Wednesday, 20 October 2010


I drove home from the supermarket the other day pondering what I wanted to blog about this week. The trees were turning gold and fiery- that would provide some great photos, the mushrooms were pushing through the damp grass – a recipe for risotto perhaps? It was then that I was suddenly struck by a huge sense of déjà vu; I’ve been writing my blog a year and am in danger of repeating myself!

This week we’re hosting ‘Art from Imagination’ with Nicola Slattery here at Les Cerisiers but one of the guests, the hugely talented and generous mixed media artist Milliande Demetriou has been here a few days already. We’ve been chatting about our desires to live authentic lives – lives that reflect who we are and what we want to get out of our time here. Having been discouraged from pursuing an artistic career at an early age, she trained in the sciences. It has taken a while (but she got there in the end) to reconnect with her creative self and live the life she chooses for herself. Milliande has got me thinking of how authentic a life I am now living.

It was only a couple of weeks ago that I stood in the barn alongside a group of wonderful North American women belting out the lyrics from Edith Piaf’s ‘Je ne regretted rien’. What a powerful song. As I understand it, the message is that everything that has gone before, the good, the bad, the painful and the joyous, all combine to create where and who, we are now. There have certainly been a few painful moments along the path to setting up the really big dream company – most of these connected with France Telecom and plumbing (the house’s, not mine!!) but some connected to self doubt, fear of failure, being overwhelmed by the amount to do and fatigue. There have been a number of times when I have had to take myself outside into the orchard and give myself a stern talking to –
‘OK, if you think it’s too much effort just pack your bag, put the house on the market, go back to the UK and get yourself a 9-5 office job’.
I come back at myself with –
‘But I love it here. It feels right. I’ll just concentrate on one or two things for a day or two and see how it goes’. I then come back inside ready to get on with things. The ‘being authentic’ for me, is simply knowing that being here, surrounded by this beautiful valley, living in this inspirational space, feels exactly right.

In all the running around, setting up events, marketing, publicising, cooking, cleaning, organising – I do sometimes forget to ask myself what I’d like to be doing for me (why is it we so often put our own pleasures, hobbies, indulgences to one side?). To remedy this I’ve set up a writing group with a couple of friends and our first assignment is to enter a writing competition with the theme of ‘Paris’. I’ll be taking as my subject another woman who lived an unconventional yet ‘authentic’ life Colette. As well as writing about Colette, I’m also planning on spending a bit more time ‘in the moment’. It is easy to spend time analysing what has gone before. It is also a habit of mine to focus on the future, what I want to do, whom I need to contact, etc. But amazing things happen when you are completely in the present. I went and sat in the barn the other morning – carefully selected the chair I wanted to sit in and then closed my eyes. After a moment or two I heard a scuffling and opened my eyes to see that a coal tit had somehow flown in. I watched as it flew from one end of the barn to the other, clutching to the stone interior walls to reassess the situation from time to time. Despite opening a window, the bird flew into a pane of glass, stunning itself. I picked it up and cradled it in my hands gently stroking its head. We sat, both of us surprised by the close presence of the other, for several minutes before the bird flew off. Before it left in pooped on my hand – my mum says that’s lucky!
Sketch by Milliande Demetriou

1 comment: