Going Back to Lyon

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Last week was a real trip down memory lane for me. It marked 11 years since I moved back to the UK after living in Lyon, France for a year.

Various things went through my mind before and during the trip. I wondered if anything would seem familiar, if I would feel emotional and how confident I would be with speaking French after only speaking snippets with friends over the last few years.

As soon as we arrived, I found out the answers to all of the above questions. It turns out a lot has changed since I left and the place was barely recognisable up until I got into the city centre. I have to admit that my eyes filled with tears when I stepped onto Place de la Bellecour, the heart of the city centre, for the first time. It hadn’t changed one bit and I started to notice lots of the places that were once home for me and felt a wonderful sense of familiarity finally. The French came back to me immediately and my confidence levels were much higher than when I lived there. This is due to working as a linguist in the UK when I moved back and chats with my French friends.

This was the first big trip I had taken with my partner and it was maybe a strange choice due to quite how overwhelming my emotions were at being back. Memories of a huge and important chunk of my life came flooding back and there was almost too much for me to tell him about. My mind raced and I became a bit of an emotional wreck for the whole week in parts.

The last time I was in Lyon I was 21 year old student. That 21 year old me had no idea what the next 11 years would hold. She definitely didn’t think they would contain so much sadness and pain that at points she no longer felt the will to battle on. She was full of hopes and dreams that were continuously dashed up until this past year when things finally took a turn for the better. One of those better things is my partner, who, despite not knowing me throughout those years, knows of my struggle and how important it was for me to go back to the last place that I felt truly happy.

The trip was wonderful and it soon became clear why I went back…..because I needed to bridge the gap between then and now and make new memories that would carry me forward in this brand new chapter of my life that seems, so far at least, to be a happy one. There is still a lot of work to be done and this will continue throughout my life, but building up a happy memory bank for the tough times is such a wonderful natural way to keep on top of things. I couldn’t have chosen a better person to go back with as this new chapter will heavily feature the gorgeous, strong and brilliant protagonist that is my partner. Thank you, Kelly.

Then – 2004-2005                                                                                                                     Now 2015

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Why Charles Bukowski is a Genius

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I first experienced Charles Bukowski when I read ‘Ham on Rye’. This semi-autobiographical novel turned my stomach, filled me with anger and enabled me to feel empathy all at the same time. Experiencing so many emotions from one, fairly short book, surprised me. I felt shocked by some of the things that I read, yet I was also fascinated by the fact that someone had laid themselves so bare for all the world to see. For so many years now, writing has come naturally to me. It is as natural to me as thinking and breathing…..in fact, it is an extension of the elements that make me whole, yet I’ve always shied away from laying myself and my emotions bare for fear of being judged. Don’t get me wrong….from time to time I have written raw and gritty pieces that I have gone on to delete, not knowing what impact they may have had on their reader OR if they were even read at all (such is the anonymity of the world wide web). Bukowski was a very troubled man, an alcoholic, womaniser and someone who struggled with his temper. These are generally the characteristics I loathe in another human being, but the force of his words AND the wisdom that comes with them made Bukowski like a drug to me and I was opened up to a whole new world of thinking….one in which expressing madness and raw emotions was not seen as a weakness, but was seen as something empowering. There is a reason why Time magazine of 1986 described him as “the laureate of American lowlife”.

Whenever I read Bukowski (on a daily basis, in snippets), my emotions are stimulated. He seems to perfectly entangle every positive and negative aspect of life – from relationships through to sex and everything in between. His self doubt seems to know no bounds and in this I seek great comfort.

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I think that throughout my entire life I have been crippled by self doubt. I’ve always felt that there was someone better out there than me and, fairly often, I have been treated that way and this has fueled the negativity even more. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realised that there may be people out there who are better looking, richer, more popular, but that is really irrelevant to my life in the long run. What I have to offer to the world and those around me is unique and that’s what makes me me. How other people feel about me is fairly unimportant as long as I believe in myself and offer the best version of myself to the world. I’ve found this approach now attracts the right people to me after years of attracting the wrong people who have abused me because they didn’t understand or like themselves very much. Don’t get me wrong, there are days where I feel like a vile, insecure mess, but that is usually just for one day and then I pull myself together, do some stern talking and get back to the real me that thinks she is good enough. A certain amount of self deprecation keeps us grounded, but it is important to get the balance right. Noone loves a whiner. Good, old Charles taught me that!

He also taught me that belief in yourself is the only thing you can truly own. Being lonely is a curse and one that a lot of people have very little control over. However, it is worth noting that too many people have never experienced true lonliness. I have and it was a time that I have decided to use to my great advantage because I know that I was the one who saved myself from it, noone else. You are in control of so many more elements of your life than you give yourself credit for. As soon as you stop expecting other people to make you whole, prevent lonliness or build you up, you will discover just how powerful you are as an individual.

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So many people think that Bukowski is a very depressing read and, to some extent, they would be right in thinking this. However, it is all about perspective. I see the negativity, I relate to it and I take the message from it, without dwelling on it for too long. For me, Charles Bukowski is inspirational and leads me to a deeper sense of understanding of the soul…..my soul. He talks a lot about sex and control, but he also explains that without a deeper understanding of yourself you can never fully appreciate the wonder that is a physical relationship with someone. Anyone can have sex, but if you are not in tune with your body AND your mind, you will be left wanting. Finding yourself (cheesy as this sounds) leads to much deeper and more meaningful relationships with your own soul as well as the souls of those closest to you.

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I could probably talk about Bukowski all day and I’m pretty sure this won’t be the last post I write about him, but this is just a little bit from my mind today. It only scratches the surface, but I’m just testing the waters to see if anyone feels the same about this man and if more posts would be warranted.

