Often people that criticize your life
are the same people
who don’t know
the price you paid
to get where you are today.
On one Christmas evening, I wandered around our village; a tiny pittoresque Provencal town, sheltered by mountains all around. That night, we were surrounded by thick, soft white fog, clouds hanging so low that the mountains were hidden. There wasn’t a soul in the village, everything was closed. I wandered around the narrow cobblestone streets and enjoyed the total silence, the fog covering me like a blanket.
I was all alone but in that moment, not lonely.
Then I saw warm Christmas lights blinking in the only shop that was open, late at night on Christmas Eve. It was Bacchus, the tiny wine shop of Bagnols. An elderly gentleman, the owner, greeted me as I passed by, and wished me happy Christmas. Why was he working on Christmas Eve, I asked.
But this is not work, it’s my passion, he answered earnestly. Such a great answer.
A warm and charming person full of anecdotes, he invited me for a wine tasting. There was a white wine nicknamed the Ferrari (there was something fastsharpred about it!) to go with oysters, and yet another white characterized as a Rolls Royce (taking it luxuriously slowly), to go with gambas. The Ferrari to be served icy cold, whereas the other should be no less than 9 degrees… How do the French do it, I ask myself, they turn every meal, every event into an artform.
Mais Madame, he explained, vividly speaking with his hands, you could never wear taupe eye shadow with orange lipstick! Wrong temperatures, wrong dry white wines, mixed with the wrong type of seafood would lead to désastre of similar proportions.
He joined me for a tasting. À la vie – to life! – he toasted. AND explained that when you toast to life, you must look at each other in the eyes. Otherwise, it’s bad luck.
Oh well, that explains quite a few things.
Suddenly, we were surrounded by what felt like half the village, everybody gravitating towards the only place open, lit up, lively.
À la vie, we declared together.
A heartfelt toast, a heartfelt moment, strangers coming together at Christmas. Looking each other in the eyes.
Christmas night is turning into morning and I haven’t been able to sleep at all. But this time, it’s sleepless in Bagnôls, in a good way. Just me, the lights of the Christmas tree and a fireplace, still oozing warmth for having roared all day.
Time for reflection. Totally alone. I miss that sometimes.
My heart is pulling together highs and lows of this past year. If I tell you the truth – and in this blog we speak the truth – my feeling is of deep and profound gratitude, and of equally deep loss.
This year, I have lost two people – not to death but to life – whom I considered family. Eventually, it will hurt less but knowing myself, I don’t just get over people I have loved. For me it takes years. Last time, over three years ago, I lost two familymembers over one day and still, the scar is raw like an amputated arm. I have ghost pain, every day. Sorry for the harsh language, I’m not being pessimist here… But a realist, just this once.
Gratitude is for finding a path to follow. Something that feels right. Something that has reached and touched people. My little company, my very own, has given me such long lost confidence and joy. And the people I’ve found through LadyBohemia – be it company, blog or shop – are nothing short of human angels. Before this adventure of entrepreneurship, I couldn’t have imagined how many people would support, encourage, have faith in me.
The other side of the coin, very strangely, something totally new to me, was being badly let down by people I trusted. Not once not twice, but three times. These things happen and you just pick yourself up and keep going, I know. But this cut is a little deeper than skin. You see, if there’s one talent I know I’ve always had, it is an ability to read people, to instinctively know who to trust and who to keep at arm’s length.
Whenever I’ve gone for the listing of pros and cons, a rational systematic decision making process, I’ve ended up more or less lost. With intuition, never. Until this year, time and again. Now, I’m left questioning and disappointed. Not of the people around me, but myself.
Lastly, yet maybe most importantly, this has been a year of true and real friendship. New soul sisters, deep connections and encounters, or people I’ve known forever, making me feel how much care and love I am surrounded with.
True colors shining through. I think a quote from Cyndi Lauper would summarize my 2013.
My mother-in-law (Mamie, as we call her) never fails at exceeding herself in kindness and in hospitality.
Last night, I arrived in France after midnight, downtrodden by a flu – I’d worked till the very last moment, left to the airport straight from the boutique – so rather exhausted and worn out. And what awaits on my bedside table…
Mamie had picked up a Christmas rose, rose de Noël, for me from her garden. She knows how much I love flowers. Next to the rose, a sweetest selection of Chanel 5. My favorite perfume.
And of course the sheets on my bed were not only ironed, they were the prettiest ones she has, chosen based on my favorite color.
´Before my first morning here was over, she happened to come across an Art Deco powder box that has been in the family for almost hundred years. Two lovebirds, carved of silver, on a beautiful black box. Simply divine a piece, from the family of Uncle Jean, who fought in the forces of La Résistance during the Second World War… Uncle Jean, a pilot, who during the war had legendarily made an emergency landing right in the middle of the Champs-Élysées…
Knowing how much I love those stories, Mamie insisted on giving me this box she had inherited from Uncle Jean.
It’s not even Christmas yet.
I am so touched, I can not put it in words.
It’s not that Mamie would be swimming in money. Not at all. She is just the most generous, kindhearted and considerate person I have ever come across in this life. She goes absolutely out of her way to bring joy the people around her, always making it look breezily effortless. When I tried to thank her for the box, she just changed the topic, saying “Oh you know it’s just an old piece, I couldn’t use it for anything…” Yet I know she has treasured it for decades.
I don’t hold idols, but Mamie is an exception to the rule.
I try so hard to learn from her, even a little something.
Let’s see, if one day my daughter-in-law would invite me to come along to her honeymoon, like I invited Mamie to ours (but that’s a whole another story…), I would have succeeded.
” There is only one way to avoid criticism; do nothing, say nothing
and be nothing.”
Once upon a lifetime I bought a one-way ticket and moved to Calcutta. That year, I spent the Independence day there, with my Indian family who had made their home my home. So considerate they were, that on December 6th, to surprise me, all the women of the family had bought gorgeous blue and white silk saris and wore Finland’s colors…
They cooked a beautiful festive dinner, and we burned two white candles in every window.
It was beautiful. So much deeper than mere beautiful in fact.
Today, of all days, I cleared my old photos and lettres. And found a letter my father had written to me on that day, that very Independence day. I’d thought I’d lost those letters forever, as I’d desperately searched for them so so many times… Now that he’s gone, they are priceless.
Today, I found all the letters my worried dad had written to his rebel daughter.
Are you lost in the jungle for good, the first one begins.
“Dear Dad. I’m out of the jungle, but so much hasn’t changed regardless. I’m a little bit lost, as ever.
And I know you’re still out there somewhere, looking after me.
Ps. Did I ever mention I love you?
I love you.”
A moving Independence day to each and every one of you my darling readers.
Kisses, from your very own
This beautiful flamenco inspired dress was available at my LadyBohemia Boutique… I loved wearing it to this photoshoot, despite the fact that it took two people to carry the train…
This is a dress that requires a woman of great unpracticality to pull it off.
We were the perfect match.
All that heavy thick silk, perfect handmade lace…UhHuh I loved every inch of it.
Would you believe it, on that day, this car just happened to be parked right outside my shop! You might call it chance, I call it destiny.
And I just have to share this “the making of..” photo with you.. The screaming contrast of it all just cracked my photographer to bits.
A living proof that it doesn’t take a model-sized or shaped woman to wear the perfect evening gown. It doesn’t even take an evening, or a ball.
All you need is attitude ♥.
Says Paul Newman on the secret of his 50 years of marriage.
They just so blatantly poignantly belong… That intimacy - where ever they are in the photos, there were just the two of them in the world.
And that laughter! Joanne once said that sexiness fades, looks fade… But if a man makes you laugh every day of your life, you’re really onto something. Both their definitions combined – I’d sign it anyday.
50 years of marriage, and it doesn’t surprise me one damn bit. It’s all there in the way they look at each other.
Yes. Sometimes a heavy duty dose of good old-fashioned romance is just what the doctor ordered.
I think I’m just about ready to watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
My father had four grandsons.
Although it’s been three years since my father left us, his spirit is still so alive and present in the lives of his four little guys.One of the many, many seeds he planted in their hearts, was his unconformist zest for life.
Children, who are so free from self-imposed boundaries, always found a kindred sprit in him.
My dad lived in Zambia, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia… In the Saudis, it was a sign of trust between men to hold hands. So every morning, while inspecting the work beign progressed, my dad walked the site hand in hand with the local sheikh. In Siavonga, before going to the bank, we went fishing. By handing over a fresh fish to a bankteller – inlands – you could get your money from the bank. Otherwise, not so likely.
A couple of weeks’ ago, my childrens’ school had celebrated Peace Day, the Ahtisaari Day, in a beautiful way. White doves drawn everywhere, little plays, songs, children of all colors and backgrounds coming together.
All those peace signs would have made Lennon proud.
“Maman, do you know how we know they celebrate Peace Day in heaven as well?, my oldest son asked when he came home.
My guesses were as boring as they were conventional.
So he infromed me. All the four grandsons, now aged 6-8, had cut, glued and scothched together a peace sign, and hidden it in a secret place. I think my sister was the only one who precisely knew the whereabouts of this hidingplace.
And the next time they checked, Pappa – as we all call my dad - had come to take the sign to heaven with him.
Once and again, my children – and their cousins! – managed to reinforced my faith in love. And life.
With children like these, what else can we have but hope?
Today, I want to share with you, the littlest thing that made my day.
I bump into a local guy, a musician of some sort, almost every day at our local coffee shop just around the corner. We exchange an accidental ”hi” and “how’s your day” every now and then (he’s not born Finnish so a few words, even to a stranger, come easy). We’re not friends but have been casually friendly for the longest time.
And today, I was feeling particularly run down. Hardly any sleep for quite some nights, dark circles around my eyes, sadness combined with no make-up. And I won’t even start with my hair.
When I stepped in he looked up and kept on looking. “I just have to tell you, wow”, he said, with some serious oooooooooomph. “There’s something about you… Wow Kaisu.”
The only even remotely wow-ish thing about me were the Kristina Viirpalu stay-up stockings I was testing, but fine. There are moments when just a few kind words of a stranger can lift a person off the ground.
Naturally, all the other regulars, my guys of the diner, didn’t miss a beat. We heard various versions of just gorgeously divine my musician had just described Mark’s new hairdo.. How sensual was the dress of another chap.. Etc. Etc.
But. For the rest of this day, I’ve held my head a little bit higher. I didn’t so much feel like I just wanted to crawl into bed and pull a cover between me and the world.
Despite the dark circles around the eyes, despite the reasons behind the dark circles.
Thank you, you stranger. I know we’ll remain coffee break acquaintances. But although you’ll never know it, on a day I felt the lowest of the low, you made a difference.
It IS all in the littlest things.