Week One in France

I have been in France a whole week! Hard to believe. In that time, we’ve managed to accomplish quite a bit, but we’ve also encountered some challenges…like a gas stove that isn’t properly regulated and is turning pots, pans, counter-tops and fingers black with soot. The oven won’t stay lit either. I imagine Stuart will fix all this when he has time (and can figure it out). In the meantime, I am being very careful not to place pots onto the counters after cooking something and am turning them upside-down until they can be scrubbed properly lest everything turn black.

We also had a mystery with the hot water which Stuart thinks he has now solved. The first night, we ran out around 6PM or so. We thought the hot water heater was busted and made plans for alternative showering, but the next morning, we had plenty of hot water again. Apparently, we’re on some kind of timer or something which has now been reset (so I’m told).

We’ve also had an upstairs bathroom sink leak through the floor to the dining area, fortunately caught early before damaging anything. Stuart says he can fix this too.

Otherwise, the house is quite comfy and embracing. Of course, our 50 degree sunny weather hasn’t hurt the last couple of days to make everything feel that much sweeter.

We knew we’d have lots to do and buy, so we’ve had to prioritize somewhat. Things related to food, sleep, and warmth come first: hence the fridge, bed, comforter, and fuel for the heater. Next comes the highly practical: power strips, trash bin, dustbuster, and things still to buy: hooks, bathmat, couch, lighting.  Eventually, we’ll start working on aesthetics: mirrors, more furniture, new towels. Then we’ll need to work on getting the gallery in order. And finally, we’ll get that guest room set up (we might just have to rent it out to stay afloat!). Then we’ll move outside, pretty things up a bit in the yard, and plant a garden.

A word about the gallery…

We have two rooms downstairs that we will devote to a gallery/studio. The plan is for Stuart to display his paintings (and mine too as I paint them) and be open perhaps one day a week during tourist season and by appointment otherwise. We’ll also use these two rooms to hold events. Stuart wants to start teaching painting again, and I plan to offer meditation and voicework. We might also sponsor house concerts or other creative events just for fun or rent out the space for others to use, although with limited parking, these will have to be small events. We drove around town a few days ago and came across another gallery near the lake, so who knows? Maybe we can make friends and have some kind of art crawl during the summer.

Image Source: Flickr Photo by: Thomas Hawk
Image Source: Flickr
Photo by: Thomas Hawk

For me the biggest struggle and greatest triumph happened at the grocery store on day one. I was feeling quite overwhelmed with the mass of decisions we were having to make, so I decided to buy myself some tulips. (Stuart offered to buy them for me, but I needed them to be from me to me…ya know?). The woman at the check-out was excruciatingly rude and impatient with my complete ignorance and scant communication skills. I became more and more flustered and felt about as big as a flea, shrinking with each roll of her eyes. So, after the transaction was done and I made my escape, I returned to her and pulled out one of my tulips…”pour vous madame”. That sweet, floppy tulip was too much for her pinched-up face to endure and a smile encroached. She thanked me. I got the sense no one ever does anything kind for her and that she doesn’t yet know how to do such things for herself.

I admit, her rudeness mixed with my exhaustion and anxiety had me fighting tears. Resolving my feelings in the moment and offering her that tulip took all of my strength. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Still, I broke down in the car immediately afterwards. It was a mixture of “Why are people so cruel?” and “How will I ever survive here?” but also of huge spiritual relief for turning the situation around for myself and who knows, maybe altering her life forever too with my gesture. I thank Matt Khan for sharing his perspective so that I had such a choice available to me when normally, I would have carried the weight of her for hours, making her wrong and wholly unlovable and hating my tulips for the memory attached. We’re all just human and in desperate need of kindness from others. In fact, the more cruel our behavior, the more love we need.Picture 69

Finally this week, I have set up my meditation room and office where I meditate and do my kundalini yoga every morning. I still need a few things to make the room fully serviceable, but the essentials are here. It is my retreat, my quiet sanctuary, and I am so grateful for it because the rest of the house is still a mess (and I’m not very good with messes!).

