives. She has four children and speaks of juggling the challenges of taking care of everything and everyone: being a good mother, a good wife and a good professional office manager. “I had great fun in my career with few regrets. My children are now normal happy adults. But I’ve discovered that the only person I never took care of was… myself!
This is my only regret: today this has changed my life! I am number one on the long list!”
Lessons on life
I’m curious what we can learn about how to put yourself first, so I ask Marie-Hélène for advice. “Time for self is a priority,” she says. She walks, reads and enjoys silence in nature to relax. She practises yoga every morning for 15 minutes and walks her dogs for 30–60 minutes daily – two hours is a must during holidays.
Marie-Hélène suggests that there is freedom to be found in controlling your own schedule! “I used to spend 1.5 hours commuting daily and now I do what I like where I like. Importantly the ratio of work versus me time in my life was 80:20, now it’s 20:80 – more time to meet great women!”.
As MyFrenchLife™ fondatrice, I speak with many inspiring women who have changed their lives as Marie-Hélène has done: changed due to adverse circumstances or because of a personal desire to make positive changes. I find that many women I know have transformed their lives, for the better and sometimes due to their interest in France and the French language. I love their stories!
Who are your female inspirations? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Inspiring women: collaborative partnership with MidetPlus.fr
Here at MyFrenchLife™ we have pleasure in announcing our collaborative partnership with French site MidetPlus.fr to produce this new series: ‘Inspiring women’.
This article first appeared on MidetPlus.fr and we have translated it into English for your added pleasure: publishing in both, French and English
Mid&Plus takes a decidedly positive view of women in the world and produces wonderful portraits of inspiring women.
This collaboration enables you to read this series of inspiring life stories in French and in English here on MyFrenchLife™ – MaVieFrançaise® magazine and also to visit midetplus.fr for further inspiration.
We hope that you enjoy it.
Meet these ‘Inspiring women’: Spirit . Strength . Stories .
Claire Basler – artist
Zahia Ziouani – conductor
Alix Baboin-Jaubert – pilgrim
Tina Kieffer – journalist
Hannelore Cayre – author+
Virginie Taittinger – femme champenoise
Zeina Egho – face of exile
Catherine Soulas-Baron – French etiquette
Veronique Mirieu de Labarre – accessories & talent scout
Diane von Fürstenburg – designer
Rosaline Jomier – literacy
1-2 courtesy of midetplus.fr
3-5 courtesy of Marie-Hélène Cossé via Instagram
Really interesting article Judy! It’s so true though that women are often juggling more than one role and have such high expectations within their role as a female. We have it tougher than some may think. It’s essential for other women to take on the advice of Marie-Helene to put oneself first, very inspiring words. There are so many female inspirations in the world who I look up to and who have truly empowered women. However I think one that springs to mind would be Princess Diana. A true representation of a strong woman who maybe felt trapped by certain aspects in her life, but still succeeded in what she truly believed in, leaving a long lasting legacy.