Sunday, April 11, 2021

Writing a Love Letter...for me.

 




My darling, my most beautiful,

It is the middle of the night. I should have been in bed long ago but I cannot help but write. 
For you see, I want you to have these words. And only letters they might be, scratched out with a long-tipped pen and yet they are indelible, something that you can keep.
Forever. Like a locket around your neck. Or a perfume on your skin.
Do you remember? I want to tease you a little bit, to play a trick, to see how far back your memory goes.
For I can see you now as you were then. When nothing of life's disappointments and surprises had not yet touched you.
What joy shone from your eyes. Do you remember what that felt like? That one odd summers day when you let yourself dance in the rain because it was the only thing to do?
I do. Pure and whole and shining brighter than the sun under those drops like diamonds because wonder filled your body, young and lithe. 
So alive. This is still who you are. This will always be who you are. 
I have a favour to ask of you. Just in this moment, can you put your hand over your heart for me? Either hand, no matter.
And now, what does it feel like if you close your eyes and listen? To hear with your ears, yes, but also with your emotions. Because I am here for you, as you breathe, to hold anything that arrives.
Those disappointments and awkward moments. The things that you lambasted as failures. I know. They made you want to hide but no chérie, please don't. 
Because when it all comes down to it...our bodies may change, our hopes and desires...but what is at the base of all that is your heart, our heart my dear one. 
We may gain too much weight or lose too much. Our bodies and eyes, those captors of dreams, may sag. But we do not. 
Can you hear me, my love? Can you feel me embracing you as needed, exactly as you are? 
You deserve no less, for despite your challenges and growing even when you thought that you had passed such an age, here we are. 
I need you to take care of yourself, in the big and the small. Yes, we once walked across Manhattan in a snow storm to buy ourselves the only gift that we could afford at Tiffany's because we knew we deserved it and wear it still. It was Valentine's Day and there was no lover in sight. 
Yes, when we can we spread the best ointments on our skin as a gesture that is hopeful to continue. We listen to jazz. 
How it moves me when you, the best of me, hears me singing Sarah Vaughan.

I am writing this letter to promise you, my one of all ages, that I love you. 
Not only the idea of me, the one they tend to fall for, but the real entire. 

I will ask my last favour but pay attention even if it seems too simple. We both know that life is rarely such and yet, possibly, oh so giving. Can you, my dear, upon waking say (either out loud or to your inward heart) five things that you like about yourself? Can it become a ritual that you create everyday so that no one else defines you but you? For there is infinite delight in your waking, each breath.

Just like the dawn I find before me now.

How beautiful you are. I close my eyes knowing this to be true.

I love you.

-Me. 

















*****

My Mom, who is biased but not as much as you might think, believes that the above is one of the better things that I have written.

Admittedly, I was relieved to hear it as this was a commission from someone whom I have incredible respect for, Victoria Fantauzzi, one of the co-founders of La Bella Figura Beauty.

“I have never felt that we’re just a brand. We’re educators, artists, environmentalists and women with vision. We don’t isolate ourselves into believing that we only bring one thing to the table. There is a diversity of talent within our company and I think that's what it takes to build a team. We’re a library of resources and I want to reflect that into everything we do.”

I love her above quote and I most certainly do think of her as an artist. I was moved to tears by smelling "Love" one of her current trilogy of perfumes, Love, Loss and Lust. She and her partner Karen King search the world for the very finest ingredients for their products. It is who they are.

I first connected with Victoria through our mutual friend, Jamie Beck, who is a muse for the house and the inspiration behind the brands best-selling (as in each batch is sold out within 24 hours) illuminating rose oil. I watched an Instagram live between them and wondered who is this whirlwind Victoria?

So, yes, I was deeply moved when she asked if I could write a love letter. Of course I could and when I sat down to do so, I instinctively understood that what she was asking for was actually a love letter to myself. My friends...this was no easy feat for me. I have been through so much, my confidence has been so beaten down.

And yet, I found that if we all listen deeply to the heart of who we are...well, that goes far beyond the surface of whatever particular changes or personalities we might be inhabiting at the moment. I spoke to the truest of myself here. And I know that person to be good.

These photos were taken with wonder in my eyes on a random spring day. 

May we all feel that when we can.




*Those of you who have been reading me for a long time know that I never do sponsored posts. It was I who asked permission to share this letter with you. *



I offer such love as hope to you on this new moon which is all about new beginnings.

