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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A digital world…..

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Having just finished watching ‘Her’, I have to say it left me a little cold. I’ve been a digital specialist and lover of all technological developments for years now so I was surprised at how empty this film was. It is very possible that I missed the whole point seeing as it was very slow, long and extremely beige in colour, but it did start to make me wonder how much (or indeed, how little) emphasis we put on the real, physical elements of our lives.

Nearly all of us have Facebook and Twitter and most of us have Instagram. However, it seems the more technology is created, the quicker we become bored of it and seek out new realms of pleasure. The latest one I’m seeing people rave about is Tinder. This is a dating site, akin to Grinder, but for straight people. I can’t say I’ve been on it, but from what I hear it sounds a bit like a sticker album of singletons – a place where physical beauty gets you selected and anything less than that leaves you on the shelf. I may be being too critical here, but it is the same premise as ‘Her’. The main protagonist is unable to have real, physical relationships without picking holes in his significant other and, inevitably, pushing her away. Instead he turns to an ‘OS’ or Operating System.

He gets to choose her voice and the topics of conversation they have and ends up falling in love with, what is essentially, his own creation. The scariest thing about this whole movie is that I can see this happening. People are already able to command their computers and consoles with voice activation so how long will it be before we can create virtual partners? Someone who is always there when we need them, has access to the whole World Wide Web to obtain any information we require, and who has studied human behaviour so closely that they know exactly what to say and how to soothe us. The female OS in ‘Her’ is a bit like the robot in ‘Short Circuit’ – able to read books in seconds and offer advice based on what she has gleaned from her vast knowledge bank. She is even able to feign emotions based on studies and scientific research she has digested and spit out.

The whole film makes you realise what fools we can be as humans. That we are not as evolved as we make out and that all we really want in life is to love and be loved in return. The problem is that life and love are not that simple. I suppose that is what makes it fascinating, overwhelming and crucial to our existence, however, it is terrifying how much we crave to be a part of a couple and don’t, truly, feel content as an individual. We seek reassurance in everything we do (sometimes without knowing it) and we want to be the best at everything, including being the best partner for somebody – their one and only.

This film was really educational for me as it made me realise that we need to place more emphasis on being the best version of ourselves (I’ve mentioned this in other blogs and am sticking to my guns on this point!) We need to mend the cracks in our own selves before looking to someone else to do it for us. Relationships often fail and this is just a fact of life, but the relationships that last, and are good, do so because the people entering into it are content in themselves. They don’t feel the need to change the other person and accept their flaws along with their strengths. It is about finding someone who reinforces your strengths and doesn’t judge you for your weaknesses. This is what makes a lasting, loving relationship. It has taken me a long time to work this one out and is something I’m still working on, but I know that whatever happens in my own relationship I will be OK because I know myself and I never forget what I was like before that person came along. I know that my partner enhances me and my life, but he doesn’t make me who I am. The same can be said for him and how I am towards him. I accept him, warts and all, and don’t bother trying to change him (even though aspects of him truly irk me!) because he is who he is and if he can accept me, warts and all, then we are a good team. We support each other as best friends and don’t just concentrate on the outer shell. By trying to preserve what is INSIDE that shell, we have created something better than any computer system could replicate…….reality.

Reality is scary, but it is also tangible and losing that would be truly heartbreaking. Maybe we should focus more on what we can do ourselves rather than looking at technology to do it for us. I’ll always love technology and am fascinated by how it can save lives through operations and 3D transplants, as well as offering light entertainment. However, I’ll always love reality and how it makes me feel. Without human emotions we would be truly lost.

Light and love, people. Mimi Cat xox

La Vida Loca – Molly Moo

ImageI recently became the proud Mother owner of a French Bulldog puppy called Molly. For those of you who know me (and now those of you who are getting to know me) saying I’m a little obsessed with Frenchies is an understatement. Below is just a tiny example of how much I love them:

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Those are only a few of the French Bulldog items I own and, obviously, the tattoos were pretty extreme. I finally figured out, though, that if I saved up all of the money that I was spending on French Bulldog paraphernalia then I would be able to afford the real thing!

I trawled the internet and drove Mr B mad with my constant messages containing adverts with Frenchies for sale or pictures of cute puppies. Eventually, I found what I thought was the perfect one. A teacup Frenchie with a gorgeous mum and dad based in Leeds! I begged Mr B to go with me “just to look at her” knowing full well he would fall in love with her on the spot.

I need to quickly mention here that I’ve wanted a French Bulldog for years so have done lots of research and know exactly how much maintenance and financial backing they need. I knew we would get one eventually, but it needed to be the perfect one. After all, I already have Rocko cat, the grumpiest, fluffiest cat of all. He definitely takes priority in my life and I knew the nature of the dog would have to fit in with him. It wasn’t something we would rush into as we were well read on the subject.

Anyway, I digress. We went to meet Molly and she was perfect. The tiniest, snortiest thing I’ve ever seen and she went to climb straight into my handbag. I knew we had to get her. I paid the deposit and we went home to “puppy proof” the house in preparation for her arrival. Mr B took no persuasion as soon as he picked her up and she licked his face (something he lets her do on a daily basis now!)

Molly is a bundle of playfulness. A true pet in every sense. She is a terror, especially when she wants to gnaw on everything in site, including ears and noses, but she’s great fun. Even Rocko cat is coming round to her after a few months. He is 4 years old and not keen on anything apart from me and sleeping, but he creeps up to sniff her when she sleeps and chases her around which keeps them both fit. I think he secretly loves her, but he’d never admit it! 😉

Having a dog is a huge commitment, but it is also truly rewarding. I finally feel that I have a proper little family of my own. Two very different pets with VERY different characters and, yet, they are both adorable in their own way. I look forward to going home every night to the warm welcome and I don’t even mind the dirty work! I’m a proud Frenchie mother and can’t wait to record all of the exciting times we have to look forward to together (I’ll also be writing about Rocko Cat in The Adventures of Rocko Cat and Miss Mimi, my forthcoming children’s book).

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180220143480150220143471Light and love, people. Mimi Cat xox

I’ve got a lot of love to give

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Today is a day of mixed emotions for a lot of people. Some dread Valentines Day and others live for it. I’m kind of in the middle. When I was growing up I used to think, every year, that it would my year. Someone would drop a card through the letterbox or leave me an anonymous gift. It happened once and it made my day/week/month.

However, as I’ve gotten older I’ve worked out that this one day of the year is completely unnecessary and has become as commercialised as any other peak marketing day of the year. I believe that you should express love to those closest to you every time you see or speak to them. I never hang up the phone to Mr B or my family without letting them know that I love them. I will even ring back if I don’t say it as it has become so important to me. Little acts of kindness should not be reserved for one day a year.

Don’t get me wrong….it’s lovely to get that extra little sign of affection on Valentines Day, but it is not something I have come to expect as I did as a younger woman. I love all of those close to me and appreciate them hugely, especially the ones I’ve had to fight to keep in my life. Maybe we should all stop being glum or expectant on this one day of the year and spend the rest of the year being nice and appreciative to those around you.

Sorry for the lecture and have an amazing day, whatever you choose to do with it. I’ll be posting some reviews soon.

Light and love, people. Mimi Cat xox