Mum and dad

Saying Goodbye to Dad and 2020

carla coulson, dad on the beach, saying goodbye

Dear Friends,

On the 30th November, just days after his 91st birthday my beautiful father left, as he called it, ‘the land of the living’ to continue his journey with all his mates, ancestors, and family in another land. 

I take great solace in the fact that I know he is in great company. 

You are never really prepared to say goodbye even when you know it’s coming.

On the 21st of September 2020, I was one of the very lucky people who boarded a plane out of Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris heading for Australia to spend time with my dying father and my family. I called him from the empty airport lounge in case something happened to both of us in between and I howled down the phone that ‘he did a great job as a father and I loved him dearly.’ He reassured me that nothing would happen to him and I boarded the plane a blubbering mess, I prayed he would wait for me. Dad waited, he always did.

Hector coulson Carcoar with family, saying goodbye

My Dad, as my brother said in his eulogy, ‘was the kind of man that there isn’t enough said about.’ Dad saw it an honour to devote his life to his family from the day he married my mother and he was unwavering in his mission with my mum to give us a safe, secure, simple, and joyous life.

Dad was a quiet man but he knew who he was, stood by his values, and took great pride in passing them onto us. He found pleasure in the simple things, he tended his garden every day of his life no matter where we lived. Each time we would pull up sticks and move again to a new town, the first thing Dad would do was plant his new garden where we would always find sweet peas, petunias, pansies, and an array of veggies.  

Mum and Dad Carla Coulson, saying goodbye 

Mum and Dad were an undividable team no matter how hard we tried. It was this love and care that I had the joy of witnessing in the last months of Dad’s life. There was beauty in dying, in the love that my mother showed my father in the tiniest of daily rituals to ensure he was comfortable, the deepest loyalty in the promises to Dad that he would end his last days at home with his beloved garden just a glance out the window. 

In preparing to say goodbye, everything becomes precious, the sweet smell and taste of mangoes that Dad only wanted to eat for breakfast, the pristine white of the first magnolias that bloomed from the tree he planted in front of their window, shared discussions with my sisters and brothers about what to do next. The hunt for fresh oysters when that’s all he wanted to eat or to track down a culinary throwback such as ‘curried prawns and rice’ when the rare request was made. 

For me, everything was an honour, to do the smallest of tasks, to place a knitted blanket over him to keep him warm as he dozed off to sleep, like he did for me at the other end of my life. The smallest of tokens for the love and care my sisters, brother, and myself have been shown throughout our lives. 

hector coulson

There is so much talk about leaving a legacy, some families leave legacies of wealth and share portfolios. My father (and mother) left another kind of legacy, they worked every week of our lives to make our childhood an adventure, rich with barbecues late into the night on the beach when others may have packed it in for the day, picnics with our extended family that included card tables, flasks, eskies, fishing rods, cricket sets, and our beloved family dog. Road trips around Australia in our Valiant with wide eyes and big hearts singing ‘que sera, sera’. What will be, will be. 

It’s a legacy of family and beauty, of appreciation for a perfect gardenia and the rush of pleasure its heavenly scent elicits, for the simple joy of being outdoors laughing our hearts out and being part of this big, beautiful world we live in. A legacy of family I see in the faces of my nieces and nephews, my brothers and sisters. Going through our photos cemented another legacy, a life well-lived. Dad maxed out his life in his own gentle way and created so much love. 

 

Mum and dad

What remains? Love. Dad’s on another ‘plane’ now, but the love remains, so much love. I count myself as one of the luckiest gals on the planet to have inherited a gentle legacy that feels large and wide, perfumed with the simple joy of a garden, an incredible family with so much gumption and echoes of laughter floating away on a windy beach. Over the past months, I’ve spent so much time with my brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, friends and family friends and it’s this fabulous tribe created by Dad and Mum that brings comfort and security. 

So on the Eve of the close of 2020, a year like no other, a year that gifted us the opportunity to tune into what is important to us, I thank you for being a valued part of my community and wish you loved times with your family and friends. 2020 has been kind to me, many wishes came true, so please don’t be sad for me, I’m filled with gratitude and thanks for all that I was able to experience and share. 

2020 has been a chance for all of us to ask ourselves the deeper questions about what’s really important to us and I hope that 2021 is the year we get to realise some of those dreams

Que, sera, sera (what will be, will be)

Carla x

 

lockdown, paris became a village

How Paris Became A Village

lockdown, paris became a village

Here’s a huge shout out to the people of Victoria, the United States, Brazil, and to every individual challenged by COVID lockdown in this moment. 

I want to share with you something that happened in Paris after COVID. 

Paris is a city that makes many women and men go weak at the knees. As a girl that has been known to love wearing rose-coloured glasses, I know many people around the globe love popping on those rose-coloured glasses when they think of Paris. When you live in Paris, she can be everything including a tough old broad that slams the door in your face, utters instantly mais non madame as a knee jerk reaction, long before she considers a Yes and a day can be filled with neutral stares and harsh rebuffs from the folks at the post office or any government body. She was as equally well-mannered, chic, and impossibly beautiful if not just a little distant!

Pre-COVID, there were days I went out loving her and came home wondering why she made it so hard to love her!!!

Then something happened, we got locked up, they took away the parks, the restaurants, the post office (yes, it was closed for 2 months), the boutiques, the florists, the schools, the offices, the famous Parisian cafés with her beautiful cane chairs and the right to leave our homes for 8 weeks without a piece of paper. For 8 weeks, we couldn’t go more than 1 km from home and only for an hour a day. 