It is never, ever too late to begin again as long as hope lives. 

I believe in myself as I do in the blossoms, in the changing sky and that is a start.





With much Love from a luckily expanding heart,

Bisous from Provence, springing eternal,

Heather





Thursday, March 11, 2021

Flowers like warriors



She was walking towards me like a soldier. So upright with two greatly wrapped packages of flowers clasped within her right arm tightly, an orange Hermès scarf (the signature colour of the maison) hung in loose folds, perfectly aligned to shroud her cashmere kissed neck. 

"Bonjour," I began with a friendly head tilt...Already she was surprised, ready to stride by this unknown person but she glanced at my Sonia Rykiel bag, a totem from another time and so allowed my gaze as such to settle while I continued in my most carefully articulated French, "Excuse me, but where did you buy those flowers?"

You see, I was in need of such flowers because I was in need of Spring. Hungry for it actually and nothing that I had in my current pharmacy - no music, no spices added to eggs, no charming flirtation would do. 

She again eyed the clues of my outwardly presentation to see what what would do as an introductory phrase. "Well. There is a man who sells these. I think that he as already left his usual spot. On the Place des Corps Saints..."

"Oh, the kind man with the cart?" I exhaled with a bit of a relief. She looked again at my handbag once more.

"Yes." Pause. "But he must be gone from there by now. If you are lucky you might find him in front of the Rue de la République. Perhaps in front of Sephora."

I found that latter bit of information a bit dubious or worse, an insult. Something of a worm on a line to an American fish in warm water. But, after a quick merci, I followed the bait to the store (with a gaggle of sparkly face masked adolescents waiting in front due to COVID) but he was not there. Without success and yet curiosity lifted, I continued on towards his usual address. I am not often wrong with my instinctual GPS.

And yet, no. But yet, yes? For out of the corner of my eye (quite literally), I spied a swirl of colour, floral through and through in a side street two steps beyond.

Think of his cart as if it were a very large dining room table, one punctuated with iron vases holding nothing but the most glorious flowers. He is a known figure in Avignon. As he does not have the expense of renting a shop, he can offer so much beauty at a lesser price, all while reeling it around, charming the passerby.

Surprisingly, his cart was pushed up entirely against the entry of a Creole takeaway shop. Reggae was pulsing beyond the counter. He was chatting busily with two other customers, both female, already clutching bouquets. Each were sipping out of tiny plastic cups.

I took a turn around the cart, sizing up the options that were available in equation with my desire. I am a white flower woman usually as they bring me much needed peace but on this day his light pink roses gave me the bisous that I needed them to.

"Can you forgive me for interrupting your coffee break long enough so that I might buy this bouquet?" I offered. I know very well in France, even after all these years, that I might well be met with a very hard refusal. A "non." 

"You could but as I am not drinking coffee that would be complicated." He offered this calmly but his two other clients began to giggle.

"It is Ti-punch. Do you you know it?" he asked. Indeed I did, having tasted it in Cayenne in the French Amazon. It brings quite a hit, that spiced rhum. And true, sometimes we need this particular heat now, in some form or the other. A swift kick of feeling to remember and not to forget.

While I declined his offer, I held within me that gesture of kindness as I headed home, roses tucked down-facing under my arm. So big as to be superfluous and slightly preposterous. "These are Liza Minelli roses," I thought. "End of a long show hardness...yet still here." Then I hummed a bit from "Cabaret." It might have been, "Maybe this time."

The paper rustled, the thorns pricked. There was a barely perceptible waft of the petaled perfume.

Once in the door, I cut the package open and it felt like I was doing the same to my heart. These flowers like warriors, coaxing me forward. Not yet towards hope but just on to the next day when that might seem a little less of an insult to the current state of affairs. A stern statement of pink propaganda propped in an antique vase.

Each morning upon waking I glance over to their shadowy forms in the half dark to see if their heavy heads have fallen. Not yet, not yet, not yet. And so I pull myself up from under the covers to make my coffee. To start the day and so doing, begin again.


You can hear an audio recording of the above post: here.


This seems such an incredibly odd moment as we accept that we have been through an entire year of COVID and that we are the very lucky ones to have survived. For many of us, we are only really beginning to understand the heft of that now. Plus all that we have lost - or no - otherwise.

