In the shadows…

The gentle unfolding of what I would do in The Netherlands began here. In this moment, at the Sagrada Familia. I didn’t realise it then but a significant shift was moving within me.

‘In the shadows’ I called the shot. I’d looked for the typical tourist shot. The one that would capture this grand, whimsical masterpiece of Antoni Gaudí, architect and artist.

To me, the beauty lies in how Gaudí is influenced by his love of nature, it’s seasons and how they play out in such breathtaking way. I wandered high up between the towers of what is my favourite cathedral in Europe. When I saw the shadows, I related. 

A little mystery, less hustle and more patience – that’s I how I tagged the shot. At the time it was how I was feeling about the ‘be more, be brave, be bold, achieve, achieve, achieve more’ and the ’10 steps to do it’…ya da ya da type memes and posts. 

Not that there’s anything wrong with those posts and memes if you need them, I just don’t like to do what I’m told. Yes, I have a rebel heart. Map, what map? I’ve never even written down a positive affirmation in my life. Not because I think there’s anything wrong with them I’m not into strict routines. I do positive self talk in tricky moments, that’s probably similar. Great strengths and sometimes weaknesses. I’m learning to work with them, to moderate them.

Maybe I don’t want to be brave all the time, maybe I’m not ready to be brave. Maybe a little less hustle and a little more patience is actually, also, ok. Maybe the mystery of not always having to know, of not being switched ‘on’, of expecting and simply waiting will actually allow me to land in a way that I could never have planned. Maybe, that’s my roll, my flow. I know it was once, before the layers. 

I wanted the world to stop telling me what I wanted or needed. Ok, so obviously that was my issue. I’d also been reading a few books that were annoying me with the rules for ‘how to’ live a good life. One book talked about commitment to career and man I’d failed at that big time. Ever since I left school (and I left early) I’ve floated from career to career depending on what I was interested in, or, on what I needed or our family needed at the time.

As we’ve travelled I’ve been playing with ideas about what I could do when the trip finished. As I sat in the uncertainty I felt the pressure of this life of career changes. I applied for a masters degree and a job and both put me in the seat of rejection. NGO jobs, yes, they interested me but only internships for new graduates were on offer. Oh gosh, if only I’d focussed on that one career.

I didn’t go back to ideas that I’d previously not been able to commit to. Like building a gung-ho blog or regularly contributing to other blogs. It wasn’t me, I’d learnt that. I knew I wanted to contribute to conversations that mattered but I wanted to be in the shadows. I’m not loud and I sure as shit can’t hustle. I needed patience to work it out.

Eventually, in the romance of Provence mesmerised by the wonder of the Roman legacy of Pond Du Guard. The fields of lavender and sunflowers. The historic ruins of Glanum in St. Remy. The town where Picasso sat on his chair and painted as well as checking into the hospital to rest.  The rustic shutters, some fresh, some fading but always window sills with plants, blooms and a little mystery beyond. Or, maybe, it was the cobbled laneways of Avignon with it’s shops of lavender scented soaps, the cafes of diners sipping their wines as they chatted so convivially over food and spilled into the street life. A life that felt and looked so very French. Somewhere amongst this unexpected awe, it came, my inspiration.

I’d write a story, my story. I’d unveil myself, in the context of our camper travel story. Because telling stories connects people, that matters. Talking about feelings and experiences encourages us to think about our own feelings and to confront our own opinions about life and ourselves. It helps us feel less lonely in our thoughts.

You see I called a friend recently, a good friend, one that I treasure but never call. I want to do that more, call the friends that I can talk with so deeply. After falling off her chair because I’d actually called (I’m not a phone person) she talked about all the things I’d said online or in her words  ‘exposed of myself’ that she related to. Woah, that meant something.

Today, I started writing my story and I realised why I could never be a serious (monetary) blogger.  I want to write honestly without filters and I can’t really write in the ‘how to’ style. I don’t want an audience, just meaning and connection. 

So, dude. I loved your book, I learnt a lot, most of it I’m hi-fiving you for and saying ‘yes’ to. I’ve even recommended it. I did, however, sit with your thoughts about committing to a long term career. I’ll never have just one career, that’s just not me and I love that about my life. I would only fail if I tried to be something I’m not. I will work though, however untraditional and uncommitted that looks to you. Less fucks given. 

My book:

As I learn to write a book I’ll share my (evolving) process along the way. This morning I started in earnest. I started  writing a different blog post but it became a chapter (2,000w). I also began an introduction (1,500w). A beginning.

An author I spoke to recently told me her memoir was 50,000 words. Right, how many chapters will I need? Google didn’t know. I asked Greg, he knows these things. ‘About 20’ he said. So 50k/20 equals 2,500 words a chapter. A goal.

I decided to try and think of 20 chapter ideas or at least start. Voilà, 20 chapter headings without even dipping into my journal of scribbled notes, or, Instagram for my secret or not so secret # reminders. Hmm…maybe I’ve been writing the wrong kinds of lists. A success.

Who knows? Maybe the book will be readable, maybe it won’t? There’s no magic formula. Of course a book needs certain elements but if I get too stuck on the perfect formula I might never write the book. So, while I do the work of writing the book, I’ll learn the elements by reading other memoirs. I’ll make it up as I go and when I get stuck, I’ll ask for and seek help. 

In the mean time if something I read is either annoying me or making me question myself…that’s about me. I have to dig into that feeling and work out if I want to let it go because it’s wrong for me, or, if I need to accept that I can learn something and not reject the discomfort of someone’s opion.

Opinions, are simply just that, an opinion. Worthy of teaching us something or, of letting go. It’s ultimately our choice.

F x

12 thoughts on “In the shadows…

  1. Oh Fran..
    I love this so much. From your honest words that most definitely connect, to your fabulous photos!
    I wait impatiently for your book 🙂


    • Dear Janet…I can imagine you reading my book with your cup of tea in your homey and intimate nest built with love. I know you’ll dream of the lavender fields in France and then contentedly wander in your own garden admiring everything with all your senses. I adore that about you and I’m glad that you came into my life to share that.

      Fran x


  2. Here’s my comment. I loved what you write. Almost cried.

    Fuck the default WP comment thingy. I hate that I can’t post this publicly.

    Annette xx

    Sent from my iPhone



    • Coming from a writer of words that matter that almost made me cry.

      Kindness is a precious gift. Thank you for sharing yours.

      Fran x


  3. Fran this is incredibly exciting and indeed, so very much you!

    How lucky are we to share this journey with you

    one beautiful inspiring lady

    Sarah xxx


    • Aw Sarah! How lucky am I? Truly. Surrounded by such creative and supportive women all journeying together sharing what we think about. I’ve never needed a lot of people, just the right people. Of course there’s inspiration in there from you, I hope you know that.

      Fran xx


  4. Saddle up punk. Lets see where this beautiful thing rides. xxx


  5. Hope Italy is treating you well chick. Loved reading this – just what my work lunch hour needed! Looking forward to where this is going to take you.


  6. I can’t wait to read it!

    As Kenny Rogers says ….
    …the secret to survivin’
    Is knowin’ what to throw away
    And knowin’ what to keep


    • …know when to walk away
      know when to run….

      Ha ha you jigging to some Kenny fits with my image of you. 🤣

      Thank you Rach, all the more reason to write it. x

      Liked by 1 person

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