Like many people around the world, we experienced a lockdown that was confronting, challenging, emotional, aggressive, controlling, and everything in between. At some point, it also became grounding, slow, calm, passive, and gentle. 

When we emerged from 8 weeks of silence and confinement, for many solitary, Paris was different. She went through her own transformation and out the other side she became a village. 

People were different, we were different. In the place of being in a hurry, we all seemed to have time, in place of indifference we all were connected and concerned, in the place of blank stares we looked one another in the eyes. 

lockdown, paris became a village

The city slowly came back to life, terraces grew and grew wherever there was free space or even when there wasn’t. Umbrellas went up, inflatable flamingos appeared at the entrances of restaurants and even the smartest restaurant managed to add a rogue terrace with a white tablecloth. Waiters greeted us like long-lost friends.

Gratitude filled her streets and our hearts, wonder abounded as we had the right to roam again and every detail was fascinating and beautiful. The gardens that had been locked away and had grown wild, were filled again with flowers and colour. 

As the weeks passed, the village atmosphere remained as all of us started to roam even the most touristy restaurants that now stood empty, places that we once fought to sit in, we could finally get a seat outside with a spectacular view. 

It was like being a kid in a lolly shop, Parisians and adopted Parisians had the menu to a moveable feast and now we could finally get a seat at the table and order up big!

The weeks keep passing and the kindness remains, conversations with strangers have become the new normal and the level of gratitude to sit on a beautiful café terrace is still as joyful as the first time we ever did it. 

There is a feeling of spaciousness that wasn’t here before, it’s luxurious and with that spaciousness, the city is softer and less aggressive. That constant feeling of FOMO that we would miss out on if we didn’t get there early, has disappeared. 

Why am I telling you this? There is a reason, particularly if you are in lockdown and your heart is breaking from the feeling of confinement, restrictions, loss of income, contact, unknown and more. 

My wish for you and wherever you are in the world that you too will emerge from lockdown with a gift of humanity and that your world no matter how big and scary it is right now will too become a village. That what once was invisible will now be visible, including you. 

 

Sending you love and my best wishes,

Carla x

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To All Mothers and Women

This is a collective note to my beautiful mum, all mothers and women, and to mother nature on this very special Mother’s Day.

What an honour it is to be mothered. I have had the great fortune over my lifetime to have had a mother who adored her role, one could almost say she would have made a great ‘poster girl’ for motherhood. I also have had other ‘mothers’ who came in different roles such as my Italian mamma Popi and another beautiful creative mother/mentor, Marta Innocenti Ciulli.

Each woman mothered a slightly different part of me that needed nurturing and encouraging and allowed those parts to bloom and flourish.

My mother gave the role of being a mother great importance. Mum always said, ‘We are the caretakers of children, we have the joy to look after them till they become adults; they are never ours, they are their own person and one day they will fly away and that’s our role as mothers to let them fly.’

My mother tried to instill in me that instinct that us women are all meant to naturally have, ‘the mothering’ instinct but in my teenage years and my twenties, I flatly refused it or didn’t feel in the slight way connected to it. I saw the responsibility of giving life and being a good mother as something that was terrifying, that it would clip my wings, take away my freedom and not let me live my dreams. It probably had something to do with never finding the right man during those years with whom I felt like I could dream or trust enough, to help me in a process that felt so scary.

I now realise how naïve these thoughts were, as motherhood in itself is the ultimate creative process, one of joy and reward if a woman is brave enough to embrace it. I just never had enough courage and the day I finally did find that courage, my body had moved on.

Over the past couple of months, we have all had a very interesting time and so often I have reached for the phone to call my mother. There is so much solace for me when she answers and though we are far away, it’s ever so comforting to talk about the weather, our days, and what we may be cooking for dinner.

Most days I go in search of the mother or all mothers. Each morning, I walk up the hill in Paris to Buttes Chaumont to find mother nature albeit locked away in these strange days of confinement behind iron gates. It’s been an interesting process to watch mother nature from behind closed gates grow a little wilder. The grass has grown long, the pink frothy blooms have come and gone and been enjoyed only by the birds and other critters in the park having a lark of a time. Her paths are overgrown and she looks a little like all of us who need a good haircut except that this is her natural state. I have loved watching her ‘rewild’ herself, whilst we were all locked out, she dropped her coat of armour and reminds me of a young girl once again dancing in the sunshine with flowers in her hair.

The concept of ‘mothering’ or ‘nurturing’ ourselves has been at the forefront of my mind over the past couple of weeks. The entire process of stillness that this time has imposed upon our busy lives has been a chance to reconnect with our feminine energy, the ‘being’ part of us that is creative, nurturing, intuitive, passive, and open to receiving. A part of us that is often devalued in favour for the doing and productive part that appears to have a much greater value in society.

I recently commented to one of my friends that ‘Maybe this is how our mothers felt,’ that there was no need to rush madly from one thing to the next, to be overachieving and over-producing all the time but to embrace the power of quietness, home, and all the great things that make us women.

I have forgiven the part of me that once unconsciously linked motherhood and our feminine energies and believed they were weak instead of being powerful beyond belief.

So on this very important Mother’s Day, when the world is having its own revolution of what it is and how to be moving forward, I honour my mother, all women, girls, and Mother Earth for sustaining us throughout everything, and I encourage you to connect to the deep inner knowing of what a glorious thing it is to be a girl, a woman, mother (or not) and never forget that part of you.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Carla x