Friday, January 4, 2013

Cat



While I am entirely a dog person, I have found myself thinking in a feline, Cat with Nine Lives kind of way. It started about a week ago when the glamorous Tabitha at Bourbon & Pearls revealed her current fetish (her word) for the romance of Russia. A lively dialogue developed in the comments section in which I mentioned having participated in a theatre festival in St. Petersburg during a cold, dark winter. The rippling surprise of her reaction encouraged me to remember that yes, I had done that and yes, it was an extraordinary experience. One that had been buried under the leaves of long ago. I tend to forget.

Remi hooked up the record player on New Year's Day. For some reason we hadn't bothered since moving in a year and a half ago, odd in itself. That evening, I sat on the floor with a glass of wine and flipped through the records slowly. More scattered leaves. Vinyl examples of personalities that are tried on, reworked; some kept guarded, others discarded.

In evolving towards Living to Work (being an actress in New York), then Living to Love (meeting Remi and moving to France), I arrived at Living to Discover (criss-crossing the world with him as a travel writer), all of which required different tastes and modes of being. How these things come and go, have come and gone. And it is the disappearing acts that have left me pondering.  

While I know I am not "what I do" and certainly not "what I wear" hopefully there is something brewing in the "how I am." I have worked over the past year on being more in the present moment. A greater appreciation for the small moments right in front of me has arrived out of that. But I have been so focused on the now that I am left feeling a bit bare. Some layers have been stripped out of necessity, it is true. Along with the down-sizing that we have undergone in the past few years, I have also down-sized...myself. I have kept my house swept a little too clean. Now I want to remember that it is perfectly fine to let those fallen leaves linger while I inch my way towards whatever is Next. There is nothing wrong with a little surface suggestion or a waltz with what has been.

Time to dust off an album, put the needle on the record and let the music play.


I know that we are all formed by our past and our previous choices but I am curious--if you wish to share--how much of your past has stayed with you? Have you changed much over the years? 


44 comments:

  1. Hi Heather,

    Sometimes you need to look back in order to move forward — especially during times of transition. You need to remember who you are and how you got where you are. Yes, we all change as our life progresses. I hope that I have become kinder, more patient, calmer, and less judgmental as I've aged. But the transition I am currently in — trying to find sustainable work that I love and making a sustainable plan for the rest of my life — it helps to review what I did in the past. What did I love doing, what were those passions that are still untapped, what were the good parts and how can I make them part of who I am now as I move forward?

    That young woman who went to St. Petersburg sounds very brave to me, an explorer. You are still doing that and I hope that I can be more of an explorer and adventurer in my own life.

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  2. Thank you so much Judith and how much I agree with all of your perspective on where you are going and how. I love that in our society we have the luxury of so many chapters--who knows what is next?
    Bisous,
    H

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  3. What a beautifully written post Heather, I love your description of the different stages in your life. Seems to me that we are continually enriched by new experiences that then become part of our persona. Of course we like to hang on to the positive bits, but the negative parts play a huge part too, and certainly make us stronger.

    You are still so young, with so much of your life ahead of you, it can only get better and better!

    I wish you and Remi the very best for the year ahead
    Sharon
    xx

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    1. Thank you so much Sharon and I wish you and yours, including of course Gibson and Ghetto, the same. I think what I have been wondering about the most is that I have let so many memories go, even the pride around the good stuff. That I want to rethink! And yes, I am only 43, who knows what chapters are next, as you well know...
      xo,
      H

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  4. YES, I have changed over the years.ITALY changed me for the better.Had to live there for a few years and well it wasnot easy but I grew into a whole new me!I would need a KIR ROYAL and you at a round bistro table to go into details but I definately evolved into what Iam now..........the contessa you know from a far!
    I cannot believe your hair is so short!When did you do that?BEAUTIFUL HAIR!!!!!!!!!!!!!BEAUTIFUL PHOTO!I wonder who snapped that!Perhaps, BEN..............

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    1. No, I did! Ben hasn't learned his way around the camera yet. :) And Contessa, you are a great example to me of a woman who is "bien dans sa peau"--good in her skin! I love that your experiences in Italy only made you stronger.