Light and love, people. Mimi Cat xox

 

Killing karma

It’s been a while since I posted. What happened? Life, I guess….or my lack of living it to the full. I let worries and my unhappiness stand in the way of my passions and I’m sorry for that. Sorry to me, but not FOR me.
As I’ve said before….we are the kings and queens of our own happiness so I’m putting my crown back on and taking life by the balls!

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Charles Bukowski said that. He also said “find what you love and let it kill you”, but we’ll focus on this quote for now.
I’m now in my 30th year of being and what have I learnt? Well….understanding myself has been the hardest, but most rewarding lesson of all. To not understand yourself, your mind and your passions is a crime indeed. I don’t hate myself, loathe the skin I’m in OR ever want to give up. I’ve done all that and now I’m working on focussing on the positives.
Realising that good things CAN happen to good people is a skill I’m yet to learn, but after the past few years I’ve had (I say “had” rather than “lived” as I don’t think I truly did live for a while….not properly anyway) I’ve started to turn things around.
It’s all about believing in yourself. If you don’t then how can you expect others to believe in you? Try not to fake it as it will only end in disappointment all round. Truly believe, even if only in spurts. People are attracted to openness. Don’t get me wrong….there will always be someone trying to put the boot in no matter how hard you try to please or avoid them, but they’re not your people. Surround yourself with good people, positive vibes and keep trying. Never, ever, ever give up (think I’ve mentioned that Churchill bloke before using this quote, but he was good).
Life is what you make it, nothing more, nothing less. Take it from one who knows. Keep going on your own path and good things will start to happen that may even last a lifetime.
Must dash….got some life to live!!
Love and light, people. Mimi Cat xox

Doggie day out….

ImageReecently we took Molly on an adventure to Hebden Bridge. The home of crazy creatives, duck races, beautiful countryside and amazing organic cafes, we set out to introduce Molly to as many of these attributes as possible.

We started out at the Fox&Goose – a cooperative run pub that is dog friendly and full of charm. The owners were all sat around with their dogs, playing cards (the owners, not the dogs!) and welcomed us wholeheartedly. They are in the midst of redecorating and installing more top-notch facilities, but the warm greeting and cold beer were just what we needed.

A lovely gent in there told us about the Lamppost Cafe down the road – a dog AND human friendly cafe and boutique with homemade food and the promise of a photo of your dog going on their facebook page! We trundled down and were not disappointed by what we discovered. The owner welcomed us and said that, although they had run out of most of the food, they would be able to rustle us something up. We chowed down on homemade baked beans on toast and delicious carrot cake, all washed down with their yummy coffee.

Molly gobbled up a cheese “pup cake”…..homemade dog treats served on gorgeous plates. The whole place oozes home comforts and relaxation. There are dog beds and water bowls dotted about the place and there is a huge emphasis on dogs being a wo/man’s best friend, however it would be a gorgeous place to eat and drink without your prized pooch.

Molly was a huge hit and has lots of likes on Facebook courtesy of the lovely photo the owner put up of her on their page. This place is a firm favourite with me AND Molly alike. We are looking forward to our next visit.

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Light and love, people. Mimi Cat xox

 

Never give up…..

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My mum bought me this card last year. It was at a particularly difficult time in my life, when I was questioning nearly everything I had grown to understand and trust as true in the life I was leading. It really made me think and has almost become my mantra ever since.

It is obviously true to say that everyone experiences hardship in their lives. Whether it be financial hardship, poor health or loss, we have all experienced it at one time or another. Some of us seem to suffer more than most, however. I know that I have met people who sail through life and always seem to be in the right place at the right time (even if they don’t deserve it) and others, like me, who suffer at almost every turn. Don’t get me wrong. This is not a pity party of one I’m starting. It is just the acknowledgement that life is different for everyone. On my better days I truly believe that the harder life seems the more rewarding it can be.

That seems like a strange statement to make and I know that I have tired of the hurdles and uncertainties of my own life on more than one occasion, but I also know that when I’ve experienced something positive it feels really well deserved. Continuing to fight for the life you want, in spite of negativity and barriers, is the most rewarding thing a person can do. It is when you lose the fight that life loses all of its potential rewards. I don’t believe in making your own luck or any of that nonsense. I believe that good fortune is hard won and should never be expected or taken for granted. Those of you who always get what you want and live an amazing, lucky life are not living a truthful existence UNLESS you have fought for it. I honestly believe you need to experience true misfortune to be able to appreciate true fortune.

My fortune is my family. Without them I probably wouldn’t try as hard as I do to keep jumping the hurdles that my particular life throws at me. They are my backbone, my solace and my most trusted counsel. They are ceaseless in their belief that I will “get there in the end” as I have so much to offer and always offer encouragement and a reality check when I need it the most. My sister and mum are always on hand to instill a sense of perspective in me when I’ve lost sight of what’s important. They are family in the true sense of the word. Pulling together when it is the most necessary, and yet natural, thing in the world for them to do. They have never shielded me from the harsh realities of this world, but have done their best to prepare me for the hard knocks of life and have always, always been there to pick up the pieces, even when I’ve gone against their wishes. Not expressing disappointment or passing judgement have been essential tools they have incorporated into their roles as caregivers, even when they probably feel those emotions internally at times.

That being said, I have to live my life on my own and face things that I don’t want to face at times. I will have to struggle and learn throughout my entire life, but knowing I have had the best start to life and the best support network is my most treasured possession. This all may seem a little obvious, but it’s sometimes important to recognise the things we can’t control in our lives that make us the luckiest….and the richest. Family is one of those things.

Light and love, people. Mimi Cat xox