There are no simple words that can make anything right again save our intentions which may drive us. 

Please, I ask of me and of us all...may we find our way to believe. In such small moments, we strengthen an undeniable truth that there is still good to be found. May we try. 

Soon to come, gently, maybe or not...we can ask what we might have gained.










With all of my love to you. 

Be kind, be safe, be well. Be you.

- Heather





Monday, March 1, 2021

Delicate strong


Delicate. We are as delicate as this bud. I forget that sometimes as I warrior on, that my body is what is actually advancing me through on a very literal level. No matter what my emotions or intentions, my body does the work.

A few evenings ago, it was raining softly, the pavement sleek and glistening. My foot slid across a steel manhole cover. I lost my balance and slapped to the ground, hard. A tiny woman, bound in black, dropped her groceries and came to me at a run. I stared at her, incomprehensibly. "You must get up now," she stammered. "Let me help you up." She offered her hands. They seemed detached from her body but willing. I gave my head one long shake, gasped a breath and took her fingers in mine. 

She offered to walk me to where I was going but thankfully the shock was fading, my wits were returning, albeit surreptitiously. I declined, thanking this stranger profusely for the kindness of connection. Of one human being looking out for the other. And then she was gone, disappeared into the veil of rain.

Again a breath, stronger this time, one that allowed me to take stock. My right knee was burning but my jeans weren't ripped, my right wrist was throbbing and there was a cut on my left palm...but that was it. No real damage. It was just a fall, finally. I fished for a tissue in my pocket and patted at the blood. 

My favourite security guard at the grocery store greeted me with his usual elbow bump and reassuring smile. I don't know his name, nor he mine but over this past year we have grown to having a quick check-in upon seeing each other. In the worst of the first lockdown, to ward off fear, we would build up each other's confidence by saying, "We are still alive!" And yes we are, still. What grace, what gratitude lies within that now. Sometimes he will wink when he says it. Somehow there is an understanding between us. We both sense that we are, for different reasons, lucky. 

Coffee, wine and cheese...the French necessities. I could not leave without them and began to limp slightly as I made my way home. It was not until the next morning, pausing on the steps up to my mezzanine, that a deep twinge made me rethink what it is to have health and how incredibly challenging it must be to live with physical pain on a regular basis. 

"Thank you, my body." 

It was a sort of prayer. Thank you for all that you have seen me through. When I have fallen to the floor from heartbreak, my heart/our heart did not stop to beat. I got up again. So while we may be delicate and capable of bruises, how too we can sing, readily with the sweet sap of spring. Arriving. 



Hello my friends. My apologies for those of you who come here for the photography...there is more coming! I just have not dealt with it yet but it has felt really wonderful to start taking photos again. For now there are words and well-wishes within them.

I am sending much Love and Gratitude.
May we stay strong and loving and kind.

xo
Heather

Friday, January 22, 2021

Hunger for light



I want light. I am hungry for it.

Just a pure shot without doubt or fear.

Run through me, run through me, pulsing fast my

dear, how I need to know you (are) here.

Can you this, more than all stand right after a fall

beyond question of grace but something

like a loving squall

holding back but letting in slowly?

That old question, dusty, of trust worn, rusting but searching.

And so we are born.

A coin sent turning, a debt on our table, direct to the fall. Gold and yet not at all.

It feels like something of a stir, a wind, one clear note, singing in its spinning.

And with that face up landing, how you rise to rise.

This is light.

What you knew all along, ray braying through.

Grateful for this nearly lost possibility. 

Grateful amidst the godness of you.



You can hear a voice recording of this poem: here.



It's a new day my friends.
The undertow is still as such but we in our beautiful hearts can start to heal as much.
Ok! Sorry for all the rhymes! 
I will get back to my regular posting style soon.
Somehow, with the enormity of everything that has been going on...I haven't been able to attack it otherwise than through the gesture of a wider written word. 
Hope that makes sense.
Love to you.


With seriously an ENORMOUS amount of love and gratitude from Provence,
Heather
xoxo



Friday, January 15, 2021

Blackened gold

 
 

The gates were open, then brutally, closed.

My burnished heart had sung to you; longing despite the heavy weight of memory.

There was a willingness to risk even while uncertain that nothing can last beyond what is inherently broken. 

I tried. Freedom, I tried to not say "Good" nor "Evil." To have empathy, to live compassion.