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  5. I wish some day we could all sit down and chat about the subject of life's changes or, as I say, cycles. And, of course, we all learn. Something. But I'm not certain we learn what is best, what we should do. I spent a long time looking for something, when I found it the fabulousness was there but, alas, very short-lived. I could let it ruin me and be in despair. But I haven't. Things are not perfect for me, but they are so much more perfect than for most people. Maybe I've taken the good life for granted. Perhaps it's time now to rejoice in the small stuff, as you've suggested. In the end family, friends, pets, your home, your perspective is all that matters. You matter a great deal to me, Heather, and your hair looks splendid !! It will grow back if you want it too, but I love the "new" look.

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    1. Thank you, dear Marsha. Yes, I remember now your interest in cycles. And that we learn something, not always what is best, strikes a chord with me too and is something I will think about. That and resilience.

      And my hair was much shorter when I cut it after I came back from the States! Chin length in the front and shorter in the back. :) Change is good from time to time.

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  6. Hello Heather

    Your various lives all sounds fascinating and so diverse. Oh to have a meeting of bloggers and to talk about our past lives and our re-inventions and the lessons drawn from these experiences. I most certainly have changed careers from the corporate world of travel and tourism to fashion design to art. Long time friends remark that I have mellowed.
    I find listening to old albums to be similar to going through photographs, both evoke and bring forth the past

    Best of luck in your "next" stage

    Helen xxx

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    1. It is true that we would have so much to talk about on this subject if only we could all get together! Helen, I always appreciate your perspective and it is amazing to hear of your many reinventions, if not surprising!

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  7. Hello Heather: What a lovely blog you have. You say that you are fascinated with my corner of the world. Well, your corner enchants me. I would visit France every year, if I could. My husband and I spent a week in Avignon and during that time took a midday dinner cruise up to Arles and back, through the locks. It was very hot as we wandered about the town, poking our noses into various corners. Another day we rented a motor scooter and visited the Pont du Gard (and swam in the river) and Les Baux de Provence. What a magical day that was, with the scent of olive trees, lavender and the richness of the earth filling our nostrils as we zoomed by. But I'm getting carried away here.

    The experience of spending 20 years in South America has enriched my life in so many ways, and continues to affect the way I look at life here in Canada and anywhere I go. I'm more aware of the little things that make up culture, and have an appreciation for so many of the things we in the affluent west take for granted. As Sharon has said, all experiences, both positive and negative, bear weight upon us. The way we use life's experiences is up to us.

    Your question is one that has made me think. I read your post this morning, but have not replied until the evening.
    I hope that, as you move into another outlook on life, you will be further enriched.

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    1. Thank you for your beautiful response and kind wishes, Lorrie. And I can only imagine what spending 20 years in South America must have given you--so many, many gifts and perspective. I feel that way about some of my travels in third world countries. We have so much to be grateful for! And you have also given me something to mull over: "The way we use life's experiences is up to us." Merci!

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  8. Is it looking back or cuddling what you've taken with you.
    I'm just as I was at seventeen with much less trouble, maneuvering, and elasticity.

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    1. See? That is why I asked and am so grateful for the responses. I am so very, very different than who I was at 17 in many, many ways. I am curious if my Mom would agree with me or not...

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    2. Yes, you are different in many ways, but the core of your being has not changed. You were a very courageous teenager wearing combat boots with a ripped up prom gown while living in a conservtive town. You never took the easy way and you still don't! Love, Mom

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    3. Yes, you are different in many ways, but the core of your being has not changed. You were a very courageous teenager wearing combat boots with a ripped up prom gown while living in a conservtive town. You never took the easy way and you still don't! Love, Mom

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  9. What a wonderful thought-provoking post, Heather! I love the phrase you used, 'bien dans sa peau'--good in her skin; perhaps because I've finally reached that point. I sometimes amuse myself by looking at old business cards (those tiny pieces of card stock that seemed back then to confirm somehow that I had a title and purpose for being)of mine and goodness I seem to have reinvented myself many times over but in each case what ever 'I was' for a period of time seems to have contributed or helped lead to what I am - I think I am better for each of those varied experiences. On the flip side,isn't it a joy to ponder what we might become in our next version of self? I can hardly wait to see that version of me!