What will week two bring? Stay tuned…




The Hell that Never Was

This blog has been dedicated to my journey in a long-distance relationship and the challenges my partner and I have faced on our way to a life together. I’ve shared practical experience, frustrations, and deeply emotional stories , but it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. That isn’t because nothing’s been happening. A ton has been happening on so many levels!!! But it has been very nearly impossible to understand myself let alone write about.

Ever heard of Matt Khan? He’s an amazing being with a refreshing perspective that is a great relief to me. When he speaks, it’s kind of like hearing something that I’ve known all along and just couldn’t quite bring into consciousness. Matt’s most recent video had a big impact on me and helped me awaken to the realization that everything here in this blog is now part of the past. While it is recorded and here for others to read and perhaps glean from, it has nothing to do with me now. And that will be true of any post I ever leave here…even this one.

It’s stuff that no longer matters, really. The hardships, the traumas, the obstacles and frustrations…they are here for the world to read, but they are not here for me to cling to and relive. It has been difficult to remember that while things still felt close and very personal. But Stuart and I are totally different people now, having both grown so much this past year. We have many upgraded ways of thinking and feeling. We’ve both learned so much about ourselves and each other. And thanks to Matt Khan, I’ve come to realize that all we’ve been through is nothing more than “the hell that never was.” It may have felt like hell. And it certainly seemed like hell. But really, it was everything just as it had to be. It was just life…messy, surprising, unexpected, challenging and mysterious (and to be fair, some of it was “the heaven that never was” too…the unmeetable expectations, the bright-eyed fantasy, the blush of perfect romance and happily-ever-after).

Since my return to the states in August, I have been taking serious inventory. WTF happened? Why was I getting what I was getting? Did it actually have anything to do with me? Did I have control over anything? Where do I belong? What is it that I want? What’s my purpose? What must I change or simply accept?

For months, I’d been reliving that moment at the airport when I had to decide to stay or go within minutes. It was impacting my ability to make decisions, contributing to states of anxiety I hadn’t experienced in years, and set off all kinds of irrational and negative thinking that I have sometimes successfully and others times not so successfully managed. It had become the dark lens through which I began to see our future, too. Thoughts of, “this is never going to work” and “we just aren’t meant to be together” echoed in my head.

Matt’s words helped me to re-imagine that worst moment of my life differently.  After months of flinching at the memory, I was able to remember it all with new clarity what had transpired before and even after, with love in my heart and a deep knowing that is was perfect. I was able to celebrate everything I was feeling in those moments, to love the airport and the people there, to love the inner battle and confusion I felt then and ever since, to send love back through time and space to the me I was then, and to acknowledge that something not only survived to live on but was learning a great deal in the process…the dream hadn’t died. It was still breathing!

Having reframed that experience, there was no stopping me. I started reframing everything (yes, me the woman who wrote a book telling other people to reframe). I felt like a kid who had finally learned to whistle after trying and trying with no success. You won’t believe what happened. The very next day, Stuart put a deposit down on our new house! Just like that. After months and months of searching. After months and months of everything being so damned difficult. After months of feeling like I would never belong anywhere ever again, had lost all purpose, failed miserably, and didn’t know which way to turn.

I wondered when in the thick of it if I’d ever understand why things played out the way they did…if I’d ever feel gratitude again and come to recognize the gifts that came with the pile of crap. I told myself some day…maybe. Who knew someday wasn’t as far off as it seemed?

I entertain no delusions that going back will suddenly be a piece of cake. It’s going to take work, and there will be the same issues to face…language, bureaucracy, constant unknowns! But I’m a lot more sober now and about 10x stronger, and having laid the accumulated past to rest, there is a new lightness and breathing room once more to start over.

So to anyone who’s feeling like there is no light at the end of the tunnel, I can only say, “you’re in the hell that never was” and the way out is loving it all.