"Don't point the finger. Do not lay the blame."

But my eyes cannot take back the violence that I have witnessed, one incited under a vile guise. I replay the tapes incessantly.

Beating, laughing, beating.

This is also who we are. But not who we have to be.

The ultimate division is not moral, finally but a chasm within our collective humanity warmed and waiting.

"Love" is no liar but now I remember "Hatred" - that fire-breather, roiling, so quick to claim.

How many tears I cry in the shadow of the gallows.

My soul is blackened gold. 

Bitter yet bright shards remain.


You may find a spoken version of this post here.

And please do see below.











Thank you for reading this far.
I was deeply inspired to write this after the attempted coup of January 6th not only after finding one burnt out window in the streets of Avignon but more by one of my favourite stories by a great teacher, Tara Brach:

"The Golden Buddha: Remembering Our True Nature
One of the stories I’ve always loved took place in Asia. There’s a huge statue of the Buddha. It was a plaster and clay statue, not a handsome statue, but people loved it for its staying power. About 13 years ago, there was a long dry period and a crack appeared in the statue. So the monks brought their little pen flashlights to look inside the crack — just thought they might find out something about the infrastructure. When they shined the light in, what shined out was a flash of gold — and every crack they looked into, they saw that same shining. So they dismantled the plaster and clay, which turned out to be just a covering, and found that it was the largest pure solid gold statue of the Buddha in all of southeast Asia.
The monks believed that the statue had been covered with plaster and clay to protect it through difficult years, much in the same way that we put on that space suit to protect ourselves from injury and hurt. What’s sad is that we forget the gold and we start believing we’re the covering — the egoic, defensive, managing self. We forget who is here. So you might think of the essence of the spiritual path as a remembering — reconnecting with the gold . . . the essential mystery of awareness."






We may feel burnt (I have honestly been very down and I am worried about the days to come) but we still have light within us. 

I am holding on to it tightly. And will try to share it forth.

With great Love and Gratitude,

Be well. Stay safe. Be kind.

xo Heather






Sunday, January 3, 2021

Swans

 


I stepped onto the bridge. The sky was grey, the air cold but humid. My hair was sticking to my scalp under my wool bonnet. I folded into myself, boney arms dangling and walked out midway to gaze. 

This New Year's Eve, I was longing for a view. 

How it felt to breathe in openness after having been so constricted. These months which passed without passage. But the summit of the Mount Ventoux in the distance was shrouded in fog or perhaps falling snow. So I inhaled and let my eyes go soft with lack of focus. It was definitely not the first time I had found myself here. A kind of cure. Or a cure of kindness, much needed.

This past year, 2020, was my year of Solitude. The Great Battle of Isolation, one could say.

How do I dare to make a comment of it when so many have lost so much more than I? 

And yet, there were times, in all honesty, when I felt that the pillars of the necessity of my existence had crumbled. I stayed for community, for my beautiful family foremost and the tiny gleams of searching that let me believe deeply that I was not done yet. 

Everything is relative. We choose to forget, or to remember, all the time.

What is astonishing is the part of our hearts - my heart - that signals the beauty of life no matter what. How it keeps our blood pulsing on. If we are so lucky as to be able to pay attention to its call.

So that particular afternoon, I lifted my gaze and focused. 

And there, just beyond, floating underneath the last arches of the broken Pont d'Avignon, I saw two white sparks. My eyesight, which had always been impeccable until this year, made me question but yes, there they were. Two white swans. A pair for life. 

There are never, ever, swans upon this stretch of the Rhône.

And this, finally, was the recognition of what I had been listening to since the Solstice. Initial whispers to be heard of a shift and yet of something, finally, moving as strongly as the current of the river rushing below. Light like hope amidst all uncertainty. All inhumanity. Such a contrast against the shadows love brings.

Will those swans, with their exaggerated elegance but also biting, occasional mindless meanness...will they get us through?

I took them as a beacon, quelconque...perhaps, you shall too.


If you would like to hear my recording of this post, you may find it: here.








Well, my loves. We are still in this and yet I am so hopeful.
Let's keep looking for the moon amongst the clouds.

Every day, if we choose, we can be grateful for whatever little bit of good there is in our day.

With Love and Gratitude, always...always, always.

Be safe, be kind, be hopeful just because you can.

Love,

Heather.