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    1. Hooray! You are so inspiring, Jackie! I love it!! And I say to Remi sometimes, "Who knows what I will do in five years? Maybe I will be a chef!" which makes him laugh because I am way too lazy to be a chef--but it is fun to dream!

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  10. First and foremost, I love your hair Heather. Love the cut, curls and heft just by the look of it. Gorgeous!

    A long while back, I came across the saying "I'm not the same person I was yesterday and won't be the same person tomorrow". I don't know when I started looking at my life in the form of weaving a tapestry. And from the vantage point of now, unfolding what had been woven so far, I can see the lighter colors of the beginning, the weaves are not tight, crooked and unsteady at some places. Toward the middle years, there are richness in tone and color. Steadier weaves and velvety softness are starting to materialized. I plan to keep on adding finer strands and beautiful colors. At the end, I can roll myself into a finished blanked of a life well lived and fly away in it like the proverbial flying carpet, to that magical kingdom...:)

    xo Amelia

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    1. Oh Amelia, you gave me the double gift of inducing happy tears than a laugh! The idea of your tapestry is just one of the most beautiful metaphors for life that I have read in such a long time. Deeply, deeply moving...and inspiring. I will be sending this on to my Mom and Sister, I want them to see it too. Thank you.

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    2. Heather, I'm humbled by your acknowledgement. Also warm regards to your Mom and Sister.

      xo

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  11. Let's see how well lived life will be if I can't spell "blanket". My grammar was always bad, but can spell like a trooper, or may not anymore...:)

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  12. What a wonderfully provoking topic, dear Heather. I have enjoyed reading the varied responses.
    I am so, so different than I was in high school or as a young bride at 22. It seems, though, that those differences are as a result of understanding the psychology within myself and others, and the differences that experiences of all kinds bring. My greatest changes came about as a result of divorce and sports injury, and both forced a deep introspection. Change is most difficult because we humans don't really want to face ourselves. The irony is that we cannot really know what is in our hearts and souls without that search. It doesn't have to take a tragedy for that search to be initiated, unless one is as bull-headed as I! What a gift, however, that cliched 'search for meaning'. And yet...the core of me is the same little girl who grew up at the beach, with sand and the sea in my soul, who has blossomed (as my mom used to tell me!) enriching my life with cultivation of personal abilities and passions, as I could not have foreseen as that younger me. I am blessed beyond my own understanding, brought to tears at this moment for my life, my family and friends and for the energy within my soul that keeps me ever-busy with something new everyday, curious-er & curious-er.
    Thank you for your depth and skill at communication...those are some of your gifts!
    xoxo, Chris

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    1. Amazing. Thank you so much, Chris. This is just beautiful. I am feeling really humble reading these responses!

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  13. I just love the way you think Heather. I have thought of this often over the past years, often surprised at how similar my thoughts today are to those when I was just starting out. I had plans, goals and ambitions and if I had to make a list of the things that remain 'to be'...I imagine it would not be that different from the list I wrote at 20. This is the list outside of family, the personal one. An eternal optimist, I never say never...I prefer to think the best is yet to be. If you believe it in your heart, life has a way of surprising you. The trick is standing tall when the knocks come... it get's easier as you get older...only because you realise, at the end of the day, those little things that seemed monumental don't really matter at all. LIfe has to be lived, it is to precious to waste. Once you let go...the world is your oyster. :)
    A few thoughts from Chateau Mango...as always Heather, thank you for getting me to take the time to remember.
    Always a pleasure with you...

    Jeanne xx

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    1. Well, I love the way YOU think, Jeanne and certainly the bright light of your optimism. And yes, you have gone through so many changes in your life that you are solid in your perspective, it comes directly out of your own fascinating experience. I find it really interesting, especially in thinking about John Tierney's recent article in the NY Times, "Why you won't be the person you expect to be" in which he explains why people tend to underestimate how much they will change in the future compared with what changes they remember from their past. Not you. :) I will be looking forward to discovering what you will bring to your life and to others next.

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  14. I always knew you were a cat person in disguise.

