Melanie Jarrell, author of “Refinement of Manner: Manners, Etiquette & Elegance for the Twenty-First Century Woman,” has enjoyed a lifelong passion for etiquette. In this interview of Discover Lafayette, Melanie discusses the important influence that her grandmother, born of French parents, played in her life as a young girl growing up in Lafayette. As the hostess of many events of a social and political nature, Melanie’s grandmother exemplified the do’s and don’ts of French protocol and modeled the behavior of formal etiquette to be followed in a public setting.
Reminiscing with delight as she recalled her memories of her grandmother’s closet and bedroom, and the exquisite scents of fine French perfume which always lingered in the air, Melanie provides an inspirational account of her love of French mannerisms and the culture’s focus on slowing down and savoring the delectable experiences in life. Lessons learned through her own experiences led Melanie to understand that slowing down and adopting a “less is more” attitude underlies the French way of living and leads one to instinctively refine your manner and edit down selectively to enjoy and accomplish what is truly important in your life.
Of particular interest in Melanie’s message to this writer is the joy of focus which is achieved by slowing down and taking the time to figure out what is important in your life journey. Figure out your own mission statement, take the time to make a list of what you truly want to accomplish. The accomplishment of the impossible is possible when you dig deep, focus on the few things that matter to you, and quit wasting time on the frivolous things which won’t matter a year from now or 100 years from now! She quotes Walt Disney, who was beloved for his ability to rise above the doubt of naysayers and who persisted even in times of doubt. As Mr. Disney stated, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”
Her book took shape as she began to compile her experience on the subject while spending a summer visiting her sister Jennifer in Paris. Over several years, she wrote memoirs on her French upbringing, researched all the well-known “subject matter experts” such as Amy Vanderbilt, Emily Post, Judith Martin, Lillian Eichler, and Letitia Baldridge for their particular rules of etiquette, and read scores of biographies of women of rank and social status. However, in the end, Melanie Jarrell developed a twenty-first century class of etiquette she calls “Refinement”. She claims a robust library of first-edition etiquette books and searches for that obscure, unknown author to add insight into the lifestyle of the refined woman.
You may purchase Refinement of Manner at amazon.com or listen to it on Audible. If you are interested in entering into an adventurous, intentional personal development journey, Refinement of Manner is a must-read!
Melanie Jarrell is also CEO of Environmental Strategies, which helps companies in the oil and gas sector manage all compliance obligations. She has been a consultant to small and mid-size companies during her twenty-five-year tenure as an expert in the energy field of regulatory permitting, and oil spill response. As we discussed during the interview, “steel-toed boots by day, ballet shoes by night!”