Saturday, October 24, 2020

A toast to ten years

 

It was my favorite kind of moment.

A storm rolled out of nowhere and the rain came pelting down, mere seconds after I tucked myself inside my front door. A little laugh caught in my throat at the joy of it, that escape from being drowned. And yet, the sun was dogged and quickly burst through despite the continuing pour; skies exuberant, clouds la vie en rose. Such is the life in Provence. 

"A toast, " I rallied. "A toast to my good fortune." And so I skipped up the steep steps to my kitchen and opened up a split of champagne that a guest had given me at the hotel. It was, admittedly, something that I had been saving in hopes to share with someone special, for it was a good bottle. But oh, I am learning - and forgetting and learning again - that I am most certainly worth the bubblies, the gifts, the good meals, the love, all just for myself. 

Boots kicked off, I stood in the open doorway and watched the rain battle the sky. But of course the light won. How could it not, while I held champagne in hand? With the coupe just under my ear, I could hear the static of popping, like a shell to the ocean. A car swivelled into a parking spot across the street and the young man stretching out of his car looked at me quickly, then away. "Yes, this is me," I wanted to reassure him, "a bit of an oddball, a bit of a beauty. Me." 

You see, I am talking about that kind of moment. 

When all of the relentless noise and doubt is tamed by hope and breath. 

I had it, tonight.

A week ago, a dear friend called me out for the negative talk that I was casually spewing about myself. I can do that, as a kind of blanket cover (not a shield) when I am feeling self-conscious. That digging to hear, "Oh no, of course not, Heather, don't say that, you are..." But she didn't take the bait. Instead, she pulled me aside and in a tone beyond stern, she vocally shook me: "You have to stop doing this to yourself. It isn't making anything better." Just as the following day she would admonish, "What kind of message do you think that you are giving to women when you say such things?" (i.e. "I am old...I am fat...I am not pretty anymore) "What kind of message are you giving to me?" 

I thought about that on the train home, holding my breath, socially-distanced. Also that these words came from the same person who had surprised me by buying my Birthday lunch, hence, a real friend. Tough love can be true love. Hot tears descend my cheeks as I type. They aren't sad.

What kind of message do I wish to give? To myself? We define ourself by our thoughts expressed. We can release wings or build cell block cages. Which is it to be? 

I now see growth not as that perpendicular ascent that we (certainly we Americans of my age) were taught at school. University then hopefully marriage plus children and career. A home. Cars then better cars. Savings. I have known none of that by name but the first and the second as its own version of something real, until it wasn't. Does that lost love haunt me still? It does. Am I scared by the lack of the rest? Often. I have no net and sometimes I would just like to rest, confident.

Ten years ago to the day, I started this blog because I was truly lost. Then, it was in Arles. After what still remains to be one of the most difficult years of my life. My Dad's death, losing the first house that actually felt like a home, the gallery with it. But you see, despite my fear, I am a fighter. So I started this space as a way of climbing out of the well. Just me writing to me, trying to make sense of all of the emotions that rattled my cage on a daily basis.

But then, you arrived. You know who you are. I cannot name you all. I don't know how most of you found me. Probably through links from lovely women such as Vicki Archer and Sharon Santoni or Ann Mah. It was so fantastic how we supported each other then, as now. 

I know - as they say too - that I have the best reader family. But I truly do. I win! We win. We do. I actually was recently stunned when I was shown statistics proving how loyal you are. And yet not in the least surprised. Because between us, it has always been about what is real. We can't do it any other way together. 

Do you remember when I was so scared to tell you about my separation? When I was convinced that I would lose all of you and yet you ALL stayed? You, my second family, have been through everything with me...or more acutely, we together have been through so much. Such incredible happiness when I shared with you the immense history of Provence, the day to day delights of such a life, the pain, losing Rémi, losing Ben, starting over, beginning dating again and my efforts at building this new life, on my own. For me. 

And with you as well. I know that I am looping in a circle around my learning and my growth. And yet, I feel so held by your love. That loop is, nonetheless, moving in an upward spiral. Can you imagine that? We have never met and yet I love you and you (I believe) love me. My ex did not think that it was possible for me to have real connections and friendships with you. Over and over again, you have proven him wrong. I have slept on your couches when I have had nowhere else to go; I have eaten at your tables.

So while in some ways I feel right back where I was ten years ago in my questioning, I know that is a good thing. It is just another twirl forward. I don't doubt you for one second. And I promise to keep trying to doubt myself less too.

With the last drop of champagne, I toast us for these ten years spent together. Cheers. I raise my glass to the now sapphire sky.

And on we go. 




With all of my Love and Gratitude,

Heather



What dreams are now...what dreams are next?


20 comments:

  1. Sublime. Congrats on 10 years - amazing! This is the most beautiful post; so proud of you and all your achievements, not the least of which is your beautiful writing and photographs!

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  2. Congratulations dear Heather for the past, present and fabulous future beyond. xx

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  3. Congeatulatiions and I loved this post. You are indeed very special.
    Helen

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  4. Cheers to your blog anniversary!
    Cheers to friends that will call you out when they see you doing damage to yourself!
    Cheers to realizing your growth and a continued path forward in thought, word and deed!
    Cheers to YOU. YOU.
    Mwahs, T xx

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  5. "And on we go." Thank you for sharing your journey with all of us. I, too, feel like I have a friend here. Sending love right back to you.

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  6. Congratulations on the 10-year anniversary! Sticking to anything for that long is an accomplishment, but a blog that is as honest as yours takes inner strength. Stay well my friend. xo C

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  7. CHEERS!!! Thank you for all your generosity in sharing your life with us. Sending you all the love.

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  8. "When all of the relentless noise and doubt is tamed by hope and breath". Heart swoon.

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  9. You are such a winner, survivor, philosopher. Who can resist you? Carry on, carry on.....
    bonnie in rovence

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  10. 10 year? Woohoo! You're an amazing woman, on an incredible journey. Thank you for allowing us to join you along the way.

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  11. I love your words and your vulnerability Heather. You are welcome at my table or on my couch anytime. It was great meeting you last year. Until next time ...whenever that will be x

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  12. such important growth. thanks, we needed that.

    Here's to the 10 !

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  13. Hi Heather
    10 years of Lost in Arles, it really is unbelievable. Congratulations!... I wish I could have shared a glass of bubbly with you and gotten silly with the giggles. I will toast you from here.
    Namaskar
    Bernadette

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  14. We are never back to where we were ten years ago, or even yesterday. We are always, always moving onwards. Onwards!

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  15. Congratulations Heather. I hope you will continue to share your lovely photos and truthful dialogue.

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  16. Happy blog anniversary. I am so glad you find the time to write, to share your thoughts, to help us spiral towards the light.
    Last year would have been my tenth blog anniversary but I didn't count it as I had started a new blog 2 years ago. And, yes, I too am not kind to myself sometimes. I feel like I want to achieve so much more. So your words encourage me and help take a few tentative steps towards some new goals.

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  17. Ten years! Congratulations! Life is an adventure. Many unknowns. We each just have to enjoy the ride.

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  18. Family, as someone wise once told me, is not always defined by blood relationships.
    For all that's horrible and wrong in the world at any given time, one of the lovely things is the true friendships that have grown among people who've met one another via blogs. Sometimes we meet in 3-D, sometimes not, but the caring and support is there.
    Congratulations, big gigantic enormous congrats, on ten years.

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  19. Happy blog anniversary. I have not been with you the whole time but have gone back to read most of what you have written over the years. I am older and in a different place but so much of what you write about is so relatable and inspires me. I hope you will continue.
    Darby

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