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  15. Thought you might appreciate the title of this post.

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  16. I'm sure I've changed a great deal over the years, almost with each decade - at least I hope I'm not still thinking / acting like a teenager! I think new experiences are enriching, but of course one has to take up the opportunities for experience. Unlike you I have kept far too much of my past life and am finally getting to the point where I am willing - I want - to discard some of it. I'm also aware that since retiring I've gotten a bit lazy. I can't go back to my busy, ambitious 30s but I'm trying to remember some of the habits I had back then to see if I can't adopt those again. I'm finding that older doesn't necessarily mean wiser!

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    1. Oooh and how brave you are to admit it, Shelley! I agree with you and think that a lot of us let too much pass under the bridge just because we are older. I have also done a lot of letting go this past year, it feels good even if it is tough in the beginning!

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  17. I believe that our past makes us who we are. Maybe for a while we might forget details but they live within us, beneath the surface, covered by leaves, as you say. There are parts of my past that I am not proud of and that I have buried deep inside me. But sometimes it surfaces in my thoughts, in my dreams. I do not think we can ever forget where we came from. In short we are the summation of our past experiences, both good and bad. I hope that 2013 will bring you many new discoveries.

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    1. Thank you Loree, I wish the same for you too. That and yes continued creativity so I can enjoy your lovely writing. :) It is so interesting to me what you have to say about dreams as that is when parts of my "old life" tend to show up too! And often in a way that highlights things that either upset me or behavior that, like you, I am not proud of.

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  18. Perhaps the discovery of the "living to discover" phase is the penultimate point in life. I ponder. As I sneak off for a minute or two from the endless saga of packing boxes, to remember that there is a point in life other than filling boxes with memories. For I, like you, love to ponder those memories. Which is probably why the packing process is taking so long. "Oh, do you remember when?" moments are so very precious! xx

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    1. Virginia! You have to hurry up, Miss! You only have a few weeks left--if even! But I do agree that is the loveliest part of moving. We had to really rush in our last move and I missed that. Enjoy.
      xoxo,
      H

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  19. No. Way. We too just hooked up our record player and listened to vinyls this weekend!! My future FIL stopped by with a bunch of original Gainsbourg records for us that were played on repeat. Drinking wine and listening to records - I can't think of anything more relaxing and romantic. : )

    I forget details about my past lives and not everything has shaped me into who I am today. Just recently I shared with Seb that I used to be an intern for the Beastie Boys' record label - a detail of my teenage life that I had forgotten about because so much life has happened since 1996 - and he thought that it was a little strange that I had never mentioned it before, considering I'm going to be his wife in a few months.

    I'm glad that you explored your "cat" side. There is something to be said about having many lives. They are more than just chapters, they are volumes in a grand book series.

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    1. That is what I mean, Ella. There are things that we have done or been through that somehow get pushed aside in the grand scheme of things even though they were important at the time. I love the idea of each being its own book too. Hm, made me smile that. I know that you have had many different "lives" too--and have such great adventures ahead!

      Gainsbourg, originals? You win. :)

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    2. We had a day of mourning at London university the day M. Gainsbourg a parti #sigh

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    3. Ok, I am an Indian Giver. Sorry, Ella but tg, YOU win.

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  20. This was undoubtedly one of the most beautiful posts I've ever read, and of course it made me smile and think of The Siamese Cat Song :)
    I am ever evolving and ever changing, influenced by my surroundings and at the moment I'm thinking, "what's next?" x

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  21. Lovely post.

    Ravishing curls.

    Many lives.

    And it doesn't surprise us to read your mother's comment about ballgowns and combat boots (yes. Same here)

    Divine.

    Waving from Manhattan!

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    1. Why doesn't that surprise me in the least, dear tg? And I have started wearing combat boots again on stomping days. Proof that what goes around actually does come around...

      Sending good energy for your move, you soon to be West Coaster you.

      *Waving back from Arles, it is sunny and cold*

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  22. I too have been working on living in the now and being much more present! It's so much harder than it seems. I love what you said about Living to Work, then Living to Love, and now Living to Discover. I started at the living to love, am working on the living to work & living to discover ;-)

    Clare x

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