To Carolyn From Paris

I have said this before and it is still true that one of the best things about blogging are the friends you make online. If you are lucky, you may have a chance to meet in person and tonight was one of those magic nights where once you get past hello, you laugh and talk like old friends who have been sharing secrets forever.

Kim and I have been reading each other’s blogs and corresponding through email for longer than I can remember and I have always enjoyed her blog, Sassiland where she writes mostly about her life in Paris.

I was totally enchanted by her romantic heart when she went to the gravesite in Paris where I’d left my wedding bouquet when John and I were here on our honeymoon and I loved how she took the time to send me a photo showing me that my flowers were still there several weeks later.

Back in April of 2009, I was pleasantly surprised to see a message on another blogging friend’s site directed at me. While on a trip to Paris in 2009, Carolyn, who blogs at My Sydney Paris Life had chance to meet Kim and together they sent me a little message that you can see here.

Tonight after being treated to a lovely dinner at a Paris café by Kim, we snapped a photo for Carolyn who is home in Australia. Well, we think she’s home in Australia now. Carolyn is such a woman on the move it can be hard to track where she and her partner Clive might be and although her blog is about more than just travel, if travel tips are what you need, her space is loaded with great planning ideas.

I took the photograph below in the evening light of the café so it’s not my best work, but I think the message on the map is clear and that’s what is important. (Hello Carolyn, wish you were here)

Elizabeth & Kim

I have to say too that Kim very thoughtfully remembered my birthday with a sweet-filled cup that I loved at once. If you followed the extension posts I wrote about John giving me a room of my own for a writing studio then you will understand her reason for choosing the one she did.

It was a wonderful way to bring our Paris visit to a close. Margaret and I will be seeing the last of the sights tomorrow and then we’re off to Cornwall to rest up for John’s birthday followed the next day by Margaret’s. Thanks for following us around Paris this week. I hope you’ve had as much fun as we have.

Some people go to priests; others to poetry; I to my friends.

~ Virginia Woolf



Revealing Almost All

I spent my early years in what my therapist would later refer to as a war zone. My armor, my exoskeleton, and my daily protection, was found inside the pages of books, some of which sit on the shelves you see. As a child I disappeared almost completely into the stories and lives of characters who for better or worse, lived a life I wished to be a part of as they seemed more desirable than the one I struggled through. Although my life changed for the better in every way not long after my fourteenth birthday, books have remained constant companions and books in abundance require bookshelves of some sort.

John has created a marvelous space for me and built bookshelves exactly as I wished them to look. Having had built-in bookshelves that were filled to overflowing in four rooms of my Atlanta home, I had to do a big sort through as I could bring only those that mattered most to me when I moved to Cornwall. I gave away piles of books, offering them to friends after boxing up more for my book-loving daughter than she will probably want in the future. The rest I sold or donated before shipping what you see here.

(A view from my desk)

Nothing is placed without thought on my shelves and I wanted to share a closer look in the direction of a few special areas. I am always curious when seeing a friends bookshelves for the first time. Feel free to look around mine if you wish and thanks to all who have shared my enthusiasm and excitement as this space has grown from a garden space in the backyard, to a warm and welcoming work space.

A Room Of One’s Own And A Bathroom Too

I have a secret I’ve been keeping from some of you and now that things are taking shape, I feel inclined to share the news. Remember what Virginia Woolf said about a woman needing “a room of one’s own” in order to write fiction…well guess what John is giving me. Yes, that’s right four walls that will exist just to serve me and I get to make all the decisions about fixtures, color, decor, flooring, anything and’s up to me. Now if a room of my own wasn’t enough by itself…John decided I should have an en-suite bath as well.  As you can see by the building plan we’re actually adding two bathrooms so instead of the bath and a half we currently have, there will soon be three bathrooms and a loo. (half bath)

I can’t begin to tell you how loved I feel by John’s decision to add on to a perfectly reasonably sized 3 bedroom bungalow in order to make me feel more welcome and at home. When I came over last May for three months, he totally restructured the closet in the master bedroom giving me the bulk of the space, later he added extra cabinets in the bathroom and bedroom for me to have enough storage for all the things a woman uses on a regular basis, then he added bookshelves and space in his study for me before revamping the kitchen and later installing more cabinets for my kitchen things that should be arriving any day now.

John’s been so caring and considerate, commenting more than a time or two that he knows how difficult it must have been for me to sell off my things and leave my home and family and move here to live with him. He’s done all these things without my asking, suggesting, or mentioning anything about space.

It’s a tremendous gift he’s giving me and I’m not just talking only about a room of my own. I had an awareness the other day as I was making decisions in my head about how I wanted to do certain things. Having never had the opportunity to design a space from the ground up, I realized I was placing limitations on my creativity out of habit as I’ve always had to work within the framework of those who’d gone before me. The more I thought about this, the more I saw a pattern in some of my creative writing…as in too safe and too predictable. So you see, this room of my own, my quiet place for writing fiction has already has given me a bit of the freedom Virginia Woolf spoke of when she wrote about all the circumstances that kept women of her day from being able to tap into their creative voice. Going forward now, I need to remember sometimes the limitations are not those placed on us by outside conditions, but rather the internal ones we create for ourselves.

I’ll be posting updates in the building process weekly and I hope you’ll come back to see the progress.