Monday, May 30, 2016

Across the lines



It was quite a surprise that I suddenly wanted to take pictures again. So I picked up the camera for the first time in many months, cradling it to my chest with one hand in-between the clicks, happy to see again. 

That is a gift that you gave to me. Yes, you. Your comments and emails of support and understanding are like a talisman that I always have in my pocket, just in case. I thank you with all of my heart. It is freeing to know that I can share and that being 'alone' is an illusion.

What wasn't surprising, not in the least, was that I would love my friend Elizabeth, La Contessa, in person as much as I have through communicating across the lines, over the years via the internet and eventually, due to her insistence, on the phone. She invited me to come out West to change my mind and then some. Maybe to shift perspective and pick up a bit of strength on the way. 

I could feel the smile spreading up through my throat, across my lips to raise up my hand in a goofy wave as soon as I saw her at the terminal, waiting, searching the crowds for a redhead, possibly in a caftan. It was a recognition, a "Hello you" of a friendship made solid, something that would only intensify over the days as I fell head over heels for her and her antiques-filled (and I do mean filled) home, her charming Italian Husband, her winsome Corgi named Winston and even, astonishingly, a wise cat named Theodore (just don't tell Ben and Kipling). That all of this was to be found in California only added to the sweetness.

It was a champagne bubble of a week filled with everything that I like.

Did that pop when I returned back to reality? It did. I realize constantly that I am in the early days yet. But, when courage has been instilled it cannot so easily be stripped.


And so too, on this Memorial Day in the States, I think of the men and women who have crossed truly frightening lines, fueled less by inspiration but something lit like freedom. I thank them as well.

"The question is not what a man can scorn, or disparage, or find fault with, but what he can love, and value, and appreciate." 
-- John Ruskin

A thought that I held onto tightly on that day in February when I flew out of Paris?
There is a horizon always above the clouds and it is shining blue.

****
*For those of you stopping by because of Elizabeth's unending kindness? Thank you so very much for being here. If this post or the links are a little too cryptic, you can find out more of my recent story by clicking here. Bienvenue...

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Unfolding the bloom




I think that today I am ready to tell you what is going on. I have been ghost-dancing around this decision for quite some time now. 

I hope that you will be patient and understanding. Because more than ever I realize that "the only way past is through."

So. I am writing you from the United States. Michigan, to be precise.

Remi and I are "taking a break" or a trial separation, if you prefer.

Do you remember when we had the head-on collision in the beginning of January? While we both were so fortunate to walk away physically unscathed, it became apparent, within days, that a lot of important emotional issues had been shaken loose and brought to the surface. 

While the details of those issues only concern the two of us, the outcome was that we would take these months apart. To be clear - we did not fight, both of us are at "fault" for lack of a better word and these are issues that developed over a long period of time.

However, I can tell you that I did not see this coming and I was devastated. It all happened quite quickly. This is, by far, one of the most challenging periods that I have been through in my life. 

I miss Remi, our home, Provence and our dogs.

But. But, this is an opportunity. And I am taking it. 

My friend Stephen joked that I was going to "rehab" before I got here and that is really kind of perfect in its way as I am taking a good long look at my life and my behavior. Stripped of so much of what has been my world, there is plenty of room not only for introspection but also for action.

And so that is what I am doing.

I am incredibly grateful to have had a safe place to land. My Mom and her Husband have welcomed me into their guestroom, my Sister is close by. They have literally held me up when I needed it.

At 46, I am learning to drive. I am petrified, especially after the accident, but am breathing through it. Actually, so much of what I am going through is about facing or "leaning into" my fear (as the very wise Tara Brach puts it) and shining a light into the dark. That includes my well-being so I started therapy and am attending Al-Anon meetings. My Sister has sponsored me for a class in Tibetan Buddhism and I have started meditating. I bought a stack of books before arriving to help me understand me better and have been reading voraciously. My tennis shoes are getting put on every single day as I exercise. My diet has been completely shifted to eliminate inflammation (more on that soon) and I have lost over twenty pounds, safely. I have never eaten so healthily in my life. My pen is my friend as I have been journaling again. And alcohol has been completely cut back so that I can think straight and hear my heart. I don't want to hide. I am learning so much.

On Monday, I ran into someone that I had not seen in a few weeks who said, "It makes me really happy to see you doing so much better, Heather." That felt good.

Many of you have been through this or similar or harder already in your lives. I am well aware that this is just my current story but I wanted to let you know about it before diving back into the beauty of Provence. Of course I am going to keep the blog going, am staying up to date on all that is happening and prepared material before leaving - such as these photos of the magnolia tree in the courtyard, taken with the hopes of one day having the courage to make this post happen. I didn't talk about this sooner only because I was a) frankly too much of a mess to find the right words and b) afraid that I would lose all of you when I admitted that I wasn't in France. But again, I am tired of fear running the show. I also remember how you remained loyal during those months when I was in the States for visa reasons in 2014. And it is just better this way.

Yes, I do have a return ticket for France.

Do I know what will happen? I have no idea. But I am doing my best to stay positive and open.

Let's keep moving forward then, yes? 

It is never too late to unfold the bloom.

****

To those of you that have known about this, thank you so dearly for all of your kindness, wisdom and support. 
Some of you have gone above and beyond, including an amazing friend who I am going to meet very soon...I may not post for a bit but not to worry, I will be having a very good time!
Thank you so much for being here and I ask that you are considerate of all parties if you leave a comment, much appreciated. Your responses to my previous post made me feel wonder-ful and full of hope.











Be well.

Bisous,
Heather

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Let's remember, love wins



Hello there, today's post is about Provence in the visuals only. The text is an appeal for a cause that will touch many of you though, so I wanted to write about it. If it isn't your thing, no worries and see you soon...


 Our personal stories can take up so much of our head and heartspace that the rest of the world can seem so far away. Of course, it isn't really. We forget sometimes. That we are all connected.


Mes amis, I know that some of us have been going through really challenging times of late but think about it for just a moment, most likely it is nothing compared to what is happening for the refugees in Europe (wait, don't leave just yet for there is something really positive and happy in this post). This is the most drastic situation of displaced peoples since WWII and it is horrific and far from over. As most of us already know, these are folks like you and me who had homes, jobs and families but were forced to leave everything behind to flee the atrocities of war or chaos. For so many of them, all they want to do is go home but to one that is safe and sound. As borders have closed, many are trapped in a no man's land and are literally starving. The situation is far more desperate then it was last year when the media brought it to our attention. In some camps, the percentage of women and children by themselves is staggering (65% in Idomeni in Greece), the number of children that have been separated from their families and are now alone in this world, heart-breaking.


As many of our biggest humanitarian agencies are either not able to offer effective help or are unable to fill the needs, Glennon Doyle Melton formed the Compassion Collective along with Elizabeth Gilbert, Cheryl Strayed, Brené Brown and Robert Bell. You can read more about the amazing work they are doing here: http://thecompassioncollective.org/


Since last fall, they have distributed 1.4 million USD in aid - every penny of which goes directly to assistance as they are working with specialized groups directly on the ground so there is zero overhead. Among their many life-saving projects, they are currently feeding 6450 refugees a day (!), providing tents, clothing and light in the darkness but after a massive donation of 714k, the funds have now run dry. 

So today, May 3rd, is a drive to prove that Love Wins. Because who is making the difference by sponsoring this collective? We do - yes, just normal people like us - by giving $5 to $25 (the maximum limit of the donation as this is not a competition about who gives the most but about us being in this together). By doing so, you can literally help save lives. Their funding for Refugee Rescue in Greece, for example, is essential - over a three-day period, these partners assisted 25 boats and helped 1200 people safely to land. That is just in three days! And, as the Compassion Collective is ever expanding its reach, this drive will be the first to also benefit America's homeless youth. Those statistics are frightening. Again, you can get more of a specific breakdown on who is being assisted and how by reading here.  The personal stories and the photos included are amazing as well.



So I hope that you will consider helping our fellow human beings who are suffering mightily, if you can. And if you can't make a financial donation, would you consider passing along the word about today's event? I would truly appreciate it. If you are seeing this after May 3rd but would still like to help out, not to worry, it is never too late to do some good. I know that this situation seems so huge as to be impossible. But it isn't - especially if we reach from person to person, just like we know how to do best.


You have already shown me over and over and over again that you are a loving, caring community. 


If there is one thing that I am sure of, it is that love wins.

For more information or to donate, please click here:


Thank you so much for reading,
Heather

 *PS. In no way am I affiliated with any of the above, I just believe in this and the good it can do!